Book & Bee Illustration at Restoration Yard


So you want to get greener and cleaner in your home? This month Emma Rawson of Sustainable Living tells us how in two new workshops in Restoration Yard - Sustainable Kitchen and Natural Cleaning. In this five minute interview she tells us why and how she created her amazing Sustainable Living workshops that we are excited to host on March 28th and 29th.

Emma Rawson at Sustainable Living hosts workshops at Restoration Yard

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself pre-Sustainable Living?

I’m a teacher and mother of three young boys living in Melrose in the Scottish Borders. My background is in Sustainable Development and in the past I have spent time travelling and setting up grassroot projects in Central and South America. I have been a geography teacher for 15 years and I’m now working in pastoral care running two boarding houses at a prep school. My job involves working with people, being creative and organising school events.

When did you start Sustainable Living – was it something you were doing for yourself anyway?

I switched to natural cleaning a couple of years ago and, owing to family and friends asking me about recipes and ideas, I decided to teach a couple of workshops last May. It was a good opportunity to pass on ideas as well as educate about sustainability and reducing single use plastics locally. I have since run three series of workshops with a fourth starting this summer. I intended to start with two workshops and have now run 26! The majority of people who have attended one workshop have then come to more - the ideas that run through all of the workshop are interlinked.

Natural Dishwasher Workshop at Restoration Yard

What inspired you to start the workshops?

As a family we are involved in a lot of community-led initiatives, for example river cleans on the Tweed. My husband, Tom, teaches Environment Education. He has also worked to make Melrose a recognised Plastic-Free town - the first in the South of Scotland. It was a natural progression from us making changes at home - such as glass milk bottles, plastic-free alternatives in the kitchen and a more sustainable way of day-to-day living.
I became increasingly aware of chemicals, toxins and preservatives in cleaning products and I was reluctant to use them around the home, especially with having young children.
There is so much information around about natural cleaning and natural skincare and people often find this overwhelming. In the workshops I give clear instructions and give people the confidence to make their own products knowing that they are safe for them, their families and the environment.

Where do you gain all your knowledge?

I read a lot of books, follow ideas from traditional recipes and then experiment and adjust ingredients until I find a recipe that works. At each workshop all of the ingredients are natural and biodegradable and we use no preservatives. With every product that we make, we go through the health benefits of each ingredient so that everyone leaves with a clear understanding.

What are the benefits of natural cleaning?

• With no toxins or preservatives, natural cleaning is safe for everyday use.
• You know exactly what you are putting on your surfaces, windows and bathrooms. This is particularly good to know if you have pets or young children.
• Improved health and wellbeing with natural, biodegradable ingredients. Better for those with sensitive skin, allergies and asthma.
• You aren’t washing any nasty chemicals into the water system and damaging the environment.
• You can refill your glass bottles following the recipe cards, therefore, reducing your single use plastic.
• Three Natural Cleaners are versatile and effective enough to clean your whole house.
• Overall, making your own Natural Cleaning products is easy and cheaper than buying them in the supermarket.

How easy is it really – can anyone bring natural cleaning into their home even if their lives are hectic?

By learning to make each product in a workshop environment, it is easy to understand the process and the reasons for using each ingredient. Everyone takes home recipe cards so that they can repeat and refill their bottles and jars.

Natural Cleaning Workshop workshop at Restoration Yard

What can people expect from one of your workshops – give us a little insight into how they run?

The workshops are a friendly get together where like-minded people can enjoy learning about and making new products as well as sharing their ideas.