Happy Earth Day from Lifekind

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, Rejoice, for your soul is alive.”
Eleanora Duse

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I’m writing this post on John Muir’s birthday, April 21. The pioneering Scottish-American preservationist would have been 178 years old today. I’ve loved Muir since the third grade, when I first read My First Summer in the Sierra, the journal he kept as he accompanied a flock of sheep from California’s San Joaquin Valley to the Yosemite high country in 1869 as a young wanderer.

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Around this time each year, people try to put into words the feeling they have for the Earth, our terrestrial home. For those who feel deep connection to nature, that can be intimidating!

Muir was equal to the challenge. In Summer, as the group moved slowly from the heat of the Valley to their destination in the High Sierra near Tuolumne Meadows, he became entranced by what he saw and felt:

“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.”

I know that feeling — maybe you do, too. The suspension of time, a sense of oneness, kinship with everything, the joy of being truly home. I just can’t describe it the way he could!

Freedom and immortality can be real and concrete on a day spent in nature, rooted in things we can touch and hear. Muir was in the Sierra, but it can happen anywhere — mountains, valley, ocean, or a park in the heart of a city. The natural world can inhabit us, and we it:

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,—a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal.”

Muir believed that everything in the natural world is beautiful in its own wild, original state. Landscapes spoke to him, along with plants and insects, rocks and storms and trees and “flower people” — recognition of the kinship we all share.

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Sometime soon, along with all the things large and small that we do to try to be kind to our planet, try to go to the wildest place you can find. Even if only for a little while. And savor the feeling:

“Beauty beyond thought everywhere, beneath, above, made and being made forever.”

Made and being made forever — everywhere. That’s our planet, our home. It’s beautiful.

 

(All photos: public domain)

Bottled Water: Are We Really Getting What We’re Paying For?

If you’re reading this, chances are you know that plastic water bottles are a major contributor to our escalating global plastic-pollution crisis. What you might not know is that there’s no health-based reason to be buying it.

Six plastic bottles filled with spring drinking water

In a recent installment of the Scientific American podcast “House Call Doctor,” Dr. Sanaz Majd recalled wondering why hospital personnel recommended avoiding bottled water and using tap instead when preparing supplemental formula for her prematurely-born twins. Upon researching the question, she found they were right: Not only is most bottled water no better for human health than tap water, but in many cases it’s actually worse.

“Sure, bottled water may potentially taste better than tap,” says Majd — “but that doesn’t mean it’s safer. If you are looking for safety, your kitchen sink is a better bet.”

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Bottled water may potentially taste better than tap, but that doesn’t mean it’s safer. Subject to less-stringent oversight by government agencies than tap water, bottled is more likely to nurture bacteria and other contaminants as it sits on store shelves. Some retail water bottles still contain BPA, an endocrine-disrupting chemical, and manufacturers are not required to divulge the water’s source on labels. All in all, it’s a bum deal for those who believe they’re getting something special for their hard-earned dollars — or at least is safer than what they can find at home.

See more at http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/healthy-eating/know-your-nutrients/should-you-drink-tap-or-bottled-water#sthash.MpTzCExm.dpuf.

To listen to the podcast, go to scientificamerican.com/article/should-you-drink-tap-or-bottled-water/.

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Take a Hike to Keep Depression at Bay

Take a Hike to Keep Depression at Bay

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
John Muir
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Anyone who enjoys a good hike knows how uplifting it can be. Now scientists have discovered a reason why: Walking in nature actually reduces a specific type of self-obsessive negative thinking called “rumination,” which has been shown to lead to episodes of depression.

When scientists at Stanford took a group of 38 mentally-healthy city dwellers recently and asked them to take a 90-minute walk either through oak-dotted hills or along a congested urban street, the results were clear: Participants who walked in the undeveloped natural setting showed substantial decreases in ruminative activity and the negative emotions that come with it. The scientists’ conclusion? “Natural environments are more restorative, and thus confer greater psychological benefits.” Sounds right to us! (For the full story, go to theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/06/how-walking-in-nature-prevents-depression/397172/?utm_source=SFFB.)

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Leaving civilization behind and interacting with wild landscapes is good for body and spirit — even if just for a little while. Take the time to find your own place “off the beaten path,” and your state of mind will thank you.

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For more about walking and how it relates to mental health, click here

“Earth has no sorrow that earth can not heal.”

John Muir

Lifekind Organic Mattress Profile: The Duet

In the lineup of Lifekind organic mattresses, the Duet can be something of an enigma. It’s made from three internal layers of natural rubber, which would normally lend itself to softness, but the top and bottom layers are made from the firmest natural rubber we use – plus it’s got a closed cover, which makes for a firmer mattress. Then again, the center layer is made of the softest natural rubber, and the firm top and bottom layers are sculpted into contoured ridges, which makes them softer.

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So what does the Duet organic mattress actually feel like?

 

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Overall, it’s quite firm – almost as firm as the Euro, which is the firmest mattress we make. The Duet is designed to offer uncompromising support, but also pressure-point relief via the sculpted ridges in the top and bottom layers. This can come in very handy for sleepers who need a combination of firmness (or back support and cushioning for pressure-point pain.

Think of it as a medium-firm mattress that’s cushiony enough even for side sleepers.

To talk about the Duet or any of our other mattresses with a product specialist, give us a call at 800-284-4983 or email sales@lifekind.com.

Don’t we have to use flame retardant?

Frequently, callers ask us how it’s possible that we don’t have to use chemical flame retardants on our mattresses. “Isn’t there a law that says you have to?” they ask.
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Thank goodness, the answer to that question is no. The federal flammability standard — known as 16 CFR Parts 1632 & 1633 —  requires only that mattresses and certain other types of bedding pass flammability tests, not how  they pass. The tests involve exposing a mattress to open flame using an apparatus that locks down around the mattress (see video of a mattress made by our factory, OMI, passing federal flammability testing at youtube.com/watch?v=9LpAYM1-gVs). Unlike non-organic mattresses that are sprayed with dangerous chemicals to achieve flame retardancy, we use only our Naturally Safer wool to make our mattresses pass with flying colors. Phew!  🙂
For more information about the federal flammability standard, go here.  cpsc.gov/PageFiles/95861/mattsets.pdf

Good news for California

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In a move that’s sure to please anyone concerned about chemical exposure, California Governor Jerry Brown announced yesterday a new state flammability standard: As of Jan. 1, upholstered furniture sold in the state will be able to meet flammability requirements without the use of with PBDEs or other chemicals.

“Today, California is curbing toxic chemicals found in everything from high chairs to sofas,” said Governor Brown. “These new standards will keep the furniture in our homes fire-safe and limit unnecessary exposure to toxic flame retardants.”

The new rule overturns a controversial 1975 law that Brown himself signed during his first stint as governor: Technical Bulletin 117, which required furniture manufacturers to inject flame-retardant chemicals into the synthetic foam used in virtually all upholstered furniture in the state. That translated into 2-3 pounds for a typical sofa, but over the years research has increasingly shown that such chemicals pose a major threat of cancer and other health problems, with children being most at risk. When state agencies such as the Bureau of Home Furnishings – on whose advisory board Lifekind president and co-founder Walt Bader sits as a member – recommended the change, officials listened.

Now instead of foam that’s been infused with flame-retardant chemicals, upholstered products from recliners to infant swings and strollers will be made fire-safe by focusing on using cover materials that resist common sources of ignition such as cigarettes, space heaters, and extension cords. That, combined with fiber fillings that resist smoldering, will be enough to meet the new standard for most products, though it’s always important to hold retailers accountable: “While many manufacturers may elect to remove the chemicals, others may elect to leave them in due to concerns about liability,” said Judy Levin of the Center for Environmental Health. “So consumers will definitely have to be diligent and ask specific questions.”

Manufacturers may begin making products to the new standards on Jan. 1, 2014, and will have one year to be fully in compliance.

Let’s hope that other U.S. states follow California’s lead and that the trend goes worldwide to prevent chemical exposure for future generations!

Where the Natural Rubber Meets the Road

At Lifekind, many of the products we make contain natural rubber, which can be confusing for some who haven’t tried it. 
 
“Do you use the same kind of rubber that’s in tires?” callers ask. “Is my bed going to smell like a tire store? What’s it made from, exactly?”
 

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While car tires and natural-rubber mattresses have their main ingredient — natural-rubber sap — in common, the similarities pretty much end there. Car tires have a slew of toxic substances added, such as styrene-butadiene co-polymers, oils, halogen, “accelerators,” “antiozonants” and carbon black, a delightful material made from the partial burning of coal tar and other “heavy” petroleum products to make a black, ashy powder. (The International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled carbon black a “possible human carcinogen,” and it’s a powerful respiratory irritant. Definitely not something you’d want to sleep on!)
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In contrast, 100%-natural rubber foam is a springy, resilient, off-white material that contains about 98% rubber-tree sap in its final form. The remaining 2% is made of non-harmful materials such zinc oxide, sulfur, sodium, and fatty acids – quite a difference. (And it smells nothing like a tire store!) It’s the top choice for organic mattress materials right now, and its popularity is growing. 
We’re always happy to send a sample to anybody who would like to check it out — just ask. We think you’ll like it!

The Shredded-Rubber Pillow (and Why I Love It)

On October 9, I celebrated my tenth anniversary at Lifekind. During that time I’ve had the opportunity to try pretty much everything we sell, and year after year one product remains my absolute favorite: The Wool-Wrapped Shredded-Rubber Pillow.
Why am I so enthusiastic?
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I love the feel. With tiny pieces of natural rubber inside a zippered chamber and a separate outside chamber filled with wool, the overall feel is one of substance and buoyancy. It has some of the softness and “poufiness” of a down pillow, but it’s firmer and heavier — it can be “shaped” like a down pillow by holding up one end and letting the filling fall to the other, and my neck appreciates it. The inside chamber holding the natural rubber can be zipped open and some of the rubber taken out (or more put in) to make it just the right height. I take it everywhere I go, from hotels to friends’ houses to tent camping in Yosemite. If I’m using any other pillow, my sleep won’t be as good. It’s a little bit of home to take with me on the road.

It smells great. The smell of natural rubber represents health, comfort, purity, and happiness for me. It makes me  calmer and makes it easier to fall asleep, and if I wake up during the night it’s easier to go back to sleep. Natural aromatherapy!
It lasts forever — well, not quite. But a long time. I’ve had mine for about six years, and it shows no sign of slowing down. When it does, I’ll buy another one immediately. No other pillow will ever be able to take its place.
 Lifekind Customizable Wool-Wrapped Natural Shredded Rubber Pillow

 

Have a favorite product you just can’t do without? Write and tell us.

 

How Long Will It Last?

Recently a customer called to ask how long the sheets in our Organic Cotton Sateen Bedding Collection should be expected to last. It got me thinking about the lifespan of different products we sell, as well as how they show their age as the years go by.

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The organic cotton and wool we use isn’t mixed with polyester or other petrochemicals to artificially strengthen the fibers, nor are our towel collections treated with a coating of beef tallow and/or chemicals to make them feel softer and more appealing on store shelves. This results in a purer product, as well as one that will actually become softer than artifically-treated products over time. It also means that their lifespans aren’t artificially prolonged based on chemical content, however. For that reason, the possibility exists that they may experience a shorter life than artificially enhanced items – although I have to say that I’ve never experienced it personally in the 10 years I’ve been using our products. Our customers appreciate this, for the most part, knowing it’s part of the sacrifice we sometimes make in order to use natural products and to live lives as free as possible from exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Based on that, here’s an estimate of the expected average life of a few of our more popular products when cared for as recommended:

 

clockFlannel Pad:  Five years

Wool Moisture-Protector Pad:  Five years

Sheets and duvet covers:  Five years

Pillows:
Wool or cotton:  Five years
Natural rubber:  Ten years
Buckwheat:  Five years

Comforters:  Five years

Pillow tops:
Wool:  Five years
Natural rubber:  Ten years plus

Towels and bath mats:  Five years

Keep in mind that these are not warranty timelines, but basic averages that can be directly affected by the amount of usage and quality of care. Items that are washable can also be affected by water quality and temperature, detergents, and the use of fabric softeners. Pillows and fitted sheets tend to wear out most quickly, since they bear most of a sleeper’s concentrated weight. Sheets and pillowcases may develop thin spots that are more susceptible to tearing, and cotton and wool pillows will compact substantially as they’re used — wool pillows by about one-third and cotton pillows by about one-half. It doesn’t indicate that the product is defective, but rather that it’s been working hard and slowing down a bit as time goes by, as do people.

If you  have a question about how a Lifekind product is holding up over time, feel free to give us a call here on the sales team at 800-284-4983, or click on the “Chat with a live product specialist now!” link on our home page. We’re here to help.

We’re Lifekind…Pleased to Meet You

One of the things we hear from customers is that it’s nice to be able to talk to a real person when they call. Maybe you can relate. I know I can in this age of “voice-mail hell,” when it’s not all that common to be able to talk to a customer-service representative without navigating a labyrinthine maze of choices — or maybe never getting there at all.

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It’s true that when you call Lifekind, you’re only a few seconds away from getting to talk to a real, live human. The first thing you’ll hear is a brief outgoing message, which offers a list of options to help you get where you need to go. (That’s me speaking in the outgoing message, by the way — I’m the “voice of Lifekind.”)  🙂 If you reach us during regular business hours it’s the only message you’ll have to hear, unless you’re calling for someone who’s temporarily on another call or away from her desk. The message lets you choose whether you want to enter an extension, ask a general question, talk to a Product Specialist like me, or access a company directory. (If you’re calling after hours, you’ll also be given the option to leave a message in our General Mailbox.) Once you develop a relationship with a product specialist, if you keep her extension handy you can enter it as soon as the outgoing message starts — and then never have to listen to it again!

When taking an order, doing a mattress consultation to help someone figure out exactly the right mattress, or helping with a return or exchange of product, we take great pride in offering the kind of personal attention that can be truly unusual to find in today’s corporate world.

Give us a call sometime soon so we can get to know you, too!   1-800-284-4983