Guy’s newsletter: eating & wearing your way to a better world

You may be surprised to find a People Tree clothing catalogue in your box this week. We once put a copy of the Ecologist Magazine in, which precipitated a barrage of chastening comments along the lines of, “we like the veg, but don’t make assumptions about our beliefs and allegiances.” As a result we have kept bumph, however righteous, out of your boxes ever since. So I thought I better explain why I have broken the rule.

Non-organic cotton is an extraordinarily dirty crop, accounting for almost 25% of insecticides used worldwide. In India, where cotton accounts for 5% of cropped land, it accounts for a staggering 54% of all pesticides applied, and what’s worse is that they are among the most persistent, toxic and environmentally damaging, including organophosphates and organochlorines.

90% of People Tree cotton is organically grown (it would take more words than I have to explain the 10%) and its founder Safia Minney has spent 24 years developing a supply chain where she knows each step of the production process from sowing the seed through to garment manufacture. This is in contrast to most of the textile and fashion industry, which has an appalling record of exploitation, dangerous employment practices and environmental damage.

Safia is a force to be reckoned with and would expend her last breath fighting for ethical business practices, and that makes me want to support her efforts. In this world of corporate greenwash, I trust People Tree completely; like our Fair Trade pineapples from Togo they are the real thing, the gold standard in ethical business that others can be judged against. I love their fabrics and it feels good to wear something that represents the world I want to live in. I reckon they are fairly priced anyway but with the 20% discount for Riverford customers, they are a bargain. You really will be wearing your way to a better world.

For those of you near London we will be holding a sample sale and panel discussion on Saturday 9th May to mark World Fair Trade Day at our pub in Islington, Riverford at the Duke of Cambridge. Half the proceeds will go to charity; find out more at

Guy Watson

8 responses to “Guy’s newsletter: eating & wearing your way to a better world

  1. I’d love to buy this company’s ethical clothing, but their size range goes up to only a 16. Since that is the average for women in Britain, anyone larger than average (a quarter of the female population, according to 2010 figures, so possibly more by now) are not catered for. Unhelpful if you are trying to do the right thing.

  2. Yes, my reaction is the same as the previous comment – I have sadly unsubscribed from the People Tree newsletter I used to get as it just used to make me feel old and fat.

  3. Vivien Cruickshank

    Same problem for me too! Maybe People Tree would respond positively to suggestions about upping their sizing. Well here’s three of us for starters to give it a go.

  4. katharine scarfe beckett

    Wow — thank you. Will be pursuing this info re Prople Tree cotton and hope to make the May event. Thanks again for making more known.

    Fyi, v happy to receive more info about other ethical and ecological companies or products. Not sure how to square this against others’ not wanting same. Suggest you offer £50 for a 2-3-person ticket to an afternoon event or online AMA featuring your current top three and providing discount subsequently for new custom through Riverford. Would attend such.

    Also interested in offering any occasional help you may need in West London area, a few hours per month. If useful.


    Katharine Scarfe Beckett

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. This is a great offer, thank you! I am thrilled to see that People Tree are collaborating with Orla Kiely (my fave) – this has come at an auspicious time. If anyone is interested in hearing the most fascinating talk on sustainable and ethical high end fashion, take a listen to
    Jackie P

  6. pollyperkins123

    I have been buying for some years from Greenfibres. Don’t do a huge range of clothing but their bedding, towels etc are excellent.

  7. Love the people tree catalogue – thank you. Will definitely give it a try. I have no problem with you sending us info on other ethical producers – especially when it includes a discount. If anyone does not want to read it, they can just put it straight into the recycling. What is their problem?

  8. I share the concerns about size range, I’m a M&S standard 14 myself but would like to be able to buy things for a daughter who is bigger.
    What I’d also like to see is more clothes for people like me who need slightly more formal styles for work-there’s nothing in this catalogue [I just checked online too] that I could wear to work as a teaching assistant.Very few garments other than cardis have long sleeves and there are hardly any collars. I can’t help having bony arms and collar bones I prefer to clothe!

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