My Organic Veg Box

There has never been a better time to go organic.  Daily we are hearing in the media of the rise in cases of obesity, and of the increase in Type II Diabetes.  For a long time the argument has been that organic food was too expensive.  This is simply not true and anyway can you put a value on well-being?

my organic veg box
My Organic Veg Box bursting with delicious fresh seasonal vegetables

My weekly veg and fruit box is always full of fresh, seasonal organic produce, grown in sustainable, eco-friendly ways that are supportive of the environment, without pesticides or chemicals or any kind.  Since they are not pumped full of water to increase the size unnaturally, the vegetables have more substance and body and do not shrink when cooked.  You get more for your money and stay full for longer as the fibre and nutritional content are higher.  An absolute bargain at £10.  And no plastic trays and shrink wrap to throw away either.  The cardboard delivery box goes back each week when the fresh box arrives, creating no waste while at the same time reducing my carbon footprint!

Most of the produce is grown locally on the organic farm in Purton, Wiltshire.  Purton House Organics  is a well-established business and has grown from strength to strength over the years through the support of its local customer group.  What started as a local veg box delivery scheme has blossomed over the years and now includes a shop with a full range of organic groceries, including bread and dairy products and more recently a cafe area. Buying fresh, local produce means that every penny you spend goes back into the loop, supporting the farm, helping it to thrive and grow , while creating more jobs and opportunities.  Green living at its best. When shopping in a supermarket, most of the profit goes elsewhere, with only a very small percentage benefiting the local economy.  So your food may be a tiny bit cheaper, but all the profits go somewhere else.  There is no way of knowing if the producers are being paid a fair wage or treated with respect.

In the winter months, some of the fruit comes from other countries of course, like oranges, grapefruit and bananas, this is inevitable.  But most of the home grown winter warmers in the form of hearty root vegetables, carrots, swede, parsnips, along with leeks, sprouts, cabbage and kale, are available right through until the Spring.  My kale plants in my garden planters got me through the winter and kept my quota of greens topped up, and my ruby chard amongst my flower borders has also survived and is throwing out again nicely.

More and more local organic producers are getting up and running.  Have a look around your home area, you may be surprised.  If not, there’s always Abel & Cole or Riverford Organic .

Do please leave the name of  your local scheme in the comments box to share with others!

Transitioning to a sustainable, life-enhancing,ethical business

“We have a duty to leave the Earth in a better state than we found it.”

Today I pledge to be “part of the solution rather than part of the problem”

An opportunity to join a group being brought into being by Transition Marlborough, “Practical Permaculture for Transition”, has come along at precisely the right time.  The discovery a couple of years ago of just how much pollution on the planet is created by the textile industy left me reeling and for a considerable time questioning how a soft furnishing business could be justified.

Blue Green Organic Cushion with Tulip Flower Applique
Blue Green Organic Cushion with Tulip Flower Applique

At that time the alternatives were either almost non existant or barely viable for those on run of the mill incomes.  So in the spirit of ‘Kaizen’, we started small, with a couple of meters of organic hemp.

Cushion in Natural Hemp with Party Girl Applique
Cushion in Natural Unbleached Hemp with Party Girl Applique

Later we tried some natural unbleached hemp, and also some vintage wool.

Looking at issues around waste, all the out of date pattern books loomed into view, and patchwork was born.  It was exciting to discover that even heavy weight upholstery fabrics can be used creatively for projects like bags, rugs, footstools, chairs and more.  This stops the books from ending up in landfill and they offer a variety of patterns in complementary colours and textures.  It’s worth checking out local small soft furnishing businesses to find out if they have books or offcuts left over from design projects, they will probably be delighted for you to take them off their hands, or you may be able to make them an offer for a bulk purchase.

Vintage Black Patchwork Shabby Chic Footstool
Vintage Black Patchwork Shabby Chic Footstool

So, in the spirit of Permaculture, Designer Cushions and Throws will from now only only be buying or using fabric for our soft furnishing projects that meets certain criteria and is:

  • produced in ways that are organic
  • eco-friendly and sustainably grown, for example, fibres that are naturally more resilient and thrive with little or no pesticides, such as bamboo and linen
  • locally produced, such as wool and linen from the Cotswold Woollen Weavers
  • respectful of ethical principles, without harming land or the people who are involved in production or sales processes
  • recycled, mostly fabric that would otherwise end its lifecycle in landfill (like pattern books, offcuts left over from curtain projects)
  • vintage, predating chemical saturation and a naturally healthier option

If there are other business out there aspiring to the same principles we would love to hear from you, share ideas and work with you towards a wiser future.  Or if you just love fabric and have comments to contribute, please get in touch.

What about Organic Bamboo?

Organic Bamboo

Are you as confused about the pros and cons of bamboo textiles as we were?  Modern, high tech production and processing methods mean bamboo textiles are rapidly gaining in popularity.   But is bamboo really a sound environmental choice?

First the excellent reasons why you might want to consider buying bamboo clothing or products for the home:

  • The fibres stay naturally fresh due to their unique anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties, which remain even after frequent washing.  The fabric is ideal for those with skin reactions or allergies and fantastic for all sorts of products for the home as it will not develop mould even when exposed to moisture for long periods of time.
  • The fabric is cool and comfortable to wear in hot weather due to its cellular structure which makes it extremely absorbant and able to evaporate perspiration in seconds.  It allows air to pass through, remaining cool to the touch and never feeling sticky, meaning skin can breathe.  It is 3-4 times more absorbent than cotton, keeping you drier in a heatwave
  • Naturally blocks 91% of UVA and 98% of UVB rays providing screening from the sun’s rays, and making it ideal for curtains and soft furnishings
  • Silky soft and extremely comfortable to wear and a great choice for those with sensitive skin conditions or those who have had allergic reactions to fabrics in the past.  It is also anti-static.
  • Bamboo is fully biodegradable by microorganisms in the soil and by sunshine thanks to its natural cellulose composition and therefore can contribute to reduced environmental impact
  • As the plants grow without pesticides, herbicides or chemical additives of any kind soil balance is maintained
  • Protects the environment as it needs no irrigation other than natural rainfall
  • Highly sustainable:  bamboo grows very fast, sometimes up to 3 feet in a night.   It also does not need to be replanted, rather the stalks are cut off above the ground and will continue to grow and sprout new shoots.  In addition  it’s vast root system helps to prevent soil erosion and it balances the atmosphere,  producing the most oxygen of all plants and consuming the most carbon dioxide.  All of which reduces the impact of the textile industry.

At the present stage in the technology of fibre production, the only way to turn bamboo into a soft yarn fibre is to dissolve it using chemicals like sodium hydroxide, and then solidify the extruded filament using a chemical such as sulfuric acid.  It is important that these strong chemicals are neutralised and not returned to the water system untreated.  Look for a supplier who uses methods, for example enzymes, that ensure that the waste water is cleansed after processing and meets high environmental standards. Our supplier, OEcotextiles, is constantly vigilant and working to further neutralise the effects of present production methods and overcome the less eco-friendly aspects.

Overall bamboo’s positive environmental and health benefits make it a strong addition to the range of fibres available.   Something tells me we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more of bamboo in the future.  Feel like sharing your experiences of this fabulous new fibre?