I love a bit of upcycling. Not being the craftiest person on the block, upcycling old clothes always stumps me a little bit, so thankfully today, the lovely Juliet Bawden from the blog Creative Colour is here to teach us how to make a cushion from a jumper.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be too crafty to be able to turn your old jumper into a cosy cushion. All you need is some very basic sewing skills – you don’t even need to have a sewing machine!
1. Wash and dry your jumper, and if it’s particularly bobbly, use the clothes shaver on it to remove the bobbles.
2. Using the seam un-picker, open up the side seams, as in the photo below.
3. Cut two rectangles from the front and the back of the sweater, and with the two right sides facing, pin together so that when pinned together the sweater is now inside out.
4. Using a 1 cm seam allowance, sew the rectangles together around 3 of the sides. Leave what was the bottom of the sweater open, as the welt (the bottom of the sweater) will have a neat un-frayed edge. For the sewing, if you are not using a sewing machine, then I would recommend using a back stitch to give more durability.
5. Turn the cover inside out, so that it is now the right way up. Insert the cushion pad, and close with an oversew stitch, and you’re done!
6. Cosy up on the sofa with a cup of tea, and a good book.
I am going to be trying this for sure! I have a lovely jumper that my youngest daughter has almost grown out of. My eldest wore the same jumper too, and I’m really loathed to part with it, so I think would make a brilliant cushion when it no longer fits.
The thought of battling through a busy high street isn’t always that appealing, particularly when you could shop from the comfort of your own home; a cosy cafe; or, perhaps more realistically for many of us, on the commute home.
Online shopping currently accounts for 17.1% of all UK retail, and despite what the headlines might lead us to believe, it isn’t all bad; particularly if you make your purchases via an ethical, internet-based, store. Ethical Consumer have handily put together this guide for Moral Fibres readers on how to shop online ethically.
But look a little closer and there doesn’t appear to be much reason to view its bad ethics as a consequence of it selling online.
Consider before you click
The market for ethical goods is growing on- and off-line. In 2016, the ethical market was valued at £81.3 billion. Ethical Consumer rated 24 websites, which offer a variety of products marketed as ethical for its latest Ethical Online Retailer Guide. The shops rated were based on feedback from readers about which ethical online stores they regularly used.
There are ethical online stores for almost everything now; some sell food, others cosmetics, and some clothing or a combination of the three. Lots of them provide products under the label ‘gifts’ making them a perfect place to pick up presents for family and friends.
There are some key considerations to keep in mind to be sure you’re ethical online shop is just that.
The researchers at Ethical Consumer probed three key areas: company ethos; supply chain management; and animal testing, to help them create their Ethiscore rating.
1. Ethical supply chains
Having clear policies about how to monitor supplier’s guarantees of workers’ rights is a key indicator in the Ethical Consumer Supply Chain Management rating. Companies such as Traidcraft, Oxfam*, Shared Earth and Amnesty did this through only sourcing ethically certified products e.g. fair trade. Others showed commitment to monitoring their suppliers against workers’ rights provisions. Nkuku, who sell homewares and lifestyle products ranging from photo frames to sofas, went further, stating that it carried out “unscheduled checks to ensure the fairtrade principles are maintained”.
Ethical Shop is a treasure trove of ethical products, from everyday cleaning products, to cosmetics, gifts and food. It had the clearest ethical buying policy, which included clear definitions of workers’ rights that suppliers had to meet. It requires suppliers to report progress on implementing their code annually either by describing actions taken or completing a questionnaire.
2. Charity online
When shopping and philanthropy combine, that’s surely a win-win combination? UK charities are stalwarts of the high-street, but many of them are now also hosting impressive online shopping sites that offer far more than the second-hand clothes and books they were traditionally associated with.
Many of them now source their own-brand products, which support the aims of the charity. Oxfam* offers consumers a chance to buy products that support projects that help people trade their way out of poverty. It also sells products that have been handcrafted or made by projects that specifically benefit women. 100% of its profits raised from sales of ‘Sourced by Oxfam’ are reinvested into the charity’s projects.
Animal rights charities Animal Aid and Viva! retail only vegan products, with everything on offer from vegan wines to soy candles.
3. Animal Testing
Cosmetics are a clear growth area in the ethical personal products category. New online stores like Acala, for example, specialise in natural, organic and vegan health and beauty products. It also ensures that all products are responsibly packaged and are plastic free.
Many of the companies reviewed sold cosmetics labelled as being cruelty-free, but there was a lack of definition over what this meant. The Ethical Consumer Animal Testing rating expects all companies retailing cosmetics to have a policy that includes a fixed cut-off date for animal-tested ingredients. Cruelty Free International explains: “A company’s fixed cut-off date is a date after which none of the substances in the products have been tested on animals. A fixed cut-off date enables a company to enforce their animal testing policy and gives suppliers a practical way to move away from animal testing.”
An example of best practise in this area was animal rights charity Animal Aid whose own brand products, made by Honesty Cosmetics, are approved under the Humane Cosmetics Standard and registered with the Vegan Society, with a 1976 fixed cut-off date (FCOD).
Why are we still using Amazon?
So why do so many consumers still turn to the likes of Amazon? A quick poll of Ethical Consumer followers provided answers; when you’re in a hurry, need something specialist, and price is a consideration, then finding an ethical alternative isn’t always that easy. So it’s worth remembering that whilst John Lewis* and Co-op Electrical Shop ranked lower down the latest Ethiscore table, they still score very highly compared to other online retailers, like Amazon.
And tech solutions might be just the thing to help counter the Amazon monopoly in the future. Keep an eye on Near St – it’s an app that only covers London at the moment, but they have plans to expand. Recognising that many people shop online because they can find the thing they want rather than ‘chancing it’ in a physical store, NearSt allows you to search for an item, find shops selling it, buy it and immediately collect it or have it couriered home.
For more ideas about how to make specialist online purchases for items like books and tablets, and other advice on how to shop online ethically check out the Amazon Alternatives guides at Ethical Consumer.
I'm Wendy and welcome to Moral Fibres, a green lifestyle blog. I believe that sustainable living should be hip, not hippie. Here you'll find all sorts of easy hints and tips here for living a greener life that won't compromise your sense of style. As well as the blog I've also written a book on natural cleaning - Fresh Clean Home is out now! Want to know more? Check out the about page for more information or explore the archives using the category tabs above. Moral Fibres is always free to read. If you want to support the site's running costs you can buy me a coffee.
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