Is shopping from the clearance rack environmentally friendly?

Let me start by admitting that I do a lot of my shopping from clearance racks and department store outlets. Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Nordstrom – bring it on.

The reason shopping clearance works quite well for me is that I am able to find natural fibers and made in USA or Europe clothes without breaking the bank. Plus, I am not the one to jump on the latest trends, so whatever I like at the store – last or current season – is what I buy.

And yes, this is a legitimate question of mine, one which I’d really like your input.

Is it environmentally friendly to shop clearance racks?

Helmut Lang wool shirt Bloomingdales

First, here’s what all major fashion retailers do with unsold clothes:

  1. They try to sell them at the clearance rack.
  2. They donate them to organizations and hope they will be sold or given away.
  3. They try to sell them thru programs that distribute merchandise in other countries. (Often talking about poorer countries that are already overflowing with western unwanted goods.)
  4. They throw them away in a dumpster. (After making the clothes unusable by staining, cutting or similar so no one can have that fancy shirt for free.)
  5. They shred them and recycle the fabric into, for example, rugs.
  6. They burn them.

According to statistics from the World Resources Institute, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make a single cotton shirt and polyester production for textiles releases something like 1.5 trillion pounds of greenhouse gases yearly, all while 26 billion pounds of clothing end up in American landfills every year. Us consumers are responsible for throwing away plenty of clothes after we’ve worn them a few times, and we need to buy better, yes, but it is without a doubt that corporations are contributing huge amounts of waste to that number. (Do we need a #FashionRevolution? YES!)

I just bought the most amazing shirt at the Bloomingdale’s outlet. It’s a Helmut Lang made in Portugal, checkered, wool, button down shirt with some interesting details, like a frayed hem and a real pocket. I paid 88 dollars for this shirt, originally listed at $395.

So I am thinking, from an environmentalist’s stand point, that had I not bought this shirt – at the 78% discounted price – it would have ended up in a dumpster or burned. What are the chances that another size small woman, walking around the outlet, would want the same shirt, since it hadn’t already sold?

I don’t have the answer to this question. Which, of course, is why I am asking and rambling.

I love shopping clearance, like I said, and I’d like to think that it is better. If I were to buy the latest new shirt at H&M and they end up selling out real quick, wouldn’t they just order a similar batch as soon as possible? The rack doesn’t have that option.

On the other hand, outlets and clearances encourage impulse shopping, which leads to over consumption of goods – something I’m very much against.

Let me know what you think, please!

PS. My favorite way to buy new clothes is to do it from shops that produce upon order. The downside to that is that they’re available online only and I do love to actually browse and try on clothes now and then :)

Fashion Revolution week is important -here’s why and how to take a fashionable stand

It’s been a bit crunchy on the blog lately; plant based meals, recycling and Earth Day chit chat. Thankfully, the last week of “Earth Month” is Fashion Revolution week (April 23-29), so with that we have a good excuse to talk about clothes.

It’s funny because when we say “fashion revolution” we’re not mainly talking about shopping second hand or choosing sustainable fabrics, rather it’s about ethical labor, feminism and ending the extreme wealth inequality in this world.

fashion revolution week gap

Because I am Swedish I am guilty of (maybe) hating on H&M more than I should. Sure, they have a conscious collection, which is a step in the right direction (and super), however, I can’t applaud them yet because I know they could do so much more. Plus I feel like they could have started to make positive changes a long time ago. Not only to tackle environmental issues but for ensuring ethical treatment of workers. Do you think Stefan can afford it?

Stefan Persson, whose father founded H&M, is ranked 43 in the Forbes list of the richest people in the world, and received €658m ($917M) in share dividends last year. Meanwhile, a female garment worker in Bangladesh works 12 hours a day (no lunch break) and earns just over $900 dollars a year.

It’s not just H&M; Zara, Gap, and similar big clothing brands can do quite a bit more as well. We are not asking for perfection right now. We’re okay with a few polyester blouses in the fall lineup, we know there’ll be imports from the East. We ourselves are not perfect either. We’re simply asking the big players to make an honest effort when it comes to moving the fashion industry towards a more sustainable future.

This is why, this week, we ask them “Who made my clothes?”

Oxfam, a global non-profit organization that works to end injustice of poverty, just published a fascinating (yet sad) report about today’s current state when it comes to inequality in the supply chain. It’s called “Reward work, Not wealth” and I recommend you read it. I decided to share some of the statistics and findings here on the blog, in order to bring awareness to these issues and prove why we actually need a fashion revolution.

Oxfam report reward work, not wealth
Picture by Fashion Revolution

In Bangladesh, many young women working in garment factories suffer from repeated urinary tract infections because of not being allowed to go the toilet. (Similarly, a study by Oxfam of poultry workers in the United States found that they were wearing nappies, as they were not permitted to go to the toilet.)

New data from Credit Suisse shows that 42 people now own the same wealth as the bottom 3.7 billion people.

It would cost $2.2bn a year to increase the wages of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers from the average wage to a living wage. This is the equivalent of a third of the amount paid out to shareholders by the top five companies in the garment sector.

Gender inequality is neither an accident nor new: our economies have been built by rich and powerful men for their own sake. The neoliberal economic model has made this worse – reductions in public services, cuts to taxes for the richest, and a race to the bottom on wages and labor rights have all hurt women more than men.

The International Labor Organization has estimated that 40 million people were enslaved in 2016, 25 million of them in forced labor.

We, the fashionistas, can be part of the change, by shopping with intent, researching brands before supporting them and reaching out to them through social media, emails or calls demanding transparent supply chains; fair wages, safe workplaces, eco-friendly materials, local sourcing. Initiatives like H&M’s Conscious Collection is proof that consumers like us indeed have the power to change industries by demanding change.

Which companies are you reaching out to this week?

Fashion Revolution is a global movement that runs all year long, not just on Fashion revolution week! Read more about the movement and the organization behind it at FashionRevolution.org.

EARTH DAY – What the day is about and why we celebrate it!

I did a poll on Instagram to see how many people actually knew that Earth Day is coming up this weekend. Being surrounded by zero wasters and eco-friendly folks on social media all the time had led me to believe that everyone knew. Turns out 62% of earthlings who voted in my little poll didn’t! Wake up call, Anna!

That’s why I am writing a post about EARTH DAY today. It’s coming up this Sunday, April 22nd.

why we celebrate Earth day 2018

The reason we celebrate it on the same date every year is that the very first Earth Day happened on April 22nd! It was 1970 and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had not yet been founded. Activists and environmentalists had just started their fight for a cleaner world; biodiversity, cleaner air, less pollution and more government imposed regulations were on their agendas, as they demanded action thru peaceful protests and gatherings. Environmentalism was gaining momentum at this time in America and on the very first Earth Day, millions of people gathered in parks and streets to create awareness among individuals  and demand action from government to regulate polluting industries. Later that year, the President founded the EPA; laws for cleaner air, cleaner water and protecting endangered species were written and put into immediate effect. (#peoplepower)

So, what do people actually do on Earth day nowadays?

Well, it’s to up to each of us to decide!  Most cities arrange get-togethers or events in parks or similar spaces to bring attention to one or two specific environmental threats. Zero Waste and plastic pollution are buzzwords this year (thanks to in large the Blue Planet II series) and the official Earth Day Network  are focusing their efforts on just that; creating awareness about plastic pollution (single use!) and arranging clean ups. Other eco groups are gathering to plant trees, doing speeches or hosting educational events.

As for me, being very much a homebody, I’ll be at home with my boys. This environmentalist isn’t exactly the “joiner type” – we all don’t have to be right? If you’re not big on going somewhere to hang out with eco-warriors or attend a big event, try some of these ideas:

Donate to a cause. Chip in a few dollars to the Sierra Club, Stand for Trees or any other, trustworthy environmental organization you like.

Support a politician. The best thing we can do right now is to replace representatives in Government who don’t have ours or earth’s best interest in mind. Donate cash or dedicate some time promoting sustainable candidates up for local or national election this year.

Clean out your closet and meet up with friends to do a clothes swap! I just did this with one of my good friends and I love the shirts, vest and shoes I got – plus I feel so good about her resurrecting some of my clothes so I don’t have to sell or “donate” them (who knows where they’d end up).

Cook from scratch and enjoy a plant-based meal. Connecting with the food we eat by taking the time to cook it can be medicine for the soul and make us more thankful. It’s especially awesome if no earthling had to die for you to eat it. Try my vegan lentil moussaka, why don’t you!? I just had my recipe published on Mother Earth Living – get the recipe here.

Spend the day outside. Talk to your kids, friends, family members, whoever you are outside with, about threats to our lovely planet, its animals and us, due to climate change and pollution. Smell some flowers, do a cartwheel (yeah, right), pick up the trash you find. Just enjoy what we’ve all been given and rekindle that connection with earth!

ideas how to celebrate earth day

However you decide to spend the day I hope you have a wonderful, fulfilling Sunday! Also, next week is Fashion Revolution Week, so rest up for tackling the fashion industry, starting Monday, by asking all your favorite brands: Who made my clothes?

I’ll be posting my outfit of the day each day next week on Instagram to bring awareness to this cause @sustainableanna :)

Photo credits: Taken by me and my husband in Smokey Mountains area

The green blogger you need to know in the Deep South! (Earth Month special feature)

When most people talk about The South, ice tea, rich foods, hot sunny days and mosquitoes come to mind. Green living bloggers? Not so much.

No offense Southerners, but sustainability isn’t exactly your best trait. Oil lands, high consumption, fast food wrapped in plastic and running the truck’s AC constantly when parked do not sustainable make.

That said, there are always exceptions and good environmental stewards live everywhere, here too, trying to inspire change. I happen to know a woman in Louisiana doing just that. Not only did she invent the most brilliant hashtag ever #resuableisinstagrammable but she also lives green, writes a sustainability blog, bikes (a lot), picks up trash, recycles, composts and hugs trees (they all need some love!).

Meet Caitlin of Eco Cajun

Caitlin

Because it’s Earth Month and us green living bloggers are feeling the love, Caitlin and I decided to do a blog post swap – introducing each other to our respective blog audiences because we are both eco-warriors in The South!

Catlin has been blogging for almost 10 years (so impressive!) and she writes a column for a local newspaper, Times of Acadia, where she discusses environmental issues and promotes a healthy and green lifestyle.

This time, it’s my turn to write, and so I had some questions for the Eco Cajun of course…

When and why did you decide to start a green living blog?

“I originally started writing back in 2009 after getting more involved personally in my green efforts. I wanted to share what I was learning with others, and show them how simple it can be to make green changes in your life. I had bought my first stainless steel water bottle not long before (one which I still have and use today!), and had recently started using cloth grocery bags, and those were kind of the catalysts to me wanting to do more.”

What’s been one important or encouraging change you have seen around you in the south, or in family members and friends, that you know you have inspired them to make?

“I think what I get the most feedback about from family, friends and this online community is about skipping straws or investing in reusable ones! I’ve had a lot of people either say they are more conscious now about refusing straws at restaurants or tell me they purchased their own set for themselves and their families. I see more people using cloth grocery bags these days, but I don’t consider that from my influence, haha. It still makes me happy to see!”

reusable stainless steel straw

I always want to know this from fellow bloggers; Is there anything you miss in your day-to-day life since you became “green”?

“Probably impulse shopping, haha. Although I don’t miss it that much! Especially when it comes to clothing, I’ve gotten into a rhythm of shopping secondhand or eco-friendly brands online, rather than going to the mall.

Sometimes, I also wish it would be easier to dine out without having to worry about single-use containers/utensils/cups. Just recently, I picked up lunch with a coworker, and although my food came in a plastic container that I ended up recycling, I chose to skip the drink because there were only Styrofoam cups – and I was so thirsty while eating! Although it would’ve been easier to just take the cup, I stayed committed.”

(I have done that too! That’s a real struggle!)

If you could give the people reading this, one eco-friendly tip for how they can make a positive impact for Earth Month, what would it be?

“Focus more on ways to reduce your waste, rather than on recycling plastic/glass/cans. Invest in good reusable items for your home – I promise you will get used to toting them around! I’ve got a set of reusable utensils and straws in my purse at all times, and I can always be found with a reusable water bottle and/or coffee mug, haha. It does become habit, and it makes SUCH a big impact – even on an individual or family level.”

Catlin shared some exciting news earlier this month on her blog; she and her husband are expecting their first baby! She’ll be diving into cloth diapers, eco-friendly toys and second hand baby fashion soon. I am hoping Sustainable Anna (moí!) can continue to be a good resource as she plans for her little one.

There has been some talk among hardcore environmentalists about how not having kids is the best and most eco-friendly path for one to take, encouraging people to not reproduce to lower the carbon footprints of families. I asked Caitlin what her take on it was, now that she is pregnant, glowing and excited about the upcoming mini Eco Cajun.

“I think that it is true that having children increases your carbon footprint and your amount of waste. But to me, the decision of having or not having children involves a lot more than the environmental aspect. On my blog, I try to focus on the fact that you don’t have to live your life a certain way to be considered eco-friendly or zero-waste (like living off-grid, not having children, growing your own food and making your own clothing). You can make more eco-friendly or responsible decisions in aspects of your life and still have a positive impact on the environment. As I get ready to welcome our little one, it’s important for me to still focus on ways we can reduce waste, be minimalist, and shop secondhand. I am very excited to raise a little environmentalist, as well as grow our little family and keep our legacy going.”

Well said Caitlin! And I agree so much with that. Living life here on Earth can’t be 100% centered around lowering our carbon footprints, if it were, we’d all have to end it right now.

Speaking of ending it, let’s end this post by mentioning two of Caitlin’s favorite sustainable clothing brands, because we have to include some fashion :)

Amour Vert is probably my favorite eco brand – they utilize organic cotton and sustainable materials like modal, silk and linen. SSeko Designs is an ethical brand that helps empower women in Uganda!”

Thank you Eco Cajun! I love your blog and your positivity.

Instagram @ecocajun || Ecocajun.com

 

How we created a super green baby space (in the most budget friendly way!)

It’s been 14 months since we welcomed our little August into the world.  Our lives have changed so much (for the better) and I feel like I should talk more about how we are keeping things eco and budget friendly around the house now that we are a family of three! Hence this post :)

We always knew we were the kind of parents that would have our kid sleep in his own room from quite early on. He moved out of our bedroom after about six months and it’s been great for us all. Lots of good sleep. This meant we wanted to create a nice space for him where he’d not only catch some Z’s but also play!

Decorating nurseries and kids rooms can easily get out of hand. Let’s be honest, some parents-to-be spend hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars on rocking chairs, cribs, bedding, wall paper and decorations. Only later do they realize that their kiddo couldn’t care less, all she needed was the basics since she spends all her time in the family room anyway…

Because I don’t like buying things (hmmm) we actually ended up spending only 80 dollars in his room. In total!

I should tell you that August’s diaper station is not in his room, but in our master bathroom, so the cost for building that piece of furniture (which hubby did) is not included. I am not entirely sure how much we spent on the materials needed, maybe 100 dollars (plus time and love). If you want to read more about cost and needs for a diaper station, check out this post.

Now, here’s how we did it eco- and budget friendly:

Bed

I looked around a bit and concluded that there aren’t really any eco-friendly, affordable, must-have cribs on the market. Instead, what makes most sense for a sustainable family is to buy baby’s bed second hand. We got lucky that a friend of ours had just put hers up for sale, including a mattress (made in USA!) so we claimed that one right away. She asked for $75 but we gave her four twenties.

So what about the bedding? Well, we were gifted four blankets, my favorite being the one from SwaddleDesigns (100% cotton, made in USA) which tot sleeps on top of most nights. He does not use blankets very often, however when it’s cold in the house, we have plenty he can use; the four mentioned but also a fluffy warm blanket from when I was a baby. Chances are you will be gifted blankets, so no need to buy in advance.

IMG_4512
My 80’s blanket, second hand crib, reusable stickers, home-made pillow and tot.

For a mattress protector, I had a sheet that had come with our king bed, which we never used, so I cut it into four pieces – perfect size for a crib!

He also has a flat little pillow from Ikea (made in Estonia) that grandma surprised us with, accompanied by three home-made pillowcases sewn from leftover fabric she had at home. [Insert heart emoji here.]

Storage

Storage is crucial! We happened to have two dressers we weren’t really utilizing so we relocated them into baby’s room! Super handy.

For toys and various small items he throws around, he has a toy chest – also known as a diaper box! Buying boxes for baby toys is such a waste of resources and money, because we all have empty boxes at home. Decorate with wrapping paper if you can’t stand to look at the logos on them. If you always buy the same diapers, you’ll have multiple, sturdy, boxes in the same size, which can make storage look great!

fullsizeoutput_30da
Yeeees. That’s how it’s done.

Toys

He has some of my old stuffed animals and puzzles, second hand trains and gimmicks, hand me down books from friends, and a few new wooden toys his grandma and great grandma got him. He is not bored or neglected; he is just not overwhelmed with new plastic toys.

What I have come to realize is that it’s impossible to know what he will find amusing and actually play with anyway! For example, he has a few cars but only wants to play with trains?! He likes to throw things around (a lot) so any type item works for that activity (read empty plastic containers we would recycle otherwise). He likes to walk around the house and find things in drawers too, so we keep our lower areas safe for him to play with whatever he picks up.

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Christmas gift from grandma. I love this one – so cute.

The important thing I learned was that having an infant is somewhat boring and no matter how much gear you have, the first three months of babies life aren’t going to go by any faster. Don’t get a bunch of baby chairs, swings and rattle toys – baby just wants to be with YOU. Baby gym? You mean a strap with hanging objects you tie up between two chairs?

Yes, I am that mom.

I did get him a pushcart so he could practice walking. It also came with a bunch of colorful, wooden building blocks too! He uses it in the family room so I haven’t included the cost of that. Read more about it in this blog post. (What I am also hinting at here is that babies don’t need sit-in walkers in plastic to learn how to walk. Actually, they become better crawlers without high-tech walking tools. Crawling helps develop baby’s eye to hand coordination. Yay.)

Wall art and decor

We moved baby into the previous office space where walls are white; a blank canvas, perfect for a baby room. We ended up getting some wall stickers (made in Germany) from my mom, which adds some fun and color. They stick and peel off without damage so that’s perfect. I also had an old picture of an elephant we hung (I had used the frame for other pictures over the years but the original art was still in it!)

The main piece of art in his room is a beautiful growth chart ruler, a gift from a dear friend, which we love and treasure. It’s handmade in New Hampshire by Headwaters Studio.

It’s printed on the highest grade of CARB (California Air Resources Board) compliant Baltic birch plywood with solvent-free, low/no-VOC inks.

fullsizeoutput_30d7

We have two chairs in his room as well, for us to sit on (or him to play on?) because we had no other place to put them when we moved the computer out of the “office” to take their place in the family room. Zero dollars spent though – again!

I feel great about his room and what else does a baby, or toddler, need anyway?

If you are getting ready to decorate a nursery or a revamp a toddler room and have specific questions on how we did it eco, let me know in the comments :)

 

It’s Earth Month! And here’s what the eco community is up to

It’s Earth Month! All of us earthlings are celebrating our planet a little extra this month by doing different earth-friendly things we don’t normally do. It’s just that time of year; spring is here and we all want to up our game.

So what are people up to?

Renee Peters, model turned activist/model is doing a zero waste month aiming to not produce any trash and to collect what she does despite trying (like rubber bands around organic broccoli – hate that). She’s been doing it green the gorgeous way for a while, but decided she needed to really try zero waste to see if she could give up her (few) beloved packaged foods. You can join her on her challenge via Instagram @renee.elizabethpeters.

Stevie, NYC sustainability hero, has decided to do yoga EVERY DAY in April to get more in tune with her body and to better process the world around her, stress free. Now, it probably goes without saying that she is an experienced yogi so if you want to join her in her challenge listen to your body and don’t injure yourself!  She’s sharing lots of tips and cute videos on Instagram @stevieyaaaay as she goes through the challenge. PS. Shes’s stunning to watch!

Super-blogger and amazing earthling Kathryn is celebrating both Earth Month and the three year anniversary of her blog Going Zero Waste. She’ll be diving into more sustainable, zero waste skincare soon and doubling up on her activism for our planet to name a few things she’s up to. She’s always up to something good though, so I suggest you head on over to her blog to be inspired.

Nadine, a German in Canada (a kindred euro spirit!) who just had her first eco-baby, decided to get into the earthy mood by sharing stories about other greenliving bloggers who inspire her. It’s ALWAYS a good idea to search for inspiration in order to keep going in our quest for sustainability.

“I have decided I want to focus on the positive change happening across the globe in environmental awareness, education, and activism.  I want to commend those who act out positive change instead of just talking about it because they are the hope that I seek!”

It so happens that one of her inspiring features is yours truly – mega yay! I was so honored and excited about all the reasons Nadine loves my blog. Great start to Earth Month for me for sure. You should check out her blog; she’s got some great tips on zero waste living and cool, easy DIYs.

zero journey feature sustainable anna

So what am I up to?

Lately I’ve decided to be more zen in my day to day life – I think that benefits earth and us all. It doesn’t just reduce my own stress levels but colleagues, friends and family get to enjoy the laid back, funny Anna, which makes their days better! I am doing this by taking issues at work less personally, leaving at earlier hours, accepting that having sandwiches for dinner is grand (‘cos it is, let’s be honest) and by getting regular massages. (If you want the contact for a great massage therapist in League City Houston, holler at me!) This is step two, you could say, in my effort to detox my life, like I decided I would last year.

Also, I will be sharing tips here on the blog on what you can do for Earth Day April 22nd (like always ;)) and I have an exciting feature coming up on a yogi green blogger living in, wait for it, the Deep South! There’s not many of us around these parts and this chick is super cool so I am thrilled. Stay tuned.

Any plans for Earth Month?

It’s time to spring in to recycling LESS! (Here’s why)

It is that time of year again when nature bursts out blooms, bikes start rolling, we shut off our lights for Earth Hour and gear up to celebrate Earth Day April 22nd. Let’s just say, spring is in the air and with that, it’s time to talk environmental issues.

On the agenda? Recycling plastic.

Oh no! Not again!? Yes, again.

Here’s why; as per January 1, 2018, China stopped importing recyclable plastic from the USA.

Maybe you missed the news, and maybe you are wondering why that is worth blogging about. Well, before this year, China took the majority of our plastic waste (16 million tons in 2016), recycled it, and turned it into plastic goods made in China. Even though most of those plastic items I am sure were unnecessary, this procedure meant that at least some our discarded plastic jugs, lids, boxes and wrappers got used for something.

When you add the fact that so many container ships sail half-empty back to Asia because of the huge trade deficit, filling containers with plastic scrap made even more sense from an environmental standpoint.

So, why did China decide to stop accepting “free” raw material? You probably think that sounds like a bad idea, especially since they already have the facilities and manufacturing equipment to recycle huge amounts of plastic.

The reason why China is saying “no more” is they are cleaning up their act and marketing themselves that way. That term includes more than implementing carbon taxes and reducing air pollution by shutting down coal plants; it includes looking good and clean. They are tired of drowning in plastic and having messy factories full of bins of materials; sometimes contaminated and always needing sorting. They want to buy newly made raw materials; neat, streamlined, no need for warehouses full of “stuff”.

I’d like to argue that the clean “green” thing to do would be to keep accepting discarded plastic for recycling and to use less virgin plastic materials in their manufacturing of goods. They’re helping us ALL recycle! (That’s good marketing too.) The decision to stop imports is upsetting the market and undoing decades of progress in handling scraps. That said, it’s not exactly fair to put the recycling responsibility on one country alone either.

The west coast is now drowning in the plastic that China used to pick up. We don’t have the facilities to deal with it and let’s not forget, the biggest pushers for consuming virgin plastic are American chemical companies working against local recycling infrastructure (laughing all the way to the bank when they heard China’s big news).

It should also be noted that China is one of the top polluters when it comes to plastic in our oceans. Turns out, they don’t have the infrastructure to deal with plastic either. So what’s worse? Our “recycled yoghurt cup” being shipped to China, maybe falling into the river and flowing into the ocean or it being buried alive in an American landfill, spewing methane?

Can we all just agree as a society in whole we SUCK at taking responsibility for used plastic? (Yes.)

Now we are at the “So what can we do?” part of this blog post!

Whooop! My favorite part.

recycling plastic

1. We must STOP thinking that throwing plastic in the recycling bin is an eco-friendly thing to do. Our goal should always be to look down our recycling bin and see mostly carton, metal and glass (if accepted in your area or you might have to drive to a station to recycle) in a half-empty bin. We should leave as much packaging in the store as possible. Now, I love chips just as much as the next person, but I am not pretending that the bag will end up anywhere but landfill. I know that is where it’s going and I have to decide how much I want quinoa puffs today based on that fact. Let’s no longer pretend that an item that doesn’t get recycled, magically does (“wishcycling”). Knowing what really happens, helps us make better choices. Studies have shown that people who believe items are recycled, consume MORE. Read about plastic and its recyclability here.

2. We must purchase and support local makers who use recycled material. You can read more about recycling and get ideas for brands in this post. If you are buying Chinese, or other imported goods, look for recycled content! Our goal is to let the market know that we care about where the raw materials used in a product comes from.

3. Even though we live in a plastic polluted world, companies who use recycled plastic still have an issue getting enough of it for their production lines. Like I said, we don’t have the infrastructure in place. We can help by asking specific companies what they need and provide it directly to them. For example US based, eco-company Preserve accepts number 5 plastics (yogurt cups, hummus jars) back via their Gimme 5 program (bins available at certain Whole Foods). American Oka-B and Canadian Kamik footwear companies accept and recycle worn-out styles as well.

4. Write to your favorite politicians and inform active members in your community about this issue. Volunteer in a recycling and waste handling committee where you live if you have time :)

Those are my ideas for doing something about this issue! What are some of yours?

I am definitely not the “perfect plastic free citizen” but every action to reduce matters. Do you think about plastic when you go about your day? Have you made progress in reducing your plastic consumption this year so far? Let me know :)

Because Friday is a great day for a blog post about plaid (and peace)

In an effort to sustainably transform my outdated closet and take it in the direction I want it to go, I ordered myself another plaid shirt. How many handmade in USA, 100% cotton flannels does one woman need anyway?

I was thinking two is a good start.

I went back to Tradlands since I am still very much obsessed with and loving my first purchase from them. This one is not quite the same home run – I think these colors aren’t as great on me – but beautiful nonetheless. And soft. And well made.

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I am still getting used to rocking the no make-up look so instead of posing (looking all stylish) I went with a peace sign! Because I believe in peace: peaceful marches, a peaceful home and killing ‘em with kindness.

With the flannel, I am wearing made in USA cotton tights from Ann Taylor, which I got at the outlet for 10 dollars, and my new Indonesian not-so-eco Ecco sneakers.

Short blog post this week. Check out Tradlands if you haven’t.

Peace and weekend greetings :)

Time to completely DESTROY my reputation as a sustainable shopper!

Have you ever thought to yourself “Man, these eco bloggers sure are missing out”?

I have. Sometimes I wonder if zero waste warriors miss devouring the contents of an unrecyclable bag of chips or drinking a coffee they hadn’t planned for. I wonder if sustainable fashion bloggers secretly want that new coat from Banana Republic. I think some of them do, while others are so addicted to their green lifestyle that they’re all good just being green.

Me, I still get mad and sad when I am out browsing at Marshalls and all the nice cardigans are made by underpaid workers in China and Bangladesh; something I have decided not to support. Basically, I sometimes feel like I am missing out on wearing what I really want to wear.

“Go buy clothes second hand!” greenies will say. Sure, but, it’s just not the same. The stores aren’t as nice and the size options and variety isn’t there. It’s great for browsing and being spontaneous but harder for when you want specific things.

Here’s the deal. I am SUPER tired of my wardrobe. I have two shirts I love at the moment, one cardigan and maybe five tops that are “ok” with a scarf. I know I sound like a western brat, but do you feel me?

I am not 100% sure why this happened all of a sudden. It could be the pregnancy that changed my body a bit so clothes don’t fit right. Or it could be the blonder hair and the bangs (yay bangs!). Or that I am a mom now and my style has changed. Or that I changed jobs. Or that I watched American Horror Story Roanoke and now want to look like Sarah Paulson’s character. Or that during pregnancy I inherited a bunch on new-to-me clothes from my sister (which made me feel brand new and gorge) and then after baby I went back to all the same old stuff I’ve been wearing since 1863.

Let’s just say, I am on the lookout for new clothes! I cleaned out my closet AND I did something completely illegal. I bought the most unethical freaking awesome shoes ever.

Yes, I did.

Everyone knows the shoes change the outfit! I was so tired of only having winter boots, work-out sneakers (and by “work-out” this mama means weekend outings and walks with the stroller) and two pairs of ballerina shoes. I do have heels in my closet (pre 2013) and hiking shoes but I don’t wear those very often.

I did my research online; I looked at the websites of Amour Vert and dozens of other ethical, vegan, made in USA shoe stores. I didn’t find anything I liked, so I dragged my boys to the Ecco store, also known as Euro style heaven, instead.

Sneakers. Made in Indonesia. Leather. Plastic sole. [Insert panic emoji.]

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THEM.

Black Ecco sneakers leather
My dad took this photo! So good!

I thought about naming this blog post “Sorry, not sorry” because that song kept playing in my head while I was thinking about what to write about these shoes. “Baby, I am sorry, I’m not sorry, being so bad got me feelin’ so good” most definitely describes this event. I haven’t regretted this buy for one second. I am not apologizing for not compromising and buying something ethical that wasn’t right for me either – that’s not really sustainable. I got what I wanted, and it wasn’t even made in China! Ha!

“Your shoes are so stylish” said my coworker. “Yeah, they are.”

(And comfortable I might add.)

I do think getting good quality things, that we love, has to be part of being sustainable too. It’s not like I’ll wear these to just one party (who has time for parties!?) and then toss.

So know this, friends. Living perfectly green is my goal, zero waste is a great thought, vegan, sustainable fashion is preferred, always doing my best is a must, yet I think I have the right (ooh, entitlement!) to feel like I am not always missing out.

What do you think?

Can I get a “yay” for new shoes?

PS. Not that I am trying to sell you these shoes, but Ecco isn’t the worst of companies when it comes to employee rights and environmental policies. You can read more here. Hopefully they’ll move towards using vegan leather soon!

A year later: The the ifs, ands and BUT(T)S of cloth diapering our tot

I think we can officially call ourselves a cloth diapering family now that we have been at if for a whole year. Turns out, it wasn’t nearly as hard or complicated as I thought it would be before we “did it”. The post I wrote last year, about three months in to it, still stands and you can read all the basics of cloth and my newborn baby hacks there.

So, a year later, here’s what’s up; ifs, ands and but(t)s included.

Cloth diapers made in usa

The cloth diaper stash

First, the stash of diapers. We used all-in-one organic Thirsties diapers for newborn August, but since he grew out of them (around 4 months) we’ve been using mostly BumGenius pocket diapers with Thirsties inserts (the hemp prefold or stay dry duo).

More info: Pocket diapers are like a shell/cover/non-absorbing diaper/undie with an opening/pocket, in which you slide in or stuff an insert – the absorbing part. An all-in-one on the other hand, requires no assembly. The absorbing layers are sewn into the shell/cover which saves time for busy parents but takes longer to dry after the wash.

I have a love/hate relationship with BumGenius.

I love them because they work so well, the quality is superb and they’re assembled in USA. The material is super easy to wipe off, spray off or just ‘dump’ the poop off of as well (more on this in the next section!). I also appreciate that they’re widely available in baby stores like Babies R’ Us and Buy Buy Baby. It’s nice to not have to buy everything “eco-friendly” online.

What I hate about them is that, if you buy them new, each diaper is individually packed in a plastic pouch, no organic materials are used and the inserts are actually made in China.

I got all my BumGenius second hand (eight diapers), meaning I have a super ‘green’ stash. We also have two Thirsties pocket diapers with Velcro close, one thirties all-in-one (that doesn’t fit baby real well) and one Blueberry Simplex organic all-in-one (which fits better than the Thirsties but not as well as BumGenius) which I bought new online. Total of 13 diapers.

More info: Thirties and Blueberry diapers are made in USA! Diaper sprayers, wipes, bags and accessories are also available made right here. Cloth diapering routines support small businesses!

Toddler poop is not fun

As I wrote in my last post, nothing is simpler than when baby is newborn and poop is water soluble (if breastfed). When baby starts taking a bottle and/or you introduce solids, “things” change. (Trigger warning!) You now have to dump the poop in the toilet, which is a simple thing on a good day, but an impossible thing on a bad day (read diaper completely full of goo). On the bad days (which are most days – let me tell ya) we’ve been absolutely reliant on our diaper sprayer.

A sprayer is a little handheld “shower” you hook up to the water line in the toilet which allows you to “rinse” junk off into the toilet bowl to flush. Super convenient and necessary. After the rinse, into the wet bag the stained diaper goes.

You will always need a wet bag or some sort of container for keeping wet diapers until your next laundry day. For us, two large, American made wet bags from Planet Wise still work great. We fill one, empty it into the washer and fill the other while the first one is washing/drying.

We were lucky enough to inherit our diaper sprayer from a friend who’s kids are out of diapers. She wasn’t using it anymore and it works great. Another green win.

So what about wipes? For good days, reusable wipes; for bad days, disposables. I have found that I use his cotton, reusable wipes for everything but wiping his butt lately! Wiping baby hands, nose and face, blowing my own nose, wiping down the vanity. You name it. We are a Kleenex free home :)

More info: Our Samsung washer had a sanitize cycle which I use to wash dipers, inserts, wipes, wet bags, stained clothes, poopy clothes and reusable change pads. This cycle keeps everything looking and smelling like new, no special procedures needed. In other words, I cannot advice on needs to strain, get smells out, sun dry etc. I use Allen’s Naturally for all diaper loads.

Dealing with disposables

You may have noticed that we have way fever diapers for baby now than we did when he was a newborn. That’s because August goes to daycare now where cloth diapers are not allowed, meaning we need fever reusable diapers at home to sustain a comfortable laundry routine of washing every two to three days.

More info: I do send a medium size wet bag to school with August every day, for teachers to put any dirty clothes in. The option was a new-every-day-ziploc bag!

Will you fall off your chair if I also tell you that baby sleeps in a disposable?! He does. Our little man sleeps 7 pm to 5:30 am (most nights) and since parents love (and need) sleep and Netflix we can’t have him waking up due to feeling wet! When he was newborn and breastfed he woke up all the time anyway to eat, so changing the cloth diaper wasn’t an inconvenience. In fact, changing the diaper helps make the newborn more alert so he can stay awake longer while nursing, filling his little tummy more. (This further proves my point that cloth for a newborn is a no brainer and every new parent should do it.)

More info: Super Absorbent Polymers (“SAPs”) are what keeps a disposable diaper feeling dry so much longer than a cloth diaper does. Plant based disposable diapers have them, regular disposable diapers have them.  It is unclear if sufficient testing has been done to ensure that SAPs are non-toxic and safe for babies.

Not that I am in the business of recommending a disposable diaper brand, but we are using only Babyganics if anyone is wondering. They’re pretty much the only ones we’ve tried; they’re partly plant based (yada, yada, yada) and they work super well. Thanks to their essential oil blend, at least he never has diaper rash, which saves money, time, jars and tubes.

More info: Scientists have found that cloth diapers are not as warm as disposable diapers are. Up to a 5 degree butt temperature difference. The cooler the diaper, the better for boy babies’ testicular development.

Diapers and the environment

In my previous diaper post you can read all about how cloth versus disposables add up when it comes to pollution and resources. Spoiler alert: cloth wins.

So let me say this again: Any routine that involves reusables is a good routine.

I feel really warm and fuzzy about how much we are using reusables. Even though we go through quite a few disposables at daycare and nighttime, we are constantly using and washing the cloth diapers. Every time I pull diapers out of the dryer to fold and put back, I feel thankful for my washer and dryer and proud of how many diapers we are saving from landfill. That’s what it’s about: how many diapers we don’t consume and keep away from trash. We are not failures just because we can’t be 100% cloth. We are parents making it work.

Every saved diaper counts!

If you have any questions about cloth diapers or adding more reusable items to your baby’s routine, ask away!