Say no to plastic bottles! // Creative Alternatives 001

Welcome back to the Sunray Sister blog. How has your week been? Mine has been a bit up and down, but I’m slowly working things out! That’s why I made this little business/project/creative outlet of mine that I like to call Sunray Sister; to work out what makes me happy and help others lead a positive, conscious and creative life.

Part of that includes leading a natural life with less waste, and more respect for every living being and every object. Choosing what you bring into your life, how you treat it and how you let go of it.

So today is the start of my new series of posts called ‘Creative Alternatives’, focusing on how to live with more care, more creativity and ultimately create less waste and less impact on the environment. You can also read my introduction post for this series here!

Every other week I will present a very specific issue, and my take on a solution, or a creative alternative. In other words, we will use our creativity to find a solution outside the normal ways of thinking (which is generally to accept what is given to us and not question things). Let’s start asking more questions! Our first question is, why do we use disposable plastic bottles?!

 

Part one: the problem

Plastic is made from oil, which is drilled from the earth. This oil is made into plastic pellets. The pellets are formed into plastic bottles. The drinks are made to go into the bottles. The packaging and advertising are created for the drinks. The bottles are shipped all over the world. The bottles wait patiently on shelves everywhere.

I am sure we can all agree that this is a huge process which requires a lot of energy! And for what? To quickly quench our thirst and swiftly dispose of the convenient container.

“But wait!”, I hear you cry, “I shall diligently reuse that poor plastic bottle for at least the next month to make proper use of all that energy that went into making it! I shall then responsibly repurpose the bottle to grow a plant for my child’s school project. And finally, I will of course recycle the bottle once it is no longer needed.”

Well…

The very act of using a plastic bottle in any context, or any reused situation, suggests that you at some point supported the continued production of plastic bottles. We vote with our money. If you buy a disposable plastic bottle, even with the best intentions to reuse, repurpose and recycle, you are telling the big corporations and people in power, “Hey it’s ok to keep drilling all this oil and using all this energy to bring us convenient drinks, I will be your loyal servant and responsibly use and dispose of this packaging you have so kindly created for me, don’t worry about it.”

Please, do worry about it. Do care about it. Do give a damn about it!

So why do we love plastic bottles so much anyway? I can see three reasons: convenience, you like sugary drinks, you are concerned about tap water.

Here’s three reasons I don’t like plastic bottles: they use up limited resources, they are not designed to last and yet they will most probably outlive us, and they get eaten by animals who cannot digest plastic (which, if you eat fish especially, you will possibly eat too). The earth and its animals do not want plastic! So why do we? What is more important: your momentary thirst, or the entire life of millions of innocent creatures?

 

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Part two: the creative alternative (a.k.a. the solution)

So perhaps I’ve convinced you to stop buying plastic bottles? But how will you ever drink again? Fear not, for I have solutions. You must remember, however, that throughout this series the creative alternative is twofold: there is a physical replacement, but there is also a new mindset and habit to incorporate into your daily life. Here are some easy steps to get you started in the right direction:

Step one: buy a reusable bottle. I really love the metal ones! They are light-weight and long-lasting.

Step two: fill it up each day from the tap or get a water filter (Brita actually take back their filters for recycling or you can get alternatives such as charcoal water filters). Give up sugary drinks, they are not good!

Step three: put it in your bag/on your desk and drink!

Together we can make a difference!!!

Could you take on some creative alternatives in your life? What alternative habits do you already practice? Let me know in the comments or on social media.

 


Coming up…

  • Tomorrow (Saturday) I have an exciting announcement to do with my Etsy shop! Make sure you follow my Facebook and/or Instagram to hear the news first.
  • This Sunday there will be a new blog post up with my current reading list! There are many books that I really want to read, which I have finally written out in one place in my journal, and thought I would share here too.
  • On Wednesday I will have a craft tutorial YouTube video (which was due out last week, but I have now decided I will reduce my content to fortnightly for a little while, so that I can focus more time on my Etsy shop and balancing the other elements to my business!) In the meantime check out my latest video below, and take a little browse in my Etsy shop for handmade self-love promoting one-of-a-kind creations.

 

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Let go – a new hoop available in my Etsy shop now!

Have a relaxing weekend sisters and take some time off just for you, because you should always love yourself!

Peace and love,

Rachel x

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Day 13: How to Love the Planet // Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love

Hello sisters and welcome to the start of a brand new week, but the penultimate day of my 14 days of love! If you need to catch up on any posts, simply click ‘Sunray Sister’ above to get an overview of all my content. Plus I’ll be doing a re-cap of all 14 posts this Friday.

Over the weekend I shared some advice on how to love yourself, and how to love others. The final piece of the puzzle is our planet; our home, our surroundings, the physical space in which we exist, a spinning rock in an infinite universe, the reason we are alive today.

In my eyes, a lot of the larger world around me is completely out of balance. What I need to remember is that I have a little piece of that world, and through small actions, and through influencing others with those small actions, I could make a small difference which could lead to a collective huge difference.

Today I would like to share my tips on how to love the planet, so that it might be a happier place for all…

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Reduce waste

In the UK alone, we send millions of tonnes of waste to landfill every year. The world is not getting any bigger. We need to take responsibility. Stop and ask yourself, what do I throw away everyday? Where has it come from? How can I reduce this?

Refuse waste

Reducing waste is a step in the right direction, but it isn’t the ideal. The ideal is having no waste at all. There are so many simple things that we can refuse so easily: no carrier bags, no plastic bottles, no disposable cutlery, no take-away cups, no plastic containers… Learn to say no.

Research the alternatives

Know your options. Find out what happens to your recycling. See if there are any extra solutions. Create new habits and find the alternatives. For all the things you refuse, there are reusable replacements. Use tote bags, reusable water bottles, bring your own metal straw and cutlery, use glass containers to store food, make your own toothpaste, use cloth napkins. The list is endless! And exciting!

Ditch consumerism

Avoid the need for new. Find it second-hand first. Clothes, furniture, books, electronics… Another endless list! Discover artists and makers who use reclaimed materials or natural ingredients. Learn to make things yourself. Learn to ignore the lure of advertising and sales.

Respect your personal world

When our surroundings are clean and tidy, we can be more at peace with ourselves. We can see clearly, once the clutter is cleared. Treat chores and cleaning like sacred rituals; to give thanks to the items that you use, and the enjoyment they bring you. Look after them all. When things break repair them, or find someone who can.

Accept the physical world

Be at peace with everything. Even though I am aiming towards a less materialistic life, we still exist in a physical world, where physical things happen. With love, kindness, knowledge and responsibility, we can avoid the bad things.

Re-consider your travel

Cars are clogging up the planet. When you can, use your feet instead; walk, run, pedal, skate, scoot! Also consider public transport for longer journeys. If your route is not part of public transport, look into car shares, perhaps with work colleagues.

Reconnect with nature

Switch off and spend time in nature. Walk in the fresh air, and remember that we are natural. We are not plastic or electronic. Plant seeds, grow vegetables, pick berries from hedges and collect pretty leaves.

Use your vote and your voice

Sign petitions, donate to charity, fundraise, get involved with the community. Support independent markets and businesses. Vote for the people you believe in, because they might listen and help to make a bigger change.


With little steps and small changes, we could all make a big difference to the monumental imbalances in the world. What advice do you have? What do you already do to show your respect for this world?

Tomorrow is the final day of Sunray Sister’s 14 Days of Love, NOOOOOO! I’ve loved exploring some new topics, and digging into things that I think are really important, as well as fun and silly stuff.

In the final post I will have that special surprise that I mentioned way back at the start of the two weeks, and I have already talked about it in a previous post, any guesses?! You will have to wait until tomorrow to find out. See you then sisters!

 

Peace and love,

Rachel x

Business Goals for 2017 // Sunday Sunray News

Sunray Sister only began in September this year, and I already have so many plans and ideas for where to take it next. So in today’s edition of Sunday Sunray News I want to share a few of my goals for 2017. I have split them up into four main categories: brand, product, business and online goals.

Also, my Etsy shop is now on holiday! When it re-opens in January there will be lots of new things, so stay tuned.

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Brand Goals – my image and message

Right now I am taking some time to step back and ask, “What message do I want to send out with Sunray Sister?”, “What is the point of Sunray Sister?” and “What value can Sunray Sister bring to other people; to my potential customers?”

From the beginning I wanted to create something positive, and I wanted to make myself feel more positive by being creative. I feel like my image is almost focused, but the message is still a little blurry. I love using pinks and purples, with neutral backgrounds, and hearts or faces. I love sewing cute little things for people to buy, with positive messages.

In recent weeks I have been revisiting my interest in minimalism, mindfulness and zero-waste. Now I am asking, “How can I be a minimalist if I am creating more stuff to clutter up other people’s lives?” This makes me sure that I really need to focus on bringing positive messages to people, via useful items which will add value to their life and serve a purpose. What’s more, buying handmade and from small businesses promotes a more ethical lifestyle, away from consumerism. Using reduced and sustainable packaging with my products is also really important to me. So these will all be additional elements that add up to create my brand.

Love yourself, love other creatures, love our planet. 

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Product Goals – what I’m selling

I love drawing and painting, but I feel like my sewn, tie-dyed and embroidered ideas are more focused, more unique and can deliver my message more effectively than any 2D artwork could. There are enough illustrated, pretty, positive messages available to put in a frame on the wall. I want to create pretty, positive things to wear and use.

In 2017 I am going to be making brooches, pouches, patches, dolls, bookmarks and book-covers with tie-dye fabric and embroidered messages. I also realised I could scan some of the embroidered messages and use these as unique greetings card designs.

At the same time, I still have ideas for illustration based work, such as zines and the images I already share on this blog. Perhaps these ideas can just stay online, in digital format where they don’t take up any physical space, but just spread certain messages. What’s more I could run workshops, write more in-depth blog posts and create YouTube videos all about positivity and creativity.

So for now, drawing is something for me, and this blog, and not something to sell as Sunray Sister. Saying that, I would love to take illustration commissions for portraits or similar projects, but only on the side as myself.

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Business Goals – serious stuff

Even though I keep saying I have a small business, I haven’t really done any of the proper business stuff yet. I have a name and a logo, a business card and a shop, and this blog and social media accounts. But that’s it. So a big thing I need to do in 2017 is write an official business plan. Goals cannot be achieved without a plan! The Prince’s Trust could help me with this on their Business Enterprise course, which I will hopefully do in January.

Another big goal for 2017 will be to take part in more markets and fairs. I was so proud of going to my first ever market last week, and I know that they will get easier. One serious thing I need to do is get public liability insurance, so that I can have a stall at regular weekend outdoor markets. I also went to my local Etsy team meet-up in November, which was really hard for me, but is something I need to do more in 2017.

In addition to markets, another way to get out into the ‘real world’ is via local creative co-ops. These are small shops run by a group of artists, that sell work created by artists. Examples in Bristol include Blaze, The Little Shop, Paper Plane and Co-LAB. There are also opportunities halfway between a market and a shop called pop-up shops, which would be great to get involved with, especially ones in association with Etsy. So in 2017 I aim to have my work in at least one local ‘bricks-and-mortar’ shop.

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Online Goals – spreading the word

Without the internet I think creating this little business would be quite tricky. In 2017 I want my Etsy shop to be fuller than ever, with a range of different items at different price points. I also aim to have 50 sales by the end of the year. Of course Etsy isn’t the only online marketplace, so I would love to join Not On The High Street and possibly create a Folksy shop too.

I really enjoy planning, creating and publishing posts on this blog, and I want to keep it up in 2017. So far these behind-the-scenes style posts have been most popular, so I want to create more content in this style. One problem at the moment is that I usually write the post on the same day that it is published, or if I am doing well, a few days in advance. So in 2017 I aim to create the following week’s posts in one day and schedule their publishing times.

I also want to add a YouTube channel to my repertoire. As with blog content, I have endless ideas for videos. I want to create craft videos, drawing videos, artist date videos, lifestyle videos, and look-book videos, and lots more in between. As long as they extend my positivity via creativity message! Plus a little feature I already have a name for: ‘Sunray Sister Sings a Song’, since I haven’t given up on music, it just has a slightly different place in my life now.

Social media is a huge part of my business, but my use of it could be more effective. In 2017 I aim to set social media schedules using spreadsheets. Right now Instagram is my most popular platform, with around 100 followers (the number seems to fluctuate each day between 100 and 120). By the end of 2017 I aim to have 300 followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

All of these different channels may seem like extra distraction for me, but I think, if I use them properly, each website will compliment the next. My blog posts will lead to my Etsy shop, and my Etsy will link to social media, my social media accounts will take people to my YouTube channel, and from there people will find my blog.

As long as my message and image is consistent across all platforms, and I am regularly sharing good quality content, which is strategically planned, I will be successful.

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Conclusion – what have I achieved and what are my goals?

In 2016 I have:

In 2017 I will:

  • Focus brand on spreading positivity through creativity
  • Write business plan
  • Stick to products which are sewn/made of fabric
  • Use reduced and sustainable packaging
  • Create YouTube videos
  • Have 60+ items in Etsy shop at one time
  • Have 50+ Etsy sales
  • Get public liability insurance
  • Have a stall at 20+ craft fairs
  • Get products in at least one local shop
  • Attend 5+ Etsy seller monthly meet-ups
  • Increase social media following to 300+ on each platform
  • Use a social media strategy
  • Write blog posts at least one week in advance
  • Gain 20+ WordPress followers

Of course, I have some personal resolutions, alongside these goals for Sunray Sister. They include minimising my possessions/de-cluttering our home, eating differently and getting outside more, all of which I might discuss in future blog posts.

What have you achieved this year? What are your resolutions for 2017? What big dreams do you need to transform into attainable goals? Let me know in the comments or on social media, and we can cheer each other on!

In case you missed any of my recent posts, catch up now!

This evening I will be finishing off some handmade gifts! I also plan to upload two final blog posts in 2016, this Tuesday and Friday. If they don’t show up, just assume I got sidetracked with wrapping and Christmas films, and I’ll see you in 2017 with a December happy highlights post on the 6th of January!

Peace and love

Rachel x