"It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
Sherlock Holmes C/o Arthur Conan Doyle.

Over the many years, we are continuously asked the same questions. So, here are some of them answered.

GAIA's material all looks very professional - like a real business...
That is because we are a 'real' business! Just because we work from home and we have ethical ideals and ecological guidelines, we still have to operate in a commercial business world. Albeit, on our terms, we try to shine above our competitors.

Whose ethical business principles does GAIA follow...?
We follow our own ethical principles, which were developed during the formation of GAIA and it's written Constitutional Document prior to formal incorporation. Our ethical codes and regulations, that are our guiding force, are now part of a wider corporate principle influencing other companies and organizations.

If GAIA is an ethical business, why is it part of the capitalist society...?
There is nothing unethical, in principle, with capitalism and corporate activities: commerce, global trading or even multi-national companies. It is how one goes about managing and organising ones business activities, that, determines your ethical credentials. GAIA leads by example, showing that you can be an ethical and ecologically concerned business trading in a capitalist community. We use the 'dirty' words, reclaim them and re-introduce them with ethical interpretations.

Why is GAIA not a charity...?
We understood right from the start, that, there were no reasons why a charity should act ethically. Being charitable is not the preserve of a registration. We want to show that a business, with all the capitalist trappings, can still be charitable. So, we set-up a non-profit making department, within GAIA, for campaigns and educational work. Still being part of GAIA's business status, it can be as political as it wants, which would be an unfavourable restriction of a charity status.

GAIA's gardens, posters, and literature look like the real thing...
Yes, that is because they are! Everything we do at GAIA is our way of life, not a gimmick or a hobby.

Which growing methods do you follow at GAIA...?
Again, we have developed our own. We do not recognise the formal restrictions of many 'methods', as they do not allow enough flexibility or understanding of non-western ideologies or wider ecological concerns. Our methods are now an established principle of their own, developed from Permaculture and No-Dig principles.

Why do you not allow photography on GAIA premises...?
Today's society has become vastly discourteous and ill-educated due to a rise in the misguided belief, that, the human being is becoming increasingly more individual, free and developed. The truth is, that, human society is becoming less considerate, less tolerant, less principled and less understanding. The, 'no photography', stance stems from a cultural belief, that, is part of [GAIA's founders] our own cultural heritage, it is not a whimsical play at being different. We aim to encourage people to be aware of other peoples' beliefs, cultures and rights by encouraging them to be courteous and sympathetic to a wider world of beliefs. Western society has ingrained itself in a 'take, take, take' life-style, that, leaves no part of the inner human spirit alive.

Do you ever feel under pressure not to be 'caught out'...?
No, because we are not driven by television and magazine trends, market forces or corporate initiatives. Our ethical life-style and business commerce comes from our innate desires to lessen our environmental impact, to be ethical consumers, to be socially responsible and to live a sustainable life-style.

Do you feel, that, all these rules make GAIA too didactic...?
Not at all. Human beings are herd animals and function, historically, far better when they have guidelines and rules. If you live in communal environments there will always be rules and regulations to abide by, human beings simply write them down. We have rules to tell us where the boundaries of 'good' and 'bad' (or 'acceptable' and 'unacceptable' ) behaviour are. Usually, the people who seem to have a problem with rules and refer to a 'nanny state' seem to have little regard for other people and deep rooted psychological insecurities. They seem to be people who focus on one right of a minority over the many rights of a majority. An old US labour rights campaigner of the early nineteen hundreds who, when admonitioned by the judge that, "well, you broke the law!", replied: "Ah judge, but what good are your laws anyway? The good people don't need them and the bad people ignore them!" This pre-supposes, that, all people understand and regard the laws in the same way in the first place to be able to break or abide by them. Without the laws in place, in the first place, there is nothing to rebel against. If human beings were intelligent they would be able to distinguish the 'good' laws from the 'bad' laws, and not simply distinguish between laws that they, individually, do not want to obey, from laws that they feel that they ought to obey.

We just can't afford to live ethically and buy organic produce...
It is not nearly as expensive as one is made to think. Working for and living within GAIA, we function on a low income, but we manage it. You can make savings by using your car less, having products delivered and by consuming less!

Why don't you apply for grant money or support for your projects from places like Shell, BT or government arts schemes...?
At GAIA, we have very strong principles as who it would be ethical to trade with, or associate with, or work with. We source all possible companies, organizations and grant schemes for a variety of credentials. They must be run ethically; they must have an environmental policy and a sustainable outlook; they must conduct all their business transparently; adhere to accountability principles; source their ingredients or component parts ethically; and have no dealings themselves (or their mother company) with oppressive regimes. We check their credentials thoroughly and would not deal with anyone who does not fulfill our ethical code of practice.

Additionally, government grants tend to garnish grant conditions with so many restrictions, that, art no longer is the motivation, in favour of 'community' inclusion and artistic flexibility are compromised or restricted.

So does this limit your scope...?
Despite most people's assumption, that this limits our trading and financial scope, it actually does not. In working this way we know our conscience will be clear and that we are sharing with other companies and organizations the opportunity to give back to communities, environments and economic systems. Most people get their information from television or newspapers and assume that these mediums are the fount of all knowledge. However, they are not! They are far more selective and manipulative of the knowledge they want people to know about. As such, there is an 'underworld' of ethical and ecological organizations, individuals and companies that are flourishing unknown to most people.

What advice would you give anybody who would like to start their own ethical business or live an ethical life-style...?
You either believe in it or you do not. You can not plan it, as such. You can not manufacture a conscience. If you do not truly believe in ethics and the consequences of all your actions it will be a strain and create resentment. Having said that, we can all try harder. We can read more enlightened books (like GAIA's own publication, 'A Brief History Of GAIA'); we can source more information about products and manufacturing processes; we can learn to relax more and let the industrialisation work for us; we can learn more about ecology and how nature works, rather than ogling in awe at it and then working against it; we can stop seeing humans, human society and human development as the forefront of earth's development.

In short, I would advise anyone to be a punk! Strip off all the rules of anarchism, socialism, conservationism, environmentalism, conservatism, radicalism and militism... We made our own path and we follow our own rules, taking guidance from nature. We do not conform to 'green movements', 'socialist ideologies', or 'organic movements'. Everything has become so uniformed, that even alternative living and 'alternative' people are boring because they fit too easily into pockets of uniformity. My warning to the new generation would be: '
don't bottle, label and categorise Punk like our parents and grandparents have Hippies'.

(Taken from conversations and interviews with GAIA's Co-Founder and Chief Executive)

The clean-up and after-care of our environment begins with education. GAIA.

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