November shopping: autumn retail therapy

November shopping: autumn retail therapy

We love shopping at charity shops and auctions above all else but don't feel bad if we buy new from time to time. We've got some ideas for the eco home dweller and have been testing a few products out too, so share our thoughts

Humanscale's Nova LED task light

If you work at home, a good task light is essential for reading, writing, not to mention sewing, cutting, chopping and glueing. Too many desk lights don't actually provide enough lumens to really see what you're doing..however that can't be said of the sleek contemporary Nova LED task light from Humanscale, which will give at least 50,000 hours of light using just 7 watts to give 440 lumens. It's made from 50 per cent recycled content by weight and 70 per cent of its material is recyclable - in-line with Humanscale’s commitment to meeting new green goals each year, reducing energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and waste. It's quite pricey..around £500, so it's an investment piece, but one that will give years of service. Find it at

*click on images in the article to see them in larger format with caption info

The fashion industry is starting to champion organic cotton - M&S does excellent organic cotton T shirts as does H&M and other high street brands. But homewares brands have been relatively slow off the mark, despite the huge amount of research done which shows how much more eco friendly organic cotton is compared to conventionally produced cotton. So well done to the new companies selling organic cotton bedlinen. Joining Glasgow's fou furnishings is Nour Luxury, Square Flower and fair trade/ethical Their Story. Come on, there's no excuse for not switching, especially with summer sales coming up...


For organic cotton tea towels, Cornwall's Love Liga has a good selection, including some that will have to yearning for a trip to the West Country every time you dry a mug. Good value at £9.50.

And for stylish everyday dining, Villeroy + Boch's Colourful Life range is great, with white chinaware decorated with a simple stripe. Choose form red, blue and yellow and mix and match.

For hands that do dishes...well, they need regular tending. For a product made in the UK from sustainable natural ingredients, can we recommend Seams. We've been testing it and reckon it's really very good. Keeps ageing hands soft and smooth if used daily. Seams handcream was developed for seamstresses whose hands take a battering from needles, bobbins, scissors and pinking shears. £14 for 75ml tube.

Two is made from wool woven from the fleece of Whiteface Dartmoor sheep. No gardener should be without a spool. Lots of colours, 100m roll £6.50.
Dalefoot Composts are made from Lake District The wool and bracken. Peat free, super eco.
Leeds-based Prime Decking makes its decking planks made from waste plastic and wood
Organic cotton tea towels from Cornwall's Love Liga, £9.50
Villeroy + Boch's Colourful Life tableware collection looks great, is for mixing and matching, and is affordable.
Charming little Wonky Clock made from ash by Cumbria-based Rob Bryant of £53
Great for summer, jute tote bags with hand-embroidered linen front pocket, £48 from Sep Jordan works with Palestinian refugee women, who make beautiful products including bags and cushions
Seams hand cream is really really good stuff. Very soothing and long lasting moisture.  £14 for 75ml
Wooden wall hooks from Chocolate Creative, from £10.
Hanging plant pot from fair trade The Elephant Head, £20. Made in Jaipur.
Food grade steel Sucka re-useable straws. £9.99 for 3.

Garden focus

Thinking about decking? Liverpool-based Composite Prime is a high-end, garden and landscaping product that does not cost the earth. Made from recycled plastic (280 plastic milk bottles used per m2) and end of life FSC 100 per cent certified timber, Composite Prime is a natural wood-grain composite decking that's environmentally friendly, slip resistant and free from hazardous substances. The composite decking won’t rot or decay and comes with a protective layer to offer protection against stains and the elements. A safe, low maintenance and long-life alternative to traditional timber decks.

Whether you have a huge garden or space only for some pots, plants grow best with good fertiliser. Dalefoot Composts is a Lake District-based company that produces compost from waste wool from local sheep and bracken from the region. It is of course peat free. Dalefood has different 'blends' according to what you're growing. We have been testing the tomato compost - our tomato plants are huge - and we have lakeland gold for containers and the flowers therein are blooming. The Deco team can't claim to be great gardeners but we do love these composts and feel our thriving plants are down to them. 30L bag £10.99

At the other end of the country, Devon-based Twool makes garden twine using wool from Whiteface Dartmoor sheep. The twines cost £6.50 for a 100m spool and come in a variety of colours to suit your plants. A lovely product, supporting Dartmoor sheep breeders. 

Zero waste

Single use plastic cutlery, cups, plates, straws, and bottles are terrible for the planet because many of them end up in whole or fragmented form in our seas or on our beaches. The waste is horrendous so it's very good to see so new re-useable products hitting the shops that should help to reduce plastic waste. If you love drinking through a straw try Sucka reuseable metal straws, which come in lovely colours and bags of three (£9.99). Or check out washable sillicone straws, such as Hip CleanStraw.

And if you're a coffee aficionado, take your own collapsible cup into Pret or Costa, because not only do you get a discount on the drink but you're doing the earth a favour by not using a disposible non-recyclable cup. Pokito cups are very portable - they fold right down so take up no room in a bag, and they're endlessly reuseable. £15. An investment worth making.  

Hooks and plants and pots

Chocolate Creative makes really fun painted wall hooks which you can use to hang tiny cacti and succulents across your walls. 

And hanging planters are all the rage, so for larger vessels, check out the Elephant Head's fair trade ceramic hanging plant pots, made in Jaipur. They cost £20 and are very pretty.