Eco Church Christmas Craft Workshop

On Saturday afternoon we held an Eco Church Christmas craft workshop in St Helens Community Centre. At Eco Church we are trying to make our lifestyles more sustainable, and to share our ideas with the wider community. Christmas can be a time of relentless consumerism and waste, so we devised a craft workshop promoting a more environmentally responsible approach to Christmas. It was great fun and we are planning to hold similar workshops on a regular basis.

Plastic Reduction

Until this year I had a bottle of shower gel and a plastic body scrubber hanging in my shower. I gave up chasing soap around the bathroom about thirty (forty?) years ago when it went out of fashion. However, in the light of what we now know about plastic usage, it’s clear that washing with good old-fashioned soap is far less wasteful of the earth’s resources and an easy first step to reducing plastic consumption. But how to get around the slippery soap problem? My contribution to the workshop was to provide patterns and materials for making wash mitts and soap pouches: pouches that you can put soap inside and really get to grips with scrubbing yourself clean! There were two options, and I like them both so much (spoiler alert) I am making them for everyone for Christmas this year.

Soap pouch made from a flannel. One flannel makes two pouches.

These wash mitts are great in the shower. You can either put the soap inside them to wash, or use them as a mitt and apply the soap separately.

If you want some really nice soap to put in them, the Gift to Nature shop in Newport has a great range of Living Naturally soap nuts, or Indulge Me, in Ryde, actually make their own natural soap and bath products.

Another popular knitting project was the dishcloth pattern, which Diana provided for us. A great substitute for plastic-based cleaning cloths – and brilliant for cleaning tea-stained cups!

We learned this week that efforts to reduce consumption of plastic bags are being undermined by a dramatic rise in the number of “bags for life” sold – only to be used as single-use bags by consumers! These bags do more harm to the environment than the cheaper variety! One solution is to carry with you a nice fabric bag which you will want to re-use – especially if you have gone to the trouble to make it yourself!

Morsbags are designed with this in mind. They can be made from any fabric. Mary brought her sewing machines and fabric along to enable us to have a try.

Morsbag labels can be ordered to give your bag the professional finish and spread the word about plastic reduction.

Christmas Decorations and Gifts

A lovely idea for re-purposing old Christmas napkins was to make them into decorative tree ornaments. The top layer only of a three-ply napkin was cut out and glued onto a wooden heart. It was dried with a hairdryer and the paper edges carefully filed off. It was sprayed with glitter spray to finish off. A great alternative to plastic tree ornaments!

Fiona and Sylvia were thoroughly engrossed in this lovely activity!

Napkins can be used, in the same way, for decoupage: to decorate lamp shades and bases, and other furniture.

Another gift idea was to decorate small bottles with festive stickers and ribbons and fill them with produce such as shampoo and conditioner from our Eco Church Plastic Refill Station. Fiona provided all the decorations for this activity.

Christmas Wrapping

So much Christmas wrapping paper is non-recyclable and goes into landfill. Theresa’s gift boxes can be made out of any reasonably stiff paper and are perfect for smaller gifts or homemade sweets and treats (see below).

We loved making these boxes and immediately found a use for them, filling them with the delicious energy balls, made by Ali.

Use your LOAF

In Eco Church we promote the use of LOAF foods: local, organic, animal friendly and fairly traded. Ali’s energy balls ticked a lot of these boxes, being vegan, fairly traded and organic. She sourced the ingredients on a wholesale order from ethical retail cooperative, Suma. (These orders are open to the congregation, so let Ali know if you want to order in bulk at wholesale prices.) She experimented with different combinations of ingredients and produced some really delicious treats. Thank you, Ali!

Thank also to Paul and Mary for setting everything up and getting us organised, to Liz for making endless cups of tea and serving lunch,to Ali and Mary for proving the soup and apple cake, and to everyone who contributed. We’re hoping to have another craft day in February, so watch this space! And Merry Eco-Christmas!

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