The fall is a magical time for us here at Lady Farmer. And no, it’s not just because we get to cozy up with our dogs by the fire or watch the crisp sunrises through the yellowing leaves of the black walnut tree out back (although that’s pretty great)….
One of the best things about fall is, of course, our Slow Living Retreat! After months of planning and working and re-working and planning some more, we get to enjoy some real in-person quality time with some pretty incredible Lady Farmers, and that just might be the best thing ever. It’s so fun to hear, for example, that this weekend might be one of the first times you’ve eaten such local, nutrient dense, incredible food so consecutively, and that you might actually feel a difference in your body. Or that you might come away empowered to patch up that hole in your favorite pants instead of feeling like you have to buy new ones.
We have also been lucky enough to partner up with some amazing companies this year! They are small businesses with big impact, and with some of our favorite people behind them. We love working with them, and we love hanging out with them, so it’s really a win-win. In every case, they have prioritized quality over quantity and well-being over mere profit. They’re exactly what we like to embody when working with peer companies, which makes the whole process of getting this retreat together for our incredible community so much more special.
We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to some of our beautiful sponsors, without whom we would not be able to make this weekend happen. First up, we’ll be telling you about all the wonderful beverages that will be available to you 🙂
Sarah and Nate Walsh are firmly dedicated to the production and sales of premium wine. Nate Walsh is a career winegrower. Starting as a cellar rat at Horton Vineyards, in Central, Virginia, he went on to work in vineyards and wineries in the Willamette Valley and Central Otago before spending seven years as the winemaker and vineyard manager for Sunset Hills Vineyard, in Purcellville, Virginia, during a time of large expansion. It was during this time that he began searching for a site from which he knew one could create truly premium Virginia wine.
Sarah, conversely, comes from a background of fine dining, fine wine sales, and wine education. Beginning her career at restaurants in Chicago, Atlanta, and Northern Virginia, Sarah shifted into fine wine sales, working for a wholesaler/importer on the East Coast. She holds a Diploma from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust.
Sarah and Nate met in 2012, married in 2013, and founded Walsh Family Wine in 2014.
Sarah will be joining us at the retreat – we can’t wait!
It all started with a broken coffee pot. Desperate for our daily caffeine fix, we finally learned how to use our pour over. Our world changed in an instant. The coffee we made wasn’t bitter like we were used to. It was well-balanced, clean, and flavorful. We want to share that joy of discovery with everyone who comes in contact with our beans. We want people to experience coffee the way it was meant to be – hand crafted with care.
Julian of Aperture Coffee will also be joining us for the weekend!
With 7 years difference in age, siblings Brittany and Joseph never had much in common and hardly ever talked. The recession was in full swing when Brittany graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2008. She was struggling to find a job in her field and the bills were coming. Joey must have overheard her crying on the phone to their mom and stepped in to suggest she get a job at a tea shop.
Joey already enjoyed tea; something he shared with his mother and grandmother over dinner on Sundays. His primary objective in his occupational suggestion to his sister was her discount.
Brittany decided to apply and her first day on the job she was hooked. She took learning about tea into her own hands and every time she’d stop at her parents’ house, she’d bring some tea to share. Joey and Brittany drank many pots of tea together around the dining room and table and before they knew it, they had found a friendship.
In 2016, the duo founded Wight Tea Company handcrafting delicious tea blends with unique flavors like Sage Rose White tea, Blueberry Basil Rooibos, and Fireside Fig.
Meet Brittany at the Slow Living Retreat, and enjoy her delicious tea all weekend!
We have proudly served the great people of the Mid-Atlantic region for decades from our independently owned offices in Annapolis Junction, MD. We have delivered Mountain Valley Spring Water to generations of loyal and informed consumers with the same underlying principle: World class water deserves world-class service. We want to know and talk to our customers personally. In a world of big impersonal businesses, we are proud to be a small business with a big focus on service to our customers.
In 1920, we made our first delivery of Mountain Valley Water to the White House of President Woodrow Wilson on the advice of his personal physician. Since that period Mountain Valley has been served to generations of US presidents and in the halls of Congress.
Today, Mountain Valley Mid-Atlantic continues to distribute that same refreshing, mineral-rich spring water directly to homes, businesses, restaurants, cafes, and retailers throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
PREMIUM AMERICAN SPRING WATER
Nestled in a remote valley surrounded by 2,000 acres of protected forest, The Mountain Valley’s source is the pristine result of a long journey through America’s untamed wilderness. The water coming from the spring today first fell as rain over 3,500 years ago. It has slowly filtered through granite-based aquifers before making its way to the surface. Every drop is unspoiled and premium in a way that no other water on Earth can claim.
WHAT MAKES IT SO SPECIAL
The natural geological properties of the surrounding mountains make The Mountain Valley Spring Water unique. It’s sodium-free, naturally ionized, and rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium, giving it a remarkably refreshing taste revered by foodies and chefs alike. It was even named the “Best-Tasting Water in the World” – three times – at Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting.
In addition to these incredible beverage sponsors, we’d like to thank the following:
We’ve banned plastic straws, bought our reusable water bottles, and become expert thrift shoppers. We’ve learned that small changes in our lifestyle can have mighty impacts on the environment. But did you know that contributing to the health of the planet will not only keep our planet livable but will also keep you healthy?
Your Brain on Nature
A group of researchers at Stanford University found in a study that taking a walk in nature decreases negative rumination. That means it reduces stress and anxiety, two things that contribute to depression.
And being in nature is not just good for your mental health. David Strayer, cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah, has found positive effects in “everything from stress hormones to heart rate to brain waves to protein markers” in his studies of people in nature.
A Tradition of Nature Healing
This isn’t news. Famous authors have been writing about how nature makes them feel better for a long time. That’s why we have national parks and green spaces like Central Park in New York City. But before those lands were determined as ‘special’, indigenous communities recognized the importance of land and natural environments to everyone’s health. Just take a look at this record of ways indigenous people use their natural surroundings and its elements as medicine.
Our friend and nature healer, Wanda Knapik, speaks on the healing power of nature in her teachings and advocates about the important relationship humans have with natural surroundings. We have large impacts on the environment with how we use it, and in turn nature impacts us and our health.
For instance, when we use toxic chemicals in farming practices, we are contaminating the earth’s soil. Wanda sees it like this,
Soil is an organ within the Earth organism. It is similar in function to the diaphragm within the human organism, enabling the Earth to breathe, just as the diaphragm enables humans to breathe. Plants and trees are the lungs of the Earth, the soil is the diaphragm.
So when we’re not taking care of the soil, we’re harming not only the planet–but ourselves as well. Wanda be leading a workshop on nature healing at our Slow Living Retreat on November 16th and 17th, so come along for an in-person deep-dive into nature healing!
Your Choices Make a Difference
If you’re not a farmer, there are plenty of other ways to contribute to the planet’s soil health. Refusing to support the agrochemical industry by buying organic food and clothing that’s made from organic fabrics is a powerful choice for the consumer. Avoid using weed and pest killers in your garden or around your home as well. These substances destroy the microorganisms that we need to continue living on this planet. Start composting your own food waste to regenerate the soil where you live. Also, make sure that your local and national representatives align with your values about the natural environment.
The goal is to transform ourselves into instruments of change and love, and to serve all of humanity as well as the web of life and Mother Earth. We start by treating ourselves and others with respect, kindness, compassion, and love.
In addition to the Nature Healing sessions, our Slow Living Retreat on November 16 and 17th will include two days of presentations, demonstrations and experiential workshops, all designed to guide you on your journey to more sustainable living.
Read more about the retreat here, we’d love to have you join us!
A sustainable lifestyle is more than just integrating slow fashion and zero waste practices into your routine. Just as our material resources need to be managed in a way that allows us the joy of slow living, our inner resources, such as our mental and emotional energy, need tending as well. A key aspect of slow living is to bring your intentions of sustainable living inward, by slowing your mind and body down.
Here are three ways you can help yourself regain emotional balance when the going gets rough.
First, let’s talk about the time honored practice that works so well with our modern, on-the-go lifestyles, the two finger breath trick, or sometimes called alternate nostril breathing.
- Using one hand, place a pinky finger on one side of your nose and a thumb finger on the other side of your nose. Gently push your fingers so that your nostrils are closed, kind of like you’re blocking an unpleasant smell.
- Now let the thumb finger go, breathe in through the open nostril, and press the thumb finger back down.
- Hold your breath for 3 seconds.
- Let the pinky finger go, and let your breath loose through that nostril.
And then start over. Do this slow breathing practice a few times. You’ll start to notice your heart rate slowing, and your mind letting go of your worries to focus on your physical movements.
Another quick de-stressor is to sit up tall, breathe in and out, and wiggle your toes. This combo of small body movements won’t disrupt your metro seat buddy, or startle your co-workers. It’s pretty discrete and it provides a quick mind and body reset. You can use a free app called Aloe Bud, which sends reminders for small actions like this, or you can set reminders directly on your devices.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a well known Vietnamese monk and peace activist known for his many writings on mindfulness also believes in quick, do-anywhere practices. He even published a pocket meditation book called How to Relax. In it, he says an easy way to slow your brain and catch your breath is simply to smile. “A smile can relax hundreds of muscles in your face, and relax your nervous system. A smile makes you master of yourself.” Now what could be easier than that!
You can do these simple practices anywhere or anytime you find yourself in need of a quick moment to re-center.
Quick and easy tricks are useful, but as sustainable living advocates we believe in building a practice that helps us maintain (or regain more quickly) a state of calm. That’s why we try to practice yoga as often as we can. Yoga allows us to move in intentional ways, and invites our minds to let go of our worries and focus on our bodies.
Yes, we’ll be offering morning yoga sessions during our Slow Living Retreat in November, led by DMV area yogi Jackie Horstmann Didio! She’ll also be hosting a workshop entitled “Living Life Through a Yogic Lens,” during which attendees will learn how to integrate yogic practices into their daily lives.
You can find out more about Jackie here: @jacquelynanneyoga
And more about our Slow Living Retreat here. We hope you’ll come join us!
Comment below with your go-to mindfulness practices, and when you use them!
At Lady Farmer, we’re all about helping you cultivate your own sustainable lifestyle. This includes helping you find the best quality products for all of your basic needs–and other than oxygen, nothing is more basic than water for survival.
We have well water here on the farm, and though we had a UV filter already in place to reduce pathogens, we sometimes wondered if it was enough. Bacteria is only one concern, as groundwater can be affected by numerous factors. For instance, what about glyphosate (Round Up) runoff? Then we learned all about the Berkey Water Filter systems and decided to try it out. We’re so glad we did, and we’re now we’re offering it to you in our online store! Read on.
Is Your Water Clean and Safe?
Left to her own ways, our beautiful, bountiful planet is more than generous in providing what we need. Access to clean, sustainable water, however, is often made difficult, by our human systems and consumptive practices. Troubled Water, a project on drinking water contamination in the United States (produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program) reports that as many as 63 million Americans have been exposed to “potentially unsafe drinking water” since 2007.
According to the CDC, contamination of our water systems can come from numerous sources. Here is a list of the most common ones:
- Naturally occurring chemicals and minerals (for example, arsenic, radon, uranium)
- Local land use practices (fertilizers, pesticides, livestock, concentrated animal feeding operations)
- Manufacturing processes
- Sewer overflows
- Malfunctioning wastewater treatment systems (for example, nearby septic systems)
The Best Water Purifier
Okay, so maybe you’re already “in the know” about ensuring that you and your family have safe, sustainable drinking water, but there are so many methods and products to choose from.
Why did we choose the Berkey as the best water filter? So glad you asked!
First of all, it’s not just a filter, but an entire water purification system, which means it kills 99.9999% of pathogenic bacteria and reduces viruses by 99.99%.
Other key points that qualify Berkey as a top quality, Lady Farmer sustainable lifestyle product are:
- It’s a gravity-fed water system, so no electricity needed. That’s sustainable!
- It removes or dramatically reduces protozoa, trihalomethanes, inorganic minerals, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, VOCs, petroleum products, perfluorinated chemicals, rust, silt, sediment, radiologicals–and it removes glyphosate by greater than 75%! I’m good with having all of that taken out of my drinking water. Are you?
- It’s low maintenance! I top off our “Big Berkey” every morning with a half gallon of water to keep it flowing (you don’t want water standing in it for more than 3 days) and drink from it all day. The only cleaning it needs is a quick, once-a-month warm, soapy wash of the lower container and you’re’ done. Easy!
The Cost of Clean Water
You might be thinking the Berkey is too expensive for you to consider, but here are a few things to think about concerning the “true cost” of the water you choose to drink.
- Do you buy bottled water? According to figures from the Beverage Marketing Corporation and International Bottled Water Association, bottled water is the #1 beverage product in the U.S. ahead of soft drinks, totalling $18.5B in sales in 2018. We spend more money on water than any other bottled beverage!
- Consider what you’ll spend over a year on $1.00-$5.00 bottles (depending on size and where you buy them) that are emptied in minutes and then left to linger for thousands of years in the landfill. According to The Story of Stuff researchers, bottled water costs about 2000 times more than tap water, even though many of those companies are merely bottling the tap water and selling it to you! Your investment in a Berkey can actually save you thousands of dollars over years of use, and will prevent thousands of single-use containers from joining that plastic island in the Pacific (or the beaches, the rivers, the highways and forests….)
- Do you purchase water while traveling? The Travel Berkey alone (currently $249-$269) could pay for itself in no time by providing you with an endless supply of purified water (that you can trust!) while on the road.
- Once you’ve invested in the Berkey of your choice, further expense is minimal. Two Black Berkey® Purification Elements in a Berkey® system will purify approximately 6,000 gallons of water before replacement is recommended.
Choosing a Berkey Water Filtration System
Here’s an abbreviated guide to the choices we offer, complete details can be accessed here.
There are five stainless steel models, plus the super portable Berkey Go Kit.
In order of size and capacity (from largest to smallest), the choices are:
- Crown Berkey: 6 gallons, 30” tall, ideal for large groups such as schools, churches group gatherings and extended outages.
- Imperial Berkey: 4.5 gallons, 26” tall, great for mid to large-size families and small group gatherings
- Royal Berkey: 3.25 gallons, 23” tall, serves small to mid-size families and works for outside activities.
- Big Berkey: 2.25 gallons,19.25” tall,for smaller households and outdoor activities
- Travel Berkey:1.5 gallons, 18” tall, the best portable water purifier we know! Great for vacation, it even fits in most carry on suitcases.
- Go Berkey Kit: 1 quart, 14”, take it camping, hiking, school, work, lightweight and easy to carry
We are very happy with our choice of the Big Berkey. It’s just myself and Farmer Ted living in the house, but as you know, I make LOTS of tea! We tend to have lots of visitors as well, so we keep it flowing. I also like the height, it fits nicely in its corner spot by the window. Our next Berkey purchase will be the Berkey Travel. It’s so good to know we can have fresh, purified water anywhere we go! –Mary
It’s true we have many purchasing decisions to make in cultivating a more sustainable lifestyle, but when it comes down to our most fundamental needs, why not choose the very best?
Have questions about the Berkey? Let us know, we’re here to help (email@example.com)! Ready to have the best water purifier out there in your home now? You can get it here and have your own clean water flowing in a few days!
Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine.
– Slovakian Proverb
Making sustainable food choices on a road trip can be a challenge, especially if you really care about sourcing and quality. Options are usually limited to fast food and packaged, shelf stable snacks at gas stations, not even close to the guidelines we like to follow at home. We try to bring our own along, but with so many things to do just to get out of town, food prep for the road often falls short. That’s why we’re always on the lookout for places to get “real food” while traveling by car.Here’s a gem we’ve discovered just up the road from where my grandparents live. The Harvest Table is in a small town called Meadowview, Virginia, a beautiful Appalachian town just off of Highway 81 close to Abingdon. It’s a special restaurant started by Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, Prodigal Summer), which began as an extension of Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the story about her family’s year-long experiment to eat only locally grown foods. It has grown into something much bigger, as they say on their website, “The Harvest Table is more than just a restaurant. Over the last ten years, the Harvest Table family has grown to include our kitchen staff, servers, store clerks, farmers, small business owners, artisans and neighbors. Relationships have developed over the common desire to support local and celebrate our Appalachian heritage.”
My family loves to stop here when we can, as we can count on a locally sourced, nutritious, and delicious meal. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual–you feel a bit like you’re on a friend’s back patio. It’s high quality without the extra frills—just good care for the land, community and experience. This time around, mom and I both got the grass-fed burger, no bun, with a salad. It was just delicious!
It’s true that places like this are probably few and far between. In the absence of such options (and if your run out of time to prep your own “to go” meals) here are a few quick tips to help you make your way along the interstate food desert.
- To avoid questionable water and plastic bottles, fill up a few half gallon mason jars with fresh, filtered water from home. (Stay tuned, the Travel Berkey water filter is coming to our online store— soon! )
- Pack dried fruit and nut mixes. They are calorie and nutrient dense and sometimes might suffice in the place of a regular meal.
- Fresh fruit, celery and carrot sticks, washed and ready to eat.
- Grab a jar of organic peanut butter, a loaf of bread and a spreading knife to save the day.
- A bar of high quality, dark chocolate will take you many a mile!
What do you take in the car to keep you going to the next real food? Do you know of any great places to stop for a meal where you’ve traveled? No matter where you are or where you’re headed, there are probably some Lady Farmers headed that way that would love to know how and where to eat better on the road, and experience local!
Happy summer travels!
At Lady Farmer, we’ve been on the hunt for clean, safe and sustainable bedding that we love and trust enough to make available to you. So what is sustainable bedding and why should we be concerned about it? We spend approximately one-third of our lifetime in bed. Unless we always sleep on top of the covers, we are literally encased in our sheets and blankets. That means continuous skin-to-fabric contact for the duration of our sleep every night! Cotton sheets might be luxuriously soft, but the heavy use of chemicals in conventional cotton production can remain in the fabric indefinitely. Bleaches, dyes and even flame retardants can be present in conventional bedding. But don’t worry, we’ve found what we were looking for and now—we’ve got you covered!
Welcome Our New Sustainable Bedding Products!
When we experienced how Holy Lamb Organics bedding surpasses the comfort and feel of even our most fancy conventional sheets, a partnership was born. Their sustainable, handmade sheets are made from organic cotton, which we value so highly because it’s free of the pesticides and herbicides used in growing conventional cotton. Their comforters, mattress toppers, and pillows are made of eco-wool, which means that participating ranchers practice healthy, humane, and environmentally sound methods in raising their sheep. Now THAT’s Lady Farmer LOVE!
5 Reasons You’ll Love Sustainable Bedding, Too
With this bedding, we feel like we’re sleeping on a pristine cloud! No herbicides, pesticides, dyes or solvents. As a bonus, wool naturally resists bacteria and is antimicrobial and antibacterial, so it’s pure and naturally fresh.
We’re smitten with these dreamy pillows stuffed with lovingly produced, dust-mite resistant eco-wool. Who needs to count sheep when you’re cuddling with them? However you like your pillows stuffed, you can choose between light, regular, or thick, depending on how you sleep. (We personally have the regular, and have found that they offer the perfect combination of support and softness.) Allergy sufferers take note! You might find welcomed relief in using a wool stuffed pillow as an alternative to other treatments.
Sleeping between the eco-wool mattress topper and the comforter feels so luxurious it’s like taking a cloud ride into dreamland every night. Because wool regulates body temperature by its natural breathability and moisture-wicking properties, it keeps us cool in the summer, warm in the winter and sleeping straight for hours whatever the weather. It’s a heaven sandwich, y’all!
Comfy and Safe
We’re pretty happy to snuggle into this gorgeous bedding knowing that, as a bonus, wool is inherently fire resistant. No need for chemical additives here. Mother Nature has her arms around us.
We’re SO excited about these sustainable bedding products, not only because they provide the ultimate in a comfortable, safe, and healthy sleep environment. By investing in our own well being in this way, we are also supporting agricultural practices that are restoring rather than depleting the soil. In effect, we are encouraging one of science’s most promising ways of addressing climate change.
Are we saying that we can literally help the planet in our sleep? Yes! If you’ve been following us for a while, you know we are soil nerds here at Lady Farmer. We care deeply how each and every one of the products we bring you affects all the living things that surround us, including the billions upon billions of micro-organisms living under our feet and making all of life above ground possible. So when it comes to this super comfy, healthy, dreamy bedding that helps us sleep AND helps heal our earth, we’re all over it—and in it!
When contemplating sustainable laundry, hand washing and line drying might be ideal. But we don’t have to go that far if we’re not inclined—do we? Eco friendly laundry products and energy-efficient machines make it far easier. But what about all of those floral scented dryer sheets that supposedly make your laundry smell all “natural” and meadow-like?
Fragrances used in dryer sheets don’t have to be listed under federal law, as Dr.Josh Axe details. So does that mean chemical byproducts that we don’t know about are coming out of dryer vents into our air? We can’t be certain. But fragrances concocted in a lab might make a person wonder. There’s the sheet waste byproduct to consider, too, and the cost and carbon footprint of buying a non-sustainable product over and over again!
Lady Farmer friends, we’re here to tell you there’s a better way to soften your fabrics and incorporate sustainable laundry routines into your joyful slow-living lifestyle!
Our alpaca wool dryer balls are a stellar sustainable choice amongst eco friendly laundry products. Here’s why!
5 Reasons We Love Using Sustainable Dryer Balls
They Save Drying Time
Adding 3 of our alpaca wool dryer balls to a small load of laundry reduces drying time by 25%! (Add 4-5 balls for larger loads.) Think 15 minutes is no big deal? If you do laundry twice a week, that saves 26 hours of drying time over the course of one year.
They Make Clothes Super Soft
No, it doesn’t take chemicals in dryer sheets to soften your clothes. The gentle friction from the natural alpaca wool balls bouncing around helps gently agitate your fabric—without the noise plastic balls make. Favorites from your last sustainable clothing thrift store trip are safe and soft!
They’re Fragrance Free… If You Want
Your clothes will smell fresh and clean without the artificial wildflower or sea breeze. Those with sensitive skin can just toss the dryer balls in and call it a day. Or add your favorite essential oils directly to the balls for the real thing—customized, sustainable fragrance! We particularly love adding a few drops of lavender and chamomile for an all-day cozy calm.
They’re Handmade and Long Lasting
Part of building your sustainable laundry routine is sorting through all the eco friendly laundry products out there for the best. Handmade in Pennsylvania, these are made from natural alpaca wool—a sustainable product. They come in minimal (recyclable) paper packaging. And they last a very long time—months to years, depending on how many loads you do. That’s quite a savings over time!
They’re Beautiful, Just As They Are
We love how the natural colors and soft textures of the alpaca wool blend into our sustainable laundry routine. Fresh out of the dryer, they look so lovely mixing in with our linen, organic cotton, and hemp-tencel blend overalls, dresses, and tunics. In their simplicity, they’re a reminder of how we can incorporate our slow-living values into even our most repetitive household tasks.
We’d love to hear what you think of our Alpaca Wool Dryer Balls! Share your story with us on Instagram.
Many of us are seeking a more sustainable approach to our holiday celebrations. Let’s take a slow living look at one our favorite cultural symbols of spring, the Easter basket. It’s a tradition to fill baskets to the brim with neon plastic grass, small toys and individually packaged candies. And we wouldn’t want to forget the glossy chocolate bunnies, stuffed animals, and loads of rainbow-colored jelly beans. Then, wrap it all up in an enormous sheet of cellophane and your kids will have the perfect Easter morning. Right? Sure, if you look past the enormous amount of waste replicated millions of times across the country on this one single day.
Rethinking Sustainable Holiday Celebrations
Transitioning beloved holiday traditions towards sustainable holiday practices can be a challenge, given our consumerist society. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $18.11 billion on Easter candy, clothing, and gift-giving this year.
So what’s a sustainably-minded Lady Farmer to do? Our slow living mindset guides us to pause, ponder our desires, and move forward with greater intention. It encourages purchasing sustainable products that last, so we can love them longer. And it reminds us that no holiday tradition is more valuable than the time we spend connecting with ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. With a little mindfulness and effort, we can create sustainable holiday celebrations that preserve the meaning and enjoyment of our traditions. Here are some suggestions for one of our favorites.
Ways to a Better Basket
- Look for baskets made from materials such as willow, wicker and bamboo. These can be used year after year and if cared for properly, passed on from generation to generation.
- Skip the shredded plastic filler! Opt for biodegradable shredded paper available at your local craft store or online, get the kids involved and cut strips of craft paper, or run some leftover wrapping paper through your office paper shredder, like Martha Stewart. Want something even more natural? Fresh hay or straw work perfectly and smell amazing. And as long as fresh green grass hasn’t been sprayed with herbicides, it’s a colorful and sustainable option, too.
- Opt for organic and fair trade brands of chocolate, such as Newman’s Own, Dagoba and Theo . Keep an eye out at your market for those made locally and with low-waste packaging. For online delivery, naturalcandystore.com has an impressive selection of vegan, organic, fair trade, and low-waste packaging options — including chocolate bunnies and other Easter treats!
- Stuffed animals are not typically made from desirable materials – many contain synthetics, plastics, and toxins like flame retardants, BPA, PVC, lead and phthalates. Swap in books, wooden blocks, and soft toys made from sustainable materials and slow living companies. (Take a look at these adorable squishy stuffed animals knit by fair trade artisans over at Fair Indigo, and this collection of sweet little stuffies and blankets at Oompa!)
- You don’t really need those brightly colored, non-biodegradable plastic eggs. They have nowhere to end up but the landfill and filling them with candy treats is a bad idea. Plastic storage containers can leach hormone disrupting and carcinogenic substances into foods.
- Dye your own eggs! Food-grade dye kits do the trick. Or go one step further and make rich, rustic marbled eggs with dye from common vegetables, teas, and spices-our how-to guide to sustainable Easter eggs takes you through every step.
Spring is a time of refreshment, renewal, and celebration. And, we don’t have to buy anything at all to know and enjoy that! But for the things you do decide to buy, remember that sustainable options are out there for all of your sustainable holiday traditions!
Sustainable Easter Gift Ideas:
This delicious soap.
Our favorite travel mug that keeps your bunny’s coffee hot for so long!
An organic, sewn-in-DC Lady Farmer designed and approved apron.
Plastic free hairties. The pink ones are especially for Easter.
One of the biggest challenges in creating a sustainable lifestyle is reducing the amount of plastic we use daily. According to a report cited in this Scientific American article, plastic manufacturing has increased exponentially in this century. Because food storage is a big part of this increase, a sustainable kitchen is a great place to start.
Why worry about using plastic for food storage?
Substances from plastics can leach out and impact human health. It’s known that chemicals in plastics make their way into our food by coming into contact with it. The substances known as Xenoestrogens and Phthalates are easily transferred into our food from storage containers. Consumers might already be aware of the dangers of bisphenol A, or BPA in plastic. Manufacturers are now marketing BPA-free products, yet consumers should be aware that this does not mean these products are safe or sustainable. BPA is only one of perhaps hundreds of chemicals in plastic that we encounter daily.
Xenoestrogens And Phthalates Can Affect Weight Control, Fertility And Hormone Balance
Research has shown xenoestrogens to affect the body in the following ways:
- It can impair development of reproductive organs
- Correlated with infertility and decreased semen quality
- Promotes early puberty onset in boys and girls.
- Promotes weight gain in women and men.
- Accelerates hair loss in women and men.
- Glandular (hormonal) dysfunction.
Other harmful substances hiding in plastic food storage are known as Phthalates. These are chemical compounds that are commonly added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity. These chemicals are associated with many health problems including obesity, infertility, birth defects and even certain cancers.
Tips For Reducing Plastic To Create A More Sustainable Kitchen
- Don’t use plastic bags to bring produce home or to store it. Take your own cloth produce bags shopping with you.
- Use clean dish towels to wrap things like leafy greens when storing in the hydrator. They will keep the produce dry and allow it to breathe.
- Skip the plastic wrap and use sustainable beeswax wraps instead.
- Get rid of all plastic food storage containers and switch out for glass. There are several brands to choose from on Amazon but most have airlock lids. Simax and Anchor Hocking have small baking dishes with glass lids that we use for storage.
- Use Mason jars for storage of bulk items.
- You can also use Mason jars in the freezer. Just fill it up to about ⅔ full to allow for expansion.
- Make your own condiments! Check out this super easy Mayonnaise recipe.
- Skip the plastic jug and buy your milk in glass! Most natural food markets sell brands in glass bottles that you can return for a deposit.
- When you buy meat and cheese, avoid grabbing the shrink wrapped kind off the shelf and go to the counter to have it custom cut. Ask for it to be wrapped in paper instead of plastic.
- Gradually begin cutting back on products that only come in plastic. Begin with things that seem less essential, such as chips, cookies, and most snack items. This might seem drastic at first because it includes so many things. You’ll find, however, that it not only cuts down on plastic use, but you’ll be eating more fresh, real food! You will also be saving money, which will make more room in your budget for better nutrition.
Remember that shifting towards a more sustainable lifestyle is a gradual process. It will take time and adjustment in many areas of your life. Taking steps to create a sustainable kitchen by reducing harmful plastics is a good beginning!
Often when we think of sustainable fabric with natural fibers, we think of cotton. It is grown in America and marketed as one of the softest and most useful materials for our everyday needs. Many consider it a sustainable fabric choice for clothing and will choose it over synthetics and other blends. So, a label that says 100% Cotton might instill consumer confidence in the product. And it may communicate to the consumer that the product is safe and reliable. But, that’s a dangerous assumption to make.
What You Need to Know About Conventionally Grown Cotton, the World’s Dirtiest Crop
Despite it’s reputation as a natural choice for sustainable fabric and clothing, cotton is highly contaminated. Yes, you read that right! Cotton is NOT the product it is marketed to be.
A report by The Environmental Justice Foundation reveals the routine use of harmful chemicals, including nerve agents and neurotoxins, on cotton crops. And, according to the Organic Trade Association, as reported in an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Cotton is considered the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health.”
He also reports, “Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop. Aldicarb, parathion, and methamidopho, three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health as determined by the World Health Organization, rank in the top ten most commonly used in cotton production. All but one of the remaining seven most commonly used are classified as moderately to highly hazardous. Aldicarb, cotton’s second best selling insecticide and most acutely poisonous to humans, can kill a man with just one drop absorbed through the skin, yet it is still used in 25 countries and the US, where 16 states have reported it in their groundwater.”
It’s Not Just the Crops
However, the problems with toxins in the cotton industry are not limited to just the cultivation of the crop.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) explains, “As an aid in harvesting, herbicides are used to defoliate the plants, making picking easier. More chemicals [are used] in the process of bleaching. Stain and odor resistance, fireproofing, and static- and wrinkle-reduction. Some of the softeners and detergents leave a residue that will not totally be removed from the final product. Chemicals often used for finishing include formaldehyde, caustic soda, sulfuric acid, bromines, urea resins, sulfonamides, halogens, and bromines.”
Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs what we put on our bodies. It makes sense that we would want to avoid this kind of toxic exposure for ourselves and our children. So, what can we do?
Organic Cotton is a Sustainable Fabric and Safer Alternative
According to the Organic Trade Commission, “Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.”
It’s true that clothing made from organic cotton will most likely cost you more. The cultivation of sustainable crops require investments and methods outside of conventional industry practices. This means greater costs and lower margins for the producers. Organic cotton farmers are using sustainable practices in their efforts to protect the environment and avoid chemical use. They are also maintaining soil fertility, preserving biodiversity and conserving water.
Always Choose Organic Cotton for Babies and Children
Consumers seeking more sustainable options might take these factors into consideration when making purchasing decisions. Some think it’s worth the extra cost to avoid the health and environmental problems that come with conventionally grown cotton. But, you might be limited in your ability to afford sustainable products in all of your clothing purchases. If this is the case, please consider organic cotton over conventional for your babies and young children. Because of their developing brains and organs, they are more susceptible than adults to the harm of these toxins.
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