It’s time to change: Why as a small business owner, I’m trying to source sustainable and ethical products for my online store (and why I’m hoping other retailers do the same).

‘Bi love’ Mens/Unisex organic cotton t-shirt from the Bi in the 2000s™ merchandise range

Like everyone, I’m trying my best. My business is relatively new, every step of the way is a huge learning curve, and I’m really trying to put a sustainable and ethical foot forward from the very beginning of the launch of the merchandise products that I’ve created, which I’m approaching in the following ways:

1.) Every clothing and fashion item is made with 100% organic cotton.

According to the Soil Association, organic cotton emits up to 46% less greenhouse gas than non-organic. It also reduces the amount of harmful synthetic pesticides that go into the ground, into the crop and into water supply, which is kinder to the planet and kinder to your skin.

2.) Every item is produced by Fair Wear Foundation member brands, who meet the requirements for labour standards of garment workers.

It was important for me to source items in the merchandise range that were created in safe, ethical environments, where the people that make the items are treated fairly. This includes the fact that all garment workers are there by their own free will, they are paid fair wages, and they work in safe conditions.

Even in these times, I’m aware that working conditions can be quite tough for some people in some industries, which is why I’ve made a concerted effort to source products that are made in safe and free environments. According to the ILO, in 2016 an estimated 40.3 million people were victims of modern day slavery . This obviously needs to change, and by choosing to source Fair Wear products, I’m hoping I’m contributing to this shift in awareness that garment workers labour rights matter.

3.) I believe in the power of creating a culture of acceptance, through art and through representation, and that’s why I created the Bi in the 2000s™ illustrative series.

The series explores themes around LGBTQ+ and bisexuality visibility (I identify as bisexual, so some of the content is aimed at bisexuality specifically), and the majority of the paintings cover broader LGBTQ+ themes around representation and the impact of censorship, growing up in the UK as a teenager and young adult, in the 2000s.

I’ve recently launched an organic cotton Bi in the 2000s™ merchandise series, which include digital prints of the original artwork that I created, from the series. I felt there was an urgent need for more representation in LGBTQ+ communities. Please see the stats below.

According to recent statistics:

-Nearly half (45 per cent) of LGBT pupils – including 64 per cent of trans pupils – are bullied for being LGBT in Britain’s schools.

-72 countries criminalise same-sex relationships (and in 45 the law is applied to women as well as men)

-Two in five LGBT students (42 per cent) have hidden their identity at university for fear of discrimination.

-More than a third of LGBT staff (35 per cent) have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination.

-Almost one in five LGBT people (18 per cent) have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.

4.) It’s honour to be able to promote the LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall as part of the Bi in the 2000s™ merchandise series.

On every item page on my online store, you can find a ‘donate with PayPal’ button that will take you to a separate PayPal transaction page (separate to the transaction on your shop cart) that will allow you to donate £2 to LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall.

I’ve kept this donation separate from the main shop transaction for 2 main reasons:

  1. It’s a voluntary donation. Not everyone has the cash to donate to charity, some may already be donating to this charity or something similar, and I wanted to give everyone the choice.
  2. It’s straightforward. You can select gift aid using PayPal, and you can be sure that every penny donated goes to the charity – as a small business owner, it’s a lot easier to do the finances this way.

In the future, as my business grows, I would always consider donating a percentage of my profits to charitable causes, but while my business is small and in its relative infancy, this just isn’t possible at the moment, and I feel confident that the ‘Donate with PayPal button’ on my website is the obvious solution in the meantime.

Promoting charity has always been a major drive in what I’m doing, and always will be.

Find out more:

You can check out the Bi in the 2000s™ merchandise available here:

You can also find me on other platforms here, for more LGBTQ+, dance, music and wellbeing content:

Instagram: @annafranceshealing

Twitter: @annafranhealing

YouTube: Anna Frances Healing

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