Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Kind Companies

Kind (and beautiful) Bags & Wallets

Posted by on Jul 19, 2015 in Kind Companies, leather | 10 comments

“When you dress in suede or leather, Or some fancy fur or feather, Do you stop and wonder whether, Are you wearing someone’s brother, Perhaps it’s someone’s mother” – Dr Doolittle

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My aptly captioned bag from www.bagladies.com.au

I remember a time, not all that long ago, when I would not have thought twice about buying something made of leather. I found it synonymous with quality and luxury and found the vegan anti leather beliefs to be a bit nuts. When I did give it any thought, I justified my purchase by telling myself “it’s just a by product of the meat industry, right ? I am honoring the animal’s life by making sure that every part is used etc etc.”

Moving on a couple of years and things have changed somewhat. I’ve read up on what the real cost of leather is to both animals and the environment and it is not pleasant.

There is an interesting debate going on at Mamamia – over the scorn that a rabbit vest-ed wearing staff member copped from her leather jacket clad workmates. Reading through the comments, it became apparent that the most common view point is that fur wearing is evil and it’s wearer should be shunned because of the inherent cruelty behind it’s production but leather is OK. I agree that it is possibly the lesser of the two evils – but only just. Afterall….(and what has put me off ever buying leather again) :

  • most leather comes from China and India where animal welfare considerations are zero. You can almost guarantee that the animal who was killed for it’s skin died in pain and fear. Read more here.
  • recent investigations have shown that dog skin is commonly used to make products like gloves, imported from China, and legally sold here. It looks exactly the same as cow, pig and goat skin (read more here) so you would never know what animal’s skin you are actually wearing.
  • It is a fallacy that leather is just a by product of the meat industry and much leather comes from young calves (as well as an array of other animals) who’s meat is not used (read more in this interesting article from The Guardian)
  • In India,exhausted cows are made to walk to their deaths by people breaking their tails and rubbing chili into their eyes to make them walk to be slaughtered. (read more here)
  • The tanning process of making an animal’s skin become leather is horrendous for the environment and the worker’s health.

Despairing.

HOWEVER, the glorious thing is that in this day and age, there are so many gorgeous alternatives out there to leather. This post will concentrate on wallets and handbags. Shoes, belts, car interiors, footballs and all the myriad of things commonly made from leather…they’ll have to wait for another day. I hope if you are after a new wallet or bag made from non animal materials, you’ll consider one of these lovely, artistic, ethical and (mostly) local companies. Such a better place for your money to end up than the alternative wouldn’t you agree ?

Needle vs Thread : Simply stunning array of bags / handbags of all varieties made in the Blue Mountains – you can pick your own fabric (including Kokka Wolves, Koi, Foxtrot – how do I choose ??). Whenever this stall is at Marrickville Markets, I dither around, fondling and gazing at the bags but leave empty handed (nightmare customer) due to quite literally having too many fantasy bag choices to pick from. Well, maybe this one

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Needle Vs Thread Small Messenger Bag

 

(but with Koi fabric) is winning the race….(shameless hint to boyfriend with my birthday on the horizon !)

Anna Nova : Stick an owl, fox or elk on something and I’m sold. I own one of these elk motif-ed “faux leather” wallets (with a matching baggage tag) and would highly recommend this affordable brand if you are not into plain wallets.

Catherine Manuell Design : If you can’t find a bag (handbags, travel bags, wheely bag, slouch bags – you name it) here which tickles your fancy, I give up. This Australian company feature a lot of Aboriginal designs too which assist Indigenous women in outback Australia. I have a beautiful maroon CMD shoulder handbag which is now headed into it’s 2nd decade.

Orange Oranges : Gorgeous Brisbane company selling a vast array of cruelty free bags, even man bags. They stock the highly acclaimed…..

Matt and Nat bags and wallets too. This Canadian Company sell their beautiful, sleek, elegant array of bags / wallets / purses of every type in Australia. Their environmental kudos is outstanding (including the fact that 100% of their linings are made from recycled plastic bottles !)

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Vegan Ware’s Belperio bag

Vegan Wares – another wonderful, cruelty free wonderland with bags (love the Belperio bag above) and wallets galore. I recently bought my fella a Vegan Wares wallet to replace his tatty looking (leather !) Country Road wallet. It looks like the real thing and has opened up a whole array of debates amongst his very blokey work mates about all kinds of animal welfare issues which is what all of this is about….making people think !

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My fella proudly displaying his new Vegan Wares wallet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuban Pink – I fell in love with my Cuban Pink handbag many moons ago. It is still going strong and I am always receiving lovely compliments about it. My google searches have led me to the belief that these handmade bags (with each fabric an original) are now only being sold at Bangalow Markets. Anyway, I wanted to show it off !!

My much used Cuban Pink handbag

My much used Cuban Pink handbag

For a final shout out whilst we are on the bag topic, for an evening clutch, you need to peruse “Biddy Bags”. A treasured friend bought me the red Signature Sarah Blasko biddy bag a few years ago and, for my increasingly rare nights out on the town, I adore it. They are such a great company too – connecting isolated “mature age” ladies who share their amazing talents to whip up gorgeous bags (and teas cosies).

So many durable, original, cruelty free local designs out there. As per the beautiful mantra from Edgar’s Mission “if we could lead happy and healthy lives without harming others….why wouldn’t we ?”. Why indeed.

 

 

 

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Kind Baby Gifts

Posted by on Apr 5, 2015 in Kind Companies, Shopping | 6 comments

“May you live everyday of your life” – Johnathan Swift

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Maggie and her new goose (from Orangutan Crisis Foundation)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you little Maggie for being the perfect model for my “kind baby gifts” post.

A few friends have been having bubs of late.  I have therefore been on a shopping jaunt, seeking out baby pressies which are not only unique and cute but give back in some way – whether it be to support an organisation which uses your money for good, is environmentally responsible or to support the “little guy”. Here are some examples of what has been catching my eye.

Pebble Toys  – helps women out of poverty in Bangladesh and the toys are quirky and colourful.

Shelter Pups – all the way from the US but worth it, adorable replicas of shelter dogs with their own distinctive stories with the funds going straight to help a real shelter animal.

Pooki Boo shoes – I bought the very cute Easter themed bunny baby shoes which are made from sustainably sourced bamboo fleece and locally made.

Orangutan Crisis Foundation – beautiful goose or elephant toys made from recycled blankets. Funds go straight back to this great charity.

Hamlin Fistula Foundation – by purchasing a toy like this one

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Hand made Zebra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

you can help fund this life changing charity. The hand made animals are beautiful.

Animals Australia – I love their range of cuddly toys which send a message about that particular animal’s plight whilst raising money for this wonderful organisation.

Edgar’s Mission – I have re-visited their on line shop many times but, today’s visit took me straight to the animal themed rattles

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(I could not go past the pig). Buying from Edgar’s Mission helps to keep this animal sanctuary do what they do best – rescuing animals in need.

Gus and Ollie – one of my far flung (Germany) blog with pip classmates who’s very individual, hand made cute critters would make a wonderful baby pressie choice.

Ecolosophy – one of my favourite on line shops has eco friendly baby products galore – including little body suits, creams and teething gadgets / pendants.

Are there any kindly sourced baby gifts which you can recommend ?

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Kind Clothing

Posted by on Nov 16, 2014 in Clothing, Kind Companies | 7 comments

Do your little bit of good where you are, it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world” – Desmond Tutu

I am a bit of a bandit for wearing the same clothes year in and year out. I faithfully don the same dresses, cossies etc year after year, some of which I bought over a decade ago (kind of mortifying when I think about it !) only to discard them when they become threadbare. I am not overly confident with my fashion choices and can get paralysed by indecision in clothes shops so I kind of stick with what I like for a long, long time.

The time has come to take the plunge and buy a few new clothes. I am keen to buy from a company who is going to do something good and kind with my patronage. Here they are, my chosen few garments for 2014 – here’s hoping they are long lasting !

1. This top from Ecolosophy : Made by disadvantaged women in India and Nepal.

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This gorgeous on line Australian shop is chock a block full of desirable things – all of which give back in some capacity (environmentally, by employing under privileged workers etc). Now is a good time to snap something up too as you have the chance to win a eco friendly product packed hamper when you checkout.

2. These pyjama pants (or should I say my “lurking around the house” attire) from Punjammies. This lovely company assists women in India to escape from sex slavery by teaching them new skills and a way to make a living. Each pair of punjammies is named after one of the women who work in the sewing centres. There are many, beautifully coloured ones to pick from but I like “Kalyani”.

Kalyani Full with border

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 3. This limited addition Hello Kitty t-shirt from the wonderful, amazing Animals Asia. A christmas pressie for my 9 year old niece with proceeds going to help the bears.

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4. These ballet flats from Toms. Thanks to  Toms “one for one” policy, my purchase will mean that a pair of shoes is donated to a child in need (they do other lovely things too such as providing clean water for a person in need for a week when you buy a bag of their coffee).

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As for who I WON’T be buying from…….the Just Group in Australia (which includes Dotti, Portmans, Jay Jays, Just Jeans and Jacqui-E) are off my list. Despite a swag of big names (including Myer, David Jones, Collette Dinnigan, Big W) advising that they will no longer be selling garments containing angora wool, the Just Group is continuing to do so despite being faced with the evidence of the horrendously cruel way which is it produced.

It takes a tiny bit more work fishing out these “giving back” companies than just wandering into the likes of Myer but it feels good to know that your purchase is helping another person or animal in need. If you know of any other similar companies, please let me know so that I can add them to the list when my next shopping “spree” comes calling !

 

 

 

 

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Kind Company – (for loo paper!)

Posted by on Aug 24, 2014 in Kind Companies | 6 comments

“You make all kinds of mistakes, but as long as you are generous and true and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her.” ― Winston Churchill

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I have decided to start interjecting my blog posts with some little reviews of kind and generous companies I have discovered. Sending your hard earned money to a nice group of people who are going to do good things with it is so much more satisfying than sending it to a big company who’s only care is lining it’s own pockets.

For the past 6 months or so, we have been buying our loo paper from “Who Gives A Crap”. At the risk of over sharing, I will keep things brief. We get the 48 roll package (includes free delivery for $31) which seems to last for a very long time. The individually wrapped coloured rolls are pretty enough to be displayed proudly and the, ahem, comfort factor is excellent. Delivery is always prompt. This great company is Australian, the toilet paper is made from 100% recycled material and no toxic dyes are used in it’s production. Best of all, however, is the fact that 50% of the profits goes towards WaterAid who build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world for the 40% (!) of the world’s population who currently don’t have access to a toilet. 

I would love to do all of my shopping via kind companies such as this one – do you know of a good one to share ?

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Crocheting with a conscience !

Posted by on Aug 9, 2014 in Kind Companies, Sheep - Wool | 6 comments

“I have to say, I am off men after seeing the PETA footage of Australian shearers punching and murdering sheep” –  actress, Rachel Ward.

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Saved and living the dream at Little Oak Sanctuary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just to add to my list of  coveted hobbies that I want to squeeze into my life somewhere – I have made the decision that I am going to learn to crochet. My Blog with Pip course teemed with all kinds of talented, crafty people (check out “Made With Loops” as an example, beautiful hey ?) and, I want a piece of this creative action too !  As I was recently planning the best way to learn how to crochet and select the required yarn – having never touched a crochet hook in my life – this report came to light in the media. For those who want to be spared the details, it concerns recently obtained footage obtained from shearing sheds around Australia where the sheep are shown to be treated extremely brutally by the shearers.

It was a timely reminder to me about the ethics of using wool which only really came onto my radar a few years ago.  Prior to that, I had viewed wool, particularly “merino wool”, as a superior, cosy, wholesome fiber. I believed that it was as simple as the sheep growing their fleece each year prior to being shorn when the warmer weather set in. Humans could then have the fleece converted into a cosy woolen hat, beanie, jumper etc – simple hey ?

Hmmmmm, the ethics behind wool production are unfortunately not so simple or idealistic.

The main arguments by those in the know regarding how sheep are raised for wool and meat in Australia  are mulesing (the cutting of flesh away from around the sheep’s hind quarters to prevent fly strike) and tail docking without pain relief, live animal export (when the sheep pass their wool growing use by date) , massive numbers of deaths of newborn lambs (15 million lambs per year in Australia – unbelievable) due to inadequate shelter from the elements / predators. Older sheep are shorn at times which make best economic sense rather than what is going to make the animal comfortable – I have seen this first hand, driving past groups of freshly shorn, freezing sheep in the middle of winter in country NSW – a very sad vision. As per the above mentioned report, there is also the issue of brutality during the shearing process in some of our Australian shearing sheds.  All of these issues are common place in Australia and are preventable and unnecessary. 

Our Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce often describes anybody who dares question the treatment of animals used for food, wool , milk or egg production in Australia as “extremists”. I cannot see anything extreme or radical about acknowledging that  sheep are surprisingly intelligent, social animals who feel pain, fear and cold/heat and that they should be treated accordingly.

So, what can you do to be a kind wool consumer ?

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Sweet faced creature !

1. Support retailers who only use wool from sheep who have not been mulesed (and have gone to the effort to invest in other husbandry means to prevent fly strike). The New Zealand brand “Icebreaker” is a good one. Others include Laura Ashley and Country Road – see more companies here.  NewMerino® “is a certification system for Australian merino wool grown by professional wool producers using sustainable farming systems and holistic animal welfare standards” and worth investigating.

2. Buy wool yarn from one of the following fabulously ethical sources. I know I will be ! This well researched blog article discusses the myriad of kind little wool farms mainly in the US. As the world’s largest producer of wool, there is massive scope for Australian farmers to follow suit and meet the growing demand for ethical products. Here are some similarly kind options in the UK – Izzy Lane (they rescue rare breed sheep from slaughter and produce the most heavenly looking garments out of the wool) and The Toft (I am enviously eyeing off their “crochet hamper”) – their wool comes from locally sourced, well treated Alpacas.

Back in Australia however, I am excited about discovering these 2 gorgeous companies :

EWE Ethical Wool Enterprises

Based in Daylesford, Victoria, this farm obtains fleece from it’s rescued sheep and alpacas who live out their natural lifespan on the farm. 

White Gum Wool

Based in Tasmania, this farm is run by an American woman, Nan, who cares for the land and the sheep in her care in a holistic manner. The sheep are not mulesed (and even keep their tails) and their family groups are respected. Her “unique” farming practices are indicative of a woman who obviously loves and respects her animals. I wrote to Nan to find out what happens to the sheep once their wool production wanes and she wrote me a lovely, informative reply about how she will be letting her sheep live out their lives (10-12 years) on her farm – partly to ensure the supply of suitable “matriarchs” in the group (you can read more about the “Power of the Matriarch” here – I found it a fascinating read). There is a gorgeous supply of yarn for sale too through the on-line shop.

3. Buy less wool by considering other materials for your jacket, thermals, yarn etc. It is like everything in this world, when reliance and demand on a product is so large, the animals are usually the ones who suffer to meet our consumerist demands for cheap and plentiful products. As outlined by Animals Australia, there are some great alternatives (eg bamboo, modal, microfibre, Tencel (made from eucalyptus!) ingeo (made from corn fibres), Primaloft and Microcloud) which will keep you snug, or you could re-visit my post here for some more suggestions. As for yarns, Ecoyarns.com.au stock a variety of “plant based” yarns such as hemp, organic cotton and bamboo (as well as the more traditional wool yarns) and an excellent guide to the weird and wonderful array of non-animal sourced yarns is outlined here.

4. Slightly off topic and I will cover it more another day, but never use angora wool. The way it is produced – mainly from angora rabbits in China is the stuff of nightmares.

5. Remember that sheep are individual, sentient beings. Have a look at the gorgeous Edgars Mission or Tamara Keneally woolly residents if you need a reminder.

As for my future crochet-ing endeavours, my plan is this one.

1. Learn how to make granny squares via Meet Me At Mikes “A Granny A Day (How To Crochet A Granny Square)” – a series of very uncomplicated, basic looking videos lessons.

2. Once the granny squares have been mastered, I will move onto recommeded U-Tube videos Bella Coco and The Purl Bee and bobwilson123.

3. Should I need further clarification, invest in a couple of books – recommended ones from crafty people being Learn to Crochet by Patons and Mollie Makes Crochet.

4. My ultimate aim is to be capable of making an exquisite creature such as these squids ……………………………….. !!!!squid.

Want to know a bit more ? Read on here :

* Wool Exposed by Animals Australia

* Mulesing by Animals Australia

* Sheep in Australia by Little Oak Sanctuary

 

 

 

 

 

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