7 Uses For Empty Cotton Soap Bags

IMG_8727Several of our customers have asked if there are uses for the eco-friendly cotton bags we use to package our cold process soaps, once the soaps are removed from the bags. This post contains a few of our reuse ideas. Please feel free to add yours to the comments!

1) Use it as a soap saver bag for the end pieces of your Herban Lifestyle soap! Otherwise, we don’t recommend wetting the empty bags since they will shrink and wrinkle.

2) Make a sachet! Fill the empty bag with your favorite fragrant dried herbs, such as lavender. You can place it in your drawer to add a lovely subtle scent to your clothing.


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3) Make a fun toy for your cat! Fill the bag with catnip, tie tightly, and clip off the extra string so that your cat won’t eat it. Enjoy the show!

4) Use it as storage for small, easily lost objects, like jewelry and buttons.

5) Decorate the outside and use it as nice-smelling packaging for small gifts or favors.

IMG_92316) Fill them with herbs and/or spices to make an herbal bath tea

7) Use them to store playing or trading cards

There are many more uses for these great little bags. Please let us know your thoughts. We welcome any suggestions!

 

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A Conversation with Maura from GreenWorks

Recently I had an opportunity to interview Maura Canavan, owner of GreenWorks and designer of hand-printed organic cotton and hemp shirts. Maura specializes in eco-friendly clothing with cool ancient-symbol designs. She also heads up the Etsy Organic Team, a group of Etsy sellers “dedicated to helping the earth, the environment, and our bodies through organic products.”

I love the colors and textures of her clothing. Plus I have a special affinity for her Celtic designs (my great-grandfather was from County Cork). Last Christmas, I bought one of her lovely hemp linen tops as a gift for a family member. It was well-received.

Here’s what Maura had to say about GreenWorks and her journey of sustainability.

How did you get started in your chosen craft?

I have an interest in living a natural lifestyle for many years. One of the problems I encountered this side of the pond was a lack of organic clothing or where it was available the high prices!  The prices really put organic clothing out of the reach of most consumers and I felt it was doing a great dis-service to the whole organic campaign to have the clothing in what would be considered a niche market.

At the same time a friend had discovered screen printing and we had collectively come up with some great designs for our t-shirts. So we decided to source organic clothes to screen print on and sell them on at affordable prices to try and get organic mainstream.

We found Etsy in 2008 and opened up GreenWorks because one of our first designs was a play on the phrase that green does work with industrial cogs.  At that time we didn’t think to see if anyone else was using the same name – and on reflection we would have chosen a different name for our shop.

Anyway the rest as they say is history.  We’re still plugging away trying to make this a viable business.  It is slow going and the recession hasn’t helped! 🙂  But we’re committed to making this happen so fingers crossed!

What makes your product eco friendly?

Lots of things.

We make the screens ourselves using wood that would have been dumped and also old picture frames etc.

The inks we use are considered the most eco friendly around and give great results.

The clothing we screen print on is all either organic and/or hemp which is a great sustainable and eco friendly fabric.  While we use organic hemp where possible even though some tops have not been certified as organic we love how hemp actually rejuvenates the earth and is mainly harvested without the use of any pesticides/herbicides etc.

Most of our clothing is also either fair trade or ethically traded.  That was an important box for us to tick when sourcing the tops and one that wasn’t always considered.

And because we do all that ourselves it is fair trade – we’re not employing someone to do the work for us at a cut price.

One downside is that while we source as locally as possible living in Northern Ireland does mean that our inks/tops etc have to be bought in aka environmental costs of shipping/freight etc. Plus selling online entails shipping as well. We are hoping for the day when organic cotton and hemp are available on this wee spot of the earth!

What inspired you to lead a green lifestyle?

I really can’t say.  From a child I had a dislike of medication but had migraines.  So I learned early on the relationship between food and health.  Also growing up in a village we were surrounded by farms etc.  My great aunt had cows and an assortment of chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese etc so we always had a supply of free range eggs as well as homemade butter and buttermilk.  I loved her pantry with all the churning equipment and patting butter and how it was always lovely and cool even when it was hot outside.  It was like magic!

Growing older I started using essential oils and flower remedies and developed a self treatment/regime for migraine using those and a form of self hypnosis that made them manageable.  Then I discovered Feverfew and after taking that for a couple of months my migraines practically disappeared and I would say I have been migraine free for at least 20 years now.

Most of my clothing when I was young was made by my mom and granny and I used to get hand-me-downs from cousins.  So re-using and not wasting were part of everyday life.

Home cooking and baking were everyday occurrences and there is still nothing I like more than fresh baked bread straight off the griddle! Yeah my waist doesn’t thank me for that one 🙂

So I guess you can say that a green lifestyle has been pretty much part and parcel of everyday life for me growing up.  The difference is that while I was young I took it for granted – nowadays it is a conscious decision.

Which piece in your shop is your current favorite?

Oh that is a tough question! From a printing perspective I love the Elegance design because it so versatile and I can play around with it.  From an Irish perspective I love our Celtic designs and all the ancient symbolism dating back to our pagan days.  From an activist point of view I love our organic message and some newer hemp designs.  My favorites though are the tribal prints – the cosmic circles inspired by the Mayan calendar and the mushroom God with his magic mushrooms. The idea of that was actually some copper handles with the mushrooms on an old Irish oak sideboard.  Unfortunately Ireland has few ancient oak forests left as most of them were plundered … but that’s another story!

What are you currently working on?

We have a new hemp print that I need to list but also a couple of plans for 2 ranges of designs … but they’re kinda secret for now 🙂

On the non-organic front, but recycling, I’ve been concentrating on sewing and making for my other shop lilgreenshop.  I’m a wild hoarder and figured it was time to rebirth some fabric scraps etc plus for local craft fairs it is easier to take one suitcase of smaller eco items on a bus or train to a fair than try to take clothing (no car and no plans to get one if I can manage without)

The Beauty of Organic Cotton

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Organic herbal dream pillows are one of the handcrafted products I offer through my online store. They are filled with blends of organic herbs and spices, which are designed to encourage restful, happy sleep. A friend who specializes in fabric crafts has commented on a couple of occasions that she doesn’t use organic fabrics because they are so expensive. Granted, these fabrics cost more than other types of cotton, but I feel strongly in making products that are good for people and for the environment. To help encourage the use of organic products by consumers, I price my pillows comparably to other non-organic ones.

I recently came across an article on the production of conventional cotton, and it reinforced my conviction to use only organic cotton in my products. The following article is reprinted with permission from the Blue Ridge Eco Shop blog:

Although cotton is marketed as clean, fresh and natural, conventional cotton is anything but. 10% of all agricultural chemicals and 25% of insecticides in the US are used to grow cotton. It takes 1/3 pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to produce (1) cotton t-shirt.

Cotton Farms aren’t just using any pesticides. Cotton growers typically use many of the most hazardous pesticides on the market including aldicarb, phorate, methamidophos and endosulfan. These are broad spectrum organo-phosphates–pesticides originally developed as toxic nerve agents during World War II. Many of these pesticides are endocrine disruptor’s and are creeping into our systems.

What does this mean to us?

Water Contamination – Cotton pesticides are contaminating our groundwater and surface waters which lead to our drinking water. Pesticides can be washed into streams and rivers where they contaminate aquatic ecosystems and kill fish.

Beneficial Insect Destruction – Pesticides kill beneficial insects as well as pests. Pesticides are suspected to be responsible for the severe drop in honeybees, the increase in frogs with extra legs and eyes, and the annual death of 67 million birds.

Farm worker poisoning – Pesticides used on cotton poison farm workers worldwide–causing acute poisoning and chronic illnesses. In California, cotton was ranked the third highest crop for pesticide-related worker illnesses.

Insect Resistance – Cotton pests are become resistant to pesticides. Insect resistance costs US cotton growers up to $1.4 billion per year and has caused a 30% drop in cotton yields in recent years.

Food Residues – Cotton pesticides can enter the human food chain through cotton seed oil used in processed foods and through meat and dairy products from cows fed on cotton seed meal.

What Can I Do?

Buy Organic. There are a lot of alternatives to conventional cotton. Organic fabrics these days are plentiful. The Blue Ridge Eco Shop sells organic cotton, soy, bamboo, hemp, a variety of organic fabrics. Buying used clothing is a great inexpensive alternative as well. This decreases the demand for convention new cotton clothing.