Category

Life & Style

Fashion, Life & Style

Interview With Elvis & Kresse

Elvis & Kresse

elvis and kresse recycled hoses

I’d love to introduce you today to Elvis & Kresse, a design company creating beautiful luxury accessories made from recycled goods.  Elvis & Kresse sent me a beautiful washbag made from recycled hoses and I loved it and the company concept so much that I had an electronic chat with Kresse to find out more about the company and their zero waste ethos:

Elvis & Kresse Wesling have been working together, reclaiming and transforming materials, for over a decade.  The couple first met in Hong Kong in 2002, when Elvis was working for a design consultancy and Kresse was running a green packaging start-up.  When they relocated to the UK in 2004 they decided it was time to start ‘something’ together.

That ‘something’ wasn’t altogether clear, but the couple knew that they wanted to tackle the waste mountain in some way.  In 2004 the UK sent 100 million tonnes of waste to landfill.  In an attempt to understand the problem, Kresse toured landfill sites and waste transfer stations and felt the size of the problem was enormous.

In 2005 Kresse had a chance meeting with the London Fire Brigade and went to see their hose and line repair shop. The Fire Brigade does all it can to keep the hoses in service but after either 25 years of active duty or a catastrophic tear around the middle of a hose, the hoses were destined for landfill.

To many people, they would see a hose.  To Elvis & Kresse they saw potential and the Elvis & Kresse rescue mission began.  About the hose, Kresse says “the hose has such a powerful story. It is a strong, durable, life saving material. Everything we do is about honouring, protecting and celebrating the hose.

We started with a problem (hose waste).   After a lot of R&D and prototyping we knew that the best way to save the hose would be to pour all our love and creativity into the material“.  And that they did – the range of accessories made from recycled hoses are as varied as it is beautiful.  From beautiful bags, briefcases, iPad cases and more, you can practically see the love that has been poured into the recycled hose range, which has really been made to last.  An Elvis & Kresse piece feels like it will last a lifetime (and more).

It’s not just hoses that Elvis & Kresse work with.  The team are obsessed with reclamation and work with over 15 different materials, none of which are currently recycled in the UK.  Their materials include tea sacks, coffee sacks, printing blankets, shoe boxes, parachute silk, auction banners and scrap leather, and as of yet haven’t found any materials that are impossible to work with or upcycle.  Inspiration is derived from classic, utilitarian design, nature, and the state of the environment.

You get the impression that Elvis & Kresse are born problem solvers.  Working with unconventional materials posed more challenges than you could imagine.  Kresse says “if we had been trained with traditional materials and techniques I don’t think we would have started down this road“.

And when asked about their production processes Kresse replies with “I could fill pages of notes on this one as we have developed multi-stage processes and even machines to clean and prepare each of our materials.  We have also had to adapt or create new tools for cutting and sewing.  The packaging we make is also from reclaimed materials so there are many more stories here“.

If I ever happen to be stuck on a desert island let’s just say I’d like Elvis & Kresse to be there too!

The Elvis & Kresse team is a small one.  Kresse says “we are 11 across two sites, and make everything ourselves.  We have a strong, positive culture, which shines through in the quality of our goods.  We are growing now and are working hard to ensure we can keep our small team mentality“.

For Elvis & Kresse the future holds expanding their burgeoning business, and ambitiously making a dent in the leather scrap problem.  “The scrap leather problem is 80,000 times larger than the fire hose issue, so we need to grow larger and faster than we have before in order to save this material”.   Scaling up and dealing with new materials will no doubt poses challenges but I’m confident that if anyone can do it, Elvis & Kresse can!

Elvis & Kresse

Kresse is mindful of the barriers to sustainable fashion: she sees the barriers (from a designer/maker point of view) as all being associated with proving that the new circular methods are possible and mainstreaming these, both within existing businesses but primarily with the customer base.  She says that “luxury itself needs re-defining; what is it? If not quality, heritage, design, and a genuine care for the planet and its people, then is it really luxury?”  Likewise, she sees opportunities in the luxury end of the market, particularly for genuinely innovative sustainable brands that outperform luxury across all kinds of metrics.

Moving on, I wondered if they had any ideas on how to encourage more designers to adopt more closed loop design practices, like the Elvis & Kresse model.  Kresse suggests that “circular concepts need to be taught, they need to be celebrated as the ultimate in design.  Currently they are not a core or required element at many design schools, which is crazy!  We also need to teach and celebrate collaboration.  It is virtually impossible for anyone to be circular, all on their own.  We need to work as a part of many circles.  We need to create incentives across entire loops.  We need to share.

For anyone interested in stating up an upcycling business, I would encourage any aspiring upcycling entrepreneurs to join existing companies, to apprentice and learn about the skills they would need to start on their own.  We have started an apprenticeship program and have had several work experience students.  Being directly involved in a business has allowed each of them to decide whether or not entrepreneurship or upcycling is right for them.  There are so many ways to engage with these issues and aspiring, passionate people need to explore, to find out where they can have the most impact“.

As a takeaway, Kresse recommends Silent Spring*, by Rachel Carson, describing it as a book she would always have in her home (and one I really recommend too to anyone interested in environmentalism).  Mid-Course Correction by Ray Anderson is also recommended by Kresse for anyone interested in starting an environmentally aligned business, as are the circular shorts on the RSA and Ellen MacArthur Foundation sites.

Do check out the Elvis & Kresse website and their beautiful range of accessories.

*affiliate link

Arts & Crafts, Life & Style

Beeswax Food Wrap DIY

beeswax food wrap diy

beeswax food wrap diy

Hello!  It’s been a little while since I shared a DIY with you, but today I want to share my beeswax food wrap DIY.  It’s a great alternative to using cling film, tin foil or plastic tupperware to store food in, and really easy to make.

We actually cut our cling film and tin foil usage a long time ago.  We switched to using parchment paper to wrap our food in before popping it in the fridge or freezer, or storing food in glass jars or tupperware tubs.

All of this has been doing the job pretty well, but I’ve been trying to find an alternative to parchment paper as I’d like to be able to not buy so many single use products, like parchment paper.  I also wanted to find a way to transport my lunch without the need for bulky tupperware tubs.  Those things are a pain to carry around all day!  So, lo and behold, the answer I was looking for: the beeswax food wrap!

I had seen some pretty nice ones for sale online, but the statutory maternity pay I’m on at the moment sadly doesn’t quite stretch to beeswax wraps.  I had some fabric scraps leftover from an old craft project, and some beeswax pellets left over from making beeswax candles, so decided to try my hand at making my own.  How hard could it be? Turns out: not very hard at all.

beeswax food wrap diy

Beeswax Food Wrap DIY

You will need

Freshly washed and dried fabric scraps – a variety of sizes.

Beeswax pellets (affiliate link)

A silicon basting brush

Oven tray

Tongs

Method

Preheat your oven to 85°C.

Lay your piece of fabric flat on your oven tray.  Sprinkle the fabric liberally with your beeswax pellets.

Place in the oven for around 5 minutes, until the beeswax has all melted.  Keep an eye on it the whole time to avoid burning.

Once all the beeswax has melted remove the tray from the oven and quickly use your silicone basting brush to evenly distribute the beeswax.  The beeswax will start to set as soon as you take it out of the oven so you want to do this bit very quickly.

As soon as you’ve done this use the tongs to remove the fabric and hang it up to dry.  It will take only minutes to set and then it’s ready for use.

If you find you’ve got too much beeswax on your fabric then simply place back in the oven for a few minutes until the beeswax has melted. Then brush down with your silicon brush again.

To remove the beeswax from your oven tray and basting brush wash in hot water.

How to use beeswax wraps

You can use beeswax wraps in practically any way you see fit – for example wrapping cheese.  Just wrap the cheese in the wrap and use the heat from your hands to seal the ends.  Got a leftover bowl of food?  Simply place a beeswax wrap on top and again, using the heat from your hands, seal the wrap around the edges.  The uses are endless!

See my some notes on usage below for some more handy hints.

Beeswax Snack Pouches

beeswax wrap snack pouch

My eldest daughter loves the little snack boxes of raisins.  I’ve found it’s cheaper and less wasteful on the packaging front to buy a big 1 kg bag of raisins and make my own little snack packs of raisins using the beeswax food wraps and a bit of origami.

how to fold beeswax wraps

1. Take a square of beeswax coated fabric and fold diagonally, as in picture two.

2.  Fold down the left hand corner, as in picture 3.

3.  Fold down the left hand corner like in picture 4, lining up the edge with the previous fold.

4.  Fold down the triangle that’s sticking up at the top.

5.  Flip it over and fold down the other triangle.

Open it up and fill with raisins or any other snack of your choice

To seal, fold down the flap on the side that doesn’t have any folds in it, and you’re good to go!

homemade beeswax wrap diy

Beeswax Wraps Usage Tips

The most important thing to remember is beeswax melts at a low-ish temperature – the melting point of beeswax is around 62°C to 64°C, so any use that is going to be around or above that temperature is a big no no.  Think cold.

With that in mind, wash your beexwax food wrap in cold soapy water using a gentle eco friendly washing up liquid, like Ecover, Bio D or Method.  Avoid using alcohol based washing up liquid as it can degrade your beeswax.  Leave to air dry, and don’t leave it on your radiator to dry!

Don’t put your wraps in your dishwasher or washing machine.  And definitely not your tumble drier!

Like cling film, your beeswax wrap is for food storage only – don’t use it in your oven or microwave.  The beeswax will melt and will leave a big mess that won’t be fun to clean up.

beeswax food wrap

I wouldn’t let your beeswax food wrap come in direct contact with raw meat, as you can’t wash your wrap in hot water or sterilise it.  If you want to store raw meat using your wrap, I would put the meat in a bowl and use the wrap to cover the bowl.

Don’t use your wrap directly on to hot food.  Let the food cool first before wrapping it.

You can freeze your fabric wraps.  I wouldn’t use it for long term freezer storage though – only for food you plan on freezing in the short term.  I would suggest no longer than one month.

When your beeswax food wrap stops losing the ability to fold, simply wash and re-wax it in the same manner as above.

Have fun making these wraps – it’s really good fun!