Becoming a vegetarian is one of the best life changes we can make

The following post is a guest post by Tom Bailey, an 18-year-old literary and political blogger. He writes on a variety of topics from music to politics on his own blog, where he also publishes his poems. His Twitter handle is @TomBaileyBlog

Over to Tom…


There are hundreds of reasons for becoming a vegetarian: it’s cheaper, it’s healthier, and it’s undeniably a more humane way of life. But most importantly, it’s better for the world in which we live.

As Einstein explained, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” If Einstein said it, it must be true! But how can eating less meat save the planet? Well, let me explain.

The environmental impact of humanity’s insatiable carnivorousness is undeniable: according to a study by Goodland and Anhang, livestock and their byproducts produce an estimated 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year, equating to 51% of annual worldwide Greenhouse Gas emissions.

That means meat production produces more Greenhouse Gas than all other sources put together! Want to reduce your Carbon footprint? Cut down on your meat!

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Informative & inspiring: a review of Suffragette

Ninety-seven years after women were given the vote in England, Focus Features released Suffragette, a British historical drama commemorating the achievements of the Women’s Suffrage movement. Starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne-Marie Duff, Suffragette skilfully captures the bravery and fortitude of these noble women.

The film focuses on the experiences of Maud Watts (played by Mulligan), a fictional composite of many working class women fighting for equality. Maud works in the Bethnal Green Laundry and, like many working women of the time, is treated terribly by her boss, who sexually abuses women who work for him.

Throughout the film Maud comes to realise the inherent injustices of society as she grows more and more involved with the suffrage movement, to the anger and distaste of her family and community.

The film demonstrates the incredible struggle that suffragettes experienced, from hunger strikes and police violence to arrests and complete ostracization. It also reveals the stigma that was, for a long time, bizarrely attached to the belief that women should have equality with their male counterparts. Continue reading

Beyond Drying Up: Six Alternative Uses for a Tea Towel

We’ve previously discussed the many uses of a tea towel beyond drying the dishes. But several of our customers have since come up with more adventurous ideas. Alternative applications for the humble tea towel have in fact existed since the rise of its initial popularity in the 18th century as a tool to dry the bone china dish sets of the English upper classes.

Here we give a rundown of a few more ‘radical’ uses for the kitchen tea towel:

  1. As a shepherd’s head dress in your child’s nativity play

Normally better to use a striped or cross-hatch design for this one… unless these shepherds are devotees of the anarcho-syndicalist movement, of course.

  1. As a flag at a demonstration

Shepherd or not, there’s nothing preventing you from attaching your tea towel to a stick and using it as an alternative to those socialist worker placards at your typical demonstration.

  1. As a canvas for your next Van Gogh imitation

Strapped for cash and unable to get his brother Theo to send him more canvas quickly enough, Van Gogh resorted to the tea towel as a base for his creative genius. Some tea towel paintings date from Van Gogh’s time in the mental asylum at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in Saint Rémy de Provence, and it is speculated they came from the asylum’s kitchen. Later works were painted on tea towels with a red border, possibly from the kitchen of the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers, the small village to the north of Paris where Van Gogh spent the last two months of his life before shooting himself.

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How To Wash Tea Towels: The Definitive Guide

Sadly no one (even us) has yet invented a self-cleaning tea towel, so just like cloths, hand and bath towels, they still need washing to avoid smelly bacteria and remove stains. We’ve previously written about how to wash and take care of your tea towels, and have decided to update our advice given the apparent popularity of this subject!Laundry room image

Pre-Use Washing

Brand new towels of any kind are not that absorbent, due to excess dye and oils left over from the manufacturing process. We therefore recommend washing your tea towels in warm water before use.

You’re best off washing any colourful tea towels independently of other items the first time round, in case the colours run. Using a little diluted white vinegar in this initial wash can also help make your tea towels more absorbent.

Stain Removal

Particularly bad stains are best treated with a clothing stain remover beforehand, but your regular detergent should work for the most part. You can just chuck cotton and linen tea towels in with the rest of the washing machine load – hand washing isn’t really necessary.

A hot temperature (40 degrees plus) is fine for white tea towels, but for coloured ones, we recommended you stick to the 30-40 degree range for the best balance between killing off bacteria and maintaining the colour. Using a biological washing powder should ensure a thorough clean at these medium temperatures.

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Should I Rinse My Dishes After Washing Them By Hand?

Whether you use a dishwasher or do it by hand, nothing is more likely to provoke arguments than the hundred and one ways of doing the washing up. Disagreements may centre on whether, after washing the dishes with detergent, you should simply dry them with a tea towel (suds and all); leave them to drain until the suds disappear; or rinse them by re-filling the sink with fresh water or running water over them from the tap or a jug.

There are no right answers to these questions and much of it boils down to practicality, habit, personal or cultural preference.

What is not controversial is that things have moved on so much since the days when the washing up was done in a single pot sink with traditional hot and cold taps, limited hot water and a tiny draining board. And this has made the rinsing option much easier. Continue reading

Up Against the Wall: Framed Tea Towels Gallery

Since we started out, many people have come to the conclusion that our radical tea towels are just as good up against the wall as on the draining board.

Apparently, you can get some decent frames cheaply from IKEA that don’t do a bad job of fitting the tea towels, which measure approximately 48cm wide by 76cm in length (the half panama cotton ones are slightly shorter at 73cm length).

At one point we thought about offering a framing service at the checkout stage on the website, but decided we’d probably be better concentrating on making tea towels than cutting chunks of wood and going about the float glass process.

The pictures below aren’t the first examples of tea towels being used for wall-hung art. Late in his career, an impoverished Van Gogh often ran out of conventional and expensive canvas, and had to think of alternative bases for his paintings. A still life with flowers by Van Gogh, painted on a tea towel, sold for £2.1 million at auction in 2000.

Who knows, perhaps in the future radical tea towels will fetch such sums as rare artefacts from the early 21st century!

Here’s a selection of a few we’ve received via Twitter: Continue reading

Women Who Made a Difference

The history of the women’s suffrage movement is a perfect match for our radical and historical interests here at the Radical Tea Towel Company. No wonder we have several designs inspired by the movement on our products – here we explain the background.

Our suffragette ‘Women’s March’ design was inspired by Margaret Morris’s cover for the song sheet of ‘The March of the Women’, the anthem of the women’s suffrage movement in Britain. It was composed in 1910 by Ethel Smyth with words by Cicely Hamilton. Smyth dedicated the song to the Women’s Social and Political Union. In January 1911, the WSPU’s newspaper, ‘Votes for Women’, described the song as “at once a hymn and a call to battle.”  Like most things in life, you can listen to a recording on YouTube!

Suffragette Tea Towel Continue reading

The UKIP Christmas Party – and Other Progressive Causes of the Year

Have you been invited? The invitation looks something like this:

UKIP Christmas Card


We can’t wait. And what great inspiration for our Christmas cards this year! In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the death of Emily Davison, and the new ‘Suffragette’ blockbuster filmed in 2014 (to be released on 16th January 2015), here’s another design with a more traditional suffragette theme:

Suffragette Christmas Card


Both of the above are already available on our website as part of this year’s radical Christmas card collection. Here are another two new designs for 2014, commemorating some progressive causes this year:

Calm Down Deer Christmas Card


Desmond Tutu Tolerance


We tip our hats to two important campaigns this year – ‘No More Page 3‘ and the fight against homophobia in Uganda and around the world. We’ve no doubt missed a few important ones, but couldn’t think of any that could easily translate into Christmas card designs. Any ideas?

Our Story: Part 2

This is the second in a two-part series outlining the background of the Radical Tea Towel Company. You can read the first part of our story here.

By Luke, co-founder

If you’ve read Beatrice’s post on the origins of the Radical Tea Towel Company, you’ll know that the concept for our site was originally spurred by her attempts to find a politically-themed but also practical gift for an elderly relative.

It was quite a challenge initially getting our project off the ground, but fortunately, we found out pretty quickly that Beatrice wasn’t the only one interested in radically themed stuff. A few years ago, you couldn’t get more than books and t-shirts for progressive-minded people, but in the past couple of years, we’ve grown from just a few tea towel designs, to expanding our range of political gifts to include mugs, bags and fridge magnets.

It’s an interesting experience, this whole start-up business thing. You have to juggle several projects all at once: the products, the website (more work than it seems!), suppliers, wholesalers, social media, customers. Continue reading

Why This Man Was So Optimistic

Our instant reaction on hearing of death is one of sadness. Tony Benn, who died aged 88 on 14th March this year, received the usual cross-party tributes and eulogies from both friends and enemies. He was variously described as a crusader for the left, uncompromising in his views, and an inspiration whose influence stretched beyond traditional party politics – a great loss to politics and the left in particular.

Benn himself, however, was more prepared for the end, not wallowing in despair but simply noting the inevitability of being ‘switched off’ at some point. In fact, optimism was a recurring theme in Benn’s writing and speaking long before this year, and we at Radical Tea Towel don’t think this aspect of his character has received enough attention. It is likely a key reason for his success as political grandee and spokesperson for the left – and is arguably what he most wanted to be remembered for.

Benn believed that the history of the left and of society had to be seen in terms of the great progress achieved, and that frame of reference provided optimism for the future of those seeking progressive change. A pessimistic frame, meanwhile, would only ever be self-fulfilling. In his famous interview with comedian Ali G in 2000, Tony Benn warned of the dangers of society conforming to the lens through which you view it.

BENN TO ALI G: “You’re not living in the real world my friend, you’re living in a world where everybody is just so bloody greedy that there’s no hope of building a better society and that’s why we’re in a mess… You think they are lazy, greedy, don’t want to work, you call women bitches and then you are asking me about a society that’s happy. Well I’ll tell you what, somebody will shoot you someday because you treat them like an animal.”

After initially feeling angry once he was told the interview was a hoax, Benn concluded that the video was in fact educational in that, along with others in the Ali G series, it would encourage people to look again at their own prejudices surrounding the issues raised. An optimism lacking in fellow, more conservative, interviewees. Continue reading