Tag Archives: Sweden

Vacation, vacation, vacation: dealing with the aftermath (+ back to blogging!)

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog lately because 1. Vacation in Europe with baby and 2. Vacation in Europe without wifi. Yes, there are still places without it! (I did manage to publish one blog post about my new eco-friendly bag which I photographed i Denmark. Check it out here if you missed it :) )

Now, when it comes to vacationing, or traveling if you will, dealing with the guilt of flying is always hard. This activity, which I always try to undertake responsibly (have a great reason to go, travel zero waste) and rarely, is certainly the most unsustainable thing I do. One return trip to Sweden in economy class adds 1.28 metric tons of carbon to my yearly carbon footprint which is a lot. So what to do?

The easy and obvious thing to do is to carbon compensate, which I can do directly thru KLM’s website when buying the ticket (more on that in this post from last year) and/or by planting trees at Stand for Trees. This trip I realized that I could actually “compensate more” by collecting items abroad for baby August to bring home with me. That’s only previously used items – otherwise no point!

You’d be amazed what friends and family are hiding away in closets and are dying to get rid of. Because the people “donating” to me are my closest friends, not only do they have things I want, like and need, but also aren’t offended when I say no (aka “why’d you buy that?”). Most importantly they feel great about giving, they don’t have to spend money to spoil our baby, and together we prevent waste and reduce new material being purchased.

In addition to friends’ used (perfectly awesome) stuff, I also got my hands on a few of my own childhood items (sorting boxes at dad’s) which thrills me so.

The CO footprint of each and every thing I collected probably can’t be found on google, however I know it takes lots of energy, oil, resources and chemicals to produce just one new plastic cup. 

I like lists, so here is one of everything we brought home with us for baby August’s current and future endeavors!

  1. Lots of clothes 
  2. A pair of shoes
  3. A teether that goes in the freezer
  4. Three reusable squeeze pouches for baby food
  5. 10+ Spoons
  6. Four Plates
  7. Eight Bowls
  8. Three Cups
  9. Two baby bottles (not pictured – in the sink!)
  10. Two cans of baby food (my friend’s baby never got to!)
  11. A reflector
  12. Mini flounder for bath time (mine from 1989!)
  13. 20+ Children’s books in Swedish and Danish
  14. Eight baby books
  15. 13 Mini (pixi) books
  16. Five puzzles (one not pictured)
  17. Bib that catches food
  18. Pear-shaped mold for playing in sand
  19. Soft toy reindeer (which baby loves!)  

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Long list right? All of these things aren’t need-to-haves perhaps, but most are! How much carbon would I emit if I were to buy all of these items new?

I’m not sure, but not having to do so makes me feel better about those long fossil fuel burning flights we took. And, it IS more fun to have previously loved things :)

Now, vacation is over, I’m back to blogging (some fun posts coming up!), enjoying my last few weeks of maternity leave and, of course, living it green in Texas.

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.

 

Hand me down goodies for eco-baby – and we’re pretty much all set

I don’t normally travel to Europe twice in one year due to the heavy carbon footprint of cross-Atlantic flying, but this year it just happened that way. I had lots of reasons to go for a second time (while this bump is growing and showing).

Meeting my new nephew was the main reason for the trip, however inhaling the cold, crisp air, enjoying the colors of fall, eating lots of foods I’ve been craving and taking the opportunity to collect (yes collect!) loads of hand me down goodies from family and friends for eco-baby were bonus reasons.

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My mom’s vegan cinnamon rolls and fall colors at dad’s.

It’s amazing what the people we know have at home and are more than willing to part ways with. Frankly, they’re dying for someone to use their storage and basement items again. Many seem to have too many things they want to give you (maybe they over-shopped?), in which case I say let your inner minimalist guide you – it’s has to be ok to say no if you don’t want or need what’s offered. Someone else they know might need that exact thing.

I’m trying to keep baby-inventory as low as possible, but I have come to accept that eco-baby will need a few things like clothes, a car seat, a stroller, a place to sleep and diaper stuff. With this trip, the clothes part is already completely taken care of! My nephews’ 0-3 months baby collection is now mine to use, and as he grows out of 3-6 and 6-9 and so on, hopefully those clothes can be handed down to us too.

Going through all the baby clothes, I was happy and impressed to see that my sister had bought almost exclusively organic cotton items. There were also a few handmade items; a cardigan knitted by our mom and a jacket and pants set from Sewing for Seeds – a Swedish eco brand based in Stockholm, sewing small batch fashion from organic cotton or recycled fabrics.

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Stack of organic onesies, Burt’s Bees pjs and Sewing for Seeds jacket

My oldest and dearest friend had sewn a homemade baby resting pad for her daughter and told me it was one of the best accessories she had had.  It allowed her to put the baby down anywhere to sleep, with no risk of her rolling over or falling down. The baby supposedly feels very safe and calm in it, as the design is meant to remind her of the tight space in the womb. She said to me “I just don’t know what to do with it now”, so I volunteered to give it a new home. Homemade things are so special! And may I add that a baby lounger like this one, costs above $150 online? Check out Dock a Tot (also made in Sweden) and you’ll get the idea.

In addition to ALL that, I found some of my old books and my mom had saved my old baby blanket and some towels too, which I also took with me. I feel so lucky to be able to revive some of the 80’s things I used when little. How retro and eco-friendly is that?!

With all these items in combination with a few things local US friends have already handed down to me, we’re now in GOOD shape.

Note. In order to reduce my carbon footprint while travelling, I carbon offset more than the calculated amount that my flight emits thru KLM’s webpage, however, there’s no real eco-friendly way to fly. Read more of my thoughts and how I do international air travel HERE.

You can take me out of Europe, but you can’t take Sweden out of me (an eco-friendly air travel post)

KLM is my favorite cross-Atlantic airline. Not only can we afford the economy comfort seats (4″ more leg room, a bit more recline and a quiet cabin) but the connection in Amsterdam is usually a breeze (knock on wood) and year after year they earn the award for most environmentally friendly airline. Do I appreciate the fact that I can calculate and compensate the CO2 emissions of my flight immediately as I book it? Yes!

First, the contribution made to the “CO2 ZERO program”, as KLM calls it, is directly and fully invested in various sustainable energy projects. On top of their agenda is development and use of bio-fuels, which they estimate can lead up to an 80% reduction of CO2 emission when used on a large scale.

Interested? Take a look at this informative video about the work they’re doing and why! (Another animated one ;))

KLM reduces their energy consumption by the use of lightweight materials on board, fuel-efficient operations and improved engine cleaning methods. And although their tea and coffee cups are 100% biodegradable and the majority of the food is sourced sustainably and locally, the onboard meal service needs a total re-do, if you ask me.  The meals in coach are still served in single-use plastic packaging which, in addition to the food waste, adds up to an incredible amount of garbage for each flight. Reusable dishes, fabric towels and compostable materials (for disposables) shouldn’t be that hard to do. We also need to see the vegan meal become a standard option on all flights. Let’s not settle for the classic “Do you want the meat or the pasta swimming in cheese?” anymore!

The aviation industry is responsible for about 2-3% of the total CO2 volume caused by people. To be honest, I am surprised the number is that low! Compared to all transport, the contribution from aviation is 12% where cars and trucks come in at a combined 74%. Fun fact: Some of the newer planes, Airbus A380, Boeing 787, ATR-600 and Bombardier CSeries aircrafts, use less than 3 liters or 0.8 gallons of jet fuel per 100 kilometers or 62 miles (per passenger). This matches the efficiency of many modern compact cars (and is actually more efficient that many American SUVs).

In collaboration with Delft University of Technology (in Holland), KLM is working on the development of an aircraft they call the “CleanEra”, which will be 50% more efficient and produce 50% less noise. The expectation is that this aircraft could be flight-ready already 2025.

In this global world we live in, I realize we cannot function without air travel. We all use it from time to time and I don’t think electric planes or cross-ocean super shuttles are happening in my lifetime (but I’d love to be proven wrong – Elon Musk, hoping you will do so!) so it’s super important to me that the airline I choose to travel with, do what they can to promote sustainability!

Where are we heading? To the motherland.

Green pine trees, cold fresh air, family, recycling bins in every corner and the best potato salad and candy in the world awaits (nope, not being subjective at all) in my home of Sweden. It was recently named most sustainable country in the world, 99% of trash is reused, recycled or used as bio-fuel, and Sweden aims to be completely fossil fuel free by 2050. No wonder I became an eco-activist ;)

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Don’t forget about me and the blog while I’m gone! Thank goodness for pre-scheduled posts!