4 Unique Tips to a Greener Halloween

Halloween is my favorite holiday.  Confession.  It’s not just for the trick-or-treating, October 31st also happens to be my birthday.  So my childhood was filled with costumes and candy AND cake and presents.  Seriously, it was better than Christmas.  Like most things, though, Halloween has a dark side (pun intended).  With the majority of cocoa harvested by children and single-use costumes ending up in landfills, it’s time to Green your Halloween.  We can all still experience the unbridled excitement of my childhood Halloween while making just a few changes towards a much more sustainable holiday.

1. Buy Fair Trade Candy

Organic, Fair Trade Halloween Chocolates
Sjaaks Halloween Bites

Avoid the child labor and sweatshop conditions and buy Fair Trade candy.  Yes, it will cost more.  Honestly, that’s the point.  The candy we’re buying from companies like Nestle and Hershey is cheap specifically because the producers are not provided a living wage.  A luxury like chocolate shouldn’t be the driving cause of poverty in remote African villages.  By paying a little more for your chocolate, you can ensure that the cocoa growers earn a living wage and have the opportunity to send their children to school.  Here are some great companies making fair trade chocolates and candies.

Sjaak’s Chocolates – Not only does Sjaak’s make fair trade, organic chocolate bars, but they also have Halloween tubs and chocolate bars inexpensive enough to give to trick-or-treaters.  They also happen to be vegan and seriously delicious.

Endangered Species Bug Bite Chocolates
Endangered Species Bug Bites

Endangered Species Chocolates – Another reasonably priced, fair trade, organic chocolate company.  The Bug Bites make perfect Halloween give-a-ways.

Equal Exchange – Try their minis for giving out to trick-or-treaters and be sure to stock some full-sized bars for yourself. 

Lärabar – For a sweet treat that’s a little healthier, but still well-priced, try Lärabar’s bites or kids versions.  All versions are fair-trade.

Alter-Eco – A bit pricier, but well worth it. They sell only full-sized bars rather than minis.  You can buy these organic, fair trade bars by the 12-pack to save a few bucks, and they’re having an autumn special.  Use code Autumn20 for 20% off with free shipping on orders over $65.

Ocho Candy – If you want more traditional “candy bars” rather than straight chocolate bars, Ocho makes fair trade, organic “fakes” of your favorite brands. They also have Halloween bulk minis for the trick-or-treaters.

organic, fair trade candy
Go Max Go Jokerz Bar

Go Max Go – Another fair trade, non-GMO “candy bar” company.  They don’t do minis, but bonus, all of their “fakes” are vegan (and delicious – I’ve tried them all!).  You can purchase 12-bar boxes for 10% off.

Madécasse – If you really want to take the next step in sustainable chocolates, Madécasse is the way to go.  They don’t just source their cocoa from Africa under fair trade conditions, they make the entire chocolate there.  It creates jobs and provides better living for whole communities.  At $4.50 per bar, you may not want to give them to the trick-or-treaters, but definitely treat yourself.

Lagusta’s Luscious – If money isn’t a worry, check out this luxury chocolate brand.  Yes, their prices are high, but it’s oh so worth it for a little indulgence.  They use locally sourced ingredients from small businesses and only fair trade certified chocolate.  Unique truffle combinations really make this brand stand out.

Organic, Fair Trade Autumn Chocolates
Lagusta’s Luscious Autumn Truffle Box

Organic Fruit Snacks – Don’t want to give chocolate at all?  Give the kiddies organic fruit snacks.  There are numerous varieties that have no palm oil or high-fructose corn syrup out there.  Many companies also offer multi-pack sizes like Annie’s or Yum Earth.

 

2. Find a Creative Re-Use For Your Costume

You’ve probably read time and again that it is more sustainable to buy a used costume from Goodwill or ebay.  Both have huge Halloween sections, and that will also save you some money.  While that’s a great tip, I would also suggest that you consider ways to re-wear your custom after Halloween.  Turn your one-time outfit into something you can wear over and over again.

The Wedding Dress – The year after I got married, I couldn’t figure out what one is supposed to do with this expensive wedding dress, so I wore mine for Halloween!  (I won the award for “most authentic”.)  If you’re divorced or your wedding dress no longer fits properly and you’re not saving it for a child, cut out bits to make it fit, cut out some strips along the arms and bottom, dirty it up a bit and go as the Corpse Bride!

While this might be too extreme for most women (and maybe it’s better to donate it, anyway), how about trying one of these other tips?

Pirate Costume – Go as a pirate and make plans to visit your local pirate festival in spring or summer.  Pirate festivals invade both coasts every year.

Renaissance Faire Faeries
My friend, Grisel and I reuse our Faery Halloween Costumes for the Southern California Renaissance Faire, circa 2001.  She creatively re-purposed a bridesmaids dress.

Renaissance Costume – There are a surprising number of times a Renaissance costume comes in handy.  Get a good one and dazzle everyone at your local Renaissance Faire.  They happen all over the country.  (I was once invited to a Renaissance-themed wedding.)  Go as a wench, and you can wear the costume earlier in the month for Octoberfest, or get a traditional Irish Renaissance dress and wear it to your local Irish Festival.

Faery Costume – You and your children can dress up as matching Faeries and save the costumes for your local Faery Festival.  Faeries have also been spotted at Pirate and Renaissance Festivals as well as at the Oregon Country Fair.

Disney-inspired Costume – Be a Princess on your next trip to Disneyland.  If you’re a runner, join in on any of Disney’s character-themed runs where costumes are encouraged.

Comic Characters – My nephew got an anime costume for Halloween, and then wore it to his local Comic Con.  Yes, the San Diego one is the biggest, but they happen all over the country.  This is a great idea for super hero costumes as well.

Cross-over Holiday Costumes – Dress up as Santa or the Easter Bunny and then play that character for the kids on the holiday.  If you’re family likes a twist, dress up as the Christmas version of Jack Skellington.

Dressing up for Fairs and Festivals really enhances the enjoyment, and if you’re re-using an otherwise single-wear costume, all the better.

Of course, once you are done with a costume, be sure to donate it, sell it or trade it at a future Halloween Costume Swap.

 

3. Avoid the “Fast Fashion” Trap

Witchy Night Shirt

Every year big box retailers break out the holiday-themed version of Fast Fashion.  Rows of Halloween-themed apparel line store shelves.  I admit that in my younger days, I had to have a new Halloween-themed shirt every year.  Of course, now, I’m much more environmentally aware and I avoid those types of cheap and unsustainable garments.  That’s why this year, I was so thrilled to find cute fashions that were wearable any time of year, but had just enough of a Halloween tie-in that I could get my holiday fashion fix on.

Faerie’s Dance has a new brand that makes 100% certified organic cotton womens printed tops and tunics along with matching accessories from recycled cotton scraps, all knit, cut and sewn in the USA.  The screen printing uses only water-based inks, and the fabric dyes are low-impact.  We’ve already placed multiple orders, but for right now, check out our Cat Moon series (below) along with the Witchy Night Top (left).

The handwarmers and scarves make equally fun gifts at Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah or any Fall or Winter birthday, especially for cat lovers, full moon romantics, or astronomers. 😉  We have more designs and colors coming in November, too.

This iconic Cat & Moon Design can be worn any time of year, but is particularly fun for Halloween.

 

4. Donate Your Pumpkins and Compost Your Jack-o-Lanterns

Whole pumpkins and carved jack-o-lanterns shouldn’t wind up in landfill!  Jack-o-Lanterns can easily be composted or cut up and added to your yard waste bin.  Cut them up before they start “melting” on your porch.

If you like to decorate with whole pumpkins around the house and yard, consider donating them right after Halloween while they’re still in good condition.  Who wants whole pumpkins?  Why, big cats of course!  Check out this big guy having some fun with his first pumpkin.

In Oregon, Wildcat Ridge Sanctuary takes pumpkin donations.  Call them at (503) 625-0812 to set up a donation.

In California, contact the Wildlife Waystation at 818-899-5201.

In Florida, visit Big Cat Rescue or call them at 813.920.4130.

I’m sure there are many others around the country.  Do a local search to find out if there is a wild cat sanctuary near you that would love a post-Halloween treat.

 

There are so many ways to green Halloween and all your holidays.  Just take a moment to evaluate each purchase or decision.  Buy decorations from charity shops and reuse as much as possible year over year.  We can all still have fun while doing just a little better.  Wishing you all a glorious, frightfully fun Halloween.

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Finding Your Perfect Organic Bra – Cami Bras

Want to know more about organic cotton and natural fiber bras and which styles might work best for you?  Join us for our 10-week long organic bra video series.

Today’s episode focuses on Cami Bras.  Cami Bras are a subset of the “Bralette” family. They are always sized as S, M, L instead of 34B, 36B, etc. and they pull-on over the head as opposed to having back closures. It’s a very simple style that tends to be flattering for A-D cups.  Because they are easy to make, a lot of clothing companies that don’t specialize in bras make them.  So you need to watch out for sizing!  Cami Bra Tops, also sometimes referred to as Yoga Bras, tend to come in a wide variety of colors and prints, which definitely adds to the fun of this particular style.

Bras highlighted in this video:
Soy Lace Cami Bra (XS – 2XL) This one runs small, Kayla is wearing an L.
Grace Bra Top (S – L) This one runs large, Kayla is wearing a S.
Cami Bra Top (S-L) This one runs true-to-size, Kayla is wearing a M.
Eve Panty – the panties that match the Grace Bra Top.
Sri Yantra Yoga Bra (only L left), orange bra shown on hanger.

You can also get whole life wellness information from community nonprofit Moon Cycle Medicine, Inc.

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9 Creative Green Gift Wrapping Ideas

Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard of wrapping your gifts with newspaper.  But who wants all that ink on your fingers while you unwrap, and really, who still gets newspapers anyway?  Save the newspapers to make paper bows.  Eco-gift wrapping can be much more fun and creative than that.

  1. Have some old road maps in the car?  Use those to wrap gifts for the traveler in the family.
  2. Wrap smaller gifts with magazine pages.  They’re glossy, full-color and you can be creative about what images you show.
  3. Is your fridge overrun with toddler art? Wrap grandparents gifts in art projects from the kid’s school. The wrapping itself will give them a little extra joy.
  4. Wrap gifts with gifts.  Are you giving someone tea towels or pillow cases? Use towels to wrap up other gifts, so both the wrapping and the wrapped item are gifts to themselves.
  5. Giving someone a t-shirt with a print?  Wrap another gift with the t-shirt print showing outward.  Again, you’ve got a double-gift.
  6. Buying online a lot this season?  Take the paper filler from online purchases and use rolling stamps or large background stamps to make your own festive wrapping paper.
  7. Instead of buying gift bags, pick up festive reusable shopping bags at the grocery or department store. Most stores have bright colored ones, and they can be used year-round saving plastic bags every time your recipient goes shopping.
  8. Make your own gift basket by cutting up old magazines or even the colorful grocery fliers that come in the mail and using them as liner in the bottom of a basket, watering can, flower pot or large coffee mug.  Put your gifts on top and add a festive bow. Just remember to skip the cellophane.
  9. If all else fails, buy recycled and recyclable wrapping paper.

With just a little creativity the holidays can be beautifully wrapped up without all the paper waste.

 

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How are Bras Made? The Ins and Outs of Organic Bra Manufacturing.

Why don’t USA manufacturers make organic cotton bras?  We get this question a lot.  There are actually a number of great companies, like Blue Canoe, that make soft bras, bralettes, and yoga bras in the USA.  However, you won’t find padded, molded cup or underwire bras made in the USA.  When we started making our own line of organic panties in Oregon, we thought we might try our hand at making some bras as well.  What we found is that bra making takes expensive specialty equipment.  Most sewing manufacturers can’t afford to buy this equipment unless they are using it regularly.  It’s certainly possible that somewhere in the USA there is a small manufacturing company that can make these types of “constructed” bras, but if there is, we weren’t able to find them.  So let’s break down types of bras and how they are sewn.

bamboo bra, removable bra cups, soft bra, organic bra
This pull-on style bra has removable padded cups.

“Soft Bras” or Bralettes

This is the category of bras made without molding, internal padding or underwire. The bralette is very popular these days, and it’s the easiest bra to sew.  There are bralettes that pull-on over the head, those that have the addition of a hook-and-eye back closure, and even a few that are sewn with internal pockets for use with removable padded cups.  The removable cups offer the option of a padded bralette such as the Adjustable Soft Bra, shown left, without the expensive equipment needed for internal padding.  The hook-and-eye back closure takes more sewing than a pull-on style and tends to make the bras a little more expensive, but they don’t require any specialty equipment.  The entire hook-and-eye piece is often manufactured separately and bra companies just need to buy the pieces and sew them in using a standard sewing machine.  The Avignon Triangle Bra shown below is an example of the hook-and-eye closure bralette.

Bralettes can be sewn in almost any sewing shop or factory and can even be made at home.  A standard sewing machine pulls most of the weight for these bras, though a cover-stitch machine can also be beneficial.

organic bra, bamboo bralette
This bralette has a hook-and-eye back closure.
molded cup bras, organic bras
This machine creates molded cup bras.

Molded Cup Bras

All of the bralettes described above will have some sort of seaming, pleating or ruching in the cups to provide shape.  Molded cup bras provide shaping without any seams.  Since this type of bra looks particularly good under t-shirts or tight knit tops, they are often referred to as t-shirt bras.  The molded cups require an intricate piece of equipment that stretches the fabric to the exact shape of the cup.  Since you need a separate “mold” for each cup size, the equipment cost can get expensive.  I had the opportunity to snap a few photos of a molding machine at Swegmark’s offices in Sweden along with the resulting molds.  As you can see in the image right, this machine creates only two sizes, so additional machines or larger machines are required based on how many bra sizes you want to create.  Swegmark has been making molded bras out of polyester fabric for years, but when I visited this summer they were working on their first fair trade, organic cotton molded bra.  We look forward to having those available for sale in early 2018.

how to make a bra
Bra cup molds created by the molding machine.

 

organic cotton bra, bralette, organic bra, molded cups
A bra with cups created by a molding machine.

A molding machine can also be used to create molded padding for bras that have internal padding rather than removable padded cups.

The Alba No Wire Bra (shown left) from Love Nature is an example of a no-wire bra with molded, seamless cups.  This one has molded cups without padding.  We had sent a number of request to Love Nature to add an a A-cup bra to their size range before they went out of business.  At the time they told us they didn’t have any molds for an A-cup and this is what they meant.  It wasn’t just re-working the sizing to fit an A-cup, they would have had to buy more physical equipment.  In their case, they didn’t think the sales would make up for the large upfront investment.

 

 

 

Underwire Bras

The addition of underwires to bras allows them to shape and support the breasts much better than a no wire bra.  Additionally, it is possible to use the wire to support cotton internal padding rather than the more common polyester/nylon padding. There were rumors stared by a book in the 90s that led some people to believe that underwire bras caused breast cancer.  However, that myth has been well debunked.  You can read about it here or here or here.

We still sell a lot of underwire bras, particularly padded, underwire bras and it turns out that adding in the wire requires yet another piece of expensive machinery. While I’ve never seen one in person, I have been able to find them online.  An underwire bra machine such as the one shown below runs about $8,000-$10,000.

This machine bends wires to the bra shape and cup size.

Conclusion

Finding the perfect bra for you always takes a little effort.  While we would ideally love to offer a wider variety of bras that are made in the USA, the downturn in American textile manufacturing has left us with few, if in fact any, companies that can make seamless cup or underwire bras. In fact, the equipment is so costly that many of the manufacturers we work with are actually bra designers and still outsource most of the construction and sewing to larger facilities that have all of the needed equipment.  Despite that, we are still thrilled with the variety and quality of organic and natural fabric bras that we are able offer, and hope you can appreciate all of the work that goes into making them.  For our little company, though, we will not likely get into bra manufacturing any time soon.

 

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Eco-Fashion Warehouse Sale & Sustainable Living Showcase

Have you been wanting to try on one (or a whole bunch) of our products in person?  Your opportunity is here!

The event will run from 11am – 5pm on Saturday, August 26, 2017.  We’ll be doing raffle prize drawings every 30 minutes starting at 11:30am.  You must be present to win a prize, so be sure to leave some time for your visit with us.  You could easily get into 2 or 3 drawings while you try on clothes and meet with these other wonderful Portland-area women business owners.

Dr. Kayla Luhrs will be there to help you develop a wellness plan for conscious living.  

Amanda Bishop will show you how to make your own cleaning products using common household items and essential oils. 

Angela Stevens will chat with you about buying and selling real estate, or how to green the home you currently own.

 

Our warehouse is located minutes from this years Street of Dreams site.  We’ll be raffling off tickets to Street of Dreams at noon, so be sure to come early and check it out.

We’re also giving away 25 “Goodie Bags” to the first 25 people who RSVP either on our Facebook Event Page or by calling us at (971) 255-0752.

 

Here is a (partial) list of the prizes on offer for our raffle:

  1. 2 individual tickets to Street of Dreams
  2. PrAna Bag
  3. PrAna Eco Yoga Matt
  4. Maggie’s Bee Socks
  5. Maggie’s Scarf
  6. Swegmark bra of your choice
  7. Blue Canoe logo tee
  8. From War to Peace Make Art Not War Necklace
  9. Earth Creations Fingerless Gloves (multiple colors)
  10. Earth Creations Infinite Scarf (multiple colors)
  11. Spun Bamboo men’s Boxer Briefs
  12. dōTERRA Essential Oil Starter Kit
  13. Cottonique hair accessories.  (Also in Goodie Bags!)
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What color is Moonstone anyway? Match the Name to the Color to Win One of Our New Panties.

My SO often helps me pack orders on busy days, and we’ve had quite a few words about what color a color actually is.  What color is aubergine, he’ll ask.  Purple, I answer.  Well then why don’t you call it purple!? What the heck is aubergine? 

A good many chuckles have passed in the warehouse on this topic.  We use the colors that the manufacturers assign, and even I scratch my ahead occasionally on the choice of color name. 

The other day we were looking at a printed catalog and I pointed out a list of colors that I couldn’t make out because they hadn’t included swatches.  The conversation went something like, “Well, I know a tiger lily is a flower, but I’m really not sure what color it is.  Have you seen one?”  So after another silly round of what color each color is and where these color names come from, he suggested a contest.  So here it is.

Glen’s contest:  Match the color names to the color swatches, for example 1A, 2B, etc.  Leave your answer as a comment here or on our Facebook page with some way to get in touch with you (e-mail, phone, Facebook handle) and the person with the most correct answers will receive one of our new organic panties when they come out in June (or July).  Last day to enter is Sunday, May 25, 2014.

In the very likely event that more than one person ties for the same number of correct answers, we’ll draw randomly to decide who wins. Anyone can play for fun, but you must leave a way for us to contact you if you want to win the prize.

Happy Guessing!

PS – We originally started with 20, but we couldn’t even get it right… lol.

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Bras, Bras, Bras! Episode 1 – Bizarre Bra and Breast facts

I was planning to start off the formal series with the history of the bra (which dates back more than 4000 years!). But in my research, I came across such a wide array of bizarre information that didn’t really fit anywhere in the series that I decided to start with a list of fun facts.

  • Approximately $16 billion dollars are spent annually on bra purchases worldwide. That’s $16,000,000,000.
  • The average woman in America owns 9 bras.
  • On October 27, 1999, two women were reportedly killed when lightning struck the underwire in their bras. This wasn’t the first report of bras attracting lightning. In 1982, the Rome News-Tribune reported a similar incident, and there are references to 1991 underwire strike as well.
  • According to National Geographic, women’s breasts average from 10 ounces to 20 lbs.
  • Annie Hawkins-Stone holds the Guinness Record for having the largest natural (no implants) breasts at size 102ZZZ and weighing in at approximately 56 lbs.
  • The worlds longest bra chain comes in at 166,625 bras. This may seem like a trivial record, but several organizations around the world, including GirlGuiding NZ are using their attempt to break the longest bra chain record as a way to raise funds for breast cancer awareness.
  • Despite rumors that wearing an underwire bra can cause breast cancer, scientists, including the director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, say that’s simply not true.
  • Researchers are designing and have patented a bra that can detect breast cancer in the very early stages of development.
  • Japan’s Triumph International lingerie company has some outrageous bra ideas and has come up with anti-smoking bras, heated bras to prevent colds, and bras that turn into shopping bags.
Photo Source: Japan Today
Check back next week to learn the long history of the bra.
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Coffee Clothing… Almost

A while back I had heard that there was a new process of making fabric from spent coffee grinds.  The fabric was purportedly mixed with recycled PET to make “coffee polyester”.  I was so excited by this idea (being a coffee addict lover myself), that I’ve been on the lookout for coffee clothing ever since.

At the Go Green Expo, I finally found coffee nirvana.  I saw shirts made from 100% coffee polyester that honestly didn’t feel all that good, but were adorably cute with coffee beans printed on them, and nice fashion pieces that were 60% coffee polyester, 40% tencel that actually looked and felt good.  The prices were reasonable and I was all set to go!

I sat down with the manufacturer to talk process.  Exactly how is coffee polyester created (and why do the t-shirts feel like 1970’s polyester suits)?  It turns out that recycled PET is combined with… here it comes… 2% coffee grinds and then respun into yarn.  So “coffee polyester” is actually 98% polyester with a sprinkle of coffee.  I was looking for a double espresso and instead got a Grande latte with 1/2 shot.  So those nice 60% coffee polyester, 40% tencel shirts actually contained just 1.2% coffee.

The process is fairly clean and dyed with low-impact dyes.  Since all the polyester is recycled it’s not a bad choice environmentally.  But would anyone actually want one?  What’s your opinion?  Is a little coffee better than no coffee?  Please leave a comment or answer our poll on the top right sidebar to share your opinion.

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