Ethical and sustainable ways to shop our city
Dear Green Place – the city of Glasgow’s famed motto which traditionally refers to the abundance of luscious green spaces the city has to offer. Today, however, this term might be re-imagined to refer to a growing array of sustainable and ethical food and clothing outlets to which the city plays host. Many of us are looking to reduce our consumption of unsustainable products and lead a less carbon heavy existence, and luckily lots of Glasgow businesses are demonstrating a green conscience resulting in plenty of options on both the sustainable clothing and ethical food fronts. Here are just a few suggestions to help you on your journey to becoming a “green” Glaswegian consumer.
Locavore isn’t just a menagerie of organic and locally sourced groceries. It is also a social enterprise which redistributes its profits into community projects and improvement across Glasgow. The southside outlet stocks an array of products including Ed’s Bees Honey and their own homegrown vegetables – all of which are produced within the city at various urban sites. They boast a wide range of ecological cleaning products, fresh and frozen meat, organic and local cheese, dairy products and breads from Different Breid and Freedom Bakery. On top of that, you can subscribe to have a box of seasonal veg (and other Locavore produce) delivered on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis from just £8.
A relatively new addition to the so-called Finnieston strip, The Cran is a model for an ethical business which supports local producers. Their sweet treats feature an expansive selection of raw and vegan cakes while lunch options include vegan and vegetarian spins on world food staples such as pakora and burritos, not to mention their fair trade coffee, roasted in Glasgow with an impressive selection of dairy-free milk alternatives. On top of all this, The Cran doubles up as a pop up art space, exhibiting work by local artists and craft makers, ranging from photography and pottery to vintage clothing and plants.
If the thought of navigating giant 24h supermarkets exhausts you, or you’re fed up of the limited range of products in the express supermarkets which line commercial streets around the University, Glasgow Farmers Market is a great opportunity to support local producers while making ethical and sustainable food choices. Operating on the second and fourth Saturday of each month in Mansfield Park (Partick), stall produce ranges from meats, fish, oils, olives, soap and dairy. The farmer’s market experience is a chance to alter your consciousness as a consumer – how often can you speak with the person who produced your meat or cheese and find out precisely the journey of your food from “farm gate to fork”? Transparency coupled with a more personal experience can contribute to changed relationships with food and consumption for the good of the animals we rear and the environment more generally.
The 78 is without a doubt the most affordable, coolest and tastiest spot for vegan food around the University. Situated just off Argyle Street, the sister restaurant of Mono and Stereo (city centre) boasts a fully vegan menu which is anything but boring. Crowd pleasing dishes such as burgers, curries, nachos and even Sunday roasts have been veganised and generously portioned. Beyond that, they have more organic booze than I’ve ever encountered, the perfect accompaniment to one of their weekly music events like Sunday Jazz. Not to mention they have a 10% student discount…
Charity & vintage shopping
Although the clothes in these shops may not have originally been produced in an ethical or sustainable way, the process of recycling instead of consuming something new combined with the redistribution of your money to charitable causes makes charity shopping a wholesome and affordable option all round. I count at least ten shops lining Dumbarton Road in Partick and Byres Road (Marie Curie, Shelter, British Red Cross to name a few) selling not only clothing but furniture (Salvation Army, British Heart Foundation) and books (Oxfam) as well. Additionally, both Oxfams on Byres Road stock a lovely range of Faith in Nature beauty products which are a great alternative to typical high street brands which can still often be tested on animals (and smell divine!).
Glasgow isn’t short of recycled clothing options either, with Glorious, Mr Bens and Glasgow Vintage Co. providing some glam-yet-affordable garments from years gone by.
There tends to be an argument that online, sustainable clothing is too expensive and it is true that compared with H&M or Primark, websites like Komodo, Bibico, Gather and See and Beaumont Organic seem comparatively pricy. However, a large part of ethical and sustainable consumption is a commitment to consume less. If we can afford three or four jumpers from H&M per year, presumably we could instead afford one sustainably produced jumper from an online eco-friendly clothing brand. Buying one high quality item that you will cherish for years is a far more rewarding investment than buying multiple cheaper items which are destined for a short life span. This type of thinking enables us to re-evaluate how much (or how little!) we actually need to consume compared with the typical western practise of mass consumption.
The thought of converting to a fully sustainable, ethical, local and organic lifestyle can seem like an enormous challenge especially when commercial areas are set up with supermarkets and chains which make it incredibly easy to consume plentifully from businesses with sub-standard environmental and ethical records without having to think too much about it.
Start small. Pick a product and when it runs out, make a little extra effort to replenish it with a certified ecological and/or ethical alternative. Gradually, this sort of mindful purchasing has the power to alter our relationship with consumption and generates a consciousness which is invaluable to both our own communities and to non-human life on planet earth.