How to Reduce your Baby’s Microplastic Exposure

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The Best Natural and Plastic-free Baby Toys and Products


Right from birth babies are surrounded by plastic in many different forms; from clothing, to toys, to furniture and more. And growing evidence is showing that they are also consuming a lot of this plastic in the form of microplastics.

A recent study found 10x the amount of PET microplastics in baby poo compared to adults. Yuck.

While we don’t yet know the full health or environmental effects of microplastics (although there is a possible correlation with microplastics and IBS and some worrying research about microplastics crossing the blood brain barrier); I think we can all agree that it’s probably for the best to limit how much plastic babies are ingesting.

What is PET and where do microplastics come from?

The baby study specifically found large amounts of polyethylene terephthalate or PET microplastics. PET is likely the plastic you encounter the most and is used in packaging and many household products. It’s also very commonly found in the form of polyester fibre.

We know that synthetic clothing sheds tiny plastic microfibers when washed which are abundant in the ocean and water systems but have also been found all over the world (even the top of Everest), including in the food we eat and in our bodies. Polyester and other synthetic fibres are not just in clothing though, but also found in our furniture, carpets, toys and many other products we use daily.

Microplastics are also created through abrasion and when plastics break down and degrade; such as from tires wearing down, sponges breaking apart, paints rubbing off, or… chewing. Heat can also increase the break down of plastic – especially important to be aware of with bottles and other feeding products that might be heated.

Because they are so tiny and often invisible, we can easily consume microplastics – especially true for babies who are exploring the world with their mouths.

Microplastics are unfortunately all around us, but here are some of the most common microplastic sources in the home and some easy plastic free swaps you can make to reduce the amount your baby encounters and consumes:


5 Top Plastic-free Swaps for Babies & Children

(please note: some affiliate links are used in this post which means we may get a small commission)

Toys – Especially Stuffed Animals

Those sweet fluffy animals we love to give babies are unfortunately made from polyester and other synthetic fibers. With the added wear, tear, and teething/sucking they get, these snuggly friends make likely culprits for microfiber ingestion.

I’ve also noticed that similar to fast fashion, cheaply made stuffed animals fall apart way faster. We were unfortunately given a little teddy bear when by daughter was born and bits of fur would come off in my hand just picking it up (we did not give it to her). This synthetic fur is not only bad for the environment but easily ingested by babies.

Plastic-free and Organic Stuffed Toys

  • Apple Park – makes lovely animals and baby doll toys from 100% organic cotton and stuffed with a corn fiber stuffing. We love the Apple Park organic dolls as a alternative to plastic dolls (pictured below).
  • Under the Nile – has toys made in a fair trade certified factory from organic and bio-dynamically farmed cotton and stuffed with organic cotton too! Their organic breathable loveys make an especially good choice for babies.
  • Ouistitine – hand makes toys and stuffies from natural and reclaimed materials (such as upcycled wool sweaters).
  • Finn & Emma – has a variety of natural toys including cute crochet toys made from organic cotton yarn.
  • Tikiri Toys – makes animals and dolls from organic cotton and regular cotton.
  • Bebemoss – has adorable hand crocheted toys made with organic cotton yarn.
  • Cate & Levi – upcycles wool sweaters into lovely puppets and stuffed toys (they also have DIY kits so you can make your own!).
  • Main Sauvage – has handknit toys made from alpaca wool in a fair trade factory in Bolivia.

Other Natural and Non-Toxic Baby Toys

Sticking to natural materials like wood, rubber, metal or bamboo is best for toys and also look for brands that use tested safe, non-toxic paints. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Smiling Tree Toys – sustainably harvest wood toys with organic oil finishes.
  • Once Kids – bamboo and FSC certified wooden toys – their “Eco-Bricks” are a fantastic alternative to plastic Lego!
  • Erzi – wooden toys, we especially love their play food! (German Company with international retailers)
  • Wee Gallery – bamboo and cotton toys with very cute designs (bamboo numbers pictured below).
  • LOVEVERY – while they do have some plastic products and toys in their playkits, I want to highlight LOVEVERY’s wooden block set which is incredibly well designed for endless play and development stages – we play with it almost daily.
Some of my daughter’s natural, non-toxic, and plastic-free toys

Bottles, Dishes & Utensils

A shocking study found that babies fed with plastic bottles are exposed to an average of 1.6 million microplastic particles a day compared to the 300 – 600 adults typically consume. The daily process of sterilizing, preparing, and heating all cause the plastic of the bottles and containers to wear down and release microplastics into the formula or milk.

We also know that babies, especially while teething, chew on everything and are still learning to eat so plastic utensils and feeding products get a lot of wear and tear which likely also results in microplastics being consumed.

Plastic-free Baby Bottles

  • Lifefactory – both glass and stainless steel bottles with silicone nipples and a silicone sleeve for grip – we started using these later with the sippy lid attachment and they’ve been great
  • Kleen Kanteen – stainless steel bottles with medical grade silicone nipples
  • HEVEA – glass baby bottles with natural rubber nipples
  • Phillips Avent – glass bottles with silicone nipples. We ended up using these because we needed bottles in a pinch and while I typically would choose to support a smaller brand than Philips, these were the best rated, most accessible ones. They worked great for us as I ended up using the Philips pump as well.

Plastic-free Feeding – Dishes and Utensils

  • Bambu – bamboo utensils.
  • Avanchy – bamboo or stainless steel and silicone bowls, plates and spoons – these are what we primarily use (buy them in Canada here)
  • ezpz – silicone bowls and dish mats – great for feeding or play!

Is Silicone Safe for Babies?

Let’s chat quickly about silicone, because silicone can be considered a plastic and it is a synthetic material, although it’s also different than the plastics we’ve been discussing.

Unlike most plastics, silicone is extremely durable, stable, and non-reactive. This means that it is considered a safe, non-toxic option and it doesn’t shed microplastics. However environmentally it also means that it doesn’t biodegrade well and isn’t easily recyclable. There is also a potential issue with fillers and traces of lead, so it’s important to only use food-grade or medical-grade silicone.

My thoughts on silicone: Plastic has undeniable benefits as a flexible material and I think silicone can be a good, safer alternative in cases. We used a variety of silicone products including bottle nipples, utensils, dishes, and some teethers.


Hevea soothers – Image from EarthHero

Pacifiers & Teethers

This one seems a pretty obvious source of microplastic ingestion as it’s something babies are literally sucking and chewing on. They say to replace soothers at any sign of wear, however by the time abrasions and wear can be seen there has likely been undetectable micro abrasions and deterioration leading up to that.

Plastic Free and Natural Pacifiers and Teething Toys

To avoid your baby ingesting micro bits of plastic pacifiers and teethers stick to natural materials such as natural rubber (but don’t use if there’s a latex allergy), wood, and as mentioned above, medical or food-grade silicone. Some of our favourites are:

  • Hevea – natural rubber pacifiers and teething toys – these are the soothers we use (pictured above).
  • Eco Piggy – also makes natural rubber pacifiers – my daughter really loves their Calmies Ecoteether and even though she’s no longer teething she loves holding it while sleeping (pictured above).
  • Finn & Emma – makes cute wooden and organic cotton teething toys and pacifier holders.

Clothing

We’ve talked a lot here on MGC about microfiber pollution so we know synthetic clothing is a big culprit of microplastics. These not only pollute our oceans and rivers but can also be ingested by us and our children.

An easy way to avoid this is by sticking to natural fibre clothing such as cotton, linen, Tencel, or wool. If you do have to use synthetic materials, like for swimwear or winter coats, be sure to wash them in a Guppyfriend Bag or with a Cora Ball to help capture the plastic fibers so they can be safely disposed of.

Check out my list of organic and sustainable baby and children clothing brands for lots of natural clothing options and our tried and tested favorites.


Carpets & Rugs

A study found that homes with carpet as the main flooring had nearly double the amount of synthetic microfibers in dust samples. So it’s best to use natural material floor coverings where possible, but especially try to focus on bedrooms, playrooms, or areas where you baby will be crawling and playing the most.

Natural Rugs and Carpets

  • Made Trade – while not specifically designed for babies, they have a large selection of artisan made wool rugs – we have one in my daughters room!
  • Willaby – has handwoven, washable organic cotton rugs in colours perfect for a nursery or playroom.
  • Lorena Canals – makes very cute washable cotton rugs as well as other natural nursery decor pieces.
  • Under the Nile –
  • Novica – has a variety of artisan made natural fibre rugs.
  • Hook & Loom – makes a large variety of recycled or organic cotton, and undyed wool rugs.
  • Under the Nile – zero waste handloomed rugs made from scrap organic cotton from their clothing and toy production.
  • Pure Earth Collection – has play mats made from cork.
  • Scoria – also makes cork yoga/play mats.

I hope this is helpful with trying to find plastic free alternatives and please share in the comments if you have other great plastic free baby brands or products to recommend.

Updated Jan 8, 2021

The Best Sustainable Nursing Bras

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I tried avoiding maternity-specific clothing as much as possible during my pregnancy and get things secondhand, however bras was one area where I definitely needed to get some new pieces. Of course I wanted to find sustainable and ethical bra options so here are some of the nursing and maternity bras I tried as well as some other great brands I’ve found.

Comfort and easy accessibility are obviously high priorities for nursing bras and I would recommend trying a few different styles to see what you like best. I personally found I preferred the crossover style vs the clip but glad I had both depending on what I was wearing.

So we’ve collected a variety of styles, sustainable materials and ethically made nursing bras from brands based in the USA, Canada, and Europe to help you find some good options!

(please note: some affiliate links are used in this post which means we may get a small commission)

One-Stop-Shop for Nursing Clothing

Images from Boob Designs

Boob Design is the brand to check out, they exclusively design sustainable maternity and nursing clothing! They have a full collection that transitions with you from a pregnancy to nursing. I especially loved their nursing dresses with easy-access designs!

For nursing bras they have a large variety of styles and sustainable materials to choose from; including organic cotton, Tencel, recycled nylon, and even organic merino wool. Their styles range from soft to extra firm support and they even have styles for larger cups and smaller bands! (This is my biggest issue with bralettes)

I used 3 of their bras while I was nursing – the 24/7 Bra, Fast-Food Bra, and Fast-Food Sports Bra. The 24/7 bra was definitely my favourite and so comfortable (I still wear it all the time even though I’m no longer nursing) and because it’s a crossover style instead of clip it doesn’t feel or look like a nursing bra. I personally preferred Boob’s natural material bras over the recycled nylon ones and would recommend sticking with those.

Boob is fantastic if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop to get a maternity and nursing-friendly wardrobe.

Cost: €55 – €75
Conscious Highlights: sustainable materials, GOTS certified, Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified fabrics, production transparency
Size range: S – XXL
Ordering: Based in Sweden, ships international


Sporty & Size-Inclusive Nursing Bras

Images from Girlfriend

When the designer behind Sustainable activewear brand Girlfriend became pregnant they naturally expanded their line to include a few maternity and nursing options!

They have 2 bra styles depending on your preference – the Ellie Clip Nursing Bra and the May Crossover Nursing Bra.

Girlfriend’s bras are made from a stretchy recycled nylon (from fishing nets) and the Ellie includes removable cups made from recycled plastic bottles. Both styles are designed fit fluctusting cup sizes and the Ellie also includes adjustable straps and back.

For working out, the Ellie is for low-medium impact and the May is low impact. And if you’re looking for maternity workout leggings they have an option too!

They’re also the most size-inclusive brand I’ve found with size options from XXS-6X!

Cost: $52/$48 USD
Conscious Highlights: recycled materials, Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified fabrics, SA8000 certified factory, body-inclusive models
Size range: XXS – 6X
Ordering: based in USA, also ships to UK, Australia, and Canada


Most Beautiful – Reclaimed Lace Nursing Bra

Images from Savara

Most nursing bras are very utilitarian looking, so it’s a delight to see Savara Intimates’s stunning and sustainable Aveline Nursing Bra.

It features a soft Tencel cup with gorgeous deadstock lace, and the option of removable cup padding. The cup is detachable with a hook while the strap stays in place.

Savara Intimates has a unique sizing model and design which uses adjustable back elastics to combine the comfortable and flexibility of a bralette with the adjustability of a bra. Their bras are specifically designed to accommodate size changes and weight fluctuations – perfect for everyone, but especially maternity and nursing bras!

While I haven’t used their Aveline nursing bra, I have the Willow bra from Savara Intimates and it is such a beautiful and comfy bra. As someone with larger cups and a smaller band I really appreciate the adjustable back straps.

Cost: €69,95
Conscious Highlights: sustainable and reclaimed materials, production transparency, carbon offset, made in Europe
Size range: XS – XXL+
Ordering: based in the Netherlands, ships international


Best Variety of Styles (Including Sustainable Pumping Bras!)

Images from Bravado Designs

I wish I’d know about Bravado Designs while I was breastfeeding (and then exclusively pumping), they have so many styles and options including seamless, racerback, full cup and extended cup, both underwire and wire-free, nursing cami, and a combo nursing/pumping bra, as well as innovative pumping attachment which transforms their nursing bras into a hands-free pumping bra (this would have been exactly what I needed!)

Bravado has a sustainable collection which uses eco friendly materials such as a blend of organic cotton and Tencel Modal, and recycled nylon but not all their styles are made from these materials (however all their materials are Oeko-Tex certified). They also have a goal to transition to 100% sustainable fabrics by 2023.

Their sizing can be confusing and varies by the style so use their size calculator and check each product.

Cost: $42 – $57 CAD
Conscious Highlights: some sustainable materials, Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified fabrics, WRAP certified factories, body-inclusive models, products are tested for longevity
Size range: S – XXL (including full cup options)
Ordering: based in Canada, has a Canadian site, US site, and UK site.


Most Affordable Organic Nursing Bra

Images from Pact

Sustainable clothing brand Pact also has a maternity collection which includes an organic cotton crossover nursing bralette and organic cotton nursing camisole. At just $35 each for organic cotton and fair trade certified garments these are the most budget-friendly nursing options we’ve found (besides shopping secondhand of course).

I especially like the crossover style of nursing bra since it doesn’t look or feel like a nursing bra and can easily be worn after.

Both styles look comfy and I’m a fan of Pact’s baby clothing so it could also be a good opportunity to grab some baby essentials too!

Cost: $35 USD
Conscious Highlights: GOTS certified organic cotton, Fair Trade certified factories, carbon offset shipping
Size range: S – XL
Ordering: based in USA, ships international.


If there are any I missed please share them in the comments!

Updated Dec 16, 2021

Sustainable Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales

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“Green Friday” 2021 – 70+ Fashion, Accessory, Kids & Home Brands on Sale

If you’re shopping this Black Friday or Cyber Week please shop consciously and support sustainable and ethical businesses. There are some great initiatives to refocus, give back, or “green” the traditional Black Friday like Fair Friday, Small Business Saturday, Shop for Good Sunday, Giving Tuesday, Reclaim Black Friday, and more!

Here are some of the sales or giving back initiatives (look for the little symbols!) from conscious brands and I’ll be updating the list throughout the week as more sales become active so check back. We have mainly US and Canadian sustainable Black Friday sales but also some great European brands that ship international.

(this list is kindly sponsored by DoneGood and also contains some affiliate links which means I get a small commission from sales)

Shop for Good Sales

Once again DoneGood is celebrating Shop for Good Sunday (but the sales run all week from the 23th-29th). They have up to 70% off a huge selection of ethical and sustainable brands in their marketplace.

You can find clothing, home goods, bath and beauty, children’s products, and DoneGood also has tons of gift guides to make your holiday shopping easy! They carefully select their small businesses and have icons so you can find brands that best align with your values.

Sustainable Fashion Sales

ArmedAngels (DE) – 25% off + every order donates 10€ to help small-scale cotton farmers in Indian transition to organic farming 🌱

Back Beat Co. (US) – 20% off all knits with code KNIT20

Christy Dawn (US) – 40% off select styles

DoneGood (US) – Up to 70% off various brands

EarthHero (US) – 20% off site-wide + every order plants 5 trees with code BF2021 🌳

Encircled (CAN) – Various products on sale starting now and door crashers Fri-Mon US/Global site, Canadian site

ÉTICA (US) – 25% off

Franc (CAN) – 10% – 25% off

Frank and Oak (CAN) – 30% off with code BF30

Girlfriend Collective (US) – Activewear. 30% off site-wide

Groceries Apparel (US) – 30% – 70% off

Harvest & Mill (US) – 15% off site-wide with code HOLIDAYS2021

Indigenous (US) – 25% off + free shipping

Knickey (US) – Organic underwear. 20% off site-wide with code TOPDRAWERSWAP

Know the Origin (UK) – 20% off site-wide

Kotn (CAN) – From Friday to Monday they are donating 100% of profits to build schools ✏️

LA Relaxed (US) – 40% off site-wide with code gratitude

Londre (CAN) – Swimwear. 25% – 70% off and orders over $150 plant coral 🌊

Made Trade (US) – 10% off with code GET10 or donate 10% with the code GIVE10 – donations plant orchards in food insecure communities. 🍎

Mary Young (CAN) – Underwear. 20% off site-wide with code BFCM20

MATE (US) – 30% – 50% off

Neu Nomads (US) – Up to 70% off

Organic Basics (DK) – Up to 40% off + every order donates 10€ to WWF’s Regenerative Organic Cotton Pilot Project in Turkey 🌱

Pact (US) – Up to 40% off

Passion Lilie (US) – 15% off + 10% redistributed with Reclaim Black Friday with code RECLAIM2021 🌎

People Tree (UK) – 30% off site-wide

Prana (US) – 30% off and free shipping

Son de Flor (LT) – 20% – 40% off + free shipping

Sotela (US) – 15% off with code SHOPSMALL21 + taking part in Reclaim Black Friday 🌎

Symbology (US) – 30% off site-wide

Synergy (US) – Various sales

TAMGA (CAN) – Up to 30% off + 20% donated to the Sumatran Orangutan Society 🐒🌳

Tentree (CAN) – Up to 50% off 🌳

The Good Tee (CAN) – 30% off

Toad&Co (US) – Up to 60% off

Tonle (US) – 20% off site-wide + 15% redistributed with Reclaim Black Friday with code RECLAIMBLACKFRIDAY 🌎

Tradlands (US) – 30% off site-wide with code BF30

Two Days Off (US) – 30% off with code TIS30

Uye Surana (US) – Lingerie. Up to 70% off

WAMA (US) – Hemp underwear. 40% off site-wide

Warp + Weft (US) –  Denim. 50% off full price items with code THANKFUL50

Whimsy + Row (US) – Get $25 on orders $175+

Windy Peak Vintage (US) – 20% of sales redistributed with Reclaim Black Friday 🌎

Wolven (US) – 40% off site-wide

Yes And (US) – 33% off site-wide with code YABF33

Eco Friendly Shoes, Bags, & Accessory Sales

ALLTRUEIST (CAN) – Various vegan brands. Sales up to 70% off

Angela Roi (US) Vegan handbags. Donate to WWF or any non-profit you support and get 20% off 🐼

Astor + Orion (US) – Jewelry. 20% off

Chic Made Consciously (US) – Recycled statement jewellery. 2 items 25% off, 3 items 30% off, 4+ items 35% off

Etsy – Various products on sale up top 60% off (please note: not all Etsy sellers are eco/ethical)

Nisolo (US) – Ethically-made shoes. 25% off site-wide with code CYBER25

Pela (CAN) – Phone cases. Buy one get one free

Thesus (CAN) – Vegan boots (formerly Alice + Whittles). 10% of sale with code CYBER2021

Unbelts (CAN) – $5 from every belt donated to women’s mental health research. 🧠 US site, Canadian site


Eco & Organic Baby & Kids Sales

Bebemoss (US) – Stuffed toys. 25% off

DoneGood (US) – Up to 70% off

EarthHero (US) – 20% off site-wide + every order plants 5 trees with code BF2021 🌳

Finn + Emma (US) – 20% off site-wide with code BLACK21

Hanna Andersson (US) – 40% off site-wide

Jackalo (US) – 20% off with code THANKFUL20 or BOGO 50% off with code BOGO50

Lovevery (US) – Developmental toys. $30 off a new play kit subscription with the code PLAYKITS30

Mini-Cycle (CAN) – 25% off

Nest Designs (CAN) – tired sales

Pact (US) – Up to 40% off

Parade Organics (CAN) – 25% off select items

Q for Quinn (CAN) – Up to 40% off + 5 meals donated for every order 🍲

Solly Baby (US) – Baby carrying wraps. 25% off + free shipping

Sustainable Home Goods Sales

Boll & Branch (US) – Organic cotton bedding. 25% off with code CYBERWEEK

DoneGood (US) – Up to 70% off

EarthHero (US) – 20% off site-wide + every order plants 5 trees with code BF2021 🌳

Etsy – Various products on sale up top 60% off (please note: not all Etsy sellers are eco/ethical)

GlobeIn (US) – Spend $100, get $25 gift card, spend $200, get $50 gift card

Naturepedic (US/CAN) – Organic mattresses and bedding. 20% off site-wide + free shipping with code BLACKFRIDAY20

Made Trade (US) – 10% off with code GET10 or donate 10% with the code GIVE10 – donations plant orchards in food insecure communities. 🍎

Magic Linen (LT) – 20% off site-wide

MINNA (US) – 25% off

NOVICA (US) – tiered savings – $10, $15, and $20 off

Sijo (US) – Bedding. 25% off site-wide


Green & Cruelty-Free Beauty Sales

100% Pure (US/CAN/EU) – $10 deals on various products

Clove + Hallow (US) – 40% off site-wide

EarthHero (US) – 20% off site-wide + every order plants 5 trees with code BF2021 🌳

Evan Healy (US) – 25% off site-wide

Follain (US) – Up to 25% off

Know the Origin (UK) – 20% off site-wide with code SIXYEARSOFMAGIC

Meow Meow Tweet (US) – Taking part in Reclaim Black Friday 🌎

Red Apple Lipstick (US) – Various deals

RMS Beauty (US) – select products on sale

The Choosy Chick (US) – 15% off site-wide + free mascara with orders over $30 with code THANKFUL


Other

West Coast Seeds (CAN) – seeds (they have lots of lawn alternatives!) 15% of sales donated to Breakfast Club of Canada 🍲


Check back because I’ll be updating this list daily as more brands announce their sales.

You can also check out my Green Gift Guide for sustainable holiday gift ideas for everyone on your list!

8 Ways to Be a More Conscious Gift Giver

Sustainable gift giving isn’t just about what you give, but also how you give.

It’s easy to think that buying a gift made in an eco friendly way is all you need to do, however there are important things to keep in mind and ways to give presents sustainably regardless of the item.  

This post is in partnership with EarthHero which is an amazing one-stop shop for all kinds of sustainable products and an easy place to get your gift shopping done. They have everything including clothing, kitchen and home goods, zero waste items, decor, baby and kids stuff, eco friendly pet products, green beauty lines and more.

So let’s jump into my tips of how to make your gifts more sustainable and also some great conscious gift examples from EarthHero!

1. Ensure it’s a Gift that Will Get Used

I think this is the most important one: a gift that the person doesn’t want and won’t actually use and enjoy is always going to be wasteful. 61% of Americans admit to getting at least 1 unwanted gift over the holidays – that’s billions of dollars and time wasted, as well as all the unnecessary energy and resources used to make the items (plus wrapping and packaging).

An easy way to solve this is simply to ask the person what they need or could use! Or if you don’t want to ask them directly, do some sleuthing and ask close family members, partners, friends etc. Or see if there’s anything they use regularly that could use an update or replacement.

Here are some ideas of items that most people use regularly which make good, practical gifts:

2. Quality over Quantity

Something that really needs a shift is the idea that “more is better” when it comes to gifts. The reality is excessive consumption is not only incredibly harmful to our planet and people but holiday gift shopping also creates a lot of unnecessary debt, stress and pressure.

Focusing on quality over quantity not only allows you to give items that will last and won’t be trashed. It also means you can invest in responsible brands and something you know the receiver will get good use from.

3. Research 

This isn’t just for gifts, any product you buy you should try to research. Choose things that are well made and ideally from brands that align with your sustainable and ethical values. 

It can be tough to research every company though, so marketplaces like EarthHero are helpful because they curate products and also give you filters of sustainability features. They use icons so you can easily identify features such as plastic-free, Fair Trade, recycled, Black Owned businesses, compostable, vegan, climate neutral, and much more.

4. Support Small Businesses

Amazon and all the mega-corporations don’t need your money, meanwhile holiday purchases can be crucial for small businesses to keep the lights on. Small businesses not only offer more unique products but also create stronger communities and are important for advancing the sustainability movement.

Here are just a few of my favorite small brands you can find on EarthHero:

5. Give Consumable Gifts

Gifts that will be used up are fantastic for anyone who doesn’t want or need more “stuff”. You can give a gift without the lasting clutter or waste! 

Homemade baking, sauces, snacks or cooking mixes are great consumable gifts and also budget-friendly. Favorite coffees, teas, beer/wine, jam, or chocolate also are good go-tos.

When we think consumable we typically think of food. However there’s also non-food “consumable” gifts such as:

6. Reusable or Biodegradable Materials

Another way to cut down on the impact of gifts is to look for reusable or biodegradable, materials and packaging. So at the item’s end-of-life it won’t go in the landfill. Try to avoid plastic products and packaging as much as you can; sometimes it’s unavoidable but we can try our best. 🙂

Also remember that most wrapping paper comes from new resources and often isn’t recyclable so stick to sustainable gift wrap – ideally recycled or reusable options, and make sure they don’t go in the trash!

7. Gifts that Give Back 

Many conscious brands also give back to great causes, so you can multiply your gift giving! It can be especially meaningful if it’s both a gift they’ll appreciate and a cause they care about. 

Here are some great brands on EarthHero that give back:

  • Conscious Step – each pair of organic socks gives back $1 with many causes and organizations to choose from
  • Tentree – clothing brand where every item plants 10 trees
  • Terra Thread – each bag donates meals through Feeding America
  • Scoria – their cork yoga products give back to Right to Play which works with Indigenous youth in Canada

8. Give Experiences

I’ve said this many times before, but it’s always good to repeat – experiences make amazing, memorable gifts and can also be a fantastic sustainable gift!

Here are some enjoyable experience gifts depending on the receiver’s interests:

  • Meal at a favourite restaurant
  • Tickets to a concert or sports game
  • Membership to a museum or gallery
  • Spa or massage service
  • Admission to an amusement park
  • National park pass
  • Classes for something they want to learn
  • Getaway or camping trip

Happy Holidays and if you have any other tips you’d add to this list, please share them!

Check out EarthHero for lots of sustainable gifts and from now until Dec. 1st get 20% off site-wide + plant 5 trees with every order with code BF2021

Sustainable & Organic Sheets

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Looking for new bedding? Sustainable fabrics are not only better for the environment, but natural and eco friendly sheets are also more breathable, absorbent, and comfortable – so better for your sleep too!

Here’s a guide to help you first decide what material might be the best choice for you and also a list of some great sustainable bedding brands to check out.

And before we jump into it, lets quickly clear up the thread count myth – a higher thread count does not automatically mean better quality or more comfortable. What is much more important is the type and quality of fibre used, how it’s processed, and how it’s woven! So it’s best to ignore thread counts and instead look for brands that focus on making high quality sheets.

Cotton vs Linen vs Tencel

What’s the best material for sheets? Which is the most environmentally friendly bedding?


Cotton Sheets

The most common and easy to find sheet material.

Pros

  • Breathable & absorbent
  • Often more affordable
  • Large variety of styles, colours, and patterns

Cons

  • Cotton can have high pesticide use (look for Organic)
  • Generally requires more resources to grow
  • Wrinkles with use
  • Large range in quality

Linen Sheets

The original bedding materials and why they’re often called “linens”.

Pros

  • Breathable & absorbent
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Linen is more sustainably grown than cotton (less pesticides and water required)

Cons

  • Wrinkles easily (although that can be a pro too if you like the look)
  • Can take a while to soften
  • Typically more expensive than other sheets
  • Limited style options

Tencel (Lyocell) Sheets

Tencel is a cellulose fabric derived from sustainably sourced wood pulp. It often has a more silky feel but can come in a variety of finishes.

Pros

  • Tencel™ is closed loop and sustainably made (however generic lyocell might not be)
  • Less prone to wrinkling
  • Good “vegan silk” or “natural satin” alternative
  • Can feel cooler and be a good choice for hot sleepers

Cons

  • While it’s technically a natural material, lyocell is highly processed – ensure it is Tencel™ which is made in a sustainable closed loop process.
  • Typically less durable
  • Some Tencel sheets may require delicate washing
  • Some people don’t like the feeling

Overall the best type of material will depend on you personal preferences, style, and budget. Each have different pros and cons so ultimately it’s about which you’ll most use and enjoy.

Personally, I’m a big fan of linen sheets, I love the feeling, casual look, and sustainability. But I also know they’re not for everyone so below are a variety of options, materials, and brands to check out.

When shopping for sheets something else that is important to me is being able to buy pieces separately. We don’t use a top sheet so I hate having to get set that includes one, and my partner and I also use separate duvets and have different pillow sizes so sets never fit our needs and end up being a waste of both money and materials. So if the sets also don’t work for you, I’ve also noted who sells pieces separately.

My linen sheets from Magic Linen

Where to Find Sustainable Sheets

The best organic sheets and sustainable bedding brands.

(please note: some affiliate links are used in this post which means we may get a small commission)

Price Guide (based on a Queen Set)
$ – Under 200
$$ – 200 – 250
$$$ – 251 – 300
$$$$ – 301+

Material Symbol Quick Guide
🌱 – Cotton
🌾- Linen
🌳 – Tencel

Image from Magic Linen

Magic Linen

🌾

Price: $$$

Based in: Lithuania, ships international

Sizing: US, UK, EU, AU

We have full bedding from Magic Linen and it’s been great! I love their colour options and as mentioned above I’m a huge fan of the fact that they sell the pieces both individually and as sets.

I really like the wrinkly linen look however of the linen sheets I’ve tried these have a thicker yarn and are more casual/rustic than some finer woven linen sheets. So I’d only recommend Magic Linen if you really love that “linen look”.

Magic Linen’s products are made in-house in Lithuania from Oeko-Tex certified linen made from European flax. They cater to international customer and offer many sizing options.


Image from Boll & Branch

Boll & Branch

🌱

Price: $$$

Based in: USA, also ships to Canada

Sizing: US

Boll & Branch makes classic bedding from organic cotton. They have a variety of yarn quality and weaves for different feels and finishes. They also sell both sets and separates.

Their bedding is 100% organic cotton, they pay fair wages to cotton farmers, and their production is Fair Trade Certified.


Image from Kotn

Kotn

🌱

Price: $ – $$

Based in: Canada, ships international

Sizing: US

Another clothing brand, Kotn’s new home collection includes classic, neutral bedding. Their sheet sets are sold with the flat sheet separately which I appreciate!

While Kotn’s cotton is not organic, they do have a unique direct-trade model where they work directly with cotton farmers and ensure quality, transparency, and fair wages at all stages of their supply chain. Kotn is also in the process of helping their farmers get organic certification. Kotn is a B Corp and uses a portion of profits to build schools in their cotton farming communities.


Image from Hessnatur

Hessnatur

🌱 🌾

Price: $

Based in: Germany, ships to most countries in Europe

Sizing: EU

Hessnatur has a huge selection of organic cotton and organic linen bedding – especially good to check out if you’re looking for bright colours and prints! They have percale, sateen, jersey, and brushed options.

Their bedding is GOTS certified and made in the EU. *Flat sheets aren’t very common in Europe so they don’t include them.


Image from Sijo

Sijo

🌳 🌾

Price: $$ – $$$

Based in: USA, ships

Sizing: US

Sijo makes both Tencel™ and linen bedding. Looking for something silky and cool? Tencel is a sustainable fabric to try! They sell sets with and without a flat sheet in a range of colours to choose from.

Their bedding is Oeko-Tex certified and their duvets also include corner snaps which pair with their duvet inserts to make changing the bedding easier.


Image from Naturepedic

Naturepedic

🌱

Price: $$

Based in: USA, also has a Canadian webshop

Sizing: US

Naturepedic is primarily a mattress company (and makes excellent organic mattresses!) however they also have a small and simple bedding collection. Their sheets come in natural or white and are 100% GOTS certified organic cotton.

They also have GreenGuard and other certifications, Naturepedic would be my top pick for babies or anyone with very sensitive skin or who has issues with dyes!


Image from Pact

Pact

🌱

Price: $

Based in: USA, ships international

Sizing: US

Pact is primarily known as a clothing brand but recently added a home collection as well. They have options in 2 materials, their “favorite tee jersey” bedding and “room service sateen”.

Pact’s sheets and bedding are 100% organic cotton and made in a Fair Trade Certified factory in India.


Image from Coyuchi

Coyuchi

🌱 🌾

Price: $$

Based in: USA, ships US only

Sizing: US

Coyuchi has a variety of organic cotton and linen sheets. Their cotton options include crinkled percale, flannel, jersey, and sateen, and they have different densities depending if you’re looking for something more relaxed or crisp.

Coyuchi’s bedding is GOTS and their organic cotton is also Fair Trade Certified. They also have a take-back recycling program for used linens.


Image from Maison Tess

Maison Tess

🌾 🌱 🌳

Price: $$$$

Based in: Canada, ships international

Sizing: US

Maison Tess makes linen, cotton, cotton/Tencel blend and cotton/linen blend sheets in variety of colours. So they’re great if you’re looking to combine the benefit of different fibres.

They do not use organic cotton, but their bedding is Oeko-Tex certified. They also have very little info about their cotton sourcing, so personally I would only recommend their linen options or if you’re looking for the benefits of a blended fabric.


Sweet dreams 💤

Updated Jan 02, 2021

25 Sustainable Gifts for Everyone on your List

Our annual green gift guide is here. This year I’m extra proud of some of the brands and products I’ve found – there’s so many great eco friendly gifts! 

As always we have a variety of sustainable gift ideas so you can not only give thoughtful presents, but also have a lighter impact on the planet. There are options for everyone – friends, kids, partners, environmentalists, minimalists, vegans, and a range of unique to practical, luxury to affordable gifts – so you’re sure to find something perfect! 

I’ve included some truly amazing small businesses and also place a special focus on featuring BIPOC and women-owned brands.

Thank you for doing your gift shopping more responsibly 💚

$ = under 25            $$ = 26-50          $$$ = 51-100          $$$$ = 100+ 

“Give Stories Not Stuff” Experience Voucher 

Experiences not only make a great eco friendly gift and are perfect for those who don’t want more stuff, but experiences actually make people happier than material goods!

Tinggly makes it easy to give experiences and getaways all over the world. You simply select one of their packages and the recipient can choose from hundreds of options. They have everything from culinary experiences, tours, and adrenaline adventures, to weekend getaways and hotel stays for both 1 person or couples. 

Tinggly gives you the option of an e-voucher or a gift box including the voucher and brochure all made from recycled materials. Tinggly not only carbon offsets the gift box shipping but also offsets each experience enjoyed by 200% – making them a much more sustainable (and often more affordable too) way to purchase experience gifts!

Price: $$$ – $$$$ Location: International


Handcrafted Watercolor & Paint Palette

Beautiful, high quality, handmade paints – an amazing gift for artists, hobby painters, or kids!

Beam Paints is an Indigenous-owned brand created from multi-generational paint-making. Their paints are concentrated and made from lightfast pigments, tree sap, gum arabic, and Manitoulin honey. Everything is packaged plastic free and you can get the paints on wooden palettes made from reclaimed wood offcuts from a sustainable Indigenous Forestry Operation. They also ethically source their mica which is very important and something I have not found from any other paint. 

For children they have a special Tisgeh’dah palette where all paints have been third party tested to meet and exceed children’s paint safety standards – we got one for a little artist in our family and I know they’ll be beyond thrilled!

Beam Paints is a lovely small business I discovered this year and cannot stop gushing about. I got their holiday sparkle set for myself and plan to paint cards for everyone this year. 🙂

Price: $$ – $$$ Location: Canada (also have international retailers)


Crackling Cozy Candles

Candles are always in the gift guide because they make such perfect gifts, however these candles from Made Trade are definitely leveled up!

They’re handmade in Portland from clean-burning vegan soy wax and scented with aromatherapy essential oils. They feature wooden wicks which cozily crackle as they burn and each comes with a unique dried floral design for a special touch – not only lovely to burn but to look at too!

This votive set comes with the perfect warm, wintery scents for the holidays and makes for gorgeous home decor. Plus candles are “consumables” so a great gift for those who don’t need more stuff.

Besides these candles, Made Trade is also an amazing marketplace for all kinds of ethically-made and sustainable gifts!

Price: $$ Location: USA, ships international 


Printed Loungewear/Daywear Set

Gorgeous comfy sets that can be worn around the house and as a striking outfit? It really is the best of both worlds.

TAMGA makes beautiful sets from silky and sustainable Ecovero in their signature prints. All TAMGA’s pieces are ethically made and they focus on impact reduction throughout their supply chain as well as carbon offsetting their production and giving back to reforestation projects.

Want to treat someone (or yourself)? Get them a beautiful lounge set! Too often loungewear consists of old tees and sweatpants so a beautiful, comfy, and eco friendly set is such a luxurious gift. 

TAMGA also makes gorgeous robes and accessories which would make lovely gifts!

Price: $$$$ Location: Canada, ships international


Recycled Firehose Laptop or Tablet Case

What’s more durable than a fire hose? Elivis & Kresse upcycles this unique material into bags, wallets, cases and other accessories.

Classic styles are given a sustainable update with reclaimed and highly durable materials, including decommissioned British fire-hoses, reclaimed printing blankets, and military-grade parachute silk lining. Elvis & Kresse is a B Corp, Living Wage Employer, and gives back 50% or profits to charity.

Our pick for a useful and classic gift is their laptop or tablet case – great for travelers, commuters, or anyone looking to protect their tech.

Price: $$$ Location: UK, ships international


Cute & Comfy Dressy Sweats

The perfect blend of buttery soft sweats and everyday pants. I love Encircled’s dressy sweatpants so much I now have 2 pairs (It’s the only item in my wardrobe I’ve got duplicates of so that’s saying a lot)!

They are fantastic for lounging around the house or can easily be dressed up for work, errands, or going out. A perfect gift for anyone who works from home or anyone who would appreciate a super comfy staple wardrobe piece. Not only is the fabric lovely to wear, but the cut is super flattering and stretchy and I love the details such as the ruching on the legs and hidden pocket at the back which is great for keys and a card when running errands.

Encircled’s clothing is all made in Canada from sustainable materials. They are a B Corp and have various sustainability initiatives such as upcycling fabric scraps and not using plastic polybags.

Price: $$$$ Location: Canada, ships international


Handwoven Zero Waste Pillows

A pop of sustainable home decor! Tonlé is a beautiful brand passionate about circularity. They not only make stylish zero waste garments, but use all fabric scraps to create lovely pieces like wall hangings, rugs, and these pillow cases. 

The handwoven texture and story behind the fabric makes these such a unique piece and great gift for anyone who would appreciate some sustainable decor accents in their space.

Throw pillows make great gifts because who does love pillows? And it’s easy to change up your decor with new pillow cases. Tonlé’s zero waste pillow cases come in neutral options or some gorgeous colors to suit all styles.

All Tonlé’s pieces are ethically made in Cambodia from carefully sourced reclaimed materials and they have a zero waste product process – absolutely everything is reused, even the clipped threads are upcycled into paper! 

Price: $$ – $$$ Location: USA, ships international 


Classic Cozy Hoodie

A great gift idea for teens, him, her, or anyone who loves a soft and classic hoodie.

This Golden Spruce Hoodie is my husband’s Christmas gift 🤫 and his third tentree hoodie because he loves them so much. They have both minimalist styles like this spruce hoodie or more bold styles with graphics but all are made with soft and sustainable fabrics – I’d recommend their fleece fabric for ultimate winter coziness. 

tentree’s clothing is all made from eco-conscious materials and they have a variety of environmental initiatives such as planting 10 trees for every purchase (hence the name). They are a B Corp and have great transparency about their manufacturing with public factory lists and code of conduct. 

Price: $$$ Location: Canada, ships international 


“Tattoo” Accessories 

Know someone who loves a statement piece? These upcycled bracelets make a unique accessory. At first glance they appear to be a bold tattoo and come in floral, geometric, edgy, and minimalist styles.

Chic Made Consciously produces all their pieces from recycled and upcycled materials. The brand started out with their upcycled inner tube accessories and also has a jewelry collection (for something more classic) made from repurposed brass from war remnant landmine casings and bullets.

Their pieces are handmade by artisans in Bali and Cambodia. If you’re wondering about wearing inner tubes, they have been tested and approved for long-term skin contact.

I personally love their floral pieces but also think the geometric designs would make an amazing gift for someone stylish. 

Price: $$ Location: USA, ships to US & Canada


Zero Waste Starter Kit

A perfect gift for anyone interested in a more eco friendly lifestyle or someone who wants to limit plastic but doesn’t know where to start.

EarthHero’s Zero Waste Gift Box contains sustainable lifestyle staples and beloved must-haves to easily reduce your waste. The box is carefully curated with popular products – a Stasher Bag (one of my faves), bamboo toothbrush, reusable produce bags, and on-the-go cutlery and straw.

EarthHero is also a fantastic marketplace for all kinds of sustainable products and an easy place to do all your gift shopping. Plus they are a B Corp, give back, and carbon offset their business footprint and all shipping.

Price: $$ Location: USA


Also check out more gift ideas from EarthHero in this post about my top tips for conscious gift giving.


Organic Socks for the Whole Family

Fun and adorable socks for babies, kids or the whole family! 

Q for Quinn makes organic socks in super cute and fun prints. We have been loving their socks since my daughter was tiny and recently got some adult ones too. They have various sets which makes it easy to shop and if you really want to get into the holiday spirit they have adorable holiday socks. 

Socks are something everyone can use, are always practical, and the soft cotton and unique patterns also makes them a special gift.

All of Q for Quinn’s products are GOTS and Oeko-Tex-100 certified and are made to last. They also donate a meal to school children for every pair sold.

Price: $ – $$ Location: Canada, ships international


Lacy Lingerie Set

A beautiful and sexy gift for yourself or a significant other. Let’s face it, most sustainable underwear is cute, comfy, and practical but rarely this gorgeous!

Savara Intimates lingerie is ethically made from Oeko-Tex certified natural materials like cotton, Tencel, and reclaimed surplus and offcut lace. They work to ensure as little manufacturing waste as possible and also have a unique bra design which allows for more flexibility with sizing and body changes.

I love Savara’s Willow red set for the holidays but the black sets are also a fantastic classic option. The best part though is not how lovely the pieces are, but how comfortable!

Price: $$$ – $$$$ Location: Netherlands, ships international


Audiobook Membership

Adventure, relaxation, mystery, romance, and entertainment – you can give all these with audiobooks! 

A Libro.fm audiobook subscription is my favorite gift to give. It’s so enjoyable to listen to a story and fantastic for anyone who doesn’t have as much time as they’d like to sit and read.

Libro fm is unique because they work with independent bookstores so you can support your local bookstore through your audiobook purchases or gifted subscription! They have a huge selection of audiobooks and curated collections/recommendations to help find titles you’ll enjoy. 

They have 3, 6, and 12-month memberships which gives you 1 credit each month to spend on any book. An audiobook subscription is a great gift for anyone but especially those who don’t want more “stuff”, or if you’re looking for a digital present to send to someone.

Price: $$ – $$$$ Location: Can be gifted anywhere in the world


Upcycled Charcuterie Board

We love to see innovation! What if instead of making new bamboo products you could take a very abundant source of bamboo waste in the form of chopsticks and upcycle it? Chop Value saw an opportunity and has done just that!

They collect chopsticks from restaurants, clean them, press and finish them into new products, using a water based resin to hold the chopsticks together.

While they have many great gift ideas, this charcuterie board is a beautiful and unique gift for any food lovers, cooks, or those who enjoy entertaining. I love how at first glance it looks like a regular bamboo board but then closer up you can see the smaller details and shape of the chopsticks!

Chop Value is a B Corp and all products are made with waste reduction in mind. They have a unique Microfactory model where the concept can be used in other cities to locally produce products from restaurants’ chopstick waste.

Price: $$ – $$$ Location: Canada, ships within Canada and USA (if you’re shopping from the US, you can also find them through EarthHero


Sparkly Sustainable Jewelry

Delicate, classic, and statement jewels made from recycled precious metal and upcycled stones! Washed Ashore makes stunning, nature inspired jewelry that is sure to become treasured heirloom pieces. 

There are so many lovely pieces to choose from but their Hera necklace would probably be my top pick for a special gift. It’s a very wearable design and the delicate stars with diamonds and white sapphires are a gorgeous detail. 

Even with years of researching sustainable alternatives it’s difficult to find brands that use both recycled metals as well as upcycled stones. Washed Ashore’s pieces are 100% recycled making them both a sustainable and ethical option (unfortunately precious metal and stone mining is rife with unethical practices). They use reclaimed stones, removed and upcycled from secondhand jewelry as well as natural, unique Keshi pearls which have been sourced as 30+ year-old deadstock. 

Price: $$$$ Location: USA, ships international


Recycled Puzzles by Artists

Whether puzzles are a holiday tradition, enjoyed pastime, or new hobby, I think we can all agree that there are far too many cabins and landscapes and not enough cool and unique puzzles!

Goodfit started with a mission to solve that exact problem and do it sustainably.

Goodfit’s puzzles are exclusive and designed in collaboration with artists. Plus each puzzle is made from 100% recycled cardboard and donates 10% to an organization or charity of the artist’s choosing.

They have many different designs to suit different styles and personalities but my top pick for gifts would be Celebration Day – the art is not only really cool but also makes for a challenging puzzle plus it gives back to the Rainforest Action Network which works to fight deforestation and climate change.

Price: $$ Location: USA, ships international


DIY Knitting Kit

So many of us have taken up new hobbies over this past year, whether you know a seasoned knitter, a new one, or someone who wants to learn, these winter hat knitting kits are a cute and fun project.

I’ve been a fan of Myssy hats for a while – our whole family has them, so it was very exciting to see them now offered as DIY kits! The great thing about a hat is it’s a pretty easy and quick project to knit and enjoy soon.

I love the beret kits (so chic) and they also have their classic chunky wool hats as kits. The DIY kit includes their organic, hand-dyed wool from local Finnish sheep, label and tag that can be signed by the knitter. Needles are not included but can be added if needed.

Price: $$ – $$$ Location: Finland, ships international


Artisan Soaps

This year I got mildly obsessed with watching soap making videos – they’re so calming and satisfying! Because of that I also wanted beautiful artisan soap bars, however I ran into some problems as most soap contains:

  • Unsustainable palm oil
  • Unethical mica
  • Synthetic fragrance oils which give me a headache

So I started to look for brands that make beautiful soaps without any of these things. It was impossible to pick just one so here are some brands to check out for gorgeous natural soaps. All are WOC-owned, have sustainable practices, and would make lovely, consumable gifts!

Mo.SS (CAN) – I love the layering in these soaps. Mo.SS has handmade cold-process soap using natural ingredients, fragrances, and colours derived from clays and plant sources. 

IYOBA (USA) – Their rose soap really caught my eye, it’s so pretty! IYOBA’s products are all vegan and handcrafted from natural ingredients. They use signature essential oil blends for their scents.

Sage & Thistle (CAN) – They have different soap formulas including vegan-friendly organic/fair trade plant oils as well as responsibly sourced tallow (a byproduct which is typically trashed). They use essential oils and colours derived from clay and plant sources.

Soap So Co. (CAN) – This is a lovely brand from my hometown and while they do use palm oil (RSPO certified) and synthetic fragrance in some bars they make the most beautiful soaps! Some of their bars are scented with essential oils instead of fragrance though and they also told me their mica is all synthetic which avoids the child labour issues.


Barrel Aged Maple Syrup

The sweet delicious syrup we know and love but taken to a new sophisticated and complex level! A special gift for cooks, foodies, cocktail enthusiasts, or any maple lovers. 

Wabanaki Maple makes maple syrup aged in toasted oak, whiskey, and bourbon barrels to develop unique complex flavours. Or if you just want to give a beautiful traditional maple syrup they have that too! Their mini bundle set is a great way to sample the different syrups and makes a perfect gift!

Wabanaki Maple is an Indigenous female-owned small business that carries on the history and tradition of maple syrup harvesting and refining. Their products are made locally in Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation), New Brunswick.

Price $ – $$ Location: Canada


Peace Silk Sleep Mask

A great gift for travelers, new parents, anyone who appreciates beauty rest, or has trouble sleeping. Did you know an eye mask can not only improve your sleep but silk masks like this might even reduce wrinkles by protecting your delicate eye skin?

Sustain’s organic peace silk masks are naturally dyed and ethically made. They have beautiful tie-dye colours but the indigo stands out to me because it looks like clouds – perfect for a dreamy sleep!

Peace silk is the best kind of silk because it’s harvested after the silk worm has left the cocoon (instead of killing the worms). Their masks are also stuffed with organic cotton and no synthetics are used – all Sustain’s products are fully biodegradable. Because everything is organic and naturally dyed (Sustain is very careful to use safe and healthy natural dyes) it is not just good for sleep but also your skin! Many natural dyes like indigo have been used for centuries in skin and haircare products.

Price: $$ Location: USA, ships international


Upcycled Puppets

Puppets are a fun toy for kids of all ages and these upcycled natural wool ones are so soft and cute! They’re great for storytelling, imaginative play, and communication and coordination development.

Cate and Levi make sustainable puppets with a large selection of animals to choose from to find the right friend for each child. The puppets are well designed for both adult and children’s hands.

Cate and Levi have a collection of puppets made from reclaimed wool sweaters. Each wool puppet is one-of-a-kind and upcycling sweaters saves energy and resources compared to new synthetic puppets. The puppets are handmade in their Canadian studio and they give back a percent of profits to help kids with cancer go to summer camp.

Know someone who enjoys sewing? They also make upcycled sweater puppet and plush DIY kits!

Price: $$ Location: Canada, ships international 


Linen Oven Mitt

A kitchen staple! Anyone who cooks or bakes would appreciate a good oven mitt. Linen is classic, durable, and looks right at home hanging in the kitchen.

Magic Linen makes a whole range of natural linen home goods including bedding, towels, table linens and more. However I think kitchen items like their oven mitt, potholders, and tea towels make an especially good gift because these are items that get use regularly and need replacing.

Their linen is locally sourced and Oeko-Tex certified. Magic Linen’s collection is made in Lithuania and they are very careful about avoiding wasted stock by producing a seasonless collection with many items made to order. 

Price: $ Location: Lithuania, ships international


Wildcrafted Skincare

For those who deserve some pampering, some luxurious and consciously made bath and body products make a lovely gift.

Sḵwálwen Botanicals is a Canadian Indigenous brand making small batch skincare using cultural plant knowledge and showcasing ingredients responsibly foraged on the pacific coast. Their products are a beautiful way to give some indulgence, skin nourishment, and self-care – from personal experience their Tewín’xw facial oil has honestly been the best oil I’ve ever used on my skin.

Sḵwálwen Botanicals makes great gifts from stocking stuffers like lip balm and salves, to skincare sets, and masks, bath products, and oils. Their Calming Bundle, or bath salts, tea and body oil especially would make thoughtful gifts.

Price: $$ – $$$ Location: Canada, ships to Canada and US


Fluffy Bathrobe

I don’t think this one needs too much of an explanation – a cozy plush bathrobe makes a lovely gift! It feels indulgent but is also something practical that can get a lot of use.

I have 2 great options for soft and sustainable bathrobe depending where you live:

If you’re in Europe check out Hessnatur – They have a variety of unisex organic terry styles and a few waffle options. Their robes are GOTS certified.

In North America check out Coyuchi – Another great option for organic robes. They have a few fluffy terry options as well as waffle and woven styles. (The Cloud Loom robe was my husband’s gift last year!) Their robes are GOTS certified.

Price: $$$ – $$$$ 


Clothing Care Kit

When it comes to sustainable fashion we often forget that proper clothing care is a key component. So how about giving some luxury, eco friendly laundry products?

The Laundress makes great giftable kits for delicates, sportswear, baby laundry, denim, wool & cashmere, or even has a “Make Messes” kit to tackle any stain – so you can pick the perfect set for everyone’s needs! Great gifts for moms, fashion lovers, teens moving out, or anyone building a sustainable wardrobe. 

The Laundress’s products are plant-based and cruelty-free. They focus on clothing care formulas that will help extend the life of your clothes or even allow you to wash dry clean items at home! They are currently switching all their bottles to recycled PET, and they also sell refill options for many products. I’ve also noticed The Laundress in more bulk/refill stores which is wonderful.

Price: $$ – $$$ Location: USA, ships international


Happy holidays and gift giving! Thank you for supporting small businesses and choosing sustainable gifts with a greater impact 💚

Updated Dec 27, 2021

Images are from the brands.

How to have a Zero Waste Halloween – Costumes, Decorations, & Candy

Plastic Free & Sustainable Halloween Tips/Ideas

Autumn brings the coziness of chilly days, longer nights and a changing landscape around us. That means Halloween is just around the corner. Whether you have children or are a child at heart, the spookiest holiday of the year can be great fun. Unfortunately it often means a lot of waste, but it doesn’t have to be! In this post, we’ll cover options and opportunities to have a zero waste Halloween without sacrificing the best parts of the holiday.

Eco-Friendly Costumes 

Dressing up for Halloween is a great joy for many and allows us to display our creativity and favourite characters. These days, seasonal shops and department stores tend to sell costumes that are flimsy, poor quality, polyester and plastic, and wear out quickly. While this trend is certainly disheartening, it does not mean that zero-waste costumes don’t exist. In fact, it is an opportunity for adults and children alike to use their creativity in crafting the perfect costume. 

Take Inspiration from Disneybounding

Disneybounding is a form of self expression, typically worn by visitors at Disney theme parks, to resemble characters without wearing overt costumes or cosplay outfits. Colour schemes and accessories turn a regular outfit into one that is identifiable as a favourite character, and can be subtle or overt. This concept is not restricted to Disney characters and it allows people to utilize items they already have in their closets to create an outfit or costume in a fashionable way.

For Halloween, it’s recommended to take an overt approach to this, and find colour schemes and patterns that are clearly resembling the character one is trying to portray. Adding a couple of signature accessories completes the look without excess waste or full costumes that need to be stored during the rest of the year. 

Utilize Thrift Stores

Some thrift stores have jumped on the trend of selling new fast fashion style Halloween costumes, but most still sell used costumes, along with regular inventory that could easily be used for a great costume. Try to buy used first before resorting to brand new pieces, and find creative ways to turn second hand clothing into an excellent costume. Look for pieces that can be worn year round, or if you plan to alter the item (i.e. tearing it up, covering it in fake blood, etc.), try to find items that are already stained, ripped or damaged. 

Upcycle your Recycling

Use your recycling bin as inspiration! This is an especially great way to get children involved in creating their own costumes. Look for items that can be painted, coloured and cut up such as egg cartons, cardboard, tin cans, aluminum foil, bottles and caps, and other clean or easily cleaned recyclables. A classic is the ‘cereal killer’ which utilizes cardboard cereal boxes and a plastic weapon (as appropriate depending on age). Egg cartons could be painted green to represent a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or other animals with shells. Shredded brown paper bags or packing paper would make perfect scarecrow hair and ‘stuffing’. 

Make your Own

Making a costume yourself or for your children is another way to make your Halloween sustainable. Choose costumes and pieces that have longevity and diverse application. While a certain character or theme may be popular this year, it may no longer be relevant in a year or two. There are items that really never go out of style and can be applied to a variety of costumes, such as capes, black dresses, cloaks, vests, and hats. Some classic costumes that can be worn year after year include: 

  • Witch
  • Vampire
  • Frankenstein’s monster
  • Werewolf
  • Clown
  • Scarecrow
  • Ghost/ghoul
  • Bride
  • Pirate
  • Devil
  • Zombie
  • Skeleton
  • Mummy
  • Animals

 For children, make and choose items that have flexibility with sizing, can easily be taken in or out for height and weight changes, and can be used for multiple different iterations of a costume. 

Some easy DIY classic costume ideas with minimal materials needed

Rent, Borrow, or Swap

Many cities have high quality, locally owned costume rental shops. By renting your Halloween costume, you are supporting a local business, avoiding wasteful plastic outfits, and your look will be both high quality and comfortable. Check what’s available in your area and inquire about sizes and options for both children and adults. In the same vein, you can borrow or swap costumes from friends and family members. This is a great way to circulate children’s costumes if other people’s children have outgrown them or don’t want to wear the same thing two years in a row. 

Let makeup and accessories do the work

With an abundance of makeup tutorials available online, Halloween costumes can be as easy as a basic outfit and simple, reusable accessories plus a killer makeup look. You can never go wrong with black basics and eye-catching makeup or face paint. This applies to both adults and children (if your child is patient enough to wear it on their face all day or night).

Skip the seasonal store makeup, as it is often low quality, contains questionable materials, and is packaged in unnecessary plastic and cardboard. Use reliable, versatile products that are skin safe and easy to use, such as eyeshadow pallets and high quality bases. Ben Nye and Mehron are trusted brands used by makeup artists, but are not necessary for looks that could be completed with makeup you already own. A safe option for kids is Ecopiggy’s non-toxic face paint.

Accessories that can be used year after year or resold are another great way to try a Halloween look that may be more on trend or to zhuzh up a basic look.

Lots of costumes can be make with clothing you already own + makeup!

Sustainable Decorations

If you decide to decorate your home or work space for Halloween, look for long lasting items from quality materials. Consider your storage space, and how many decorations can be reasonably stored for eleven months of the year. Avoiding holiday waste also means only bringing things into your space that will not be thrown out or resold in a few weeks, and carefully curating the items that you want to bring out year after year. Ceramics, wood, glass, thick acrylic and high quality, thick plastic decorations will last a lifetime if cared for properly. They will be more expensive than dollar store decor, so be sure to wrap and store each item carefully in an organized container after Halloween. 

This is also an opportunity to utilize recycling bin items for hands-on crafts and homemade decorations. Paper chains from orange and black craft paper are easy for children to make and can also be stored or recycled once the holiday ends. Clever ‘grave stones’ can be made from wood, cardboard, and high quality foam. Children will love painting these and it also provides a fun opportunity to think of silly phrases to put on them. Of course a bounty of pumpkins, gourds and hay make classic outdoor decor, and can be composted at the end of the season. 

Decorations to avoid

It may be tempting to run into your local dollar store and pick up a basketful of Halloween decorations for very little money, but the plastic waste and toxic chemicals they contain are not worth it. 

Avoid novelty plastic leaf bags that are designed to look like pumpkins and ghosts. Leaves can be left as they are, raked into a compost pile, or shredded onto your lawn to provide nutrients and contribute to a healthy ecosystem. Sending these leaf bags to the landfill at the end of their life contributes to unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. 

While they make a big scene, inflatable decorations use unnecessary electricity, can contribute to noise pollution, and if not stored properly, get holes in them which lead right to the landfill. 

However minimally or excessively you like to decorate, choose each decoration intentionally and make a plant to either compost, recycle, or care for it over your lifetime. 

Candy and Halloween Treats

Halloween and trick-or-treating go hand in hand for children. Sadly, a big byproduct of trick-or-treating is millions of tiny plastic candy wrappers. While it may not be possible to completely avoid this plastic waste depending on your situation and if you have children, there are some options to reduce the amount of plastic waste your family contributes to this Halloween. 

Trick or Treat Alternatives  

Soda cans and juice boxes provide some good variety for children and are recyclable. In my neighbourhood, houses that gave out soda cans were always a big hit, as trick-or-treating can be thirsty work. Foil wrapped candy like chocolate eyeballs or mini-pumpkins, and candy in small cardboard boxes provide a plastic free option. There is no guarantee that families will recycle them, but they may be a slightly less wasteful option. 

Unless you have a very trusting neighbourhood where everyone knows each other, avoid giving out fruit, baked goods or bulk items to children you don’t know. They seem like a nice idea, but it’s very likely they will be thrown in the garbage if the parents don’t want to risk anything. However, if you have trusting relationships with families in your neighbourhood, check to see if they are comfortable giving and receiving homemade treats in lieu of plastic wrapped candy. 

Set clear expectations with your children if you take them trick-or-treating. Having a conversation beforehand about how many houses you’ll visit or how full their bag will be when you are done for the night can make coming home with a reasonable amount of candy (and it’s corresponding waste) much easier. Talk to them about the plastic waste created from Halloween candy, and let them know that while you want them to enjoy trick-or-treating, you don’t want to bring more candy and wrappers into the house than necessary. Providing alternatives and compromises is a great way to avoid meltdowns when children want to get as much candy as possible from trick-or-treating. For example, “we’re only going to trick-or-treat on this block, but when we get home you can have a cupcake and watch your favourite Halloween movie”. 

Ideas for Adults and Plastic Free Parties

If it is safe for you to host a Halloween party where you live, plastic-free treats are quite easy. Bulk stores often stock package-free chocolates and candies year round, and stores like Bulk Barn often bring in specialty holiday candy, making zero-waste Halloween treats like candy corn, gummy witches, and foil wrapped chocolate pumpkins a breeze.

Hosting 

There are so many creative treats and savoury snacks you can make as a host, or ask guests to bring themed treats potluck style. Witches fingers, ghost cookies, caramel apples, and pumpkin pie are classics.

If a Halloween party is a yearly event for your household, invest in reusable cups and plates. If they are extravagantly decorated, that’s an extra special touch, but may be expensive – purchasing a set of orange and/or black cups, plates, napkins, and cutlery is a great option to keep on theme. 

If cost and space is an issue, choose plates and napkins that are made of paper or other natural materials and provide a labelled compost receptacle. Avoid items that are labelled compostable but have linings, as they are typically meant to be commercially composted, and most waste facilities do not have the infrastructure to actually compost them. Be sure to provide reusable cups, or request that guests bring their own cups to avoid throwing away hundreds of plastic cups. For foil wrapped candies, provide a labelled bowl or container where guests can deposit the wrapper for recycling. 

Attending events

If you are attending a party or sending your child to a Halloween gathering, bring your own cup (there are lots of reusable creepy goblets available at houseware stores this time of year) and if appropriate, a zero-waste host gift, like a jar of package free candy. For adult parties and Halloween events, stick to beverages served in bottles, cans and your own reusable cup – novelty drinks like test tube shots, syringe shots and jello shots are typically served in single use plastic that cannot be recycled. 

Have a very happy, and zero-waste, Halloween! 

Behind the Brand – Interview with Free Label

This is the start of a new series I’m excited to launch! Together we will learn more about the “why” driving slow fashion brands and discover some of the independent designers and makers creating beautiful clothing with a conscience.

First we have Jess Sternberg owner of Free Label, a Vancouver-based clothing brand with a focus on inclusivity, comfort, sustainability and local manufacturing. Their collection includes high quality everyday pieces, comfy bra tops and loungewear, and seasonless wardrobe staples.

Not only do they make lovely clothes, but I especially wanted to interview Jess because Free Label does many things different from your average clothing brand. With both the industry challenges they’ve tackled and initiatives they’ve started, I think Free Label is a great example and leader in the slow fashion space. So let’s hear more from Jess…

Can you describe Free Label in a sentence or two?

Free Label is a community and ethics based clothing company. Our goal is to make clothing that people feel good IN and about wearing.

All your factories are within a short drive from you, what benefits and challenges come with manufacturing locally in Canada? What does “ethically made” mean to Free Label?

The benefit is we can pop into the factories any day and see progress, ensure the working conditions meet our standards, and build genuine relationships with the folks that make our garments. We’re really lucky to work with some amazing factory partners that have also become friends. The challenge is the Canadian garment industry is a dying industry: most of the workforce is older and closer to retiring. It’s hard to attract and train young people since cutting and sewing are highly skilled manual labour jobs.

Ethically made means the people who are making the clothing are paid fairly for their work, work in environments that are safe and pleasant, and are treated with respect. In my opinion, it’s the bare minimum of what a workplace should be, but sadly it’s rare these minimums are met in the garment industry.

Your customers are big fans and your drops sell out fast! You’ve mentioned before that even with the high demand you still want to keep production runs small, can you explain why this is important to you?

I believe in sustainable growth; when I see the demand grow, we make a bit more according to demand. Most companies make huge amounts of inventory to predict future demand and then do what it takes to sell it. I’d rather wait for the demand and then produce based on real needs instead of just projections. This ensures we don’t waste any goods and the pieces we make are always loved. I’m also self-funded without any investors, so every time we grow our inventory, it’s a big risk. So slow and sustainable growth is vital to our health as a small business.

I have written before about the many benefits of seasonless fashion and love that you have a core seasonless collection! Why did you decide to go this route vs traditional seasonal collections?

Living in Vancouver, BC, we have fairly mild weather. I love the idea of keeping the majority of your closet year round and just putting away a small bin of summer or winter clothing for the off-season. This helps us to buy less when new seasons hit since we already have a fabulous seasonless base. When I look at my “core” seasonless closet, it’s almost all Free Label!

Free Label offers a great size range of XS – 4X, which is something we unfortunately don’t see from many slow fashion brands, and you can tell you put a lot of work into fit! Can you tell us more about why inclusive sizing and fit is a priority for Free Label?

I think if you want to be an ethical and sustainable business, that MUST include all bodies. We’re not there yet, but we’re working toward better inclusivity! The challenge is there are not a lot of resources available to designers and brands that want to offer more inclusive size ranges, so it requires a lot of self study and trial and error.

What has been your biggest challenge starting/running a sustainable clothing brand?

The constant pivoting. It really is exhausting always looking one step ahead, learning new platforms, growing and shifting with demand and changing consumer habits. As a small sustainable/ethical brand, you really do have to do your best at all times; there’s little room for error – which leaves very little time to relax and enjoy the journey. It’s something I’m working on 🙂

What is something you’re proud of having achieved with Free Label?

I’m really proud of a lot to be honest! I’m proud of our commitment to getting the best plus size fits in an e-commerce space. I’m proud of our production line and our special relationships with our production partners and fabric producers. I’m proud of our small but growing team that does really hard things with passion and excitement. I’m proud of our Empowerful Incubator program that helps to fund and grow BIPOC owned small businesses. I’m proud of the really kind and cool community we’ve built online (truly the nicest customers ever). There are a lot of hard days, but there are so many things to celebrate and be proud of!


Thanks so much Jess for giving us a peek behind Free Label! Check out their collection here. (Especially if you’re looking for a comfy and supporting bra/crop top, Free Label has amazing options, I wear mine all the time!)

Kid’s Fall & Winter Capsule Wardrobe

Ya’ll know I love my capsule wardrobe and I’ve been loving having one for my daughter too! Especially now that she’s more interested in picking out her clothes for the day, a simplified wardrobe makes it easy to find things and put together outfits. Plus having a kids capsule wardrobe has definitely helped us save money when buying clothes for a growing toddler (even with buying from sustainable brands!).

I’ve talked about the many benefits and how to build a capsule wardrobe for children both here on the blog, and also did a podcast interview about it, so let’s jump right into this season’s capsule!

Special Considerations & Lessons from Last Season

As with any capsule, there are always lifestyle, seasonal, and personal factors that play a role. Plus every capsule is a learning opportunity that you can take into the next one. Here are some things that I took into account with planning this wardrobe:

Potty Training

My daughter is currently 2 and while she is mostly potty trained we are still not fully accident free, so having a couple extra pants/leggings was important.

Overalls, dresses, rompers, and any styles that are difficult to pull down or get in the way is also something I avoided, as well as pants with flys or waists that can’t be pulled down. We want to make potty independence as easy as possible!

Temperature

We live in a very old house with not the best insulation. Last winter she rarely wore her short sleeve tops, even under the layers so I’ve learned from that and this year only gone with long sleeve tops.


Comfort & Mobility

Children are active and all over the place! I want to make sure the clothes let her move, play, and explore without restriction. So looking for stretchy fabric and flexible cuts was a priority. This was especially important with pants – I avoided denim and stiff fabrics and went mostly with leggings and harem style pants.

Style & Colour

I have always leaned toward a more gender neutral capsule wardrobe for kids. For each capsule I plan a rough color palette based around what we already have and any key wardrobe items I want to include. While neutral colours make capsule planning easier, I also know that my daughter likes wearing colour so I incorporate a few bright colours and prints. Here is the colour palette I went with for this capsule:

My “key colors” were dark green, yellow, and coppery-orange and then I used grey for neutrals and some blue as a nice contrast colour.

Items in B’s Fall/Winter Capsule

As you can see, there are still a few items I’m waiting to arrive and I will update this post when they do. I may also add in one more layer in winter if we find shes wearing them a lot.

In order to have lots of mix and match options, I try to keep certain colours in certain areas. So in this capsule I kept the greens, greys, and neutrals more in the tops, and then went with the bright yellows, orange-y and red tones in the bottoms and layers. I love the contrasting combinations of yellow and orange with deep greens, blues, and greys!

Finally to round-out the full wardrobe, for outerwear and shoes we have:

  • 1 fall jacket
  • 1 snowsuit
  • pair of sneakers
  • pair of rain boots
  • pair of snow boots

I’d love to know if you also do a capsule wardrobe for your kids and how it works for you. 🙂

Also if you’d like to know what organic and sustainable kids brands I recommend, here are our favourites.

Fall/Winter Capsule Wardrobe 2021

The air is crisp, there are pumpkins out on the porches and yellow leaf drifts in the garden. After an abnormally hot summer, I’m so ready for fall and all the coziness.

My goals for this capsule were to build a wardrobe that’s warm and very comfortable but without being too casual. I’m tired of the leggings and t-shirt default that I fell into this past year and a new season feels like a great opportunity to have some fun with outfits again!

Items in my Capsule

Tops

Sweatshirts & Sweaters

  • Dusty pink sweatshirt – Encircled
  • Tie-dye sweatshirt – Yes And
  • Green Cropped Hoodie – tentree
  • Red Sweater – old
  • Grey Sweater – Izzy Lane
  • Beige Sweater – handknit
  • Icelandic Sweater – secondhand
  • Orange Sweater – secondhand

Bottoms

Dresses

Layers/Outerwear

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