Family Holiday’s – are they commercially too pressurized?

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I often wonder, how much under the commercial pressure pot are we all? Do we all know that purchasing stuff is the back bone to the economy? That manufacturing this stuff causes massive environmental destruction, and more money is spent to boost marketing and package this stuff than is to manufacture it. This is to get us all to feel the need to buy this stuff. OMG what a horrendous cycle!

The reason I am taking about this is I recently went on a family holiday to Spain during the Easter break and I found myself drawn to purchasing new clothing and things before the holiday and during the holiday. Funny I should want to purchase new things when I don’t need anything and the stress getting organised before a vacation is horrendous – well in my opinion it is! A vacation is all about relaxing in the sun or just relaxing, wearing less clothing than ever before, catching up on a good book, and eating the local food. I brought a capsule wardrobe that fitted into a 10 kg suitcase and wore 60% of the items. Predominantly I wore swim ware, shorts, T’s and flip flips and at night it was so easy to get ready with such an uncluttered array of clothing options in my wardrobe. There is something to be said for a capsule wardrobe and living a clutter free life – did you ever hear of my Less Is More Challenge it really gets you thinking of little ways to life a greener less pressurized life – check it out!

When you have children the need to purchase items becomes increasingly pressurized – and companies know this and guess what, they play on this weak point to their advantage. My daughter Eabha (above) is 4, she loves girly things and Disney! We all know when looking back on a childhood it is the time spent not the things played with that sticks out in your mind. Now, I know every now and again there are items that we have fond memories of, but the throw away plastic society we are now bringing our children up in is dangerous and will have disastrous results.

Also one other observation is the amount of waste at the security check points. Plastic bottles and all of the other items not meeting the 50 ml restriction, I need to investigate and ensure that all of this waste is recycled as in some airports it looked a little uncertain as to the final destination of the products!?

All in all, I have learned to relax leading UP TO the holiday, DURING the holiday and stay away from airport extortion, buy your books and food items before you leave. Choose holiday clothing wisely – always remember comfort is key for holidays you want to relax, not deal with blisters and uncomfortable clothing!

Origami your Line Dried Clothes – Never use an Iron again…well for most things!!

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Yes this is true and it can be accomplished. Again my lovely Mum – Dolores, thought me this ECO saving tip, without realizing it!! When we were growing up the sight of my mother with an iron was so rare we would probably gasp at the sight, we didn’t even own an ironing board. I learned how to iron when visiting my aunty Anne’s house on a Sunday. This post also came about from a Twitter conversation with Nicola @mehubbyandkids who also writes a blog called A Lifetime of DIY. So I said to Nicola I would have to write a blog about the  itty bitty pieces of information I was tweeting.

My mother was a fanatic about washing. She would get the wet washing dried in between the showers!! We do live in Ireland I might add. My mum thought me that the key to getting perfectly creased washing was to follow a number of steps – Religiously:

  1. This method of getting your clothes perfectly folded, Origami style, will only work if you have access to a good wind blown, old fashioned clothes line
  2. Always take the clothes out of the washing machine once the washing cycle is just finished. This is the first place they will get creases and if you put on a wash and know you will not be able to do this make sure your machine has a spin delay to keep the clothes in the water until you get home and activate the spin cycle.
  3. When you take the clothes out of the washing machine and are about to put them on the washing line give them a good shake out. – Removing some more creases.
  4. This is always a toughie for me, as I still do not hang my clothes out to my mothers specifications 🙂 She would gauge the wind direction to ensure maximum blow through!! Very scientific. Peg items in areas where you will not leave peg marks, like under the arm pits.
  5. Large items, like bed sheets need to be joined at both ends and leave the button area open to catch the wind. Similar to the sail of a boat… You can see an example of this from the picture above.
  6. Trousers and need to be pegged at the waist line and leave the zipper open – again the wind will blast through the legs.
  7. Invest in a really good peg circle thingie – to put all your undies, socks and smalls on. It makes matching up socks really easy.
  8. Once dry take all your washing in and either fold maticulously or put straight on a good clothes horse to air.
  9. My mother used to put the folded clothes in the Hot Press (the place where the hot water cylinder is) for at least three to four days. The hot air and the weight of the clothes really did the job in sorting out creases. I remember our school shirts never needed an iron because they were folded just perfectly and aired.
  10. I am not saying you will be able to get away with never ever using an iron again. For the staples like shirts and dresses etc then yes an iron is necessary. But if you get the folding right you will find once you leave the clothes rest for a day or two under the weight of the clothes above they will develop creases in all the RIGHT places.

P.S this is my back yard to the house that we moved in almost 10 months ago. I am undertaking a massive project to make the yard over as sustainably as possible. If anyone has any ideas for this job please let me know…?!

My new Laundry Basket – its better than my old one!!

I firstly want to dedicate this to a friend and fellow Eco warrior Jen Gale of My Make Do and Mend Year. Jen you have posted about your laundry basket and its clinging to life state so I hope this blog post helps you out 🙂

I was always sick to death of repairing my plastic laundry basket, you know the type you cart around on your hip in and out of the washing line, the one that kids like to play boat in and the one that ALWAYS breaks!!

These plastic laundry baskets are reasonable to purchase although they can be pricy, my bone of contention is they will snap at some point and I always like to purchase an item that will last and will be easy to recycle or turn into something else (upcycle). My current laundry basket is held together with insulating tape and has reached its last legs and will need to be put out of its misery soon 😦

It is made from PP5 Plastic, also known as Polypropylene and is one of the most widely used plastics particularly for rigid items such as laundry baskets, yogurt cups and tubs, baby bowls etc. This type of plastic does not transmit chemicals into your food and is easy to recycle. Although you will need to check with your local council to ensure you can recycle these plastic types.

So for the time being I found found a replacement in the cupboard under the stars – its the Blue IKEA Reusable Bag. It is made of 100% Polypropylene (PP5) the same as my old laundry basket and can be recycled. But, it has a max load of 25kg!! Pretty good so it should support quite a lot of washing time and time again. The key reason I like this bag so much is it is not rigid so it will not break as easily as the rigid traditional laundry basket.

Other benefits include:

  1. Its soooooooo easy to store
  2. Better for your back, the two handle lengths make it easy to use
  3. Easy to clean just use soap and water
  4. It can be brought to the shops
  5. used in the garden to sit on or kneel on – waterproof
  6. so many other ways to use this bag but guess how much it costs €0.50/ £0.40 amazing value
  7. IKEA is also quite a good company to champion and support Sustainability check out more here.

This is my IKEA Bag in full use hanging with a Kitchen hook on the washing line holding a wash load of wet clothes. No more bending anything to make a job easier!!photo (12)


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A Claire Lewis Product Review – My personal favorite Liquid Hand Wash.


I always had a thing for a bar of soap it seemed more environmentally friendly to me and I preferred the smell of soap washed hands. Even in the shower a bar is soap is always at hand and hubby likes soap over the millions of shower gels that are on the market. There are so many reasons to chose a bar of soap…well that was until I visited my local vegetarian/health-food store/cafe The very charming very lovely The Happy Pear in Greystones, where I washed my hands using a brand they sold in the store and used in their loo.

ECOVER Lavender & Aloe vera Hand wash. I was instantly transported to a sunny back yard with glass of wine in hand, sun on my face with the sound of buzzing bees and children playing. The smell of the natural essential oil of Lavender is so relaxing. A truly amazing experience so amazing that I had to purchase a bottle on the way home. I also have eczema on my knuckes of my right hand – it is my portable Litmus Test!! It gives me an instant indication to how harsh a product is ECOVER passed my eczema knuckle test with flying colours 🙂

The New Craze of Revamping/Upcycling Items of Clothing.

I am totally & utterly excited about the old tradition (which is now in vogue)  of Revamping/Upcycling items of clothing instead of buying brand new items. It brings us back to the era where people would turn something old and much loved into something new. Atelier is the french word for work-shop and Ireland is bursting with amazing such Atelier’s where again creative and inspiring people can bring an age old craft back to the 21st century.

I am living in Greystones, Co Wicklow, Ireland and I am spoilt for choice for the amount of stores that cater for upcycling and tailoring your new vision for your clothing item or to better phrase it….. COUTURE!! One such establishment is The Goddess Room  an absolutely amazing place where your thoughts can be brought to life. A must see if you want something vintage or just want something altered to become a new piece! ‘Our design and couture skills are put at your disposal together with magnificent laces and hand beaded and decorated fabrics and  garments from some of the richest periods in history.’

The Garden of Unicorn  – Creative Style with a Conscience! An amazing thoughtfulness to clothing and fabrics, ‘Unicorn garments are made from natural materials only and are always lined with silk or fine organic cotton batiste.  All cotton used is certified organic (GOTS certification) and the collection is made to the highest standards in small family run ateliers in Ireland and Poland’

Sophie Rieu founded Unicorn Design in May 2003 and her Unicorn designerwear label in 2005.  Originally from France, she works from her studio and boutique: the Garden of Unicorn in Greystones, offering a made to measure service and retailing her own collections. Sophie also prides prides herself on attention to detail and on the consistency of her strong ethical policies. 

Another way you can have it all and look your best but still caring about the world in which we live!

Toms – One for One

If you haven’t already heard about Toms, the shoes that give back, then stop right there and I will tell you.

Not only are they cute and comfortable, when you buy a pair Toms will give another pair to a child in need. Simple really Tom’s work on a principal of One for One.

Who is the bright spark behind this simple but effective idea: “In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.”

I bought my first pair of Toms back in March, they are silver and sparkly and the first thing I noticed was how light and well built they are. They have a great leather insole and are extremely comfy. Perfect for packing to go on holidays, they also come with a dust bag.

My first ever pair of Toms.

The packaging is also great, the box is made from post consumer waste paper and the ink used is soya based. What we like to see at Claire Lewis, Toms is a company that was set up from the good of some ones heart. Blake saw a problem and he is fixing it in all the right ways. From the shoe itself, its purpose has a positive impact on the children in need, to the packaging, all environmentally responsible. Toms is a brilliant example of how a business can be profitable and give back to the community and the environment and a shining example of the Claire Lewis philosophy!

Go get your self a pair of the classics or if you are a lady and love ballet flats then look no further, there is a colour and theme out there with your name on it. Other wise buy them in white and customize yourself. Oh, and the kids pairs are soooo cute!