Ethical Sustainable Crafts 2016

Rowan Beg Design Studios

I love a good craft show, it’s my kryptonite! And this year’s National Craft Fair in the RDS did not disappoint. There were hundreds upon hundreds of fabulous handcrafted items ranging from handmade soap, candles, knitwear, jewellery, bags, art and on and on and on. It would be impossible to write about them all here, so I’m just going to focus on those vendors that really seemed to get the importance to creating in an ethical and sustainable way.

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Rowan Beg Design Studios (see top picture) get a gold star for their commitment to sustainable candles and cards. All the materials they use are sourced from fair-trade compliant countries and are almost exclusively recycled, upcycled, sustainable and/or biodegradable. The containers for their candles are made from 100% recycled glass, their wicks are 100% cotton, the lids are cork, their soy wax is farmed using sustainable methods, their labels are wild grass hemp paper and their card paper and envelopes are 100% cotton. If the cotton they use was organic they’d get a platinum star!

Emma's So Natural Candles

Another candle company voicing its ethical roots was Emma’s So Naturals, whose candles are made from soy wax by hand in Ireland and fragranced with only pure essential oils. They contain no paraffin, no perfume or synthetic fragrance, and no artificial dyes. Emma says that soy wax is free from herbicides and pesticides and that her candles are vegan and contain no palm oil.

kikimoon stand

I adored the stunning colours of the organic cotton baby blankets from Kikimoon. The blankets are designed in Ireland and made in Portugal.

Ethical Silk Company

Next door to Kiki Moon was a company that I’ve come across before, The Ethical Silk Company. Before meeting Eva, the owner, I didn’t realise that silk worms typically get boiled alive when silk is harvested. How awful! This is not the case with silk used by the Ethical Silk Company. Their products are made from cocoons after the silkworm moth has left and so no worms or moths are harmed. They also use a Fairtrade tailoring unit Mehera Shaw in Jaipur, India and their printed products are printed by hand at Mehera Shaw’s unit in Bagru, Jaipur. The dyes used in the printing process are low impact, AZO free dyes and all water used  is treated and recycled. Committing to social responsibility, The Ethical Silk Company has pledged to donate 10% profits to charity.

Willow Baskets

Another familiar face at the fair was Heike Kahle of Baurnafea Studio who taught me how to make a willow basket at Tinahely Farm back in February this year. I adore these new baskets she’s selling with salvaged driftwood handles. They’re absolutely stunning.

Green Gorgeous

Green Gorgeous is a company that I’ve featured on this website before. I love their colourful tableware, all made from 100% wool felt in Ireland. Their felt products are sustainably sourced, recyclable and certified free of harmful substances by Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Test-No 990585. They are currently waiting for Cradle to Cradle certification .

Donegal Seaglass

There were rows upon rows of jewellery designers / makers at the fair, each more stunning than the last. A company that caught my eye was Donegal Seaglass, who make pieces from sea glass collected on the  beach in Fanad, Co Donegal, Ireland.

mamukko bags

Another company involved in recycling material was Cork based Mamukko. Set up by two Hungarian brothers the company offers sailing bags upcycled from sails, life rafts, leather and textiles in their workshop in Kinsale, Ireland.

I only had 2 hours in the fair today, which wasn’t near enough time to have a detailed look at all the stands including the following;

On a negative note, I was disappointed that Inspire cafe in the RDS used a disposable cup for the coffee shot for my cappuccino, which they were happy to put into my reusable cup. I asked if they could use the cup for another coffee and the server said no. I said that was a pity because it meant I wouldn’t be able to buy a coffee from them again 🙁


Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

2 thoughts on “Ethical Sustainable Crafts 2016

  1. I won’t have a chance to go this year so thanks for posting, I’ll keep a look out for the brands you mentioned during my Christmas shop! There is a lovely gift shop in Dalkey also stocking only Irish made goods called Daisie Stone, (I’m biased because my friend owns it!) but check it out, its beside Select Stores.

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