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Up-Cycling Fashion PowTown Style: A Review of Eunoia

assorted-color clothes lot

Picture by Photo by Shanna Camilleri on Unsplash

Visiting Powell River this past weekend, I was stunned to find up-cycling in the heart of the town site where the pulp and paper mill has been the dominant industry since 1912.

Walking into the new Townsite Market, freshly opened on December 9th 2018, I came upon Eunoia, a fibre studio and gallery filled with up cycled fashion and ideas for the home.

In a society driven by the economics of mass production like the town’s local mill, time slowed down as we walked the a gallery of beautiful items, rescued and re purposed from clothing castoffs. One of a kind hats, shirts and jackets hung among the hand made felted jackets and aprons. A favourite that stood out were pop can earrings: literal pop art! Circular discs of aluminum cans with patterns from bright craft beer designs and well-known logos like Coco-cola sparkled on the shelves.

I found myself re-thinking the idea of simply donating clothes to thrift stores and imagining what could be when older clothes, sheets and hangings come to the end of their original lives. The textile artists at Eunoia, embracing “beautiful thinking,” have gone beyond simple re purposing, and created an entirely unique fashion line.

The closest I’ve come to up cycling clothing is beginning work on a t-shirt quilt, an idea first seen in our house on the first Twilight movie (a guilty pleasure for sick days spent on the couch with broth based soups in hand!). We’ve also used old textiles as cleaning rags at home and in the studio, and taken some to be recycled at H&M.

For now Moon Snail Creative is content to up cycle old pillow cases into reusable shopping bags. We don’t have the sewing skills to work on clothing…yet! For now we’ll leave the wearable up cycling to the professionals, some of whom you can find in Powell River at Eunoia.

The Last Straw: Zero Waste at Home, a Quick Inventory with Solutions

assorted plastic bottles

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

We continue our journey to living a cleaner life and we’ve been inspired by the recent decision in Vancouver to ban all plastic straws. Single use plastics are the latest thing under scrutiny, so aiming to live clean we took an inventory of the single use plastics in our apartment and have begun compiling a list of ways to reduce. The goal is to cut them our altogether.

The inventory and the solutions

Kitchen

Plastic bags

  • Take your own reusable bags to the super market.

Plastic and foil single use food wraps.

  • We’ve tried reusing paper bags which we can then compost, and are going to give some of the beeswax reusable wrap products we’ve seen advertised a try.
  • Use existing jars and containers to store food in rather than wrapping it up
  • Use a lunchbox that you take to and from work instead of Ziploc bags.

Food and beverage containers of almost every kind, bottles, containers, bags

  • Save jars and make condiments like salad dressings, ketchup & other sauces from scratch.
  • Purchase grains, pasta, cereal, beans, herbs, spices, vinegar and oils from refill centres like The Soap Dispensary in Vancouver and reuse existing containers.
  • Instead of buying drinks in cans or bottles, take an on the go bottle with you whenever you are out and about. Keep a cup in the car for water, coffee or tea, so there’s no excuse for using a disposable cup.
  • Craft beer lovers, buy a glass growlers and then get it refilled with your favourite brew. It’s reusable and more affordable! Our favourite Brewery? Storm Brewing in Vancouver

Cleaning supplies for surfaces and dishes

  • Get refills in existing containers for dish soap from dispensaries. If there isn’t one near you, look up local places that sell unwrapped soaps.

Plastic bags on fresh produce

  • For fresh produce, don’t use a plastic bag to separate ranges, apples etc. It will take a bit longer at check out to get everything on the scale but not by much.
  • Some places will let you use your own bags. It is better to check with the store before you check out.
  • Go to a farmers market to get your fresh produce, you can put it straight into your reusable shopping bag!
  • For smaller produce there’s a simple cheat. Go to where the mushrooms are in the supermarket. There are generally paper bags available there. Use those and write on the bag what’s inside ready for check out. Then re-use, recycle or compost the bag.

Garbage bags

  • Compost, if you’re doing all the recycling you can and refilling other containers, there should be nothing to put in the garbage. Zero Waste is the goal.

Take out containers and plastic cutlery from delivered and takeout meals.

  • We’ve trialed this where we live. If you take your own container to places you order food from, we have found that the restaurants are generally happy to put our food in them instead of using their Styrofoam or plastic take out containers.
  • Carry a spork or pair of reusable chopsticks with you and you can say no to single use cutlery.

Living Spaces

  • Packaging on hard and soft goods

Contact your local municipality about recycling Styrofoam and plastic bags. It is possible, but you can’t put them in your recycling bin (Vancouver).

Bathroom

Shampoo & conditioners

  • Refill shops like The Soap Dispensary let you refill shampoo, conditioner and body wash! Stores like LUSH have shampoo bars that have no packaging, take less energy to make and as there’s no bottle, there’s nothing to recycle. If you’re traveling, pop the bar in a tin, it takes up less space in your luggage and won’t explode all over your clothes in flight!

Face and body wash, toothpaste containers

  • Refill on the body wash
  • Toothpaste? Open to suggestions on this one. I’m going to ask my dentist because I can’t find a refill for this. If you know of one, please let me know in the comments!

Vacuum packaging on soaps

  • Don’t buy soaps with vacuum packaging!

Toothbrushes (while we use them more than once, they are disposable)

  • Toothbrushes! Try these bamboo toothbrushes – sustainable, non-plastic from Giving Brush We’ve tried these brushes and love them. At first getting used to the feel of them on the inside of the mouth while brushing was a bit weird, but that passed. Highly recommend these.

Cleaning supplies

  • This one we’re looking at refills as well, but you can make some of your own cleaning products that have the added benefit of being natural and thus safer for pets and children. Keep the spray bottles you have and reuse with your home made cleaners. Yet to try this, but this looks like a good place to start if you are going to try and make your own.

The list isn’t exhaustive, but we had to start somewhere so this is what we’re doing! As we go, we’ll share any up-cycling tips we discover. So far cleaner living feels pretty good. We’re also going to take the Zero Waste Pledge Come join us!

 

Waste and Wonder, 7 Sustainability Tips for Christmas

man in santa claus costume

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Christmas is fast approaching, and like lots of families, we find our budget not only stretched, but when people ask what we would like for Christmas, they’re met with a long uuuhhhhh… We don’t need anything. Our wants are whimsical wishes like, a lottery win, so we can travel, pay off our mortgage and set up a university fund for our goddaughter!

Some of the strangest gifts I’ve received in the past were, toilet paper that looked like American money, a calendar with fish and quotes about fish, and a shovel (we live in an apartment). Don’t get me wrong, gifts are wonderful and I know for kids, Christmas is that time when they might get that remote control car, but ask yourself, do you need to spend $25.00 on a pumpkin spice scented candle?

Then there’s the wrapping (I’m heading back to the garbage room here, read my first post if this makes no sense). Christmas wrapping. You better make sure you’re the first one into that recycling room, because if not you will need a ladder to climb to the top of the paper pile to add yours to the bin. What a waste.

So here’s 7 sustainability tips for Christmas:

1. Keep the tissue paper or gift bags that arrive from Amazon, come from gift baskets in the run up to Christmas and use it for wrapping paper. If you have to ship gifts, keep the boxes too!

2. Save the Colourful Christmas ads from the newspapers or reuse old comics as wrapping paper.

3. I have a friend with a big family, so rather than buying his adult siblings a random ornament or gift, he writes them a letter and invites them to spend the day with him doing an activity and having lunch, so they can connect and catch up one on one.

4. Give something handmade, like a chutney, jam, baking etc. It’s easier than you think and people will love the personal touch, knowing that you went to the trouble of making something specifically for them.

5. Give vouchers by you! Instead of a plastic gift card, make up your own vouchers personalized to the person you’re gifting. For example: A night of Free babysitting, An afternoon of gardening, Dog walking hours. Be creative and try to come up with something unique for them.

6. Re-gift. It might not sound too classy, but people are more open to it than ever. Give something in good condition that is not being used, you’ll be de-cluttering and saving it from the scrap heap.

7. Buying for someone who seems to have everything? Consider a charitable gift. Sites like FH Canada have fab selections of gifts that make a big difference in the lives of people in places across the globe. You can even buy that sibling who is always sending the poo emoticon a Piece of Crap!

What are your ideas for Christmas sustainability? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Happy Holidays!

Dementors and Moon Snails

What the heck, our garbage recycling room looks like one of the floating islands in the Pacific Ocean! Garbage and plastic everywhere, no pick-ups and a provider refusing to take the bins unless they are properly sorted. Who puts a loaf of bread in a glass bin?!?

Up to my ears in refuse, I ask myself “how did it come to this?” We waded through garbage and recycling for a little over and hour before stopping, covered in filth and sweat, we reflected both on the inability of our building to properly sort trash, and also how much was in the dumpster that could have been up-cycled and reused.

That night we fixed three chairs, 2 lamps and a kid’s swing and gave them away on craigslist.

Sipping a cold one in our apartment we looked around and tried to list the stuff we have duplicates of. Can openers, pizza slices, and a couple of craft beer books. Appliances we don’t use and don’t need. It became clear that we are drowning in clutter which is weird because we’re not materialistic people. I am guilty of hording items that “might be useful” at some point in the future, but no one needs two can openers!

By drink three we were determined that we were going to change all this and purge, donate, fix, up cycle and learn how to live more cleanly. I was also determined to have a shower, the stench of the garbage room lingered like a dementor in a playground, and dinner was on the horizon.

We’re both creative people, and we like to work together. There is something satisfying about working with your own hands creatively in this age of screens and keyboards. We are one of those couples who are always talking about the changes we should be making to live clean, but we go to work in offices where we sit in a cubical trying to make the world a better place from behind a screen, while increasing the chances of carpel tunnel.

The following night over supper outside, I carved my first spoon from a piece of firewood and voila! Moon Snail Creative launched with gusto. By gusto, I mean we opened an Instagram account, and by launched, I mean we had no plan other than to be creative, research cleaner living and eat less meat. It may sound like no plan at all, but true to the “creative” part of our partnerships title, it gave us the freedom to fashion a plan from our experiments and mistakes.