Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fashion and Beauty: Betsy & Bess

Second chances are hard to come by, especially when marketers are pushing harder and harder for us to use it once then throw it away in the name of convenience, or heaven forbid, germs! So I'm always pleasantly surprised when I find a designer who puts the environment first and takes the time to reuse old materials, keeping them out of the landfill and full of love.

I had the chance to speak with one upcycle designer Elizabeth, creator of Betsy & Bess. I adore Betsy & Bess' shop slogan, "Eco friendly purses, handbags, and accessories, made from repurposed, upcycled, and recycled materials, down to the zippers, buttons, and pockets. Nothing goes to waste!" and I think Elizabeth's point of view is also very refreshing.

'I love working with any materials that need a second chance. At the moment I'm in love with wool.'

'I construct my items out of repurposed fabrics from used clothing and other textiles, as well as other found materials, such as belts and metal rings. I also reuse shipping materials and recycled paper products when sending my product to the customer.'

'I love the fact that my actions have a low impact on the environment, and I love helping others achieve that as well...My main philosophy is to reuse whenever possible...I do not use paper products (other than toilet paper, of course) in my home. If I could find a way to effectively reuse packing tape, I'd do it!'

'My mother taught me to sew as a child. My mother is a talented seamstress, and I would often help her with her projects, cutting out pattern pieces, covering buttons, standing perfectly still for what seemed like hours while she pinned a hem. It wasn’t until later that I really began enjoying the craft she had taught me and started sewing for myself.'

'I am inspired by designs that are practical and adorable. I think a purse should be functional, convenient, and also attractive. I always keep this in mind when constructing my bags. I also love vintage bags. I am inspired by their details.'

'When I’m not sitting at a sewing machine, you can find me teaching English as a Second Language to elementary school students. I also enjoy playing the piano, and have two wonderful, monstrous Dobermans whose company I enjoy immensely.'

Check out Elizabeth's full collection of eco-friendly purses, handbags, and accessories at Betsy & Bess. I personally love the Farm House lunch bag, featuring a handsome rooster, and repurposed from a place mat!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fashion and Beauty: Canned Jewels

Can fashion accessories be inspiring? You bet they can! Phyllis Zuckerman, owner of Canned Jewels, not only turns trash into treasure, she's raising money for charity with her recycled creations. I'm so excited to share Phyllis' story with you. Her story is not only moving, it is a beautiful example that small things (like pop tabs) can have a big impact.

'I have two daughters with complicated medical needs. We have had to travel to, and stay at Ronald McDonald Houses in Hershey, PA, Chicago, Cleveland, Delaware and Cincinnati. One of the fundraisers for Ronald McDonald House is collecting soda tabs. We collect, our friends collect, and their friends collect.'

'Soda tabs aren't just for opening sodas. They are a major fundraiser for many non-profit organizations. Aluminum recyclers pay between 35¢ and 70¢ per pound based on the market price of aluminum. There are approximately 1267 tabs per pound. The tab of a beverage can is pure aluminum, unlike the rest of the can which contains an alloy of metals and paint.'

'...I wanted to do something with the soda tabs that was lasting. I started by making keyrings and eventually expanded to making bracelets out of the soda tabs and jump rings. I give a portion of each sale to Ronald McDonald Houses...The most I use is 28 tabs in one bracelet. Ronald McDonald houses gets 20% of the sale or $4.00. It is win/win for everyone!'

'My children inspire me. They have been through so much. My college freshman has Spina Bifida. We “forgot” to tell her that the doctors said she would never walk. She walks, drives, shops, etc...This summer she is going to be a lifeguard.'

'My high school freshman has a rare digestive disorder called Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis. It basically means her body is allergic to food. She gets an amino acid based formula through a tube in her stomach. That is how she eats. She is also hearing impaired and has tremendous joint pain. She misses weeks of school at a time, and still manages to be on honor roll. She plays softball, swims, and surfs.'

'[In the future], my husband and I would like to start selling at craft fairs...My life outside of Etsy is filled with more medical knowledge than some doctors have. Someday I hope to trade in all that medical knowledge for healthy kids, so I can create full time.'

Check out Phyllis' pop can tab creations at her online shop.These recycled creations are for a good cause.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fashion and Beauty: Made by MJ

Here is the question I bet you're all dying to know....
'Can I be fashionable and still be eco-friendly?'
The answer? Emphatically YES! ...But it will take a little more time and work. You've gotta shop around, and you've gotta do your homework. Beware of products that sound green but don't deliver.

Bummer right? Well, sometimes it can be frustrating, I will admit, but it can also be an adventure! An eco-find is a beautiful thing. And when you know that good environmental practices went into making and selling the product your shopping suddenly turns into a treasure hunt!

I'm here to help on your hunt for green fashion and beauty. I spoke with MJ, owner of made by MJ, to find out what inspires her one-of-a-kind eco designs.

'I have always [been creative], both my parents are artists. MJ started out making bags as gifts but has now branched out, expanding her collection to include purses, totes, iphone/ipod and blackberry cases, cosmetic bags, and diaper bags, to name a few. I'm inspired by nature [and] love working with colourful [fabric].'

'I use upcycled and recycled fabrics as well as eco felt in all my projects...I just don't like seeing great fabrics getting thrown away just because they are slightly used.'

Now, eco felt is a really cool product! It's made from 100% recycled, post-consumer plastic bottles. I didn't even know that was possible before today. Hooray for learning.

In the future, MJ would love to create her one-of-a-kind bags, purses, and cases full time. You can help support this eco artists by checking out her online shop!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Green Living: Lindsay's Lovely Candles

When you see something as delicious as these cupcake candles, pictured above, it's hard to believe that the three R's (Recycle, Reduce, Reuse) went into their production. What I love about these cute little candles is that they show us that practically everything we do in life (even making fun purchases) can become a little greener. Cupcake candle, you inspire me!

I had the chance to talk with Lindsay of Lindsay's Lovely Candles, to hear how she makes her candles in an environmentally conscious way.

Lindsay got her creative start back in 2007. 'My sister had a great idea to start making soaps, candles, and body products for extra [money]. We made [just] about everything bath and body you could think of.' When it came time for Lindsay to move away from her sister, she wanted to continue creatively on her own. '[At that time], I realized what I was really good at, making candles.'

I can tell that Lindsay's creative juices get revved by making candles. She gets excited by new fragrances and inspired by upcoming holidays. 'Holiday's are my favourite. It's so fun to create [candles] let's say for Valentine's Day; I [experiment with] romantic perfume, or red and pink [colours].'

'I try to use recycled wax whenever possible...its fun to turn old candle [wax] into new and delicious smelling candles! [Also], I always reuse packing materials- bubble mailers, boxes, packaging. Not only is it easier on my wallet, but it's great for the environment.'

'I hope that [in continuing] to grow my business, I can find more ways to keep it green.'

From production to packaging, small business and large can take a cue from Lindsay's Lovely Candles by incorporating the 3 R's every step of the way.

Check out more of Lindsay's Lovely Candles, and additional crafts in her online shop.