We all generate waste of some description.
When we do, we might use the expression “throw it away” in the same sentence.
In recent years though there has been a surge in the amount of us questioning where this place “away” actually is.
The clear truth is it doesn’t’ exist. When we throw something away it just becomes someone else’s problem.
In the UK in 2020 the UK exported a shocking 0.54 million tons of plastic to other countries and every year 700 tonnes of clothing goes to landfill.
But hiding things out of sight doesn’t solve the problem that is mounting in landfills around the world.
The solution needs to be built in at the start, to all the things we use in our life and no less importantly this needs to be applied to our clothes.
From conventional cotton production, which uses a staggering amount of pesticides, to petroleum-based toxic dyes, to exploited factory workers, there are many reasons that it is past time to transform the way our clothes are produced.
When we started Bedstraw + Madder we always envisaged a circular model, utilising resources, eliminating or repurposing waste whilst creating pieces that could return to the earth at end of life without contaminating it in the process.
The regular polyester elastic that is used in most knickers can takes up to 200 years to biodegrade. Where does that leave future generations?
We achieved our vision with our first product, our farm 2 fibre knickers which we call “soil to soil” – a term developed by Fibreshed, (an organisation who we partnered with in India to grow our cotton) which alludes to the close connection to the landscape that growing what you wear brings you.
It also refers to the ability of our knickers to return to whence they came.
The use of natural rubber elastic means that our knickers will compost back to the soil within 6 months. Images speak louder than words.
This is week 6 of being in the home compost. We already have separation from the elastic and large holes developing.
Over the next few months we will be sharing our composting videos via our instagram channel.
Looking for a gift that doesn’t cost the earth? Check out our knicker range.
Picture a farmer.
What do they look like? Are they tall or short? Are they dressed in dungarees, holding a shovel, in a tractor, wearing wellies? Are they Kaleb from Clarkson’s Farm?
Are they a man?
It’s a common misconception that most farmers are male – like many occupations, men seem to be the face of the farming world. In reality, women make up the majority of the cotton farming workforce in India – so much so that nearly 75% of full-time workers on India’s farms are, in fact, women.
And do you know what? They’re incredibly good at it. Women are integral to the cotton value chain – your clothing quite literally would not exist without them. But they are still undervalued by many; still underpaid for their work; and still disregarded despite their knowledge of the land.
In India, women are often not recognised as farmers because the land is owned or leased to men. But this is nonsensical. We value women.
In traditional Indian farming communities, seed preservation has always been a women’s role. They have a unique connection to Mother Nature – an unrivalled understanding of it. They’re it’s kindest keepers.
Take Eswari, who lives in Erode, Southern India, where our cotton is grown. She is absolutely at home on the farm. If you ask her about the flora, her face will light up. She’ll immediately be able to point you in the direction of plants with healing properties. The land is her own personal hospital.
Eswari, on the farm in Erode, India.
But women also play a pivotal role in protecting our planet, despite (or perhaps, because of) being more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Research shows that the contributions of women lead to successful, long-term solutions to climate change & global warming.
We have to be careful when we use the word empowerment. It has been used by too many corporations, too many times, and with too little connection to any real impact.
Pon Vaishali manages the farm where our cotton is grown. Although her interest in farming was inspired by her father, who specialised in organic turmeric and vegetables, Vaishali also has extensive theoretical knowledge from her agriculture degree. This included learning about low-impact farming practices, such as crop rotation, green manures and compost, biological pest control and mechanical cultivation. Her knowledge makes our regenerative farm better.
Ultimately, we’re passionate about the lives of the women that are so ingrained in the land that grows our cotton. And any positive impact on women has a ripple effect on their households and communities; it’s exactly what we’re about – holistic outcomes for all – economic, social and environmental.
Because this is the regeneration generation. And we won’t settle for less.
The spring equinox this year occurs on Saturday 20th March, a time when day and night will be of almost equal duration and which marks the first day of Spring.
It is a day to celebrate the revival of life after a long cold winter and when our focus shifts from the internal to external, from preparation to action. It is a time of rebirth as we see with the eggs hatching and birds returning from their migrations.
At Bedstraw + Madder we too are preparing for new life in our much-anticipated launch of our GMD basic range of plant dyed underwear.
We sourced the finest super soft unbleached GOTS certified organic cotton and biodegradable elastane whilst ensuring the perfect comfortable fit for our brief, Brazilian and thong.
Our babies are now ready to fly in the coming weeks in 3 beautiful plant dyed colours to support your nether regions in more ways than one!
With every season comes change and the clearest sign of abundant health and vitality is our ability to adapt to it and maintain balance as we move from one to the next.
So, in addition to wearing natural plant pigments next to your skin what else can we do to keep our body in balance at this time of year?
Try some of these solstice rituals to help you feel aligned and ready for the year ahead.
Support your gut health
After a starch and often meat heavy winter, it is time to lighten up your meals with spring greens, fresh juices and spices of ginger and turmeric to increase circulation and to aid detoxification. Try water or milk kefir for the best probiotic support, drink bone broths and increase your intake of fibre in the form of fresh herbs, pulses and beans.
Love the skin you’re in
As the largest organ of your body, and a key organ for elimination give your skin some TLC. Do your best to support sweating with regular exercise or saunas and encourage the natural oils to tone and moisturise. Take care to eliminate any chemicals from getting on there and avoid wearing polyester.
Out with the old, make space for the new
This doesn’t just apply to your wardrobe or house. Let go of friendships and lovers that are no longer serving you and allow space for new ones to come into your life.
Smudge the corners of your rooms with sage and plant new intentions for your spaces.
This time of year, is a time to sow seeds with our actions, our visualisations and to start planting real seeds in the ground for future food or beauty to enjoy.
Ease the Hayfever
Don’t let hayfever get you down. Tackle it naturally by increasing your Vitamin C intake and drink infusions of elderflowers, nettles and peppermint.
Don’t be tied down to exercise routines that are not enjoyable. It is essential to move your body to allow your body to eliminate the toxins it has built up over the last few months. Find some rituals that bring you joy and increase your heart rate at the same time. Skip, run, hoopla hoop in a pair of our knickers, make love but make sure it makes you smile.
Happy Spring Solstice
Bringing you our unique botanical colour recipes our new knickers bring colour to your clothes via Gar-Ment-Dye - a term used to describe the dyeing technique when a piece of clothing is dyed after it has been made rather than dyeing the fabric before making it into something.
Why do we love it?
Whilst most fabrics are bleached, we always maintain the natural beauty of our organic cotton base fabric.
Our methods are kinder to your skin and to nature, which is why we are campaigning for clean colour and a move away from the heavy chemicals used in conventional dyeing methods.
All garment dyed pieces are pre washed and dried twice before they get to you so there is no chance of anything shrinking once you get it home which is always a bonus.
We exhaust our natural dye vat and use up those precious plant pigments when garment dyeing as you can keep adding smaller amounts of clothing until all the dye is gone, achieving different colours along the way and nothing is wasted. As an impact business we love this.
The GMD process gives character and essentially means you have a one-of-a-kind piece. We dye in small run batches meaning limited edition colour runs. No batch is exactly the same. Instead of a uniform finish like you get with chemical dyeing the garment dyeing allows the dye to settle in different amounts in different places.
Every garment dyed piece you buy you can be sure there is nothing exactly like it.
A work of art you might say.
It certainly makes every pair of knickers that little more special which we hope YOU our customers will love.
You can try GMD for yourself.
Our GMD basic range of knickers is launching at the end of the month in 3 colourways Candy pink, La Peche and Sunshine.
Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know when they drop.
x Ness and Prim
While winter was a time to conserve our energy stores and slow down, spring is traditionally a time of growth, renewal and new life. It is also a time to cleanse, re-energize and re-evaluate, to make plans for the coming year.
We famously spring clean our homes but what better way to start the year than paying the same attention to our bodies.
In traditional Chinese medicine the organs associated with spring are the liver and gallbladder and it’s these we need to help at this time of year.
Nature assists us in this process by providing bounty all around us. The young nettle shoots picked and infused in hot water act as a diuretic on the kidneys and stimulate the liver to release toxins.
Or dry the nettle tops and powder them down to create a mineral rich sprinkle that can be secretly added to soups, porridge and smoothies.
The cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage that we love to hate actually contain antioxidants such as glutathione which assist in removing toxins as well as alkalizing an over acidic system.
As well as good nutrition, Homeopathy a gentle form of complementary medicine can assist this process too; by stimulating your body’s natural ability to heal itself and regain balance.
It works on the principle of “like cures like” - that is, a substance that would cause symptoms in a healthy person is used to cure those same symptoms in illness.
Two key remedies to help with detoxification are Nux Vomica and Sulphur. They both have symptoms of irritability, sluggishness and an increased sensitivity to their environment, all of which indicate an overburdened system.
Taken alternately 6c on a waning moon (a time when elimination happens more easily) for a couple of days can help remove impurities by cleaning all your organs of elimination - your bowel, kidneys, liver and skin.
Due to a high carbohydrate intake over the winter months digestion can slow down which can cause toxins to be reabsorbed back into the blood stream. A traditional herb originating in India called Triphala can be taken twice a day before meals which can reduce bloating and speed up the digestive process.
This time of year is notorious for colds which we love to moan about but these are in hindsight vital mechanisms for clearing out rubbish from the lymphatic system, just good house keeping.
We like to keep a few essential oils in our first aid kit should we feel the onset of a cold coming or to support the cold as it throws out toxins from your system. Black pepper and eucalyptus are fantastic for this and can make breathing a little easier.
Toxins and particularly heavy metals are a huge part of our life now as they infiltrate the water we drink, the fish we eat and the air we breathe. Keep some chlorella in your cupboard as it is excellent for supporting the removal of these heavy metals from the system by absorbing the metal ions onto its surface . For a spring fix try 1 gram mixed with water up to 3 times a day and used over the period of a month to compliment the spring cycles.
Spring is literally the time, like nature we should be blooming so if you don’t feel that way it may be a sign to take a look at your lifestyle habits and make some positive changes. One step at a time.
We love flowers.
We use organic flowers and plants to dye our knickers without any chemicals at all just like our ancestors used to.
February, the month of love also appears to be the month of flowers with 250 million roses gifted worldwide each year on Valentine’s Day.
When we think of flowers, we think of something beautiful, natural and sweet smelling. But how green really are the flowers we buy?
Let’s start with the air miles.
90% of the flowers in our shops are shipped in from as far as Ecuador and Colombia. Here there are issues with underage workers and poor working conditions. This is not good news.
The flowers are not organic either. Pesticide use for cut flowers is big. Leaving these workers exposed to deadly concoctions.
In Ethiopia alone 120 pesticides are used which are on the WHO negative pesticide list and we know what kind of damage these pesticides do to living things. The run off from the fields go into lakes and poison fish, which has a devastating effect on the communities that rely on it for their food and their livelihood.
Whilst the truth often isn’t as pretty as it may seem, all is not lost.
Here are some businesses making your bouquet a bit greener.
@livacetti is an artist and stylist renowned for her handmade paper flowers. Building on her love of flowers stemming from a childhood spent observing nature in the mountains of Santa Barbara she opened her own studio, The Green Vase, in 2005. Inspired by the organic world, each piece is meant to be an impressionistic gesture capturing the spirit of the flower, and just like the real thing, no two will ever be exactly alike.
@cutflowersbykate @flowersfromthefarm and @blackshedflowers are reviving the lost art of growing cut flowers in the UK without the need for nasty pesticides and without the air miles to go with them.
Or why not adorn your walls with the beautiful bright vases of flowers created in paper collage by @jessicapemberton.
If these clever ladies haven’t inspired you why not buy your flowers in knicker form. Head to our website!
X Ness and Prim
Packaging is a dirty word.
Usually associated with plastic, waste and chemicals.
Did you know that every year the UK generates more than two million metric tons of plastic packaging waste. This equates to roughly 36 kilograms of plastic packaging waste per person. It’s a serious problem.
Most packaging is printed using chemical based, water thirsty inks which leave a toxic waste pool when they end up in our water systems. These are chemicals with complicated names like toluene, isopropanol, 2-butanone, ethyl acetate, and methanol.
When we set out on our vision to create clean clothing. It was a given that our packaging would have the same integrity.
The exploration began to find packaging with a conscience and packaging that has a GREAT story to tell.
The Magic of Mushrooms
We started exploring the fascinating work of The Magical Mushroom Company who harness the natural flexibility and strength of mycelium, the material structure of fungi. These use it to grow protective packaging at any scale by combining it with agricultural waste like hemp, cork and sawdust. This offers a safe, sustainable and totally home-compostable alternative to plastic foams.
We love the innovation. 10/10 guys. Why didn’t we go for this? We needed more versatility in our packaging so it would fit through your letterbox. We will definitely revisit this in the future though.
Who gives a shit? We do
Packaging made from poo. Yes, you heard it right, but the elephant kind. Did you know an elephant can defecate 16 times in one day and its 200 pounds of dung can double as paper pulp? We came across Karl Wald also known as Mr Ellie Pooh to the locals. Karl arrived in Sri Lanka to shadow an elephant veterinarian called Thusitha.
Elephants naturally are not favoured as neighbours by farmers as they trample and destroy valued crops, so are often shot and killed. Soon the two friends found themselves looking for a way to save the elephants in Sri Lanka.
While it may not completely resolve the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka, Ellie Pooh paper is already going a long way toward raising the tolerance of farmers toward the elephants — by actually compensating them for damage to their crops.
We love a fully circular system and Ellie Pooh is a great example. This is why we used it on the wraps around our knickers. Printed with vegetable inks they are 100% compostable.
Finally, after weighing up all the options of cost, eco credentials, locality, carbon footprint we found our star. And we haven’t even mentioned the hemp, hay, dirt bags we also explored. (Be sure we go above and beyond to find the most sustainable options for you.)
We decided to keep it local, working with a fantastic company called Seacourt based in Oxfordshire who are doing one hell of a job for the printing industry. Even the Queen approves… winning the Queen's Award for Excellence in Sustainable Development four years running.
If that wasn’t enough, they won BEST B Corp printer in the World 2021 being ranked in their Top 5% B Corp in Environment category AND have been recognised as ‘one of the top three leading environmental printers in the world' by a worldwide printing association.
Impressive credentials don’t you think?
But we didn’t just take the Queens word for it. It’s so important to us to visit and meet with all our suppliers, to get to know them personally.
At Seacourt Reg is our prepress manager, he looks after the digital machines and all the plating.
He loves working at Seacourt and who wouldn’t. The air is clean and chemical free so you don’t end up with a headache at the end of the day. On top of that their printing methods are completely waterless. Preserving valuable water supplies for future generations.
Our boxes are fully compostable and recyclable.
Seacourt, we love you. You stole our heart with your commitment to ticking all the boxes.
Learn more about Seacourt at www.seacourt.net