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Thursday, 23 May 2013


New Year's Eve 2012 - As I sipped my champagne cocktail, awaiting the midnight fireworks, wearing my new favourite dress bought for me, as a birthday present, by my two lovely daughters,  I wondered what my New Year's Resolution would be.

All the usual things came to mind - you know the ones... eat less, exercise more, reduce the alcohol intake!

But I had another idea, inspired by two tips sent in for my book which I thought would be fitting with my mission to get the waste reduction message across.

I decided that I would buy no new clothes (nor shoes, nor any other accessories) for a whole year. I outlined my plan in a blog post in February - in brief, I would buy only second-hand, repurposed or up-cycled items in an attempt to reduce my carbon footprint and save money too.

Fast forward to May 2013: I decided that I would try to wear only second-hand, repurposed or up-cycled items when I piloted my Dustbin Diet workshops and gave talks in schools, and so I took a look at my wardrobe, had a good mooch around my local charity shops and put together a few outfits to fulfil that goal.
Photo: My Eco Activities Day at the wonderful Octavia's Bookshop in Cirencester,
 wearing purchases from my local Oxfam shop accessorised with upcycled necklace by Laura Hounam.

I also came across this fantastic website called which will be a great help when I get my workshops in full swing later this year.  With you get to trade in clothes and accessories you don't wear for virtual money credits which you can use to buy clothes from the website that you will wear.

Here's how it works:

Click on the picture to open it fully 

I spoke to the team at and they have set up a special offer code of rosie306 which will get you £1 of virtual swishing money to start you off. They will also give £1 of virtual money to my Dustbin Diet project for each person who registers with the rosie306 code by 30th June this year.  This will be a great help towards being able to encourage some of the young people to think about a more environmentally friendly approach to fashion, so I will be very grateful for your support if you sign up.

I'm now in my 5th swishing month and I've probably bought more clothes than I do normally, but I have certainly reduced my overall spend. In these tough economic times, I'm sure lots of us are trying to do just that.  There couldn't be a better time to take up some new green living money-saving resolutions, don't you think?  

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Pearly Queen

On the hunt for information about up-cycling, I visited a local exhibition by Laura Hounam, who makes up-cycled jewellery.

When I walked into the little museum that was hosting the exhibition I was blown away by the extent of it, the variety of gorgeous pieces of jewellery on offer and the range of up-cycled material that had been lovingly donated, collected and re-purposed to magnificent effect.

The next thing that struck me was the note on the table that told me all the proceeds from the sale of this wonderful jewellery was going to support the charity, Against Breast Cancer.  More about that later...

Let me, first, show you the creations and share Laura's story.

These made me think of all the buttons I've collected over the years.  I always remove buttons from anything that is going to be turned into rags, thinking I might use them one day.  I have a whole box full of them which I think would be better served by donating them to Laura.

These are decorated with donated pearls from broken necklaces.
That's another thing I seem to be collecting! I often find random beads around after parties.  Another broken necklace and the bead pot gets a donation.  I plan to use a few of them to decorate a bag I made from an old T shirt, but then I'm going to donate the rest to Laura.

Next on my clear out list is the array of colourful bits and pieces that fill a whole draw in my hallway.  I have plastic beads, shiny flowers and butterflies galore from when my daughters were little.  Into the 'Laura bag' they go.
Made from an old mattress cover

This beauty, has a wonderful story to go with it.  Laura told me it was made from an old mattress cover.  She grew up in a tenement, apartment blocks surrounding a courtyard.  She remembers when she was little that a man used to come round to recover the mattresses every now and again.  In those days, mattresses were stuffed with wool - the best were made with Scottish wool.  The wool would compact after a while and, so to make them last longer and for hygiene's sake too, the man would come round with his machine that looked like a gondola with spikes sticking out of the bottom, and he would remove the mattress cover, fluff up the wool with his spiky gondola machine and then give the mattress a new cover.

If jewellery from an old mattress cover wasn't bizarre enough, how about rings and brooches made from old tights?
These beauties are made by crocheting old coloured tights.
Laura is often given lots of things with which to create her jewellery, but she also finds some of her materials amongst pieces donated to Against Breast Cancer, to whom she donates all the money she makes from selling her jewellery.

If you have single earrings, stray beads, buttons, belt buckles and that kind of thing you can donate them to Against Breast Cancer, who are in the process of setting up collection points around and about.  If you have items to donate, or you would like to hold a collection point for Against Breast Cancer please contact Jane Terry on 01235 534211 or you can email her - for more information.

You can see Laura Hounam's jewellery exhibition throughout May at Faringdon Tourist Information Centre.  Laura will also be at craft fairs on Saturday 11th May at St Frideswide's Chruch on Botley Rd in Oxford, on Sunday 19th May at the Food and Craft Fair at Roots Garden Centre in Hermitage and on Bank Holiday Monday 27th May at the craft fair in Bampton Village Hall.  For more dates, you can visit Laura's website.