24. November 2009 · Comments Off on Mainstreaming Fair Trade: the Role of Consumers · Categories: Environment · Tags: , ,

Mainstreaming Fair Trade: The Role of Consumers

By Kamil Kanji

This article is based on a university research project focused on understanding the growth of Fair Trade. The term Fair Trade can be difficult to define. It is generally presented as an ‘ethical’ alternative to conventional, or ‘free’ trade. It guarantees small scale producers a minimum price for their produce, which is often defined as a fair price, or living wage. It forges a long-term relationship between buyer and seller, thereby providing some stability against market fluctuations. The Fair Trade Labelling Organisation (FLO) also stipulates that Fair Trade sources have to meet minimum social and environmental criteria before being accepted for the Fair Trade certifying procedures.

Many Fair Trade products exist, such as handicrafts, flowers and paper, but the main products are coffee, bananas, tea and chocolate. In 2003, global sales of Fair Trade products surpassed $700 million. In 2005, there were 433 producer groups globally working with 5 million farmers and their families, up from 360 in 2002. Since 2001, export prices for coffee have dropped from $1.00 to $0.49c/lb, but Fair Trade coffee prices have remained at $1.26/lb, preventing many small scale farmers from bankruptcy. Nonetheless, Fair Trade has remained a niche market.

Consumers have the power to affect the growth of Fair Trade products. However, this is contingent on their awareness of the inequalities of mainstream trade and the practices of supermarkets, so that they choose, or not, whether to promote Fair Trade by paying a sort of ethical premium for Fair Trade products. To better understand the current levels of knowledge and awareness among consumers, an original consumer survey was designed and carried out at one ‘up market’ supermarket (Waitrose) and one ‘down market’ supermarket (ASDA) in Kingston, south west London. The survey focuses on food as an important sector of the Fair Trade market.

ASDA and Waitrose target different socio-economic groups. According to a survey by Which magazine Waitrose is the leading supermarket chain in the UK in food quality and range. ASDA is ‘Britain’s best value weekly shop with prices that are independently shown to be lower than main competitors’ and holds the title for Britain’s best value retailer. While ASDA and other UK supermarket chains compete primarily on price and try to attract customers through rewards, loyalty schemes and cards, Waitrose tries to build up brand loyalty by offering differentiated, high quality products. Thus, Waitrose can be characterised as ‘up market’ whereas ASDA can be characterised as ‘down market.’ Waitrose holds a Royal Warrant for services, a prestigious symbol. It also has activities to maintain a ‘green’ image. It was the first ever winner of the ‘Organic Supermarket of the Year’ title. Its products are also more exclusive than ASDA’s, and tend to be more expensive.

The objective of the survey was to obtain information about consumer awareness and attitudes towards Fair Trade and to compare Fair Trade potential between the two supermarkets (ASDA and Waitrose) in relation to consumer characteristics (age, gender, education) and product characteristics (price, availability, labelling). The findings were compared to other UK consumer research. For example, the MORI survey, May 2004, commissioned by the Fair Trade foundation, which found that recognition of the Fair Trade mark was highest among women, 42% compared to 35% of men, and in the 45-54 age group.

Consumers entering both supermarkets were presented with a structured questionnaire. Consumers who did not intend to purchase foodstuffs were not included in the sample. Many consumers only wanted a paper, cigarettes or other item not available as Fair Trade. The total number of consumers was 280 (140 at each supermarket). Interviews took place from February 23rd 2005 to March 1st 2005, every day of the week between 11am-12pm and 6-7pm, to ensure a better cross section of consumers. For example, sampling in the evening between 6pm and 7pm accomodated evening shoppers. The survey was also piloted resulting in several improvements.

It was hypothesised that: “Higher awareness and demand for Fair Trade products exists among consumers. However, unavailability and higher cost of these products are key limitations to growth of Fair Trade.”

The key findings of the survey are presented in the graphs below.

It was found that 56% of consumers at ASDA were aware of Fair Trade, compared to 64% at Waitrose. At ASDA, 32% of consumers were both aware of Fair Trade and considered purchasing Fair Trade products, compared to 45% at Waitrose. A chi squared test showed this difference was significant at the 5% level (v = 1). Thus, consumers at Waitrose were more likely to purchase Fair Trade products.

The main reasons for purchasing Fair Trade products were fairer price for the producer (33%) and better taste and quality (20%). For the majority of consumers, both these reasons were important (48%). This implies that consumers who consider purchasing Fair Trade products are generally willing to pay a higher premium for Fair Trade products. Interestingly, more than two thirds (68%) make a link between Fair Trade products and better taste/quality and a fifth (20%) said they considered purchasing Fair Trade products solely for better taste/quality.

Fruit was the favoured Fair Trade product (58%), followed by coffee (51%). The favourite fruit was bananas; also the UK’s most popular fruit. Coffee and fruit were by far the most popular Fair Trade products, also indicated by UK sales figure. Tea (12%) and chocolate (12%) were less popular. Relatively few consumers were interested in vegetables (5%), juice (4%) and honey (1%).

Unvailability is a main limitation to the growth of Fair Trade, as suggested by nearly half (45%) of consumers who did not consider purchasing such products. Fair Trade products are limited to a handful of foodstuffs in supermarkets. They are not available in meat, cheese, bread and ready meals, and a range of other foodstuffs.

Reasons for not purchasing Fair Trade products by supermarket

% ASDA Waitrose Total

Unavailability 21% 68% 45%

Higher Cost 40% 2% 21%

Against Principle 18% 17% 18%

Unclear labeling 13% 2% 8%

Other 5% 13% 9%

At Waitrose, a higher proportion of consumers did not intend to purchase Fair Trade products simply because of their unavailability, 68%, compared to only 21% at ASDA. The range of Fair Trade products at each supermarket was similar, but more Fair Trade fruit was available at Waitrose. Perhaps linked to higher awareness, consumers at Waitrose were more likely to realise the limitation of availability. At ASDA, consumers were more deterred by higher cost: 40% of the group identified higher cost as a reason for not considering Fair Trade products, compared to just 2% at Waitrose. Overall, unavailability is the main limitation to the growth of Fair Trade (45%) and higher cost a secondary limitation (21%).

The findings give weight to the assumption that Waitrose caters for higher socio-economic groups, who may be more aware of Fair Trade and who can better afford such products. Waitrose consumers have a higher disposable income which allows then to spend more money on food. Therefore, the potential of Fair Trade to grow is higher at Waitrose. If there were more Fair Trade products available, 40% of consumers at ASDA would still not consider purchasing them because of higher cost, but at Waitrose, only 2% would still not consider purchasing them due to higher cost.

Nearly a fifth (18%) of consumers were against the principle of Fair Trade and thus did not consider purchasing Fair Trade products, perhaps because they wer in favour of mainstream ‘conventional’ trade, or completely ‘free’ trade. Advocates of free trade argue that it is unfair to establish a fair price because fewer producers can capture higher prices, whereas low prices ensure that more producers benefit from being paid the lower wage (although demand for Fair Trade products could grow so that more producers would benefit from higher wages). It can also be argued that trade could become fairer by being freer i.e. no government “interference” for efficient and socially optimal allocation of resources. Essentially, developed countries could remove domestic subsidies which protect their producers and force small scale producers in developing countries to compete on an unequal playing field. If World Bank estimates are true, freer mutual trade would benefit developing countries by $31bn a year. However, it has not been in the political or economical interests of Western governments to make trade completely free (or fair).

Around 8% who did not consider purchasing Fair Trade products mentioned that information/labelling was unclear. Fair Trade products are labelled with the Fair Trade logo, which gives consumers a tool or brand which they can recognise, along with the slogan ‘guarantees a better deal for third world producers.’ Thus, it is likely that this group of consumers were referring to unclear supermarket labelling rather than Fair Trade product labels. At ASDA, 13% of the group identified unclear labelling as a reason they did not consider purchasing Fair Trade products, compared to only 2% at Waitrose. At ASDA, it was clear that ‘conventional’ products were prioritised over Fair Trade products. There were many advertisements focusing on the low prices of various conventional products, such as bananas for 59 pence. It could be that the bombardment of consumers by such messages not only appeals to their pockets, but also makes them less willing to find out about alternative production methods (i.e. Fair Trade products).

In 2002, MORI asked people how they first became aware of the Fair Trade logo: 43% indicated that it was while shopping; 20% said features in newspapers or magazines; and 14% cited word of mouth from family and friends. Therefore, because labelling is clearer at Waitrose, it is more likely that consumers at Waitrose are aware of Fair Trade.

The proportion of women who were aware of Fair Trade was 69%, significantly higher than men (46%) (chi-squared: 5%, v=1). As there were a higher proportion of women in the sample, it is probable that women spend more time shopping for food than men, and develop more knowledge about availability of products and, thus, are generally more aware of Fair Trade than men. The findings are also supported by the 2004 MORI survey, which showed that recognition of the Fairtrade mark was higher among women (42% compared with 35% of men). In the total sample, 40% of women were aware of Fair Trade and considered purchasing Fair Trade products, compared to 31% of men. Therefore, Fair Trade potential is higher among women. Interestingly though, 57% of women who were aware of Fair Trade considered purchasing Fair Trade products, whereas 67% of men who were aware of Fair Trade considered purchasing Fair Trade products. This implies that men who are aware of Fair Trade are more likely to consider purchasing Fair Trade products. Perhaps women are more aware of the limitations of Fair Trade products, such as unavailability and higher cost.

The 41-55 age group was most aware of Fair Trade (83%), and most likely to be both aware of Fair Trade and considering purchasing Fair Trade products (63%). The findings can be related to the MORI survey, which identified that recognition of the fairtrade mark was highest for people in the age group 45-54. Consumers between the ages of 26-40 followed in terms of awareness and purchasing power. Over half, 56%, of 16-25 year olds were aware about Fair Trade products, but only 19% considered purchasing them, a relatively small proportion compared to other age groups.

Relationship between age (years) and reasons for not purchasing Fair Trade products

16-25 26-40 41-55 56+

Unaware/not considering purchasing Fair Trade products 34% 27% 9% 31%

Against principle of Fair Trade 21% 11% 7% 36%

Higher Cost 30% 18% 29% 11%

Unavailability 35% 54% 86% 32%

Unclear labeling 5% 10% 11% 13%

Other 13% 11% 7% 9%

Around 30% of 16-25 year olds did not consider purchasing Fair Trade products due to the expense involved. It is likely that younger people generally have less money to spend on food, linked to lower disposable incomes. This is probably particularly true of the many students who live and study in Kingston. Consumers in the 56+ age group were most likely to be against the principle of Fair Trade and found labelling and information about Fair Trade unclear. Perhaps the older generation are less willing to change their patterns of consumption and less sure about Fair Trade, as an alternative to conventional trade which provides conventional products. Only 9% of 41-55 years olds did not consider purchasing Fair Trade products, and 86% put this down to unavailability. This implies that more aware consumers are more likely to see unavailability as the main limitation to the growth of Fair Trade.

The proportion of consumers who were educated to degree level and aware of Fair Trade was 89%, compared to 36% of consumers not educated to degree level. Consumers educated to degree level were also more than twice as likely to consider purchasing Fair Trade products (59% compared to 24%). While 46% of consumers who were not educated to degree level were unaware/uninterested in Fair Trade products, only 10% of consumers educated to degree level were unaware of fair Trade and did not consider purchasing Fair Trade products. Thus, a strong relationship exists between education and Fair Trade purchases. In order for Fair Trade to grow into the mainstream, consumers must make an informed decision to purchase Fair Trade products, which means they must understand and support Fair Trade principles. Perhaps, consumers educated to degree level have a wider awareness of such issues. A higher proportion of consumers at Waitrose were educated to degree level, 54% compared to 35% at ASDA.

Reverting back to the main hypothesis, the Kingston survey finds that high awareness and demand for Fair Trade products exists among consumers, which implies a high level of support for the principles of Fair Trade. However, unavailability and higher cost of these products are key limitations to growth of Fair Trade. Consumer characteristics, including gender, age, and education, affect consumer awareness of Fair Trade. Women tend to be more aware of Fair Trade, as do consumers between 41-55 years and those educated to Degree level. At ASDA, higher cost seems to be the main limitation to growth. Fair Trade potential is higher at ‘up market’ supermarkets such as Waitrose. At Waitrose (and overall) higher cost was a secondary limitation to unavailability. The MORI survey, May 2004, identified that 63% of people who recognise the Fair Trade Mark subsequently buy Fair Trade products and similarly, the Kingston survey shows 64% of consumers who know about Fair Trade products consider purchasing them. This highlights the potential of Fair Trade and the importance of consumer awareness.

One of the interesting findings of the survey was that consumers make a link between Fair Trade products and better taste and quality. There is evidence of the ‘turn to quality’ in the food business, where consumers are making informed purchases based on how they want food to be produced and supplied to them. The trend has been termed ‘green consumption’ where consumers seek foods that are produced outside the agro-industrial system responsible for food scares and widespread environmental degradation. In the UK in particular, this ‘turn to quality’ has been constructed around consumer concerns over health and food safety, which can be linked to a foot and mouth epidemic, public anxiety over GM products and the BSE crisis. Consumers may also seek to boycott food from particular multinationals or countries, or to consume only locally produced or organic food or animal welfare friendly meat, or become involved in ‘community supported’ agriculture and these consumers are a driving force behind Fair Trade. Fair Trade products, along with organic products and a range of natural foods, are perceived to be of better quality and taste, which is increasing Fair Trade sales. The survey may have reflected some confusion among ‘green’ consumers between organic and Fair Trade markets. Nevertheless, it can be argued that Fair Trade may be capitalising on the success of the organic market, and that the products overlap.

Fair Trade is rapidly growing as a market, with powerful consumer support (as indicated by this survey and many others). In some countries, such as Switzerland, Fair Trade coffee has penetrated the mainstream. The success of coffee could be repeated for other products, including staple foods such as rice and potatoes. But Fair Trade is difficult to institutionalise, constrained by continuing policy distortions in importing countries. These range from protectionist barriers on agricultural products (and a range of other products), along with often unnecessarily bureaucratic regulations, which discriminate against small scale producers in developing countries.

Some consumer studies in Europe have also shown that, in general, only a maximum of 20% of people would be willing to pay more for Fair Trade goods. A huge majority of people would rather pay a lower price despite the negative social and environmental consequences of doing so. Fair Trade is often dismissed because of these limitations. It is also argued that Fair Trade is limited because it centres on competing with conventional trade, and not enough on tackling the root causes of poverty and unequal power relations in trade. TransFair USA describes the benefits of Fair Trade as follows: ‘In a global village, we prosper as our less fortunate neighbours prosper. Nations become neighbours, and we accept that some nations (‘neighbours’) are naturally more fortunate than others. The causes underlying global inequality, such as imperialism, neo-imperialism, trade advantages, and the debt crisis, disappear in this quaint metaphor. The notion that natural resources are limited, and that the first world neighbours gobble up a disproportionate share of the global commons, is also implicitly accepted.’

There are many limitations to Fair Trade, and it cannot be seen as an answer to root causes of poverty and inequality. At present Fair Trade is a niche market. It only guarantees protection against unequal and competitive international markets to a minority of small-scale producers in Fair Trade partnerships. However, I would argue that Fair Trade is part of a growing social movement, and one positive element of globalisation and, if growth continues, Fair Trade will penetrate the mainstream market.

This article focuses on the role of consumers in mainstreaming Fair Trade. Consumers are creating demand for more Fair Trade products, but for Fair Trade to become mainstream, economic, political and social factors need to work in tandem to make governments get behind Fair Trade. Fair Trade is at present an individual subsidy, but it should signal pressure for public subsidies (for the environmental and social cost of food production), so consumers are less deterred by cost. Developed countries could allow developing countries to subsidise their producers; open up their markets to exports from the developing world; and dismantle their own protection. Oxfam calculates that if developing countries increased their share of world exports by just 5% this would generate US$350 billion – seven times as much as they receive in aid.

A key challenge for the Fair Trade movement is in educating consumers in developed countries. In fact, about half of the extra price charged for Fair Trade products currently represents the cost of publicity and education work in the consumer market. The Fair Trade banana is a case in point: it costs up to 40% more than the “normal” banana. In other words, the consumer is paying a premium to inform other consumers. If Fair Trade principles and environment and development issues were debated in schools, colleges and universities, even as part of a national curriculum, there would be great potential of Fair Trade to grow and challenge conventional free trade, linked to much higher awareness of the public from a young age.

Politically aware consumers can make ethical purchases but also resist unfair trade practices through citizen campaigns, pressuring governments and companies to improve the social and environmental performance of trade. Non Government Organisations, collaborating with groups of aware consumers can do more to place pressure on transnational companies to participate directly in Fair Trade. For example, Starbucks was essentially compelled to start carrying Fair Trade labelled coffee by activists who picketed stockholder meetings and threatened mass demonstrations. Governments can be progressive at the national level, working with NGOs to develop Fair Trade. In Switzerland Fair Trade has been relatively successful because NGOs have helped to educate the public, raise awareness about Fair Trade, and distribute products, with financial and technical support from the progressive Swiss government. Linked to consumer awareness and demand for Fair Trade products, companies have realised the profitability of Fair Trade.

The time has come for businesses and supermarkets to realise the profitability of Fair Trade, and follow in the success and footsteps of other ‘social enterprises’ such as the Body Shop and Ben & Jerry’s. Governments must regulate the corporate sector so that Fair Trade is not exploited for a niche market. Ironically, the time has come for ethical corporations to take advantage in the food market, this time with a fair outcome.

The findings of this study highlight the importance of better understanding consumer preferences, and raising awareness further, if Fair Trade is to continue to grow into the mainstream. Consumers have and will play a key role in the growth of Fair Trade. Fair Trade is a market and a social movement that seeks to resist unfair trade practices. It operates both ‘within and against the market.’ For this reason, education and public awareness of trade issues and the principles of Fair Trade will be paramount to the growth of Fair Trade.

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20. November 2009 · Comments Off on The Best Forex Training – The Insider Secrets at Your Disposal · Categories: Finance · Tags: , ,

This means that in order to trade it successfully it requires solid strategy and also a proficient understanding of indicators and how to use them if you wish to make money.

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14. November 2009 · Comments Off on Diamond Souls, Diamond Eyes, Diamond Ways · Categories: Spirituality · Tags: , ,

The diamond has always been the most precious posssession out of creation, beyond even gold, The most grand princess resplendent in her riches of gemstones and gold had to have a centerpiece that held a diamond for all to see who was most precious. All would look in awe as this diamond of a person glided around among her admirers. She had diamonds in her eyes, and there was splendor all around;and so she flowed as one of a few where those human diamonds such as she.

In China was Confucous, who taught of good behavior and obedience to the emperor state. Confucious he did not believe in an after life, nor do many modern Chinese. Then came Guatama Buddha who lived from 560 to 480 B.C. Buddha was born as a prince in royalty in a palace of diamonds. Buddha’s mother died when he wasa youth. He left his wife and children at age 29. So it was that at age 29 Prince Guatama left his royal life behind to find in a simpler way to live. Buddah went to find peace somehow within.

At that time the ancient religion of Hindhu beliefs held that there were many gods and goddesses, many fables and stories, in that the world was balanced on the back of a giant turtle, or gods with many arms. The existing religion also supported the bias of the times. It also had a caste system that is hard for India to shake, and it had become a central part of the faith. On top were the usually lightest skinned leaders and those of the court, who were then deemed closest to God.

Many religions still follow this five thousand year old Brahmin superiority over other faiths. Buddha was high in this caste system, actually in the second highest caste system, those of the warriors, who had to be that high, like modern day bureaucrats but more as protection on their way to Heaven first. Down it went until the darker skinned people were the real life and spiritual untouchables, and were perhaps going to have to undergo many transformations before such harmony and suffering could be completed.

And until that, their children were doomed as they to be the sewage duty for all this life. Buddha rejected all these thoughts. His quiet, diamond eyes found eight steps to bliss, painful discovery at a time. By the time of his gentle death at age eighty, a very old age for that time, Buddha had began his last mortal day with a simple meal with his family of friends, and they all began a final meditation as one in this life. At the end of the meditation, which my faith encourages twenty minutes as perfect, gentle Buddha had followed his meditation into Heavenly Nirvana so blissfully.

A diamond of a life was lived with Buddha. It was three followers of Buddha surely, who were wise and from the east, there to look in to the diamond eyes of baby Jesus, the Christ child. The next son of God would surely have eyes that glittered like diamonds and when they saw this was so then they knew. And this search is still the way Buddhists next door to India of Buddha, in high mountain Tibet. Here when the reigning holy man is frail or in fear of dying, most other holy men begin to prepare for their journey in search of the next leader.

After the death of their dear leader, these three wise men follow the trails of Tibet. They look into many eyes, each set of eyes in Tibet, each new born child. Some times it has taken the holy men years before they find their next reborn leader. When that diamond of a soul baby is found, all holy men must agree. When they look into those eyes the diamond soul must be seen and felt by each wise man. When that does occur then all rejoice and praise their leader. The new dali lhama is always a he, at least so far in history.

He is adopted and brought up in that holy place in Tibet now a Museum, and they would always there nurture him for life. Diamond souls in Lhasa, there are diamonds in the eyes of the most kindly at church, or in a smile in a grocery line, and as our souls every day in life. Researchers at the University of California have showed that there are eight general virtues of those who report most bliss and happiness in their lives, live the longest, report best health for age, gender, and income group.

These sound an awful lot of church going people who do charity work that I have known.

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08. November 2009 · Comments Off on A Discussion of Emily Dickinson’s Poem, Because I Could not Stop for Death · Categories: Poetry · Tags: , ,

Because I could not stop for Death —

He kindly stopped for me —

The Carriage held but just Ourselves —

And Immortality.

We slowly drove — He knew no haste

And I had put away

My labor and my leisure too,

For His Civility —

We passed the School, where Children strove

At Recess — in the Ring —

We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain —

We passed the Setting Sun —

Or rather — He passed us —

The Dews drew quivering and chill —

For only Gossamer, my Gown —

My Tippet — only Tulle —

We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground —

The Roof was scarcely visible —

The Cornice — in the Ground —

Since then — ’tis Centuries — and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses’ Heads

Were toward Eternity —

Emily Dickinson was an innovative and talented American poet who wrote nearly 1800 poems during her brief lifetime from 1830 to 1886. Dickinson became publicly well known as a poet only after her death because she chose to publish only a very small number of her poems, somewhere between seven and twelve, during her lifetime.

Emily Dickinson’s Life

Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a well known family. Her grandfather helped to found Amherst College and her father, a lawyer, served for numerous years in the Massachusetts legislature and in the United States Congress. Dickinson had a one year older brother and a three years younger sister.

As a young girl and teenager Dickinson acquired many friends, some lasting a lifetime, received approval and attention from her father, and behaved fittingly for a girl during the Victorian era. She received a classical education from the Amherst Academy and was required by her father to read the Bible. Though she attended church regularly only for a few years, her Christian foundation remained strong throughout her life.

Dickinson attended nearby Mount Holyoke College for only one year, due to numerous reasons, and then was brought back home by her brother, Austin. The Dickinson family lived in a home overlooking the town’s cemetery, where she is buried, for a few years before moving into the home her grandfather had built, called “The Homestead.”

At home in Amherst, Dickinson became a capable housekeeper, cook, and gardener. She attended local events, became friends with some of her fathers’ acquaintances, and read a number of books given to her by her friends and her brother. Most books had to be smuggled into the home for fear that her father would disapprove of them.

Emily Dickinson enjoyed the writings of an impressive list of contemporaries such as Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Whittier, Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. She also read from the Victorians, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Thomas Carlyle, and George Eliot, and the Romantic poet Lord Byron. She also loved “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens. When she discovered Shakespeare she asked, “Why is any other book needed?” In her home she hung portraits of Eliot, Browning, and Carlyle.

Dickinson grew more reclusive into the 1850’s. She began writing poems and received favorable response from her friends. Throughout the rest of her life she adopted the friendly practice of giving poems to her friends and bouquets of flowers from her garden. Her garden was so varied and well-cared that she was better known as a gardener than a poet.

During the Civil War years of the early 1860’s, Emily Dickinson wrote more than 800 poems, the most prolific writing period of her life. During this period Dickinson saw the death of several friends, a teacher, and the declining health of her mother who she had to tend closely. These unhappy events saddened Dickinson and led her to treat the subject of death in many of her poems.

Following the Civil War and for the remaining 20 years of her life, Dickinson rarely left the property limits of The Homestead. Her father, mother, and sister Lavinia all lived with her at home, and her brother lived next door at The Evergreens with his wife, Susan, a longtime friend to Emily, and their children. She enjoyed the company of her family and wrote often to her friends, but residents of Amherst only knew her as the “woman in white” when they infrequently saw her greeting visitors.

After several friends, a nephew, and her parents died, Dickinson wrote fewer and fewer poems and stopped organizing them, as she had been doing for many years. She wrote that, “the dyings have been too deep for me.” Dickinson developed a kidney disease which she suffered from for the remaining two years of her life. The final short letter that she wrote to her cousins read, “Little Cousins, Called Back. Emily.”

Characteristics of Dickinson’s Poetry

Emily Dickinson’s sister, Lavinia, gathered Emily’s poems and published them in 1890. Editors changed some of her words, punctuations, and capitalizations to make them conform to a certain standard. Later editions restored Dickinson’s unique style and organized them in a roughly chronological order.

Emily Dickinson’s poems have many identifiable features. Her poems have been memorized, enjoyed, and discussed since their first publication. Many critics consider her to have been extraordinarily gifted in her abilities to create concise, meaningful, and memorable poems.

The major themes in her poetry include Friends, Nature, Love, and Death. Not surprisingly, she also refers to flowers often in her poems. Many of her poems’ allusions come from her education in the Bible, classical mythology, and Shakespeare.

Dickinson did not give titles to her poems, an unusual feature. Others have given titles to some of her poems, and often the first line of the poem is used as a title.

She wrote short lines, preferring to be concise in her images and references. A study of her letters to friends and mentors shows that her prose style was composed of short iambic phrases, making her prose very similar to her poetry.

Dickinson’s poems are generally short in length, rarely consisting of more than six stanzas, as in “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.” Many of her poems are only one or two stanzas in length. The stanzas are quatrains of four lines. Some poems have stanzas of three or two lines.

The rhythm in many of her poems is called common meter or ballad meter. Both types of meter consist of a quatrain with the first and third lines having four iambic feet and the second and fourth lines having three iambic feet. The iambic foot is a unit of two syllables with the first syllable unstressed and the second syllable stressed.

In her quatrains the rhyme scheme is most often abcb, where only the second and fourth lines rhyme. Such a rhyme scheme is typical of a ballad meter.

Many other poems are written in a meter that is typical of English hymns. This rhythm pattern is characterized by quatrains where lines one, two, and four are written in iambic trimeter and the third line is written in iambic tetrameter.

Often her rhymes are near rhymes or slant rhymes. A near rhyme means that the two rhyming words do not rhyme exactly. They only make a near match.

In Dickinson’s poems, capitalizations and punctuations are unorthodox. She regularly capitalized the nouns but sometimes she was inconsistent and a few nouns were not capitalized. For punctuation, she frequently used a dash instead of a comma or a period, and sometimes she used a dash to separate phrases within a line. Some editions of her poems have attempted to correct the punctuation of her poems.

A dozen or more composers have set Dickinson’s poems to music, including Aaron Copland who produced “Twelve Songs on Poems of Emily Dickinson” in 1951. 0ne of the interesting ways to treat some of Dickinson’s most famous poems, often learned in school, is to sing them to the tune of “Amazing Grace,” or “The Yellow Rose of Texas, or most humorously, the theme to “Gilligan’s Island.”

Because I Could Not Stop for Death

“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” is a brilliant poem, well constructed, easily understood, and filled with many poetic conventions. The first stanza is often quoted alone and represents one of the most inspired quatrains in American poetry.

In the first stanza Dickinson has created a wonderful metaphor that is carried throughout the poem. She has personified death, giving him a name, a conveyance, and a companion. The presence of Immortality in the carriage softens the idea of the arrival of Death. And the fact that He kindly stopped is both a reassurance that his arrival was not unpleasant and an expression of the poet’s wit. It is ironic in a humorous way to imagine Death being kind. The speaker in the poem is speaking of an event that happened in the past, another reassurance that there is survival after death. Dickinson’s Christian view of eternity and the immortality of life are evident in these stanzas.

The second stanza is about Death arriving slowly such as the result of a disease, which in fact Dickinson did succumb to at the end of her life. Again, there is an ironic reference to Death, this time to his civility, which rhymes with “immortality” from the first stanza and ties the two stanzas together. Notice that there are a couple of examples of alliteration, one in the first line with “knew no,” and another in the third line with “labor” and “leisure.”

The third stanza gives a picture of the journey. The children and the school in the first line refer to early life. The fields of ripening grain in the third line refer to life’s middle stage. Finally, the setting sun in the fourth line refers to the final stage of life. Notice the use of anaphora to effectively tie all of the stages of life together. The repetition of the phrase, “we passed,” at the beginning of the lines is known as anaphora. There is also a pleasant example of alliteration in the second line, “recess” and “ring.”

The fourth stanza contains two more examples of effective alliteration and creates the image of a person who is not dressed appropriately for a funeral. In fact, the gossamer gown is more like a wedding dress, which represents a new beginning rather than an end. Notice also the near rhyme in this stanza as well as in several other stanzas. Oddly, this stanza was not included in early editions of Dickinson’s poems; however it appears in all of the more recent editions.

The grave or tomb is described in the fifth stanza as a house. The description indicates that the poet feels at ease with the location. The last stanza indicates that centuries have passed, though ironically it seems shorter than the day. The “horses’ heads” is a comfortable alliteration and ties the vision back to the first stanza. The final word, “eternity,” which rhymes with “immortality” in the first stanza also brings all of the stanzas together and brings the poem to a calm close.

05. November 2009 · Comments Off on Are You an Avid Online Shopper? · Categories: Shopping And Product Reviews · Tags: , ,

Online Shopping definitely isn’t something new, however, it does seem to be getting more and more popular every single year. People shopping online do so for a few reasons; one is the convenience, two is the security, three is because its easy and quick and lastly on most websites you find online the prices are quite less than they would be if you bought it on a regular offline store. More often that not, I find myself on sites like eBay and Amazon because they have a lot of the stuff I’m looking for, for half the price in a brand name store like Best Buy or Target. Savvy shoppers enjoy the hunt for a lower “bargain” price because lets face it, who doesn’t love to save money where we can?!? Listed below are a few items in which I have found online, these range from baby gifts, gifts for children, teens, gifts for him and her, MP3 and MP4, toys and games, novelty items and much more!

Adopt A Sea Turtle Gift Box – The recipient of this gift will help protect an endangered sea turtle of their choice by supporting a conservation project carried out by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species – a charity that runs a range of hands-on projects that make a real difference to the future of many species. You can choose from Loggerhead Turtle, Leather back Turtle, Green Turtle or Hawks bill Turtle. They are then sent a personalized supporter certificate and will receive newsletters directly from the charity, giving the latest news of its projects, achievements and animal conservation plans for the future.

Night Owl Keyword And Mouse – I can’t even tell you how many times I go to bed and realize I forgot to finish some virtual paper work on my computer, and this is when my favorite keyboard comes to life. I don’t even have to turn a light on nor do I have to squint to see the board by the light of the computer screen! This little guy is an illuminated keyboard and mouse which is an ergonomic, split-key variety. I like the ergonomic option because it’s easy on my hands, shoulders, and wrists! It’s also splash proof, so if you’re up late drinking coffee trying to meet or beat that deadline, you won’t need to worry about the odd spillage. There is also a purple one but, I prefer the clear one!

Pink iPod Kit – This sweet little kit includes everything you need for your MP3/MP4 player, such as carry case, USB power input cable, speaker dock, headphones, sound system connector, audio/visual connection cable. Enjoy your music in style!

Picoo Z Sky Challenger – This is one of those really cool toys you always wanted as a kid and your parents always said “when you get older” but you still never got one! Well darn it I still wanted one so at 27 I bought one when i found it online! This Sky Challenger is only six inches long and weighing an incredible 10 grams, the amazing new Picoo Z x-rotor micro helicopter is a fascinating flying machine that is super stable and easy to fly in the smallest of spaces, and unbelievably fits in the palm of your hand for fantastic desk top fun! Awesome!

Home Pro Deluxe Vogue – Operated adjustable 20 piece hair clipper kit. Stylish satin silver and chrome finish with an ergonomic grip. Also, included is a fine blade trimmer, ideal for trim lines. Battery operated, 10 combs, scissors, oil and cleaning brush, storage pouch, power adjuster, plus a “how to” DVD! You wouldn’t believe how many men are actually looking for something just like this.

Versace – The floral fragrance contains notes of Blackcurrant, Wisteria, Lilac, Lotus, Orchid, Jasmine, Musk, Vetiver and Cedar. The concept of essential shape that is so typical of present modern design but that becomes representative of a classic symbol that is so dear to the Versace tradition: The Golden Medusa.

Grow It Tea And Coffee – The perfect gift for both gardeners and tea and coffee lovers! Tea and coffee play such a big part in our lives today and the GROW IT Tea and Coffee gift box provides a fun opportunity to try growing your own. Includes 1 pack of coffee seeds, 1 pack of tea seeds, 5 coconut husk growing pots, 5 natural coconut husk compost discs, 5 wooden plant markers, and tea and coffee growing tips!

These items are all fabulous to either buy for yourself or for someone you love. I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to the animal gift boxes, there are a few different ones I found this site I was on and they are all really cool they include other gift boxes such as adopt a big cat, discover your coat of arms, dedicate a tree, and historic map! Sites like these really are nice because they are what I like to call “one stop shops” meaning you can just shop for everything you need right then and there with out ever having to leave the store and shop somewhere else. So, not only is a store like this convenient, but it also has variety and you can save on shipping costs because now you wont have to stop at 7 different stores and have to pay 7 different shipping and handling fees! Yep, these sites really are the best of the best!

03. November 2009 · Comments Off on Cell Phone Recycling – Reasons Why We Absolutely Must · Categories: Environment · Tags: , ,

Recycle cell phones? Absolutely!

Did you know that you can actually recycle your old or used cell phones? If you’re like most people, you probably have an old cell phone or two hidden in a drawer somewhere. In a few months or years, you’ll rediscover these hidden phones and having no further use to you, these old units will most likely end up in your garbage bin and thence, in your city’s landfill.

But there’s a better, more environmentally-responsible, even more profitable way to dispose of your old cell phones. Cell phone recycling is the answer.

There may be around 700 million used or old cell phones in America today, with approximately 125 million discarded cell phones added every year. According to a study done by a market intelligence firm iSuppli Corporation in 2007, 36.8 percent stored their cell phones in their drawers, 10.2 percent threw their cell phones away or declared these as lost or stolen, and only 9.4 percent recycled their used or old cell phones. In actual numbers, that’s 10 million cell phones rotting away in our country’s landfills and 37 million cell phones gathering dust in the drawers of America – and that’s from 2007 alone!

Why should you recycle your cell phones?

Like other electronic wastes, cell phones in their circuit boards and batteries, contain such harmful heavy metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium. Dangerous chemicals like brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are also found in the plastic casing of most cell phones. According to Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine, author and leading authority in biomedical sciences, lead has been found to cause development problems in children and diminishes brain functions even in adults. Cadmium exposure can lead to “liver and irreversible kidney problems (often fatal), respiratory and bone density problems. Compounds containing cadmium are also carcinogenic.”

Most of our landfills today are scientifically designed to contain chemicals leaking from the solid waste, but will you gamble the health of your children and your’s on the chance that cell phones and other electronic wastes we so carelessly throw to our landfills will not leach chemicals into our underground water systems? The likelihood of these dangerous and deadly chemicals seeping into our water systems is just too high. By dumping cell phones and other electronic wastes in our landfills, we are practically poisoning ourselves.

Is there money in cell phone recycling?

Yes. As a matter of fact, cell phone recycling can be quite lucrative. You can make money by selling your used or old cell phones to recycling and refurbishing companies like Pacebutler Corporation in Edmond, OK who will pay as much as $50 for each cell phone you turn in and will even pay for the shipping of packages containing at least 4 cell phones. The refurbishing company then turns around, and refurbishes these cell phones to be marketed to wholesale buyers abroad, bringing communication capability to people from developing countries in South America and other areas.

On a much larger scale, recycling companies like Umicore in Belgium, who process unserviceable cell phones and e-waste, are able to extract such precious metals and other materials from cell phones like gold, silver, platinum, copper, coltan, plastic and glass, etc. from these. Did you know that there’s more gold found in one metric ton of cell phone and other electronic waste than 17 tons of gold ore excavated and refined through the traditional mining process? The good news is, after the entire recycling process is over, less than half of 1% of the entire electronic waste processed, is deemed unfit to be returned to the production cycle and is then just burned for energy generation.

The precious metals present in each cell phone are basically just trace amounts, so it’s impractical and patently dangerous (because of the industrial chemicals necessary) for you to try and extract these minerals from your cell phone at home. It may seem like a joke, but it was in the news last month – a man who fancied himself as an “urban miner” got poisoned by the industrial chemicals he was using, while “mining” cell phones. The giant recycling firms make money by processing tons and tons of cell phones and other electronic waste.

How do you recycle cell phones?

Give your old or used cell phones to friends or family. Perhaps the most practical and easiest way to recycle cell phones is by extending the life cycle of old phones by giving these away to a friend or a family member. Most of the cell phones we hide or throw away in exchange for a newer model or after we switched to a different provider are still perfectly usable. You can give it to a friend or a younger sister, and you’re sure that cell phone will have a year or two more of use before getting permanently retired. But then again, if you go by this route, you’re merely extending the life cycle of your old phones. You can put in a word for the environment by asking the person you’re giving your phone to, to recycle it properly when the time comes.

Recycle cell phones through the manufacturer or service provider. Did you know that you can actually return your old cell phones to the manufacturer? The leading US manufacturers and service providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all have cell phone take-back programs, complete with free shipping and/or discounts in subsequent purchases. These companies will ensure that the cell phones are recycled or refurbished in a responsible and environmentally-sound process. It’s a win-win solution, too. The companies win by having access to a steady stream of recycled materials for manufacturing of new items. You win by making sure the your old phones are recycled responsibly and by getting the discounts from your purchases.

Donate your cell phones to your favorite charity. Many charitable and non-profit organizations today are able to raise funds for their respective charities and projects by collecting used and old cell phones, and then selling them to recyclers and refurbishers. If you want to start such a project in your own city or neighborhood, you can network with other non-profit organizations and even ask for material support from the recycling companies. People, even kids, are doing it. If you live near a zoo, chances are you’ve seen cell phone collection boxes near the zoo entrance. The fact is, by raising funds for a worthy cause by collecting and reselling old cell phones, you are putting to good use something that would have been useless, even harmful if disposed improperly.

Recycle cell phones through recycling and refurbishing companies. Selling your old or used cell phones to companies like Pacebutler Corporation is a fast and convenient option. You can actually process everything online in a few minutes. All you need to do is access the company’s website, check for the actual buying prices of your cell phones’ model, and request for a shipping label. Once you have the pre-paid labels, you can box and send your old cell phones to the company. The turn-around time is very fast for these online transactions, too. Generally, the company sends you your check within 4 business days after receiving your cell phones.

To summarize, we have outlined here the paramount importance of recycling your old or used cell phones, in the light of potential impact on the environment and people’s health. There is still so much room for growth in our cell phone recycling efforts, as we’ve seen in the numbers above. But things are looking up, as more and more people become aware of the importance and the absolute necessity to recycle cell phones, we should be able to move forward in increasing the cell phone recycling rate nationwide.

Recycle your cell phones today. As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says, “it’s an easy call to make.”

03. November 2009 · Comments Off on Thoughts on His Ex · Categories: Relationships · Tags: , ,

The abundance of single moms in our country means there are a lot of our exes out there, and they eventually end up in a new relationship. To this new woman you are the ex and who knows your ex better than you do, right?

It made me wonder what I’m really getting into when I date a single dad. He has an ex that either he left or left him. He’s been through a breakup/divorce, pays child support, etc. and has to maintain some kind of relationship with the mother of his kids. What is that like and what does it say about him? It’s worth more consideration than I think most of us give it, myself included.

As we know there are always two sides to every story and you’ve probably heard your new man’s, but what about his ex’s? If you know your ex better than anyone, wouldn’t that also mean that his ex knows him better than you? What do you think your ex tells the new woman in his life? You know we can’t all be Bitter Bitches!

If you’re dating or in a relationship with a single dad, or any man that has an ex (and we hope he does have some experience) then of course we want to take him for his word about his past and be supportive. However, as an ex and single mom ourselves, we do have some insight into his exes world – and she into ours.

It is highly possible your new man made mistakes in his past relationships, but I’d want to know if; 1) he can take responsibility for them instead of blaming others, 2) has he learned from his experiences, and 3) he is willing to make changes to avoid making the same mistakes in his past.

I prefer to think of his ex as an ally rather than an enemy. She’s in the sisterhood of single moms and exes and if she’s already been there and done that with my new man, we may have a lot in common.

It’s too bad so many women try to sabotage rather than support each other. If your man casts a negative light on his ex, try pointing out her side as you can relate to it with your own experiences with your ex. It would certainly be more productive than just taking his word and forming opinions based on only one side of the story. If we can help him find compassion for his ex by what we bring into the relationship as exes ourselves, then we’d all be better off. Pay it forward!