Lacy mohair rectangular shawl in pale green
Amazingly airy hand knitted mohair shawl in beautiful pale green shade. It will make a great addition to your evening dress as well as to your everyday jeans.
Cranberry Oatmeal with Honey Cold Process Soap
This cold process soap is my favorite. The cranberry fragrance is fresh, sweet, and clean.
Angela Lace Lipstick Red Cloche
Retro styled, hand knitted cloche, in a vibrant lipstick red bamboo/wool yarn.
Mary Kearns grew up in a very environmentally conscious household. Her mother was into organic cooking and being “green” long before it was the latest and the coolest. “I was so embarrassed,” Mary says, recalling her school lunches wrapped in waxed paper, instead of plastic bags like the other kids had. “But now I’m thankful that I was made aware of these issues so early.”
Her mother’s awareness and activism has paid off. Mary Kearns is now the owner and founder of Herban Lifestyle, an all-natural bath and body product line made in Falls Church, Virginia. Herban Lifestyle is certified member of Green America, a signer of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, and an Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partner. Herban Lifestyle products are all handcrafted by Mary, using only organic, fair trade and/or ethically wildcrafted herbs and essential oils. Additionally, Herban Lifestyle labels are all printed on recycled paper with vegetable inks, and Mary only uses packing and shipping materials that are recycled, recyclable or biodegradable.
When I met with Mary to talk with her about her business and her inspirations for creating green and sustainable body products, I was thrilled when she offered to show me how one of her most popular products was made. I even got to choose the scent! My love for all things citrus led me to pick the tangerine dreamsicle lip balm.
Using one of her own recipes, Mary led me through the process of making her lip balms. The process was surprisingly simple, but definitely an exercise in patience and precision. After I decided on tangerine, Mary showed me her (extremely well organized) storage room, where we gathered all the necessary ingredients. The first step was melting the beeswax, which comes from Mary’s all-natural supplier in a big, honeycomb-shaped slab.
After the beeswax is melted, the other ingredients are added, including jojoba oil, organic shea butter and organic olive oil, which all play the role of moisturizer. To achieve the delicious tangerine dreamsicle scent, organic tangerine essential oil and organic vanilla extract are added to the mix. Mary uses a ceramic double boiler to melt her ingredients, because certain types of metal react poorly with certain oils. When everything is completely blended, the mixture is ready to be poured into the lip balm containers, which have been cleaned, sterilized and dried.
The jojoba oil and shea butter give the mixture it’s soft golden color, not the tangerine essential oil. While the lip balms cooled, a dreamy and sweet citrus-y scent filled the entire room. It was easy for me to understand why Mary finds making her delightful goodies so relaxing!
An interest in aromatherapy is what first prompted Mary to make her own body products. Back in the late ’90s, she subscribed to a body product of-the-month club, and soon became interested in experimenting beyond the simple recipes that were sent to her. She also became intrigued by the therapeutic and healing properties of essential oils and herbs, and how to combine them to achieve the greatest result.
Life eventually led her away from her initial endeavor to make and sell natural body products, but her interest in herbalism and making skin care products had not diminished. When she found herself living in the DC area and beginning formal herbalism studies, she knew the time was right.
Mary opened her Herban Lifestyle Etsy shop in May of 2008, and now has nearly thirty different products, all made from the highest quality natural and organic ingredients. Her favorite items to make are the body balms, and her favorite scent to use is lavender, although her line includes a variety of mild essential oils.
One of her most popular items is her Fuzzy Soap, which is handmade, organic soap wrapped up in vegetable-dyed, hand-carded wool. The wool is wet-felted to cling to the bar of soap, creating a built-in holder that is exfoliating as well as naturally anti-bacterial. The day I visited Mary, she had several that were nearly ready for packaging, after laying out to dry for several days.
Mary’s product line also includes natural and organic products for men. The Herban Lifestyle MAN grooming kit was featured in Etsy’s Valentine’s Day gift guide for LXTV in New York, and continues to be a popular item with new and returning customers.
Although green business practices and using all-natural and organic ingredients are major priorities for Mary, she has found that not all her customers are drawn to Herban Lifestyle for those reasons. “Some people just like quality body products that smell nice.” She certainly has that market cornered.
It was by the sixth month of my baby boy’s life that I picked up the leaflet on “Real Nappies (Diapers)” I’d been handed when I was pregnant and went through it with a fine tooth comb.
It made promises that I would save fortunes using cloth nappies versus disposables – approximately £500/$812 by the time my son was out of his nappies. This seemed like a no-brainer once I had weighed up all the pros and cons of reusable or “real” nappies. (Image: Zany Zebra Designs.)
So to a newbie user what are the pros and cons to consider?
Washing the nappies/diapers.
(Image: Three Yellow Star Fish.)
All modern cloth nappies will need to be pre-washed to increase absorbency. As a Cloth Mama I would suggest pre-washing all nappies three times (this can vary depending on which nappy brand you choose as I have found with different materials and brands they didn’t need to be washed as much as three times.)
As well as pre-washing nappies you will need to have a strong stomach to deal with poop in nappies – once a baby has soiled a nappy you will need to shake the contents of the nappy into the toilet and flush. On top of this you will need to wipe down the booster pad inside the nappy and if you’re using them – the washable liner as well. If you’re using a disposable liner then it would be smart to invest in liners that are biodegradable and therefore can be flushed down with the usual waste.
You’ll have to factor in drying times when washing with different cloth materials. With bamboo nappies they generally take about 2-3 days to dry when on a drying rack (and can’t be put straight onto the radiator as they scorch, which creates little holes in the nappy.) Microfibre or fleece dries up very well and if placed on a radiator can dry within 1-2 hours. I haven’t owned a drier in the whole time I have been married or had my baby and haven’t found we need one. They are a waste of resources and money!
Having a plentiful supply.
It can be difficult to judge how many nappies you will need in your cloth supply and of course lots of different companies will recommend having inordinate amounts. In reality if you do a wash every two to three days you can get away with a decent supply of around 25 nappies and 6 “wraps” (the outer shell that covers the inside) for a newborn and around 20 nappies for a baby of four months plus.
Again, this depends on the individual baby as all newborns and babies are different! I was told more often than I’d like to hear that my baby would be like a ticking poop bomb – ready to explode at every hour of the day. In reality this wasn’t the case at all, although he did require lots of changes as he hated being wet – and this is more so the case for clothed new born’s as it’s reported that babies in cloth feel the moisture quicker than being in a disposable.
It Won’t Cost the Earth.
(Image: Three Yellow Star Fish.)
When I used disposables I found that my domestic waste was phenomenally different compared to using cloth. We just didn’t have as much waste! We’d have fewer trips outside with the rubbish/trash on a daily basis and our home smelled sweeter without the added waste hanging around somewhere in the house. On top of the domestic waste decrease I considered the impact on landfill – all of the nappies I wasn’t using wouldn’t be clogging up a landfill site somewhere.
They can be used for other children.
Depending on the brand you opt for, cloth nappies can be used for a second – or even third and fourth – child. The outer shell or “wrap” may not be as hard-wearing as it generally goes through more usage than the inside (the nappy section) but can easily be replaced. Buy the non-biological detergent – even if you are using it solely for washing nappies. This will be less hard wearing on the materials and will increase their life span. If at all possible (and if you have the stamina required) you can hand wash the wraps and nappies to prolong their lifespan. Wraps are easily hand washed as they are waterproof and don’t absorb any urine, but can get hit by poop.
Disposables contain many chemicals, in particular they contain Sodium Polyacrylate. This is the chemical put into nappies to make them absorbent. I have now spotted a few times that my son has little “crystals” on his body after being in a disposable and it’s the leaked Sodium Polyacrylate crystals on his skin. TriButylTin – otherwise known as TBT has also been found in disposable nappies and is “considered as toxic chemicals which have negative effects on human and environment.” (source: TBT). A little bit of research into the brand you decide to buy from will be essential. Opt for non-bleached and friendly cottons and chemicals where possible as these materials will sit right next to your baby’s skin.
Bearing all these snippets in mind, what will you need once you decide to use reusable nappies?
These are especially brilliant as modern nappies/diapers don’t need to be soaked in buckets before they are washed. If you are using cloth full time then you will want to have a wetbag (like this one by Snuggy Baby) you can take out with you. This looks like a diaper/nappy bag on the outside but inside will have a waterproof lining. They can also be multi-purpose for wet clothes/swim and gym gear. For my own personal use I have two wet bags for inside the house. These are just small sized laundry bags that hang on the back of a door handle and will dry speedily – so I’ve only ever ended up using one!
Somewhere to wash your nappies/diapers.
An automatic washing machine is the ideal grounds for washing nappies/diapers. (Image by Slight Clutter.) I know of people who hand wash all their cloth nappies/diapers but this is a drain on energy and time and might put many people off using cloth. Once you have emptied out a nappy that is soiled you simply stick it into a wet bag where it will be stored before it goes into the washing machine – picture yourself scrubbing and soaking over night these same nappies/diapers and ask yourself if that would be a possible task.
Somewhere to keep nappies (out of reach from grabby little hands.)
Once your baby becomes mobile they also want to reach for everything – and “play” with nappies/diapers, especially so if these nappies/diapers feature velcro tabs. Or perhaps you have a “helpful” older sibling. I put my nappies on top of any high surface – but more specifically I have allocated a space on top of our dresser drawer for them. This way I always know where they are and if we’re running low on our clean supply.
A Good Supply.
Depending on when you start with cloth (e.g newborn) this will reflect on how much you will need in your supply. Starting with 25 nappies/diapers and 6 wraps for a newborn should be adequate enough supply wise, depending on when you wash your nappies and allowing for drying time. An older baby will probably only need 16 nappies/diapers and 5 or 6 wraps – again, consider the washing and drying times.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree has antibacterial properties and a dash of tea tree into the wetbag will keep your nappies/diapers smelling fresh as well as sanitising it to some extent.
Once you have these things in order you’re good to go!
It’s shocking, really, how startlingly lovely this ring is. They’ll make one in your size, so pick a finger and go. By Catherinette Rings.
eliza B green: I’m a green designer, working with eco fabrics and existing clothes, repurposing to create something new. All my items are original, one-of-a-kind or limited edition, built from scratch.