Made in the USA

Local is the new global. When you think about it, the more energy that goes into something, the more it grows. It is inevitable that the more $$$ we spend in the US, the more it benefits our economy, and Americans in turn. Every American has heard this, and it’s time we put our money where our mouth is…and make change.

Lifekind has long adhered to these principles, and produces useful, healthy products made in the USA. Our Eco-Factory™ is located in Northern California, and produces many of the items we provide while paying workers a fair wage. Most of the other items in our catalog and web-store are also made in America!

To read more about Lifekind’s Eco-Factory™: http://bit.ly/1977uX0

 

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With Lifekind you get:

  • Better-quality products, made with your health in mind!!
  • Amazing value on truly organic mattresses!!
  • Peace of mind, knowing you’re supporting our economy!!
  • Friendly, personal customer service with real people who care!!

 

Check out this link for a fresh perspective on “stuff”: http://bit.ly/1cpjhDV

It’s a blog by Amelia Urry at Grist featuring an Annie Leonard video.

If Textiles Could Talk: “Does that color come in organic?”

In a prior blog  I wrote about the unfortunate toxicity of conventional dyes and how the textile industry historically has a devastating effect on the environment and people’s health. As populations continue to grow and eco-awareness spreads, the clothing industry will need to find viable solutions to this problem.

People have been using “natural” dyes made from plant, mineral, and animal ingredients for thousands of years. In fact, dyed flax fibers, dating back 36,000 years, were found in a cave in the Republic of Georgia. Today, cultures around the world continue the craft of natural dyeing to produce uniquely colored yarns and cloths.

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There is a huge variety of natural substances that can be used to color fabric. Having a broad chemical range, different substances require different techniques, and many require the use of a mordant. Mordants are metallic salts that bind the dye to the fabric, typically applied prior to submerging fabric into a dye bath. Many, but not all, traditionally used mordants are toxic, which presents the same problems as synthetic dyes: human exposure and wastewater disposal. Some popular natural dye extracts have a certain level of toxicity as well. Hmmm…

Though natural dyes can produce rich, complementary colors, many of the bright hues we see in stores are not available as natural dye colors. Even if consumers were to accept those limitations and switch to naturally dyed items only, we wouldn’t have enough land and water to produce all the dye material needed to color the human race’s wardrobes.

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The concept of using agricultural waste as dye material makes good sense. Let’s see where that goes in the future. Ploughboy Organics, a blooming U.S. company, is developing a line of organic dyes and textiles using organic tobacco by-products, and claims the process will use less water and energy than conventional dyeing.

Noon Design Studio in Los Angeles specializes in dyeing natural fibers using natural ingredients and non-toxic mordants.

Saco River Dyehouse claims to be the only GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified yarn-dyeing factory in the U.S., and is now operating in Biddeford, Maine.

DIY. Safe, natural dyeing is definitely doable. If you do it yourself you can control which substances are used. I recommend you research the effects of the chemical compounds of each individual plant, mineral or animal used, as well as for the mordant recommended for each dye material.

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Until truly sustainable dyeing systems are invented and adopted for mass production, I recommend backing the alternatives. Buy GOTS-certified organic textiles that were produced using low-impact dyes or none at all. Support colorgrown cotton, hemp, untreated wools, and recycled fabrics. Look for up-cycled items (clothes and accessories made from repurposed textiles and used clothes).

If items are certified organic to the GOTS standard, they will have the following qualities:

  • All chemical inputs (e.g., dyes, auxiliaries, and process chemicals) must be evaluated and meet basic requirements for toxicity and biodegradability/eliminability
  • Prohibition of critical inputs such as toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, functional nano particles, and genetically modified organisms (GMO) and their enzymes
  • The use of synthetic sizing agents is restricted; knitting and weaving oils must not contain heavy metals
  • Bleaches must be based on oxygen (no chlorine bleaching)

Here at Lifekind, we only use colorgrown organic cotton, meaning the colors you see are the natural colors of the plant fibers that were used to make the product– NO DYES! More on colorgrown cotton to come…

If Textiles Could Talk: “Those colors are to dye for!”

Have you ever wondered about textile dyes and the effect they have on the environment? The purpose of this blog is to shed a neon light on the subject. Be forewarned: the beautiful colors in your closet may look different after reading… The textile dyeing and finishing industry has a very dirty past, and due to environmental concerns, is finally facing pressure to clean up its act. The industry uses huge amounts of chemicals and vast amounts of water (100-150 liters of water to process 1 kg of textile material) and is known for poisoning rivers by dumping mega amounts of toxic, untreated wastewater (effluent) directly into waterways. Pigments in India Azo dyes and pigments are used to color most textiles and leathers. They are dangerous to work with, giving off carcinogenic amines. The name Azo is derived from the Greek a (not) + zoe (to live). With a name like that, it’s no wonder these dyes have an adverse affect on water resources, soil fertility, and eco-system integrity. The industry also uses significant amounts of bleaches, acids, alkalis, salts, stabilizers, surfactants, fire retardants, softeners, starches, heavy metals, and an assortment of dyes (acid, basic, disperse, mordant, reactive, sulphur dye, pigment, and vat). Most of these chemicals are applied using water as a medium. With the price of water consumption and effluent disposal increasing, some companies are beginning to look at ways to reduce water usage and find viable ways to treat effluent, while many dye houses will continue to use up local water supplies and dump untreated toxic wastewater into streams and rivers until the cows come floating home. dumpnowaste Air-dyeing is a waterless dyeing system, which uses less energy and no auxiliary chemicals and is twice as fast. Nike and IKEA have invested in DyeCoo, a waterless dyeing company, and Adidas’ DryDye shirts are made using this system. Currently air-dyeing industrial machines only work on polyester and are very expensive, but carbon dioxide, the substance used, is inexpensive and is also re-used in the process, saving money and resources. While waterless dyeing may be more environmentally friendly, synthetic dyes are still used, however. Low-impact dyes have been classified as eco-friendly by the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 (an international certification process). These dyes generally do not contain toxic chemicals or mordants (used to fix dye to fiber), require less rinsing, and have a high absorption rate, saving energy and creating less wastewater than conventional methods. Fiber-reactive dyes are low-impact synthetic dyes that bond directly with fibers and don’t require mordants or use heavy metals or known toxic substances. They use lower temperatures and shorter cycles, saving water and energy, and are now available in brighter and richer colors as well as having excellent colorfast propertiesclothe Low-impact, fiber-reactive dyes are the dyes of choice in eco-fashion, and Oeko-Tex 100 certified dyes are used on organic textiles to qualify for the GOTS certification. The Global Organic Textile Standard is in place to cover all of the post-harvest production and processing of fibers. Stay tuned for If Textiles Could Talk part 2, about “natural” dyes.

Cheap Is Not Always Cheap

The lesson of the week at my house is: someone is paying for everything we use. 

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It’s easy to recognize this when we teach children to turn off unneeded lights or to turn off the water when their hands are nowhere near the sink.

In addition to the obvious, I like to remind my kids that even the “cheap” items from discount stores have hidden costs to the environment and, likely, to the workers manufacturing the junk. The cheaper stuff is, the more we want to buy. So we buy more cheap stuff that is more likely to break or wear out than its quality alternative, then we do it again. This is a cycle we consumers have become too comfortable with.

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We can all be a part of the solution. Vote with your dollars. Know that you directly support the continued manufacture and distribution of every new thing you buy. Ask yourself about the integrity of the products you want to buy, how long they will last, where they are made and shipped from, what they are made of, and where they will end up when their life is over.

Remember, cheap is not always cheap, and nothing is free. 

 

 

 

Slow Bedrooms

 

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We all know what fast food is, but what about Slow Food? Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. Having an awareness of food’s origin in general and using local or home grown organic foods is a start. Slow Food is enjoying the process of preparing meals with quality foods and taking pleasure in tasting and sharing these meals with family and friends. Slow Food emphasizes the importance of food biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and food traditions.

Founded in 1986 by Carlo Petrini of Italy, the Slow Food movement has since expanded globally to include 100,000 members in over 150 countries. In Carlo Petrini’s words, “Slow Food unites the pleasure of food with responsibility, sustainability and harmony with nature” – the antithesis of fast food. To learn more: http://www.slowfood.com/

Within the Slow Movement are many subcultures, including Slow Parenting, Slow Travel, Slow Fashion, Slow Goods, Slow Church and more. All of these groups maintain a connection with community and a focus on ethics, ecology and economy. I am personally inspired by the idea as a whole. Slow is a reminder of how life should be, honored with tradition, thoughtfulness and quality, not quantity. Slowing down and doing things more efficiently can save energy, time and money in the long run. Not to mention the stress relief that comes with simplifying one’s life.

So, what if we were to implement “Slow Bedrooms”? We would draw from the principles of Slow and really enjoy the calmness and restful energy of our bedrooms. Here are some ideas:

  • Slow your bedroom: Have a dim light option or candles. Play calming or meditative music. Decorate with soothing aesthetics. Use healthy, organic bedding. Remove anything harsh or fast. Remove pending or deferred work (like unfinished projects, unfolded laundry or laptop).
  • Bedtime routines to wind down with: Some tea and a book. A bath with calming fragrance. Pamper yourself with a hair oil treatment or a foot massage, for example. Meditation.
  • Slow your wakeup: Use an alarm clock with a nice sound (let me know if you find one – I use a sound on my cell phone). Try a gentle stretch before your feet hit the floor. Open the window or door and take a breath of fresh air and listen for a moment.

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Travel plans this summer? Here are our top 7 essentials.

Summer can be a busy travel time. Since having children, gone are the days of grabbing the toothbrush, a change of clothes and some gas money, hopping in the car and driving off.

It’s nice to travel light, but remembering some key items that will make the trip simpler later is a valuable, learned skill.

These seven Lifekind products will simplify or enhance your traveling experience this summer, and they are all made in the USA!

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1.     Keep it simple with our super-clean Personal Care Travel Kit, available in lavender or unscented. It’s lightweight and designed to meet airlines’ carry-on luggage restrictions.

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2.   If car travel is in your plans, be ready with an Organic Cotton Travel Pillow or two.  Your passengers will thank you later.

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3.   Keep an Organic Chenille Throw in your car all summer (along with the Travel Pillow), because you never know when you’ll need to wrap up after cooling down, at the beach for example. I like to keep a blanket in my car year round.

4.   If baby is in tow, you’ll need a Wool Moisture Protector Pad to protect guest beds. The 25×30” Puddle Pad is just the right size for travel, and will slip under any mattress pad and sheet.

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5.   For bathing those babies at home or away, the Bath Ball Dechlorinator will remove over 90% of the chlorine in the bath. Just swirl it around in the water before your child gets in.

6.   Don’t settle for conventional chemical cleaners. Naturally Safer Laundry and Cleaning products come in convenient sample sizes, perfect for travel.

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7.   Grab your favorite pillow on the way out the door. Don’t forget a camera, water bottle and healthy snacks, and you’ll be good to go.

Imagine Organic Oceans

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Imagine a world without synthetic chemicals. Well, that is a bit extreme. It would rule out pharmaceuticals and many other “necessary” products. Nevertheless, that is the utopian image in the back of my mind when I choose to spend more money on organic food and goods. It’s that “saving the world” feeling I get that keeps me going the extra mile, literally, to the health food store instead of the closest grocery store.

I’m not supporting organics only because it’s healthier for my immediate family. In fact, I’m thinking of my bigger family, the bees, birds, deer, soil, fish, rivers and oceans who directly suffer from pesticide exposure.

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Imagine if everyone shopped for consumables with the bigger picture in mind. Is furniture consumable? Yes, it’s earth food, as it will end up in there some day. Let’s feed it organic! It’s not hard to start with organic basics: food; personal care; clothes; beds and bedding.

Find an organic store near you at these links:

http://www.organicstorelocator.com/

http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list

 

“When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.” – John Muir’s journal, July 27, 1869

Sleep for Detoxification

Moderation is my default setting. I’m always looking for that comfort zone: Love the heat and sun but must find shade; happy in the winter snow with enough gear to keep me warm; I eat whatever I feel like but not too much (mostly organic of course). This pattern has kept me happy as a clam and moderately healthy for years.

 

Sometimes I wonder if I might need to step it up and, you know, DETOX. It’s spring, no better time, right? I would do it if I had to… eat raw foods only or fresh juice for weeks, but that’s just not my thing. Remember this is me – medium me. If you enjoy a good spring cleanse all the more green power to you!!

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Recently, I was listening to a health issues show on our local non-profit radio and the guest was a naturopathic practitioner who was answering callers’ questions. One question was, “what is a good detox diet?” Imagine my relief when she replied that she doesn’t recommend regular detox programs to people who are otherwise healthy. In fact good sleep was her remedy as our bodies go to work detoxifying at night, naturally. I’m thinking… sleep… I can do that. Not a problem.
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That got me to thinking about my quality of sleep, which is now a priority to address with my newly found resources here at Lifekind. Here’s my realistic, long-term detox plan:

  • Replace chemical bedding (automatically less toxins).
  • Continue to sleep 7-9 full hours each night.
  • Go to bed by 10:00 more often (according to Ayurvedic wisdom, an hour of sleep before midnight is equal to two hours after midnight. Also, the phase intended for detoxification is between 10pm and 2am.)

 

Here’s to your health!

 

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My first two weeks

Born and raised in Maine by a “back to the land,” naturalist mom, I had a pretty good start at living a healthy life. I eat primarily certified organic, non-GMO foods and enjoy the challenge of finding locally or regionally produced products. I reuse plastic bags (yes, I wash them!) and shop with my faithful cloth bags. I compost and recycle, and I’ve always used “natural” (or so I thought) body-care and household cleaning products. I’m doing pretty good, right?

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Lifekind gives all of their (our!) new employees a gift basket with samples of the Naturally Safer laundry, cleaning, and personal-care products so we get a chance to try everything out before we recommend products to customers.  Both the castile bar soap and the liquid soap have become my new favorites– both feel silky and non-drying. After working at Lifekind for just two weeks, I now feel like I’m really moving back to the land, literally refreshed by the purest organic skin and hair products I’ve used in years.

My husband and I had planned to get a new bed in the near future – something really comfy – and were prepared to spend the money on a really good one. I’m so glad we didn’t just run down to the neighborhood mattress store and jump on (or sink into) some memory foam, because we might have been sucked in. I have a new awareness about the toxicity of the synthetic materials and chemicals in the old beds and bedding in my house, and it’s reminding me of what’s going to happen when they go “back to the land” – yikes!!

I’m already filtering Lifekind’s organic pillows and bedding into my life, and feel so great about it.  I look forward to starting this new chapter in my life with Lifekind.  Hopefully I’ll talk to you along the way!

Naomi is Lifekind’s newest team member, training to become a Product Specialist.  We hope you will welcome her the next time you call us!