Tag Archives: eco

We all just need a bit of inspiration and the guts to shop differently

When I first started the not made in China challenge January 2014, I had to re-think my entire shopping pattern. My husband and I were both frequent shoppers at Banana Republic, J.Crew and Coach. I bought my occasional pair of shoes (Michael Kors’ heels and Keds being favorites) at DSW. I came to realize, quickly, that all these stores and brands were practically off limits. At the very beginning, I bought my Juicy Couture soft grey sweats on sale and I thought I would run into more affordable clothes made in USA. Well, at the mall, you just don’t, and so for a long time; I didn’t buy anything at all.

I started to reinvent some of the outfits I already had, but I was still a bit uninspired and tired, though very determined to not give up. Obvious US choices like American Apparel and designer dresses and jeans were a no-go as well, for style or price reasons. Then it happened: I ran into that Richter Co. tee at Whole Earth Provision, and started wondering if there were endless, small American brands yet to be discovered. I started to search online, look in new stores and scavenge the racks (which has always scared me a little – too messy!). Bit by bit, piece by piece, rack by rack – I have become a made in America shopper. I say America and not USA because when it comes to sexy shoes, yes, I need to include South America.

My friend and I have been talking a lot about this topic, and I presented her with the idea to make a LookBook. In other words, make a photo collection of the clothes I have found and bought on this challenge and present them in a stylish way, in order to inspire others to go look for made right here. As a blogger I have a lot of words and as a photographer she has lots of talent, technique and cool spots to pick from, so we headed out to the country side.

One hour, 101 degrees, a few bugs and an exhausted reflector girl later, we had more photos than we would ever need for this project.

Made in USA top, Made in USA sweats, Made in USA bottle, Made in USA arm wrap
Made in USA top, Made in USA sweats, Made in USA bottle, Made in USA arm wrap

I am so thankful to have friends who inspire me, and whom I get to inspire in return. Does she shop made in China anymore? Very rarely! Did she return an expensive, online purchase when she saw the tag? Yes, she did! (See, I am saving her money ;))

Check out the results and get more information about the clothes on my new page LookBook! (I also had a few photos/outfits from before) My plan is to keep adding to it, whenever I have a new outfit to show. Hopefully, there’ll be enough good stuff for a fall shoot later on! (Can’t wait! Another chance to play model!)

If you want to be inspired by beautiful people, laughing children, posing dogs and killer locations, head on over to Shutterluv by Ashley, and like her on Facebook.

That’s a wrap people!!

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My five zero goals; inspired by you #zerowaste

I’ve been really inspired lately by quite a few excellent blogs written by people who aim to live life with zero waste. #zerowaste bloggers are crafty, innovative, smart and caring! They remind us of how we can all live a more sustainable and appreciative life.

All these great posts made me think about that I actually have a few “zero hashtags” of my own, in addition* to the brilliant, say-it-all-in-one-tag: #zerowaste.

Believe me, I know they all fall on a scale of impossible to very impossible (and nobody is perfect!), but you know what they say; aim for the stars and you may reach the treetops.

zero- 1. Zero Made in China (Zero Imports). Buy local stuff, all the time. Start with made in town, state, country, part of the world… Work my way out. Some things are quite easy, like veggies, some things are hard, like good looking shoes. (By all means, correct me if I’m wrong!)

2. Zero Chemicals. No lotions and potions in the bathroom with any ingredients I can’t pronounce.

3. Zero Processed Foods. Actually, this one is probably the easiest of all my zero goals! Except bread – does that count? Will still buy and eat bread (I’m a terrible baker, don’t even go there).

4. Zero Oil for Fuel and Energy. We’re saving up for our first Tesla! Yes, we are! And we hope to one day be energy independent. Reaching for the stars here? Well, so is Elon Musk (literally).

5. Zero Bad and Grumpy Days. Move forward with a happy spirit, banish worrying and always remember that everything will work out :)

That’s it!

Maybe you have some zeros of your own to pursue? If not, go ahead and borrow mine. Feel free to alter, add and customize as needed. See, that’s another cool tag I like, it’s called #reuse.

*We are not a household committed to 100% zero waste. Yes, we are always mindful about waste and packaging, but it would be an insult to people committed to a zero waste lifestyle, to say that we are.

Sometimes reinventing something is just as awesome as getting something new

I had, for some reason, never paired up this necklace, this shirt and these shoes before, and when I did, I instantly loved it! I feel way new today, very colorful and perfect for a day at the office. Reinventing comes in especially handy when you’re on a not made in China challenge, since shopping for cute stuff can be a bit challenging (obviously).

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Shoes: Missoni for Target. Back in September 2011 they did a guest spot, and a friend and I went there just a few hours after the launch and pretty much everything was already gone! I did find these flats in my size and grabbed them immediately; I think they were $35.

Shirt: By my ex-lover J.Crew. Got it at the outlet (of course) in 2012.

Necklace: Gift from my sweet mom; it was for my Birthday 2009. I remember it was that year, because I wore it in a few pictures during a New-York-sister-get-away the following May. I had paired it with this purple cardigan I had, which fit really well, a beige skirt, black ballerinas and a white blouse. It looked really nice together. Unfortunately, I never saw that cardigan again! To this day, I have no idea what happened to it. I think I must have left it in New York.

Jeans: My somewhat new made in USA 7’s, the modern straight. Outlet again, paid about $100. They’re so soft!

So many memories kept in some (old, but good) well-chosen pieces! Today, good memories plus feeling pretty, definitely beats something brand spanking new. Happy Monday!

[Jeans featured in LookBook]

Cute kids deserve safe, US made toys (yes, they do!)

How annoying is it when people try to force their beliefs on you? Most of the time, it’s very annoying. Hopefully, I am not as annoying. I’m not trying to make you do what you don’t want to do, but I will keep talking about reducing consumption and making better choices. It’s just a reminder, and one you can’t really argue. Of course we should all be more mindful of what we purchase and ultimately, what we throw away.

So, with that said, I am guilty of bombarding my sister’s family with a lot of “good choice” presents and “advice”. She does get the organic pasture raised eggs now (they’re better for you and for the chickens) but I fear that alone won’t keep me from nagging.

Last time we visited, I brought the gift of recycling. To be precise, a recycling truck made from recycled plastic, here in the states, by Green Toys Inc. Score! I was really excited about this gift (naturally) and fortunately my nephew seemed to love it too.

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Green Toys have a bunch of different products and lines. Buckets, water toys, kitchen play sets, cars, airplanes and more. All their toys are non-toxic, safe, BPA-free and made from curbside collected recyclables.

So don’t tell me all kids toys are made in China! Here’s proof that they’re not. And you can afford it. Just buy one Green Toy instead of three random ones at Toys R’ Us. Reduce your consumption and vote with your dollars.

My gorgeous nephew and I will discuss the (depressing) recycling situation in America in more depth when he gets a little older. Maybe when he’s like three. That should be a good time to start.

Soft, adorable and locally grown

Because all babies are, undeniably, just that. 100% organic? Well I guess that depends on what mommy’s been eating and moisturizing with.

IMG_3477Anyway, Locally Grown Clothing Company is making lifestyle statement onesies for ages 0 and up. You can order these onesies online and pick a design representing the state you live in or whatever look you like! I got these at Whole Earth Provision Co. in Houston.

Not only designed and manufactured right here, materials are also sourced from the USA. Not a lot of companies can say the same. Love this!! And my beautiful friend, who got this gift of local baby fashion, loved them too. Win-win.

Can’t wait to see the baby, due February, rock these two styles.

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I am a beauty-blogger too. No, not, really.

I don’t blog about beauty. Two reasons:

1. I don’t really invest any time or money in make-up. My best friend, who is a bit of an expert, would laugh if she had to read a beauty blog by me. What should I be sharing, my semi-annual mascara purchase?
2. It is so easy to buy domestic beauty products. They are everywhere actually. Favorites include Burt’s Bees, Ole Henriksen and Neutrogena (nothing with microbeads though!). You might want to check these brands out immediately, based on my extensive research and experience mentioned in point 1.

Yet, here I am, blogging about beauty products. Well, it’s right up my alley this time.

My skin had been acting out, so I decided to get a Bare Minerals foundation (splurge!) and I needed a brush. The lovely lady that color-matched me at ULTA showed me a brush she liked. To her surprise, I asked her if she had something not made in China, maybe something domestic or European. She had never had that request before and she wanted to help me look.

We flipped over a lot of packages without success. Surely something as expensive as Lancôme ($48.50) must be made in France? But no. She was shocked and asked me why I was doing a not made in China challenge. I told her about my cause, the pollution issue, the transport, the horrible working conditions.

After we established that all the brushes at ULTA were made in China she said she couldn’t believe it, that she had never thought about it before and how could that be? (Yay, I made an impact.)

I left without a brush, but continued my search. I checked all of the common places like CVS, Walgreens, Sephora, Macy’s, Target. Sephora had quite a few brushes where the tags didn’t even say. That seems illegal to me, and normally means China.

aveda

Having no luck there, I went to Origins, Aveda and Mac too. AND The winner is Aveda’s foundation brush.

40 dollars, assembled in USA, partly sourced in Korea. Origins is a close second, also assembled in USA, but the tag didnt’t tell me where the materials are from, so a bit of a gamble. Mac has brushes from Japan and France. Happy to see there are some not made in China options at least!

After all that investigative work, I ended up finding a brush at the bottom of my drawer, which I rejuvenated. Reuse and reduce is always the best option – even a shiny, fluffy brush from Aveda can’t beat that.

Not a fan of fans

It’s been a while since I made an update on my blog. Work has been extra busy and I’ve made some long overdue family visits (that’s a great excuse!). What I have been doing, in the name of the challenge: looking for that outdoor ceiling fan I mentioned a couple of months back. I was hoping to find something not made in China or at least previously owned.

But…not even the downtown stores, with fans I can’t afford, have fans made here and not there. I went looking for a previously owned one, but without success, so I ended up at Lowes. Ultimately this led to my second felony since I started the challenge.

Unlike my last felony which happened by accident (online shopping!) this one was due to pure defeat.

Oh well, new month new spirit. August will be awesome!  On the “to find list”? Shoes, shoes and more shoes.

Pollution is in your shopping bag too

The World Health Organization (WHO), reports that an estimated 3.7 million people die every year as a result of air pollution exposure, making air pollution the world’s single largest environmental health risk.

On this link to NBC News, there is a video showing air quality in a northeastern town in China, in a heavy industrialized area. The factories and power plants (which mostly burn coal) don’t clean their exhausts at all there, leading to days like this one, when people can’t be outside.

So think about it. Most of what you own is made there. Think about all the decorations, kitchen wear, clothes and shoes you recently picked up because you felt liked it, bored at the mall, whatever, that were probably made in China. The overconsumption of goods in America (and other countries) is polluting the lives of people on the other side of the ocean. Not a big deal that you bought those sneakers? Well, what is needed to run a factory? Energy. Produced in a coal plant. The more manufacturing one does in one place, the higher the energy demand, the higher the pollution.

And then there is that huge ship with all the containers, polluting the world while on its way with brand name sneakers across the pacific.

They more you shop and the more you shop Made in China, the more you personally contribute to the health problems of the people in that video and the overall pollution problem on earth. Think about it.

Bibs for cool (sweedie) kids

My little nephew and his mommy loved the super cute bibs I brought them this weekend. Made right (here) in the hills of Austin, Texas, these sweedie kids drool catchers are not only trendy but super absorbent!

The organic jersey knit and sweatshirt fleece fabric kept his outfit underneath dry all day – which is important for a 3 month old trendsetter like Max. How cute is he?

Would truly recommend these bibs! Tell your friends or make your own baby a fashionista. An organic, made in USA fashionista that is. Yay.

maxan 2

Food for thought… Why the grocery store is a safe place

It has been four months today since I started the not made in China challenge. And a challenge, it really is. But yay for making it this far!

I haven’t been shopping for anything other than groceries lately, so it’s been a bit of a well deserved challenge break and the supermarket is kind of a safe place for me. Most products I buy are from right around here. I always check the labels (nutrition!) and origins (of course) and try to buy as local as I can. When your backyard is Mexico, organic veggie and fruit choices are endless and yummy.

Speaking of fruits, here is a heads up, apple juice (minute maid for one) and other fruit products may contain Chinese fruit! It’s always listed on the label, easy to find. But how can it be more economical to import apples from China than to use local American fruit? That blows my mind!

IMG_1193Another thing that has gotten my attention lately is organic and grass fed beef (if you shop for meat, that’s what you should always choose), which seems to be hard to find local.

If you see a little sign that says “inspected by the USDA” the meat may or may not be imported. And if it indeed is imported, I’ve noticed that it is often listed as “made in Australia”. I can’t think of any place further away than that! I estimate the shipping time is minimum 6 weeks. Crazy.

If there are no local, grass fed, organic meats, come up with something else to eat for dinner. A plant based diet is better for you and our environment anyway!

The point of this post: always read the label!

The wine section is at least very easy to navigate. Pretty tags that say Washington State on them. Where’s the sweet harvest?

For my plants, from Europe with love

I had been looking for a watering can for a while and found this cute one at Home Goods. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a plastic item like this one not made in China. This one is German. Ja, bitte.

Lucky me and lucky plants.  Now they actually have a chance of making it.

koziol

I looked up the brand online, Koziol, and it is very interesting for sure. All their products are 100% made in Germany. So a safe haven for a NMIC-shopper like me (yay!).

I don’t mind supporting the Europeans, they need some income to that union.

Here’s a quote from Koziol’s webpage “We are a one-stop manufacturing shop. Modeling, development, construction, mold-making, production, shipping, marketing. Forget the Far East”. Yes please!!

They never use BPAs or softeners. All of their production waste is recycled into other products, so the production line is zero waste. To me, that’s so important when dealing with plastics and a must to be an eco-friendly company.

Love, love, love their concept and products. Check them out here. 

Lake Powell Resort – the most awesome place

During our road trip in the Grand Circle last month, we did get to try a few hotels along the way in addition to the backcountry campsites we stayed at. We always like staying a local hotels instead of the big chain ones. It supports the local communities we visit and normally leads to new discoveries, excellent food and a better night’s sleep.

We spent one night at the magnificent View Hotel in Monument Valley National Park on the Arizona-Utah border. They had American-made towels (yay!) but unfortunately their complementary body lotion and shampoo were made in China, with eco-something in the name. Of course, being on a not made in China challenge, I don’t see how made in China and eco go together. Other than that, I must say the room was excellent. The restaurant served up some interesting well-made, Native American inspired food, which we got to enjoy with non-alcoholic beer.

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The View Hotel

The Lake Powell Resort (beautifully located on the lake) must be the most eco-awesome place ever. They had dispensers for the soap instead of little bottles (so did Hotel Blue in ABQ), a recycling station in the room, compostable plastic cups made in USA from recycled material and self shutting balcony doors to preserve energy.

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The menu in the resort lounge informed us that all ingredients used were locally sourced whenever possible. The food was good, the view even better.

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Eco-friendly Lake Powell Resort

The resort also had a big gift shop with lots of cool locally made stuff and Native American art. Most of the items were nice to haves, not need to haves, like the magnet I decided to take home. It reads: “The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives”. If only more people thought about empowering and taking care of the place they live instead of draining it from its resources!

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Made in USA magnet!

Speaking of magnets, 10 years ago I swear all magnets I saw and bought when traveling around this big country were made in USA. Now, you have to really look for them. It feels wrong to me, shopping for souvenirs made in China in an American national park gift shop.

Can something imported even be classified a souvenir? I think not.

Shopping for the outdoors (Camping gear part 1)

We decided to go to one of those we-sell-anything-even-remotely-related-to-camping type stores, to buy camping gear for our upcoming trip to the Grand Circle.

We needed a lot of things, since we hadn’t been out camping together before. We spent quite a while in the store and I must say we did pretty well. We bought Platypus water containers (folds up) and Therm-a-Rest mattresses and pillows – all made in USA. I also picked up a new US-made yoga headband from PrAnato keep my ears warm. See how remotely related to camping that item is?

The big problem was the sleeping bags. They were all made in China. North Face, Sea to Summit, Marmot, you name it. Prices varied a lot between brands, from $150 to over $300, but the funny thing was that the tags inside that said “Made in China” and described the item looked exactly the same. So all brands make their sleeping bags in the same place? A super-size sweat-shop factory for sleeping bags!? Probably! No sale. Irritated hubby.

When we got home I decided to search the web a bit. It didn’t take me long to find the cool site of Western Mountaineering, makers of down sleeping bags in California.

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The next day we hurried over to Whole Earth Provision (Western Mountaineering lists retailers on their webpage) and I chose a $360 blue, shiny, fluffy sleeping bag made in the golden state. I had to take some money from my savings account but it was worth it. Oh the joy!

I tried it out on the bedroom floor when we got home. It’s mummy style so it made me very warm, very fast. Let’s just hope it works during the upcoming cold nights in Utah too. We’re hoping to do some back -country camping. We shall see and I’ll let you know.

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*PrAna’s webpage is hard to navigate in terms of which products are US made. I picked up my headband at REI. PrAna seem to be focused on organic, fair-trade products and stand by their goods. Overall I think it’s a good company, though I doubt many items are US made.

Oh, the choices we make (go ahead, ask questions!)

People sometimes ask me if I have thrown away everything I own from China. Of course not. That would be even worse for the environment and contribute even more to the American over-consumption (which makes me sad when I think about it) as I would have to buy new lamps, shirts, sneakers, pillows, kitchen stuff, crafts…..

No – my already purchased “made in China” will be worn and worn out! My favorite shirt in the world is made in China. I didn’t check the label as I bought it last year. Today, I would have checked and passed. Could I have lived without it? Yes. Do I love it still? Yes. Hey it’s never too late to make better, more enlightened choices. The past never decides the future.

Dying to know more about the shirt? It’s from China-central also known as J.Crew. It’s a fine knit in off white with tiny orangey fruits on it. Vintage and adorable.

J.crew shirt

It’s so juicy! (when it’s made in USA)

It’s been almost two months since I started this challenge and I’ve just now decided to blog about it. It started at the mall (like so many great things do!)

IMG_5712I needed a new pair of sweat pants. I say needed because mine had paint stains on them! I love the Juicy Couture sweats and I remembered from before (2006 when I bought a blingy pair) that it said “made in the glamorous USA” on the tag. Left my friend at Sephora and headed over to Juicy. They had a sale, got a pair for like 35 dollars. Insane!

Before this, I had been looking at some (a lot) of that cute stuff at Anthropologie. I found my self picking things up, reading the label, and putting them back down. Really, 15 dollars for a porcelain bowl made in China? For that price, couldn’t it be made in USA or South America even? So all this got me thinking. Is this the new lifestyle for me? My new thing? Could I do a year of this? And so it started.

Oh, I love my light grey sweat pants made in America. I’d wear them to work if I could. (You know when you buy something and plan to only wear it at the house? House turns into Target… To the local restaurants… To your friend’s house… Yes that’s what happened with these) And they started this whole project, this commitment to (for me) the environment. Feel good by doing good.

Keep in mind, most of Juicy’s other garments and accessories are not made in America. Check before you swipe.

NOTE: After this post was published, Juicy has started to produce garments at international production sites (China, Vietnam). Check the labels. Unfortunately this “Made in USA company” may have deserted their original patriotism.