Shopping social enterprise

I have decided to try to only buy from social enterprises to produce my end of semester presentation. So yesterday I shopped around at three stores in my local area to see what I could find. A Green Collect outlet in Brunswick was my first stop. As they recycle office wares, I was hoping to find some paper to print my project book onto.

They have a great range of very well designed products. The basics were a bit more expensive than my usual purchases, but I could see that my money was going toward something good, both environmentally and socially.

Quite an extensive stationary section, with some beautiful diaries and notebooks made from old books and floppy disk cases. Most of the paper is office offcuts and there is some printing paper that Green Collect makes themselves. I had a great chat to the shop assistant Nikki, who told me the back story of all the stationary products and suggested I get in touch with co-founder Ben Quinn who runs the paper projects.

I left with a ream of A5 printing paper, a set of notebooks made from old folders and a hand printed sheet of wrapping paper. I was hoping for some A3 so that I could more easily bind my book, but having A5 has given me a few ideas, as has the wrapping paper.

Dear Gladys in Northcote was the next stop. It was a very adorable shop with a range of very classy and on-trend vintage wear. They didn’t have any paper stationary besides cards and diaries, but I fell in love with a blouse. My presentation outfit will be both professional and social enterprise approved!

Finally, I headed to Ishka in Fitzroy on Soumitri’s recommendation. I have walked past this shop for years but I never investigated properly before yesterday. They have some wonderful products from all over the world, especially India.

While browsing I spotted a pillow case (above) that was manufactured at the Barefoot College in Tilonia that I had visited on my exchange to India! It’s great to see social enterprises overseas importing their wares all the way down south to Australia.

I came away with a bunch of handmade and painted paper. Each sheet was half price from the original $4.80. I was torn between being excited that I could afford them and wondering if the price was a reflection on the wages and working conditions overseas.

I was uplifted in my discovery of so many social enterprises standing on their own two feet as successful businesses in my local area. The stores are do not rely on their ‘social enterprise’ status, instead the products are beautifully presented and lovingly made. Both aspects make me one happy customer. I challenge you to make your next shopping trip a social enterprise spree. Social Trader’s Social Enterprise Finder has been launched so you can easily look up places to go in your local area. You won’t be disappointed.