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Eco-friendly Valentine's Day

With Valentines’ Day around the corner, why not make yours an eco-friendly day? Here are some ideas to impress your partner from dawn till dusk!

Breakfast in bed. Nothing like waking up to a cup of freshly brewed organic coffee and a kiss, followed by a full English Breakfast, using free-range bacon and eggs fresh from the farm, some freshly baked sourdough bread and some organic tomatoes.

Valentine’s gift. Surprising your partner with a gift is always a winner on Valentine’s Day, but instead of buying freshly cut flowers, why not buy a potted plant, or plant a tree? Or why not order an ethical gift box to be delivered to your partner at work?

Relax. After work, why not set the scene with some natural candles and treat your loved one to a relaxing massage using some lovely essential oils and natural skincare products?

Eat in. While your partner is still on cloud nine after their massage pour them a glass of organic/vegan sparkling wine whilst you get cooking! Spoil them with only the best organic vegetables, free-range meat or prepare a vegan feast!

Pop the question? Now is the time to pop the Big Question with a beautiful ethically sourced ring or just show your love with a stunning reclaimed silver bracelet.

Snuggle up. Watch a romantic movie together and tuck into some organic or Fairtrade chocolates to finish off a perfect day!

 

To find your local, ethical, planet-friendly businesses, search the Livewell Directory

Fluffy Cheese Omelette

Make a fluffy cheese omelette with this top tip.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 free-range eggs

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup mature cheddar – finely grated

1/4 cup parmesan – finely grated

salt/pepper to taste

1 tsp cooking olive oil

1 tbsp fresh chives

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat
  • Whisk the eggs, salt, pepper and baking powder together until the baking powder has dissolved
  • Add the mixture to the warm pan and let it set slightly
  • Once it starts to set, push the mixture gently from the edge of the pan towards the centre and tilt the pan so the runny mixture can continue to fill the pan and set
  • Once lightly set, sprinkle the cheese on the one side of the omelette and fold the other side over
  • Turn off the heat and let it rest for a minute so the cheese can melt
  • Serve with fresh chives and a dollop of dijon mustard and a green salad on the side.

Find your local greengrocer on Livewell Directory

 

 

 

Arborea ethical Jewellery

When I started crafting I had no job and was looking for a quick fix to make some money. I thought to myself “I’ll just start making and selling jewellery, then I can contribute to running the house”. Now, in hindsight, that was way too optimistic but my journey from then to where I am today has been an exciting ride.

I started off making cheap and cheerful beaded things which looking back were probably better off in the recycling bin but I really enjoyed it as a hobby. For a couple of years, I continued to make these trinkets, doing a bit of hand-stamping too (to the detriment of my wrists!), until one day I decided to brave it and learn how to do some silversmithing. After learning the basics, I was combining silver and resin jewellery with real flowers. Now I really struggled with making the perfect resin items and became really uncomfortable in the knowledge that resin jewellery is, in fact, non-biodegradable plastic, so I decided to continue with silver.

I was lucky enough in 2016 to get a job working in conservation, where I advise on land management and legally protected sites across East Devon. My work gives me a thorough understanding of how we affect our environment and that what we are doing to the environment reflects what we are doing to ourselves. Being so focused on this in my day-to-day work it started to come across in my jewellery, I was only buying recycled silver sheets and wire and my pieces usually had something to do with nature or wildlife – this is when Arborea Jewellery was born. I chose this name as Arborea is Latin for ‘tree’ as I was making a lot of metal clay leaves at the time, and every animal and plant has its own Latin name.

For the last few years, I have been self-taught, honing my skills in saw piercing, soldering, stone-setting and playing around with various techniques, deciding what fitted with my brand and what I was REALLY terrible at (like enamelling!). I joined a Facebook group called Eco-jewellery makers where I found a lady who sells beautiful gems reclaimed from vintage jewellery. I noticed that most jewellers who claimed to use recycled silver weren’t using recycled silver chains so I did lots of research and found a company who makes them and shared this with the group. I also came across a few lovely people who sell responsibly-sourced gems from mines that are conflict-free and fair-trade, allowing the mines to return to nature with as minimal intervention as possible. These important materials are the foundation for all of the items I make and I feel so much more comfortable with this knowledge.

I am always on the hunt for ways to be eco-friendly, with recycled packaging, renewable electricity, re-using chemicals to clean the silver after firing, and even just around the house – I have a HUGE box of recycled toilet roll in my bathroom! So you can see that this isn’t just me trying to fit into a marketing niche but it is my lifestyle, for example, my small garden is taken up by a wildflower meadow, a vegetable patch and bird boxes.

I believe that what we do not know, we do not care about and what we do not care about we do not try to protect. This is why I include snippets of interesting information with my jewellery items, be it leaf or animal, to show that it’s not only what we wear but it’s also what we stand for.

Go to the Arborea Jewellery listing on Livewell Directory for more information.

Denys & Fielding deckchair

When Cat and I first started having ideas about Denys & Fielding, we wanted to create a range of products for the home and garden that was a little different from the norm. Something that had colour, personality and style. Above all, we wanted our range to be joyful –  a little escape from the hard work, long hours and the stresses and strains of life.

This train of thought very quickly led us onto how we wanted our products to be made. A much bigger question. I’ll be honest, it’s not been easy. It took six months for a British manufacturer to even speak to us about producing our fabrics. We’ve had suppliers approach to work with us on the basis that they offer a sustainable solution, only to find out that their interpretation of ‘sustainable’ isn’t quite the same as ours. It’s not that they have been deliberately vague, it is just that there are so many grey areas. Sustainability is a word that has a really wide interpretation. Making decisions about new product lines is always difficult, as quite often, there is some kind of compromise. For example, our new range of serving trays are made in the UK, made from recycled materials and recyclable themselves. However, at the moment, most of the UK recycling facilities wouldn’t be able to recycle them. So, while we hope the recycling industry continues to develop new techniques and facilities to process more and more materials, we’re working with our supplier on ways to enable customers to send back their tray in years to come, so that the tray can be recycled and the customer can claim some kind of reward for their efforts. This is not easy when you are a small company, just starting out, with little ‘clout’. These challenges are continual, but for me, it is extremely important that we keep doing our best and keep trying to make the best decisions possible. It also has helped us shape our own definition of ‘sustainable’ and how it applies to our product development. We’ve kept it simple and have two overriding criteria.

Firstly, a love of making things is one of the defining characteristics of being human. The simple act of making something keeps people, communities and societies happy. While the UK is a mature market, we need to keep productive and keep making. Aside from the obvious carbon footprint savings, I’ve learned so much by being able to work closely with suppliers that we can meet or ring at the drop of a hat. It creates an energy which is wholly positive, no matter the inevitable failures, and problems along the way. Offshoring manufacturing may provide financial gain and a cheaper product for your pound, but I think we lose in other ways, some of which are far more long reaching than we might first suspect. So, where we can, we’ll always try and make everything in the UK. The only exception to this is our deckchair frames. It just wasn’t possible for us to source UK made frames, and believe me, we tried! The wood is imported but sourced as ethically as possible. It is PEFC certified, meaning it is from well-managed, sustainable forests. The frames aside, all of our products, packaging, even our cushion fillers, are made in the UK.

Secondly, our original intention – to produce home and garden wares that add a little colour and joy, still stands. The thought of having them made by people working in conditions which are the opposite of ‘joy’ just feels completely wrong. Now, clearly, not everyone working in factories overseas are in sweatshops! Nor is everyone working in the UK having a jolly good time. But, by ensuring that the majority of our goods are made here, and all are hand finished by us in the UK, we feel that we can maintain a more transparent supply chain. As a small business, with little time or resources to double check factories and environments around the world, this is important. We want to be open and confident about the provenance and creation of our products. And by hand making what we can, and sticking to local suppliers for the rest, we can do just that.

Have we got it right? I doubt it. But, as a small company, it’s within our gift to keep moving forward, keep positive and keep challenging the status quo.

Visit our website to view our products and to find out more.

 

Liz Ridgway, Co-Founder and Owner of Denys & Fielding