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Archive for the ‘Green Things’ Category

I just bought these (in the sale at Schuh!):

And boy are they comfy! They are squishy inside so it’s like walking on rubber, which you are actually – it’s latex,  a natural rubber.  In fact everything about these trainers is great, from the comfort factor to the ribbon laces to the fact that they are completely ethically produced.

Here’s what the inside of the box tells me about the ingredients of my new shoes:

Latex (as  mentioned just now)

Recycled car tyres – ‘we collect used and landfill-bound car tires, cut them up and use them as outsoles.

Bamboo – bamboo is an endless resource because it is so plentiful. It’s super soft too!

Organic cotton – Our cotton is 100% organic – that means no synthetic pesticides, fertilizers or additives.

Water based glue –  we use all water based glues. Better for the shoe makers and better for you.

Crepe – crepe is another natural rubber. It’s tapped from the hevea tree in the same way maple syrup is tapped from the maple tree.

Recycled inner tubes  – we reuse the rubber from landfill bound car tire inner tubes on many of our shoes.

Hemp – not only is hemp soft but it is one of the wtrongest vegetable fibres available and it grows like a weed!

They call their brand ‘shoes for a happy planet’.  Happy me, too.

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I just found this piece  in the archive and I think it’s worth a republish since it’s that time of year when wrapping gifts is a(n) (inter) national activity. I’ve updated it and hope you find it useful!

(for these labels, see the Copper Swallow)

OK, so you’ve trailed the shops/internet, developed a nervous disorder, and finally got all your presents in a pile; now it’s time to wrap those bad boys. Of course all wrapping gets ripped off in the end, so you might think it doesn’t really matter what it looks like. WRONG. Packaging is very important, as any woman will tell you. It’s also rather nice to receive a beautifully wrapped gift; it shows thought and effort and people always appreciate that. And of course you can do it all in an eco friendly way, using recycled and recyclable materials, whilst still being imaginative, stylish and a bit different. That’s right, you CAN have it all.

You can of course go completely mad with it, and use lashings of ribbon and sticky tape and all kinds of embellishments. And why not. I however am inclined to think that less is more in most cases, as long as you haven’t literally dug out a bit of creased old paper from last year’s stash, the kind with marks where the tape was stuck the first time round, and roughly attached it to the outside of the gift with tape that got twisted in the middle of things.

So basically what you need to wrap a present so it looks pretty is: scissors, sellotape, some kind of ribbon/raffia/string. Oh, and paper. (Unsurprisingly I’m a total fan of reusing wrapping paper as long as it doesn’t look too scrappy, and also ribbons which are usually fine for many uses. Proper fabric ribbon though, not that awful plasticky shimmery sort that you can curl with scissors and probably never biodegrades.) Also boxes of different shapes and sizes; a present is much easier to wrap if it’s a rectangle.

In the Keeping It Simple vein, what could be simpler than brown paper and string? It has a certain retro vibe to it, is not expensive, and the paper at least can be recycled. You could really up the old-fashioned-parcel feel by using stamps (the rubber kind, or indeed the postage kind), and use a brown or cream paper luggage tag and some lovely brown ink to write your Christmas message. This works well for men, as does simply wrapping the gift and then using rubber letter stamps or cutting out letters in a contrasting paper to spell out their name. (This rather depends on how much time you have.)

For women I’d do something lavish with ribbon. I think of it like the make up rule; eyes OR lips but most definitely not both. Glamorous paper means simple ribbon, and vice versa. I keep a stash of ribbons from past gifts so rarely have to buy new, and with something like the name idea above, you can forego ribbon completely. If you can tie a bow you can make ribbon look nice, and extra wide ribbon has a certain extravagance to it. The kind with wire along the edge which holds its shape is also fabulous, not least because it’s so easy to make it look good. If you can manage it without using tape so much the better, but this can be quite tricky and really only tends to work for people who wrap as part of their job or have four hands. Check out this for a cunning trick to turn a piece of ribbon into a rose as below.

Another way to do it is to use fabric. Again, I stash away a lot of fabric, and if you buy a fat quarter (a smallish bit) it’s not expensive and can be reused to make something lovely. Fabric’s good if the present is round or an awkward shape; lay the gift in the middle of the fabric ( the right way up), scoop it all up so it’s bunched together at the top, and tie some ribbon around it so it looks a bit like a pineapple. But much more glamorous. You can use pinking shears to give it a nice non-fraying, zig zag edge too. Or use one of the aforementioned boxes.

If you’re trying to save some pennies, look around your home for inspiration. Old (not vintage!) maps, musical scores, or pages from dead books can all make original, recycled, recyclable wrapping paper. Newspaper (black and white) can be used to great effect too, especially with, say, a bright red ribbon.  And if you’re feeling crafty, why not use rubber stamps on plain white paper? You don’t even need to buy stamps – potatoes will do!

Have a go! And if all else fails, we can do it for you free!

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I’ve had some new postcards made – a bit late for fairs as I did the last one on Tuesday, but now if you place an order you will also get one of these!

I use A Local Printer, an eco printing firm based in Chichester, so not only are they local, they also fulfil the ethical criteria! What I love about them is:

~ Ordering is easy.

~ P&P is free.

~ They do short runs.

~ All paper/card/inks used are environmentally friendly.

~ They are very quick and efficient.

~ You can have the FSC logo printed onto each card at no extra cost.

Also I’ve just noticed they’re doing ec0 wrapping paper now! I would definitely recommend using them if you’re looking for excellent quality, eco friendly printed material.

And no, they’re not paying me!

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I would really love to make all my Christmas presents this year. I did a pretty good job of it last year after doing pottery classes and producing all sorts of baked clay goodies for my loved ones, but this year both time and inspiration are sadly slightly lacking. The thing is craft is such a massive thing now, especially with the recession forcing so much tightening of belts, that there are more reasons than ever to think about crafting Christmas presents for your nearest and dearest. For one, it’s immensely satisfying and meaningful (although I’ll admit that it is STILL difficult to think up things for men, especially if you can’t knit), secondly it’s eco friendly, and thirdly, it is or can be much cheaper than buying expensive high street gifts.

I just stumbled across these instructions to make a shopper bag from Daisy Green, an online magazine dedicated to all things green, eco and cool, but if you don’t have a way with a sewing machine, there are always our (very affordable, pretty and extremely durable and useful) Oneless Plastic Bags!

onelessbagstill

£10

If you are a dab hand with the knitting needles you could have a go at knitting a soft grey lacey scarf, courtesy of Folksy Makes, but if not, no bother, we have just the thing – a soft grey cotton jersey scarf!

Grey Spot Scarf£19.99

If you have a stash of bright buttons, some felt and a needle and thread, you could try making a brooch, (another Folksy Make), or you could choose one of our recycled felt brooches – still ethical and handmade (just not by you….)!

feltflowergroup£12

Make your own screenprinted card, or buy a set of our handmade, recycled, UK designed and produced notecards.

dancingledgenotecards

£5.95

Now these Upcycled Paper Beads really ARE easy, and no fancy schmancy equipment required. But if you’re all thumbs, guess what. Yup, we have jewellery! And very affordable and pretty it is too. What about this bright and beautiful necklace?indianfestivalnecklace

£16

Lots of ideas, whether you’re a DIY sort of person, or a BIY type (yes, that’s Buy It Yourself). Happy shopping!

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I have an obsession with travelling. I don’t get to do it nearly as much as I’d like, but I think about it ALL the time. Then recently I happened upon Fair Trade Holidays, a way of travelling that truly does give something back, and I did a little dance.

Run by Traidcraft, in collaboration with Saddle Skedaddle (what a fabulous name that is!), ‘Meet the People Tours’ are quite possibly the most worthwhile way and reason to travel beside ‘staycationing’ (if we must use ridiculous words like that). I am of the firm belief that the world is an intriguing, wonderful place, and that learning about other cultures and people is crucial for developing understanding and peaceful relationships.  And obviously, doing what I do means I have a vested interest in Fair Trade.Peru 210808 065 cropped(1)

‘Meet the People’ tours allow small groups of likeminded travellers to visit the communities who are directly benefiting from Fair Trade. There are trips to South East Asia, Latin America, Africa, India and Sri Lanka, all offering a first hand look into the lives and work of the people who produce the coffee on the supermarket shelves and the handcrafted items in our homes. They take in sites of cultural interest and include homestays so you really are a part of things.

Things that sound too good to be true generally are in my experience, and I guess the one downside of all this goodness is the price. These trips are not cheap, but perhaps testament to their success is the amount of people who go back again and again. And you can guarantee it’ll be the trip of a lifetime.

As they say on their Facebook page:

If you’re interested in fair trade & are looking for an opportunity to meet the people behind the products, see the impact of fair trade & Traidcraft’s work, fighting poverty through trade, then these holidays are for you.

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A Short Walk tick a lot of ethical boxes. They are a UK based company making clocks for home and garden out of recycled vending machine coffee cups, by hand. Local, handmade, recycled products, tick tick tick (tock).recycled_outdoor_clock_-_classic_outside_shot_against_wood

The cups come from the Save-A-Cup scheme, which collects millions of coffee cups every week for recycling. More than a billion cups have been saved so far, and when you see what can be produced from something not traditionally known for its inherent beauty, it really is very satisfying.recycled_clock_classic

A Short Walk have spent a lot of time working out how to make recycled coffee cups NOT look and feel like recycled plastic, and I think they’ve done a jolly good job. The clocks are perhaps surprisingly quite heavy and solid, and look very much like slate. recycled_clock_traditionalPlus, the clock/thermometers can be kept outside as they are frost resistant, and the white digits mean they can be easily read from several metres away at the bottom of the garden.recycled_outdoor_clock_-_close_up_outside_shotWe stock the clocks and thermometers shown here, priced £24.95 and £26.95. They have proved extremely popular as wedding gifts and feelgood purchases for homes and gardens. Check them out on our website.

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I have just discovered a new blog, set up by two keen bloggers Rachel Lyddon and Emma Castle, which aims to encourage people to find new ways of being ‘that little bit greener’.

Here’s what they have to say about it:

“We decided to create this blog as a place to share information, stories, links, tips and tutorials that will, hopefully, inspire you to make some of those changes. We know that we don’t need to tell you about recycling, shopping locally or changing your lightbulbs! We know that many of you do lots of these things already. And we know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of “green” websites and blogs already out there. We are not experts and we are far from perfect! But we wanted to add our contribution, to try and be “that little bit greener”, and we want you to get involved too.”

The girls welcome contributions, simply contact them on thatlittlebitgreener@hotmail.co.uk.  A good opportunity to get on your soap box or simply share a cunning tip you discovered last week involving recycled loo rolls.

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