Archive | Eco Apparel

Polyester PJs and Flame Retardants

A debate that has bothered me for years is about to come to an end with this article. I’ve always been turned off by polyester PJs for my kids. It’s something my mom always re-enforced with using cotton at bedtime, but it’s always bothered me and now I know why. It’s not the fact that polyester PJs don’t breath well or provide the same level of softness that cotton or bamboo material does. It’s the fact that polyester sleepwear is infused with ‘natural’ flame retardants – bonded right into the fabric. So a company can state that their sleepwear doesn’t contain flame retardants (they have been banned since the late 70’s because they were found to be so carcinogenic) but since polyester is ‘naturally’ fire resistant, this labeling doesn’t need to be added to the tag.

Confused?  Don’t know anything about flame retardants?  They aren’t something we are not familiar with as parents today, because the year I was born (1973) the US Department of Commerce declared mandatory fire-resistance standards for kid’s sleepwear.  So flame retardants were brushed onto children’s PJs, chemically treating them (without any testing) and were later found to be a mutagen and a carcinogen. How potent was this ‘coating’ of flame retardants?  The National Cancer Institute testing Tris-BP showed that it was one hundred times more powerful than the carcinogens in cigarette smoke. (!!)  Four years later this chemical was banned from children’s products which is pretty quick turn-around time for a ban proving just how dangerous Tris-PB (type of flame retardant) was.  

So after absorbing all this information from the chapter in Slow Death By Rubber Duck I felt quite safe that the problem of the government sticking flame retardants in children’s sleepwear is an issue I don’t have to concern myself with.  Only something Rick mentioned in the chapter has been bugging me for months since I read it ~ the fact that polyester has naturally ‘built in’ flame retardants and because of this is a popular fabric choice for large manufacturers of sleepwear.  I’m in no way suggesting that the flame retardants that are found ‘naturally’ in polyester are as dangerous as the ones that were banned in the 70’s, but the author of Slow Death By Rubber Duck tried to get answers from one of the largest kid’s sleepwear retailers (Carters) asking what type of flame retardants are mixed into the polyester they use and couldn’t get his question answered.  If one of the leading Environmentalists in Canada couldn’t get answers – I won’t even attempt. And rather than frustrate myself with trying to investigate further, I’m opting to remove any sleepwear from my kids PJ drawer that are made from polyester. And this isn’t a slag on Carters – every big name that produces sleepwear for children uses either polyester or cotton.

Your children spend close to 10-12 hours a night sleeping in their PJs – that is the longest stretch of time they spend in clothing throughout the day. I went through my boy’s PJs drawer this weekend and couldn’t believe how many PJs were 100% polyester.  Before you think this doesn’t apply to you…go check. You’ll be surprised at how many soft fabrics are actually polyester – not cotton. I’ve removed the polyester PJs from my sons’ PJ drawer and with Christmas on the near horizon – a new item on everyone’s Santa list will be either 100% cotton or bamboo PJs.  And while we are talking about it – watch for decals, plastic, sparkles, etc. that are decorating your child’s sleepwear….these appliques are made from PVC. This is the ‘poison plastic’ that has no business being near your child while they are sleeping.  I know the Superman and Disney Cars decals are fun on PJs but really, night-time sleepwear is the perfect place to reduce toxic materials.  The sand man is easily impressed and children don’t have any pressure to wear commercialism laced products to bed.

Related Articles:

Little Inkers – Growing PVC & Phthalate Free Kids

Toxic Experiment With Everyday Products ~ Slow Death By Rubber Duck

PVC Items In Your Every-Day Life

PVC Plastic ~ The Poison Plastic In Your Home

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Little Inkers – Growing PVC & Phthalate Free Kids

I’ve recently discovered a company that seemed to connect lots of little dots similar to my own journey of trying to reduce the amount of PVC and Phthalates that surround my family.  That unique company is called Little Inkers Alternative Naturals and they are so much more than a company that makes t-shirts ~ although they have managed to produce some of the most adorable t-shirts ever (!).  Little Inkers concept is so much deeper and the founder Airiane has shared similar light bulb moments that have launched her to produce amazing and sustainable clothing.

Little Inkers 
founder Airiane was a mom doing everything right; proud supporter of breast feeding, making organic baby food, avoiding painted toys because of lead, plastics, so when her son was born with vanishing testicle syndrome she began to research what could have caused this.  After watching the CBC documentary The Disappearing Male, she was dismayed to think his exposure to PVC and Phthalates could have attributed to this syndrome. What could have caused her son to have exposure to these chemicals/types of plastic that is known to cause testicular problems?  Inks.  Airiane’s partner had been working in production print shops using a type of ink called Plastisol ink for years.  After watching The Disappearing Male and spending countless hours researching male genital birth defects, the founder of Little Inkers was led to believe there’s a link between her partner printing with the Plastisol inks containing PVC/Phthalates and her son’s birth defects.  Read more of Airiane’s story via her blog.

Have you ever thought about PVC and Phthalates existing in our clothing?  In your children’s clothing?  I certainly hadn’t so I find the Little Inkers concept, mission, and final product very inspiring. They make their garments from sustainable fibers (bamboo, organic cotton, and soon to arrive ~ hemp) and each piece is hand printed using inks free from PVC and Phthalates.  This conception and story of this company is inspiring – but the  finished product can only be described as cool!  Check out a few of my favorite designs. The tree lungs print is awesome and a cool way to make a statement for kids of any age – adults included!

tree lungs

mama milk  booby

Little Inkers has recently moved to manufacturing their own garments in Canada and hand prints them in their own custom screen-printing company called Greenprint Studio.  Their Greenprint company only prints with inks that are free from PVC and Phthalates as well as soy and orange oil processing products.  The evolution of the children’s line Little Inkers Alternative Naturals fills a niche in the infant and children’s market by offering natural clothing printed with cute slogans promoting breastfeeding, attachment parenting, homeschooling, gay parenting, and political awareness. 

I really appreciate the time Airiane spent with back and forth emails sharing how you can find out if the clothes your purchase for your children contain PVC or phthalates.  First you can ask questions and although it’s a very frustrating undertaking to ask the clerk at Zellers, Walmart, GAP, Old Navy, etc. if their clothing (or any merchandise) is free of PVC and phthalates ~ it is important.  From my experience of never having a clerk able to answer my questions about stainless steel quality with water bottles in these stores ~ I can tell you that employees are simply not given this level of information. I’m sure the president of these stores cannot answer these questions! So what are some other clues to look for?  Price is a big one because safer dyes and inks cost more for printing and we know that bamboo and organic textiles are more expensive. Plastic patches or appliques, sparkle decals, and team numbers, etc. can often contain PVC and phthalates.  Where is the clothing made?  If it’s produced in Europe their laws about PVC and phthalates are much more strict than other countries so this is a good sign. I know I’ve given more than one employee a very large headache when leaving their store, but the more customers asking these questions, more will filter to store managers and owners.  If the public starts demanding safer products for our children that is PVC and Phthalate free, supply and demand will increase, inevitably driving every-one’s cost down.

I am very excited to have found Little Inkers and am inspired by their personal journey that has evolved into this special company. Finding their store has given me more knowledge and forced me to think (again!) about things that are touching my children. Since first looking at their site a few months ago, I’ve stopped dressing my kids in clothes and shoes that have plastic appliques, thinking about what is on their clothes and touching their skin.  I will start asking more questions and demanding more from the stores I frequent. I will also continue to feel good about my choices to not buy cheaply made clothing and think more about how and where it’s being manufactured and produced. Purchasing special items that have been so thoroughly researched and created deserves my business and I appreciate the research and emotion behind the Little Inkers brand. If you are interested in purchasing a onsie in the Little Inkers designs you can visit Grass Roots online or for t-shirts, yoga pant inquires of any size or design, simply contact the Little Inkers site and find out how to order.

Related Articles: Phthalates & BPA Chemicals ~ The Disappearing Male Documentary

Part II ~ The Disappearing Male Documentary

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Summer Is Here With Vintage Baby Bean Apparel

I’m writing this post June 1st and with the sunburn on my back (more on that in next post) I’m welcoming the beautiful sunny weather on the West Coast.  To celebrate our jump into summer, I can’t think of anything cuter in Eco apparel than a vintage and truly unique Baby Bean dress.  Picture courtesy of Baby Bean Vintage Daywear site:

Baby Bean Vintage Daywear was created by Christine Visneau and is based out of Texas (cool – made in the USA!), sewn with a team of local stay home moms. Each piece is unique, crafted with vintage fabrics, making this clothing line truly one-of-a-kind and classic! My favorite style is the Beverly Bib Halter Dress, made with organic blue cotton, vintage fabric in the bib, with drawstring around the neck.  She has truly created the perfect summer sundress for little girls ages 6 months to 6 years old.

This picture is worth a thousand words and just leaves me wondering “what time is the beach party?”

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Greener Father’s Day

It doesn’t matter the age of the father you are celebrating this Father’s Day, most likely he’ll own a cell phone, ipod, camera, GPS, etc.  The coolest gift idea I’ve seen comes from The Ultimate Green Store with two products that harness the sun’s energy to power or charge handheld devices using a solar backpack and solar messenger bag.  Both styles have solar panels and 11 adaptors for easy connection to handheld products.  Also, the outside fabric of the bags is made from recycled soda bottles, making these products light weight and water proof.  The solar panels make these products so unique because they are functional to carry supplies, a laptop, etc. while dad is out for a hike, walk, bike ride, romp at the park, or simply walking to work! 

Both the backpack and messenger bag don’t output enough power to charge a laptop, but contain sleeves for laptop storage and are reinforced and padded for extra protection.   It’s cool to think only 4-6 hours of direct sunlight would fully charge a cell phone and when it’s not in the sun, the battery can be charged using the AC travel charger or DC car charger.  What a perfect gift for the dad that cycles to work or enjoys outdoor family time with kids.

Pictures from The Ultimate Green Store site:

Messenger Bag Style:

For those dads that need to be nudged gently into ‘green’ gifts- try a custom little eco package and show dad that the greener way is still fun.  Buy dad a cloth bag and fill with a Klean Kanteen bottle, organic wine or beer, biodegradable golf balls (go the extra mile and find corn starch tees), a bamboo tshirt and sock set.  Dad will be thrilled with the soft alternative of bamboo material and you can explain how it’s eco-friendly because it’s a highly renewable resource and produced without pesticides.  He’ll never go back to drinking out of plastic water bottle again after trying his 27 oz Klean Kanteen bottle while working out or hitting golf balls. It can be a whole new world opened up to Dad this Father’s Day and he can be proud to join the green movement.  Happy Father’s Day planning!

Related Articles: 

Father’s Day Green Gift Ideas (Father’s Day gift ideas from 2008)

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Christmas Shopping Event – The Vancouver Children’s Trunk Show

It’s not often I feature Vancouver based events but I wanted to highlight an upcoming local event –Vancouver Children’s Trunk Show that is happening this Friday, November 14th. A very successful event in Toronto – it’s come to Vancouver for the first time and is a great ticket to get some Christmas shopping completed! It’s a venue where businesses and estores have their products for sale and it’s happening at the best time of year.  Where else can you experience fabulous local entrepreneurs from around the city presenting their creative wares for children, family and home.  

I try to get out and support the mom based businesses and usually my efforts are rewarded by meeting amazing people and getting the sneak peek at amazing non-commercialized products for my kids. My day spent at the Mommies On Main event last summer was such a wonderful experience…I love the Etsy feel that surrounds these events.

Here are the details of this event.  Post your comments this weekend and let me know your thoughts on the experience!

When? Friday November 14th, 2008 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Where?  VanDusen Garden (in the Floral Hall) 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver
What?  A celebration of entrepreneurial women, stylish shopping events by moms and for moms, featuring locally-made fashions, furniture and products geared exclusively toward kids and families.

Expect a flurry of Mommy Footprint’s after this event…the wonderfully beautiful Natural Pod will be there with their line of natural, creative wares.  This is the perfect example of getting to see the products up close from magical estores such as Natural Pod and Green Planet Parties.  The fabulous eco-friendly GPP is featuring Santa Sacks and Christmas baking aprons, along with their sustainable party supplies.  Too fun!  Hope to see you there!

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