Turning The Tide on Convenience – statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags

Great news! California Governor Jerry Brown just passed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags. Starting in July 2015, large grocery stores in California will no longer ask “paper or plastic,” because they won’t have plastic! Are paper bags the best option compared to reusable? Nay. But I’d like to hear more conversation about what’s going into those bags.

Convenience is a pill offering instant gratification, but can leave one with feelings of regret and dissatisfaction. Three words from my mom two decades ago, like a prophet’s counsel – “don’t cut corners” – ring through my mind ironically as a remedy for complexity and chaos. The idea is that you expend a little more energy now to save you later. This idea has saved me bundles of time and money over the years, has spared me from buying items that were cheaply made, and reminds me to evaluate whether I really needed certain items in the first place.

Landfill

Speaking of complexity and chaos, have you seen the news lately? It’s really hard to look at humans and animals suffering, effects of global warming, Ebola outbreaks, and plastic and toxic chemicals in everything, everywhere, without wanting to fix it. What I like to focus on is what I can personally do today to help change the world for the better. Knowledge is my leverage. The more I learn about which chemicals are where and why, for example, the easier it becomes to change my ways. One good habit builds upon another. That’s convenient. Since I’m bringing my own cloth grocery bags shopping, for example, I automatically have a place for reusable produce bags and bottles to refill with bulk liquids. Pop it in the trunk of my car and I conveniently have them when I go to the store.

Check out this one-minute National Geographic Video:

Other examples of toxic convenience in the average American’s life are: fast food, driving when you can walk, dollar store and GiantMart shopping, microwaves, spraying chemical herbicides to kill weeds, using chemicals in your home to “clean” it, and buying cheap clothes to fill a closet. Just say no! Or at least start saying no to more of these things. Don’t wait until there’s a universal bag ban. Ban the bag on your own.

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I realize everyone has different circumstances and most people can’t afford organic food and goods all the time, but reevaluating what we really need and how it gets to us is something we all can do. Imagine if EVERYONE was willing to carry their own clean, cloth grocery bags into stores! With a little effort and forethought we can all make a huge difference.

Image of landfill:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landfill#mediaviewer/File:Wysypisko.jpg

7 Mindful Shopping Practices

Twenty years ago organic food was not so popular, but I sought it out. People would ask me, a struggling single mother at the time, how I could afford organic groceries. The heart of my decision to shop organic was, and still is, the principle of it. I know I’m directly supporting the environmental movement every day, plain and simple.

Today organic groceries can be found in almost every grocery store in America. Healthier, organic food has become the norm for many, and there is more collective knowledge about what organic means.

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This message isn’t about healthy food. It’s about sustainable choices. We need to embrace change (yesterday!) and apply what we’ve learned about the food we eat to products we buy for everyday use. The chemicals used in conventional products and their manufacturing are just as dangerous as chemicals used in agriculture.

Observing the explosion of Whole Foods Market all over the map, it’s not hard to imagine a paradigm shift from “more for less” to “less is more.” Are you with me? Great! Read on for seven simple tips to help you keep your mind where your heart is while you’re shopping for everyday items.

1. Think quality, not quantity. Once you adopt a minimalist mentality, it is very difficult to go back. No more going to a dollar store for two items and ending up spending $20.

2. Support local. Read labels to find out where things are made. Unfortunately most items are made elsewhere, but it’s like striking gold when a surprise “Made in America” label is found. When you find products you love made in your region, state or country, latch on and don’t let go. Why not inform friends and neighbors, as well?

3. Disposables and planned obsolescence. Seek out longer lasting, recyclable, reusable or compostable alternatives to disposable or short-lived products you currently use, like diapers, razors, toothbrushes, feminine products, light bulbs, paper towels and napkins, paper plates, plasticware and cups, trash bags, sandwich & storage bags, and grocery bags. If you’re unsure where to find these alternatives, please leave a comment for us below.

 

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4.  Think about sources. What materials were used, using what chemicals in the process? For example, cotton fabric is made from soft plant fibers, so it’s perfect for textiles, but cotton is considered the world’s dirtiest crop involving tremendous amounts of pesticides, chemical treatments and water. Organic cotton is an excellent substitute, and as we continue buying more of it, more options will become available.

5.  Awaken your senses. Commercial household cleaning products and personal-care products are made with chemicals that are toxic to the people manufacturing them, the people using them, animals that come into contact with them, and the water systems where they end up. You can smell the pollution walking down the cleaning-products isle at conventional grocery stores. If it doesn’t smell like something from nature, don’t buy it. Tip: go to a health food store and sniff the pure essential oil samplers to get a better idea of what non-toxic scents from nature smell like.

6. Educate yourself and others. Tell people what you learn about consumerism, toxics, trash, and great alternatives. We have an opportunity to change the future for the better by educating children. To get my daughter to understand what clothes (something she has a genuine interest in) are made of, we made up a game I’ll call “animal, plant or other.” Her eyes lit up when she realized that the cotton shirt she was wearing was made from plant flowers. When I explained that rayon fabric is mostly made from wood pulp, she was like, “Whaaat?!” In a fun way, that forced her to think about material processes.

 

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7. Take it in stride. Don’t go out and replace everything all at once. I suggest you take it as it comes, which will give you time to research better options. When you need new sheets, buy organic cotton sheets. When you need new razors and toothbrushes, buy Preserve recyclables. And on and on.

 

“Change is the only constant.” –Heraclitus

 

 

 

Imagine Organic Oceans

save-the-planet

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.

jen-renninger---we-are-all-connected

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

What are we packin’?

Recently a customer called concerned about how she should dispose of the “Styrofoam-like” packing material her Lifekind order arrived packaged in. She wondered why we would even use such a product in the first place.

I happily assured her that our packing material is 100% biodegradable, derived from an annually renewable raw-cornstarch material that meets the most stringent environmental requirements for packaging. When I suggested she place a few pieces of the packing material into a dish of water she was happy to give it a try, and while still on the phone, I could hear the excitement in her voice as she watched the material dissolve in the water.  (View the entire process in this video.)

Michelle, loading up the giant "peanut" dispenser

Our Warehouse Manager, Michelle, who has worked at Lifekind for over 10 years, explains that all the packing materials we use are biodegradable and contain no harmful chemicals. This leaves me hopeful that other companies are also choosing to make a difference by using alternative, environmentally-friendly packaging. Making an effort to change the way we package things, and being mindful of the products we purchase and how they are packaged, over time will make a difference in providing greener solutions for our environment.

So the next time you receive a package in the mail, take a moment to see if the company you ordered from is being environmentally mindful. Simply place the “peanut” packing material into a dish of water in the hope you will watch it magically dissolve!

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