Eco Friendly Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

5 Eco Friendly Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Show Mum how much you care about her and the planet this Mother’s Day. Discover 5 of the best ethical, eco friendly gift options right here, What’s even better is that because they’re from small businesses I know and love, I can’t wait to share them with you.

Wooden Acorn Inspired Jewellery

Wooden jewellery is great for everyday wear as it’s lightweight and very durable. Metal jewellery dulls over time however, wood mellows with age revealing it’s beauty even more. This makes it a perfect Mother’s Day gift. My tactile acorn pendants, as pictured below, are made for eco conscious women who want to wear jewellery that expresses their love of nature.

Pink Roses African Tunic by WDICF? Wooden Acorn Pendant by Love HeartWood
Photo Credit: Styled by Katya

Ethical Tunics

Where Does It Come From? is an award winning social enterprise that creates clothing and textiles that are kind – to our planet, to garment makers and to you.

Looking for a beautiful, ethical top for Mother’s Day then WDICF?’s soft, organic African Tunics will be right up your street!

The tunic’s are created using 100% organic, ecologically farmed, rain fed cotton from Uganda. Created as part of the Project to create a transparent supply chain in Africa the tunics are sewn in a Fairtrade workshop in Malawi.

Sustainable British Socks

Mono socks in Wine from Socko. Available in S, M and L.

Got a down-to-earth Mum? Surprise her a stylish and practical gift. Socko socks are made in Leicestershire from the remaining merino wool from their Merinos collection. This means there’s a very limited stock of this exclusive range. Each pair comes with a swatch of yarn and a darning needle so you can repair instead of throwing away.

Aromatherapy Body & Bath oil

Want to pamper Mum this year? She’ll love this relaxing gift box from Soothe-me Skincare. Created as a ‘natural alternative to big brand, mass-produced skincare Soothe-me is designed to act like ’natural health food for the skin.’ No Sodium Laureth Sulphates, No Petrochemicals, No Synthetic fragrance or colours, just pure natural goodness. Good to you, kind and considerate to our beautiful planet.

Soothe-me Skincare Relaxing Gift Box

Plant A Tree

Plant a tree in Mum’s honour with Trees For Cities ? There’s no better gift than the gift of life, and while you can’t give this to your mum, you can dedicate a gift to her as a thank you this Mother’s Day. 

Find out how to donate on the Trees For Cities website and choose an e-card to let your mum know about your donation.

Photo by Nick Hawkes on Unsplash

I hope my selection of eco friendly gifts has inspired you to say thank you to your Mother and Mother Earth. Each of them nurture and inspire us every day.

Have a Happy Mother’s Day!

Liz

 

Gift Guides featuring Love HeartWood

This Christmas I’m thrilled to have my sustainable products featured in two very cool gift guides. What’s really good though is that the gifts featured are not just for Christmas. They could just as easily be given for a birthday, anniversary or any special occasion. The first is The Ultimate Sustainable Christmas Gift Guide from

The Quirky Environmentalist

The Ultimate Sustainable Christmas Gift guide

The Quirky Environmentalist is a sustainable living blog with a focus on helping you live more sustainably and to understand environmental issues better. It’s written by #Yearofgreenaction Ambassador and physics graduate Izzy McLeod.

Her guide is great as it gives you so many ideas divided into helpful categories (13 in all). Love HeartWood’s Pencil Spinning Tops featured in the Waste Free Gifts For Children section. By choosing a gift from Izzy’s guide you are taking a step towards being a more conscious consumer. You can get gifts that aren’t just going to end up gathering dust on a shelf after Christmas. As Izzy says:

There are so many things out there that don’t involve copious amounts of plastic, waste, or even an awful lot of money.


The second is The Gift of Giving Guide from

Sincerely Essie

Sincerely Essie is an online magazine and community, created by Essie, focusing on empowering women. It features guest posts from various individuals on women’s lifestyle, health and parenting.

Essie’s guide is divided into 5 general categories. Love HeartWood’s Gnosi Rattle and Crafty Car‘s are featured in the Stationary & Toys section. By choosing a gift from Essie’s list you are supporting a small business but you will also be helping the environment, advocating ethical practices and aiding various charities with your purchase.

By checking out great gift guides like these for inspiration you can give in a much more meaningful way this Christmas. There are so many great ways to show you care that don’t involve a lot of money, waste or plastic.

Happy Gifting!

Rustic Wedding Ideas – Wasing Park Open Day Autumn 2019

I didn’t really know what to expect of my first wedding fair. I never went to any when planning my own wedding. However, I’m happy to say I had a great time. I love hearing about wedding plans and I met some wonderful couples and their families. Many people were using the Open Day as an opportunity for their close family to see the venue and plan the room allocations. So essential for making sure everyone can enjoy the Big Day.

The staff at Wasing Park were absolutely lovely too. As well as making the guests feel welcome and comfortable they made sure all the suppliers were happy and comfortable too. They even brought us lunch!

I became a recommended supplier for Wasing Park earlier on this year and we’ve been working on a project that I can now reveal. If you’re having your wedding at Wasing from April 2020 on, I can make your favours and gifts from wood from the Wasing Park estate! This really does gives them a sense of place and specialness.

The outside of the Castle Barn decorated with upcycled tennis rackets. The Castle Barn’s where the Reception takes place.
The most beautifully romantic floral table centres by Ruby & Grace inside the Castle Barn.
The garden room is just one of the places you can have your ceremony at Wasing. Others include St Nicolas’ Church and the Victorian summer house.

Wooden Wedding Favours

These little wooden name tags proved very popular with everyone. Highly practical and unusual they make a great place name and favour in one.
If you want a fun ice breaker on your table how about personalised spinning tops? Again they do double duty as both place name and favour reducing waste and saving money. They can be coloured to match the wedding colour scheme or all different. it’s your choice.
This little lady makes a cute thank you for a flower girl or ring bearer. Wedding peg dolls can be painted in a matching outfit. Adding a personalised message on the base really makes her an extra special thank you. Page boys also available.

Woodland Inspired Thank You Gifts

Unique bridesmaid gifts are hard to find. By choosing hand made and sustainable you’re showing your love for your besties and the planet. Love HeartWood’s Acorn Jewellery Collection contains earrings, pendants and brooches that provide a little nod to nature if you’re having an Autumn wedding.
It can also be hard to find something meaningful to show your appreciation of your groomsmen and ushers. Love HeartWood’s wooden cuff links come in gold or silver. All wood is from Wasing of course.
Woods shown from left to right are oak, Ash , Silver Birch and Yew.

Suppliers with Something Special

Want something a bit retro and fun? Vintage Camper Booths. Guests can step inside, get dressed up and take a snap or record a video message.
Another sustainable, natural supplier Blossom Blessings. They provide gorgeous petal confetti and soothing herbal favours.

I’m looking forward to developing my relationship with Wasing Park. I’m so pleased to be able to work with wood that comes from their extensive woodland. To be able to create special tokens of thanks and love for such a significant day in people’s lives is a real thrill for me.

My ‘Best Bits’ of the London Design Fair 2019

It’s the first time I’ve been to the LDF since I was a product design student 12 years ago! I decided to go this year because I was invited by Jane Langley, Founder of Blue Patch.

The Entrance to the LDF . The event ran from the 19th to the 22nd of September at the Old Truman Brewery just off Brick Lane in Shoreditch.

Blue Patch

Blue Patch is the name of the Sustainable British Makers Collective I joined earlier in the year.

It was amazing to finally meet Jane and chat to other members of Blue Patch. Their work was inspiring in its quality and vision.

Sarah from Hatton Willow grows and then weaves willow into beautifully intricate baskets. The ones being exhibited are willow handbag baskets.
The Gatti Chair by Full Grown. A unique collaboration between Nature and craftspeople that takes 10 years to grow.
Cushion and woven textiles by Melin Tregwynt – keeping the traditions of Welsh weaving alive.
The Curam chair – inspired by traditional Highland croft furniture from Namon Gaston.
Plastic free, natural paint from Edward Bulmer Paint. This is a product close to my heart as I use all natural paints and wood washes on my toys.
Seven Stem ‘Forest’ Lamp from Peter Lanyon Furniture – cleaved out from carefully selected logs, and shaped by hand using traditional tools and techniques.Even the shades are made of wood!

Highlights from the rest of the fair

The rest of my highlights are almost all ‘woody’ in nature. I can’t help it, I love the stuff! I’m always fascinated to see how others highlight it’s beauty and exploit it’s strengths.

The London Plane Project by Heliconia Furniture Design. A fascinating material exploration of the much over looked London Plane tree.

Charlie WhinneyStudio To be honest although Charlie’s steam bent forms are amazing what I was really taking a photo of was his benches. I love the juxtaposition of the machined planks against the naturally formed branch legs.

Say Cheese by RO.SE. This cheese ripening cabinet is made from LIGHTWOOD a composite material made from thistles and starch. The thistles are a byproduct of the cheese production process. The LIGHTWOOD can replace the pine traditionally used. It’s lighter, completely biodegradable and can even be fed to the sheep that produce the milk for the cheese.

I love this cabinet not for it’s looks but for the fantastic design problem solving it represents. It is a truly circular economy solution.

I had a wonderful time at LDF 2019. So much creativity and the chance to talk to the designers themselves. I have now set my sights on showing there myself next year. Roll on LDF 2020.

What Does the CE Mark on Your Toys Mean?

When you buy a toy do you check for a CE mark? Do you know what the CE mark stands for? One of my proudest achievements as a craft business is completing the CE certification of my first collection of handmade wooden toys. Never mind testing the toys, going through the process really tested me. I’d like to share that experience with you.

All toys sold in the UK must legally comply with the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011. These Directives apply equally to the big toy manufacturers and small scale makers like me.

However, finding out how to comply isn’t straightforward. An email to my local trading standards office produced a reply saying yes, I needed to comply and a link to a guidance page telling me broadly what documentation was required but not how to go about it.

I was left scratching my head for a few months until I had a conversation with a member of my local craft group who told me about a Facebook support group for people who wanted to certify their toys themselves.

I joined the group and started to learn about the world of self certification. It was a steep learning curve and I can never thank the members of that group, and the one I joined later specifically for wooden toys, for their help, advice and support during the whole process.

The Facebook group led me to the CE Marking Handmade Toys Collective website. I joined the collective and was able to download a clearly written CE marking guide which helped me decifer the legal documentation I’d been reading so far.

I learned I had to comply to EU Toy Safety Directives 2009/48/EC, harmonised standards and EN71. The relevant EN71 standards for wooden toys are EN71-1: Mechanical and Physical Properties and EN71-3: Migration of Certain Elements. You can self-certify EN71-1 but you need laboratory test results for EN71-3.

EN71-3 means ensuring and proving the materials and components you use don’t contain any of the toxic metals listed above the required threshold levels. I was able to obtain the relevant certificates of compliance from the manufacturers of the paints and finishes I use. For the wood there was no option but to send a sample of each away to be tested in a lab. This might seem a bit ridiculous. Is wood likely to contain chromium? However, you aren’t allowed to make that judgement. You must have proof.

With natural materials, like wood, the material is not as controllable as a man made material, like plastic, however, I’m not able to have every wood delivery tested due to expense. A lot of the compliance relies on the maker showing ‘due diligence’. Basically, I decide when I need to get my wood retested, for example if I change my supplier.

Proving compliance to EN71-1:Mechanical and Physical Properties involves performing a series of physical tests in a specific order. It took a while to source items like ‘a 4 mm thick steel plate with a 2 mm thick coating of Shore A hardness (75 ± 5)’ as well as ‘a metallic weight with a mass of (1 ± 0,02) kg, distributed over an area with a diameter of (80 ± 2) mm’. These are direct quotes from the documentation which did take time to unpick and work out. I also had to some make test rigs and templates.

Below is the video evidence taken of testing the Gnosi Wooden Rattle. They’re listed in test order. There was also a decibel test, a soak test, a sharp edges test and a small parts test.

Physical Test 1 – Torque
Physical Test 2 – Tension
Physical Test 3 – Drop
Physical Test 4 – Impact
Physical Test 5 – Template B

Once testing was complete I moved onto labelling and tracability. There are as many requirements to meet for this as for testing, so it took a while to come up with a solution that met the requirements but also satisfied my own Eco friendly criteria.

Legally, at point of sale, toys must be labelled with:

  • the CE mark, at no less than 5mm in height.
  • Manufacturer / company business name
  • Traceable manufacturer’s address
  • Model / batch number
    Required in relation to traceability, so if the toy itself is customised or named specifically and recognisable as an individual unit.
  • Relevant warnings if applicable
  • Care instructions
The Gnosi Rattle with it’s packaging.

To reduce waste and for practicality I decided to brand the CE mark directly onto my toys (see featured image at the top of the page). Branding also means the CE mark’ll still be there if the toy’s passed on. The rest of the required information is printed onto the cotton bags that my toys come in. I decided to package my toys in reusable bags instead of cardboard boxes as this reduces waste and they can be used to keep the toys clean and safe for years to come. For the toys too small to be branded, I’ve designed a tag, printed on recycled card, with all the relevant information, including the CE mark.

Hand printed information required for compliance to the Toy Safety Directive. The vertical code rat-p2 ensures each model of toy is tracable.

Once this was done I compiled all my evidence and documentation into a technical file. This is a live document which means any changes to the design, the making process or the materials must be documented in it. The technical file contains:

  1. A Full Product Description
  2. Claim of Compliance
  3. Manufacturing Location & Storage
  4. Product & Packaging – Product images, description and packaging, including images.
  5. Materials and Components – Outline all materials and components used in all variations of your toy.
  6. Manufacturing Process – Outline your manufacturing process, step by step.
  7. Show your Labelling & Traceability
  8. Testing Checklists & Photographic Evidence
  9. EN71-3 Test Results & Evidence
  10. Declaration of Conformity

Oh yes, and each toy must have it’s own technical file. Phew!

If you’re still reading, you can now see why I’m so proud of myself. I deciphered the legal jargon, figured out what tests were needed, paid for chemical analysis, creating test apparatus, conducting the tests and creating a mountain of paperwork.

It’s not surprising given all of that time, effort and expense, that a huge amount of wooden toys being sold are not CE marked. So why bother you might ask?

As well as the fact that it is a legal requirement I want to prove that my toys are completely safe. The thought of selling potentially dangerous toys to babies and small children is not one I care to entertain.

Although the self certification process is complex and needs to be completed for each new toy or change in design, it gives me total confidence in the safety of my toys. That for me as a mother and a toy maker is the most important thing.

If you are looking to CE mark your toys please visit the Handmade Toy Collective’s website for further help and guidance.

The Story of the Love HeartWood Cotton Bag

As a craftsperson I have total control over how my products are made. I collect most of the wood myself and the rest comes from the trusted Brian. I also spent a lot of time researching the most ethically and sustainably produced finishes to use on them.

However, I can’t make everything myself. I always envisioned my toys being presented in fabric bags because they’re long lasting and practical. A cardboard box is discarded as soon as it’s opened and isn’t really of much further use. Whereas, cotton bags are great for storing and transporting toys and when they get dirty you can just chuck them in the washing machine. Unfortunately, I’m absolutely hopeless with fabric. I needed some help. That was when Jo Salter from Where Does It Come From? came to my rescue.

This is the video Jo made to crowdfund her latest endeavour: ethical tunics produced in Africa.

Jo founded her business in 2013 after becoming concerned that the clothes she was buying for herself and her family were not being created ethically, and that she may indirectly have been helping to sustain cruel labour practices and contributing to the world’s pollution problems.

This motivated her to seek a way of providing an ethical alternative for garments people needed to buy.  Finding like minded people to partner with such as Moral Fibre Fabrics enabled her to produce her first ranges of traceable clothes. 

Through her ethical connections in India, Jo enabled me to have my bags ethically and sustainably made by hand. Even the Love HeartWood logo is screen printed by hand.

Having them made in this way means they’re 300 times more expensive than having them made in China. However, it’s important to me that they’re made in as sustainable way as possible and that the people making them are paid a living wage. For me, and I hope for you, this knowledge is worth the extra monetary cost.

So you can trace Love HeartWood bags right back to the field the cotton grew in. View their life story here and find out who made your bag.

Or you can visit the Where Does It Come From? website and enter Love HeartWood’s unique tracability code CU23MLW.