Friday, 16 March 2018

How Environmentally Friendly is Your Cotton Tote Bag Really?

Since the launch in 2007 of the famous 'I'm not a plastic bag' tote bag by designer Anya Hindmarch, the abundance of fabric shopper bags has rocketed.
The idea that a cotton shopping bag should be better for the environment than a plastic one seems pretty straight forward, but it is just not that simple.

In terms of the resources used to make various different types of bag the humble plastic bag actually needs less energy and resources than paper or fabric bags per use. The numbers are wildly different depending on what studies you look at, but you need to use a paper bag about 11 times to equal the plastic bag and you would need to use a fabric bag between 100 – 400 times depending on the fabric and what statistics you read.

But the flip side is that cotton bags break down harmlessly and don't end up for hundreds of years floating around the giant ocean garbage gyres, strangling turtles and other wildlife. It's estimated that 1 million birds and thousands of turtles and other sea animals die each year after ingesting discarded plastic bags, and more than 10% of the debris that washes up on US coasts lines is plastic bags*. 

So there are additional negative environmental aspects to plastic bags, above and beyond the energy needed to create them.

But what about fabric bags? Well not all fabric bags are created equal...
If it's fabric then it better be organic. Non organic cotton uses lots of pesticides which are both toxic to the environment and specifically linked with the decline in the bee population. That might not sound very serious, but as our main pollinators, their decline is potentially catastrophic for agriculture, food production and biodiversity.

I design cotton bags amongst other things, because I want people to stop using single use plastic bags entirely.
People often say to me, 'but what will I use as bin liners?' Use recycled plastic bags for the bin or bags not made from petrochemicals (compostable green plastic). At the very least use your plastic bags many times for shopping before turning them into bin liners.

And don't say yes to every free tote that comes your way, there is no point having 20 crappy fabric bags laying around the house, have few, have good quality that won't break after a few uses, and use them often. Take all the ones you don't use and recycle them at a clothing bank. If you use them to carry your food shopping in then machine wash them to make sure they stay clean, especially after transporting meat, chicken etc, to reduce the possibility of contamination from Salmonella or E. Coli.

                                You can check out my new range of organic cotton shopper bags here...     

The other very positive thing about fabric or reusable bags is that they send out a clear message that we are starting to think more seriously about the environment and our impact on it as consumers. As social creatures, we notice what goes on around us, a lot of it on a subconcious level. So the reusable bags we carry are subtly influencing all the people out there that haven't started thinking about the environment yet. Gently giving the message that we can't continue the throw away culture anymore and we all need to reduce our waste and get the most out of the things we have. So we better make sure we really love the things we use because we are going to use them a lot.

Transitioning from an old way of doing things to a new way can often be a fraught experience, as we have to reassess ourselves and our choices. I feel like we are slowly waking up to the fact that there is some serious room for improvement in the world, and most people want to be part of the solution, but there is so much conflicting info, it's hard to know what to do sometimes... I know this personally, I had no idea about environmental things a few years ago, just no clue. Doesn't make me a bad person, I just didn't know that I didn't know. Then I started to hear things, read things, I looked into stuff and I started to see that there were big problems. I decided I wanted to be part of the solution and I am full of optimism that innovation, necessity and the desire that everyone has, to make things better will get us there.

Friday, 9 March 2018

The Power of Crystals - Jewellery, Peeing in the Snow & More...

You may have noticed that didn't post a blog last Friday as I usually do, well that was because I was here...

Yes, that is me disguised as a snow boarder from the 90's astride a slightly scary snow mobile.
The whole family was away on holiday in the middle of nowhere with snow up to our bums. It was all very well when riding around on the snow scooter but just imagine for a moment what happens when you want to get off... you sink up to your that stuck in your mind? Ok, what do you think happens when you need to go for a pee? Ok, stop imagining things now ;-) I'll tell you, one time I had to walk very carefully along the slightly compacted track of the bike far enough away for modesty. Ignoring the very curious reindeer (you can see one in the background of the pic but there were 100's). Another time I had to actually dig a hole. Very uncivilised!

Anyway, the less said about all that the better!
On our last night we all went to a restaurant in UmeƄ called Pinchos.

I had never heard of this place before, apparently it is a chain and they have a new concept where everything is done on your mobile phone. The app on your phone has the menu and you order via your phone and get alerts when it is time to go and pick your food up. The food itself is like ordinary food done in tapas style.

 So hamburgers and pizzas and stuff, in miniature. Very cute actually and plenty of options for vegetarians such as myself. The food was delicious and it was all a great deal of fun. Helped by the circus themed decor.

Now I'm back at work and looking forward to my delivery of organic cushion covers and shopper bags which are due later today. I'll post up about that next week.

Last night I had a few spare hours and I did some jewellery making, something that I really enjoy doing. I'll put them up on the web store later... (jewellery link)

I used to work in a crystal shop, it was the only kind of 'normal' job that I've ever had.
 I spent the day preparing astrological charts and reading Runes and channeling crystal powers and other such cosmic fun, so I've always had a love for natural stones and like to use them in jewellery as much as I can...
What do you think?

Well that is it for me, I've got to prepare some space for 100's of cushion covers and bags that are about to be delivered....
Have a sparkly weekend :-)

Friday, 23 February 2018

What Are Your Creative Ideas? Sewing, Fabrics & Reducing Waste

A couple weeks ago I did a post about getting crafty with fabric and I want to develop that a bit because I've been thinking a lot about all the different things you can do with left over scraps of fabric...

I've always hated waste, not from an environmental perspective, that connection came much later, but all my life I have loved efficiency...makes me sound like a robot and I'm really not, but I've always gotten excited about the idea of making just the right amount of food so that none is left over and none goes to waste. Or taking the most efficient and direct route in the car... I can't explain why it thrills me so much, just weird connections in the ole brain box I guess...

Anyway, because I design fabrics and lots of my customers buy my fabric to make things out of, there is definitely going to be little bits left what to do with them?

I've been compiling a list of all sorts of easy things to make with left over bits of fabric... Like this for example...It's a wheat pillow. My whole family uses these every single night to warm our toes in bed and it doesn't need much fabric to make, particularly as they can be any shape you like...

I've used the motif from my Beautiful Bugs fabric because I thought it would be cute, but the shape can be long and slim or heart shaped, whatever... just make sure that  when you sew the 2 faces together, you leave a hole about 5 cm wide, to put the wheat in. Turn it in the right way and use a funnel to get the wheat into the hole. Don't put too much in, it should feel kind of sloppy. Then either by hand or top stitch by machine, sew up the gap. You're good to go and no chilly toes!

Tip: keep the main stitch short and zig zag the edges so that the little bits of wheat won't make their way out of gaps between stitches.

So what cool things should I make next from my scraps of fabric? I'm thinking about doing a sleeping eye mask and a lavender bag for my pants drawer...what else? If you've got any cool ideas of what to do with scraps of fabric then comment below or email me on

I'm also very happy to say that I just got delivery of my first lot of organic fabrics and I'm so pleased with how they are looking! It was important for me to start  producing my fabrics organically, once I found out that overuse of pesticides was killing the bees and bees are super important for the environment, I didn't want to contribute towards bee death.

 You can buy our Victorian Gothic fabric here

You can buy our Leopard Fabric here

So have a think about cool things to make with scraps of fabric, and it doesn't have to be sewing... can be gluing too or embedding in resin... I don't know... what is even possible????

Well you crafty lot, I'm off to walk the dog in this beautiful day so I hope you have wonderful weekend and I look forward to hearing your ideas... nothing is too silly or too boring... bring it on!!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Yoga & Gym Clothing Rock & Roll Style ...Hell yeah!!

So as you know, I did a photoshoot last week with model Elegy Ellem and photographer Kristiina Andersson, for my new range of workout gear. I posted up some behind the scenes nonsense last week, right after the shoot, but they were just crappy snaps, so I thought you might like to see the final pictures...

Elegy is a very bendy bunny...

Also a very strong bunny too... quite impressed by that actually :-)

If you want to get your hands on some of my fab new gear then get yourself along to my web shop.. and don't forget that we donate 5% of everything we sell through the web shop to an NGO in India that helps get women into business. Giving them the chance to lift themselves and their families out of poverty...

So make a statement and make a difference.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Tattoos, Yoga & a Very Sweaty Photo Session!

This morning I've been doing a photo session for my brand new workout gear, with the lovely model Elegy (Linda-Marie) and photographer Kristiina Andersson in my local gym.
Man did we make Elegy work! Good thing she actually knows what she is doing in the yoga department, some of those positions! You'll see...
anyway, here is a quick behind the scenes video and some rubbish snaps from my camera phone in the gloom... I'll post up the finished shots when they are ready.

If you want some fab new gym gear, then check out my web store and don't forget that 5% of everything sold goes towards empowering women in Tamil Nadu India, getting them into business and lifting them out of poverty. You can read more about that over on my website.

Remember that this life is not a rehearsal... get your butt down the gym :-)
..........and I say that with love ........

Friday, 2 February 2018

Going Plastic Bag Free February Challenge!

Hello there!

This is just a quick 'drive by'... unfortunately both of my girls have the flu and I'm home with them today... Plus this morning I got a call from my factory to say that my new organic fabric is narrower than my designs to print on it and so I have to re-size all my files today...whilst tending to the small grumpy ones...

I wanted to talk about my idea of going 100% plastic bag free as a February challenge... I wanted to give you a load of stats about why the production of plastic bags is bad for the environment... I wanted to write a rebuttal to people that scoff at me and say that if you live in Sweden then it makes no difference if you use plastic bags or not... that's bollocks by the way... But I just don't have the time to do any of that...

So please, if you haven't already stopped using plastic bags, consider February as a month to give it a try. Top tips: keep a bunch of bags in the back of the car and keep a fabric shopper in your handbag so you are ready for any spontaneous purchasing...

If you are worried that you use the plastic shopping bags as bin liners so what will you do about that... then buy 'green bags' made from renewable sources. These are actually much better for the environment than normal plastic bags, because they are not made from petrochemicals, they are made from growing things... (I'm posting in the videos I made about plastic bags, if you want to know more... see below)

So that's all I've got time for now... got to go and take temperatures and administer generous amounts of ice cream and cuddles... Look after yourself this weekend and think about the plastic bag thing...

You can buy these here

Friday, 26 January 2018

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Get Crafty

I'm not at all judgy about other peoples choices, but more and more I realise that often it is not about choice at all... often we just don't realise there is a choice to be made. So what I mean is like, a few years ago, I didn't think twice about using plastic shopping bags for all my shopping, it just didn't occur to me that perhaps that wasn't best for the environment. Not just in the way they get disposed of, but in the toxic way they are made in the first place. I just didn't think about it. So I've been on a discovery journey about all the things I could improve, that I just haven't thought about before...

We all want to make a difference and do our bit, and the less rubbish we create the better for the environment, so have you ever thought about the amount of paper napkins/serviettes you use over the course of a year?
Well if my family of 5 use 5 serviettes every couple of days that is just under 1000 serviettes in 1 year. That might not sound like that much but then multiply that figure by the amount of people who use them and the end result is truly staggering! Think of all the resources, bleach, dyes and chemicals being used to make them and we don't really even need them.

So my family started using fabric napkins about a year ago which are not only much better for the environment but are way more civilised. It's like 'Downton Abbey' round my house every night! Ok, just joking, it's not like that at all! But fabric napkins are just so much nicer and just sling them in the wash every once in a while.

I decided I would make some fabric napkins out of a piece of my Spring Cottage fabric and there was enough in 1 meter to make 4 napkins plus a meter long table runner for the centre. 

I cut 52 cm squares and sewed the edges on my machine with a double fold, so there are no rough edges and it was super simple, took about 5 minutes per napkin.

So if you fancy a simple crafty project then get yourself a meter of fabric, maybe you already have something tucked away, and whip yourself up some super sustainably stylish napkins. If you want to use Van Asch fabric for this purpose, it works very well because it is 100% cotton and that is important for the absorbency plus the weight is just right, you can order a meter here

Now, before I go, I want to ask you... do you own anything Van Asch and want to film a testimonial? If you send me a video of yourself saying nice things about something you have bought then I will give you a whopping 50% off discount code to use in my store any time this year, as a Thank You. There are only a couple of rules, it must be a video, you have to be in the video with the thing you are talking about and I must get the video by February 10th. You can email it to me and then I'll give you your special VIP discount code. I'm going to use them on my various social media and website etc...

Here are a couple I already have...