Help remove toxins from car seats

One of my most popular blog posts is about finding a non-toxic car seat.  It’s something all of us want.  A safe car seat with toxins.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel, a real chance that flame retardants could be removed from car seats.  There are studies showing they are not helpful in real world car fires.  There is recent legislation, H.R. 5359, that would allow car seats to meet a smolder test instead of an open flame test.  This would allow car seat companies to make car seats without chemical flame retardants (which many have said they would like to do but can’t currently do while meeting our current, outdated flammability standards).

Please support my change.org petition.  This will raise awareness of H.R. 5359.  Please sign and share with everyone you know!  Our children need this change – no more flame retardants in their car seats.

 

 

Organic food for cheaper…

I’m pretty hard core about eating organic food.   I eat 100% organic (well maybe 99%).   Sometimes I buy deli food from my local co-op and it isn’t always 100% organic – but usually at least 95%.

I’ve looked for ways to decrease our shopping bill because when you buy quality, organic food it can get expensive!  We have a fantastic local co-op where I live and I pretty much exclusively shop there when I go out.  Super occasionally we go to Costco and buy the few organic items they have there.  Of course, I love our local farmer’s markets and go there as much as possible as well.

In addition to organic I also really care about where my food comes from.  My priority is both local and organic.  I refuse to buy organic if it is from China or Mexico.  I worry about if controls are actually happening there (is it really being grown organically) as well as the quality of the soil (lead and other heavy metals).  So I’m pretty picky 😉

When I’m not going to a store, there are two places online that I like buying from:

The first is Thrive Market.  I decided to finally try Thrive about a year ago.  I was hesitant at first because I didn’t know how much I would save.  When I started my trial membership, I saved quite a bit of money.  After the trial ends, there is an annual membership of $60/ year.  I decided to pay for the annual membership and see if I saved at least $60.  Within 6 months I had saved at least triple that amount.  I’m able to find products significantly cheaper than I can in my local grocery store.  With two young kids I’m also a big fan of having food delivered to my door step.  Thrive has become my go-to favorite place to stock up on foods that I love!  It’s like Costco for organic foods.  You pay a membership fee and get organic foods for less.  If you spend more than $49, then shipping is free.   It’s easy to stock up and get to $49.

The second store I love is Azure Standard.  Azure Standard is a bit unique.  You can have items shipped and you pay shipping OR you can find a drop point near you.  A drop point is usually at someone’s house who has asked Azure to be a site coordinator.  A semi-truck delivers food to the site coordinator’s house.  Each person’s order is in boxes.  I just show up and look for the boxes with my name on it and pick it up.  They have set delivery days.  Again, similar with Thrive, Azure has cut out the middle man and passes savings on to you.   Azure has a lot of bulk organic foods as well a fresh fruits and vegetables at a great deal.

Happy organic shopping!

 

Disclaimer:  I use affiliate links at times. It doesn’t cost you any more but does help support my time running my blog and this page. Other affiliate links might get you a discount which is a win, win! I appreciate you supporting my links as a way to help me offset my time by bringing info to you. I will never be swayed financially, and I will only post products and companies that I would, and do, personally use for my family.

 

 

Closed Facebook Group

I’ve just created a closed Facebook group as a way the Natural Baby Mama community can discuss non-toxic items.  Whether you are wanting to know what car seat to buy, questioning non-toxic baby items or items for you or your home, this is will be a great resource and open line of communication.  Please like the Natural Baby Mama Facebook page and join the closed group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/223493848003000/?hc_location=ufi.

I’m looking forward to interacting with you more in the closed group!

 

 

Back on the saddle

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.  A lot has happened in our lives and I just needed to take a break.  We welcomed our second baby to our family.  He is the sweetest.  We also moved and did a remodel.

I had grand intensions of blogging again when I was pregnant but I was too tired and felt too sick to devote any energy to anything other than making it through the day.

Then we found a house we loved.  We did some work to it and then moved.  Moving with 2 young kids is not for the faint of heart!

I have so many blog posts to share with you all.  I am also going to go back through and update posts – including the car seat post!  I’ll also be updating links because I know some products don’t exist anymore and some links are not working.

I’m looking forward to connecting with you all again!

Organic Christmas Trees in Washington State

I’ve been asked a lot where we found our organic Christmas tree farm so I thought I would do a post about it!  If you didn’t read my other post on why we buy an organic Christmas tree (and lead free Christmas lights) click here.  The main driver is I didn’t want to bring a tree into our house that had been sprayed with pesticides and Roundup had used on (as most are).  In my previous post I have a link to organic Christmas tree farms in different states.  Some states don’t have much listed like my state of Washington.  Here is what I have found so far.  We live in the city so finding something that was a reasonable drive from Seattle was important to me.

  • The only certified organic u-cut Christmas tree farm in the state is Misty Meadows.  They are primarily a chicken and egg farm but have the trees for December.  They are northeast of Bellingham.  A great choice for those that live north but a bit of a drive for those of us that live in Seattle (at least an hour and a half) or to the south.
  • Fall City Tree Farm is not certified organic but they do not spray or use ground fertilizer.  What they told me is that they do lose a small percentage of trees due to various diseases, insets and deer.  At this point they don’t use any chemicals but since they are trying to make a living they have always said that if necessary they would go with chemicals (except insecticides).  They haven’t had to do any of this up to this point.  They don’t have any entertainment except usually a bonfire blazing, homemade doughnuts and cider.  We haven’t been here yet but this is the tree farm we will be going to this year.  Update:  for the 2014 year this farm isn’t opening until December 6th.  We like to get our tree the weekend of Thanksgiving so we are going to try another farm this year.
  • The Country Tree Farm We went to this tree farm, it’s really run down and the trees are huge (like 30-50 feet huge).  I don’t recommend going here.  They do not use any chemicals at all (no sprays and no ground chemicals like Roundup).  This farm is in Renton and has been family owned for 30 years.  They have been chemical free for about the last 5 years when the daughter started taking over the farming for her parents.  They did mention that the address is hard to see and a little covered by trees so keep that in mind when heading there.
  • Bill Pace Fruit and Produce has pre-cut Christmas trees that use no checmials at all.  They said that they are organic but not certified.  All of the trees are at their year around market and the address is listed on their site.  This was the only pre-cut Christmas trees I could find.  We ended up getting our tree here after leaving The Country Tree Farm very disappointed.  They are open until 7pm so we were still able to get a tree after dark 🙂
  • Silver Star Christmas Tree Farm sells certified organic Noble Firs that are delivered to your door.  They cut the trees they day they are delivered so you are sure to get a fresh tree.  They harvest the seeds from their trees to make sure that every step is organic.  This is a great option for those that don’t want to deal with trekking out to get a tree, getting it on your car, and back in your house.  The price seems to be the same as if you went to a tree farm.
  • Carnation Tree Farm is certified Salmon Safe.  You can read about their green farming practices .  After sending several emails back and forth, and them saying that they used no sprays and were Salmon Safe, I did find out that they use Roundup as a weed control mostly around their new seedlings.  This was a bummer to find out.  They told me that they plant approximately 2,000 seedlings each year spread out throughout the property.  I asked if they only used it the first year and they said it depends on the growth and size of the trees.  They have a gift shop in a portion of the barn and they have Santa there as well.  They have a small unheated sheltered area where local groups do bake sales and people can get out of the weather if needed.  The bottom line is that they do not spray their trees but do use Roundup around the trees (which you will be walking in and I’m sure gets to the trees).  A friend went to this tree farm and said it was super cute. 
  • Keith & Scott Tree Farm when I called them they told me that they do not spray any chemicals or use any ground fertilizer like Roundup.  This looks like a cute little farm and a great place to find a tree!
  • Bowen Tree Farm is not certified organic but claims to be sustainable.  This is where we had been going for the past several years.  I quizzed them before we went there several years ago and they didn’t spray or use any chemicals.  I asked again when we were there last year and they had told me that had a fungus issue on some of the trees and almost lost half of their trees that year.  I emailed them this year and sadly they had to spray half of their trees this year.   Here is what they said:  They were hit hard with a fungus on their Grand Firs which has forced them to use a fungicide in the early bud break (late May to early June).  This prevents the needle necrosis that presents as yellow needles covering the trees (which makes them unable to sell those trees).  With our warm wet climate it is getting worse so they will be forced to use this spray annually or not grow Grand Firs which accounts for over half of their tree sales.   My opinion on this is that they are only spraying once but the Grand Firs and Noble Firs are right next to each other.  So while they aren’t spraying the Noble Firs I’m sure the spray is getting onto them since they are right next to each other.  I can’t say how bummed I am about this as this was the cutest farm with a very friendly family running it.  They have a cute cottage with lots of handmade gifts for a sale at reasonable prices and a huge river rock outdoor fireplace to keep warm.  Sadly, we won’t be continuing our tradition of going there each year.
  • Another option for the adventurous is always getting a permit from the national forest service and getting your tree that way.  It’s an inexpensive way, I believe $5,  to get a Christmas tree but it’s a drive from the city and a hike in and out to get your tree.  More information can be found here.

I hope this list was helpful.  If you know of any organic or sustainable / non chemical using tree farms please let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testing my stuff for lead

I feel so lucky to have had Tamera from Lead Safe America come to my house and test my stuff for lead.  We live in an old brick tutor built in 1929.  We have the “desirable” leaded glass windows.  They are beautiful.  I would have never bought this house if we already had a child.  Actually I never even thought about the windows being toxic when we bought.  I just thought they were really pretty.  I stress about our windows on an almost daily basis and have had my son’s lead level’s checked 3 times in his 2 1/2 year life.  Each time the reading has been below 1.  After Tamera’s visit and finding out that some areas of our windows are 50% lead and creating lead dust on the window sill he likes to sit on I’m testing him again this week.  Lead is scary stuff and not to be messed around with.  We also have lead paint on the outside of our house (lucky for us we only have trim that’s painted since we are in a brick house).  Pretty much every old house has lead paint on the outside.  Ours is pealing, I’m too afraid to address it so I’ve put a thick primer over our outside deck to try and seal it in.  No scraping or trying to make things look pretty which is recommended when young children live in a house with lead paint.  Long story short, I wanted Tamera to come check out my house and all the stuff in it.  She spent a lot of time with us which I am so grateful for.  You can follow her, and the movie she is producing, on Facebook at Mislead: America’s Secret Epidemic.

We tested a lot of things but I’ll just post things that will apply to most people.  I’m guessing it’s not that exciting to see what the readings on my walls, outside and windows were to anyone other than my family 🙂

90 ppm lead is considered safe by our government.  I think it should be zero but this is what children’s products are suppose to keep things under.  Keep 90 ppm in your mind when you are going through these things.

Everything listed below was tested by Tamara and her $40,000 Nikon XRF analyzer that Nikon donated to her.  It’s the best piece of equipment out their to test for lead and other heavy metals.

Toys:

  • My Grimm’s toys tested clean, no lead or other heavy metals.
  • All my Plan Toys tested clean EXCEPT 1 blue excavator which had 22 ppm lead in the blue paint.
  • My Ostheimer figures tested clean with no heavy metals.
  • I did a small random sampling of wooden Etsy toys that were finished with beeswax and organic oil but with no paint, all were clean with no heavy metals.
  • Wooden doll stroller from Nova Naturals.  I had this tested because linseed oil can contain heavy metals.  I drilled the company before buying this and even talked to the manufacturer of the linseed oil.  I was told no heavy metals… and they were right.  There was no lead of any other heavy metals in the doll stroller.
  • That’s what my toys consist of so I didn’t test anything else except 2 beach sets.  Glueckskaefer wooden and painted metal beach set and gardening tools came up clean.  Spielstabil (owned by Haba) plastic beach set tested clean.  Tamera has tested Green Toys and they always come up clean too.

Bikes, trikes, and ride on toys:

  • Kettler trike (made in Germany):  Everything on the trike came up with no heavy metals except the tires.  They tested at 299 ppm lead.
  • Used / old Radio Flyer wood scooter with red rubber type handles probably from the early 90’s.  The red handles had 358 ppm lead.  Everything else on the ride on tested for no heavy metals.
  • Used Radio Flyer wood ride in car from the late 90’s or early 2000’s.  Everything tested negative for heavy metals.
  • Kettler (made in Germany) scooter didn’t have any heavy metals.  I bought this one used.  Ketter no longer makes any of their scooters in Germany, they are all made in China now.  They still make their trikes in Germany though.
  • Ride in pedal fire truck.  This was handed down to us but I wasn’t 100% comfortable with it knowing it was made in China.  No heavy metals were found.
  • Wooden balance bike (Pedobike) made in Germany.  No heavy metals.

Baby Stuff:

  • Baby Bjorn Baby Sitter chair – clear of any heavy metals
  • Chicco car seat – no lead or other heavy metals

Shoes:

  • Soft Star shoes came up with no lead or other heavy metals – yay!
  • Bobux, claiming to be non-toxic and use no lead – uppers tested clean and the soles on both pairs we have tested between 130 & 155 ppm lead.  I tested the Bobux Step Up shoes and it was the rubber soles that tested for lead not the leather.  At first we thought maybe my son had walked through lead dust (which could be possible) but then we tested the soles of his Soft Star shoes and there was no lead.  It’s Bobux not dust.
  • We bought used Western Chief rubber boots for my son.  The mom I bought them from said she bought them 3 years ago (so they are 4 years old).  I knew Western Chief was made in China but they use natural rubber vs synthetic so I thought they would be safe – wrong!  Boots were 1,600 ppm lead and the soles were 3,481 ppm lead.  Tamera said never buy used rain boots.  They have had a lot of recalls in the past few years on rubber boots.
  • My husband’s Nike Frees tested free of any heavy metals.  Doesn’t mean they are non-toxic though.  Nike’s clothes use toxic chemicals and I’ve been questioning these shoes.
  • My converse tested clean (owned by Nike).
  • My Aigile rubber boots – the uppers were clean and the soles had a lead level of 92ppm.  I bought Aigile boots because I thought, and they claim, to be made in Europe in addition to being non-toxic.  After wearing them a few times I noticed a Made in China stamp.  I was so mad, called the company and they said only a very few are made in China – right!
  • I went out and bought some shoes to test.  These companies claim to be non-toxic and lead free.  They are all made in China which is the one thing I try and avoid.  However there are very few companies that don’t make shoes in China (one of which being Soft Star).  Umi and BOGS are owned by the same company who said that they randomly test their shoes once a month to make sure they are heavy metal free.  They promised no lead.  The other is Keen who says they are non-toxic as well.  Obviously these were just testing for heavy metals not other toxic materials used to make shoes like formaldehyde or chromium in leather.
    • BOGS tested positive for lead 209-222 ppm lead.  So very disappointing!
    • Umi tested clean (canvas shoe).
    • Keens both pairs tested clean (a canvas and leather shoe).

Strollers:

Both the BOB and the Mountain Buggy tested clear for lead or other heavy metals.  I was very happy that my BOB didn’t have lead in the stroller since I found out the Prop 65 label is on the BOB when you buy it.  I didn’t notice it when I bought mine but I also didn’t know to look for it or what it even meant when we bought our Bob.

Antiques:

I love antiques, I love the history, I love not going out and buying new furniture and I love the look.  It turns out most antiques have lead (and I’m talking about non-painted, wood furniture).  We have a wood secretary that tested for 324 ppm lead.  I was so surprised.  Tamera said that whatever use to be used to finish wood contained some lead.  She said putting another finish on antiques would seal that in and make it safe.  Separately she tested the wood trim in our house (which was built in 1929) and it had low levels of lead – around 51 ppm.

Things with cords:

Cords can, and do, contain lead because of PVC used.  I had a few things that used cords tested.

  • My first thought was our Dyson vacuum.  I mean the cord gets dragged all around the house.  The Dyson cord tested for no heavy metals.  I was really happy!
  • Our air purifiers have cords that my son sometimes touches.  Both our Austin Air and our IQ Air tested for no heavy metals in the cords or the unit itself.

Other items:

  • We have two bedside lamps we bought at Pottery Barn.  The base had lead levels of 915 ppm and the shade had no heavy metals.
  • We have a bride and groom rubber duck (random, I know).  The groom had no heavy metals and the bride have levels between 1,053 and 1,101 of lead on her.
  • My husband has an old post hole digger from his dad in our garage.  It has 10,000 ppm of lead in the red paint (that is chipping off).
  • Kate Spade leather / fake leather (not sure what it is actually made of) purse had 67 ppm lead.

Kitchen:

  • Crockpot had a lead level of 56ppm.
  • We bought a salsa bowl when we were in Mexico and it had a lead level of 11,300 ppm.  Lesson learned don’t buy pottery from Mexico.  Tomatoes are so acidic that for sure lead was leaching out of them!
  • We bought several pieces of pottery when we were in Costa Rica and no heavy metals were found – yay!
  • Le Creuset
    • We have a very large blue soup pot that tested for no heavy metals on the inside and 63ppm of cadmium on the outside.
    • Red cast iron roasting dish with 12,800 cadmium on the outside.
    • Blue roasting dish – no lead, trace amounts of cadmium on outside.
    • Blue pot (smaller than the first one above) with no heavy metals.
    • Red loaf pan – 100 ppm lead on inside, 29,000 ppm cadmium on the red outside, 153 ppm lead on the bottom.  Really disappointing.  The lead on the inside and cadmium on the outside is a double negative for this loaf pan.
    • My lesson is that red generally contains cadmium which is a toxic heavy metal.  Opt for other colors.  Everything blue tested for no or very low cadmium.
  • Emilie Henry red ceramic loaf pan – 417 ppm lead on inside, 495 ppm cadmium on the red outside, 342 ppm barium.  I was disappointed that there is lead inside this loaf pan.
  • OXO brand ice cream scoop, metal, about 5-7 years old.  The flat scoop part had 944 ppm of lead – yikes!
  • Lenox China – no lead (yay!) but some small amounts of barium.
  • Denby dishware, pattern called white trace – no heavy metals.
  • Stainless lemon squeezer – no heavy metals.
  • Crate & Barrel white asparagus plate – 18,200 ppm of lead.
  • Ice cream maker – 76 ppm lead.
  • Ridel wine glasses – 300,000 ppm of lead!!!  That’s 30% lead and no these are not leaded crystal.  These were $20 per glass.  Ridel also sells more expensive wine glasses and the lead content is similar per Tamera.  Tamera said that lead leaches out of the glass at this level within an hour.   You better drink your wine like a shot out of these glasses 🙂
  • Vintage blue glass mason jar – the jar had no heavy metals but the vintage lid had 861 ppm lead and 1,537 ppm cadmium.
  • Weck glass canning jars – 142ppm of lead.  This made me really sad.  We moved over to Weck after learning that Ball Mason jar lids had BPA in them.  At that time they didn’t have the non-BPA lids available.  For whatever it’s worth, the talk is that the BPA alternatives aren’t good either but it’s the better of the these two options.
  • Anchor Hocking glassware (glasses, bowls ,plates) no heavy metals.

That’s my list!  I learned a lot and some were very surprising to me.  I am going to be making some changes in my future purchases.  From everything Tamara has tested Anchor Hocking and Pyrex seem to come up with no heavy metals.  From here on out I will be buying these brands.  It’s frustrating when you think you are buying quality products that are non-toxic only to find out they are.  Now I just wish I had one of these XRF analyzers to go shopping with me 🙂  If you want to learn more about lead, the issues it causes, and how to help support Tamara’s film please check out her Facebook page MisLead.

 

Be part of exposing toxic chemcials used in children’s car seats

So the folks at Healthy Stuff reached out to me to let me know that they are planning on testing current car seats this summer.  The last time they tested car seats was 2011 and they felt like it was time to do it again (and we were happy to hear that they would be testing again!).  The information they find out from these tests will be helpful for all of us when we need to buy our next car seat.  However, they are a non-profit and need to raise funds to do the testing.  From the monthly stats of people who read my blog, and my car seat post specifically, we should be able to help them complete their fundraising goal.  I realize that some can give more than others but I would ask that everyone contribute what they can – it’s for the health of our children.

The more these toxic chemicals are exposed, the more likelihood we will see change from these companies.  There are alternatives to the nasty chemicals they are using.  Enough pressure and we will force change to happen.  Companies literally could meet the flammability requirements in the car seat covers by using wool and cotton – preferably organic!  I would love to see the car seat industry use no flame retardants.  Is that a big dream, yes, but a doable one.  At the least, they should be using chemicals that aren’t as toxic as the ones they are using.  We, as parents, need to demand that there are changes.  The first step is exposing what they are using.

What’s new this time?  Healthy Stuff has told me in addition to the testing that they have always done (heavy metals including lead and brominated flame retardants) they are also going to do third party testing which will include the 7 most common flame retardants.  This is a HUGE development and will expose what is really going on in the car seat industry in the United States.

To make your donation to Healthy Stuff, please use this link.

Thank you!  Natural Baby Mama 🙂

Organic clothing for kids

After reading my previous blog post (if you haven’t read it you can do so here) you now know why GOTS certified organic clothing is so important.  I feel this is especially true for babies and kids.  The chemical load our children are exposed too is too much in my opinion.  Babies skin is so much thinner than ours and their bodies are so much smaller (in addition to our skin being our largest organ).   Most organic clothing is made in India where most organic cotton is grown (some is now be produced in China as well).  Having organic clothing isn’t enough.  The GOTS certification insures that the dyes and finished are non-toxic too.  You will see the green GOTS logo on clothing that is GOTS certified.  Do no be fooled by GOTS certified cotton.  That means that the cotton is certified but the dyes are not.  Here is the list of companies that I love that the final product has the GOTS certification:

Frugi – This is now my all time favorite GOTS certified company.  Their clothing is high quality and lasts for a long time for my kids.  I love their styles.  Now that my son is older I do a majority of my shopping here for him.  Shipping to the US is reasonable as well.  Age range is newborn up to age 10 for both boys and girls.  They have a small selection of maternity and women’s pajama’s as well (I am currently lounging in one of their pajama bottoms right now ;)).

Kite Kids – This was one my favorite clothing companies for my son when he was younger.  They are based out of the UK but shipping is reasonable and quick to the US.  They occasionally have deals on Zulily and I always try and stock up when they are featured.  Not everything is organic, GOTS certified cotton.  The fleece is not.  Most everything else is.  They have a few organic clothing items that are not GOTS certified because the factory that makes it follows the standards but isn’t certified.  With that being said, you will see the green GOTS logo under the product description if it is GOTS (or not).  Age range is newborn up to age 11 for both boys and girls.

Colored Organics – They offer a good selection of basic clothing (t-shrits, long sleeves, sweatsuits) that are all GOTS certified.  I have to admit when I opened my first order I was disappointed at how thin the clothing was.  I actually almost returned it all.  I was use to thicker sweatshirts especially living in the Pacific Northwest.  However, we kept some things and I ended up really loving them.  The quality is really good.  After I do laundry, my oldest picks out his Colored Organics sweats first every time.  I also love having some basics that don’t have any designs on the front.  Age range is newborn up to age 6.  Their sizing runs pretty small.  My big 4 year old has almost outgrown the size 6.  I emailed them to find out if they have considered making bigger sizes since their clothing runs small and to my delight they told me that their spring / summer of 2017 collection will go up to size 12!

Living Crafts – GOTS certified baby, kids and adults clothes.  This is a great company with quality clothing.  We have several of their pieces for both kids and adults.  They ship from Europe.  Some of their clothing is also sold at Little Spruce Organics which is here in the USA.

Under the Nile – This was one of my favorite companies when my son was younger.  They are 100% organic, GOTS certified.  Most of their clothes are for newborn to 2 years old.  They do offer clothing up to age 6 but it is just their long john pajamas and some underwear.  They have great stuffed animals, rugs and play mats that are made up from the scraps of their clothing.  We are big fans of Under the Nile in this house!

Broken Tricycle – They are out of Australia and are mostly newborn to age 2.  They are featured on Zulily from time to time and that is where I have picked up a few pieces.  All of their clothing is 100% organic cotton, GOTS certified.

L’ovedbaby – Organic, GOTS clothing age newborn to 2 years old.  I have one piece from them.  I didn’t discover them until my oldest was out of their sizes.  Amazon has a good selection of their clothing.

Hanna Andersson – They have a small selction of Oeko-Tek certified organic cotton clothing.  In their line of organic cotton is their pajamas, underwear, basic t-shirts, most of their polo shirts, and a few other pieces.  They have clothing newborn up to age 12.

Kate Quinn Organics – They are 100% organic cotton and all is GOTS certified.  You will not see the GOTS label on the inside of their clothing though.  They have decided against adding an extra label from a waste standpoint.  I have received verification from the company in writing that they are GOTS certified.  Age range is newborn up to age 8 for both boys and girls.  Sign up for their newsletters to get notified of flash sales that they do fairly often.  UPDATE:  I ordered from them in 2015 and my clothes were stinky as in chemical stinky.  I’ve heard other readers say this was the case too.  Some others have not had any issues.  Kate Quinn maintains that they are GOTS.  I now proceed with caution with Kate Quinn.

I also really love wool.  There are several GOTS certified organic wool clothing companies which are based out of Germany.  My favorite site to by wool is Little Spruce Organics.  I actually love most everything about her site but it is my go to place to buy wool for my son.  Engle and Disana are the brands that I buy from her.  If you haven’t purchased from her before she offers a 20% discount on your first order (see the info on the right side of her website).  The one note I’ll make is that I don’t love NUI organics.  They are not certified and the one time I ordered clothing from their company off of Zulily is had a strong chemical smell.

Other GOTS certified clothing companies that I have not ordered from:

Maple Clothing – They are on amazon and sell organic cotton, GOTS certified onsies, t-shirts and pants for newborn up to 2 years old.  I have never personally purchased from them but only because I found them once my son was too big.

Burts Bees Clothing – Affordable line of GOTS clothing.  They are owned by Clorox but do have the GOTS certification.  I do not own any of their clothing but from what I have heard the quality might not be the greatest.  For clothes that get outgrown quickly it might not be an issue.  Age range newborn up to age 7.

Piccalilly – They are organic, GOTS certified clothing from newborn up to age 10.  I haven’t ordered from them yet but have been meaning too.  It looks like they have a good selection of clothing for kids.

Finn & Emma – Mostly newborn to 18months.  They have pajamas that go up to 4 years old.  They are GOTS certified but do not have the GOTS logo on their clothing.

Are their other GOTS clothing brands you love?  Please let me know and I may add them to this list!

*This list was updated October of 2016

 

Is organic clothing worth it? Organic versus non organic cotton (and other fibers).

I have a lot of people ask me if it is worth it to buy organic baby clothes.  What about used baby clothes that aren’t organic.  Then there is hemp, bamboo, soy, and wool.  There are so many options it can get confusing.  Then throw in there the types of dyes, and other toxic chemicals, that are used that potentially can make your organic clothing toxic and it gets really confusing.  I’ve been doing a lot of research on this, talking to fabric manufacturers, emailing with companies and reading up on things online.  I know about certifications of raw cotton, fabrics, and final pieces that clothing can have.  Unfortunately, I now know more than I wish I did!  I will never look at clothing the same.  First I’ll go over the environmental (and social) aspect for each of the types of fabrics, then some information on dyes, then the certifications, and finally my opinion if buying organic is worth it.  The reason this is so important is that your skin is your largest organ.  Everything you put on it gets absorbed into your blood stream.   If you don’t want to read all of this you can skip to the bottom for the link to the list of recommended clothing companies (but I do recommend reading this so you are an educated consumer!).

Conventional cotton (non-organic): 

  • For every 1 pound of cotton produced, about 1/3 of a pound of chemical pesticides and fertilizers are used.   Just to give you an idea of how much cotton that is, it takes just under 1 pound of raw cotton to make t-shirt.
  • 25% of the world insecticides are used on cotton crops where only 2.5% of the world’s land are cotton fields.  Cotton is  the most pesticide intensive crop grown on the planet. $2.6 billion worth of pesticides are used on cotton worldwide each year.  That is a huge percentage of toxic chemicals used to grow conventional cotton!  Think of the overspray, which can travel up to 2 miles, that is in the air (that you breath) and getting on other crops (your food) just from cotton.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency considers 7 of the 15 pesticides used on conventional cotton as possible or known carcinogenic (cancer causing) agents.
  • Cotton is considered the world’s dirtiest crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health. 
  • According to the World Health Organization, 20,000 people die every year from accidental pesticide poisoning in conventional cotton agriculture, and 1,000,000 people a year suffer from long-term pesticide poisoning (Pesticide Action Network).  
  • 100 million conventional cotton farmers, from Russia to South Africa, are living in conditions of abject poverty and near starvation.  Conventional cotton subsidies (funded by American taxpayers) are causing poverty in the developing world as they lower the world price for cotton.
  • Cotton is an extremely water intensive crop
  • Most conventional cotton being grown is now GMO cotton a whole other post could be written about GMOs!
  • Most cotton clothing is now being produced in China in sweatshops where women & children are being exploited and are working well below the minimum wage.  How do you feel about your new shirt or pants when you think a child might have made it?  Looking for clothes not made in China is a big challenge too.  I’ve found several companies that I will share with you.
  • Sadly, the suicide rate for conventional cotton farmers is high (especially in India).  Some say it is no higher than it always has been.  Some say it is higher now that cotton farming is GMO.  Either way, it is a sad situation.

Organic Cotton:

  • No pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals are used when growing organic cotton
  • To be certified organic the soil must be free from chemicals for at least 3 years
  • The land, and soil, benefits from crop rotation
  • Cotton is an extremely water intensive crop
  • A lot of organic cotton is grown in other countries so it requires shipping to the US.  However, there are several states in the US that are getting on the map for growing organic cotton.
  • Look for the GOTS certification to make sure the clothing is organic and non-toxic from field to finish.  You can buy organic cotton, that is not certified, that has been finished with toxic dyes or chemicals (I find this very sad but it is true).

Hemp:

  • No pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals are needed to grow hemp
  • The traditional way to get to the hemp fiber in Europe is to leave the stalks out in the fields and have the weather brake the stalks down.  Then the farmers can harvest the hemp.  In China, some of the farmers are now using chemicals to break down the hemp stalks to speed up the process of harvesting.  This is very sad that such a great, natural fiber, is having chemicals added to it for no reason other than speeding up the harvesting time.  Another reason to avoid things made in China!

Bamboo:

  • Is being touted as a “green” material.  It is true that it is hearty, grows very easily and can be cultivated quickly.  From that standpoint, it is green.
  • Getting bamboo into a usable form can be a very chemically invasive process which uses harsh chemicals.  Bamboo must go through several chemical processes to get into usable form and the human exposure and damage to the environment surrounding the factories make bamboo not as green as everyone is saying it is.
  • Most all fabric and clothing that is bamboo, is bamboo rayon or bamboo cellulose, which is made using the chemically intensive process described above.
  • Bamboo linen is generally made without the use of chemicals but since it is such a labor intensive process there is very little bamboo linen on the market.
  • Very little water is needed to grow Bamboo
  • Raw bamboo lets most UV rays through the clothing (unlike cotton) and there have been talks about adding chemicals to the clothing for UV protection.
  • Bamboo is very soft which makes it appealing for clothing.

Soy:

  • Soy is one of the largest GMO crops worldwide.
  • It requires a lot of water and pesticides to grow.
  • Soy is biodegradable and has minimal impact on the environment – non GMO soy that is!
  • Soy fiber is not as durable as cotton or hemp
  • Soy fiber is made from the byproduct of the soy industry (tofu, soy beans, etc) so it is not grown specifically for clothing.  That’s nice that it is dual purposed.
  • The process to turn soy into clothing is very chemically intensive process.  The same chemicals are used repeatedly so at least chemicals aren’t be dumped as often.  However, those chemicals are still being applied to the clothing you will be wearing.

Wool:

  • Wool is a great renewable fiber.
  • Wool keeps you warm in the cold months and cool in the warm months.
  • Wool is naturally flame resistant.
  • It tends to be both dust mite and mold resistant.
  • Wool is lightweight.
  • Lower quality wool can be itchy but most wool is not itchy at all.
  • Some people can be allergic to wool.  In most cases, it is very rare for someone to be allergic to organic wool.  Most people have a reaction to what the wool was treated with if it wasn’t organic.
  • There can be inhumane practices associated with wool, like mulesing in Merino wool which is cutting out strips of skin near the sheep’s rear to prevent pests, some places will kill a sheep for the wool and some sheep farmers pack in the sheep like you would see on a factory farm.  If you Google mulesing just be prepared to see some grotesque and upsetting pictures.  I would say that these practices aren’t the norm, and if you look for certified wool you won’t have to worry about contributing to inhumane practices.
  • Sheep can be sprayed with pesticides.
  • Organic wool and Zque certified wool do not allow inhumane practices (like the ones mentioned above) or pesticides to be used.  Another reason to buy organic!

Synthetic fibers:

  • I’m not going to go into the details but just stay away!

Common chemicals, and toxic dyes, added to conventional clothing:

  • Formaldehyde.  This keeps clothing from becoming wrinkled during shipment and prevents mildew.  It also increases stain resistance and is used for color fasting.  It is a known carcinogen.  The US does not regulate formaldehyde in clothing where other countries like Germany, China and Japan do.
  • Nonylphenol ehtoxylate (NPE).  This chemical is very toxic and is banned from being used with the exception of some factories in China and Southeast Asia.  This has hormone-disrupting properties and can be hazardous at low levels.  14 major brands in the USA have their clothing made in factories that use NPE.  From what I could find these companies had clothing that was tested to have NPEs – Calvin Klein, Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Puma and H&M.  Another reason to not buy clothing made in China!
  • Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).  This makes clothes wrinkle free or no iron.  This is the same chemical that is used in Teflon.  It is used a lot of times to make clothing water repellant, like outer wear.  This chemical has been linked to cancer and kidney disease.
  • There are many other chemicals in clothing including phthalates which is very toxic.  Instead of listing every chemical used and getting depressed about it, I’ve decided to move on to discuss ways to protect your family.
  • AZO dyes, use heavy metals.  They are extremely toxic and are still used in clothing made in China.  The use of AZO dyes have been banned in the USA.

Clothing certification:

  • GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard – is the leading certification for organic, non-toxic fibers and clothing.  You can read more about the standard here.  This certification is the most stringent certification on clothing.  No flame retardants are allowed, no AZO dyes using heavy metals, no formaldehyde, no pesticides, no phthalates , no PVC, no PFCs, no NPEs, no chlorine bleach to list a few.  There is also a social aspect to it as well, employees must have fair working conditions and be paid a fair wage.  There can be no animal cruelty.  It really is the best certification out there. Pretty much all GOTS certified clothing will have a logo on the inside of the clothing stating it is GOTS certified. You can have GOTS certified organic cotton but if the final product wasn’t produced in a GOTS certified factory then that company is not allowed to use the GOTS logo. When you see the logo you can be rest assured that the entire product is GOTS certified.
  • Oeko-Tek – is a certification that doesn’t allow hundreds of toxic chemicals in clothing.  Clothing does not need to be organic to receive this certification (pesticides are allowed to be present on clothing to pass this certification)  Also, some chemicals, like flame retardants (that are deemed to be the least toxic) are allowed to be used.  If you are buying Oeko-Tek clothing or baby products check to see if they are using flame retardants.

So, what do I buy?

I think GOTS certified organic cotton or wool is the best, and safest, clothing to buy.  I found out early on that just buying organic cotton doesn’t mean that the safest dyes or no toxic chemicals are being used.  The organic clothing industry is growing by leaps and bounds and some companies are trying to cash in by using organic cotton but not truly making an “organic” piece of clothing.  I also buy organic cotton that is Oeko-Tek certified but it is my second choice.  Currently, I just buy Oeko-Tek organic pajamas for my son.

If I can buy used GOTS certified clothing I do.  However, I’m picky about it.  I’ve purchased a few things on Ebay only to have them reek of laundry detergent or dryer sheets that have toxic chemicals.  Side note – wash your clothing in non-toxic detergents.  Most commercial brands are toxic!  I love soap nuts which you can buy here.  I felt like buying used, washed in chemicals, defeated my purpose.  So I’m specific when I buy used.

I know not everyone wants to buy new organic clothing.  The order I would buy clothes in is:

  • Used GOTS certified organic (cotton or wool) clothing
  • New GOTS certified organic (cotton or wool) clothing
  • Used or new hemp, verifying if it’s organic would be ideal, clothing
  • Used conventional cotton clothing. Side note – I personally would try and buy Oeko-Tek certified used cotton first before buying non certified conventional cotton. At least then you will know that the dying and finishing process isn’t toxic. However, pesticide residue and flame retardants are allowed in the Oeko-Tek certification.

Doesn’t washing your clothes wash away the chemicals?

Yes, maybe, but I don’t think anyone knows.  You should for sure wash all clothing before wearing it.  Even GOTS certified.  I’m weird and wash clothes several times.  However, I have read reports that it can take 50 washes to get all the chemicals out.  That’s my other issue with used.  You don’t know if it’s been washed once or 50 times.  If it’s toxic to start with you aren’t guaranteed buying used will make it any less toxic.  Buying used is no doubt good for the environment.

Are there children’s brands that I avoid?

Some of the worst brands from a toxicity standpoint that I wouldn’t buy (even used) are:

  • The Gap / Baby Gap
  • Old Navy
  • J. Crew
  • Disney
  • American Apparel (they do make GOTS certified organic clothing so that would not apply)
  • Burberry
  • Nike
  • Adidas
  • Puma

One thing all of these companies have in common is that the clothing is made in China (except American Appeal).  Toxic clothing is coming out of China.

You can read my follow-up post on organic children’s brands that I love.

 

Why I buy an organic Christmas Tree (and lead free Christmas lights)

When I first read about organic Christmas trees I thought you have got to be kidding me.  Then I realized that most Christmas trees are sprayed with pesticides and potentially other toxic chemicals.  We bring the trees into our homes and our kids help us decorate the trees, we put their presents under the tree, etc.  A lot of us are trying to lead a non-toxic lifestyle, buying non-toxic toys, eating organic but one big way of keeping chemicals out of your house during the Christmas season is to buy an organic tree.  Here is a list of organic Christmas tree farms in different states.  You can also do a search specific to your area.  We found a great, small tree farm run by a really nice family that doesn’t use any pesticides (they were not on the list above).  They aren’t certified organic but they never spray their trees with anything.  We have made it a yearly tradition to buy our tree from them and it is the same price if not a little cheaper than the lots or bigger farms nearby.  If you aren’t a fan of buying a tree each year then consider buying a live tree.  Since writing this last year I did a post on organic, no spray, sustainable Christmas Trees in Washington State (so if you live in the state take a look at the list of tree farms).

I highly recommend staying away from artificial trees.  Most artificial trees are made with PVC which is a toxic substance.  Most PVC also contains lead (lead is a stabilizer in PVC).  Lead is extremely dangerous for kids to be exposed to.  It’s best to stay away from artificial trees all together.

Christmas lights also typically contain lead.  Environmental Lights makes lead free Christmas lights.  The lights are much more expensive than traditional lights but in my mind it is worth it.  Nothing like stringing lights on your tree that have lead on them.  If you aren’t able to purchase lead free lights then make sure you wash your hands after touching them and do not let children touch them.  I’ve read that possibly IKEA’s Christmas lights are lower in lead (not lead free) than most other brands (I never researched it any further than what I read).  The rational is that IKEA’s lights are also sold in Europe with stricter standards on lead than we have here in the US.

I hope you have a safe, toxin free Christmas!