Published in culture Vol  11 No. 4 Outside the Square

Eco Chic (Business) Clean and Green

The humble cotton towel; sometimes cuddly, sometimes not – and with a sole duty to withdraw moisture and dry through direct contact. Although ever present in a hair salon, it has come to our attention that perhaps a better alternative has finally reached the industry that needs it most. We do love a little rivalry her at culture, especially when it comes down to making the world a better place. So watch your back, cotton seems your days might be numbered.

The cost of chasing beauty sure can add up. We know all too well the deteriorating effect it has on our own bank account, but how about Mother Earth’s savings? This is where being frugal can really start counting. Take a moment to consider exactly what happens with each load of laundry you put in the washing machine. A set of simple steps to achieve fresh clean towels, right? Wrong! Now let’s break it down. Litres and litres of water, severe chemicals and endless amounts of energy can be added onto the cost of electricity and our extreme shortage of water. On the positive side, at least cotton towels are re-usable – and that’s good, right?

The folk at the Big Towel Company have a better idea.  Rather than continuously washing and drying salon towels, they think you should just use them once and throw them out. Yes, it sounds like a great excuse for us lazy sods to avoid doing the washing, but it will actually help improve the state of the environment. By using the latest technology in plastic-free and eco-friendly products, the Big Towel Company is offering a 100% biodegradable alternative to the average salon towel.

Heading up the company is Sharon Blain, who is lending the planet a helping hand by spreading the word on these carbon footprint-reducing wonders. Made from recyclable wood fibres and biodegradable materials, tests have shown that in up to six weeks these towels will have broken down within the environment, as though they never even really existed at all.

New to the Australian market, the Big Towel Company plans on making your salon greener and saving you more green (in the cash money form) along the way. The design of the towels means that although they are thinner than a standard cotton towel, they will absorb about ten times more moisture. This also means they take up less space on your precious storage shelves. Your client will always have a fresh, hygienic towel on their head and you can ditch the old front loader.

In a similar vein, Easydry has come up with another alternative, with their super absorbent eco-friendly towel. Made from certified renewable sources, using an environmentally-sound production process, they are decreasing their own carbon footprint while creating something that will shrink yours, as well as effectively reducing the demand for cotton used in traditional towels and lowering the massive amount of pesticides currently being released into the atmosphere each year by cotton producers.

This all sounds a little bit too good to hold any truth – could it be the Shamwow of the future? Possibly; except that these products are useful when it comes to absorbing moisture and drying things. On top of that, they plan on watching over our environment.

If the thought of introducing a biodegradable towel system all in one go is a little too much to handle, take baby steps. There are a number of biodegradable laundry products on the market that are not only friendly to old Mother Nature, but friendly to your clients too. EcoStore offers a variety of biodegradable laundry powders and liquids that will start you off in the right direction. The ability to naturally break down over time is topped by the fact that natural ingredients have replaced any harsh chemicals that might normally be found in laundry products. And using organic powders lowers the risk of allergic reactions or skin irritations for your clients.

Nothing stains towels more effectively than a good colour service. Therefore, forcing any would-be eco-conscious person to promptly reach for that oversized bottle of bleach under the sink might be compromising one’s values, don’t you think? If natural laundry powders and detergents are available, natural stain removers should be too, right? Right indeed. Before you go to town on that defenceless – albeit dirty – towel, think a little greener and try a natural stain remover, such as EcoStore’s Oxygen Whitener. It contains no nasty ingredients, yet is efficient enough to remove laundry stains. And just to make natural bleaching agents appear even dreamier, remember that just like ordinary bleach, most can be effectively used to do exactly the same jobs. So you can clean the floors, the fridge and the walls and feel better for it. And as an added bonus, we promise you’ll be safe to drive after breathing in the fumes all day!


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Ruby & Prankstar

Kristy Morgan is an accomplished craftswoman with skills in a variety of fields – this is blatantly apparent in each Ruby & Prankstar piece she creates. The inspiration behind the brand’s namesake, however, is not quite so obvious.

 “So, that’s Ruby,” says Morgan, pulling down a wooden framed photograph from a shelf.

Ruby is a Dingo cross Red Heeler, and was Morgan’s beloved, somewhat mischievous pet.

Although Ruby has since (quite fittingly) re-entered the wild, her character surmises the aesthetic of the brand and the materials Morgan uses to create her work – rough, raw and kept close to their natural appearance.

“I like to let the materials speak for themselves,” she explains.

“I think that is why my pieces are so raw and organic, not just in nature but also in their shape – I let the material do what it does.”

Morgan, who produces every single piece by hand, says there is a good chance, that on any given day, you will catch her working on a project in the back corner of her Fortitude Valley store.

“I have a big workspace in Woolloongabba, set up with all of my materials where I do everything, but if there is something small, like hand-stitching, I’ll do it here,” she says.

While being in store takes away from Morgan’s studio time, it allows her to explore a closer relationship with her customers.

“You get to be a part of something special, and that’s why I really like doing bespoke pieces and designs by appointment,” she explains.

Having a hand in crafting a special piece for a client is a welcome challenge for Morgan, who says she likes working backwards with them to achieve their desired result.

“I like finding myself on the side of creating, it’s all about the process behind it, and it’s a nice thing about being in the shop,” she adds.

Morgan’s Winn Lane store’s fit-out is reminiscent of a gallery, where each of her pieces become artwork splayed across the walls.

The raw leather items with their heavy brass details are a direct throwback to Morgan’s time spent as a saddler, and previous to that, a cobbler’s assistant where she was introduced to her preferred medium, leather.

Morgan intends to re-visit cobblery in the not so distant future, with a collection of footwear for Ruby & Prankstar.

“I definitely get sentimental about my pieces,” she admits.

“There is a big leather knot, from the collection when I first opened the store.  It was the first piece of its nature that I made, and I’ve made more since, but I would never ever sell that first one.”

Ruby & Prankstar can be found at Winn Lane, Fortitude Valley and online

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I’ll do graffiti, if you sing to me in French

I met a guy in London who said he knew Banksy. He told me Banksy is one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet but that he is as ugly as sin. I never asked what Banksy looked like… The anonymous street artist does appear in blurred self portraits and as a young boy in his ‘WHAT’ piece. Or so I was told in London.

This guy told me stories about how compassionate and generous Banksy is. Apparently Banksy had even crashed on his couch a few times and that he was no fan of his pet cats. I told him that I wasn’t fond of cats either – but that’s beside the point.

Mister Brainwash (MBW) was a nobody in the art world. A pop up overnight success that did exactly as his name would suggest.  Thierry Guetta was a lunatic of a Frenchmen with an obsessive attitude and a video camera for a right hand.  Mister Brainwash is Thierry Guetta’s alter ego.

He wanted to meet Banksy. And as we soon find out, Thierry does what he wants. Thierry does what he wants all of the time, regardless of any consequence. He even leaves his family behind on numerous occasions to cavort about on whirlwind adventures filming every move the cool kids of street art make.

Thierry’s intentions are to make a street art documentary starring Space Invader, Shepard Fairey and the man himself, Banksy. Thierry never denies the task but never begins it.

Out of a stroke of good luck, Banksy allowed Thierry to film him and his work. Thierry managed to prove himself to the ever anonymous street artist by protecting Bankys' image and involvement of the Guantanamo/ Disneyland piece. This gaining Banksys' respect, and in turn agreed to let Thierry film him. Then again, as Thierry explains during the film he rarely asks his subjects if he can record, he just sticks his camera in their face.

After years of shooting and endless footage, Thierry debuts Life Remote Control. I have to admit watching the trailer made me nervous. Yes, I flick through channels on television like there is no tomorrow. No, I can’t sit through a 13 second advertisement. 90 minutes of loud noises and fit inducing images thrown at my face? We’ll see.

“Critics complain of a generation, raised on commercials, cable TV, and music videos, has lost its attention span. This movie sets out to prove that our visual impatience is not a weakness; it is our greatest strength”.  Or so Mr Brainwash thinks.

With a preview of Life Remote Control, Banksy decides that he’d prefer to take a shot at knocking together a film himself. Banksy doesn’t know how to make a film, but then neither did Thierry. And as Banksy states – that didn’t stop him. Although, I don’t think a moving truck would stop Thierry. And Mr Brainwash could care less about what he can and can’t do. If his mind outgrows his capacity – he’d just hire someone to complete the task.

Thierry’s filmmaker aptitude may be questionable; however this is possibly the least of his concern. His film left Banksy wondering whether he was pure genius or simply someone struggling with mental problems.

Genius or not Mr Brainwash can throw an art show. MBW sold over $1 million of art work in his debut. Punters lined up outside for hours while Thierry scooted about (really, he was on a scooter…with a broken foot) inside giving orders and impromptu press interviews.

When filmed in the line and around the venue most MBW fans admitted they weren’t even sure what they were there for.  The conspiracy hype had brought a crowd ready to snap up the next big thing in street art world. That is, even if they had no idea what that was exactly.

For Mr Brainwash, Life Is Beautiful. I wonder how much deeper it goes than that sentence. MBW knows exactly what he is doing, or does he? His French accent and idiosyncrasies’ make it very hard to decide.

Oh, and just so you know…Banksy does not produce greeting cards or print photo-canvases or paint commissions or sell freshly baked bagels.  But he welcomes you to make your own, unless you’re Mr Brainwash or Thierry Guetta.