You’ve probably been wondering if I am ever going to blog about sustainable, made in USA fashion again, and believe me, I have been wondering the same thing. It’s been a year since my last, proper, photo blog!
People always say, when you have a child your priorities change. This always sounded so negative to me, like the parents had been “forced” to change their priorities and were upset about it, but now, at least speaking for myself, I so enjoy having new priorities! What’s better than spending the weekend at home with our little bub? Exactly! Nothing beats that. Not even a photoshoot.
Ok, yes, I have also had some skin issues, which has made it not so appealing to get in front of the camera. However, today, I happened to love the outfit I wore for the office holiday party and my skin is quite good, so I decided to take some selfies!
This is a great, flowy dress from Via 74 with long sleeves, in an A-shape with stripes. It is polyester which isn’t eco-super, but it is made in USA, has pockets and is totally Anna. TOTALLY Anna. (You know this by now. Stripes + blue.)
I found this long cardigan at Nordstrom Rack when I was there looking for a new pair of jeans to wear at the office the other day. It was hanging alone in the clearance section (only $34!) and I know why it ended up there: giant fabric bows on each sleeve which were totally ruining the look. Since the fabric is a rayon blend (also not very eco-friendly unfortunately) I knew I could cut them off without damaging or having to mend the fabric, so I bought it, fixed it and now I love it! (Brand is Pleione.)
Question: Is it more sustainable to shop new clothes from the clearance rack than it is from regular stores? What happens to the last pieces on a clearance rack if they aren’t sold? Can I consider myself someone who saved this awesome cardigan from landfill?!
Maybe ;) I would love to hear your thoughts on this one!
Oh, Texas winter outfits, I love you.
PS. Tights are old ones from Express (made in USA), scarf is my pre-challenge DSW favorite (made in China) and booties are 2013 Ecco. Old is sustainable too!
Shopping for baby this winter, I was happy to discover that most baby essentials are indeed available in a made in USA version. Something I had feared would not be the case.
And don’t worry, I know I’ve published a few posts on baby gear lately, but I am not about to become a “mommy blogger” by any means! Babies aren’t THAT interesting (just cute and completely illogical) and when I look in the mirror I still feel like I’m the hot nanny. Just kidding! There’s no mistaking these dark circles ;)
Anyway, back to baby gear! Baby “essential” gear that is; made right here. They’re essential because I actually need them for baby-life to work, and most of them are items that I wasn’t comfortable getting second hand.
Breast pump (1):
I went ahead and bought a hand/manual pump as I wasn’t planning on pumping very much, just as needed for special occasions. The Medela manual pump is made in USA, while the electric version is made mainly in USA and Switzerland but does have parts from all over the world (including China). If I can get away with using the hand pump only, not having to buy an electric one, I’ll be thrilled. I never want to buy unnecessary electronics (neither should you)!
Baby bottles (2):
If you pump, you need bottles! These Life Factory baby bottles were actually a gift from a dear friend. They are mostly glass, BPA and phalate free and made in USA of domestic and European parts. I can actually store my milk in them too, as they have a lid. I wouldn’t use these for older babies, since they’re made of glass, they’re heavy which makes it hard for baby to practice holding the bottle.
Brand #1 (3): We have quite a few Thirsties Natural all-in-one newborn diapers; they’re our “main stash” right now. They are wonderfully easy to use, they simply snap close like a disposable diaper would (velcro!) and are made of organic cotton and hemp (with poly outer for leakage protection). Thirsties also offer wipes, inserts, boosters, wet bags and more; basically all you need for cloth diapering.
Brand #2 (4): The Simplex all-in-one from Blueberry diapers has been our go-to night diaper as it has eleven(!) absorbent layers of cotton and fits extra boosters inside the liner. Super absorbent and cute.
Brand #3 (5) The Bummis is actually made in Canada, but of US fabrics… so yes, they classify as made right here – wouldn’t you agree? These are more on the plastic side of things, as they’re poly covers (or “wraps”) with loose inserts which can be replaced while the cover is used again. We’ve only tried these diapers on baby once and little one seemed to be sensitive to them… so I need to get back with you with a final review. For now, know they’re locally made.
Swaddle blanket (6):
This cute Swaddle Design’s blanket is made of super soft 100% cotton. We thought we’d be swaddling the baby when he was tiny, so a friend got us a blanket as a gift, but we ended up never doing that since he seemed so fond of his hands (and we were too tired to practice swaddling). Doesn’t mean the blanket isn’t being used! It’s large, warm and cozy so we’ve been using it in the stroller mainly.
Wet bags (7):
My favorite wet bag design is the large wet bag from Planet Wise Inc! We have two, which we use for our daily diaper routine (fill one with dirty stuff, wash, fill other while first one dries). Smelly? No way! These bags hold the “not so pleasant” smell inside miraculously well (just don’t forget to zip!). The bag in the picture is a travel version which fits only one diaper, and we keep it in the diaper bag.
Not all parents use pacifiers, and breastfeeding class advised against it, but we decided to get two pacifiers, just in case baby would like it (thanks sis for that advice!). Turns out that little one does calm himself down a lot with his little binkies – essential for sleep time! We’re using Phillips Avent, hospital grade, BPA free, made in USA “Soothies”. You can buy them anywhere, which is handy!
Bite rings (or whatever they are) (9):
I wanted to include these “rings” in this post, because they are made by a company called Re-Play which, just like Green Toys Inc, make their products using only recycled milk jugs. While Green Toys focus on play, Re-Play has all the essentials for baby dinner time. I got these rings as a free gift when buying diapers from Nicky’s Diapers (where I’ve bought almost my entire stash) and decided to accept them (though I hate “free gifts”) since they’re eco-friendly and made in USA. Maybe not exactly an “essential” item, but Re-Play’s dinnerware might turn out to be :)
I’ll be honest, I thought these little jars from Earth Mama Angel Baby were made of glass with a metal lid, but they’re all plastic… that’s what you get sometimes when shopping online. Anyway, the creams inside of the jars are organic, baby safe and smell lovely. We hardly see any rash on little one since he’s cloth diapered but we use cream once in a while, and of course he likes the massage that comes with it. I used the nipple cream when I was starting out breastfeeding, a great vegan alternative to lanolin.
That’s all! A mommy blogger would have totally made this into 11 posts and probably would have tried to sell you all something through a link that she made money off of. Ha! I just want to let everyone know that “made in USA and eco-friendly” IS POSSIBLE.
PS. Babies actually don’t need that much stuff (just like I always thought). Our little one is mostly into being held, hugged, played with and talked to. No purchase necessary.
It’s extra exciting for me when I get to promote a brand that is locally made to both my American and European readers. I don’t know if it has ever happened before, but it did now, namely Britax car seats!
Made right here in Fort Mills, South Carolina for the American market and made in Germany for the European market under the name Britax Römer.
Maxi Cosi is the world’s most sold infant car seat, however I know from flipping it over in the store, that it’s actually made in China. My sister also told me that she found it to be very heavy. Based on those two facts, we decided to look at using another brand.
My boss told me that Britax is made in the USA, so that seemed like a good starting point!
Turns out that Britax is a top safety pick with its newborn inserts, cushions, easily adjusted straps, ISO-fix base (that stays in the car), and side collision protection. Of course, it is rear-facing.
In terms of weight, I don’t think it is any lighter than my sister’s Maxi Cosi! I struggle when I’m carrying baby from the car and he’s still tiny. Thank goodness we made sure the car seat fit on top of our stroller, that way we can drive the baby around when we’re out and about.
I probably don’t have to say it, but I love it when I go browsing, fearing that the market will be saturated by made in China and Taiwan options, and immediately find a good, solid brand that is NOT. It’s my favorite thing.
Unfortunately, all the Britax traveling accessories (mirrors, storage pockets, seat protectors etc.) are made in China. So are the accessories of all other carseat brands. Kind of disappointing, especially when these are need to have items, such as the sun and rain cover my husband insisted we get for the sake of protecting our little pooper from Texas’ elements. Yes guys, I’ve committed my first 2017 baby-related shopping felony ($29.99). I only made it until February!
The Britax infant car seats sell for about 400 EUR across the pond and $200 here stateside, including the ISO-fix base. It’s one of the more expensive seats in the market for sure, but considering the safety aspect and that it’s made right here (or there!) it’s worth it. I like knowing that we’ve invested in a great cruiser for our baby :)
If you are a nature lover or environmentalist, chances are, you’ve got something from Patagonia in your closet. And rightfully so, they make good quality, practical clothes that last a long time.
I haven’t bought any new clothes for eco-baby other than two pairs of wool socks from Smart Wool and diapers (does that count?) and, as you may have guessed since I’m bringing it up: something from Patagonia. The rest of his fashion is all second hand.
I couldn’t resist this little tee though. It’s made in USA of fair-trade, 100% organic cotton (most likely grown in India or Turkey) and has a mason jar (the symbol of zero waste living) and a great statement “Live simply” on it. I found it at the clearance rack at Whole Earth Provision in Houston for only 10 dollars, so it was a pretty good deal too!
Let’s talk Patagonia. A company that decided to donate all proceeds from their Black Friday sales to environmental organizations last year. A company that’s into preserving the environment, reducing their carbon footprint and has been ever since they started in 1973. They have a repair program in which worn clothes are revived, produce a line of sustainably dyed jeans and all their cotton garments are 100% organic (some of it grown in the USA). They also offer paid family leave and on-site childcare (to their US employees).
That said, it was just a coincidence that I bought eco-baby a Patagonia shirt. Come to think of it, neither myself nor my husband own anything from the brand so I can’t say we’re fans. Why, if they’re so eco-friendly and fair haven’t we supported them more?
Honestly, I have some issues with them. Mostly, it’s the importing from China thing.
Patagonia manufactures the majority of their garments in Asia and thereby (pretty much) all their merchandise sold in USA is imported from far away. Eco-baby’s little tee is the first thing I’ve ever run into that’s made right here (still from imported fabric!).
Why is this such an issue to me?
About 70% of crude oil pumped from our precious soil or ocean floor becomes diesel or heating oil. A large chunk of that diesel is used by shipping transports, you know those huge container ships constantly cruising our oceans with “stuff”. To limit further climate change we MUST stop importing the vast quantities of goods from the Far East that we currently do. It is completely unsustainable and harms marine life. I find it strange that an eco-company takes this lightly.
And while Patagonia may say that all their Chinese shops are fair and eco-friendly, I can’t help but wonder if they really, truly know. I haven’t yet seen a fair-trade stamp in their fluffy jackets or in their plaid shirts made in China. (The Indian fabrics and jeans are certified, but not the Chinese.) Where’s the stamp? And how do they know the factories are running on green energy?
My second issue is the heavy use of polyesters, and I am not the first one to bring up this issue with Patagonia. Fleece being a favorite of many outdoorsmen, one would think Patagonia would have come up with a 100% plant-based fleece by now, considering poly-blends are made from fossil fuel and release a ton of plastic microfibers into our waters every time they’re washed. Right?
I’m curious to see if any of these concerns of mine will be addressed by Patagonia in the future. I hope so, but cheap labor and stay-dry fabrics sure are attractive for a global company.
In the end, what I am trying to say with this post is that although a company appears to be doing things properly, going beyond what is required by consumers and is by definition “green”, there may be policies that I, on my own eco-journey, don’t agree with. And just because I don’t want to shop everything a brand has to offer, doesn’t mean I can’t buy the items that indeed are made right (here).
There is no getting away from tag-checking! Every time. Every garment. Every brand.
You can check out Patagonia’s Global Footprint HERE.
Since my baby bump is becoming more planet-like by the hour, thankfully, my dear friend Mary Beth agreed to model and contribute to the series once again. See, this lovely lady was so inspired by this little blog of mine that she decided last year that if the fashion isn’t made in USA, it simply isn’t worth buying. The result? She’s bought ONLY American-made clothes, bags, accessories and jewelry since her last appearance on the blog. Quite impressive, isn’t it?! Getting to inspire others is WHY I BLOG, so thanks MB!
Now, let’s get down to business and talk about the first American-made garment we picked for the blog – a statement tee from Good hYOUman.
I love that we’re starting with this brand because Mary Beth is such a good human.
This company, based out in LA (of course) is all about delivering high quality basics, giving back to the community and manufacturing ALL its products in the United States of America.
They’ve got tanks, tees, sweatshirts and sports bras for women; beanies, short- and long sleeved shirts for men and onesies and tops for the kiddos. Most tees are cotton/modal blends or 100% cotton which make for great eco-friendly picks. They do have some polyester mixes as well, but it’s all stated clearly on the website so you can easily manage your choice of fabric. Transparency is how we like it.
They can be found in smaller boutiques all over the USA (check out the store locator) and of course you can shop on online at GoodhYOUman.com – domestic shipping is free!
T-shirts sell for $40 to $48, and sweatshirts are in the $60 to $85 range.
Go check out Good hYOUman and come back and see us soon as I’ve got more Made in USA fashion posts coming! This is the first post in a four post series focusing on American-made style, all featuring the beautiful Mary Beth in her own locally made clothes, photographed in some neat Houston locations by our lovely friend Ashley.
I decided early on in my pregnancy to limit buying maternity clothes as much as possible and instead try to master pregnancy style using pretty much only my regular clothes and a few, versatile, basic hand-me-downs (thanks sis!). It’s worked out pretty well so far, and with that, left room in the budget for other clothes.
Christina El Moussa (of HGTV’s Flip or Flop) has been my number one pregnancy style inspiration. While she was pregnant with their second kid last year, she kept rocking outfits that fit her growing belly, showed it off even, but was never centered around it. One of my favorite looks of hers was the open plaid shirt, white top, boots and skinny jeans.
Time has come to introduce my new (lovely) flannel.
Made in the USA by a small company called Tradlands.
I am not often at a loss for words (blogger!), but when I first tried this shirt on at home (after it came in the mail) all I could say was “wow”. Followed by some more wows. Since I started the challenge almost three years ago, I haven’t encountered any American-made clothes as nice as this. This is the most beautifully crafted garment you can imagine. The flannel is thick and 100% cotton. The seams are flawless and the colors are vibrant and deep.
The shirt fits just like I was hoping it would. Of course I can’t button it over the bump, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to ;). Going by Tradlands’ online size guide, I’d be an XS which also matches the size of most button-up shirts I have in my closet. And here’s something amazing: my arms are monkey-style and rarely does an XS shirt have sleeves long enough for me, but this one does. Another wow.
Tradlands offers a wide range of women’s button-up shirts, everything from dress shirts for the office to heavier outdoor flannels like mine. They’ve also got some gorgeous sweaters. Many styles are made from organic cotton!
This amazing shirt sells for $167 online. I had a coupon code and ended up paying only $142 (free shipping and returns!). I almost regret using the coupon now. Had I known the excellence in craftsmanship, I would have been more than willing to pay full price to support the company. That’s what this challenge is all about after all, spending my money where it makes a difference.
This is an investment piece. A garment to keep forever. And the last thing I am buying myself in 2016. Ending on a high note!
In case you were wondering; the boots are old, the top and the skinny jeans are hand-me-downs from my sister. The jeans are actually made in USA too by AG Jeans!
The AMAZING glasses? Yes, they’re made right here and blog post coming soon!
NOTE: After this post was published, Tradlands.com has started to produce some garments at international production sites (China, Vietnam). Check the labels. Unfortunately this “Made in USA company” may have deserted their original patriotism.
We’re mid-way through September, and although temperatures are cooling off, Houston still allows us to wear dresses. And that’s pretty lucky for me, considering I have a brand new one!
Have you heard of Via 74 before?
It’s an online shopping site with ONLY made in USA garments from which I got my new dress! The clothes are not only stitched together here, the actual fabrics are made in USA as well. Via 74 source from different trustworthy wholesellers and you don’t know exactly what the what the brand label will say (other than made in USA) until the garment shows up at your doorstep. This mix of sources adds up to quite a versatile collection.
For me, being not just a “support local” consumer but also an eco-woman, I always want to know the contents of the fabric too, and at Via 74 it’s listed loudly and clearly for each item.
That’s how I came to decide on exactly this dress (there are so many!) for myself. It’s made of 95% modal (and 5% spandex) which is an eco-friendly choice made from beech wood. There were lots of pretty dresses that I liked, but since they were made of polyester or rayon they weren’t for me. Transparency online is so awesome.
This dress was on sale for 3o-something dollars, but I ended up paying only 22 after rebates. And on top of that, shipping was free! What!
I’m very excited about this.
Via 74 is a member of the Made in America Movement; they are committed to American made goods and honest domestic sourcing. Check them out here (you won’t believe their colorful selection :)).
First, let me just get the obvious, in your face Tesla fact out of the way. Yes, by the time I’m halfway to my house, your growling V8 is still revving up to get you out of the parking lot. Hang in there buddy!
Now, let’s get down to Tesla Model S owning business. We get lots of questions about our car from people we know, but also from strangers in parking lots. Based on the questions we get most, I decided to compile a list of information and answers in this post!
Of course, I’m an eco-blogger and this is all written from my point of view based on personal experiences with this beautiful machine.
It’s not zero emissions, but it sure can be
On paper, our Tesla is zero emissions because all the money we spend on electricity goes to a 100% renewable energy provider, but in real life our carbon footprint per mile is around 50% of that of a comparable midsize gas-driven sedan.
See, In Texas the energy is made up by several different sectors; nuclear, coal, natural gas and about 10% wind power is pumped into the grid. Since we use the grid for power, a mix of those technologies fuels our car. That combined with the higher efficiency of the electric engine, adds up to us emitting about half the pollution that a single gasoline engine emits. As Texas moves more towards wind and away from coal, that number of course will improve (there’s hoping!).
In states like Oregon, Idaho and Washington which are mainly powered by hydropower, driving an EV (electric vehicle) is actually very close to zero emissions, so owning one there boosts the eco benefits. If you have your own solar panels, of course you’re emitting zero carbon per mile for real. (We are looking into it!)
Flipping off the oil companies feels SO good (every day)
Let’s face it. Filling up the car with gas is not an enjoyable moment. Not having to do so at all is amazing (and less germy).
Each time I drive by a gas station I feel pretty darn good about the fact that my car was fully loaded by the time I jumped into it in the morning. People seem worried about the 4-5 hour duration it takes to charge the car at home (from completely empty to full), but honestly, don’t most of us spend at least 7-8 hours in our homes at night? I know I do. And for the charge to take that long, the car must be running on empty. If you drive 40-50 miles in a day, the charge time is more like an hour.
Not giving my money to ExxonMobil or Chevron is also wondrous (every day). Like I wrote above, our electricity provider is 100% green, so that’s where our money goes now instead of going to oil giants.
Savings? About 30 dollars per month with our driving habits and electricity provider (and current low gas prices!).
You can charge your Tesla in a regular 110V/10A outlet, but in order to charge as fast as we do, you must have your house, or garage, wired with at least a 240V/40A outlet, a $700-$1000 one time cost. The higher the power, the faster the charge. (A certified electrician can tell you what is possible in your home.)
Do we ever forget to charge? Nah. Plugging in became habit right away. Do we forget to pull the charger out before a trip? No, the car won’t let us go.
Range anxiety is (pretty much) uncalled for
The furthest we’ve taken the Tesla so far is Waco, TX. A good 215 mile trip (one way) from Houston, ending in a town with six Tesla superchargers waiting for us. And with a 270 mile battery life, a trip like that isn’t an issue.
Here’s the thing. The Google maps system in the car is programmed to guide your travel so you stop and charge when you need to. Type in that you’re going to New York and the car will make a plan for your trip including which chargers you should stop at, and for how long to “fuel”. There is no risk of you running out of power, as long as you have half a brain and listen to the car’s needs.
Of course charging at the Tesla superchargers is free, so no need to save up for road trip gas money (just coffee money, unless you happen to find a café that offers that for free as well for Tesla owners, like the Collin Street Bakery chain in Texas).
Sure, charging may take 20 minutes instead of a gas stop that takes five, but on a road trip, it’s not that big of a deal. Take a break, have a snack (the chargers are often walking distance from other amenities) and frankly, we’ve been on one little road trip in six months. 99% of the time we stay in the Houston area, and 270 miles is more than enough to get us anywhere we want to go (or we could just charge at the superchargers here in Houston!)
No, we don’t miss the sound of a gas guzzling engine when we start the car, or accelerate. It does make a swishing sound, like a turbine starting, when you hit the pedal hard and it is quite awesome (and addictive). The silent cabin makes listening to music pure joy.
Speaking of which, it comes with internet radio (Slacker) and most of the radio stations in the world are accessible for live streaming, anytime, anywhere. There’s no extra charge for this radio awesomeness.
Service is not a problem and the software is constantly updating
At least it has not been for us. Living in a large city with several Tesla showrooms and service locations of course helps us feel confident and relaxed, if something was to happen the car would be picked up or serviced at the location as soon as a Tesla Ranger could make it there.
And what other car actually gets better with time? As you drive the Tesla it can learn your patterns in order to use energy more efficiently, share road knowledge with other Teslas and the software is automatically updated with the latest improvements as well (via wi-fi).
I don’t care what the news say, the Autopilot works and it rocks
Every time there’s a car accident involving a Tesla, news agencies are having a field day. Imagine if CNN reported each time a Ford or Chevy was involved in an accident! Of course corporate media have ties to oil industries and large car makers, and will report negatively on Tesla whenever they get a chance. They’re hating on Tesla like they were hating on Bernie Sanders. So be it. New ideas and inventions are a little scary for the conservative crowd.
The truth is the Tesla Model S and X are the safest cars on the road today, exceeding the five star crash ratings in every aspect and the AutoPilot (the car’s ability to steer and control speed itself) really works. It is super convenient, especially when I have to peel a banana. Like, who can do that with one hand?
Keep your hand on the wheel (as soon as you’re done with the banana!) and be observant of traffic and when the car beeps and tells you to take control, don’t ignore it and continue watching Harry Potter on your phone (the 17″ awesome touchscreen will not let you watch movies!). Again, listen to the car’s needs.
Needless to say, having a long-range electrical car is just like having any other car, just way more convenient with less pollution, gas pumping and noise. Even if I keep saying that electrical vehicles are the future, I admit our car doesn’t feel futuristic at all, it feels contemporary. And why wouldn’t it? Why should a car in 2016 look, drive and function like a car did ten years ago (or make that a hundred years ago)?
I believe in and passionately promote a future where all our cars are electric! That’s why our family made it a priority to lease one. It matters to us. A lot.
Not everyone will or can have a Tesla, but other than the much longer range and free charging, several benefits above apply to other electrical cars as well. As the Tesla Model 3 is released in 2017, with a $35,000 price tag, we’re one step closer to making long range, beautiful EVs accessible for the masses.
(Ps. Tesla is made right here in the States, boosting American ingenuity and providing thousands of jobs out west and in motor city. Thanks Elon Musk!)
It’s been a busy month and although I haven’t had time to blog as much as I would have like too, I’ve still found the time to buy one new item for myself. Amazing how that happens!
Actually, it was Hubs who discovered these amazingly artsy water bottles, we simply had to have, while reading an outdoors magazine. We could definitely use a few more bottles too, since we always bring water from home on the go. Why we bring? Because single use plastic sucks and it takes minimum effort to fill a bottle at home. The total volume of bottled-water sales exceeded 11.7 billion gallons in 2015, a statistic we will be no part of (and neither should you!)
Liberty BottleWorks is the brand and Washington State is the manufacturing place. Each bottle is made from recycled aluminum and is therefore lightweight and super durable. (It’s very important to support products made from recycled materials to show the industry that recycling makes sense, pays off and we want it!) In fact, it’s the only American made 100% recycled metal bottle in the market.
The formed plastic mouthpiece seals with only a quarter turn and is spill free (even when purse riding) and BPA-free. We are actually really impressed with how easily the water comes up (with the sports version cap and straw). Quenching!
Liberty BottleWorks take pride in having a zero waste factory and I can confirm the packaging was completely plastic free as well. We bought our bottles over the phone and they came in the smallest box possible with no “extra stuffing”. The straws and caps we had selected shipped loose.
They give back by allocating a portion of their sales to environmental organizations and community services and their policy of hiring US veterans first is what they call “positive discrimination” – I am ok with that!
My husband doesn’t get enough credit on the blog for his environmental efforts and his participation in the not made in China challenge. We make a good eco team, as I’m all about planting trees, reducing waste, eating plants, shopping local and buying less, while he’s all about electric vehicles (read Tesla) and ending the empire of fossil fuels once and for all.
Funny enough, we’re almost half way through 2016 and the only clothes he has bought since 2014, are two pairs of jeans and some motorcycle gear, while I have bought what feels like tons of outfits. Hmmm. Finally he needed something new.
We bought his previous (made in China) Crocs in 2012, long before the challenge started, and they’ve lasted almost four years, which is not bad actually. As for the replacement, naturally we wanted made in USA, and I suggested trying a pair from Okabashi.
With a zero waste production line, their clogs are recyclable, vegan-friendly, latex-free, dishwasher safe and come with a two year warranty.
I will admit, they’re not the sexiest pair of shoes I have seen, but when are clogs ever awesomely hot looking anyway? Fortunately, these “Copenhagen Clogs” have proven to be much more comfortable than the Crocs, with a massaging insole, ergonomic foot-bed, good arch support and anti-slip sole. That’s the important stuff.
All for the price of 19 American dollars. Makes it kind of hard to justify importing a pair, doesn’t it?
Sustainable fashion is having a moment. A major moment.
And by moment, I don’t mean a sudden reduced consumption trend in the fashion industry or an upswing of people digging through thrift stores for hidden gems instead of buying new clothes. I mean it’s having a “Come buy this because it is sustainable”- moment.
Don’t get me wrong. We are definitely in need of companies doing things right, making it right here, picking the right fabrics in regards to environmental impact, paying the right salaries to the right employees and so forth. However, the question still remains, how can fashion be labeled “sustainable” when we’re constantly encouraged to keep shopping?
I have two concerns in particular.
I fear that the fashionistas are still buying all their cheap H&M clothes, sexy Victoria’s Secret bras and convenient Gap basics, only now they’re adding another cool dimension to their outfits with a sustainable item. In other words, they’re shopping more. “Look at me, I’m so trendy and this bag is handmade in USA of recycled hemp. #SustainableFashion”
I suspect that the sustainability interest stops with the fashion. And by fashion I mean what we show off using our bodies. I doubt that the sustainable fashion people also stopped buying I-phones, plastic China-made toys for their kids, made in Pakistan rayon work-out socks and imported Christmas decorations.
It can’t only be about sustainable fashion. There has be more to it.
Sure, fashion is a start, but how does one justify slave-labor-made decorations from China when it’s suddenly UNTHINKABLE to buy a sweat-shop-made shirt from Bangladesh? Sweat shops make other things than clothes, you know.
And there has to be less. Less stuff.
A made in the USA top you’ll never wear is not a sustainable purchase, even if it is made responsibly down the street of eco-friendly materials. No one (except the industry) will applaud you for buying it.
We can’t buy things because they are sustainable, ethical or made locally.
First, we have to decide what we need (or, let’s be honest, want) and then we have to make sure we pick an ethical, made right (here) product. That is sustainable shopping. Yes, it takes effort. Yes, it takes responsibility. Yes, it takes awareness. Yes, at times we will fail (that’s ok).
Yes, it is worth it. It has to be. #SustainableEverything
I showed up at Fleastyle Houston a couple of weeks ago in a (made in USA) tank top, old jeans and a pair of sneakers. It hadn’t crossed my mind that an event with “flea” in the name would be a dressy one. But, apparently when there are vintage items and locally made products on display, you should be wearing your trendiest outfit, preferably combined with a few select pieces in light brown leather and high heeled shoes. Acceptable hairstyles include perfect curls, long waves, a high bun or braids. Unwashed hair in a ponytail? Don’t even think about it. (Oops!)
Despite not looking quite the part of someone interested in vintage style, I did get to talk to a number of local vendors and craftswomen about the products they had to show and sell. If not pre-owned, most of the goodies were made right here in the Lone Star State.
Time to finally put together a list of some made in Texas fashion (on my made in Texas blog). Right, y’all?
This company is all about them totes and weekenders. Every bag is handmade in Austin and materials are locally sourced whenever possible. My favorite is probably the Texas State tote, made with hand-printed natural cotton canvas, veg-tan leather and brass rivets. So cute! Another cool thing is that Newton partners with a division of the Austin-based Multicultural Refugee Coalition, Open Arms. A non-profit organization assisting them (and other companies) with producing locally made items while empowering refugee women through living wage employment. Prices range from $30 to $250, depending on the style. I wish I needed another tote bag.
This Houston-based fashion brand is catering to all the wonderful men in our lives. Yes, there are bow-ties made from recycled hemp, vintage handkerchiefs, handmade American leather key chains and organic cotton pocket squares ($32). All made right here from domestically sourced, sustainable materials. Very hip(ster).
Folksie is small-batch-fashion for women, men and kiddos, with straight lines, somewhat somber fabrics and a touch of country twang (check out the vests!). All of Folksie’s pieces are handmade in Dallas, one by one, and most are made to order. I’m not sure this brand is for me personally, however the men’s aprons ($95) are pretty darn awesome.
Gracefully rustic leather bags in the 100-200 dollar range, is what Hatton Henry offers. Each wallet, tote and clutch is handcrafted (here) in Houston. I’m not sure where the leather is from, but I must say the bags are beautiful. This designer is apparently into helping homeless mutts get better lives too, doing so by donating a percentage of every item sold to a Houston rescue program. So, if you’re one of those people who claim to be an animal lover, yet somehow can justify wearing leather – here’s a brand for you ;).
Texas style cuffs and bracelets, handmade in Austin, that’s Leighelena’s thing. Every type of leather (alligator, python, lizard, ostrich) wrist wrap you can think of – they’ve got it. The leather is Italian (I asked) and unfortunately the few vegan options I saw at Fleastyle didn’t feel quite right. I know, I know, this is Texas, there will always be lots of leather, I’m just saying I like more options! The buckle designs are really neat and unique to Leighelena. Priced from $20 and up.
And no, thanks to my shopping challenge, I didn’t get myself anything. Just browsing. Being sustainable.
All pictures belong to the brands. No ownership intended.
Though I have never visited, I think I really like Canada. Their prime minister seems more than capable and most of my favorite HGTV shows are shot there. And when it comes to products, well, I’ve had my Canada Goose jacket for eight years now (still going strong!) and I can’t deny that we really like maple syrup (especially if aged in a whiskey barrel) at our house.
But here’s something else from Canada that has caught my attention recently; super nice rain boots from Kamik.
My friend just got a pair for her son that they both love so far. They’re sturdy, made in solid quality synthetic rubber with removable comfort felt insoles, and obviously waterproof (that’s kind of the point). She paid about 30 dollars for the kids’ style “Stomp”, while most women’s boots are around $60.
I’ve run into Kamik boots at DSW and West Marine before, but the best selection is, not surprisingly, online on their website. (Oooh, polka dots!) Shopping there also makes it easy to check which boots are indeed made in Canada and which (few) are not.
Most of the styles are 100% recyclable and just like (my favorite brand) Oka-B takes back their worn shoes for recycling, Kamik gladly accepts their old boots back for that same reason. But before you go that route, they suggest that if you think your boots have a little kick left in them, you should just buy new liners and keep them going a while longer. Recycling is, as always, our last resort after reuse, repurpose, reinvigorate, relove and regift. Speaking of liners and recycling, their so-called Zylex liners are made from 77% – 97% recycled water bottles. Pretty good.
I do have one little beef with them. They have separated the boys’ and the girls’ boots into two different pages on their website, which I find very unnecessary and 1950s like. Kids should be allowed to pick their rain boots based on interests and color preference, not automatically be put in a gender box suggesting that girls like pink strawberries and boys like black. I for one would have loved the boys’ navy blue rain boots with coral soles. That’s like my perfect color combination!
Kamik’s men’s (or women’s!) game and work boots are built in the USA and range from $130 to $180.
My friend took these beautiful pictures of her son making a splash and having a blast in his new boots. In Houston, we’re never short of puddles to play in and thanks to Kamik, we’re never short of made right (here) rain boots either.
Browse boots here but check your local stores first to save packaging and trucking :)
I believe most of you reading this blog are in agreement with me that buying locally made products supports and maintains a strong local economy. I also believe that price is the only reason an American would buy a made in China product over a made in USA one.
Imagine that you have a choice between two identical sweaters, one made here, one made in China. The price is the same, the quality is the same and they’re sitting next to each other on the same shelf at the store. I bet you would pick the one made in USA.
Now, let’s say the imported sweater is ten dollars cheaper. Some of you would now switch, some would not, claiming that ten dollars off of an 80 dollar sweater doesn’t matter. But what if the made in China sweater was free? Yes, completely FREE of charge! Now, which one would you pick?
Hold that thought for a second and let’s turn our heads toward developing countries, applying the same logic. What do you think happens when companies like TOMS overflow a developing market with free shoes? What do you think happens when your donated clothes arrive in a less fortunate country? Do the people there still go shopping for locally and sustainably made?
Let’s talk about TOMS a bit, just because they’re probably the most famous of all “social entrepreneurs”. You think you’re doing a great thing, buying one overpriced pair, while TOMS donates another to a child in need.
Unfortunately, the reality looks a bit different. Instead of helping, you’re actually:
Buying a pair of shoes you don’t need i.e. wasting resources (come on, admit it).
Making the American CEO of TOMS richer.
Importing a pair of shoes from China. (Go ahead, check the tag. Pretty much all pairs are made in Chinese non-fair-trade-certified factories and shipped across the ocean disrupting marine life.)
Helping destroy local shoe making businesses in developing countries.
Oops. Not so great.
Now, I don’t think TOMS was started with some evil intention to keep third world countries poor, nor do I think you wanted to help them do that, when you bought your shoes. I simply think TOMS misunderstood their own efforts and lots of people believed (or believe) in their concept.
For generations “we” have tried giving aid to poor countries in order to “help” them out of poverty. And obviously, it’s not helping. I haven’t heard any sunshine stories about how riches ever came from aid (talking about all that free stuff).
And it makes sense. No one would invest in a local rice plantation if there were bags of free imported rice available. No one would want to start a local manufacturing plant if everything people needed (and wanted) was already available for free.
The cool thing is that we can make better choices in our everyday lives to make sure we don’t contribute to the broken aid system! Here are some ideas on what you can do to make a positive impact:
Stop randomly donating money. Make sure you know what your money is used for, and who profits the most from it. If you are unsure, you’re better off keeping your dollars away from any organization or church meddling in another country’s business. This does not include properly handled emergency aid.
Stop over-shopping. By limiting your shopping, especially of clothes and shoes, you can avoid “donations” that contribute to the mountains of items overflowing developing countries. Quality over quantity, you know. If you need to donate, give it to a local homeless shelter or a resale shop.
Shop second hand. Keep other people’s bad choices from ending up as donations!
Shop fair. The only way to HELP developing countries grow strong economies is to purchase their fairly made (non-sweat-shop) products (i.e them creating jobs). I’m talking about fair trade clothing from Kenya, organic chocolate from Peru, unique jewelry made by artisans in Haiti* or something as simple as choosing the local beer and hotel chain when you travel. You know; doing it fair, shopping it small and keeping it real.
Without local manufacturing and thriving businesses, a community, no matter which country it’s in, can never rise above poverty.
If you were tempted (or secretly picked) the “free” made in China sweater instead of the 80 dollar American one in the scenario at the beginning of this post – you know this is true.
* To me, the optimal “fair” shopping is when you shop items made close to where you live, minimizing shipments. So if you’re in Europe, support African Fair Trade, if you’re in the States go for Central American goods etc.