Ann Gibson, of Upcycle Lifestyle, has recently become a 100% waste-free handmade business and she shares with us the importance of reducing textile waste.
Tells us about your business. How and why did you start Upcycle Lifestyle?
Upcycle Lifestyle is a handmade business focused on sustainably produced, reusable alternatives to single-use products and long-lasting children's clothing. All of the products are made by me in my home sewing studio from new and upcycled materials with 100% waste-free production. I always wondered what happened to the ugly sweaters and other textiles at thrift stores that no one wanted. I wanted to help reduce the amount of textiles being sent to landfills each year. So I began "rescuing" the ugly sweaters from thrift stores and making them into blankets that would be loved, cherished and well-used; the first Upcycle Lifestyle product. My vision for Upcycle Lifestyle has always been to reduce consumer waste through reusable alternatives and repurposing fabrics.
What led you down the path to becoming waste-free?
Throughout my studies in Environmental Engineering and looking ahead to my Masters in Environment and Sustainability in the fall, my passion has always been waste management. I have a wide range of experience related to waste management from working at a landfill to environmental compliance reporting and consulting. This year I decided to take reducing consumer waste one step further with my business. I made the conscious decision to make my production 100% waste-free. Through the introduction of new products, market research and community outreach, I have achieved that goal.
How do you define waste-free?
Basically, all raw materials that come into my studio leave as product, aside from a small amount of recycling from the packaging materials. The smaller products, reusable facial round and nursing pads, are made from the scraps left over from the clothing. Once the scraps are too small to sew with, they are used to stuff dog and cat beds which are donated to the Stratford SPCA.
What have been some of the challenges along the way?
Researching ways to deal with the textile waste was definitely the biggest challenge. We are increasingly aware that we over-produce waste but finding feasible solutions is where we struggle as a society. Most of the research I found would be more applicable in a large city, where drop-off locations for textile recyclers are available. The City of Markham has already diverted 1.4 million kilograms of textiles from the landfill in their first year with a textile recycling program, so there clearly is a need. This forced me to become more creative in my search for solutions and think more critically about the problem; shifting my thinking from where to take it to what can I make with it. Once I had decided to use the scraps as stuffing, the next challenge was to find a shelter that was interested in the donation of beds.
What have some of the benefits of going waste-free been?
Being able to share the importance of reducing textile waste as well as replacing single-use products with customers is a huge benefit of moving to waste-free production. As a consumer it is important to know where your products are coming from, how workers are treated, and the environmental impacts of the production as well as the product itself.
What advice would you give to other makers thinking of becoming waste-free?
Research and be creative in your solutions. There likely isn't a simple answer to the problem or we would all be doing it already. Don't give up when you find barriers, find a way to work around them.
Take a break from your day today with this beautiful colouring page designed exclusively for the Makers Mercantile by local artist Kelly Stevenson. Copies of the colouring page are now available at the Mercantile for you to take home and colour your stress away. Or, download a printable copy here. And once you've coloured your page, we would love to see it! Feel free to share your work on social media and tag us #goderichmakers.
Click here to learn more about what is happening this week at the Mercantile to celebrate our first anniversary.
"Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” - Jane Jacobs
Jane's Walk events return to Goderich May 6-7 and everyone is welcome to come out and explore different aspects of the town through a variety of community events.
Jane’s Walk is an annual celebration of the ideas and legacy of Jane Jacobs, a well-known urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. Each year, Jane’s Walk events are hosted across the world the first weekend of May and focus on getting people out exploring their neighbourhoods and meeting their neighbours through free walking tours led by locals.
This year's walks, sponsored by the Maitland Trail Association, provide opportunities to explore the Courthouse Park Arboretum, the history of the Goderich Harbour, Goderich through the lens of R.R. Sallows, and the Maitland Woods. Full details of each walk include:
TREES AND THE NATURAL LANDSCAPE
When: Saturday, May 6, 10-11:30 a.m.
Meet at: South Street Plaza Courthouse Square.
Walk Leader: Martin Quinn
Tour the Courthouse Arboretum and discuss the tree varieties and the importance of this area to the vibrancy of the community. Then stroll down West Street to Harbour Park and look closely at the rejuvenation of this natural landscape.
GODERICH HARBOUR: ORIGINS, TRANSFORMATIONS & EVOLUTION
When: Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7, 2-3 p.m.
Meet at: Marine Museum, Goderich Beach.
Walk Leader: Paul Carroll.
Explore the evolution of the river and harbour and consider the challenges faced by the entrepreneurs who built our waterfront.
GODERICH THROUGH THE LENS OF R.R. SALLOWS
When: Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Meet at: R.R. Sallows Gallery, Goderich Library
Walk Leader: Colleen Maguire
Join Mr. Reuben R. Sallows for a walk "back in time" around the Square as he recounts his life in the emerging Port of Goderich.
MAITLAND WOODS WALK
When: Sunday, May 7, 1 p.m. or 1:30 p.m.
Meet at: Knights of Columbus Centre parking lot.
Walk Leader: Sjani Craig and Wendy Hoernig
Leisurely 1-hour guided walks of our in town forest. Walks set out from the Knight’s of Columbus parking lot on Parson’s street. MTA Plant Sale runs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
For more information about this event, including walks that are happening in communities all over the world, visit http://www.janeswalk.org/
By the time March rolled around, we were so keen to rip down the handmade snowflakes that hung in our window displays. We were feeling more than done with the season and needed some colour...fast! This quick and easy DIY was just what we needed to add bursts of spring colours to our windows. And thinking we are not the only ones looking for bursts of colour this time of year, we thought we would share with you this tutorial to help you make your own.
Inspired by the Pussy Hat Project and to show our support for the fight our sisters south of the border are facing to protect their rights, we are gathering together a knitting circle to make pussy hat pins. Using a pattern developed by local knitter Nancy Fisher, we invite you to join us on Feb. 16 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Makers Mercantile to come together to make these pins which we will then sell at the March 4 Makers Market. All money collected from the sale of the pins will be donated to the Huron Women's Shelter to support our sisters in our own community. We will have some supplies available, but if you can, please bring along needles and yarn.
If you can't join us Feb. 16, but would still like to make pins to support this project (link to pattern below), feel free to drop off finished pins to the Makers Mercantile by March 3. If you would also like to make full-sized hats to sell, you can find the pattern at the Pussy Hat Project website.
WHAT: Pussy Hat Pin knitting circle
WHEN: Feb. 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: 43 West. St., Goderich
PATTERN: Basic Pussy Hat Pin
Hands up if you're a crockpot cooking fiend, like myself! Does it get any easier than throwing a bunch of ingredients into a machine and letting it do the rest of the work for you? I don't think so. So if you need a little inspiration to either start crockpot cooking or to add a new recipe to your roster, I wanted to share my very favourite stew recipe. It includes delicious stewing beef from one of our new makers, CedarVilla Angus Farms near Zurich.
CROCKPOT BEEF STEW
- Written by Amy Zoethout
Did you know that 2016 is the International Year of Pulses? It has been so declared by the United Nations General Assembly and aims to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition.
Pulse crops include lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas and are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids. And not only are they nutritious and delicious, but they are pretty plentiful right here in Huron County. Hensall is the White Bean Capital of Canada, after all!
Here's how you can easily put more pulses on your plate:
Are you a Dirty Local? If so, grab a t-shirt from the Mercantile and wear your Dirty Local label loud and proud!
What is a Dirty Local anyway? Well, they are a Bayfield-based small apparel business and we are pleased to carry their t-shirts at the Mercantile not only because the t-shirts have pretty cool design, but also because the company has a pretty cool story.
It all started last summer when the cousin of Dirty Local founder Keenan Coombs was skateboarding a local park. As a mother walked by with her children, one of the kids commented that his cousin Nigel had cool (blue) hair. The mother quickly grabbed her child's hand and said, "Don't talk to him, he is a dirty local". Of course the cousins laughed at the story. And Keenan thought, that if Nigel, who is a vegetarian, a photographer, active in local theatre, and lives in this beautiful area, could be labelled a "Dirty Local" who wouldn't want to be a Dirty Local? And thus, Dirty Local Clothing was born.
Keenan and Nigel are proud Dirty Locals, and so are we!
Are you a woman entrepreneur looking for support to start or expand your business idea? Rural Response for Healthy Children brings back the popular Huron SOUP event in support of women entrepreneurs.
Huron SOUP is a micro-granting community event that supports women who are interested in starting their own businesses in Huron County. The community is also invited to come to this event happening Sept. 15, 6 p.m., at the Huron County Museum to share a meal together and to help raise funds for local women entrepreneurs. Join us for a delicious locally-made meal from Cait’s Cafe.
HOW IT WORKS:
Each person that attends makes a minimum donation of $7 at the door. This provides them with soup, croissant, dessert, and a vote. Attendees will get the opportunity to socialize, network, and learn about the businesses that women are looking to start in our community. Each woman who has signed up to make a pitch, will share their idea to the audience. The presenters have 5 minutes to make their pitch and the audience is then invited to ask questions to the presenters. At the end of the presentations, votes are cast. The project that gets the most votes receives the donations collected at the door to support the start of their business.
WANT TO MAKE A PITCH?:
Do you have a business idea that needs a little bit of money to get started? We invite you to submit your proposal to make a pitch at the Huron SOUP event on Sept. 15. All participants will receive coaching from Huron Small Business Enterprise Centre Better (HSBEC) to perfect their pitch. The winning pitch will receive the donations collected at the door as well as the opportunity to take one Introduction to Business Processes credit course from Fanshawe College. This course will explore the various functions of business in Canada including business trends, marketing operations, employee management issues, financial resources, business ethics and social responsibility. HSBEC will also award the winner with access to Better Business Courses, ticket to the Huron Women in Networking Dinner, and an opportunity and support to apply for a grant.
But all presenters will benefit from putting their ideas out there in a safe and supportive environment, networking with others, and gaining more information about resources available to help them proceed with starting their businesses.
If you are interested in participating, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
Dana, Amy and George share news and creative inspirations from the Mercantile.