Today’s Solutions: April 17, 2024

Making your kitchen more sustainable goes beyond wasting the least amount of food possible. It also involves ensuring that the products you use on a daily basis in the heart of your home have a minimal footprint on the environment. In a bid to help people make their kitchens more eco-friendly, costume designer Heidi Barr has created Kitchen Garden Textiles.

“Our goal is to provide beautiful and practical kitchen textiles that help people live without synthetic fabrics, plastics, or single-use disposables in their home or restaurant kitchens,” explains Barr.

The small business first started by simply repurposing cotton shirts into napkins and then selling them to help support a local farm. While that line of products made from reclaimed and natural materials has expanded greatly since Barr first started her venture, her goal of supporting community farms hasn’t diminished at all.

More recently, Barr — who is based in Pennsylvania — has partnered with Emma Cunniff, who owns a farm and provides indigo for Kitchen Garden Textiles in a mission to plant and develop a flax crop in the area.

The idea is to encourage the use of a linen (which is made of flax) in textiles for kitchen products because the material is much more sustainable to grow than cotton, growing well in different types of soils and requiring little water, fertilizer, or pesticides. Along with being 20 percent more absorbent than cotton, flax is also stronger when it’s wet, which makes it the perfect material for kitchen towels. Plus, it has anti-bacterial and stain-resistant properties.

“Using, wearing, and washing natural fabrics like linen in our day-to-day lives can mitigate a slew of environmental problems, from polyester microplastics in the oceans to unrecyclable plastics in landfills. I’m optimistic that the more people have access to quality natural textiles, the easier it will be for them to make the switch.”

Barr’s sustainability efforts have further expanded into supporting local, eco-friendly farmers with a portion of her profits going to regenerative farms in the state. Known as the Pennsylvania Flax Project, the farm that Barr helped plant will provide the source material for Kitchen Garden Textiles. But the ultimate goal goes beyond just that:

“This first flax field will be our chance to get familiar with the plants and see how they thrive in our locale,” Cunniff said. “We’re excited to learn how the local bees, pollinators, and other beneficial insects take to the flax flowers and help bolster the farm crops. And, of course, we look forward to reaping a bountiful harvest!”

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