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 :) )
Windbreaker needed. It’s cold, and I love 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!
Lots of clothes
A pair of shoes
A teether that goes in the freezer
Three reusable squeeze pouches for baby food
Two baby bottles (not pictured – in the sink!)
Two cans of baby food (my friend’s baby never got to!)
Mini flounder for bath time (mine from 1989!)
20+ Children’s books in Swedish and Danish
Eight baby books
13 Mini (pixi) books
Five puzzles (one not pictured)
Bib that catches food
Pear-shaped mold for playing in sand
Soft toy reindeer (which baby loves!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Second hand shopping and I don’t always get along. I get impatient and picky and normally leave empty handed. But now and again, on an odd day out, I strike gold. (Fake gold that is.) Why I keep at it? Because it’s the most eco-friendly way to add new things to my closet and I support small neighborhood businesses while doing so!
First, let me introduce my “new” flower broche. A vintage piece that I immediately fell for at the Vintage Revival boutique south of Houston. I paid $10.50. I love using a spectacular broche as the focal point on a (dull) purse!
This plastic clutch was actually my grandmother’s. She got it for free with a mail-order make-up purchase, sometime in the early 2000s, and I snagged it right away. Finders keepers, you know? That goes for the broche and the clutch bag.
The blouse is ALSO a “new” second hand find! Can you believe it?
This is Lucky Brand (lucky me), from who knows when, which I got for $10 at a local resale shop. I love the pattern and I love how the blue plus red threads “make” purple, allowing me to wear one of my favorite old scarves with it. Scarves always make every outfit better (logic according to Anna). This one was a gift from my mom.
The jeans are my “overhauled” old boot-cut Gap jeans that I blogged about last week, and the flats are, of course, my made in USA Oka-B’s. The BEST (and cutest) shoes for Houston’s wet weather.
Sustainable fashion at its best; garments that are old, a vintage broche that is new, a purse that is borrowed (no return date set) and of course, ballet flats in blue.
This is the forth post in a five piece made in USA style series, featuring pictures of my beautiful friend Mary Beth. This week jewelry is on the agenda.
It is interesting because jewelry is both a sustainability hero and a sustainability zero if you ask me.
The cool (hero) part about the bling we own and wear is that it rarely goes out of style, and if it does, it is likely to come back in a few years, allowing us to wear it with confidence again. Jewelry lasts forever and no one can tell if a piece is old or brand new, making it a very sustainable and eco-friendly accessory to be worn over and over again, and passed down thru generations. Buying second hand clothing can be very intimidating, but thrifting for jewelry, I find is much easier. It is by far my favorite way to add new pieces to my accessories wardrobe. Not only is it the best eco-choice, but there are endless bargains to be made!
Jewelry is such a great way to complete an outfit, to make it feel more festive and put together. For the Made in USA style series, Mary Beth has been wearing artisan pieces she loves, in timeless designs.
Supporting small vendors, local artisans and craftsmen is definitely the next best option to buying second-hand jewelry in my opinion. The Purple Toadstool earrings ($20) we introduced in the first post are crafted in Texas, and the Gleeful Peacock necklace ($32) from the second post is handmade in Oklahoma. Two great quality, made in USA options with incredibly cheerful brand names!
Moving on to the not so great (zero) list of jewelry; at the top spot are diamonds (they’re not this girl’s best friends).
Roughly 49% of diamonds originate from Central and Southern Africa. Some of the politically unstable countries there are dealing with revolutionary groups who have taken control of the diamond mines, using proceeds from diamond sales to finance their operations. This is what is referred to as “blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds”, which I am sure you’ve heard about (and maybe you’ve seen the movie with my eco-hero Leo DiCaprio).
According to what I have read, blood diamonds only constitute as low as 1% of all diamonds traded (2014 numbers), so buying a blood diamond by mistake is unlikely to happen. The problem still remains though, as it is of relative ease to smuggle diamonds across African borders and there are always buyers.
Diamonds are also considered clean when mined in nations that are not in a state of war or conflict, but whose diamonds have been mined using violent, unethical methods. Every day, more than a million diamond diggers in Africa endure dangerous and unfair working conditions, earning less than $1 a day, which is not enough to feed their families or sustain a healthy lifestyle. That sounds like “conflict diamonds” to me!
With 49% of diamonds being from Africa, it is safe to assume that about half of the diamonds we see at the jewelers in the west are “clean”, but nonetheless unethical, slave labor stones. (Canada is a big producer as well, where I am sure better employment standards are used for diamond mining.)
With the help of Fairtrade International, a fair trade diamond standard is in the early stages of development, but not in place yet. (A Fair Trade (US), or Fairtrade (Europe) Certification ensures that the producers in developing countries get a fair price for their products. The goal of fair trade is to reduce poverty, provide for the ethical treatment of workers and farmers, and promote environmentally sustainable practices.)
Most of the silver in the world is produced in Mexico, and China ranks third largest supplier, after Peru. When it comes to gold, China is the biggest consumer AND the biggest producer in the world. Which brings us to the next zero on this list: gold.
According to Fairtrade International, ninety percent of the labor force involved in gold mining is made up of artisanal and small-scale miners who produce between 200-300 tons of gold each year. Around 70% of this is used to make jewelry, which consumers across the globe spend a whopping $135 billion a year on buying! (Don’t get me started on our overconsumption issues now! Jewelry will NEVER be a “need to have”.)
I do worry about the miners, in terms of fair wages and working conditions, but also about the environmental impact of gold mining. According to Brilliant Earth, by the use of dirty practices such as open pit mining and cyanide heap leaching, gold mining companies generate about 20 tons of toxic waste for every gold ring made (0.333 ounce of gold). And of course, there are also serious health risks associated with improper handling of toxic mercury and cyanide.
Small-scale miners and artisans, are at the end of a long and complex supply chain and for those working in remote locations, it can be difficult to sell their gold at a fair price. Fairtrade Certified Gold is the world’s first independent ethical certification system for gold. The Standards include strict requirements on working conditions, health and safety, handling chemicals, women’s rights, child labor and protection of the environment.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t run into Fair Trade gold very often. And, most of the time, it is impossible to tell by the tag, how and where the raw materials of a piece of jewelry were made. Facts such as these are important to know, and should be kept in mind when one shops for jewelry. Maybe you don’t need another 20 tons of toxic waste on your finger, huh? Everything has an environmental footprint.
Do you have a favorite handmade, artisan, eco-friendly, locally produced jewelry brand? Please leave a comment with a link to it, so we all can get inspired!
There’ll be a necklace again in next week’s post, I assure you, but mostly we’ll be talking shopping and smart outfits for busy moms. Come back and see us!
Resale apparel scares me. And I know I shouldn’t admit that because I’m an eco-girl who knows that buying previously owned clothes (instead of new) helps our environment. In my head, I am a cool thrifter, one that finds awesome deals, colorful items and makes them work. But that never really happens.
Last Saturday, I woke up in a go-get-them mood and decided to check out a resale shop and a farmers’ market on the other side of the lake, I hadn’t been to yet. Full of optimism and actually craving a bit of shopping (see this happens to everyone, also the low consumption folks :)) – I started at the resale shop:
Man, it’s unorganized in here.
Wow, that’s a bad print. Who bought that to begin with?
Ooops, I stepped on that purse. Hope no one saw me.
There goes all my inspiration. Bye, bye.
That cardigan is actually cute! But oh, it comes with a fuzzies-party.
Is it just me? Or is this a reflection of what is happening here? Would it be too much to ask that the store be tidy? That there’s a minimum acceptance level for the clothes they take in?
This happens to me over and over, and I don’t like it. People who live in ‘trendier’ areas of the country, or of this city for that matter, must have better luck thrifting than I do. I must not be the type of shopper the resale places are targeting, I may be too inside of the box for this. Or is it as simple as me being a spoiled shopper? (Hey, don’t answer that!)
I left the resale shop and went to the farmers’ market. To my surprise, in a strip mall located right by the market, I spotted a small “antiques” sign in front of a shop called Vintage Revival. Intrigued, I went in, browsed, and immediately said to myself; “I want to buy everything in here”.
Miraculously, when one goes from “resale” to “vintage”, the whole setting changes. The boutique was organized, cozy and smelled nice. Items gathered together – went together, and were set up in proper arrangements. Jewelry, clothes, deco, art, locally handmade soaps and creams, artisan crafts, and old photographs covered the place. The few dresses they had, hanging inside of an antique closet, looked like they were taken from a Mad Man set. Which one must be mine!?
I decided that a round neckline, sleeveless vintage dress with orange and yellow flowers was the perfect choice for me. I tried it on and though the fit was not 100% perfect, I just loved it so much already that I had to take it home. The storeowner believed it was a custom-made dress from the 60’s and she was so happy I wanted it. It also came with a matching headband (which needed a few stitches at home to get back to its previous glory). There are no labels what so ever inside this dress, so not only previously owned, but also, most likely, made in America, handmade with love and one of a kind. Thus this dress hit the spot on all shopping rules, not forgetting “support small business”. Price tag? 15 American dollars. Oh, the excitement! (Of course I had my reusable bag with me, and recycled the paper receipt.)
This dress will we worn to work – dressed down with a cardigan – or worn in Mad Man style for parties, costume parties and around the house when I feel like being vintage-glam. Back when I lived closer to my grandma, I used to scavenge her closet all the time for hidden gems from the old days. Re-discovering my love for vintage made for a great, successful shopping excursion.
I will not give up on resale just yet. I will keep looking, checking, browsing and visiting the thrift stores, hoping that one day a gorgeous outfit will appear – fuzzies free.
I must overcome my resale fear, and frankly, my own judgmentalness. 2016 might be the year I will do just that. I’ll keep you (blog) posted :)