Is Bamboo Fabric Sustainable? Or Greenwashing?

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While researching sustainable textiles, you may have come across phrases like “organic bamboo,” “rayon made from bamboo,” or “viscose made from bamboo.” Popular sustainable companies such as Boody, Encircled, and Thought all use bamboo in their clothing. So what exactly are bamboo fabrics? And can they actually be considered sustainable, or is that greenwashing? As with many aspects of the textile industry, the answer is complicated. 

How Is Bamboo Turned Into Fiber?

Let’s start off with the positive aspects of bamboo. As a plant, bamboo grows incredibly quickly and does not require the use of fertilizers or pesticides. When compared to conventional cotton, bamboo requires less land and chemicals to be grown. Bamboo, as with many other cellulosic (plant-derived) fibers, has a silky hand feel, is breathable, and is easy to wash and care for. Unfortunately, despite its clean beginnings, bamboo’s journey from plant to fiber is a long one that involves some not-so-positive aspects. 

In the textile world, bamboo is considered a “manufactured cellulosic fiber.” Manufactured fibers require a chemical-laden process in order to be spun into fiber, unlike natural cellulosic fibers like cotton and linen. Bamboo, in fact, undergoes the same exact process to become a fiber as viscose and rayon (viscose and rayon are synonyms for the same fiber), only they are made with wood pulp rather than bamboo. 

The process to turn bamboo or wood pulp into fiber sounds like a complicated chemistry experiment. According to Paul D. Blanc in his book “Fake Silk: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon,” the pulp is treated with caustic soda and carbon disulfide, allowed to “ripen,” and then treated with more caustics to turn it into a syrupy substance. The liquid is then forced through spinnerets in a bath of sulfuric acid to produce fiber. 

Those chemicals are the main problem with manufactured fibers like bamboo. They pollute the air and the water — carbon disulfide in particular is a nasty, toxic chemical that the EPA has identified as a hazardous workplace risk. Patagonia refuses to use bamboo in its product line, citing that factories that use carbon disulfide typically only recover around 50% of the chemical in their processing. 

Are Companies That Use Bamboo Fabrics Greenwashing?

Some companies have taken advantage of the eco-friendly connotations of the word bamboo in order to greenwash. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission fined several companies for misrepresenting or mislabelling rayon as bamboo. The FTC even created a guide entitled “How to Avoid Bamboozling Your Customers,” on how to correctly label fabric that is made from bamboo. In the United States and Canada, all bamboo-derived garments must be properly labeled as “rayon made from bamboo” or “viscose made from bamboo.” Take a look at the two labels below, both from my closet: one label is from a pair of Boody leggings and is properly labeled per FTC guidelines, while the other, a shirt I bought at a local yoga studio, has a label with the words “organic bamboo” — a misleading statement considering what we now know about carbon disulfide. 

Of course, there is more to sustainability than just fiber. A garment that is made from bamboo might still be considered sustainable — Encircled, for example, sells bamboo clothing, but sews all of its clothes in Canada using fair wages, is a certified B-corporation, and prioritizes classic over trendy designs. The fact that a garment is made from bamboo certainly does not alone make it sustainable, but it is possible for a sustainable garment to be made from bamboo. There isn’t a “one size fits all” answer when it comes to sustainability, and fabric alone cannot tell you the entire story of where your clothes came from. 


Greenwashing Tip: Pay attention to how a brand talks about their use of bamboo. If they have many different sustainability initiatives that’s a good sign, however if they are using bamboo fabric as a primary reason for calling themselves “sustainable” that’s a red flag!

Also look for brands who use a “closed loop” manufacturing process for their bamboo fabric – this means the water and chemicals are recovered and re-used.

How to Buy Sustainable Kids Clothing on a Budget

Tips for making an eco-friendly children’s wardrobe more affordable

There’s no denying sustainable and ethically made clothing is more expensive. I think we all get sticker shock if you’re used to fast fashion prices and start to look at more conscious brands. However, please don’t automatically assume that these brands are out of budget for you! There are many ways to buy clothing more sustainably for all budgets.

People often assume that I have a lot of disposable income and a large clothing budget because of the sustainable brands I own, but that isn’t the case. Last year, we spent around $650 on clothing for my toddler, which is 25% less than the average Canadian parents spend on clothing for one child. While we don’t have a large budget for my daughter’s clothing, we’re still able to have an eco-conscious wardrobe and support some great sustainable brands! Here are my tips for making sustainable children’s clothing budget-friendly.

1. Prioritize Secondhand Clothing and Use New Products to Fill in the Gaps.

Secondhand clothing is the best for both sustainability and affordability.

Whether it’s hand-me-downs, freecycling, or thrifting (here are some great places to shop secondhand online), getting the majority of kids clothes secondhand is a great way to save money and waste. It can also allow you to budget more for a few new sustainable items.

2. Build a Capsule Wardrobe.

Just like adults, most children have way more clothing than they actually use and need! The capsule wardrobe concept is fantastic for kids and allows you to have a functional wardrobe with lots of outfit combinations from a minimal number of items. We plan to have enough clothes for a week plus a few extras for changes, accidents, spills, etc.

Buying fewer clothes overall saves a lot of money and means you can budget more for each item.

Check out my child’s capsule wardrobes for some examples.

3. Consider Quality & Resale.

Investing in better-quality pieces and caring for them means you can often sell them when they’re outgrown and use the money towards new clothes. Kids can be hard on clothes, but there are some things you can do to increase the chances of keeping items in good shape:

  • Look for durable fabrics.
  • Have your child wear an apron or specific clothes for messy activities — we love using a “shirt” apron which also covers the sleeves.
  • Treat stains as soon as you can.
  • Learn from your child. For example, if they always have issues with knees wearing out, it’s probably good to buy secondhand pants vs. buying expensive organic pants (unless they are designed to be very durable and reinforced).

3. Choose the Right Items to Invest In.

It will depend on your child and lifestyle, but there are always some items that are better to invest in than others. Generally, staple items that your child can fit into and wear for a long time are going to be far better investments than seasonal or specific items they might only wear a few times. Think about the “cost per wear” of what you’re buying.

One of our best investment pieces and something we got amazing cost-per-wear from is Pure Colour Baby’s organic pullover. The “grow-with-me” design has allowed my daughter to wear it for a year and a half already, and it still fits great! I think we’ll probably get a solid 2 years from it which is very rare with toddler clothing.

“Grow with me” pullover, adjustable romper and secondhand sweater

4. Wait for Sales…

If you can’t afford a brand at full price, sign up to their newsletter, follow them on social media, or check back for sales. Some brands (like Hanna Andersson, Pact, and Frugi) have big sales during the year (typically in the summer, January, and around Black Friday) and it’s a great time to stock up on items.

…And Shop Out-of-Season.

It’s good to plan ahead with sales, because typically they happen at the end of the season. When fall/winter stock goes on sale, plan your child’s wardrobe for next fall. For example, even though we’re going into spring, I just purchased a bunch of organic cotton long-sleeve tops and warm leggings for next fall/winter during a great Hanna Andersson sale (Tip for Canadian customers: if you keep your order under $150 there’s no duty charges). Since it was clearance stock, they were about $10-$13 CAD each for good quality, organic kids clothing.


Do you have any other tips for finding sustainable kids clothing on a budget?

Ethical & Sustainable Wedding Dress Options for the Conscious Bride

For most brides, finding THE dress is the most challenging (and personal) part of wedding planning. For the sustainably minded bride, it’s even tougher! Sure, they might be pretty, but typical wedding gowns are made with synthetic fabrics and petroleum-based trims that require a huge amount of labour and energy for something that’s only intended to be used for one day. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 5 ethical wedding dress options for the bride with a heart of gold.

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

Option 1: Resale

An alternative to buying a new dress is secondhand. Resale sites, vintage stores and consignment shops are a perfect opportunity to snag the dress of your dreams for a great price. With websites like Borrowing Magnolia, Still White or Once Wed, you can browse through thousands of pre-owned designer gowns and find exactly what you’re looking for. Etsy is another fantastic option for eco-conscious brides. Besides having a huge selection of hand-made gowns, the eCommerce site also carries vintage and used wedding dresses. If you’re hoping for an in-person shopping experience, try searching for consignment bridal boutiques in your area. No compromise necessary! 


Image credit: The Fitzroy

Option 2: Rental

You’re already making a big enough commitment…why worry about the dress too?! Rental services are a great way to achieve the look you want without being stuck with a dress you’ll only wear once. Not only does this make sense for your finances, it has a pretty big environmental impact too. A rental dress can be cleaned and re-worn over and over, eliminating the need to create new garments. This saves labour and energy while keeping clothing in circulation for longer. And with the myriad of styles available, you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll love.

Rent The Runway, Best For Bride and Beyond the Runway are all great options for online shopping, while brick-and-mortar rental services like The Fitzroy are perfect for those in the Toronto area.

Check out our article on rental services for more tips and tricks! 


Image credit: Pure Magnolia

Option 3: Pure Magnolia

Calling all classic beauties! Pure Magnolia is a Canadian brand with a passion for ethical fashion. They focus on natural materials like silk and organic cotton and use recycled fabrics whenever possible. Their timeless styles are made in-house at their studio, limiting their overall environmental footprint. Scrap materials are either repurposed into new styles or collected and recycled through FABCYCLE. 

Price point: $450 – $3,300

Values: Local production, natural & sustainable materials, made-to-order, textile waste recycled through FABCYCLE

Size Range: 0 – 28

Availability: Based in Vancouver, BC, ships worldwide, stockists within Canada & U.S.


Image credit: Whimsy & Row

Option 4: Whimsy & Row

If you’re a laid-back bride with a preference for casual styles, Whimsy & Row could be a great option. This California-based brand creates high-quality pieces that can be dressed up or down for any occasion. They favor low-impact fabrics like certified organic cotton, linen, Tencel, cupro and silk, and they source deadstock and upcycled materials as much as possible. Their swanky cocktail dresses and stylish separates are all made in small batches within the Los Angeles area.

Price point: $110 – $319

Values: Local production, low-impact fabrics, carbon neutral, minimal waste, textile waste recycled through Marimole

Size Range: XXS – XL

Availability: Based in California, ships worldwide


Image credit: Leanna Marshall

Option 5: Leanne Marshall

Leanne Marshall is a bridal label with a passion for natural fabrics. Their stunning gowns and statement separates feature billowing sleeves, ruffled hemlines, and vintage silhouettes. Hello, romance! They focus on local production and minimal waste, with every piece being made-to-order in New York. Though their prices are on the higher end of this list, these beautiful designs are a must-see for the bride looking for something truly special. 

Price point: $680 – $4,240

Values: Local production, natural & sustainable materials, made-to-order, textile waste recycled through FABSCRAP

Size Range: 0 – 24

Availability: Based in New York, ships worldwide, stockists within US, Canada & UK


Finding a gown for your special day can be a tricky process. It’s one thing to find something that matches your style and aesthetic, but it can be equally challenging to find something that fits your values. Whether you’re on the hunt for something new, pre-owned, or one-of-a-kind, there are a ton of options available to today’s bride.

Did you/do you plan on wearing an ethical wedding dress for your big day?

We’d love to hear about it! Let us know in the comments below.

Looking for sustainable bridesmaid dresses? Check out this post.

Find more sustainable wedding tips here.

Written by Alexia Khan

Don’t Buy Roses for Valentine’s Day – Try These Sustainable Alternatives Instead

Your romantic gesture has a bigger environmental impact than you think. 

Flowers, especially red roses, double in price this time of year. Ecuador exports up to 15 000 tonnes of flowers to the U.S. by plane in the three weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day alone, plus there are imports from countries like Colombia and Holland as well.  

This is an important thing to note, as greenhouse gas emissions have increased year on year, in large part due to transport. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, those three weeks of flower delivery flights burn approximately 114 million litres of fuel, emitting approximately 360 000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Once the flowers get to the U.S. and Canada, they are shipped around the country in refrigerated trucks so that they don’t wilt. These trucks burn more fuel than average even before they’re loaded with cargo. Plus, many of them run on diesel, which produces more air pollutants than gasoline.

The cut flower industry is worth an estimated $55 billion USD, yet very little of that goes to the overworked and underpaid farmers who are working long hours to make sure these blooms are ready. They also have long-term exposure to dangerous chemicals and some women face sexual harassment. 

Who knew that something so romantic could contribute to something so awful? 

Here are some alternatives to cut flowers for Valentine’s Day. 

Buy them a pot plant

Give your loved one a cute succulent (or even a rose bush) that will improve the air quality in their home and last them much longer than cut flowers.

Buy local and organic

Seek out flowers that are grown and shipped locally, and are also organic and pesticide-free.

Give them a handmade gift

A cute card or creative gift that you made yourself, like a scrapbook with some of your favorite memories, will go a long way to saying ‘I love you’.

How about a bag? 

A cute purse never hurt nobody. Check out our list of 15+ Sustainable Bags, Purses, & Backpacks.

A rose by any other name…

Instead of actual roses, give your sweetheart something rose scented. A beautiful candle, a cool bath bomb or some body lotion all work well.

[Our picks: Skwalwen’s wild rose skincare, Thistle & Sage’s rose bath bombs, or Mala’s Rosebud candle]

A cute, easy, and eco friendly DIY idea!
Get crafty

You can make fake flowers from recyclable paper and make a whole bouquet. It’s original, cute and sustainable!

Get baking

Make something yummy and possibly heart shaped and even rose scented!

And just in case you get flowers anyway, remember to…

Compost them!

If you do receive flowers this year, do the right thing and compost them instead of throwing them in the trash where they contribute to greenhouse gases. If you don’t have a compost bin, simply put the flowers in the garden where they can decompose naturally and their nutrients will contribute to the soil.

Sustainable Edmonton Business Guide – Shopping & Eating

posted in eating, travel 1

Trying to live more environmentally conscious in Edmonton can have it’s challenges, but this city is home to many wonderful small businesses and hidden gems. For more information on ways to reduce your waste in Edmonton, check out Waste Free Edmonton’s resources and volunteer opportunities.  

Where to Eat

Edmonton Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants

Take out from Padmanadi
Padmanadi

Features a fusion menu of Indonesian, Chinese, Thai and Indian plant-based dishes. Prior to COVID-19, their downtown location offered a monthly buffet. To reduce food waste and encourage conscious eating, Padmanadi charged buffet customers per gram for any food left uneaten on their plate and donated those proceeds to local organizations that fed people experiencing homelessness. 

An Chay

Serves vegetarian and vegan Vietnamese dishes, and offers many gluten free options. 

Cafe Mosaics

One of Edmonton’s oldest vegetarian restaurants that focuses on responsible sourcing, and earth/health conscious dishes. They also offer favorite sauces for sale in reusable glass jars.

The Moth Cafe

The sister restaurant of Cafe Mosaics, and a 100% plant-based cafe with a community focus, offering workshops, plant-swaps and events. Beyond their delicious food, The Moth Cafe offers a robust beverage menu featuring plant-based wine, beer, cocktails and more.


Edmonton Farm-to-Table and Seasonal Restaurants

Rge Road

Not only is Rge Road one of Canada’s 100 best restaurants as of 2021, but they are also one of the first restaurants in Edmonton to embrace a menu of sustainable, local and seasonal offerings. Their changing menu includes meat from ‘tip to tail’, finding unique ways to utilize the entire animal in their dishes. 

Workshop Eatery

A restaurant focused on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients when available, as well as showcasing products from across Canada. Their changing menu is small and intentional, and they also offer catering. 

The Harvest Room

An upscale restaurant located in the historic Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, The Harvest Room focuses on seasonal, local food as well as sustainably sourced game and seafood. They offer a breakfast and dinner menu, as well as a traditional Afternoon Tea experience every weekend. 

Organic, Local, & Zero Waste Groceries

Earth’s General Store

Edmonton’s first refillery and waste-reduction focused grocery store, now in its 30th year. EGS offers an abundant selection of both packaged and bulk plant-based groceries, as well as local dairy and eggs. Customers are encouraged to refill their own containers with dry and refrigerated bulk foods, as well as a body and home goods such as dish soap, shampoo and more. Their website is a wonderful resource for those new to waste reduction and buying bulk

Spud

An online grocery service that delivers your personalized order to your door in a cardboard box or reusable bin. Spud is a certified B Corporation that focuses on providing sustainable groceries, partners with local businesses and offers a wide variety of products, including health and beauty, home products and items for pets. 

Bread made in Edmonton with jam from zero waste small business Fruits of Sherbrooke
The Organic Box

An online grocery delivery service with a focus on fresh local produce, offering curated boxes, custom boxes or a combination of the two based on the customers needs. They offer a variety of box sizes and allow customers to browse and select items based on distance in kilometers from the warehouse. Their website features clear labels that indicate whether products are organic or come from a family farm, among other categories. 

Fruits of Sherbrooke

This non-profit organization takes food waste reduction to the next level by rescuing local fruit that would otherwise not be used. They sell delicious condiments, jams and jellies as well as provide food to community members in need, teach workshops, and connect with farmers and homeowners alike to divert organics from going to waste. 

The Butchery by Rge Road

Rge Road has taken their farm to table business model beyond the restaurant, and now offers local meat in their neighboring butcher shop. Their knowledgeable staff share information about their meats, as well as how to prepare and utilize every part of the animal, spreading the word about sustainable and conscious consumption for meat lovers. 

Sustainable Shopping in Edmonton

(some affiliate links may be used in this post)
Carbon Environmental Boutique

Carbon specializes in eco-conscious and sustainable products for home, body and lifestyle. Their new location in Manchester Square features a refillery bar, where customers can refill containers of their favorite items or try small quantities of new products before making a larger purchase. 

Re:Plenish

A store dedicated to zero waste living and refilling, focused on home and body products such as cleaners, deodorant, lotion and more. Re:Plenish partners with various organizations to promote reuse and recycling, including textile and beauty recycling programs, as well as their own jar library. 

Kolya Naturals

A boutique specializing in apothecary products, beauty and skincare, and an in-house organic spa. They stock brands dedicated to ethical sourcing and sustainable practices, and now feature a refill station where customers can refill their own containers with body, home and apothecary products.  


Consignment & Thrift Shopping in Edmonton

Blenderz Garment Recyclers

One of Edmonton’s newest and most innovative organizations, Blenderz Garment Recyclers reclaims textiles that are otherwise destined for landfill and uses a mixture of solutions to ensure diversion, recycling or reuse. Their warehouse offers pay by the pound shopping, curated clothing boxes delivered to your door, as well as workshops, craft kits and upcycled items for sale. Their most recent project is a crowdfunding campaign to purchase textile recycling equipment. 

Vespucci Consignment Edmonton

A luxury consignment store committed to growing the circular economy. They work with nonprofits to provide a dignified shopping experience and gently used clothing to community members in need.

Swish Vintage

A curated boutique dedicated to vintage and couture clothing, shoes, accessories and select home items such as lamps and small furniture pieces. 

The Dress Library

This unique clothing business rents dresses, costumes and accessories. The Dress Library works with clients to curate rental items based on the event, and provide fitting appointments. Products can be rented for a week or more. 
[ Interested in learning more about how clothing rental works? Check out our post all about it! ]

Dress rented from The Dress Library
Find Edmonton

A non-profit social enterprise and thrift store that sells furniture, home and entertainment products for low prices, as well as seasonal decor items. Find’s Housing First program provides furniture and houseware at no cost to people moving out of homelessness and into safe housing. 


Sustainable Clothing & Accessory Brands in Edmonton

Unbelts

An accessories brand specializing in belts, masks, and other small items with a focus on ethical manufacturing. As a certified B Corporation, Unbelts takes sustainability into account for all parts of their business, and has a comprehensive sustainability report available on their website. (Belts fit up to 54” hips)
[ Read a review of Unbelts here. ]

Sessa Wearables

Sessa Wearables offers a spectrum of clothing services, including selling garments made of upcycled materials and fabric scraps, personal styling and shopping, closet consultations and clothing repairs. (Offers custom sizing)

Arturo Denim Jeans
Msichana

A clothing and accessory brand committed to zero waste, Msichana products are designed in Canada and produced in Africa. Check out their website for more information on their ethical production practices and profiles on the women who create each handmade garment. (Offers custom sizing)

Arturo Denim

A vegan denim store and workshop creating and repairing high quality jeans. New purchases include free alterations and fittings, and free repairs for a year after that. Denim from other brands can be repaired or altered for a fee. (Offers sizes up to 42) 

Gus Sloan

A made-to-order clothing company specializing in jumpsuits and versatile garments. Gus Sloan offers mending for their garments that have been well loved, as well as the SCRAP collection, saving fabric scraps from the landfill by turning them into beautiful accessories. (Offers custom sizing)

Poppy Barley 

A certified B Corporation creating luxury leather and vegan leather goods, including shoes and accessories. They focus on ethical production and partnerships, and have recently increased their use of sustainable materials, such as vegan leather made from cactus leaves and other organic materials. (Offers womens shoe sizes 5 to 12 and mens 6 to 13)


Eco-Friendly Local Bath & Beauty Brands

Jack59

An Indigenous-owned, vegan hair and body product company committed to plastic free hair care. They offer sulphate-free, silicone-free and gluten-free options for all hair types, and their shampoo bars can be purchased package-free at many local stockists. 

Pura Botanicals

A small batch clean beauty and skincare brand that uses plant-based ingredients and glass packaging. Their products are cruelty free, GMO-free and gluten-free. 

Soap So Co.

Soap So Co. creates handcrafted, vegan and cruelty free soaps. They offer low-waste liquid soap refills for soap dispensers and large bottle sizes. Bar soaps can be purchased in recyclable paper boxes or package free at local stockists. 

Edmonton Soap Brands
Westmount Soap Co. 

A 100% natural handmade soap company that creates bars inspired by Edmonton’s neighborhoods and events. Their soaps feature minimal paper and twine packaging. 

Wild Prairie Soap Company 

A veteran in the Edmonton soap scene, Wild Prairie Soap Company creates plant-based and cruelty free soaps and body care products. Their refillery allows customers to fill their own containers with bath salts, lotions, liquid products and package free bath bombs.


Any we missed? Please share your favourite sustainable Edmonton small businesses in the comments!

Where to Find Recycled Wool Clothing

Wool is an amazing, insulting material and more brands are now offering recycled wool clothing, which can be both a great sustainable option and a compromise for those concerned about the ethics of wool.

What is Recycled Wool?

Recycled wool comes from 2 sources; pre-consumer which is wool that is salvaged waste from the manufacturing process and post-consumer which is recycled from wool garments and products.

Typically recycled wool, especially post-consumer, has shorter fibres and needs to be blended with some other fibres or virgin fibres to achieve durability. This is common with almost any recycled natural fibre so you will rarely see 100% recycled natural fibre content.

Is Recycled Wool Sustainable?

Yes! By using waste and existing resources it saves a lot of the energy and pollution which would be required to produce those virgin materials. It also reduces the amount of waste going to the landfill by giving these fibres new life.

Is Recycled Wool Vegan?

Technically no. However this is a grey area for some vegans and ultimately depends on your personal values. Recycled wool (as long as it’s not blended with virgin wool) can be a good way to get the benefits of wool fibres without directly supporting wool farming. There are conversations that can be had around how much or little it may indirectly support wool farming so it is ultimately a very personal decision.

My view on wool is I won’t buy most wool, but I do support regenerative and animal welfare focused fibre farming. I think wool has some incredible properties, especially for winter clothing, and recycled wool can be a good compromise.

If you’d like to learn more about the ethics and sustainability of wool, check out this post about if wool is ethical and what to look for.

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

Anian

Anian is a Canadian company making classic wool shirts, jackets and “shakets” from post-consumer wool. Their garments all have that timeless, Pacific Northwest style and are great long-lasting investment pieces.

Styles: Women, Men, Unisex
Size Range: XS – XXL
Values: Sustainable Materials, Recycled Materials, Made in Canada
Based In: Canada, ships international

Organic Basics recycled cashmere beanie and gloves

Organic Basics

Sustainable staple brand Organic Basics has both sweaters and winter accessories made from recycled wool – including recycled merino and recycled cashmere (both to their high demand tend to have more issues with intensive farming).

They are all classic, timeless pieces that can easily be wardrobe staples so investing in some more luxurious fibres like cashmere seems more worth it and by opting for recycled you can avoid some of the ethical issues.

Styles: Women, Men
Size Range: XS – XL
Values: Sustainable Materials, Recycled Materials, Transparency, Carbon Neutral Shipping, B Corp
Based In: Denmark, ships international


Colorful Standard

Focusing on recycled merino wool Colorful Standard has a collection of sweaters and accessories in a wide variety of colours. They use 100% recycled merino wool which is certified by Global Recycled Standard (GRS).

Styles: Women, Men
Size Range: XS – XL
Values: Sustainable Materials, Recycled Materials, Factory Transparency, Seasonless Collections, Low Waste Production
Based In: Denmark, ships international with many international webshops


Frank And Oak

Frank And Oak has a small collection of recycled wool coats although they don’t have much information about where the wool comes from other than it’s “recycled textile waste” – so not sure if it is pre or post consumer wool.

I have been looking for a long wool coat for ages secondhand and finally decided to go with Frank And Oak’s plaid Laurence Coat. It’s honestly beautiful and I really appreciate the added insulation for our cold Canadian winters.

Styles: Women, Men
Size Range: XS – XL
Values: Sustainable Materials, Recycled Materials, B Corp
Based In: Canada, ships to Canada and US

Frank And Oak recycled wool coat

Patagonia

A staple brand for outdoor, active and everyday casual-wear. Patagonia uses a variety of sustainable materials and is looking to further expand their use of recycled wool. They also have a great take-back/upcycling program where you can purchase secondhand and upcycled garments.

Styles: Women, Men
Size Range: XS – XL
Values: Sustainable Materials, Recycled Materials, Fair Trade Certified (some factories), Take Back Recycling Program, Gives Back
Based In: USA, ships international (also has international retailers)


Toad&Co

Toad&Co has some wool pieces in their recycled collection, many blended with other recycled fibres as well. They have a variety of styles including jackets, shirts, vests, sweaters, cardigans and even sweater a skirt made with recycled wool.

Styles: Women, Men
Size Range: XS – XL
Values: Sustainable Materials, Recycled Materials
Based In: USA, ships to US and Canada


Want to learn more about the types of wool and the environmental and ethical impacts of it? Read more here.

Updated Jan 18, 2022

How to Reduce Your Baby’s Microplastic Exposure

posted in family, low waste 0

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 babies are also consuming a lot of plastic in the form of microplastics.

A recent study found babies consume 10 times more PET microplastics than 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. When searching for nontoxic toys, it’s good to also keep microplastics in mind.

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 plastic microfibres when washed. These fibres are now abundant in our ocean and water systems, and have been found all over the world — even the top of Everest. Microplastic fibres are also in the food we eat and in our bodies. Polyester and other synthetic fibres are not just in our clothing, but also 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 breakdown of plastic — especially important to be aware of with plastic baby 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 common microplastic sources in the home that children frequently encounter, and some easy plastic-free swaps you can make to reduce the amount your baby encounters and consumes:


Top 5 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 my 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.

Stuffed Plastic Free and Organic Baby Toys

Yes, you CAN find safe plush toys and stuffed animals for babies!

  • 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 an alternative to plastic dolls (pictured below).
  • Under the Nile – has stuffed 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 hand-knit toys made from alpaca wool in a fair trade factory in Bolivia.

Other Natural Baby Toys, 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 harvested 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.

EarthHero is also a great marketplace with lots of options for sustainable and plastic-free toys and other baby products.

Some of my daughter’s natural, non-toxic, and plastic-free toys – we got many though EarthHero

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, Glass Baby Bottles

  • Lifefactory – both glass and stainless steel bottles with silicone baby bottle 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 baby bottles with medical grade silicone nipples
  • HEVEA – glass bottles with natural rubber baby bottle 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: Baby Dishes and Baby Utensils

  • Bambu – bamboo baby 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/ Natural Rubber Pacifiers and Teething Toys for Babies

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 teething toys and pacifiers – these are the soothers we use (pictured above).
  • Eco Piggy – also makes natural rubber pacifiers – my daughter loves their Calmies Ecoteether and even though she’s no longer teething she still enjoys 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 our 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 fiber rugs and other natural material floor coverings where possible. 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 area rugs – we have one in my daughters room!
  • Willaby – handwoven, washable organic cotton rugs in colours perfect for a nursery or playroom.
  • Lorena Canals – very cute washable cotton rugs as well as other natural nursery decor pieces.
  • Under the Nile – handwoven rugs made from scraps of organic cotton from their clothing and toy production.
  • Novica – a variety of artisan made natural fibre rugs.
  • Hook & Loom – 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 – play mats made from cork.
  • Scoria – yoga/play mats made from cork.
  • Colin Campbell “Nature’s Carpet Collection” – 100% natural wool carpets, their “dark green” options include undyed wool, no insecticides or chemical additives, and a natural latex adhesive.

For more ways to reduce your microplastic exposure check out 10 simple ways to avoid microplastics in your everyday life.

Updated July 18, 2022

Where to find Sustainable Nursing Bras

posted in brand roundups 0

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)

Boob Design Nursing Bra Review

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
Values: 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 fluctuating 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
Values: 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


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
Values: 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 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
Values: sustainable and reclaimed materials, production transparency, carbon offset, made in Europe
Size range: XS – XXL+
Ordering: based in the Netherlands, ships international


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
Values: 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 Jan 18, 2022

Sustainable Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales

“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

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