Lila Mae: Sustainable, and made in USA

11 01 2013

Many times I have blogged about the importance of buying local, many times that “local” extending to USA. Why? It is good for the local economy, good for the people who take the risk to manufacture products that will be competing with the cheaper ones made in other countries, and it is also better for the environment because a lot of gas is saved if we avoid long shipping distances. My husband was recently on a work trip to China, and upon returning his determination of buying local as much as possible was stronger. I have also blogged about some of the difficulties I have personally faced when trying to buy local; problems with conflicting schedules and lack of availability, are some of those that I have encountered.

Well, I was contacted last week by Lila Mae, a new online shopping destination that launched this week! The objective of Lila Mae is to offer quality, sustainable local products. That eliminates the problem of conflicting schedules and availability! The founders are aware that these kind of items, though high in demand, are hard to find, so they decided to put together this business. You can think of Lila Mae as an online boutique shopping center, the products are unique, small batch, including women’s, men’s, children’s, baby’s, wellness, and even furniture and art! At the moment they have items created by 70 independent manufacturers and artisans from 31 states, but they plan to expand this list. In addition to being 100% made in the USA, all of the merchandise sold on Lila Mae is safe, non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

Elegant and simple, easy on the eyes, with a pleasant combination of colors.

Elegant and simple, easy on the eyes, with a pleasant combination of colors.

With an elegant and easy to navigate website, Lila Mae shows a drop menu to the side that organizes the options in a visually simple and pleasant way. It offers a wide range of product options, starting at $12  for wooden teethers (comparable to Etsy) reaching $900 for art.

Each product includes a few words about the manufacturer and why it is a green company!

Each product includes a few words about the manufacturer and why it is a green company!

One thing I really liked about their site is that they strive to present each vendor as a real person, someone you can connect with. Therefore, each product has a short introduction to the company that produces it and an explanation of why that company is environmentally friendly. What a nice way of humanizing industry!





Review and Giveaway: Bennu T-shirt

26 03 2012

One of the things I am always impressed about is when young talent turns into enterprise. This is the case of Bennu, a young environment geared company that was founded by three young graduate students wanting to do something about the huge amount of waste that we produce, especially plastics. Bennu makes promotional products (T-shirts, backpacks), works as a consultant for companies seeking to lower their footprint, and has expanded into social media marketing services, their interest kept on sustainability, they are firm believers that a green lifestyle is possible, and after you read more about them in their web page, you will agree with them!

I was sent a T-shirt to review and organize a giveaway. This T-shirt is 100%recycled: 65% recycled cotton and 35% recycled PET bottles. I have to say that just the idea pf wearing recycled bottles thrills me! This T-shirt would prevent 1/3 pound of agricultural chemicals from being released and it is made in the USA, providing not only jobs but also lowering the Carbon footprint due to less shipping.

T-shirt I was sent to review. Loved it!

I am not going to post a photo of myself wearing the T-shirt because I am no model, so you will just have to trust me when I say that this T-shirt is a lot like a regular good quality T-shirt. I tested it for a couple of months to see how it would react to the wash and wear, and it has not lost the jet black color at all nor the green letters have come out. Also, it has endured the teeth of my baby just fine, not giving into the sharp incisives. Furthermore, I have tested it by going jog, and though it is by no means a performance T-shirt, nor I would expect to behave as a synthetic sports wicking fabric, it did well enough as for me to be all sweaty when I passed by the market after the park jog, and it did not smell bad at all.

You can buy T-shirts and other products at the Bennushop, or you can win an Ocean Aid T-shirt by entering the

Ocean Aid T-shirt for the giveaway. The artist in me loves the way the living beings form the planet!

giveaway on Sensibly Green’s Facebook.





Practically green

7 12 2011

Surfing around the web I found this awesome website: Practically Green

It is a website that quizzes you about your every day habits and gives you a grade from 1 to 10 assessing your “greenness”. The questions are oriented to evaluate different areas: energy, water, health and stuff, and your score is tallied for each.

I like it for many reasons. The first one being that it makes you reflect on your life and what could be improved; it also suggests you ways of making better choices, not leaving you with just an unsatisfied feeling of not doing enough but arming you with a practical plan, one that should be possible to follow.

It also would tell you if there are people in your area taking the quiz, their scores, and what have they done to clean their act! Talk about peer pressure! 🙂

You can register for email updates, and every Friday they send you reminders about your plan, plus suggestions on how to lead life better for the environment by making small modifications to your decisions.

Go ahead, take the quiz! I am sure you will find a lot of things that take just a little tweaking that you can do to start a better and greener 2012!





Little Miss Co-op, together is cheaper!

5 11 2011

We all like a good discount on things we want to buy, and especially when we feel that eco-friendly items can be so expensive because green is so fashionable!  Some weeks ago I was referred by my friend Naomi to Little Miss Coop, a Facebook cooperative that focuses on parents and babies. This was so sweet and generous of her!

Larissa started this coop after a bad experience with another coop which did not work hard for customer satisfaction, and this is what she keeps in mind all the while when working while her Little Miss naps. I see her commenting, communicating with the moms about the products, if there will be delays she is swift to tell, she answers questions and keeps a really amiable mood around the coop. She chose Facebook because she felt it was an easy way for many people to access it, you just have to “like” her page and voila! you are ready to take part in the coops.

Did I mention that she caters mainly to eco-parents? This is because Larissa herself is an eco-mom, and she works hard to keep the prices low to encourage other people to become interested in following that route. How does she achieve this? She contacts sellers and gets a deal for quantities, therefore something that would be $15 ends up being $9 if she gets 25 people to order. Once she reaches the minimum amount of people needed she would inform of that product being closed in so many hours to give time for other people to order if they so want. She then charges a small fee for her work and ships you the items.

I have seen cloth diapers, nursing necklaces, teething rings, etc. I am now waiting for some really cute leg warmers ($2 each pair!) that I can’t wait to put on my baby. So, if you are interested in some good deals, head over to Facebook and find Little Miss Co-op there.

 

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Freecycle: keeping the landfills emptier

5 10 2011

I’ve been thinking of changing the name of this blog to SleepDeprivedMom or MommySeriouslyCouldUseSomeSleep, but that would not be concordant with the green living theme we have going on here.

Today I wanted to talk about Freecycle. Freecycle is a local community-based group that has as its main objective to keep usable things out of the landfills. We are living in a society that uses and discards a lot of things that still have their fair share of use in them, sadly, if you take a look at the dumpsters of your neighbourhood you will see furniture, electronics, clothes, etc. many times rotting away int he rain, while there is nothing wrong with them. The idea behind Freecycle is that someone else could use what you don’t need anymore and keep it out of the landfills.

Not only it has an ecological basis, there is an economical basis too,  since the premise is that everything has to be given away for free, no charging, no exchanging either (though they emphasize that their main goal is not to get stuff for free, but to keep stuff out of the landfills). Oh! Yes, there is also a convenience factor, such as you can give away things you cannot bring with you to your next house or you that just don’t want anymore, and people will pick up from your house! Of course the quality of the things will depend largely on the standard of living of your community, but I find that people are quite honest about the condition of the items they are giving away. There might be someone out there that like to refurbish computers or redo upholstery.

How does it work? You join your local Freecycle network on yahoo groups and receive emails with the tings that are being offered or wanted. Some communities have a rule that you have to give first, before asking to receive, however you can receive from someone that is offering.  Make sure you read the rules of your community and it’s all good! We have received wonderful furniture: a desk, bookshelves, a bed frame, a vintage dresser with a matching end table, all in good shape. Also as importantly I have given away furniture, paintings, clothes, miscellaneous small items. It is nice to know that not only my still in good shape clothes are not in a dumpster or rotting (or worse, not rotting!) in the landfills and that some new college student could get started with a kitchen set.

Things to keep in mind:

You will be dealing with strangers, so be safe, do not put yourself or your family in risk.

Sometimes people are irresponsible and they would not show up to pick up something, leaving you waiting forever. I find that saying in the original message that you will report “no shows” takes care of this quite well, since “no shows” can be banned from the network.

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I find this is a great way to get started for a young couple or a college student, not to mention to help those that need it too! Go ahead and check your local Freecycle, maybe what you were planning to put in the trashcan could have a second life!





How many slaves work for you?

24 09 2011

How many slaves work for you?

This is how Slaveryfootprint.org receives you. Slavery Footprint is a new project that calculates a score of slaves (forced labor) that have worked for the products you use after you complete a survey on your consumer habits. The score is based on slaves involved in the several steps of manufacturing the product, including the source materials. They include anything from electronics to jewelry to food.

Slavery Footprint makes you uncomfortable, it provokes a response from the user. It is not nice to see that people were forced to work for what you are using, knowing that people might have been physically maltreated is something that, I hope, would make the most capitalist of us stir uncomfortably on their chairs. They prompt you to think of what you are consuming, where it comes from, and demand from companies that they take a compromised action against slavery in the world by becoming ourselves compromised first. That is why this website was needed.

This is a topic that comes once and again in my house, during late night conversations and moments of ‘fixing the world’ over coffee. The industrialized world is against child labor and slavery, but we do not much to make sure that we are not responsible of it happening in developing countries. I guess a lot of us think like that because people were so excited about Slavery Footprint, that the day of their release they had so many visits that they had to move to a server with 50 times the bandwidth! Now, that is refreshing!

After passing by and completing their survey, I would like to have an ‘about’ section explaining who the people behind the project are and what motivated them to build the site (currently it brings you to the ‘get the apps’). An easier way to navigate the site would be great too. As it stands now, the site is very unidirectional, with links disappearing as you advance through it. For example, there is no way to go back home or to read the “about” page  once you leave home.

I would also like to have the option to choose for local products. For example, when asked about what I eat there is no way to say that we buy from a CSA, therefore our fruits and veggies are local. It is extremely unlikely that the farmers at the farmers stand are employing slave labor in Western PA, that is not taken into account. Same with my cloth diapers, they are made by moms that work at home in USA. However, these things are assumed to come from countries that have forced labor.

The main fault I see is that there is a template of a letter to send to several companies listed in the site demanding to know about their practices regarding slave work. I would gladly send this letter, except that it mentions a survey that I can’t see, and I am not about to send a letter of this nature (any letter, to tell you the truth) that I am not aware of its contents. I cannot tell a company that I will assume they are involved in slavery when I don’t even know what I’m asking them.

All in all I think this is a wonderful project that will bring awareness about a very important topic in which all of us should be involved, but it needs some polishing to reach its full potential.