What does 'eco-friendly' actually mean?

Confused about all the claims about product being green, environmentally friendly, eco-friendly and sustainable? We don't blame you. 

The term ‘eco-friendly’ is thrown about a lot and often it’s only used as a buzzword; something that makes you feel good about buying this hair product, that face scrub or [insert any item here]. If the definition is taken at face value, ‘eco’ would stand for ‘ecologically’ and ‘friendly,' well… I think we all know what friendly means. Which means that any product can claim to be eco-friendly in one way or another – you could have eco-friendly plastic bags (deemed so because they are more biodegradable than other plastic bags, even though it uses the same harmful chemicals and processes to produce); or sustainable clothing, because while making the garment it wastes much less fabric than other clothing manufacturing processes, even though it uses as much or more energy and resources to produce than other garments.  You can see how there’s a huge grey area that allow eco-friendly claims to reside in, and for those claims to be abused for gain.

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Ask why

Chances are, the products that proudly boast of their friendly natures and being friendly to nature aren’t as friendly as we would like to think. In fact, there’s a distinct possibility that the little stamp with the frog or the panda or the koala or whatever cute and cuddly creature the company thinks to add to give their buzzword some credence, is nothing more than a symbol.  That’s why it’s important to ask what is it about the product that makes it ‘eco-friendly’ or environmentally sound?  No matter how thin you slice it, there’s always two sides – it’s up to us as the consumers to decide whether the product is indeed eco-friendly, green or sustainable, or not. 

Q: So what can you do?

A: Always question claims that companies make about their products. 

What does boyandgirlco mean in its claim of making sustainable furniture?

You need to decide for yourself whether green is actually green.  For us at boyandgirlco, it’s about ensuring that every part of the process is as environmentally sound as possible. 

  • Materials: The raw material we use (pallets) would end up in landfill if we didn’t give them a new life – tick. 
  • Use what you need: We make to order meaning we only use what we need when we need it – tick.
  • Reduce travel: We focus on servicing local clients, meaning we limit the amount of kms the pieces have to travel – tick.
  • Waste management: Our manufacturing waste products have an afterlife – the sawdust goes to a local farm for use in their stables, the wood off cuts go to a recycling centre to be chipped and re-used, and even the nails that come from the pallets get either used in a piece or sent to a metal recycling plant.
  • Evergreen design: Our pieces are made in such a way that they can be reclaimed and repurposed into a new piece of furniture in years to come – tick tick.

…so Pallet People, here’s the rub:

Many people mean different things when it comes to claiming their products to be green, eco-friendly or sustainable.  It’s up to us to understand and decide for ourselves whether it is actually the case.  

How do you travel more sustainably?

Sustainable travel...what the?

Let me tell you a story...about travelling. Travel is enjoyable, and it can also be more environmentally considerate. Each person can play their part in travelling more sustainably.

If you are really concerned about traveling sustainably but don't know where to start, then why not start with the Leave No Trace principles. These bases were created in 1994 with the aim of making people being aware of the impact that they might have in nature while wandering around the globe.

Here they are:

1.    Plan Ahead and Prepare: Proper plan leads to less impact. If people don’t prepare their trips responsibly and unexpected situations are presented, they will use high-impact solutions that will degrade the outdoors or put themselves at risk. If we are properly prepared, we will know which paths we should follow, where the camping areas are, and we will take all the necessary equipment that we might need.

2.     Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: If the vegetation or ecosystems are trampled, the land will get damaged beyond repair, generating erosion and sterile areas. Remember to never create your own campsites. Stay in the assigned areas. There is no need to alter a place. 

3.    Dispose of Waste Properly: Garbage and waste are primarily a social impact that can strongly harm Nature. In addition, backcountry users generate body waste and wastewater that requires proper disposal to maintain the environment as clean as possible. It is important then, to pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter when you leave.

4.    Leave What You Find: Preserve the area exactly as you found it. Don’t take rocks, plants or other natural objects with you. Don’t touch cultural or historic monuments, and don’t build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

5.    Minimize Campfire Impacts: Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry, so seek alternatives or use low-impact fires. If they are allowed just make them small using sticks and branches from the floor. Never cut the vegetation. When you leave, burn all wood and coals to ash. Make sure to put out campfires completely.

6.    Respect Wildlife: To minimize the impact on wildlife and ecosystems, it is important to observe them with distance and respect, avoiding to feed them and storing trash securely. 

7.    Be Considerate of Other Visitors:  We all have the right to enjoy Nature responsibly. By following hiking etiquette and maintaining quiet you will allow other visitors to go through the wilderness with minimal impact on other users.

So pallet people, here’s the rub:

We all have a role to play in responsible travel. Governments, businesses, and communities must promote it, but also as visitors, we can travel and Leave no Trace. Nature is amazing, and there are many things that human beings can learn from it. But as it is a right to enjoy it, there is also the obligation to treat it respectfully and teach others to do it.

What plants are hardy?

Not a green thumb? Not even a yellow, or blue thumb? No worries.

Let me tell you a story...about plants that have stuck by me (hardy plants for those not so green thumbs)

At boyandgirlco, we always get asked what to plant in our planter boxes. Well, I was born without a green thumb. The first sign of this affliction came to light when I was five years old. I was given carrot seeds to plant and instead ate the packet of seeds right there on the spot. Despite my woeful beginnings I was determined to grow my own plants!

Here is the list of the three plants that have survived my barbaric attempt at horticulture:

Mint: Put it in a separate pot so it has room to move, give it a little water every day, some good sunlight, and watch your fresh peppermint tea and summer salads bloom! 

Basil: Take a young basil, give it a frost free and sunny position (not burning hot…think healthy glow, not leather tan), some nice airflow, good drainage, and you have yourself a never ending supply of pesto!

Chives: Sun, water, and a good quality soil. Although they might die in winter their roots should stay alive, so like a Phoenix they rise from the ashes in spring!

So, Pallet People, here’s the rub:

Mint, Basil, Chives are your new best friends and planting them when they have already got a head start means you avoid the gross baby stage of gardening (that ‘aint a commitment I am ready for).

From the family at boyandgirlco, always Refurbish, Repurpose, Rehome.

boyandgirlco

What’s your favourite herb to grow?

Basil: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-perfect-pesto-every-time-175471

Mint: https://www.theculinarylife.com/2011/how-to-make-mint-tea/

Chives: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/2142/baked+eggs+with+chives+and+feta

Old is not old, Old is Gold

Hello, friends

A lot has happened since we last blogged. Many custom builds, moved into a larger workshop in Mitchell and opened our first exhibition at NISHI Gallery, called ANEW. If you haven't already checked it out, come and visit us, we're there till 26 of October 2014. We'd love to have a chat. 

The exhibition provides examples of what boyandgirlco can do with the humble pallet, of up-cycling and what can be made from discarded things. At present we live in a consumer-driven society that thrives on the new, the fresh purchase, the sale item, with little regard for environmental impact. With every new item sold, we discard the old with little or no regard for its  function in a new form. Out with the ‘new’ and make it ‘anew’.

Everywhere boyandgirlco look we see an opportunity to turn discarded items into treasure. Whether it’s pallets, old wood, glass bottles, suitcases, wardrobes and couches, we'll breathe new life into it and utilise its potential. We want everyone to start thinking of different ways to up-cycle.

So Pallet People, heres the rub: Key point: old is not old, old is gold. 

What we ask you to do is create something new from something old and show us! Post an image and hashtag #boyandgirlco on Instagram. We'd love to see what you have created. 

Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling. Good luck! 

http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Cool-Upcycling-Projects-24338804?stream_view=1#photo-28128434

Waste not, want not

Pallet manufacture is the largest use of hardwood in the U.S, and it is estimated that 1.8-1.9 billion pallets are used in the U.S. everyday.  Of those, approximately 190 million end up in landfill.

boyandgirlco recently went for their fortnightly wood scrap-drop off to the local waste management centre.  It costs less to drop off the wood we had in our van than it does to get rid of an equal amount of regular household items.

We drove to the designated wood drop off area, got out of the van to open the back door and then stopped.  We turned around, looked up and saw a mountain of wood piled at least five metres high and about 20 metres across.  It may sound dramatic but after seeing that mountain, made up of pallets, old cubby houses, fencing, wooden posts and more, some of which were hard wood, we were saddened.

While most people would see waste, as evidenced by virtue of the wood being there, and believe that the wood had outlived its purpose, what we saw was potential.  We saw a table, a chair, a desk, a bookshelf, a boyandgirlco light box. What we saw, from that mountain of what were and are products of our earth, was unrealised potential.

We unloaded our van and then picked up what we could to refurbish, repurpose and rehome. 

A jar can become a new home for a plant; old engine gears can become a beautiful light fitting; and, an old door can be turned into a beautiful table. With a little love, effort and time, the potential of something can be realised.

We hope, through what we do, that we encourage others to see beauty in discarded things. We hope that our efforts will spark inspiration in others to open their eyes to what is possible.  We hope that others will experience the joy we do in making furniture for ourselves and for our customers.  We hope that the next time we visit the centre that the woodpile will be much smaller. 

Refurbish. Repurpose. Rehome. boyandgirlco

There are moments in life...

There are moments in life where you know you're where you're supposed to be - when you feel right-sized and the hum of the world around you is pitch perfect and its movement as fluid as water. 

I'd guess that for many, and for us for a long time, these moments are few and far between. Whether we were distracted by the noise of life, or whether we chose not to, or could not, listen, see, smell, touch, or feel, what was real, the truth was always there. It waits patiently at the gates, but does not bolt nor does it command attention. It waits. Until we are ready to experience with all our senses that there is beauty in simplicity and comfort in honesty, does it find its purpose. 

boyandgirlco are grateful and are blessed for having been given another one of these experiences by the place that set us on this new, wonderful journey. 

A couple of days ago, we stopped by Kitchen by Mike, in Sydney - for those familiar with our story, this place is where we had 'the meal that change it all' - and were once again humbled by its beauty. We were made to feel at home by the staff; tired from our travels, we were nourished by the food (real food); and had the pleasure of Mike himself sharing his valuable time with us. This humble man spoke to us of his vision. Along with the bread and butter pudding served with a side of cream, we devoured it all.  He showed us the physic garden located in the back, spoke of KbM's forthcoming line of jam, marmalade and chutneys, and during our conversation frequently referred to his staff as his family.  But what really touched us was how much of himself he was willing to share with two dreamers - a boy and a girl who also believe in creating something real, honest, and built to last.  As if that wasn't enough, he gave us some delicious marmalade before we headed home. 

If you're ever in Sydney, then please stop in. Hopefully you'll see for yourself what it is that opened our eyes to see the beauty in everything.