Friday, 26 August 2011
How Prince Charles's old curtains went shopping
I met her last year at the “Garden Party to Make a Difference” – a festival of ideas to encourage sustainable living, organised by Prince Charles’s Start organisation and held in the gardens adjoining his London home, Clarence House.
She was there with her sewing machine, showing people how to make simple shopping bags from unwanted fabric such as old curtains – including some donated by the Prince (pictured).
Now she’s back at the 2011 Start festival, being held over the August bank holiday weekend at Kew Gardens, in SW London – and has more royal curtains to turn into bags for visitors.
The idea of creating reuseable carriers from unwanted material came when Claire saw how plastic bags were clogging up the water and killing marine life around the houseboat where she lives. With the help of her mother, she designed a simple bag pattern which her husband put on the internet, and began encouraging people to sew their own. Each bag takes around 15 – 20 minutes, and folds down to a small square which can be kept in a handbag or pocket. She sent one to Prince Charles. He liked the idea, invited her to the Start festival, and donated some curtains to be transformed. Bag-making groups have now sprung up all over the world. Claire keeps track of the number of times the pattern is downloaded, and it’s thought that the 100,000th Morsbag will be sewn up this autumn. The bags are given away free to shoppers (something she calls “sociable guerrilla bagging”) and have potentially stopped millions of plastic ones from going into circulation.
More details, and the pattern, are at http://www.morsbags.com/html/
Start@Kew, with family entertainment and dozens of demonstrations of simple, sustainable living ideas, runs until August 29. Admission is included in the Kew entrance ticket. See: http://www.startuk.org/