‘I’m helping everyone to be an eco-warrior,’ says campaigning Exmoor artist

PUBLISHED: 14:19 25 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:13 30 September 2020

Homemade beeswax food wraps, plastic free shopping bags and vegetable scrubbing brushes with plant-based bristles. Photo: Tom Hargreaves Photography

Homemade beeswax food wraps, plastic free shopping bags and vegetable scrubbing brushes with plant-based bristles. Photo: Tom Hargreaves Photography

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Frustrated by single use plastic waste, a pioneering Exmoor artist is urging others to join her green campaign

Jacqueline outside her studio where she crafts ceramic sculptures and soap dishes. Photo: Tom Hargreaves PhotographyJacqueline outside her studio where she crafts ceramic sculptures and soap dishes. Photo: Tom Hargreaves Photography

My Aunt Jacqueline is a ceramics artist and an eco-warrior. Where one begins and the other ends has become blurred recently when she established her own business selling ‘eco’ products in an effort to entice people further to ‘ditch the plastics and ditch the chemicals’. Jacqueline is based in Dulverton, on the cusp of Exmoor’s National Park. While immersed in an area of such breathtaking beauty and wildness, you might be forgiven for forgetting the plight of the outside world and environment, yet Jacqueline has shaped an ethical business which is resonating with the community around her.

As she explains: “I felt so ashamed whenever I put out my rubbish! It really irked me that I seemed to throw away so many plastic bottles from my bathroom and I worried about what chemicals I was putting into the waterways.

“I knew this was a rapidly growing concern for so many people – especially after the impact of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series – the images from those programmes appalled us and have gone deep into our collective consciousness.”

For an artist whose inspiration is nature and whose work is a celebration of native species of flora and fauna, Jacqueline felt a real impetus to ‘do her bit’. So, she set out to live by her beliefs – making her own products; supporting new start-ups selling specialist items she couldn’t make herself and replacing single-use cleaning items with washable, reusable ones. During this time, she learned about ‘greener’ living and the thriving cottage industries that support it, both UK-wide and on her doorstep.

Jacqueline's handmade ceramic soap dishes, nail brushes for adults and children! Photo: Tom Hargreaves PhotographyJacqueline's handmade ceramic soap dishes, nail brushes for adults and children! Photo: Tom Hargreaves Photography

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She explains: “This area is a rural community and there are people here creating amazing things from Exmoor Birch, sheep and alpaca wool and the by-products of bee-keeping – to list just a few. There are lots of soap makers too.”

Armed with so much knowledge, the logical next step for Jacqueline was to gather all the elements together and create Eco Resolution – a company selling carefully researched and sourced natural, bio-degradable products for the home and garden. All are, crucially, either devoid of plastic packaging or enable the reuse of otherwise redundant bottles: this is achieved via huge, recycled containers of household cleaning solutions from which customers can decant into refillable vessels. Alongside this, Jacqueline sells her own handmade beeswax food wraps and ceramic soap dishes crafted in her studio and fired with her kiln, which is powered by a green energy supplier.

In keeping with her ethos, Jacqueline began selling Eco Resolution products a mere half a mile away from her home, with a rented stall at Dulverton market in the Town Hall. “People who live in small communities usually enjoy buying locally as long as the products are good quality and at a competitive price,” she reveals. “I don’t have a typical customer – they vary.

“Sadly though I do still encounter those who find the concept of re-filling a peculiarity. Since the COVID-19 pandemic our need for single-use plastic has soared and I think people remain focussed, first and foremost, on saving their health and lives, not our planet too.”

Despite the safety net of single-use plastic – undoubtedly of vital importance in some industries while the threat of COVID-19 remains, Jacqueline was able to find new customers during the lockdown with a delivery service for those buying cleaning products from her range. It is one of the ways she did her bit to help her community during those difficult first few weeks when too many of us went into a stock-piling frenzy that left some without.

Post lockdown, Jacqueline is back at Dulverton market three days a week and has her sights on opening a shop nearby – an ‘eco-emporium’ where she can diversify her range. She concludes: “Encouraging people to buy local and sustainable products not only enriches a community and its high street but decreases car journeys and helps to cut down on waste. As long as big brands depend as much as they do on plastic, and until a viable biodegradable alternative is found, over-use will continue to be a problem. Until this happens, we simply have to try to cut down. You don’t need to go full eco warrior! Replacing one or two items with an eco-friendly alternative can really set you on the road to ‘doing your bit’ too.

Find out more here about Jacqueline’s work

JACQUELINE’S TOP TIPS ON GREENER LIVING

1. I’m so proud to have almost rid my bathroom of plastic bottles by using solid shampoo and conditioner and good old bars of soap instead of shower gel. I also make my own mouthwash. You can also use bars of soap with antibacterial properties for cleaning surfaces.

2. Invest in some washable, reusable cloths to wipe away make-up instead of using conventional cotton wool. There are some lovely soft products available or you could make your own.

3. Making your own lotions can be fun and you can customise them to your own skin type and needs.

4. Dry your clothes outside in the fresh air, if you can – did you know that sunlight can be great for getting rid of stains?

5. And, of course, buy local where possible to help to reduce the number of miles you travel in your car.

JACQUELINE’S HOMEMADE MOUTHWASH RECIPE

1 cup of water

1 tsp baking soda

4 drops of peppermint oil

4 drops of tea tree oil

Simply mix together and voila! Keep in an air-tight container – such as a sterilised (recycled) jam jar. Ideally, make enough to last the week so you always have a fresh batch to hand.

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