Products for the Eco-Friendly Home
As climate change bites and cultures change in response, people all over the world are insisting on eco-friendly products, from gifts to home wares, food to clothing. Green is huge at the moment and a fresh collection of gorgeous ethically-produced products is released to a hungry market every day.
First, what are ethical, eco-friendly goods? For a start, their manufacture has a minimal impact on the natural world. Second, the people who make them are paid fairly and enjoy good working conditions, often having a say in the future and even the pricing of the products they make. And the materials used are organic and sustainable, often recycled and recyclable. Hereâs a run-down of some of the splendid eco-friendly home products available on the market right now.
Amazing crockery and cutlery made from bamboo
Bamboo is absolutely amazing stuff. If you've ever grown it yourself, you'll know it's a bit of a monster and can cause chaos in the garden, re-growing with alarming speed and very difficult to control once it gets going. Which is exactly what makes it so sustainable, the perfect 'green' material. Bamboo is the world's fastest growing plant. It's endlessly renewable, growing new shoots from the root system after being harvested. It thrives naturally. It doesn't need pesticides or fertilisers. It absorbs greenhouse gases like nobody's business. And it even generates 35% more oxygen than equivalent-sized trees.
Bamboo is so tough and resilient that it's perfect for crockery, especially when beautifully lacquered and coated with a scratch-resistant varnish. Take bowls and plates, for example. The bamboo is hand-coiled, shaped by hand and finished with a 100% natural, food-safe lacquer generated from the cashew tree. They're durable and waterproof, suitable for hot and cold foods and easy to clean using warm soapy water.
Then there are utensils...and even chopping boards, all made from gorgeous bamboo for considerable home style without a high environmental cost.
Beautiful bowls made from coconut shells
As you can imagine, coconut shells make super bowls too. They’re perfect for any kind of food, hot or cold, and safe to eat from. The coconut shells are cleaned and polished then the inside is given a tough coating of food-safe PU lacquer and the outside coated with a vivid coloured varnish, also food-safe. They’re easy to keep clean with warm soapy water and genuinely great to look at.
Another wonder-wood, cork
The cork tree is an amazing thing too, both renewable and biodegradable. The bark - the cork itself - is harvested every 10-12 years, then it grows back with absolutely no damage to the tree. In fact stripping the old bark off helps the tree flourish, improving its health and vitality. Cork forests are brilliant for preventing soil erosion, maintaining water resources and even storing CO2, and the trees live as long as 200 years.
Best of all, you can make stunning fabric from the cork, which is machine washable at cold temperatures. Remarkable! A thin layer of cork is fixed to a cotton backing and the end result has a lovely feel; smooth, soft, warm and leather-like. It's anti-microbial, resists water and doesn't stain either. Amazing stuff.
Stunning recycled glassware
Recycled glass is another big hitter on the eco-friendly home wares front. We're so used to recycling it's difficult to remember the bad old days - not so long ago -when we threw away perfectly good glass into landfill. These days all sorts of manufacturers are taking glass recycling to a new level, producing hugely stylish drinking glasses to grace any dining table.
Mexico has a long tradition of glass-making and it's a source of lovely hand made glassware for the home. Because every glass is shaped by hand, using techniques dating back a thousand years or more, each one is different. And they come in a wide range of jewel-like colours as well as plain, clear glass.
Other companies recycle glass bottles in different creative ways, for example transforming old branded beer bottles that would otherwise qualify as ordinary domestic glass waste into contemporary and highly functional glassware. The classic Corona beer bottle glass is enormously popular, as are Newcastle Brown glasses and Sol glasses. There's a particularly good-looking recycled glass made from old J2O juice bottles and chunky tumblers made from Grolsch, Smirnoff Vodka, Cobra beer or Stella Artois bottles. You can even light up your evening with an elegant recycled glass candlestick, which comes with a fantastic antique silvered finish for extra sparkle.
Glorious textiles with Anglo-French chic
Ochre & Ocre use crisp, fresh organic cotton and linen, made in Portugal to Oeko-tex standards, the respected international testing and certification system. They produce high quality, environmentally friendly textiles, creating stylish aprons, matching oven gloves, tea towels, tea cosies, ironing board covers, peg bags, carrier bags, Aga pads and more, all designed to accessorise your kitchen without damaging the environment. The company produces the most ecologically responsible products possible as well as ensuring the people who make them have a good quality of life and are paid fairly.
Cotton is always at risk from pests and a massive 25% of the world’s pesticides are used to keep cotton crops pest-free. Avoiding pesticides altogether, the company uses beneficial insects, crop rotation and organic manure to keep their non-GM crop safe and healthy. The quality of the cotton is much higher than average because there are no nasty chemicals to break down the fibres. It’s softer, tougher, longer-lasting, less likely to cause allergies and completely free from formaldehyde, often used by less environmentally friendly manufacturers to coat cotton fabric. The farmers get a better price for their cotton and don’t face the health risks posed by pesticides and other chemicals. And consumers get a suite of superb quality home wares designed to last as well as looking great, dyed safely in pretty, contemporary lavenders, blues and greens.
Smart, spotless stainless steel home wares with an eco-twist
Stainless steel is a wonderful material, especially when Nkuku is involved. They harness the Indian tradition of decorating everyday objects and their steel goods come with a difference; they’re beautifully decorated with an intricate black and white design on a soft, dove-grey background. The steel they use is completely food safe and their bowls, jugs, storage tins and cups are all hand-painted by talented artisans who work from home. Their products are perfect for the kitchen but also just as handy in the bathroom, for storing soap and cosmetics, or even in the bedroom as a decorative and practical addition to your dressing table. The manufacturer is a member of the WFTO World Fair Trade Organisation and the BAFTS British Association of Fair Trade Shops, so ticks all the fair trade boxes. Nkuku are also involved in making smart leather and linen notebooks, photo albums and journals, cool picture frames and a great deal more, all with a dedicated eco-friendly edge.
Eco soy wax candles
Who would have imagined soy candles could smell so good? Eco-friendly soy wax can be fragranced with essential oils, just like paraffin wax or beeswax. Soy wax is non-toxic and burns a lot more cleanly. It doesn’t give out any petrol-carbon soot, which includes toxic carcinogens. In fact, everyday paraffin wax candles contain as many as eleven carcinogenic compounds, all of which have been certified as 'toxic air contaminants' in California and several of which are also given off by burning diesel fuel. Nasty! Soy wax burn candles burn more slowly and don’t get so hot. Unlike paraffin wax, soya beans are renewable. And the wax is naturally biodegradable as well as much easier to clean up if you have a spill.
Lovely smellies for your skin
There are countless cosmetic companies offering eco-friendly products, including Balance Me, a range that’s all about harnessing natural aromatherapy products and the power of essential oils. Their super moisturising creams, salves and body washes are full of vitamin-rich Shea butter and natural oils like sweet almond oil plus magical benzoin and yarrow, apparently used by Achilles to treat wounded soldiers during the Trojan war. The entire Balance Me collection is certified organic by ECOCERT so doesn’t contain any undesirable chemicals. The production process respects the natural environment and it causes no environmental harm. And nothing they make is tested on animals, which is another big plus point.
Don't settle for less!
Buying eco-friendly home wares means you get the best of all worlds; great looks, practicality, impeccable ethical credentials and minimal - if any - environmental harm. As the range of eco-friendly home products increases, there's no need to settle for less than the best.