The sweet smell of sustainability

by Sarah Cossom 

Eileen Hoey talking to a customer at the launch eventOne of the things I love most about living in a small rural community in Gateshead is being surrounded by creative, resourceful and talented people who care deeply about the environment. 

I’m fortunate that running a community allotment and orchard over the past decade has brought me into contact with people from all walks of life who share my ethics and approach to bringing about positive change.

For last year’s European Day of Sustainable Communities I decided to do something a little bit different than usual by welcoming a new local business to launch at the garden that weekend. I did have a gazebo in reserve, but fortunately it was a beautiful September day so it was not required!

Handmade by Nature provides cosmetics and household products inspired by founder Eileen Hoey’s passion for the natural world and all things handmade. From the recycled coffee grounds she uses in her soaps, to the beeswax wraps and knitted make-up removers, everything she sells reflects her own environmental values.

Soaps curing with flowers on topHer business is based less than a mile from The Hop Garden, so it was a perfect pairing. We even collaborated on a special limited edition soap for the launch made using rosemary from our garden. Eileen generously gave 50p from every bar sold to help raise funds for our project. “I was delighted when Sarah got in touch,” said Eileen. “It felt right to be launching Handmade by Nature within the Hop Garden in our local community, chatting with some new faces and hearing tales of other ways of becoming more sustainable.”

By offering this opportunity to a small local business just starting out we were able to help form new connections within our local community and encourage a different audience to visit the garden. It’s also enabled us to form what will be hopefully a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with Handmade by Nature.

For me, that’s what ECOLISE’s European Day of Sustainable Communities (EDSC) is all about - reaching out to those within your community who you may not have met or worked with before to see what you can achieve together. Now, more than ever, we are only as strong as the community that surrounds us. It’s never too late to be working towards making yours as resilient and connected as it can be.

Why not start planning your own event for September? The EDSC20 event will be held on 19 September 2020, with registrations opening for co-creators towards the end of May. Find out more at their website. 

Sarah Cossom runs The Hop Garden in West Gateshead and also works in digital communications for the Permaculture Association.