Archive for the ‘clothing’ Tag

Figuring Out How Important Organic Fabric Is For Baby   3 comments

One of our first decisions to make in the preparations for Baby is our(my) fabric type preference. It’s an interesting decision because it’s the first where I have to make a decision for my child that is separate from the decision I made long ago for myself. For myself I insist on organic natural fabrics. Natural fabrics are plant/animal: cotton, hemp, linen, wool, silk, and to some degree fabrics derived from bamboo or trees. Organic means grown without pesticides. A small amount of synthetic fibers is ok when stretchiness is needed/useful. It’s been almost a decade since I bought anything that was not made of organic natural fibers with the exception of running gear and secondhand clothing. It’s interesting suddenly finding myself in lots of synthetic fabric secondhand maternity clothes. So itchy! I am committed to organic natural fibers or secondhand for myself due primarily to my desire to reduce pesticide usage and impacts on workers and the environment.

But what about Baby’s wardrobe? The situation is different. We need a “full” wardrobe immediately and don’t have years to transition a wardrobe piece by piece from conventional to organic. And while I’m not growing and can plan on wearing any given piece of clothing for 10 years or so, Baby’s clothing will last weeks or months before needing to be replaced. We need to balance financial cost and environmental cost for baby clothes, and other fabric baby stuff. I’ve been mulling this over for a few weeks now and here’s what I’ve decided.

Natural fabrics are a must; synthetic fabrics are to be avoided whenever possible. In my own experience natural fabrics are just SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE, and I really don’t need to clothe my baby in plastic. This should be easy for clothing, blankets, and such. However, things could get a little more complicated when we get to car seats and strollers. Stay tuned.

Untreated fabrics are an absolute must. I’m not so worried about dyes here, but treatments like urea-formaldehyde, fire retardants, and any of the other multitude of treatments applied to fabrics in our world. So that means no pajamas, since my understanding is that all clothing marketed as pajamas for babies in the US must be treated with fire retardants. That means no permanent press (treated with urea-formaldehyde). Anything else that might have some kind of treatment can be washed several times before use to try to remove it. ¬†Again, though, things could get a little more complicated when we get to car seats and strollers, so stay tuned.

But what about organic? As near as I can tell there isn’t a concern with pesticide residue on the cotton fibers since the pesticides partition into the oil in the cottonseed instead of the fibers. But there’s just so much at stake that at first I don’t want to take any chances. Newborn babies are still doing so much developing that could be affected by any trace exposure. So I’m thinking that for the “newborn” phase I’ll play it safe with organic cotton, but then relax a little and get secondhand clothes for a while. My preference is organic, but I just don’t see the point of buying new clothes that will be worn for a month or two and then replaced. As long as it’s not permanent press, several washings should be good enough. After the first year I’ll have to figure this out again, I guess. I didn’t like hand-me-downs as a kid. But as an adult I just can’t actually bring myself to walk into a conventional retail store and buy conventional retail clothing for anyone at all, let alone my family.

Posted August 9, 2012 by mayakey in organic, personal care, shopping

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My Prom Dress Is Off On A New Adventure   2 comments

I have finally managed to donate the dress from my senior prom. This has been a long saga. A couple of years ago I realized that I no longer fit into my prom dress, and that I didn’t need it any more as the stock formal dress in my closet because now I have my wedding dress. I had somehow heard about an organization called Cinderella’s Closet here in Sacramento that provided prom dresses to teens who could not afford them otherwise, so I looked into it. Their guidelines did specify dresses only a year or two old, but I figured I would try to donate it anyway. My mom and I had purposefully selected a classic (read: timeless) style dress that I could (and did) wear as a formal dress for other events into adulthood. (And as I mentioned above, I continued that mentality by buying a wedding dress that I can and have worn to other formal events; what’s the point of a one-time-only dress?) So I took the dress to the drop off location and was told that they were no longer accepting dresses. Shortly thereafter the organization apparently folded, and now the parent organization is also no longer around.

Left with a dress that I was all geared up to donate so that it could get a second life, I hung it on the shades in the computer room so that I “wouldn’t forget it”. But with no other place to specifically donate formal dresses so that girls with no money could still go to The Dance, I didn’t really know what to do with it. I didn’t want to just drop it off at Goodwill. But my aversion to shopping apparently extends to an aversion to finding a consignment store that would sell the dress. Plus, I would rather give the dress to a girl who needs it than make a few dollars selling it, but that’s just me. I might have felt differently if the dress was only a couple years old, and not a decade and a half. This purge time, I have finally found a new place for the dress. It has also been joined by a maid-of-honor dress that no longer fits.

Snowline Hospice Thrift Store in Folsom has a program called A Prom Dress To Remember that provides dresses to girls who would otherwise not be able to afford a dress. When I called to verify, I was told that they would happily accept both the (old) prom dress and the maid-of-honor dress. So now both dresses are at the thrift store eagerly waiting for spring to arrive when they will adorn an excited young girl for a night of fun and memories. It is a great feeling to give new life to things that held good memories for me in the past, and to help someone else enjoy a special event as well.

Posted December 14, 2010 by mayakey in unshopping

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The Cults of the New and Old   2 comments

One of the things that I see a lot in discussions about living frugally and/or eco-consciously is how important it is to avoid the cult of the new. The cult of the new is when you always have to have new things, and when you always have to have THE new thing. For example: replacing a phone that is only a few months old for the sole reason of getting a newer “better” phone. It is a very enticing cult. I know I am certainly not immune to the charm of shiny new as opposed to the plain-ness of slightly used. Generally, though, it is considered more frugal/eco-friendly to buy used, and only replace something when it doesn’t work any more. The problem with that, though, is that you can flip into the “cult of the old”, a new term that I am coining. I have a family history with the cult of the old, and I can say from experience that it’s not healthy. If you don’t replace an old appliance that still works, you could miss out on newer appliances that work faster, quieter, with less energy, with less water, or otherwise more efficiently. If you don’t replace your blanket/sofa/lipstick/clothes then you risk becoming an island of no-change in a world defined by change. And I’m not talking about being unfashionable. I’m talking about the subtle ways in which your self image shifts when the image in the mirror changes, or when the spaces around you change. Life involves constant change, whether it be seasons and aging or inventions and new advances, but the cult of the old can involve an unhealthy resistance to change.

This musing was brought on by the purchase of a new skirt this weekend at the Spring 2010 San Francisco Green Festival. This skirt will replace one that is currently in my closet. In a sense it is a bittersweet day because I love the skirt that I am replacing. However, I have owned that skirt for at least 15 years and it is just time to move on. The old skirt is beautiful, fits perfectly, and looks good on me. It works great in my wardrobe, is easy to dress up and down, and I love wearing it. So why am I replacing it? Because as much as I love the skirt, I need a change. It is one of the last articles of clothing that I still have from my teenage years, and it is time for me to let it go. Hopefully it will find someone who will get as much enjoyment out of it as I have. And hopefully the new skirt will live up to the bar set by the old one (I’m optimistic).

This is the first time that I have replaced an article of clothing that I like, fit into, and haven’t worn out, hence the soul searching. I want to be sure that I am not just entrapped in the cult of the new by buying the new skirt; and at the same time I am afraid that keeping the old skirt would eventually trap me in the cult of the old. I have noticed as I gradually replaced my old wardrobe that it is absolutely invigorating to find new pieces to love and to let my image (and hence part of my self-image) evolve over time. Hopefully this step will continue that evolution.

Posted April 11, 2010 by mayakey in frugal living, musings, shopping

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