Tag Archives: Made in USA

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In an effort to sustainably transform my outdated closet and take it in the direction I want it to go, I ordered myself another plaid shirt.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 :)

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!

My sustainable “fashion” of 2017 revealed (and how much I actually spent!)

One of my favorite things when it comes to my sustainable lifestyle is the clothes. More specifically, I love stepping out of my house, going about my day and suddenly realizing that everything I have on is sustainable, ethical or, simply, old as dirt.

It gives me such happiness to know that I am representing my lifestyle with my appearance. As I am writing this I am wearing 10 year old boots and socks, made in USA jeans, underwear and sweater, favorite scarf and of course handmade in Chicago glasses.

Sometimes people are scared of sustainable fashion, thinking it looks a certain way or that enjoying frumpy Salvation Army 2 dollar sweaters is mandatory in order to rock a sustainable wardrobe. Ok, some eco-warriors may look like that’s key, but truthfully there is something for everyone! Yes, there are as many sustainable styles as there are brands and shoppers. Also for men, there’s an abundance of made in USA, fair trade options.

With that said, let me share with you the fashion, or let’s get real; “the regular clothes” that I got myself in 2017. I said in a previous post that I had shopped less than I did in 2016, but turns out that was a lie! Now that I am listing all my treasures, I see that I have bought more items and spent more. (What?!!) I blame it on maternity leave.

Everything from 2017:

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1. A Swedish scarf from Mamma Louise. (USA)

As a Swede in USA, it’s nice to sometimes show off my Swedishness with fabrics from Sweden. I wasn’t back to my pre-pregnancy weight this spring so I treated myself to a scarf! (One size fits all, wink-wink.)

Made by small business owner and currently Sweden-based Louise, whom I’ve gotten to know through blogging. It’s an organic cotton, infinity scarf with Dala horses and stripes. I paid $55 online.

2. A tote bag from Seabags of Maine. (USA)

The day you see me with a diaper bag from Babies R’ Us is the day Trump doesn’t suck. In other words; polyester diaper bag – no thanks. Instead I went for a new, super practical, eco-friendly, use for everything, tote bag.

The cool thing about this bag from Seabags of Maine, is that it’s made from old sails in Maine (duh). Some may refer to the material as “recycled” but actually it’s reused, or upcycled, if you will. No energy consuming recycling process is needed to turn sails into bags – just washing, handcraft, threads and needles. And New England-made rope handles. I paid $160 online.

3. A soft t-shirt from California. (USA)

This is an American Giant 100% slub cotton, made in USA crew neck T. Well made and comfortable. I paid $36.50 online.

4 & 5. Two summer plaid shirts from PrAna (India)

I got these two 100% organic cotton, certified fair-trade shirts at our very favorite co-op REI right here in Houston. They were both on sale and I paid only $47 for pink and $37 for blue!

6 & 7. American-made underwear. (USA)

I actually REALLY needed some new undies so I went with several from Hanky Panky and two from Brook There. Both brands are made in the North East from domestic, organic cotton. Hanky Panky’s boy shorts are my absolute favorites (fit, style, fabric) but I will give bonus points to Brook There for being a zero waste operation. I am not sure how much I spent all in all, some undies were on sale, but about $35-40 per pair online and $65 for the bralette so about $275. A bit of a treat and splurge :)

8. Black tights. (USA)

This was an impulse purchase walking through an outlet with my mom and an almost newborn baby! Ann Taylor had a sale and black, made in USA, 100% cotton tights were only $10. No brainer.

9. A Via 74 striped Dress. (USA)

This is a great, A-line dress from Via 74 with long sleeves and stripes. It is polyester which naturally isn’t my preferred fabric but it is made in USA, has pockets and I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. Had. To. Have. I paid $35 online.

10. A Nordstrom Rack bargain cardigan. (USA)

I found this long cardigan at The Rack when I was there looking for a new pair of jeans (see number 11). It was hanging alone in the clearance section and it was meant for me! Brand is Pleione. I paid only $34.

11. A pair of Paige Jeans. (USA)

I actually needed a new pair of dark blue jeans for the office (I never really liked the 7 pair I have and they’ve got “white knees” in them now) and was lucky enough to find a pair at Nordstrom Rack! Paige is the brand; made in USA of imported fabric. I paid $79.

So I spent, all in all, (drum roll please) 768 American dollars and 50 cents. 2016’s total was eight garments at a total of 597 dollars. Not bad!

How did you do in 2017? Do you know how much you spent?

I love keeping track here on the blog! I also love that when I went to collect all my “new” clothes for the picture (above), most of them had just been washed, hanging on the drying rack. A sign that I didn’t make any stupid purchases :)

Yay, sustainable fashion! And a BIG YAY for made in USA clothes, you guys. Who said it can’t be made here and be affordable?

Anniversary post: Four years since I went “green” and changed my world (and maybe yours!)

Hi!

I’m Anna and I’m on a Not Made in China Challenge. Today happens to be my challenge anniversary! That’s right, four years ago today I pledged to stop over-consuming, stop supporting unethical fashion brands and to buy as much (%wise) made in USA items as possible.

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Hi there! This is me :)

This pledge started my journey towards green living. Before that, I thought recycling, bringing bags to the grocery store and supporting World Wildlife Foundation with a bit of cash each month was the definition of being “eco friendly”. Yes, we all start somewhere. (If you’re not even doing those things, take a minute and reflect.)

Every year since I started the challenge, I’ve taken different steps to lower my carbon footprint like starting a compost, switching cars, limiting my shopping, quitting beef, to name a few and this year is no different.

More specifically, in 2017 I have:

  • Gone plant based for real. Hardly any cheating, guys! My husband has joined in on it too – like 90% joined in. I am so proud and impressed by his actions.
  • Kept up with cloth diapering our bundle of cuteness and poop. (Update post coming soon!)
  • Joined the Sierra Club and Planet Parenthood as a monthly donor. So easy.
  • Shopped even less (for myself) than last year. How is that even possible?!
  • Seriously revamped my bathroom/beauty routine meaning fewer, only all natural products in mostly zero waste packaging. Daily make-up no more.

I’m proud of all my efforts but going plant based has been the best decision ever. It takes a lot of thought and motivation and I did cheat during the holidays because gingerbread and cheese. However, I recognize that going vegan is a work in progress just like the not made in China challenge was (and is), so I’m not too hard on myself. I’ll get there :)

So, have I failed my Not Made in China Challenge at all?

YES. Oh my god, yes.

Keeping a baby happy and healthy takes time and thought which leads to shortcuts. There’s been take out in styrofoam, some unnecessary driving around to keep baby asleep in the car, baby things I didn’t need (erhm, sorry not sorry) and also a few items MADE IN CHINA! [Insert panic emoji here.] Namely a high chair, a robot vacuum, backsplash tile, a rain cover for the car seat, a pack and go stroller and a new pod-free coffee maker (hallelujah Ninja!).

I know, I know. I’ve gotten more China items this year than I did for the past three combined!

I guess some years you “need” things and some years you don’t. Having a new baby I think automatically classifies 2017 as a year we did need stuff. (A coffee maker and a robot vacuum fall in that baby-category! They do! Both were Christmas gifts for ourselves.) I actually think we’ve done really well acquiring very, very few things of which most were made in USA, Fair Trade or second hand. Go us.

Best Nine 2017 Sustainableanna
Best nine on Instagram 2017. I absolutely love all these pictures!

2017. It’s been an interesting year. (Don’t get me started on Trump.) It’s been a busy year too for me; not just at home with baby but at work as well. I haven’t blogged as much as I wanted to (wrote 45 posts compared to 60 in 2016) but that’s ok. This green mama/manager/newly crowned vegan cook can’t do it all. (Hint, neither can you.)

I’m thankful for everyone reading, commenting, engaging, and sharing! Also, I am so happy and grateful that I get to inspire you and be a small part of your journey towards a greener life with less consumption, better choices, less meat and most importantly: increased awareness.

Stick around for 2018 why don’t you!? I promise to do my best to make you think, smile and learn.

Happy new year guys.

Here’s to another year on the challenge.

PS. Please, pretty please, share your small or big eco-successes you had in 2017 in the comments. That would make me and everyone reading super thrilled and pumped for the new year :)

Sustainable mama + Buy Buy Baby = ? (Finding “the green” at the baby mega store.)

I shop at Buy Buy Baby. There I said it.

For those of you who are blessed enough to not know this, Buy Buy Baby is like Toys R’ Us but with baby stuff. Before “motherhood” I hated baby super stores and avoided them at all cost. After all, they sell so many things I would never buy; made in China plastic crap, gift sets no one needs, huuuge furniture pieces for tiny nurseries.

Then, there was that day, two days before baby came when we realized we needed a car seat… and so we went to get one at Buy Buy Baby. Then came the day that we needed organic formula (because baby wasn’t gaining enough weight and I didn’t like the conventional brands at my local grocery store) so, again, off we went to Buy Buy Baby.

Now, I’ve been looking around the store a bit, and sadly, YES, most items are useless, want-to-haves, made in China shit. Don’t let anyone or this post fool you into letting your guard down! However, there are also a few sustainable items for baby, a few of which I’ve gotten (list below!).

So can a green mama make do, shopping only at Buy Buy Baby? Find out.

Burt' bees organic clothes plan toys
Happy baby in organic clothing, with his new wooden cart!

Burt’s Bees 100% organic cotton clothing.

So far it’s the only brand I’ve seen that is made of only 100% organic cotton. (I don’t understand why any baby clothes would need poly fabric mixes?) I’ve gotten two pajamas and one comfy play set for August. Come to think of it, in addition to two Mamma Louise onesies, these are the only clothes we’ve bought him that wasn’t second hand!

Plan Toys wooden toys.

Even the most sustainable, minimalist mother will occasionally get gooey-eyed at items for her kid. (Yes, I’m talking about me.) I got a pushcart to practice walking and a xylophone from Plan Toys brand because they were on sale ($35 and $20) and sustainable. Made in Thailand of sustainably sourced wood, safe paint and packaged completely without plastic! There are a few other, “non packaged” wooden toy brands at the store like Manhattan Toy Company as well.

Organic Earth’s Best baby food.

When I am too busy (or lazy if you prefer to call it that) to make baby food for August I buy organic veggies for him from Earth’s Best brand. He happens to prefer the squash, which I often find on sale for 50c. Guess the other babies aren’t that into it! The food comes in glass jars with metal lids – so very reusable and recyclable. I use them for freezing baby food I did make and things like tomato paste, herb clippings and such.

Earth’s Best (and other organic) baby formula.

At four months we started supplementing and decided that our most favorite baby had to eat organic food! Buy Buy Baby has all the brands you need. Earth’s Best (again) comes in a tin can with #5 plastic lid – recyclable. Formula does create a lot of waste though, it disappears as butter in sunshine (Swedish expression)! In other words, baby empties a can fast. But what can you do? No compromises when it comes to baby’s happy, full belly. At least we don’t use the pre-made stuff in plastic containers :)

Britax Made in USA car seats.

Ok, a car seat will never be a plastic-free, super sustainable purchase so at least let us get one that was made in USA, right?! Go with a Britax. (Ignore all the unsustainable accessories though! You’ll make it without a made in China mirror in the back seat – I promise.)

BumGenius cloth diapers.

I have a love/hate relationship with BumGenius cloth diapers.

I love them because they work, the quality is superb and they’re assembled in USA. The liner material is super easy to wipe off, spray off or just ‘dump’ the poop off of (sorry TMI!).

What I hate about them is that each diaper is individually packed in a plastic pouch, no organic materials used and the inserts are actually made in China. So not super sustainable when you look at the whole package. But reusable is good.

I’ve gotten all mine second hand which makes them super green :)

Hospital grade silicone pacifiers from Philips Avent.

I’ve blogged about these pacis before; I got them because they were made in USA. Only later did I read in an all natural baby book that hospital grade silicone is the safest paci you can get for your baby!! YAY. Even better than natural rubber which can cause latex allergies.

So, yes, a green parent can get many functional things at the super store. But, no, he/she cannot make baby-life sustainable by only shopping there.

Why? Well, for an eco-friendly crib, mattress, shoes, books, plastic toys for bath time, bite/chew toys, bottles, tableware, bibs, pacifier clips, blankets, soft toys, wipes, stroller, high chair, wet bags, to name a few items, green parents need to go local, online or second hand! Plus it would be super expensive to dress a baby in only Burt’s Bees clothes from Buy Buy Baby!

Did you find something mega-eco at a mega store too? Would love to know what :)

Five brands that’ll make you Captain Sustainable Underpants!

A question I get asked a lot is “Do you know any made in USA underwear brands?” to which I always reply: Yes, as a matter of fact I do!

Made in USA isn’t really enough, they need to be sustainable too, right? Here’s my list of fabulous makers to get you started. (Two undies-makers are not based here but made the list anyway!)

Sustainable underwear brands

1. Hanky Panky

Made in: North East USA since 1977

They’ve got: Women’s lingerie, sleepwear, bras, bralettes, panties.

Sustainable because: It’s made right here which is great for our economy and our people. 100% of the fabrics and trims used to make their lace styles are knitted in the USA as well. The styles I have bought are all organic cotton (grown here!) which is safe for farmers, lands and butts alike.

Awesome because: It’s sexy and sustainable. Organic cotton undies are often pretty boring, but not here. Also this is the only American-made brand that offers padded, shaped bras – not just soft bralettes.

Fun Fact: Instead of water coolers with plastic bottles, Hanky Panky has installed filters to purify their NYC tap water, and each employee is provided with a BPA-free reusable water cup to reduce waste around the office.

Hanky Panky organic cotton

2. BGreen

Made in: Rancho Dominguez, California.

They’ve got: Women’s and men’s underwear, shirts, base layers.

Sustainable because: Made of organic cotton, recycled cotton or recycled polyester. 100% of the fabric scraps generated during the cutting process is recycled adding up to about 200,000 lbs. of material per year that doesn’t end up in the landfill! The factory is Fair Trade Certified which signifies that rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards have been met.

Awesome because: You can’t take for granted that garment workers in Los Angeles actually make a good living even if we are, by definition, talking “Made in USA”. (Immigrant workers are often taken advantage of, not making a living wage, which unfortunately is why lots of “cheaper” made in USA clothes are made in California.) With a Fair Trade Certification we know we can trust BGreen!

Fun Fact: In addition to their own production, this family-owned factory has been producing apparel for some of the best-known brands in United States for over 30 years.

3. Brook There

Made in: Fall River, Massachusetts.

They’ve got: Women’s underwear, bralettes, tops, dresses, skirts, leggings.

Sustainable because: The base fabric is an organic cotton jersey made from GOTS-certified yarn, milled in South Carolina and dyed in Pennsylvania. All undies are shipped straight from the cut and sew facility, and not a separate warehouse, meaning they don’t have to use any plastic bags for storage. Plastic free and organic! Yay!

Awesome because: The underwear is comfortable, comes in many styles and super pretty. Oh, and I love their modern, organic, cool take on the granny panty! (They call it the “boyshort” though ;))

Fun Fact: Brook There’s design studio happens to be situated on an organic vegetable farm.

Brook There made in USA organic underwear

4. PACT

Made in: India, Turkey.

They’ve got: Women’s and men’s underwear, shirts, pants, sleepwear, socks.

Sustainable because: PACT’s underwear factory is Certified Fair Trade which complies with legislation regarding maximum working hours, overtime compensation and other benefits  such as transport to and from the jobsite, company sponsored meals, health plans, and funding for workers’ children’s education. The cotton used in PACT undies is GOTS-certified organic cotton. You can read more about cotton farmers and the importance of supporting organic fields in India here.

Awesome because: Comfy and soft. Also, they’ve got several fun prints with flowers and stripes – not just solid colored cotton. And this brand is not just for grownups, they’ve got a few baby onesies too.

Fun Fact: I’ve blogged about PACT before! You can read that post here.

5. Thinx

Made in: Sri Lanka

They’ve got: Women’s period underwear, active wear.

Sustainable because: Thinx underwear is period underwear. Meaning that by having a few of these in your drawer you can save lots of disposable pads and liners from hitting the landfill! If you’re curious about waste free periods, check out Kathryn’s post at Going Zero Waste here. All Thinx’s manufacturing is certified Fair Trade and they just added an organic cotton line of undies! 

Awesome because: This company is run by women, sewn by women and made for women. The Thinx undies do work (holds the same amount as about two tampons), fit nicely and look like regular undies.

Fun Fact: They also have a fair trade (not aid!) initiative going on where girls are trained in entrepreneurship and sewing, among other things, reusable pads. It may be hard to grasp but periods are a major issue in some developing countries, preventing girls from attending school several days per month, which means they’re lagging behind their male peers. You can read more about Thinx’s foundation here.

Brook There organic hipster panty

That’s it! Five brands. Five styles.

I have to say my super favorite is Hanky Panky’s boyshort undies in organic cotton with lace trim ($32). I “need” twenty of those ASAP :)

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This list wasn’t what you were looking for? Here are some bonus tips:

Looking for socks? I’d go to REI (so many made in USA brands!) or order me some Colorado-made Smartwool’s. In need of a maternity bra? You’ll find a comfy one at Storq.com. All in all disappointed with my coverage of men’s underwear? Here’s a list of made in USA brands to check out (my husband hasn’t tried them so can’t recommend any specifically!). In Europe? Woron Store might be for you.

I want my baby to wear ethical fashion; starting with his bibs!

Do you know what makes shopping local so wonderful and extra awesome?

It’s that behind almost every brand committed to fair and local manufacturing stands a woman or man with a vision to make the world better. No bullshit. This is what I find over and over with made right (here) brands.

Some are motivated by sustainability, some by employing their neighbors , some want to bring craftsmanship back. Some, like the founders of Sweedie Kids, found that with their scarf-like bibs, they could make a big impact on the life of bigger kids with disabilities.

Sweedie Kids bib big kid disabilities

“We care about giving, and we do that through “Sweedie Dreams”. When you purchase a Big Kid Bib, you are contributing to Sweedie Dreams because it’s not just a product, it represents our passion for serving those with special needs. For each Big Kid Bib we sell, we give $1 to an organization tied to serving those with different abilities.”

Nowadays it’s not that hard to find cute, made in USA bibs for babies, but what makes Sweedie Kids the most ethical choice is that they’re also making bibs for a market that is so often forgotten. For children who are so often forgotten.

Super absorbent, cool designs and made from Oeko-Tex certified fabrics (i.e. certified safe, sustainable, ethical materials), these bibs get the job done no matter the age of the wearer.

Made in USA baby bib cactus

August has been modeling these bibs since he was about three months old. I wouldn’t go as far as saying they make drooling cool, but maybe just a tad bit more fashionable. (They’re also pretty great for when we practice drinking out of a glass. Let’s just say that not all the water ends up in baby’s tummy just yet!)

Check out Sweedie Kids here. Bibs start at $8.

Handmade in USA of imported fabrics.

Six reasons why I’m on a Not Made in China Challenge

Things have changed in this world of ours since I started the Not Made in China Challenge in 2014. Most of these changes are good.

For starters, India and China are investing billions in renewable energy – wind, solar, hydro – more than any other nations. In addition to this, China is shutting down its last coal plant in Beijing in an effort to clear the air (switching to natural gas) for millions of Chinese living in the region. Developing countries all over the world are going from no electricity to solar powered life – skipping the burning of fuels all together. Good news.

Meanwhile Donald (aka the worst president ever) is leaving the Paris Climate Agreement and talking about bringing jobs back in the coal industry as part of his plan to “put America first”. Although coal is never going to happen (sorry Donny boy!), the fact that he’s pro the most polluting technology we have and doesn’t believe in climate change, is bad news.

So, does it still make sense, as a sustainable shopper, to be on a Not Made in China Challenge?

YES!

Of course I would say that – hello blog – but there are great reasons for it too. Here’s why I am on this challenge, and keeping at it in 2017 and beyond.

The President is all talk

We know by now that all the campaign promises made by the Republican candidate were just false. He is not doing anything to bring jobs back here, he is not even ensuring that his beloved pipelines are to be made with American steel. He may have come up with the “Made in America Week” which is a great initiative, but so far, NOTHING has been done to ensure more items are, or remain “made right here”. (Also leaving the Paris Climate Agreement and not investing in renewables would most likely create fewer jobs for Americans down the line.) He talked the talk, but as usual, it’s still up to us consumers to walk the walk. And as far as that goes, no policies have been put in place that would make it easier or more affordable for Americans to choose “Made in USA”.

The core of my Not Made in China Challenge is to support small businesses that use sustainable production practices and eco-friendly materials. That effort supports our local communities; the tax-paying entrepreneurs, makers, builders and artisans living here. (Supporting a small business might mean a family can afford health insurance when/if GOP takes it away!) Basically this challenge is about “Main Street not Wall Street”.

Environmental questions remain

Even though China is switching things up in the energy market, honoring the Paris Climate Agreement and talking about implementing a carbon tax (YES!), small rural factories are still powered by burning coal. Not only by pulling electricity from the coal fired grid, but many actually run their own, tiny furnaces which have no filters, no air cleaning catalyst (NOx being an issue) and low efficiency.

There’s also more to a healthy planet than a low carbon air. China, India and several other countries are still polluting their groundwater and surrounding oceans by uncontrolled wastewater from manufacturing. (So is America, I know, I know, but I find it easier to spot the businesses here who do that, like Georgia Pacific.)

The force is not with the workforce

I have yet to see a certified fair-trade item come out of China. What’s going on with decent wages and healthy workplaces? Not much, I’m afraid.

This is of course also true for many other places; India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, Mexico, neighboring Latin American countries and even, dare I say it, we’ve got some sketchy California sweatshops too. Best to stay away from them all unless we’re talking about certified fair-trade, organic and/or small business/artisan style items we can trust. If it’s too cheap to be true (aka in the West as “A GREAT deal”) – someone suffered to make it.

The trade deficit

Our ginormous trade deficit with China isn’t shrinking. In fact, what we export most to the Chinese is AIR. Yep, empty containers are constantly heading across the ocean to pick up more “stuff” for bored Americans. How much are we talking? The trade deficit with China was almost FOUR BILLION DOLLARS in 2015, and it grows every year.

The issue here is that Chinese business men (and women!) are investing more than ever in the USA, buying land, real estate and factories as we speak. Basically China could soon “own the USA” thanks to you shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Transport hasn’t gone “clean”

There has not been any breakthroughs when it comes to shipping transport. Large container ships are still burning through barrel after barrel of fossil fuel shipping the above mentioned “stuff” and empty containers back and forth. Container ships remain a threat to marine mammals by interruption of sound waves and migration paths as well.

Honestly, it’s the easy way to shop less

Since most everything is imported, reading labels and tags so I can avoid “Made in China” means I can’t buy anything. I feel like this issue is so often forgotten when we talk about Climate Change and the environment. We can elect all the climate friendly politicians for Congress we want, but it won’t matter if we continue down this path of OVER-CONSUMPTION.

I’m not saying that a Not Made in China Challenge fits all, different rules work for different people. This works for me, and I am sure it would work for most suburban Americans with access to Target. 

So I’m staying on the challenge – I am thriving at it actually. Sure as hell doesn’t mean I don’t respect China and their efforts to act on climate change.

Buy less, buy local.

Main Street, not Wall Street.

PS: To find out more about what this challenge means to me, read my entire blog! (it’s fun I promise!) Or maybe start with reading my “About” page :)

 

Come SEA my new eco-friendly bag!

Mama’s got a new bag. And I love it.

The cool thing about this new bag by my new favorite maker Seabags of Maine, is that it’s made from old sails. Some may refer to the fabric as “recycled” but actually it’s simply reused, or upcycled, if you will. No energy consuming recycling process is needed to turn sails into bags – just washing, handcraft, threads and needles. That’s American handcraft of course.

sea turtle seabags of maine
Medium size Seabag with Sea Turtle!

“Our materials come from Maine first, New England second and USA third. We use the last remaining thread manufacturer in the U.S. We use the only rope manufacturer in New England. And our sail supply chain? Well, that’s as local as it gets. We collect our sails one at a time through a network of passionate boaters who love our community waters as much as we do.”

Though there are plenty of prints and designs to pick from, this medium size (14″ x 14″) turtle tote had my name on it.

I fell in love with turtles when we first moved to Texas because they’re everywhere! In ponds, lakes, bayous and sometimes backyards. Mostly we’ve got the red-eared slider here, and I’m pretty sure that that’s a sea turtle on my bag, but I love them all equally. (I love them more than enough to never use straws in my drinks! ;))

sea turtle seabags of maine
I love the look of the rope.

My new tote bag is sturdy, easy to clean (wipe off!), great size (I’ve got lots of baby gear with me and recently used it as carry-on on a cross-atlantic flight – it worked perfectly), vegan and has a very low carbon footprint for something new – being as it’s partly “old”. In fact, over the past 15 years, Seabags of Maine have saved over 500 tons of material from going into landfills.

And that is how it should be done, fashion industry.

seabags of maine turtle bag
Windbreaker needed. It’s cold, and I love it.

PS. Since we are on vacation in Scandinavia at the moment, I shot these pictures on a Danish beach, on the other side of the Atlantic from where this bag was made. Same water, different shore. Pretty poetic.

Bags start at $45, totes at $120. Read more at Seabags.com

My new (Swedish) scarf is the beauty of small (American) business

As a Swede in USA, it’s nice to sometimes show off my Swedishness with fashion. Not just with stripes and Euro stylishness (ha!) but with fabrics from Sweden.

Presenting this scarf; made by small business owner and Dallas-based designer Louise, whom I’ve gotten to know through blogging. It’s an infinity scarf, half Dala horses, a classic symbol of Sweden, and half stripes, my favorite thing. Both fabrics are organic and GOTS certified.

Swedish scarf wire dalahorses GOTS

Louise normally spends her days sewing and designing children’s clothes, but it wasn’t hard to convince her to make a scarf for me.

The idea came to me when she gave us the cutest onesie for baby August, and I realized I wanted, no needed, Dala horses too. (Ok, that’s a lie. My inner consumer wanted it!) At least I won’t grow out of my scarf anytime soon, like baby will with his outfit :)

If you’re looking for well made, locally made and handmade kids’ (or maybe adult!) fashion, check out Louise on Instagram @MammaLouiseSyr or on her Facebook page (she’s got a sale going on the month of June!).

Prices vary depending on fabrics and styles. Find out more by reading my wonderful interview with Louise (from 2015) about her business here.

PS. If you’re not looking for a Swedish scarf or baby clothes, I encourage you to contact your local makers – maybe they can make you exactly what you need, or let’s say it, want. Not only working for, but also with customers, that’s the beauty of small business.