Walt and the Mattress Factory

A few weeks ago I visited the factory where the mattresses are made for both Lifekind and our sister company, OMI (Organic Mattresses Incorporated). I felt like Charlie going to the Chocolate Factory. I have to admit that the enthusiasm Walt has for the company he has built from the ground up is reminiscent of Willie Wonka. However, I would like to continue to be employed at Lifekind, and will therefore stop comparing my boss to a slightly deranged, socially awkward candy fanatic.

As a recent college graduate with a degree in marketing, I came into the workforce with a jaded view of the way business is done in the world. I’ve studied companies and business practices that would make the average consumer ill. I’ll never forget being told by a reputable professor of finance that financial calculations are “more of an art than a science,” then watching the financial collapse of companies “too big to fail” caused by their “artistic” financial practices; learning that perceived value is more important than actual value; that it pays to outsource labor to make a cheaper product. Please don’t get me wrong; I feel proud to hold a business degree because of the broadened horizons and knowledge it has given me. I also feel fortunate to work for a company that has gone against such misguided principles and been extremely successful because of it.

I thought about all I had learned about how to run a business and as I watched Walt explain each aspect of his immaculately clean factory and machinery, encouraging us to notice the purity of the raw materials and the quality of the stitching in the fabric. Walt was also a marketing professor for 13 years, and has run successful businesses for 40 years, so he’s no stranger to the principles of marketing; he’s just trying to run a business in accordance with his personal principles as well.

The resulting companies, Lifekind and OMI, are run in a way that limits our impact on the environment. In the entire factory there is only one traditionally sized trash can. Almost all waste from production is recycled. This was incredibly impressive to me. We also make a product that makes absolutely no compromise on quality or purity. Any cotton or wool that falls on the floor is not used, even though the floor is so clean it would put my kitchen counters to shame. Employees don’t smoke or wear fragrance and, even more importantly, they’re happy and respected.
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Long story short, I came back from the factory wanting to purchase everything Lifekind has ever offered, because I have absolute faith that it’s the best available, and that makes me feel good about recommending those products to my customers.

Adventures in Gardening

It’s officially spring, and I’ve officially started my first vegetable garden. I started small last spring, with a pot of herbs that I lovingly planted and watered, then left at my parents’ house and forgot about. Not knowing exactly what I was doing, I had planted far too many seeds. I figured that variety would win out over my incompetance and, hopefully, I’d have one or two survivor plants to clip off of and throw in a salad once in a while.

I returned a few weeks later to find a forest of mint, basil, thyme, and a few mystery plants that I wasn’t quite sure about. Instead of natural selection, apparently my little ecosystem had opted for a more free-living approach. The mass abundance was causing the little herbs to crowd up and out, spilling over the edge of the pot and making it look like nature’s answer to one of those party-favor poppers everyone brings out at New Year’s.

This year I’m doing it right. Bolstered by experience and a bit of confidence from last year’s adventure, I planted little decomposable starter pots with heirloom tomatoes, spaghetti squash, zucchini, cucumber, peppers, and an array of other delicacies. I carefully labeled them to avoid the random mystery plant later in the season, gave them plenty of water, and set them in the sun. I then planted myself in a chair on the porch with an iced tea and watched them as if they would magically grow a vegetable the next time I blinked. I was very, very proud of my newfound connection with nature. I made up my mind to take it one step further.

I started a compost pile. My roommates came home that evening to a clean fridge, a raked yard, and a large heap of smelliness back behind the house. I believe this must have been something of a bittersweet moment for them, but I was completely elated. I was the ultimate recycler and green goddess. I was going to save the world!

I’ve come down off my enviro-pedestal somewhat over the past 24 hours. Maybe I won’t save the world with my compost and my tomato plants, but I have taken a step towards a greener lifestyle, and that’s all anyone can really expect in a day’s work, right?

We don’t toss money in the garbage, so why throw a mattress there?

If you are looking to make space for your new mattress, consider a few creative solutions of disposing your old one. According to Greenyour.com over 33,000,000 mattresses are produced each year and 20,000,000 are thrown away. Twenty million!! A mattress is a wealth of resources that can be used for other things. My rule of thumb, which I learned from studying Permaculture, is everything can be used more then once, or in at least two different ways. Why throw away something that still has a function? Below are suggestions for ways to recycle mattresses.

– If the mattress is not soiled then Craigslist.com is a great place to sell or give it away. You could even include the metal bed frame and bedding in the price.

– Put an ad in the paper stating the mattress is free for the taking. Many people are in need and would be ecstatic to take it off your hands.

– If you are not partial to having strangers come to your house, call your local fire department or news station when there was a natural disaster in your area. They would know of families in need who may have lost everything, and your donation may be just what they needed.

– If you live in the SF Bay Area, check out http://www.BayAreaRecycle.com

– Carefully deconstruct the mattress. The wood can be broken down into wood chips, cotton and wool is great for the compost bin or as a covering for flower beds. The springs make for a great art project or can be melted down into steel.

Ecohaul.com is a company that strives to do what they can to keep materials they pick up out of landfills. See if they are in your area!

The possibilities are endless. Be creative and if you think of any other ways to creatively reuse a mattress, let us know!

Sara, Product Specialist

Home improvement projects can be a lot of fun, yet also costly. Using recycled materials is not only cost effective, it’s also good for the environment!

In a recent act of bravery, I launched into yet another “home improvement” project, which we all know usually turns out to be much more expensive and time consuming than first imagined. My friends joke that I’m becoming like the Winchester Mystery House woman who kept adding on to her home
(http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com). Of course, I’m not quite that extreme, although I do have a deep-seated need to continually improve my surroundings. This time it entailed enclosing the front porch.

For over 10 years I have patiently endured winters with a front porch that provides little refuge from pelting rain, winds, and severe snowstorms. With my old dog, Bella, growing older, and concerned for her comfort, I decided it was now or never to enclose the porch. When I began pricing materials for the project it quickly became clear that I was going to have to shop around to find the best prices. I spent countless hours researching efficient porch designs and price-matching everything from French doors to concrete sealant. I phoned multiple hardware & lumber stores, asking every question I could imagine. After weeks of preparation and research I mentioned to a friend my concern that the prices were much higher than I’d anticipated, and he recommended I check out our local Habitat For Humanity “ReStore.” The next day, equipped with measuring tape, clipboard and my old dog, who loves to ride along, I arrived at the ReStore not really knowing what to expect. I was overjoyed when I found almost all the materials I was searching for to complete my dream porch, available at bargain prices!

Habitat ReStores offer quality used and surplus building materials at a fraction of normal prices while helping to fund Habitat for Humanity house construction. They are outlets that accept donated goods for resale. While every ReStore is a little different, most focus on home-improvement goods—furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances. These donated goods are sold to the general public at a fraction of retail price to help local affiliates fund construction of Habitat homes within their communities.

Materials sold by Habitat ReStores are usually donated by local retailers, contractors, and individuals. ReStores provide an environmentally and socially responsible way to keep good, reusable materials out of the waste stream and simultaneously provide funding for Habitat’s community-improvement work.

For more information about Habitat For Humanity, go to http://www.habitat.org.

To find a Habitat For Humanity ReStore in your area, or if you or your company has materials to donate, go to http://www.habitat.org/cd/env/restore.aspx.

The Green House

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After planting the first organic garden on While House property, the Obamas are making history again with the possibility of making the White House green. No, they are not painting it, but instead are looking toward earning LEED certification for the building through the U.S. Green Building Council. The end result would be a more energy efficient White House with efficient water usage and cleaner indoor air quality that is virtually free of VOCs.

For more information, click on :

http://www.sierraclubgreenhome.com/green-news/the-greenest-white-house/

-Rowena, Product Specialist

Something Comforting About these Labels

I was in San Francisco and did some shopping this weekend. I stumbled upon a store that sold mostly organic cotton shirts, skirts, and dresses. What caught my eye and separated this company from most others were their labels. In bold letters they read, “Cotton is GOTS certified organic.” It is in my nature to trust people. If someone tells me something is organic, I tend to believe them. And yet, there was something comforting about these labels. I didn’t need to ask the sales associate where the shirts were made or what kind of material they were. The company had nothing to hide and I was not secretly wondering if they were being truthful about the details of the product line because they were certified by a third party.

Third-party certifications on  material items can turn you into a responsible shopper without having to do much work. Truthfully, I was going to buy a skirt no matter what. The GOTS certification was the tipping point, as I now want to revisit the company because the clothing is high quality, fits well, and is made from sustainable materials. I can have my cake and eat it too, and the store benefits because I’ll certainly patronize this store again and again.
-Sara, Product Specialist

Buy American

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We think it’s important to support American organic farmers and manufacturers – so we do! Lifekind® is dedicated to supporting America’s organics industry and to keeping jobs here in America.

We make our own mattresses right here in the U.S. Our GOTS-certified mattress Eco-Factory™ is located in Yuba City, California – the only mattress facility in North America to be awarded true third-party organic certification.

Our organic raw materials come from sources as close to home as possible. The Naturally Safer® wool and certified organic cotton we use in our mattresses and bedding are U.S. grown, and the natural rubber latex we use in our mattress cores and pillows is also manufactured here in the U.S.

Your commitment to purchasing organic products and supporting America’s environmentally-conscious farmers and businesses helps to ensure the continuing growth of the organics industry in the U.S. Also, you contribute to the reduction of your carbon footprint when you buy products made closer to home.

We are proud to support American organic farmers and to be your “go-to” company for “Made in the USA” items.

Carol Bader, Co-Founder

Lifekind: What’s in a Name?

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While on the phone with customers, occasionally we’ll hear a comment such as “Lifekind — that’s a nice name. What does it mean?” We explain that our name refers to the necessity we feel to be kind to all life in the work we do, the products we offer, and the way in which the materials in those products are obtained. We explain that in part it’s a spin on the word “mankind,” offering a larger, more compassionate and all-inclusive meaning.

When I think about our name, the first thing that comes to mind is the Northern California wool we use in our mattresses, pillow tops, and other products. It comes from sheep that graze freely on organic pastureland and are sheared using methods that minimize anxiety and discomfort. No traumatic “sheep dipping” takes place, and sheep dogs are used to keep predators away, rather than deadly poisons.

It’s a total commitment to ethical ranching that we feel passionate about. If it’s important to you, too, you’ve come to the right place.

How do you vote?

Growing up in the city, life was always fast paced. Consumption is a way of life. Life is not all that sustainable.

After my first camping experience in high school, life took on a different meaning. Nature has a perfect balance that cannot be recreated. It renews the mind and invigorates the spirit.

Over the years, I have realized that while voting in our democratic system is one way to make your voice heard, it is undeniable that we also vote with our dollars. Every purchase we make, in a way, defines who we are and what we stand for.

Regardless of where you live, life can be sustainable. Supporting organic agriculture and buying domestically-made goods made from renewable resources supports “the little guy” instead of the multimillion-dollar corporation that in exchange fuels the fire of non-sustainable living.

The earth is one big eco-system and our everyday choices WILL impact the planet one way or another.

How do you vote?

Rowena, Product Specialist