Simple, clean, bold graphics and recycled sailboat sails are united to create handmade products that are one-of-a-kind and kind to the environment. Reiter8 bags are modern, sporty, fun, functional, eye catching and extremely durable.
Working with recycled sails is exhilarating. Each sail has a different ‘hand’ – texture, density, and crispness – a testament to its history. I have yet to come across two sails that are exactly alike which that keeps my work fresh and Reiter8 products truly unique.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of Gemma Correll’s work. Gemma is a well-known freelance illustrator who also makes greetings cards, screenprinted tote bags and T shirts, pocket mirrors and art prints. Her Etsy shop is my go-to place for funny cards and gifts for my husband, who also loves Gemma’s work!
Gemma has been crafting her whole life, beginning with sewing, knitting and crochet, which she was taught by her grandmother. While at college, she started to make plush characters to accompany her illustration work, and she considers this to be her first ‘serious’ foray into crafting. At the same time, Gemma began to sell her plush characters and felt brooches at bi-monthly craft fairs, organised by Gemma and her friends.
When a friend told her about Etsy, which was not well-known in the UK at the time, Gemma decided to start selling online too. She’s since expanded her reach, selling in shops worldwide and online via her own fantastically illustrated website and Etsy shop, as well as the odd craft fair.
As well as selling handmade items, Gemma is a big fan of buying as many handmade products as possible and would much rather find something unique than buy items from large companies, as she feels there’s more of a personal touch. Unfortunately, Gemma has in the past had ideas stolen by large companies, which is a concern for many independent designer-makers and can put many people off sharing ideas with the wider handmade community.
“In five years’ time, I hope that I am still crafting for fun. As I spend more time working and outsourcing products, rather than making them myself – I simply do not have the time or the facilities to print 500 tote bags by hand, sadly – I hope that I can still enjoy making things just for myself. I hope that I’m still going to craft nights with my friends.”
I’m so excited to introduce the latest Try Handmade columnist: Liz Grotyohann.
Please welcome her to Try Handmade, and let her know what concerns you have about leading a greener life. Are there issues you hope she addresses? Speak up in the comments.
We’ve all heard how bad plastic bags are for the environment. As many as 500 billion to one trillion bags are used worldwide each year. Some cities have outlawed them. Many people have switched to carrying their own bags to the store—an easy way to do something good for the environment. Every major chain now has stands of “eco-friendly” totes available—cheap!—so that you can do your part.
But, while carrying your own bag is definitely better than using new plastic, those bags at the store aren’t as “eco-friendly” as they claim to be. Many of those bags are made from virgin materials. Studies have been done that say that those reusable bags need to be used 100-300 times before they make up for the impact of their own production. So, why carry a bag emblazoned with a store logo—do you really want to advertise for them?—when you can buy a responsibly-produced, stylish, low-impact handmade bag from an independent artist? There are so many options out there made from organic cotton, sustainable fibers like bamboo or hemp, or vintage or recycled fabric.
And remember the plastic bags that you use at the store aren’t just the ones at the checkout counter. There are more and more options available now for lightweight, durable handmade bags to carry your produce and dry bulk goods.
Kootsac offers inexpensive, lightweight produce bags in a number of sizes and fun colors. Little Green Pea has cotton bulk food bags, and adorable reusable sandwich bags. And wonderthunder sells these adorable screenprinted vegetable bags that are so much more fun (and green!) than plastic.
April 22nd is Earth Day. For 40-years, activists and non-activists have been using it as a platform to raise environmental awareness. It has evolved over the years into a month-long event, where on any given weekend in April, you can volunteer to help clean up the parks, beaches, forests, any green stretch of earth; or plant new earth.
Here at Try Handmade we have our own resident Going Green guru, but in the spirit of Earth Day, I decided to find out for myself what fabulous things other people do in the spirit of recycling and renewing.
The most popular act (aside from separating recyclables) that anyone can do is to bring your own market bag shopping with you, passing on plastic bags whenever possible. There are so many options to choose from, like this cool, upcycled coffee bag tote from Its Our Earth. Similar to Sea Bags (one of my favorite shops, located in Maine; they create bags from discarded sails), Its Our Earth uses discarded burlap coffee bags to create everyday bags.
If you want something less earthy, but still 100% repurposed, there’s a bag for you, too, like this tote, that uses a vintage army laundry bag, repurposed leather straps, and vintage blue and white cloth.
Some people happily recycle their trash, but aren’t as quick to buy recycled and refurbished products because they think they look used. Some of the most fabulous finds are these exact products. These white baskets from Tuuni are one example.
Some items aren’t what they seem at all, but still exquisite. This stunning chandelier from Metamorphosi is made of recycled plastic.
Crafters are some of the best resources you can find for people who creatively repurpose, recycle, and recreate. I’m repeatedly amazed at the outcome.
US politician Gaylord Nelson, who is said to be the father of the modern environmental movement, organized the very first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Conceived to make Earth’s human inhabitants more aware of how they treat their global home, Nelson’s vision has grown into a yearly grassroots ritual for millions of people around the globe. Every April, on the spring equinox, we come together to plant trees, pitch-in to clean up rivers and streams, and gather at awareness-raising events.
While it’s true that the eco-health of our world is still very much in peril and climate change is an issue that is on everybody’s minds, I, ever the optimist, like to think that in the 4 decades of observing Earth Day we have gotten a little better in our roles as the caretakers of this planet. Sure, we have a long way to go, but in honour of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day I would like to celebrate the small strides that we have made in the time since its inception.
Going Green starts at home and it seems that we are rising to the challenge by lowering our energy consumption. According to government studies in Canada, residential energy consumption has actually dropped since 2004. From better insulation and windows, to more-efficient appliances, there are literally dozens of ways that you can cut your energy usage around the house. The easiest, though, is as simple as flicking a switch and turning off the lights when you leave a room. To make switching-off more fun, swap-out your boring light switch plates with something a little more exciting; like this one (above) by the sassy Miss Andee. Visit the Dandee shop for a dizzying number of designs, or to order your custom plate.
You don’t have to go any further than the supermarket checkout to see the impact that the green movement has had. In an effort to cut down on excessive plastic-bag usage, many retailers have begun to charge for plastic bags; while some have stopped offering them entirely. Consumers, it seems, have risen to the challenge. In a recent online survey by furniture giant IKEA, 96% of respondents claim to own at least one reusable bag. (Hey, remaining 4% – get with the program!) Of course, as you and I both know, one can never have too many reusable shopping bags. Add to your collection with a beautiful bag like these; made from unbleached organic cotton and printed with eco-friendly inks (above) by Earth to Gert. Using it (or others like it) will help cut down on the estimated 5 billion plastic bags that will be discarded by next year’s Earth Day.
In 1997, an international treaty calling for the significant reduction of the release of ozone-depleting chemicals into the atmosphere was signed. Ratified by 194 countries, the Montreal Protocol is thought of as one of the most successful environmental agreements to date. In 2007, twenty years after the signing of the treaty, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Environment Canada both noted some early indications that the ozone layer was beginning to recover. And, there’s even more good news; according to the experts, clear signs of recovery should be expected in the next 7 – 10 years. The lovely “Ozone” earrings, pictured above, are available in the Lolley’s shop. They are Leslie’s tribute to the atmosphere and a fitting one at that, with copper-coloured Swarovski “O”s hanging from hand-hammered, oxidized silver ear-wires.
So, whether you’ll be taking part in the community clean-up in Norway House, Manitoba, or creating driftwood sculptures on California’s Stinson Beach, I hope that you have a fun and fulfilling Earth Day. I hope, too, that you will take a moment to re-commit yourself to doing your part for the planet. We have a long way to go, but look how far we’ve already come! If the task seems too daunting, just remember –
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.
– Gerhard Zeiler
To find an Earth Day event in your neighbourhood, visit earthday.org (USA) or earthday.ca (Canada). Or, if you know of any great local events, we would love to hear them, too! Please leave a comment and fill us in on all of the details.