Monthly Archives: April 2018

The Sustainable Market

industrial style dining table close up

Facebook images of rubbish being washed up on beaches, the banning of microbeads in cosmetic products on the news, the disappearance of plastic bags from supermarkets (leading to you taking your shopping to your car in a basket if you’re like me and forget your reusable bags)…the issues that the world has with regards to the rubbish that we create and how we deal with it is something that no-one can claim to be ignorant of.

Locally to us at IronFire, there was a recent meeting at Morrisons of local shoppers who all took back their plastic wrapping to the manager in the trolley load, and the pubs are no longer providing plastic straws, only paper ones. We are all taking notice – seeing rubbish on beaches at the weekends, it can’t be ignored – and the passion that some people and businesses are showing is in turn inspiring others. (Iceland are paving the way as they are aiming to be the first plastic free supermarket by 2023). Looking at your kitchen and bathroom shelves though, we seem inundated with plastic and throwaway materials and it can seem that there is no easy way to get around this. Well, look no further! Here we are with a short guide (we love a list) to some products that we have found online that can help you do your bit in keeping the planet plastic free…

  1. Waitrose have announced that they are going to stop providing paper cups for their free coffee, and many coffee shops will give you money off of your takeaway cappuccino if you take in your own reusable cup. KeepCup say that they are “there for the everyday changemakers” – a mantra which we love, after all if we can all make small changes then they will amount to a lot. Their reusable cups are made from tempered glass and they also manufacture a barista standard cup, all of which are available in multiple colours and sizes. Worth the investment if you frequently indulge in a takeaway coffee or can’t walk around Waitrose without a caffeine hit!
  2. Did you know that many teabags are made of plastic? As a tea-addict, my contribution to the plastic issue just from my habit has shocked me somewhat. The big players – PG Tips and Tetley – both contain plastic, but if you are looking to be more plastic free, then simply change your tea-bags over to Aldi, the Waitrose Duchy brand or Pukka tea (their peppermint and liquorice flavour is amazing). Alternatively, look at making your own teabags or using loose tea. You never know, it could always lead to a sideline in fortune telling!
  3. No one wants to be a bit smelly, even at the expense of the planet, but Salt of the Earth deodorants are on hand (or armpit) to tick both of these boxes. Designed to be not only sustainable in manufacture, packing and distribution, they are paraben free and perfect for people with sensitive skin. They also offer a massive refill bottle so that you don’t have to continually replace the original. What’s not to like!
  4. Lush shampoo bars seem to be a bit of a weird idea at first – who even uses soap apart from your nan?!? – but each of these bars are the equivalent of 3 x 250g bottles of shampoo. Saving you not only money but also keeping your plastic usage down massively, and your hair clean and full of bounce! The reviews are great, with people claiming never to go back to normal shampoo after using this product.
  5. Cling film. Plastic. But without it you end up with pockets and a handbag full of crumbs and bits of lettuce. Not an endearing lunch for even the hungriest of people. So here’s the alternative – beeswax wraps. Made in Stroud from cotton with pine resin and local beeswax to help them ‘cling’, these wraps do seem like a costly investment at first but can be reused for a year simply with by washing with water and soap. And once they have been used to their maximum, they can be thrown on your compost heap as are fully biodegradable.  Fresh food and a crumb free bottom to your handbag, all guilt free!
  6. As it is just thrown down the toilet, loo roll may not be at the forefront of your mind when thinking about living sustainably apart from buying the recycled version in the supermarket. However, they come in plastic packaging, and the roll in the middle needs to be recycled (or made into Jesus and Mary and various others who you are NOT ALLOWED TO THROW AWAY EVER). Who Gives a Crap manufactures toilet paper that is made from recycled paper and books, comes in a recyclable cardboard box and is fully biodegradable as well as being ok for septic tanks (not sceptic tanks – definitely no doubt). Not only this, but they give 50% of all of their profits to help build toilets in third world countries. No bum deal here.
  7. Ecover are launching a clean world revolution, and want us to join! Abandon your Mr Muscle and enter the realms of eco-friendly cleaning right here. An eco-sound factory, all products made from plant-derived materials (no nasty chemicals) which include no phosphates which inevitably end up back in our water, and a war on single use plastic all mean that Ecover are maintaining their lead as one of the most popular and effective cleaning solutions for planet aware cleaners. A recent study showed that inhaling the chemicals from kitchen and bathroom cleaners can be as bad for your lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes a day, so while it may not be fun to be scrubbing bathroom dirt away, you can at least make it healthier both for yourself and the planet.
  8. The Natural Bed Company make all of their beds from wood that has come from sustainable forests and never from endangered tropical sources. All made in the UK, they share our passion for not using the fast wood that has been used in the construction of cheap furniture from China and the suchlike. Not only beds though, they also offer fully organic bedding for a bedtime experience that is just dreamy!
  9. Last but by no means least, IronFire Industrial Furniture (I’m not going to miss us out now am I!) have a range of industrial style furniture that is only available online. Our products are made by British craftsmen using sustainably sourced products; keeping the forests healthy and our time on the roads shorter. Sustainable and a bit stunning!

True, all of these solutions may not be suitable for everyone but if we all just make little changes to our everyday habits this may make our beaches, air and water cleaner for that bit longer for the generations to come.

Inspired by the Sunshine!

So today my original blog idea has been thrown aside in favour of a more relevant subject, inspired purely by the beautiful sunshine and blue skies that we are seeing here in Wiltshire after what seems like endless months of rain and snow. I’m still on a garden furniture type roll, so this post is designed to help you decide how to buy your furniture for the garden. As with most furniture, it’s very rarely a cheap impulsive buy, and as a consumer you will need to make sure that you are getting the most you can for your money and that it’s suitable for purpose. As a friend of mine likes to chant regularly, “buy cheap, buy twice”, and for a product that is going to be spending its time being battered by the weather it is certainly worth bearing this adage in mind. Therefore, as follows is my guide to investing in garden furniture, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on which you think is the most important and what has helped you…
  1. Functionality. What is the purpose of your garden furniture? Where is it going to go? If you are planning on keeping it all on your patio and surround it with lots of friends for al fresco dinner parties, a large table and plenty of seating is key. It may even be worth looking at benches as a seating option rather than chairs to allow you to squeeze those extra couple of bottoms on when not expected. If your furniture is to go in a smaller nook of your garden and you’re more of a sit out on your own type, then don’t over-table! A bistro table which can sit subtly in a corner or under a pergola is a better option for four or less people. Add as many chairs to this as you need or want – most places will let you purchase chairs individually so if you want to sit alone and read, just buy one. They’ll soon get the message!
  2. Care. It’s bad enough keeping your living room sofa clear of crumbs and stains without having to worry about your garden furniture as well. Most metal garden furniture will be treated so that it lasts for years and will just require a wipe down with hot soapy water as and when it needs it. Wooden furniture can be slightly more labour intensive, but if you’re painting your fence then you may as well tidy up your furniture at the same time! A lot of tabletops will have been treated – just check on this when you buy. If you do go for a wooden option, ensure that the wood is from an FSC forest…
  3. Storage. Many garden furniture sets will need to be brought inside over the winter. Bear this in mind if you’re buying a cheaper set, as it will need to go into a garage or shed to make it last longer than a single summer. Cushions can be affected by the damp, so look for cushions made of materials that are UV resistant so that they maintain their colour and are waterproof – it’s surprising where the water can get in and cause mould.
  4. Colour. Why stick to just brown wood when there are so many other colours out there! Look for painted woods, bright table tops, and match these to your plants, plant pots, shoes….A brightly coloured garden furniture set can be a stunning talking point as well as adding a bright splash to your garden and the opportunities for colours really can be endless.
  5. Invest. I know, it’s not going to be cheap but you really will get what you pay for. Investing that bit more into purchasing a quality set of garden furniture will mean that you won’t have to update it every year when it goes rusty or falls apart. It’s false economy to buy cheap, and think of the good that you are also doing the environment by not using what we call “fast furniture” – products that are cheap and then discarded quickly.
  6. Additional Accessories. If you’re feeling a bit flush and want to carry on with your garden furniture purchases, don’t just stop at the table and chairs! Consider a patio heater or fire-pit if you want your parties to go on that little bit later into the night, and for warm lighting. Matching planters can deck your decking or patio, and can be filled with pretty plants such as olive trees, or even look at filling them with practical vegetables! A bright parasol to match or complement your table is always important for that one really hot day of sun we get if you’re an English rose who shrivels in the sunshine (like me!). And if you’re eating outside, you may as well cook outside as well. If a BBQ is a bit too standard for you, have a look at outdoor pizza ovens – easy to use and will make you roll pizzas out so often you may put Dominos to shame!
Disclaimer: If you now go out and invest a lot of money in stunning garden furniture, invite your friends round and buy all of the burgers and sausages in Tesco only for it to rain tomorrow…it’s not my fault.