Radical Tea Towels
We are a small family business, conceived and based in the UK, but with inventory also in the US. We design and promote all our products ourselves and source them almost entirely from rural areas of England where jobs are in short supply. Though we use several suppliers for our products, these all operate under one roof i.e. they do not outsource the core manufacture of our products, thereby cutting down on the environmental damage caused by unnecessary shipping. To maintain our own high ethical and environmental standards we ask our suppliers questions to ensure that they too conform to sound principles, whether this is in the form of the employment of disabled people, solar panelling on the roof or recycling of any waste fabrics, cardboard, chemicals etc or if that is not possible, responsible disposal according to current legislation.
We have chosen natural, unbleached finishes for our products wherever possible and eco friendly water based inks are used with virtually no impact on the environment. The bulk of our fabrics are woven in Turkey or the US and finished in the UK. We are assured that no child labour is used in the factories where the fabrics are made and employment standards are good.
Our US fulfilment partners are based in Pennsylvania state. We've visited them, met a bunch of their staff and checked out their cool warehouse! Like us, they are a family-owned business with fair employment practices, and provide decent wages and healthcare benefits for all their employees in the US.
Tea towel [noun]: (also known as a dish towel) a cloth used mainly for drying dishes. Our tea towels are made of cotton, include a hanging loop, and are about 19 inches by 27.5 inches in size.
Tea towels were apparently first used by 18th century old English ladies to dry their fragile bone china.
The English, Australians and New Zealanders prefer the term 'tea towel'. North Americans, meanwhile, normally use the term 'dish towel' - but those of Italian descent may be familiar with the word 'mappina', which actually means map (apparently because maps were originally drawn on cloth).
Why do we see this difference in the English-speaking world? Maybe because in 18th-century England, the tea towel was originally conceived of as an accessory for the rich, to wrap around tea pots or food, or clean delicate English china. The idea and term were then spread in the 19th century to countries that were still part of the British Empire.
Dish towels, meanwhile, evolved independently of Britain - just like the United States as a country! They supposedly took off in the US in the early 20th century, when housewives cut up rough cotton animal feed sacks and reused the material. This is also where the name 'flour sack towels' comes from.
Let's just say that tea towels have come a long way since then.
Today you can wave a tea towel at a demonstration.
Tea towels can be used to warm muffins.
To wrap a bottle of wine.
Van Gogh painted on tea towels when he ran out of canvas.
Hang one on the wall in your living room.
Send someone a message on a tea towel.