Homeward Studio becomes a Plastic-Free Champion

Proud to be part of the Moorlands Climate Action group

Homeward Studio becomes a Plastic-Free Champion

I’m thrilled that Homeward Studio has been officially recognised as a Plastic Free Champion as part of Plastic Free Communities, an ambitious community initiative designed to unite and empower organisations to reduce their collective plastic footprint. 

The Moorlands Climate Action is a local not-for-profit community group, which is supported by Friends of the Earth. It is concerned with the impacts of climate change in all areas of the  Staffordshire Moorlands including Leek, Cheadle and Biddulph. I joined the Sustainable Consumer Group in September 2023 and was immediately invited to apply to become a Plastic Free Champion as part of the Surfers Against Sewage national Plastic Free Communities scheme.

The Sustainable Consumer Group aims to raise public awareness of how overconsumption is affecting our planet and how simple lifestyle changes can alter that. I was particularly interested in how it was trying to help people and businesses in our area consume less and recycle, repair and repurpose more. It also champions buying locally sourced, seasonal and organic food from local butchers and greengrocers, and encourages people to buy locally sourced and produced items to cut down on the transport needed to get the items to the shops.

We’ve cut out single-use plastic from the shop

Since its inception, Homeward Studio has always been about good quality, well made, environmentally conscious materials. I’ve never knowingly bought anything to sell in the shop that’s made of single-use plastic. I tend to judge an item by how well it’s been made, what it is made from, who made it, whether it dismantles easily and is recyclable. Better still, is it made of natural materials and can it rot in the ground at the end of its life? These are all the things that pass through my mind when choosing stuff for the shop and when I buy things for myself.

 

Don’t forget about hidden plastics

Apart from avoiding stocking items made from single-use plastic or buying plastic packaging and labels, I’m looking closely at hidden plastics that you perhaps didn’t even think about, working towards removing it altogether and finding alternatives. 

These can often be found in the familiar items that you often buy for your home and I’m trying to  stop using these plastics altogether in the shop. If I’m honest, this makes choosing and sourcing stock all the more time consuming and trickier than I’d perhaps like. There are plenty of desirable looking products out there that I could easily buy, but if they’re made of plastic they can’t come in…! 



Some of my other plastic-free packaging commitments

  • I’ve never used plastic bags or packaging at Homeward. I was an early adopter of the brown paper bag and a simple rubber stamp to print my logo onto my packaging. 
  • I’ve never used plastic labels, tape or stickers either.
  • I’ve never bought plastic bubble wrap to use in my parcels but have always carefully saved and reused the stuff I receive in the parcels I receive from some suppliers.
  • Since becoming a plastic free champion I’ve started adding a little note inside my parcels encouraging customers to keep hold of the plastic bubble wrap and reuse just like I’ve done. 

There are other plastic free stories I can tell you about my shop too: 

  • I’ve been taking out plastic zips in our Homeward cushions and have had them made with envelope-style backs. If we need any fasteners to close them, we’ll use metal ones like press studs, or wooden or vintage buttons.
  • We stopped using polyester hollow fibre filling for our cushion inners years ago and started feeling uncomfortable about using duck feathers too. So for the last 5 years we’ve been using sheep wool as a replacement and have been able to introduce an eco fibre filling. It is light and puffy, made from post consumer PET plastic bottles, otherwise destined for landfill and the oceans. It’s hypoallergenic too.

  • We have purposefully used a traditional signwriter to paint the signage for our shop, not just for the love of hand painted lettering, but also for the satisfying added bonus that we’re not using modern plastic waste generating vinyl decals.

  • I hold accounts with some of the bigger fabric suppliers as part of our upholstery and curtain making service. And I’ve sifted through their collections to highlight both the sustainable and practical benefits of choosing natural cloth such as woven wool, linens and cottons to my customers. We have a good selection of these types of fabric samples and books in our studio to choose from. There’s also a growing choice of innovative eco label fabrics produced from waste and recycled materials, which we’re excited to welcome into the Homeward Studio collection too.

  • We are in 2024 trailing new materials to use for the seat pads of our oak Ette Range of stools and benches. A great new product called Spring bond /Ultraflex made from 85% recycled single-use plastic will replace the standard polyurethane foam used previously.

It’s worth mentioning that you may spot a few items in the shop that have some plastic parts, such as the vinyl covering added to the handles on a pair of best quality Japanese secateurs. This is there for comfort of use and a practical and sensible addition, making for a long lasting and much loved tool. Likewise with an upholstery fabric label of 95% wool and 5% nylon. The nylon is there for abrasion resistance and durability so will be a good choice for a high-use piece of furniture like a family sofa or well-loved chair.

I guess the moral of the story is small acts are important and being more mindful of the effects of your consumption can create momentum and make a big difference. This is why I got on board with the scheme in the first place.

Luckily I mainly buy stock from smaller independent makers and businesses who make and package their goods mindfully, which makes my decision making a lot easier

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the moment you step into a supermarket or most larger stores, you almost immediately fill your trolley up with packaging and lots of things wrapped in plastic. It’s so hard to avoid. I think it’s fair to say that if you were to shop regularly with small independent shops, businesses and independent makers, you’d notice much less single use plastic in your life as you are shopping with people who love what they do and put a lot of thought and effort into sustainability, not just their profit margins. Until we have policy change and proper joined up thinking led by bigger businesses and politicians, it’s up to us to do the right thing, so I urge you to shop small and independent.

Leek has been award ‘Plastic Free Communities’ status for its action on single-use plastic

Our lovely town Leek has recently joined a network of communities across the UK who are leading the way to tackle throwing away plastic at its source. The town has been awarded Plastic Free Community status by marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), in recognition of the work it has done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.

We are very lucky here in Leek, for a small town it has a lot of lovely independent shops including antiques, gifts, homeware, beauty, health, books, deli and cafes. We have a good choice of quality greengrocers, butchers and bakers too, with two market days a week where local food producers and suppliers come to sell their wares. Lots of these small independent businesses have joined the Plastic Free Community or the Refill scheme and MCA’s Sustainable Consumer Group continues to encourage and support local businesses in the quest to tread more lightly and make more sustainable choices. 

Sally Perry, a member of Moorlands Climate Action (MCA), started the campaign over two years ago. Sally said: “The local community has been amazing in their willingness to support us. I feel privileged to have met and worked with such inspiring people along the way. I can’t thank them enough. It was heartening to discover that many businesses were already taking steps to reduce their plastic use so it was relatively easy for them to get their award as Business Champions. One business, Homeward Studios, made sure that there is no plastic at all in their shop. It takes more time and commitment but it can be done. Another business has refused to accept greetings cards from suppliers wrapped in plastic. Many have stopped using plastic bags completely and use paper tape and paper packaging.”

These independent businesses in Leek are also Plastic Free Champions

Black Lion Inn , Butterton
Café Apollonia
Era of Leek
GRN Financial Services
Heather’s Garden Service
Homeward Studio
Keik
LSGK Acountants
Mark Brammer Accociates
The Gallery
Cathy Bower Photography
MM Billing Ltd ( Mandy’s Greengrocers)

Independent homeware shop in Peak District, Homeward Studo