Tuesday, November 25, 2008

5 Tips for Eco-Friendly Holiday Wrapping

Glitzy, bright gift wrap makes for a burst of festive bling under the tree, but what happens post-present opening once the excitement has subsided? The bin is undoubtedly filled to the brim with coloured, foil, glitter, and metallic wrapping waste.

We say, think beyond Christmas morning and get creative with your wrapping. Wow your loved ones with your creativity and follow our five top tips for presenting your gifts in eco-style.

1. Reusable shopping bags make great reusable gift bags that can be used all year around and are the
perfect solution to overstuffed stockings. The lovely Christmas stockings hung by the chimney with care more often than not never seem big enough. Simply place a tote on the hearth next to or beneath the stocking to act as a catch-all for everything that can't fit.

2. Use tea towels as gift wrap for almost anything, especially bottles. Enhance your hostess gift by pairing a bottle of your favourite wine with a tea towel or for smaller gifts use these gorgeous cloth napkins.
LIME TIP How to do it: Simply place the bottle along one side of the towel so that the top of the bottle meets the top of the fabric. Create a pocket at the bottom by folding up the excess material at the bottom over the bottom of the bottle. Then roll it evenly and secure at the neck with a ribbon.

3. Put small gifts in little bags, purses or a must-have clutch and tie with a ribbon, instead of using boxes and wrapping.

4. Look for gifts already presented in attractive packaging, then there's no need to double up! Keep an eye out for jewelry presented in pouches, body brush gift sets in feather top bags, bamboo nightshirts in bamboo drawstring bags and kids' wooden blocks in cotton (easy clean up) bags.
LIME TIP Don't forget, the more opaque the package, the greater the surprise!

5. Choose gifts that lend themselves to act as containers and group smaller gifts inside, effectively creating your own gift basket without the basket. Try a funky bright pink watering can filled with a pocket garden and a butterfly scatter garden. What about a collapsible eco shopping basket with a reusable Laken water bottle, crank radio/flashlight and ethically made body brush and body butter inside?

The possibilities are endless. Even if you cut down on glitzy gift wrap just a little this Christmas, it's a step in the right direction.

Visit Lavish & Lime for great gift ideas for the whole family - at affordable prices.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

5 Christmas Gifts for Him Under $50

Despite the downturn, Christmas is still on the horizon and rapidly approaching, so we've come up with five top gift picks for the men in your life at recession accessible prices - all under $50.

We hope you like them. We know he will.

Boyfriend: Fleece Cow Socks

Keep him warm on the slopes or cozy up with him apres ski. These funky socks feature flat seams and a contour fit so are as perfect for
indoors as they are out. Fleece wicks away moisture and dries quickly. Made in Canada. Men's sizes 5-13. PS. We have women's sizes too, if you like to match! $18

Boss: Laken Sport Water Bottle Blue

He's always trying to motivate you, now it's your chance to turn the tables. Made in Spain using 100% recyclable aluminum, this bottle has a handy twist spout with extra leakage security, walls 30% thicker
than all other aluminum bottles and a BPA-free inner coating that extends 100% throughout the inside ensuring no liquid comes into contact with the aluminum. More lightweight than steel, no after taste. $26

Husband: Silver Ball Cufflinks

Treat him to a classic he'll wear on his wrist. Sleek spheres totalling 9 grams of sterling silver, these are two links he will never tire of. $45

Dad: Crank Radio/Flashlight

Always safety-conscious, Dad will love this rubberized compact combo featuring a self-charge crank and solar panel powered radio,
flashlight and cellphone charger all in one. Impressive crank to power ratio - a 1-minute wind gives 20 minutes of radio play or 30 minutes of light. Great eco-friendly gift he can show the grandkids.$32

Grandfather: Classic Moleskine Notebook

Encourage him to write down his thoughts, his life story in this
keepsake black notebook. Moleskine is the legendary Italian-made notebook used by European artists and thinkers for the past two centuries. $16

For more great gifts for him both under and over $50, visit Lavish & Lime.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Designer Interview: Vinyl can be Eco-Friendly with Astrosatchel

Vinyl can be eco-friendly? you ask. Yes actually, says Janna Hurtzig, the creator behind Vancouver's own design gem, Astrosatchel. Our gorgeous line of Astrosatchel shoulder totes, clutches and change purses are an example of green living and good looking going hand in hand. Read on as Janna explains...

What was your inspiration behind the creation of the original Astrosatchel shoulder tote?
How did you come up with the name?

I started making Astrosatchel bags in 1998 because I couldn't find a bag that I liked that was
made in Canada. Initially I wanted to use astro-turf, but I couldn't find anything soft enough, so I settled on vinyl. I liked that it was durable and bright, yet water proof - perfect for Vancouver. The name was easy: the bags were going to be fun, with a space age feel to them, so I thought Astro was a good place to start, and Satchel because I was making bags.

Why did you choose to work with naugahyde vinyl? What is the manufacturing process
the bags go through?

I started using the Naugahyde vinyl because of the choices of colours available, and because I
could reorder it as needed. I didn't want to use fabrics that I wasn't sure I could get again, in case the products really took off, which they did!!

When we make the bags in our studio, we start by hand cutting the individual pieces for the bag,
which we sew together using industrial sewing machines. The applique images are cut from any scraps left over from when we cut the bags--- hardly anything goes to waste. We don't use any adhesives in our process. Our bags are lined with nylon, which adds additional strength to the bag a well as finishing the bag off nicely. We use velcro closures as these are easy to adjust and are relatively fail-safe.

I think as a designer it is important to create things that are aesthetically pleasing, but are also
highly functional, with a lot of thought given to the end use. We sew everything to last, which is almost the anti-thesis these days in manufacturing.

I like simplicity in design--- quite often products are made with lots of bells and whistles, but the
time goes into making the bells and whistles, not what they are attached to. My bags are made to be versatile and durable, items that you use for years rather than for a season and then it's on to something else.

Most manufacturing processes are highly mechanised: items are stamped out on presses in
huge quantities, while we only cut what we need, which eliminates over production...... most manufacturing focuses on making quantity in a short period of time, while we focus on quality first and foremost.

If naugahyde vinyl is man made, how can your bags be considered eco-friendly?

The Naugahyde brand of vinyl is a man made fabric, but I see eco aspects to it: the vinyl is union
made in the United States, which is better than overseas-made goods as it reduces the amount of traveling the fabric does, and there is better environmental law in the US as opposed to, say, China, where many textiles are coming from these days, including eco-friendly ones. I like to know that the person who made my fabric was fairly paid for their work as well.

As the fabric I use is durable, it will not require replacement as often as lesser quality vinyl, which can crack in cold temperatures: Naugahyde is fine for colder places such as Edmonton and Winnipeg. I think the durability aspect is a huge consideration--- why buy products that won't hold
up to use: just as much energy goes into their production as items that will last a long time. Lower quality vinyl has given all vinyl a bad reputation, but the Naugahyde I'm using is upholstery grade, heavy duty stuff.

When I tell people I use vinyl, the assume that it's because "leather is so expensive", which is not my reason at all.

Mostly, the vinyl is a replacement for leather - even if people are eating the meat portion of the animal, the leather is a byproduct of an environmentally hazardous industry. While leather is
initially a 'natural product', by the time it is chemically treated for use, it isn't natural anymore, and the environmental impacts of the leather industry are huge: animals require land, water, feed (more land, more water), and transport, while creating huge amounts of carbon dioxide gas (both by the animal itself, and from transport), and waste products (poop) that enter the environment and create problems, like contamination to drinking water.

There is no animal cruelty involved with Naugahyde vinyl, so while it's not a natural fabric, I sleep easier at night knowing that when people buy my products, they are buying a cruelty free
item: no animal cruelty, or sweatshop labour.

An added bonus is that the vinyl is already waterproof: there's no need to spray it down with waterproofing spray, as you would with a leather bag: more chemicals.

I personally think that we need to rethink a lot of how we live day to day: choosing to purchase better quality items with years of use in them as opposed to cheaper items that end up in the trash...... every product gets thrown away eventually, but if we are consuming fewer products in the first place, that's a good start.

Thanks for the insight Janna! View our collection of Janna's stunning Astrosatchel bags at Lavish & Lime.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bamboo is Best

Bamboo fabric. Reputedly softer than the softest cotton on the market today. Believe it.

My blue bamboo scarf feels so good around my neck, I never want to take it off. In fact, sometimes I don't.

Since scarves are
the accessory of the season (or is it the clutch? depends on who you read), I feel quite good about it becoming my accessory of the season. Plus it's made from bamboo - good for the planet and good for me.

Bamboo is considered nature’s most sustainable and naturally regenerative resource. Bamboo fabric is exquisitely soft to the touch and is naturally anti-microbial, hypoallergenic, thermal

regulating and odor free. Bamboo is grown without fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides and is biodegradable. My scarf is made with non-toxic and AZO free dyes.

Since bamboo is grown in abundance in China, this is where the majority of bamboo clothing is made. Banish any environmental concerns however, as the U.S. company that actually made my scarf keeps a watchful eye over the process of breaking down the bamboo stalks to make them into fibre and has close relationships the factories and workers, ensuring they're aligned with the vision
of providing nurturing natural products while consciously caring for people and the environment.

The factory that sews the fabric has expanded in the last three years, employing more local women from the village and bringing in more family members.

So there it is. Feel good wearing it, feel good about wearing it.

Our brand new bamboo line has just arrived in time for Christmas - not only is it chic, it's surprisingly affordable. Scarves like mine from $23, matching lightweight hats for him or her for just $21, plus there's heavenly nightshirts that double as day wear and gorgeous wraps in a lovely mushroom brown or classic go-with-absolutely-everything black.

Shop Lavish & Lime for super soft bamboo clothing accessories and a great selection of other great green gifts.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Green Gift Guide: Top 10 Eco-Chic Gifts for Christmas

Green is definitely the new white this holiday season.

Think eco-friendly and feel good about the gifts you give. Plus they don't have to be boring, or beige. Bright colours and innovative designs mean this Christmas going green never looked so good.

Here's our guide to the top 10 eco-friendly gift picks for her, him and the little ones for a green Christmas.

1) Market Tote 3-Pack: for Her
Why a great green choice? Cuts down on plastic bag use and helps reduce the landfill. Made in Canada so minimal carbon footprint.

Fashion meets function with this stylish grocery tote. Made of 100% cotton with a comfortable webbed handle, it holds up to 3X more than the average plastic shopping bag and includes an interior elastic band for storing a bottle upright. $40

2) Recycled Rectangle Necklace: for Her

Why a great green choice? Handcrafted in Canada using recycled, re-melted, and recombined sterling silver components.

This unique rectangular pendant can easily be worn two ways - horizontally for a wide angle look or turned to the vertical. The rectangle hangs from a delicate, double chain that loops around the sides of the pendant. $52

3) Discs of Life Reclaimed Wood Necklace: for Her
Why a great green choice? Handcrafted from recycled African ebony hardwood. Made in Canada so a minimal carbon footprint.

This chic silver string of five eco-friendly wooden shapes is certain to make a lasting impression.
32" length $92

4) Bamboo Nightshirt: for Her
Why a great green choice? Bamboo is considered nature’s most sustainable and naturally regenerative resource. Bamboo fabric is softer than the softest cotton on the market today and
is grown without fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides and is biodegradable. This nightshirt is made with non-toxic and AZO free dyes.

A super soft option for comfy nightwear that also looks and feels great as a long shirt with jeans. Short sleeve, rounded neck, falls above the knee. 95% viscose from bamboo, 5% spandex. S,M,L in black and cielo blue available $49

5) Purple Clutch: for Her
Why a great green choice? Handmade in Canada using high quality naugahyde vinyl from the USA - free of solvents and ozone depleting chemicals - a hard wearing alternative to animal leather and all the resources used to raise animals.

Purple is the colour of the season and this clutch is it. Two snap pockets, sturdy zip and easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth. $36

6) Wooden Pirate Ship: for Kids
Why a great green choice? Made from replenishable rubber wood which is preservative free and processed naturally. No harmful additives or coloring are used and all paints are tested for safety. Made by PlanToys which practices the “Three R’s” of green living: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Their manufacturing processes are designed to reduce waste and save energy.

This wonderful pirate ship includes a one-eyed black beard and a dastardly crew of four, with lifeboat and hungry croc. Age 3 years + $55

7) Bug Balance Game: for Kids Why a great green choice? Made from replenishable
rubberwood which is preservative free and processed naturally. No harmful additives or coloring are used and all paints are tested for safety. Also made by PlanToys®.

Roll the dice and catch the bugs and then place them on the tree to see how long they can stay on for. The tree is 10.6" high. Age 3+ $25

8) Soda Can Robot Kit: for Kids
Why a great green choice? Gives kids a hands-on education about the value of recycling everyday objects.

Build, recycle and create a unique robot that is as much a science project as it is a toy. The robug emits a buzzing sound like a real bug and moves across the floor. Great fun from a
recycled can (not included). Crank and wind energy kits also available. Ages 8+

9) Mini Crank Lantern: for Him
Why a great green choice? Offers a real alternative to grid electricity or fossil fuels. Made by Freeplay Energy, who through its non-profit Freeplay Foundation has distributed more than 160,000 Lifeline radios since 2003 in Africa and beyond, conservatively reaching six million listeners and making Freeplay the world leader in transferring wind-up technology to those least able to access the information and education that could help lift them out of poverty.

Reputedly the best self sufficient rechargeable lantern on the market. When you wind for power, the self-charge mechanism converts over 74% of your kinetic energy into stored electricity. The task light is ideal for reading at night, and an effective flashlight for walking around the campground. $32

10) Mohair Throw: for Anyone who Likes to Be Warm
Why a great green choice? Recycled yarn samples have been used to create the fringe.

A colourful, multi-texture rainbow fringe accents this stunning, lightweight mohair mix throw. The robin's egg blue colour adds an instant touch of elegant coziness to any room. Also available in white snow, dark grey and chocolate brown. 70"x53" $160

These and other eco-chic gifts are available at Vancouver-based online boutique Lavish & Lime. We ship across Canada and offer a $5 gift wrapping service plus gift enclosure cards with a personal handwritten message - for free.


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