Monthly Archives: June 2011

Eco-friendly toy stuffing

Posted by Penny on June 29, 2011
Craft Supplies, Information, Natural Fibers / 23 Comments

When I first started making my Pocket Carnival softies I knew I didn’t want to use polyfill, but was pretty bamboozled by all the alternatives. Polyfill is so easily available, pretty much every craft & fabric store sells it, but it’s not a great product. Polyfill (polyester stuffing) is a petrochemical based polymer plastic product. Petroleum is a non-renewable resource, and polyfill is not biodegradable.

There are so many alternatives to polyfill, it’s just finding them that can be tricky. I’ve put together a list of some plant based stuffing I’ve come across, feel free to leave comments with more!


Corn fiber - this is what I currently use to stuff my softies. It’s 100% corn derived, has very low flammability and is non-allergenic. Corn is increasingly being used as a biodegradable alternative to petroleum based plastic in everything from tableware & pens to cellophane packaging. It does however have similar flaws to bamboo fiber – turning raw corn into corn fiber requires chemical processing – it also uses a lot of energy as there’s no ‘natural’ way to do it. Corn fiber stays fluffy & light when it’s used as stuffing, similar to polyfill.

Buy it:


Kapok pod – image via

Kapok - I admit, until I started researching toy stuffings to write this post, I’d never heard of kapok. Kapok (also called ceiba tree) is native to parts of Central & South America, and parts of Africa. It’s now also grown commercially in parts of South-East Asia. The kapok fiber comes from the plants seed pods (the actual seeds are used to produce oil!) Kapok is light and tends not to compact.

More info: Wikipedia. Buy it: (AU, fairly traded).


Cotton fiber - cotton grows into a cute & fluffy little puffball, and cotton fiber used for stuffing is cotton picked from the plant, which has been cleaned and combed. Organic cotton fiber has been grown organically, and is especially popular as a natural toy stuffing. Cotton fiber does compact significantly over time, so it may not be appropriate for certain toys, pillows or things that may easily compact.

Buy it: (US, organic), Hollyburton Park (AU), Mohair Bear Making Supplies (UK), Ecoyarns (AU).


Hemp stem – image via

Hemp fiber – hemp is a fast growing plant which, even when grown conventionally, requires very few herbicides and pesticides. The fiber from the hemp plant grows along the stem of the plant, and when it’s harvested it’s rolled, cleaned and carded. Then a steaming process is used to remove the natural gum from the fiber.

More info: Buy it: (AU)



Other stuffing options include agave fiber (also known as sisal), corn husk stuffing (unprocessed and shredded corn husk), animal wool (including sheep & alpaca), jute & flax.


Do you produce something using eco-friendly toy stuffing? Do you sell stuffing? Leave a comment and let me know!


Tommy’s Hut Boxes

Posted by Penny on June 28, 2011
Australian Design, Wood / 6 Comments

Jarrah Pod bandsawn box by Tommy’s Hut

Tommy’s Hut is a wee little business created by Brandi Johnson in Kinglake, Australia. Brandi makes these incredible boxes from a single piece or recycled or salvaged timber – amazing! The boxes are all completely unique – love!

Huon pine bandsawn box by Tommy’s Hut

I also love that Brandi gives some of the information and history about each individual piece of wood – for example the above box is made of wonderful Tasmanian Huon Pine, and you can find out more about it here.

See more from Tommy’s Hut on Etsy.

The Information Blanket

Posted by Penny on June 27, 2011
Babies, Not-for-profit / 1 Comment

The Information Blanket is truly amazing. The aim of The Information Blanket project is to provide basic knowledge which is easily accessible on the blanket the baby is wrapped in! The information varies slightly in each language, but includes feeding frequencies, temperature & vaccination information. We’re lucky in developed countries to have such a low infant mortality rate. Australia’s infant mortality rate is sadly 4.4 babies dying before their 1st birthday per 1000 live births. In the USA it’s 6.3. In Uganda it’s 76.9, and in Afghanistan it’s 157 babies per 1000. A lot more.

All new mums that I know have panics over what immunisations their babies should have, if they’re too fat/skinny/big/small, what their temperature should be (plus, why on earth they won’t stop crying!) We’re so lucky in developed countries that we have great access to doctors & nurses, books, people, the internet, and other resources to get all the information we need. The people behind The Information Blanket see this information gap in developing regions of the world, and I love that it’s really such a simple project, but it can have SO MUCH impact on a new mum who may not have access to basic information resources.

The blankets are made in the USA on soft double cotton knit, and are stitched up and printed with water-based ink. If you visit The Information Blanket you can make a donation of $25 which will pay for one blanket to be delivered to a Ugandan mum, or you can buy your own for US$40 plus shipping & tax and a second blanket will go to Uganda on your behalf. The Information Blanket works with The Shanti Uganda Society to deliver the blankets.


All images courtesy The Information Blanket.

Found via Inhabitots.

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