We all need to do our bit to reduce our use of plastics, and the amount of plastic I use as a business has been weighing on my mind for some time now. In particular, the infamous 'pink envelopes' may be cute, but when I see them stacked up in packs of 1,000 they seem like an enormous waste 😔
Ebony recently wrote a very eloquent blog post about the importance of reducing our plastic waste here
Some customers have suggested using cardboard packaging, but this is completely impractical. Sending fabrics in cardboard, during this time of contact-free deliveries which often end up dumped on a soggy doorstep in the rain, isn't ideal. You may not be aware that due to the sharp increase in global internet shopping, coupled with social distancing in factories AND Brexit, there is also a shortage of cardboard! Basically, the majority of cardboard produced goes straight to Amazon.
I can't do much about the amount of plastic a lot of items come wrapped in from Japan (besides badger the manufacturers!), but I have researched alternative mailing bags and have managed to find a viable solution.
So, as soon as my current supply of pink bags is used up, I will be switching over to fully compostable mailing bags made from plant starch! You can pop these bags in your kitchen caddy and fill them with peelings for the compost heap, knowing that's one less plastic bag going to landfill.
These bags also feature a double glue strip, meaning they can be used twice as mailing bags so they are worth hanging onto for next time you need to send something.
Of course, nothing is ever quite that simple and the main reason I've put it off for so long is the cost. Each bag costs about 20p more than the pink ones but hopefully if more businesses start to use eco-friendly packaging, the price will come down.
So rather than pass this cost straight on to customers, I've decided I will share it, by increasing the cost of postage by just 10p when I start to use the compostable bags. I can't see that anybody will mind such a small increase, and it may even prompt people to make one larger order rather than several small ones, which will also save on the environmental costs associated with multiple deliveries.
As ever, the postage charge is a flat rate, meaning you can order as much as you like and it remains the same, even when it costs me more.
I do hope you are happy to come along with me on this environmental journey, and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below x
I am so proud to introduce the latest range of products which have finally arrived after languishing in Customs for longer than expected!
'Cohana' is a brand which was founded in 1953, producing top quality, craftsman-made sewing goods using small, local producers from all over Japan.
Combining regionally specialised, exquisite craftsmanship with simple yet practical design, Cohana is truly the best of the best in needlework.
Each product comes with an intriguing story behind its development, and you can coordinate items since many are available in a unique colour palette based on scenes from nature in Japan. The core colours evoke 'yellow daffodil', 'watery blue', 'grey ink', 'rose' and 'dayflower'. Several seasonally-exclusive colours such as 'cherry blossom' and 'winter gold' have also been released recently.
Let me introduce some of the range...
It was these tiny pin boxes that first caught my eye. Handmade from cherry wood in Japan's ancient capital city, Nara, each box is lovingly crafted by skilled craftsmen.
Decorated with a handmade mizuhiki cherry blossom knot made in Nagano, the box is opened to reveal 20 pins with pink and yellow glass heads, made in Hiroshima - a city with a 300 year history of needle-making.
Also made in Hiroshima are these dinky packs of pins featuring 'dragonfly eye' handmade glass beads from Osaka. The craftsmanship on these pins is mind-blowing as each one is completely unique. They will bring a joy to your sewing.
If glass isn't quite your thing then surely these yosegi parquetry pins will steal your heart! The woodwork is unbelievably intricate and each pack contains examples of seven types of Japanese hardwood.
You can store your pins on these adorable masu pincushions! Masu are square wooden boxes traditionally used for drinking sake, but here they have been miniaturised using the same 1,300 year old woodwork technique which uses no nails or glue.
Pincushions come in the five classic Cohana colourways with a hand-dyed and hand-woven linen top and a glass-headed pin made in Hiroshima and Osaka.
How small can the very best scissors be? This was the playful challenge of Mr. Hasegawa to his artisans at Hasegawa Cutlery, a manufacturer of edged tools in Seki, Japan's foremost cutlery-making town. The result: these adorable and remarkably sharp Seki Mini Scissors. They are a true labour of love from a company with a commitment to time-tested craftsmanship and inventive ideas.
Simply pinch between thumb and forefinger to snip your threads with ease.
Wondering how to store your sashiko and embroidery threads? These cute little thread winders could be the answer! Made by hand in Nagano from Japanese horse chestnut, they come wound with your choice of coloured sewing thread from famous Kyoto thread-makers Fujx, who celebrate their centenary this year.
You can make these thead winders into a pendant or accessory, or string several together to keep them safe.
These rustic pattern/paperweights are made from hand-cast iron in the famous Nambu Ironware region of Northern Japan. The foundry started in 1923 and has produced these special weights in the Cohana colours.
Despite their small size, each weighs a whopping 360g! You can stack them or use the 'buttonholes' to store up to four pens and pencils. In typical Cohana style, each comes beautifully presented in a gift box.
Speaking of pencils, how precious are these boxes of coloured pencils in their handmade washi paper boxes?! The pencils themselves are made by Japan's foremost pencil makers in Tokyo and each of the Cohana signature colours is highly pigmented, with a coloured thread wrapped around the end.
The boxes are embossed with a lovely pin design and can be reused to store your sewing notions and other bits and bobs. They feature a pull-out drawer and make a perfect gift alongside...
...the matching gridded memo pads!
These pads (and pencils) are a dream for anyone who designs their own quilts, cross stitch patterns etc as they open completely flat thanks to the patented technology of the printing company, founded in Tokyo in 1938.
These memo pads, as with everything Cohana makes, have been carefully considered down to the smallest of details, such as the paper being slightly off-white, and the ink for the grid being light grey so as to prevent eye strain.
Finally (for now) we have these exquisite shigaraki ware pottery magnets in the shape of a button. Made by one of the world's oldest ceramics factories (established in 1622!), these lovely little button magnets embody the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi - finding beauty in rustic simplicity.
You can use them as pattern weights for dressmaking, and they also come in handy as a pin or needle keep while you are sewing, or to hold a note in place. A lovely gift for anybody who sews.
I hope you can feel that with these delightfully tactile objects you are truly holding a piece of Japanese history and culture in your hand. They will bring a smile to your face and a sense of beauty to your work space, as well as being an ideal present for someone who sews or appreciates Japanese design.
As well as being unique and handmade, you can choose your favourite colour and build up a collection...mine is yellow, and yes I have bagsied all the yellow things already!x
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I started Japan Crafts in 2006 and have been bringing wonderful fabrics and techniques to people in the UK ever since.