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Borax

Borax occurs naturally in evaporite deposits produced by the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes. The most commercially important deposits are found in Turkey; Boron, California; and Searles Lake, California. Also, borax has been found at many other locations in the Southwestern United States, the Atacama desert in Chile, newly discovered deposits in Bolivia, and in Tibet and Romania. Borax can also be produced synthetically from other boron compounds.
WIkkipedia

Proper borax is No longer sold on the shelves in the UK. You have to make do with a borax substitute from Dripak.

“Borax Substitute is sodium sesquicarbonate – a mineral compound, with similar pH to borax, making it ideal for cleaning and laundry. It is gentler than Soda Crystals yet stronger than Bicarbonate of Soda.

Using Borax Substitute around the house
Uses Borax Substitute as a:

Multi-purpose cleaner – Mix it with some water to form a paste. This makes it an excellent scouring agent that offers more cleaning power than Bicarbonate of Soda.
A water softener to help keep your washing machine clear of limescale.
To make your own bath salts, simply add some perfume or essential oils and a drop of food colouring to some Borax Substitute.”

That said you can still buy borax from Ebay

Uses

You can use real borax for the above and
Can be used to make a fire retardant spray
To deter moths

More

Borax, washing soda, bicarbonate or all three. What should you use for your cleaning needs? A comparison HERE
See all out #plasticfree cleaning aids HERE

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Creams & Lotions – Recipes

It is so easy to make your own creams and lotion that once you start you will never look back. The advantages are huge; you get to control what goes on your skin, be way more eco-friendly and save a whole load of cash. You can make almost anything the cosmetic companies sell but without the palm oil, dodgy chemicals and weird colours. Though you can have all those too if you want.

Lotion and cream is basically a mix of oills,waxes or butters with water combined using an emulsifier. Lotions are thinner, cream more solid.

Do you really need to make a cream? Many times you can use an oil or butter neat. But sometimes they are just too oily.

Many commercial creams including E45 use mineral oil. That’s derived from the same gloopy black oil we use to make petrol.

ingredients

To make cream or lotion you will need

Oil, butters & waxes.
There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you. Generally speaking the richer the oil the heavier the cream, the more water you put in the lighter the lotion. There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you.  See my guide to oils here.

Water
There is much talk of using distilled water but I use tap.

Cooking thermometer
VERY useful .

Emulsifiers:
Water and fat do not naturally mix, you need to use an emulsifier.You have to add other ingredients to turn what is basically salad dressing into lovely thick cream. So in addition to oils and water you will need an emulsifier.

Preservatives
Optional. Oil on its own does not go off – there is no water for bacterial to feed on. Once you have added water to oil then it can. Now your creams are vulnerable to bacteria. Preservatives will help “keep” you r cream. I don’t use it as it can cause skin irritations. And I find cream without I less itchy on my skin. I have had a few pots of cream go mouldy but we are talking maybe 5 in the years I have been making my own creams. You can read up and buy preservatives here Aromantics

Pots
to put your cream in.

Notes On Emulsifiers

The most complex ingredient in cream is the emulsifier. The water and oils are simple enough but this is what makes them bind together.

There are a few completely natural emulsifiers  but they  do not give consistent results.
Most commercially used emulsifiers are manufactured. They are most often derived from coconut oil and palm oil. More recently, rapeseed has been used.
But some are produced from pig fats. Check what you buy.
I have tried a few with varied success BUT
A combination of VE Emulsifier, MF Emulsifier and Cetearyl Alcohol works every time and can be used to make a wide range of products from thick creams to thin lotions.

VE Emulsifier or Glyceryl Stearate is a vegetable-based emulsifier
Cetearyl Alcohol is a vegetable based emulsifying wax
MF Emulsifier or Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate  can be fermented from lactose (milk sugar)but more commonly comes  from nondairy sources such as cornstarch, potatoes and molasses.


Palm Oil
Please note that all the above also may be derived from or include palm oil. Be sure to buy from a good practice supplier. For example there should be something this note on Aromantics VE emulsifier “The Palm oil that is used in both in MF/VE emulsifiers comes from suppliers that are either members of the Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil or a subsidiary company or who are members of FEDIOL which supports sustainability. FEDIOL is a European industry federation based in Brussels”.
You can read more about palm oil here.

 

Process

Heat the Fat Stage ingredients in a double boiler (or a metal pot on hot water) until above 75°C. Use a thermometer to check.

Boil the water add the MF emulsifier and other Water Stage ingredients to 75°C.

Take off heat. Now pour the Fat Stage into the Water Stage in a slow steady stream before they drop below 75°C.

Mix well – I use a hand blender.

Allow to cool. Whisk occasionally to achieve a nice creamy consistency. As the mixture cools it becomes thicker and more creamy. It will reach its thickest consistency when it has cooled down to room temperature.

When the temperature is below 40°C you can add active ingredients
perfumes or essential oils and other magical things to make you look years younger.

You can also add specialist ingredients to make for example sun tan lotion or self tan.

Put the Cream into jars and label.

Take Care

That everything you use is clean, very clean.
Make sure you have enough pots to store your cream in.
That you label it – and date it. Believe me you will forget!

Recipes & Kits

Here are some sample recipes.

Supermarket Cream (My recipe)

You can buy all these ingredient from the supermarket.  I cut the olive oil with the lighter almond oil because I find it rather heavy.
Makes One liter of cream – have a big pot ready!

Fat Stage

 

  • 20g Cetyl Alcohol
  • 70ml Almond Oil Tesco’s or Asian Shop
  • 30ml Olive Oil
  • 20g coconut oil Tescos or Asian Shop
  • Water Stage
  • 800ml water
  • 40g MF emulsifier
  • Fancy Aromatics RecipeTo be honest I think this recipe has way to many ingredients but I like this company, I have used their products many times and think that this will probably make a nice cream. It is also useful to have a recipe that lists by percentages.You can experiment and use different oils, or even less oils. Just make sure the percentages stay the same. For example you can cut the thistle oil and use 10% Apricot Kernal Oil.

    By percentage
    Fat Stage (above 75°C)
    2% Cocoa Butter
    3% Macadamia Nut Oil
    7% Apricot Kernel Oil
    3% Thistle Oil
    2.5% VE Emulsifier
    2% Cetearyl Alcohol

    Water Stage (above 75°C)
    4.5% MF Emulsifier
    69% Boiling Spring Water
    2% Glycerine

    Third Stage (below 40°C)
    1% Preservative 12 or Eco
    1% Vitamin E Simulated Natural
    2% NFF Complex
    1% Essential Oils of your choice

    From Aromantics

    Rich Tropical Delights Cream (My recipe)

    Much easier far fewer ingredients. I cut the olive oil with Almond because I find it rather heavy.
    Makes One liter of cream – have a big pot ready!

    Fat Stage

  • 25 g VE Emulsifier
  • 20g Cetyl Alcohol
  • 70ml Almond Oil
  • 30ml Coconut Oil
  • 20g Shea butter
  • 10g Cocoa butter
  • Water Stage
  • 800ml water
  • 40g MF emulsifier
  • Design Your Own
    You can adapt the mix of oils for the above recipes based on your personal preference.
    If you want to design you own cream from scratch, follow these guidelines…
    style=”font-size: medium;”>Emulsifiers 5-8%
  • Oils 12-20%
  • Water, Additives, and Botanicals to 100 %.

 

Trouble Shoot
Cream too thick? You cannot add more water once the mixture has cooled. This ruins the cream – it will not rub in. You will need to make a thinner lotion and mix your creams to achieve the desired consistency. You can add more oil and mix well. This of course makes your cream more oily.

Lotions

If you want a thinner cream add more water at the water stage.

Kits

If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from www.aromantic.co.uk  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.

Anti Aging, Sun Tan Lotion & Fake Bake
You can add  specialist ingredients to your base to make for example sun tan lotion or self tan.

Buy

Aromantics is a good and ethical supplier of ingredients but expensive. I buy a lot of stuff in bulk from other suppliers. Ebay is a good source. Prices vary so do shop around.

I store my creams in old jars but for display  I have bought some glass jars with metal lids.

Plastic Spoiler

Most plastic base ingredients come in plastic bags but I get huge amounts cream out of one small bag of ingredients so I consider it a worthwhile compromise.

Making Personal Care Products 

Its quicker then  trying to choose between a hundred different shampoos and it’s really simple, fun to do, so much cheaper  and  I get to control what goes on my  body, where it comes from and what environmental impact it has.

Lots more info here on  toothpaste and other products  
and making other stuff – here.

Making creams while travelling

You cannot carry a years supply of home made cream in your rucksack so here are some ideas about making your own home made creams in hotel bedrooms.

Kits
If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from www.aromantic.co.uk  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.

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Gift wrap reusable

Which wrap should you choose? Well we prefer reusables over all else so here are some wraps you can use over and over again…

Reusable Wraps

Wrap your presents in cloth and tie with string
Or just use cloth and the ancient Japanese method of knotting. Called furoshiki. YOu can find more info here .
Make or buy reusable crackle paper made from recycled tents.
Make or buy a fabric gift bag
Try this stretch wrap from Wragwrap
fabric bottle bag from Wragwrap

Crackle Paper

I have to admit to using synthetic tents. I feel this is one instance where plastic really is the best product for the job, (remembers sleeping under canvas and shudders #plasticweuse). But what to do when your trusty old tent is no longer up to the job. Well you could re- use  it to make crinkly sounding wrapping paper. Or if you don’t camp, or sew, you could buy some recycled Glastonbury tent wraps form these guys….
FESTIWRAP

FestiWraps are made from tents, discarded at UK music festivals such as Lattitude and Glastonbury, and then collected by us. Tents that cannot be recovered by charities and would normally be sent to landfill, are collected, cleaned and used to create fabulous reusable gift wrap. The wrap itself is made from two outer layers of tent fabric sandwiched around a piece of ground sheet.  This creates a crinkly sound like paper folding and un-folding, bringing the emotional sounds and experience of a wrapped gift to life.  The fastening cord, which makes the FestiWrap so quick and easy to use, is made from the recovered tent guy ropes. You can buy here.

 

More

You can find other gift wrap options here, plus biodegradable sticky tape, string and pretty ties

Some reused plastic sails here

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Fabric Shops Button Box

 I got the printed cotton for my tabbard tunic, linen for the extremely wide pants, voile for the choir boy smock and denim for shorts from

Button Box, Huddersfield

At Queensgate Market where you can get a wide range of plastic free stuff

It looks more like a hobbies shop catering to quilters, stampers and card makers. But dont be put off by the decoupage, it has recently upped its fabric game. I remember the range as rather limited and extremely synthetic – think dance fabrics. Now it has some really nice stuff; funky prints, subtle colours and a lot of natural fibres.

More plastic free

They sell paper patterns and cotton bias binding by the meter. They have some hessian and cotton ribbens that look natural.

Plasticless

They do 100% cotton thread but it comes on plastic reels. You can get cotton on wooden reels online (link below), but you to be well organised and plan ahead, skills I have yet to master.

The Button Box stocks metal zips in what looks like a polyester fabric.

General

They have all the other stuff you need to sew with but it comes plastic packed (for plasticfree sewing supplies see the link below).

They have a great range of ribbons and laces which look to be mostly synthetic.

Find

The Huddersfield store is located at the entrance of Queensgate Covered Market.

Samuel Taylor’s Button Box

4-5 Queensgate Market Arcade
Princess Alexandra Walk
Huddersfield
West Yorkshire
HD1 2UJ  View on map

01484 435 235

About

Samuel Taylors is a family business that has a number of Yorkshire-based, fabric retail stores and an online shop. You can find them here…

Head Office & Internet Showroom 

Leeds Central

Leeds Market

Brighouse Store

Embsay Store

Harrogate Knitting & Haberdashery 

More

You can buy plastic free sewing supplies here.

Find other Yorkshire based #plasticfree products and shops here

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Essential Oils

Essential oils have gone from being an obscure aspect of botany to an all round marketing  ‘good thing’.  Almost every product you buy from washing powder to shampoo trumpets that they contain essential oils. So much better, so much greener. As such they have been embraced by the environmental movement as the fragrance for your home made products, a staple in  your medicine chest and the relaxant in your bath.

I have been using them for years thinkin that they are a so eco friendly. But are they really? And are they even oils?

What Are Essential Oils?

They are not actually oils because they do not contain fatty acids.
They are in fact terpenes
Terpenes organic compounds produced by plants (and occasionally insects).
Terpenes are made up of isoprene units, each consisting of five carbon atoms attached to eight hydrogen atoms (C5H8)
They are often strong-smelling.
So essential oils are the strong smelling terepenes found in plants and insects.

Terpenes

Terepenes (along with phenolics nitrogen-containing compounds ) are called secondary metabolites.
Secondary metabolites are chemicals produced by plants for which no role has yet been found in growth, photosynthesis, reproduction, or other “primary” functions. These chemicals are extremely diverse; many thousands have been identified in several major classes. Each plant family, genus, and species produces a characteristic mix of these chemicals, and they can sometimes be used as taxonomic characters in classifying plants. Humans use some of these compounds as medicines, flavorings, or recreational drugs. 

Just so you know – search for terepenes and you get a lot of information about marijuana

They are often characteristic of particular species, are sometimes only produced under particular environmental conditions and for different reasons. The lemon tree for examples produces a pungent oil to repel insects while the rose creates pungent oil to attract them.

N.B. Fragrance oil and essential oil are NOT the same thing. Fragrance” or “fragrance oil” or “perfume” often refers to synthetic scents.

 Medical Qualities

Some essential oils appear to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Others may help speed up healing. However while many claims are made about the potency of essentail oils there is not enough scientific evidence to back them up. Generally it seems to be accepted that they do some limited good though should not be relied on to cure any serious complaints or used to swab down an operating theatre.

While they might not be hugely effective they dont do much harm either. Secondary metabolites are broken down relatively easily so are unlikely to accumulate in large quantities in the environment.

Growing the Oil

Though figures vary you can safely say it takes a lot of plants to produce a small amount of oil..

For one pound of essential oil you will need
50-60 pounds of eucalyptus
200 -250 lbs of lavender Sources include Bulgaria, England, France, USSR, Yugoslavia, Australia, USA, Canada, South Africa, Tanzania, Italy and Spain2 2,000 lbs of cypress
5,000 to 10,000 pounds of rose blossoms to produce one pound of essential oil. Primary cultivation sites for one company include: France, Tasmania, Spain, Italy, England, and China.

Extracting the Oil

Terpenes are usually extracted from plants by steam distillation or chemical extraction.

Environmental Concerns

No matter how they are grown essential oils take up a lot of agricultural land
Growing single species for harvest results in a monoculture style of farming.
Plus all the other demands of farming, – water, fuel, fertilisers organic or not.
It is a lot of input for a very small harvest of what is basically a luxury product.
Add to that the fuel needed to extract the oils “If steam distillation is used temperatures above two hundred degrees applied anywhere from 2-24 hours to extract various oils. ”
If chemical solvents are used which are more effective and so require less plant material, but in turn pose issues of toxicity for people and the environment. 
Some oils are harvested from the wild from threatened species.
Cropwatch, a non-profit that keeps tabs on the natural aromatics industry, maintains a list of wild species threatened including rosewood, sandalwood, amyris, thyme, cedarwood, jatamansi, gentian, wormwood and cinnamon,

Should You Use Them…

Personally all of which makes me wary of using essentail oils. I do love the smell but I don’t like the idea that so many resources go into making one tiny bottle of luxury scent.
If you are going to use essentail oils please use them sparingly and buy from a company that is clear about how they grow and harvest their oils.

Take a look at Pravera or Yorkshire Lavender

How To Use Them…

Read more about the oils we use and what for, HERE.

More

See a full range of homemade #plasticfree personal care products here 
And find out how to make lots more stuff HERE
Find all plastic free personal care products here…

Ingredients

An introduction to some of the stuff you need to make the above

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Needles & Pins

Buying plastic-free, sustainable clothes is no easy matter so I have taken up sewing. Which means I now have to source a whole load of plastic free sewing aids. Hardest of all is needles and pins which often come plastic packed. Well not on this blog they don’t. Look at these pins in a cardboard box and needles in a wooden case.featured needles

They are sold by Merchant & Mill from their shop

14A Tower Street, Rye, East Sussex TN31 7AT. open from 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday..

Too far away? They have a mail order service and here is there reply to my enquiries about packaging

Yes, our products are packed in card board and we use newsprint paper rather than bubble wrap to wrap them with. We can send them out in brown paper for you rather than a padded envelope.

Check out their website for lots more very lovely plastic free things

Find more plastic free sewing resources here

See my home sewn wardrobe here

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Halloween Outfits

bc1a69400b979de96bde47e5f738618cWant a halloween costume that doesn’t involve a lot of plastic?

The skull T was found over on Pinterest along with lots more very clever cut out ideas – some with instructions. The rest you might have to work out for yourself. Eek!

Martha Stewart can show you how to make cut out  skeleton teeshirts. Which strikes me as rather strange. I didn’t think that was her thing.

If you are not so crafty, you might like to go as a head on a box!? Or 50 shades of grey…

More plastic-free Halloween ideas here.

 

 

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Halloween Celebrations

Halloween can be  truly a time of plastic madness what with the masks, fake blood and sweets. I beg you to consider just how evil all that plastic is. So here are some plastic free ideas…

Pumpkin Lanterns

Each year finds me  busy carving my own biodegradable lantern. It’s easy ; buy your self a vegetable, hollow it out cut out a face (or message) and stick a candle in. You can then make soup out of the innards.
I used to be too tight to buy a pumpkin so used swede instead.  I have to admit that swede soup is not as nice. Also pumpkins are easier to carve – its hard work hollowing out swedes.

More plastic free fun…

  • Get (or make) some fabric trick or treat bags to take out with you – not to my house obvs.
  • Buy plastic free sweets for when the ghouls come calling.
  • Use compostable disposable partyware
  • Make a reusable burlap witches hat .
  • make your own costumes

Halloween Outfits

Want a halloween costume that doesn't involve a lot of plastic? The skull T was found over on Pinterest along with lots more very clever cut out ideas - ...
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Candles

Nothing sets the mood quite as well as candles but it is hard to find plastic free candles. Most come in a protective plastic wrap or  bag. However we ...
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How to party…plastic free….

Organising a big bash? Nipping off out to buy some paper plates? WAIT!!! Given the choice between washing up and disposable partyware, the answer may seem obvious. Or maybe ...
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Halloween labels and flour paste!

Print and stick  these creepy labels onto a wine bottles to make a suitably  themed halloween gift  - but don't use avery labels as some suggest!  Print onto ...
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Halloween colouring pages for kids

The day of the dead skull and more nice stuff is over at cool moms. These are more kid focused. You print them out, colour them in. And then ...
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Halloween Witches Hat

Follow the instructions to make a cunning canvas reusable hat. On this extremely crafty blog... Find more fantastic Halloween party ideas here. How To Boycott Plastic Find plastic-free ...
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Party Bags Trick or Treat

I know you family types need to plan ahead so, lets get ready for,...ooooooooo.......halloween.... Well my nasty little ghouls and ghosties you will be getting no plastic wrapped ...
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Chocolates and Sweets

I don't care if the lady loves milk tray, she's not getting a box of chocks from me. Not with that plastic wrapping, plastic cover sheet and plastic sweet ...
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Cotton for sewing.

#pfuk cotton
Buying plastic free cotton is hard. In my experience a lot of the cheaper cottons come plastic wrapped. If you buy unwrapped, cotton cotton (if you know what I mean), the reel is plastic! Buy  cheaper “cotton” often on a cardboard reel and the thread is not cotton but synthetic! Polyester or some such which is of course non biodegradable and plastic!  But then I found this….on a wooden reel – from Intermarche. Yes I know that’s in France. I bought loads to sew with at home.

Turns out I needn’t have bothered.

Offset Warehouse supply organic cotton cotton on a wooden reel completely plastic free

Their products are posted out in cardboard boxes with plastic tape and the invoice in a plastic bag on the outside. You can read a review here 

Organic Biz do what look to be the same and say this about them …. the cotton is “made from organically grown long staple cotton which gives a silky strong thread. Cost is £2.99 natural or coloured  and are 300yds (275m) which compared to Gutterman 100 metre spools of thread (around £1.50).
They come on heavy wooden spools, really nice to handle”

Their products are posted in a plastic bag… you can read a review here

Review

I have used both and they work fine… and yes the reel really are lovely. Off to Pinterest to see what I can do with them.

More

 

 

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Fabric – Online, Fair trade and Organic

I  love supporting my local fabric shops but the fabric is not organic or fairtrade.  So I decided to split my sustainable budget and buy me some green threads. Actually I wanted them in blue….hahahahha.  No, what I wanted was fair trade and organic cotton. Some  research later and I  came up  with several online suppliers.

Here’s a list of shops some of which I have used, others that I like the look of.
Below that you is a brief review of (some of), the products sold. The ones I have come across in my research.
Below that are links to suppliers I haven’t yet looked at.

If you know of any that should be on the list please add their details in the comments box.

Tried & Tested
I have used these companies and can recommend them. You can read the reviews below
Offset Warehouse
Organic Textile Company 

Ebay – Maggies Fabric – not fair-trade or organic but some British wool and very reasonably priced

Like The Look Of
Green Fibres featured-offset-tunic-clothes
The hemp Shop  pure Organic Hemp Strapping and fabric
Fair Trade Fabrics very nice handloom stripes
Majestic Textiles ltd   U.K. made peace silk … amazing
Raystich Has a nice range of wollen fabrics some of it made in the U.K. and some 100% cotton fleece.
Ian Mankin Lovely organic furnishing fabrics
Drapers Organic  are the Hemp Shower Curtain, Hemp Fabric and Hemp Homeware Company.
Mauds Fabric Finds Where I finally find a 100% organic cotton knit in a design I like.
Lancaster & Cornish Ribbons and lace

Well Cultivated www.wellcultivated.co.uk Wool & fleece

Reviews

Offset Warehouse They have a wide range of fabrics including Peace Silk that is silk made without killing the caterpiller, organic jersey and ethnic prints. You can find them all here
Their explanations of the fabrics provenance were clear and detailed. They give the fabric weight and suggestions for its use.
Their products are posted out in cardboard boxes with plastic tape and the invoice in a plastic bag on the outside. You can read a full review here 

Organic Textile Company They too had a good range of fabric and they state that ” All our fabrics are good quality inexpensive organic, cotton fairly traded.
” Though they don’t actually have a fair-trade certificate you can see that they are commuted to the cause. There are  some nice personal details about the people they work with. I know who made my fabric.

Their products are posted in a plastic bag… you can read a full review here

Maggies Fabrics I bought some Highland wool, pink gingham cotton and some lawn from Maggie, a very nice Ebay trader who is based in Leeds. It came packaged in a plastic bag.

Not used yet – the information is taken from the website

Lancaster & Cornish Ribbons like this…. This bias cut feather weight habotai silk is super soft and drapy.  The silk is dyed with natural plant dyes in our Cornwall studio.

And lace like this Manufactured in Europe, this guipure style lace trim is 100% certified organic cotton from seed to finished product. The family run factory have developed an innovative process to manufacture with environmentally friendy, non-toxic production techniques from seed to finished product,

Where I finally find a 100% organic cotton knit in a design I like.

Simple, subtle plusses on a gray ground make up this sophisticated fabric. 100% organic cotton knit.

At 200 grams per meter, this interlock knit is soft, stretchy, and sturdy enough for easy sewing

Fair Trade Fabrics

At Fair Trade Fabric we source cotton fabrics that help to improve the lives of poor and marginalised producers, from those who grow the cotton, to those who dye and weave it. The cotton is grown organically and produced to minimise the impact on the local environment  Everything you will find in our online shop is fairly traded, guaranteeing that small scale producers in developing countries receive a fair, stable price.

Green Fibres

Have a look at our range of organic, natural, fairly traded fabrics by the metres. You will find a comprehensive selection of organic cottons, wools, linens, and silk and hemp and also interesting combinations of these natural fibres.  If knitting or crocheting is your passion, you will find organic wool and natural alpaca yarn in vibrant plant-dyed colours or attractive natural shades to suit a variety of uses.

Hemp Fabric

Currently the majority of clothes and design fabrics are made from cotton. The major global fibre crop, it is also the most environmentally harmful, using 25% of the world’s pesticides. The mass introduction of chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides has helped keep the price of cotton and other fibre and oilseed crops low. However, as pests have become more resistant to these chemicals, larger quantities are required, poisoning both land and water. Hemp, by comparison, needs little or no insecticides or herbicides and produces three times as much fibre, making it more environmentally friendly.

Raystich
Has a nice range of wollen fabrics some of it made in the U.K.. Plus some pretty organic cottons some printed. And this

ORGANIC COTTON FLEECE – GREY MARL

£11.00 Soft, fluffy-back sweatshirt fleece with a tight weave. Perfect for sweatshirts, baby blankets, cushions… It has an approximate 20% stretch with 97% recovery, and stretches two-way. 100% organic GOTS-certified cotton. 1.8m wide. 330gsm. Made in Turkey.

Price is per HALF metre. Multiple order quantities will be cut in a continuous length..

COTTON SWEATSHIRT RIBBING – STRIPED DARK GREY/GREY

£5.00

Heavyweight cotton sweatshirt 1×1 ribbing for use as cuffs, neck and hems on both woven and stretch garments. This comes as a tubular knit that you can fold it over in many places depending on your required cuff length to create the cuff piece. Stripes are 2mm in width. Oeko-Tex 100 Standard certified.

96% cotton 4% elastane. 84cm wide. 500g/m2.

Price is per QUARTER metre.

Ian Mankin

Ian Mankin is delighted that everyone is becoming increasingly aware of the environmental, ethical and medical advantages of buying organic products and that more manufacturers and retailers are importing wider ranges at more economically acceptable prices into the country or making them up here – but Ian Mankin are leading the way in weaving delightful designer organic furnishing fabrics in our own mill in the UK – high quality, reasonably priced organic fabrics made by a British firm that has lasted six generations and is the first of the few remaining cotton mills to weave organic cottons and linens.

Majestic Textiles ltd  
The company stocks fabrics in their natural, boiled off (BO) state. These plain silks are then used as canvasses, upon which unique hand-painted or embroidered designs are created according to the wishes of the individual customer. The company purchased a field in Hertfordshire, UK, in 2011 to grow Mulberry trees. Leaves from these organically grown trees are used to feed the silkworms, which then provide the organic silk cocoons. This process was monitored by the Soil Association, which awarded us the certification for Organic Silk in 2014.
Majestic Textiles does not use any detergents or bleaches, or feed its silkworms with hormone enhancements, as is common practice amongst many producers. The silkworms are allowed a full life circle, which gives the silk ‘Peace Silk’ status. This is the ethical process of allowing the silkworms to live a complete lifecycle. The silk cocoons are not taken until the metamorphosis is complete and the moth breaks free. The silkworms need 14 days in their cocoon feeding off the silk inside. This means only half as much silk is left at the end of the process, which is the main reason most silk producers bypass the ethics and kill the silkworms as soon as they cocoon. Majestic Textiles’ commitment to its silkworms is the reason we were awarded ‘Peace Silk’ status. Once the moth has broken free, it spends four days mating, before laying its eggs, and dying.

The hemp Shop Hempiness have yet another winner for us with this pure Organic Hemp Strapping. Following on from their Hemp webbing, here’s a different style.Need something that is properly tough? With Hemp’s legendary tensile strength, its breaking strain is the strongest in the entire plant kingdom, you’ll never be let down by this fantastic product. This is the strongest most durable hemp material in the range. Less flexible than the others it is great for products that need a little more power such as bags, belts, chairs and even edging material for rugs.

Drapers Organic

are the Hemp Shower Curtain, Hemp Fabric and Hemp Homeware Company. We believe you should be able to have style and comfort whilst still enjoying a healthier, more sustainable living environment. We have therefore designed our own elegant range of hemp shower curtains, contemporary hemp fabrics and mix and match hemp tablecloths, napkins, runners, cushion covers & curtains. With our organic cotton sanitary pads, bamboo towels and hemp bags too, we aim to offer a real and affordable alternative for our customers. Thank you for looking.

Eco Earth Fabrics do some organic, fair-trade and hemp fabrics

Well Cultivated www.wellcultivated.co.uk
The finest wool, yarns and raw fleeces produced in the UK and processed in Lincolnshire, the home of Sir Isaac Newton whose family were sheep farmers at Woolsthorpe Manor. We are offering a range of rovings, skeins, wool and raw fleeces from alpaca, angora mohair, Dorset White, Jacob and Hebridean sheep.

More

And there are more fabric shops that I haven’t yet looked at taken from this very useful  website 

Harlands Organic Furnishings www.organic-furnishings.co.uk
Specialist suppliers of organic fabrics, mainly for soft furnishings

Cloth House 47 and 98 Berwick Street, London.www.clothhouse.com
020 7437 5155Limited range of organic cotton and other fabrics, plus English wool and pure wool felt by the metre

Absolution Saveshttp://www.absolutionsaves.com/
Will print to commission on organic fabrics with non-toxic dyes

M is for Make www.misformake.co.uk
Retail Cloud 9 printed organic cotton made in the US.

Ardalanish Isle of Mull Weavers www.ardalanish.com
Organic wool tweed made in Scotland

British Made Eco www.britishmadeeco.co.uk
Organic and sustainable fabrics

Susie www.sukie.co.uk
Small range of organic cotton printed fabrics

K1 Yarns
www.k1yarns.co.uk
Limited range of organic cotton printed in Scotland
0131 226 7472

Denise Bird Woven Textiles
Ethical and organic textiles
http://www.denisebirdwoventextiles.com/
info@denisebirdwoventextiles.com

The African Fabric Shop
www.africanfabric.co.uk
Not officially fair-trade status but ethically-sourced fabrics
01484 850188

Myriad Online
www.myriadonline.co.uk
100% wool felt including natural-dyed and organic stuffing wool

Handmade Presents
www.handmadepresents.co.uk
Wool and organic wool felt including naturally-dyed

Twisted Thread
www.twistedthread.com
Organisers of Festival of Quilts and Knitting & Stitching Shows where a range of independent fabric suppliers can be found.

The Original Re-enactors Market
www.reenactorsmarket.co.uk/
Market for historical re-enactment. Suppliers of wool and linen fabrics from various sources.

Naturtuche
www.naturtuche.de
German supplier of historical fabrics including some naturally-dyed wool and hemp fabrics

Make Do & Mend

Jen over at the blog of the same name has a good list of resources including this list of suppliers of ethical fabrics, ribbons and lace. I will make that flouncy neglige yet! And pants. An organic make your own pants pack! Coolio!

And a very interesting post on using second hand supplies.

More

For all things fabric try How To Sew Plastic Free

Local fabric shops.
British made Fabric
Regenerated Fibres & fabrics  a very basic introduction but beware – bamboo is not as green as you might think!
Kinds Of fabric – my ongoing experiences with natural fabrics.

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Flowers Cut

After going to all that trouble to find plastic-free, cut flowers  you will want them to last as long as possible. Here are some tips from Edna Thompson. Not entirely plastic-free as cans of soda are plastic lined and asprins are plastic packed but massively plastic reduced and no need to buy any new product.

Tricks to Make Cut Flowers Last Longer

Fresh flowers add flavor, aroma and energy to every home. But they don’t last long. If you want to keep your birthday bouquets fresh longer, you need to know a few things. The first major reason that cut flowers fade is that they do not get the nourishment they need once their stems are cut. As you know, soil is rich in nutrients that keep plants alive for a long time. When flowers are taken away from their habitat, they can no longer get nutrients from soil, and water can only keep them fresh for several hours to a couple of days. The second reason that flowers fade quickly after they are cut is bacteria. Over time your vase contents will attract bacteria. For this reason, what you need to do to enhance the longevity of your cut plants is to provide nutrients and to reduce the growth of bacteria to a minimum.

Here are a few tricks from Gardeners in Chelsea that will get you the best results. Read on.

Cider Vinegar

The first method to keep your cut flowers fresh as long as possible is to use apple cyder vinegar. Here is what to do. Before you put the flowers into a clean vase, fill it with water and add two tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Wait for the substances to dissolve and add the flowers. Now, in order to enhance their longevity, you need to change the water every other day. Don’t forget to add sugar and vinegar every time. The secret to this method is that apple cider vinegar prevents bacterial growth and protects cut flowers from fading too soon after that.

Aspirin

Fill a clean vase with water and add a crushed aspirin. Let is dissolve into the water before you add the flowers. Again, make sure to change the water every other day or every few days to ensure that the flowers are kept fresh and free from bacteria.

Sugar

Another way to go is to use sugar and white vinegar. Before you toss your cut flowers into the vase, be sure to add two tablespoons of white vinegar and three tablespoons of sugar. Add water and then the flowers. The water needs to cover up to four inches of the cut stems (10 centimeters). This mixture proves to be very powerful. While white vinegar prevents the growth of bacteria, sugar helps to nourish the cut flowers.

Vodka

Another clever way of keeping your flower arrangement fresh is to use vodka. Believe it or not, vodka can nourish your cut flowers as it offers antibacterial activity. As a matter of fact, any other clear spirit will work great too. Use one tablespoon of sugar and only a few drops of clear spirit or vodka to provide a bacteria-free environment for your cut flowers. Be sure to change the water every couple of days.

Soda

Here is our final suggestion. Instead of using sugar to keep your cut flowers at their best longer, grab a can of soda and fill a ¼ of cup with it. Then add the liquid to the vase water before you place the flowers. It’s best to use a clear soda, but other alternatives will work too.

Picking Your Own?

Do not cut them on a hot afternoon. Instead pick a cool early morning time to do this. Hope you enjoy your fresh flowers longer.

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String

U.K made woolen string

Got me a new favourite string!

“twool® twine is a strong, soft and subtle British wool alternative to imported jute. Wool is one of the oldest naturally occurring fibres around, it’s a practical material – it lasts, we grow it well in this country, it’s renewable, super sustainable and is currently an underused natural resource.”

“A versatile garden twine made from Dartmoor wool. Super sustainable, socially-responsible and environmentally sound twool twine is strong enough for traditional garden use yet soft enough for floristry, crafts and gifts.”

twool® twine is a strong, soft and subtle British wool alternative to imported jute. Wool is one of the oldest naturally occurring fibres around, it’s a practical material – it lasts, we grow it well in this country, it’s renewable, super sustainable and is currently an underused natural resource.

It’s made in the U.K.from British wool and comes in different colours. See the full range and buy from the website

Other String

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGetting plastic free string can be hard work. It’s easy enough to get biodegradable plastic free string – go for jute, cotton, hemp, sisal, linen and avoid manmade fibers such as nylon and polyester.

Getting it unwrapped however can be a chore. Most big shops sell it plastic wrapped! As they sell everything plastic wrapped. I find it best to search out small hardware stores and market stalls. Even then it is scarce so whenever I see some I buy it.
NB check the bobbin. Once swooped triumphantly on some jute string only to realise later it had a blue plastic inner. How I missed that I don’t know!

My string collection now includes

white cotton from Marsh Hardware shop, Marsh, Huddersfield
brown jute from Todmorden Market
very nice string from a stationers in France.

Poundland

Think I am OK for now! However if I needed some more string I could go topfree string garden Pound land. I have seen these and they are plastic free. You can find a store near you via the website.

 

 

 

Fred Aldous Manchester

string fred Aldousmulticoloured cotton on cardboard tube form Fred Aldous. Check out their fantastic craft store and website

pfree general

They also sell  Nutscene string. You can buy this jute (?) string in a tin or loose. It comes in a range of vibrant colours.

You can also buy string in a tin from the shop at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It comes plastic free and unpackaged.

If you can’t get to Yorkshire or Manchester, you can get it direct from the manufacturers (lovely website wide range of products), or from Amazon.

I have never bought on line so I don’t know if it comes plastic wrapped. Do check.

Cotton Wool

You can go to wool shop and buy knitting cotton.

Online

Being committed to local shopping, I prefer to buy that way whenever possible. I would encourage you to do the same. One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the local shops seeing what you can source.

If you can’t buy local please do check the links above to the suppliers and buy direct from them and support their online businesses.

If you can’t do that then you can buy String from Amazon – see a wide range here.  

Amazon is a very dirty word at the moment and I thought long and hard before suggesting them.  Heres why I went ahead….. No we are not entirely happy with Amazons recent history. However, we have always found their service to be good and their packaging usually compostable.

If you buy a product via this link we do get an affiliation fee for this. This is not why we do it.