12 Ethical Homeware Brands You Should Be Shopping With
By Jo McCarthy - Interiors Editor
The shift towards ethical and sustainable homeware is good news for those of us who want to make conscious choices about where we spend our hard earned cash.
At it's most basic, something that is ethical is morally right or acceptable, and in homeware terms that means we are asking whether a product is detrimental to the environment or whether any person or animal was exploited during production. We are moving from fast-fashion and quick fixes in our home to buying less and buying better.
We've rounded up 12 of our favourite ethical homeware brands that promote craft, longevity and great design.
Established by two sisters in south London, Join produce the most fabulously fragrant, handcrafted candles and room sprays using 100% vegan and cruelty-free ingredients. The packaging materials are all recycled and/ or recyclable where possible and the candles themselves are very long-lasting in an attempt to reduce mass consumption. Founder Jen explains: "Our work is inspired by the coast and countryside of our Cornish heritage. We pay our suppliers on time, partner with small businesses, support local events, and are passionate about collaborating to spread the word on ethical businesses." Follow Join on instagram @joinstorelondon.
Baskets are useful for everything and my growing collection will one day be joined by the colourful woven Ghanian Bolga baskets from Wicker and Weft. Mum of two Mim founded the brand to promote craft that is made by a person - an artisan - who is being paid a fair wage that reflects the time and skill that was used to make the product. In a culture of throwaway homewares, Mim promotes useful products that are designed to be cherished; she is also a passionate supporter of handmade crafts and small businesses. Follow Mim on Instagram @wickerandweft
TLM favourite: Emerald XL Bolga Basket...useful for everything from storing books to the weekly Lidl shop.
Raina and Cat established House of Kind to showcase beautiful homewares and gifts from small businesses who themselves aim to be ethical. The women bosses aim to support a range of charities through the sale of their carefully curated collections; vegan bath and beauty products and luxury textiles hand-woven in India are some of the highlights. Follow their colourful feed @houseofkind
Having lived in Nigeria where I've seen first hand how well-meaning businesses make big promises that they eventually cannot keep, I am always a little skeptical that donations from companies actually reach the people most in need. However, Yuhme is different; Swedish former professional athletes and parents Alex and Alex decided to start somewhere with trying to help and have designed a toxic-free water bottle made from sugar-cane bioplastic, with a proportion of profit going to the Water for Good charity. It's stylish and at around £25 a bottle (plus shipping) its a well-priced step in the right direction. Follow this brand on instagram @ouryuhme.
TLM favourite: The Namaste design featuring a beautiful illustration of sugar-cane, which will help you to remember how it is made when your friends ask you about it!
The ARTHOUSE Meath promotes the artistic talents of adults with disabilities. Everything for sale in their fun shop has been designed by adults with complex epilepsy, learning and physical difficulties - the products are absolutely gorgeous and the revenue from all sales goes back into sustaining the enterprise. Choose from cushions, tea-towels, jugs, soaps, jewellery and more. Visit the Godalming store or shop online; you can even commission pieces. Follow on instagram @arthousemeath.
TLM favourite: the patterns produced here are all fabulous but I love the I Can I Am tablecloth which was designed to commemorate the 2012 Paralympics.
6. QÄSA QÄSA
QÄSA QÄSA , which comes from the Amharic word to meaning to ‘inspire’, ‘awake’ and ‘motivate’, focusses on working with local artisans, organisations and NGOs in eastern Africa to create jobs and teach skills. The homewares are original and will stand the test of time. each purchase includes a card that reveals the story behind the product. That's a lot more interesting than most shopping experiences! Follow their beautiful instagram @qasa_qasa.
TLM favourite: the OMO Ethiopian hand towels are hand-spun, hand-dyed and well-priced.
Kent-based David and Roxi Zeeman work directly with artisans in developing countries to produce unique, design-led homeware. Traditional skills and craft are used to make contemporary homeware; Dassie use a really interesting symbol system to help their customers identify exactly how a product has been made - for example there is a symbol indicating that something has been predominantly made by women. I love this ethical approach to the business, as well as the gorgeous pieces they produce.
TLM favourite: the set of 6 Freya pink water glasses are fair-trade and made by hand using traditional techniques - it's a happy coincidence that they are bang on trend too!
With an emphasis on supporting traditional crafts, NKUKU is based in Totnes, Devon, and sells a beautiful range of interesting products with provenance. Mango wood pizza boards, block print cushion covers and the Kavali collections box (with information about the maker) are standout homewares. These are talking-point pieces, so much more interesting than mass-produced high street buys! NKUKU work hard to make their business practices transparent and are supporters of companies who are committed to promoting fair trade practices. Join a loyal instagram following @nkukulife.
TLM favourite: it's very hard to choose in this store, but the Miri cookware is sensational!
9. NIKI JONES
Using age old techniques, manufacturing textiles in their authentic form and place of origination and combining ancient craft with modern creativity is what sets Niki Jones apart. Hand crewel embroidery from Kashmir in Northern India, hand knotted rugs from Nepal and woven merino collections made in Scotland, using vertical mill, form the basis of the collections. These are luxury homewares with important stories to tell. Follow Niki at @nikijoneshome.
TLM favourite: the flatweave Kilim rug from the Afyon Region, west of Anatolia is the rug of my dreams.
10. WEARTH LONDON
Wearth is a go-to shop for ethical homeware brands including Be For Change who sell fantastic recycled tote bags, Linen and Stripes who make handmade cushions (pictured above) and Bristol-based Konki who create useful chopping boards. However, rather than having a large distribution centre where all the products are sent to them, repackaged, and then delivered, the Wearth brands deliver directly to the customer, which is an efficient and environmentally-friendly way of running a shop! Follow this exciting shop @wearthlondon.
TLM favourite: Nina + Co ceramic mugs will make the more coffee even more wonderful.
11. GREEN PEOPLE
We’re huge fans of the Gentle Cleanse & Make Up Remover – £13.00 (50ml) - a purifying organic cleanser and make-up remover for all skin types that gently removes eye make-up (including waterproof mascara) and is alcohol-free and rich in moisture-binding and anti-inflammatory actives to sooth stressed city skin. It contains skin-loving 91% certified organic ingredients. Whatever your skin type and even if the sun isn’t beaming down on you, all skin types benefit from using an SPF. We like the Day Solution Moisturiser SPF 15 - £20.00 (50ml) – to moisturise and rebalance the skin while protecting against cell damage. With a gentle aroma of Rose Geranium, this non-greasy cream has 85% certified organic ingredients.
The products don’t contain any nasties –no SLS, SLES, methylisothiazolinone (MI), methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), parabens, lanolin, phthalates, propylene glycol, alcohol (ethyl alcohol, ethanol), harsh foaming agents, irritating emulsifiers, synthetic fragrance, PABA-sunscreen, gluten, colourants, petrochemicals, urea, DEA, TEA, PEGs or other things we can’t pronounce let alone put on our skin.
12. KINN LIVING
KINN is a design led urban organic range for today’s clean-living values. Created by mother and daughter duo, Marie Lavabre and Sophie Lavabre-Barrow, KINN is the result of their combined appreciation for clean beauty and good living.
Marie and Sophie say: “Our ethos at KINN is Clean Living and Clean Beauty™, and to us this means making sure that what you put on your skin and use in your home is organic, as non-toxic as possible and is good for you. That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the finer things in life too. Clean living is simply a way of being. It’s about balance.”
Using recipes passed on from Marie’s California based uncle, a pioneer in formulating aromatherapy blends KINN offers a design led urban organic range for today’s clean living values. Blending core essential oils such as Ylang Ylang, Lavender and Tangerine the KINN range consists of a selection of bath and body products along with everyday home cleaning items.
Have you discovered ethical brands you'd like to tell us about?