Thursday, 30 August 2012


Sometimes, Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) and Light Emitting Diodes (LED) don't give off the same light as traditional lighting because certain models can glow in odd colors or appear too bright or dim. Here are some tips to avoid these common energy efficient lighting issues.
  1. Avoid dim bulbs by purchasing bulbs with higher lumens. For example, a 60 Watt (W) incandescent bulb should be replaced with an energy saving lightbulb with at least 800 lumens.
  2. Choose lighting with a higher Color Rendering Index (CRI) to avoid unflattering light. 
  3. Avoid weird light colors by choosing the right Kelvin (K) number - higher K numbers mean cooler colored light. Warm, incandescent light is about 2700 Kelvins.
  4. Double check the bulb is actually suitable for the fixture this can avoid early burn out.  If bulb does burn out early, make sure you send it back to the manufacturer or retailer. 
Our boutique DesignerEco has a small selection of lighting listed. Check them out and remember to include the CFL bulbs or design in the LEDs.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Natural & Sustainable Wall Coverings - Hartmann & Forbes

Could Hartmann&Forbes sustainable wall coverings be any more luxurious, not to mention stylish? I don't believe so. 

The eco-friendly furnishings company works closely together with local farmers around the world to handpick the finest natural plant and animal fibers. These are then shipped to a U.S. facility to be handcrafted into sustainable, fashionable wall and window coverings. Michael Jones, founder of Hartmann&Forbes, believes in creating products that will stand the test of time and place the environment first.

Hartmann&Forbes have a broad selection of innovative wall coverings for any space; their latest design (above) looks like seat belts! Their wall coverings are eye-catching and unique, yet not overpowering. Neutral color palettes are balanced with calming textures to create well-crafted contemporary designs. See for yourself on their website. I guarantee you’ll be impressed. 


Folk Fibers was created by Maura Grace Ambrose and we love the vibrant color collection she has created!

Maura uses natural dyes and then hand quilts and patchworks  the dyed fabrics with other fabrics, both vintage & new.

She only uses 100% natural fibers; they feel better and live longer.

With a focus on "substantive dyes" also know as direct dyes, such as Indigo, Cochineal, Walnut Hulls, and Onion Skins.  Maura favors substantive dyes because color fast fabrics are achieved without the aid of chemical additives, known as a mordants.  Without the need for mordants the dying process becomes simplified and enjoyable, as well as kind to the environment.

The natural dyes are organically grown, harvested, and foraged for around Austin, Texas and all is made locally.   She even did a special project recycling Levi's jeans and Dockers pants; as well as other new, vintage and hand-dyed natural fabrics.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

EcoWarrior- The hunt for non-toxic fabric dyes. But, oh how I love my red pants.

Kokkabok Women's Cotton Group: preparing natural indigo dye in ThailandWell, I thought I had a brilliant idea.  I have a few articles of stained clothing that I thought I could make new again by dying a darker color.  That yellow gauzy tank that I dropped blueberry puree on the first time I wore it could now be the color of blueberries.  My white halter dress that turned a bit grey after it was mistakenly washed with the darks could now be a fall staple under a cardigan.  

I was determined to A) get my moneys worth out of the garments and B) not throw away a perfectly good piece of fabric.  After all, even if the item was originally fair trade, organic, recycled, plant based amazingness it still required energy to produce and can never be turned back into it's original state.  (See Patagonia's Common Thread message.) Brilliant right?  Wrong.  I have spent hours trying to find a fabric dye that is plant based and will not leach chemicals into the water.  I used RIT once.  The smell was noxious.  I regretted it immediately.  

Through my research, I discovered that the dyeing of fabric in the name of fashion is harmful to the environment on many levels.  

The dyes themselves are full of neurotoxins and heavy metals that get disposed of in our waterways and absorbed by the animals in those bodies of water.  The World Bank estimates that 17 to 20 percent of industrial pollution comes from textile coloring and treatment. It has identified 72 toxic chemicals in our water solely from textile dying, 30 of which can‘t be removed despite purification processes.  Through the Dirty Laundry Reports by Greenpeace it was discovered that some branded clothing contained nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) which are used as surfactants in textile production.  Once discharged into the environment via waste water effluents, NPEs break down into toxic nonylphenols compounds (NPs), which are hormone disrupting chemicals. These build up in the water supply and food chain, and are considered hazardous even at low levels of exposure. The EU has banned the use of these chemicals in clothing manufacture.

Check out this video from CNN about the impacts of denim factories on China's waterways and this one by Greenpeace which talks about the multinational companies that are contributing to this problem.  

Additionally, the amount of water used to transfer the dye is astronomical.  It is estimated that a single piece of clothing can require up to 75 gallons of clean water and pollutes a much larger amount.  

AirDye is a company that has developed new technology that by passes the liquid state of dye and reduces water usage by 95% and energy consumption by 86%.  You can look for the AirDye logo on commercially manufactured items.  

I have only found one textile dye that might pass as eco-friendly and that is Permaset by Australian company, Colormaker.    

A cascade of blood red water trickles into the river
Jian River, China
So, I sit here in my bright red denim pants and black tee shirt and continue to search for clothing made in a way that has minimal impact on the environment and follow Patagonia's message to only buy what I need since every act of consumerism has an effect on the environment no matter how organic, sustainable or ethical our intent.  When I do make a purchase I can seek out companies that are currently or have pledged to reduce their impact on the environment in the near future and boycott items from offending countries.  In the meantime,  who wants to come over for a turmeric and plum experiment

BaBa Blankets: Sewing Textiles to Change Lives

Hand-sewn blankets from your grandmother don’t come around every day. But hand-sewn, high-quality blankets made by Ghanaian women working for BaBa Blankets is something you can get any day of the week. In year 2000 E. Aminata Brown founded this creative and sustainable grassroots social enterprise. She says, “For me, BaBa Blankets symbolize the infinite beauty possible when we empower each other to learn, grow, and collectively reach our true potential.” That truly is her desire for this business. While working alongside the women to sew beautiful and colorful bedspreads, pillows, table runners and more, Brown’s heart is ultimately to create better lives for the women in Ghana.
Check out their website to learn more of their story and to view their fabulous products. 

Monday, 6 August 2012


Don't you want to look gorgeous and feel good about yourself? May Yeung jewelry is not only beautiful but the designers behind it are extremely philanthropic. They donate 50% sales to the following organizations: Make the Connection - Cervical Cancer Awareness Campaign, Step Up Women's Network, Beauty Bus Foundation, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles based company uses organic silver and gold filled findings, semi-precious stones, freshwater pearls, shell pearls, and Swarovski crystals. Any metal remnants not used are then recycled.