Category Archives: Organics

Coming soon to a Green Box Boutique near you…organic onesies!

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Babies: Gotta love’em!

Babies. We all love them. That soft, beautiful skin. The fresh smell when you hold a baby close. The sweet smiles. Moms are very familiar with that urge they feel to nurture and protect this tiny, beautiful person, their new baby.

When some of us had babies so many years ago in the 70s, we had just started to become suspicious about our food supply and how it might affect our babies: the pesticides, the additives, the artificial ingredients, the allergens and sugar even making their way into formulas and the baby food in little jars that were such a ubiquitous part of baby-nurturing at that time.

There was a movement toward organic and homemade baby food and a resurgence of interest in breast feeding. Moms of prior generations who raised their kids on commercial baby foods and formula with the understanding it was more healthy than homemade, natural products could possibly be, were bemused and concerned. Today we know there were good reasons in the 70s for new moms (and dads) to be suspicious of those commercial products, and we have many more options.

The case for organic textiles for babies

We have been slower to understand that what we surround our babies with, what touches their skin, is as almost as important as what we feed our babies. Yes, babies have just as many organs inside their bodies with lots of surface area and the capacity to absorb toxins, affecting development and growth and causing disease. But our skin is the largest single organ in our bodies, and it, too, can absorb toxins and allergens.

We are remarkably resilient as human beings, and our health direction, as any chiropractor will say, is toward stasis. We want to be healthy, and so do our babies! So we have an amazing capacity to sluff off the toxins in our food and environment that threaten to overwhelm us. But as moms, we want to hold off that inevitable assault as long as we can for our babies.

And now we know, thanks to the great work of so many committed activists and entrepreneurs, that we need to be as diligent with regard to the materials that touch our babies’ skin as we try to be with what we put in their little bodies.

A new investigation by Greenpeace has found a broad range of hazardous chemicals in children’s clothing and footwear across a number of major clothing brands, including fast fashion, sportswear and luxury brands.

“The study follows several previous investigations published by Greenpeace as part of its Detox campaign, which identified that hazardous chemicals are present in textile and leather products as a result of their use during manufacture. It confirms that the use of hazardous chemicals is still widespread – even during the manufacture of clothes for children and infants.” Greenpeace purchased 82 children’s textile products from 25 countries, tested them and found toxic chemicals above the technical limits of detection used in their study.

So what to do? Today there are great products available at a reasonable cost for your baby so you can keep him or her safe from the onslaught of toxic chemicals a little longer. These products are made from traditional fibers, used for millennia, without toxic dyes. They are likely to be produced sustainably.

Natural Baby Mama provides a very useful synopsis of what goes into conventional clothing and, alternatively, the natural fibers and processes used to produce healthy baby clothing. Her recommendation for the best, safest baby clothing is GOTS certified (Global Organic Textile Standard) cotton or wool.

More information

So in addition to feeding your beautiful little baby the best, healthiest natural food items you can find, if you want to put the best, healthiest fabrics against their skin, take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the informative material in these two links:

Natural Baby Mama

And one more thing…don’t forget the crib mattress and sheets! Your baby spends a lot of sleeping on them.

We wish you all a sharing, caring Christmas!

Adult and Child Therapy Services Holiday Giving Tree
Adult and Child Therapy Services Holiday Giving Tree

This year we’d like to wish everyone a sharing, caring Christmas and thank you, our customers, and our vendors for partnering with us to build a better world.

As our customers, you care about the people with whom we share our world and care about the environment.  You show your caring in your shopping choices. Every purchase you make at Green Box Boutique is one that shares with others by helping disadvantaged workers all over the world and by saving our beautiful world so future generations can enjoy it as well. We thank you so much for supporting this effort.

And we’d also like to thank our vendors, each of whom cares and shares in such amazing ways. We invite you to read about them in our blog and learn about their contributions, efforts you also support with your purchases at the Green Box Boutique:

And so many more that we haven’t had a chance to write about yet.

Thank you all, and have a wonderful, caring and sharing Christmas.

Synergy: Clothing that feels good, looks good, is good!

Classic styles, simple and simply beautiful, comfortable, breathing good health: Synergy.

Radiate effortless style while treading gently on the Earth.” Imagine yourself in this simple and simply beautiful black dress, a dress that works as well for a night out on the town as an evening at home with friends.

Or how about getting married in the white version, a classically stylish dress so simple that it is perfect for this important occasion or to wear in your backyard for a summer party.

These dresses are just one example of the way we break down artificial barriers in the 21st century. Many of us remember the days when there were clear lines between day clothes and evening clothes, work clothes and active-wear,  what you wore on Sunday and what you wore the rest of the week. If you went to a luncheon and wanted to take a vigorous walk afterward, you had to go home to change first. No longer the case, we want our clothes to feel comfortable in a variety of environments. We want one dress to turn into many, with accessories, jackets, undershirts and more. synergy_moxie_dress

Try your own individual combination with this dress of long-sleeved t-shirts, jackets, belts, leggings and boots while you’re waiting for summer and a chance to wear the dress all by itself.

These versatile, soft, breathable fabrics are perfect for yoga, and Synergy makes many yoga styles in addition to their dresses, skirts, tops and outerwear.

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Synergy clothes are comfortable in many environments, in any environment. Made of 95% certified organic cotton and 5% Spandex, the garments are body hugging without being tight or stiff but instead beautifully and softly draping in the right places. Garments are dyed with low-impact dyes and made in Nepal. Synergy represents our desire to return to the classic simplicity of real fabrics. The clothing lets you move and will carry you stylishly through the activities of your day and evening.

Like so many of the companies whose products we sell at Green Box Boutique, Synergy also represents the commitment many of us have to the environment and the workers who make our clothing. Their signature organic cotton, sustainably produced, is turned into beautiful garments by Fair Trade workers in Nepal.

Why organic? From Everything Beautiful, a blog that features Synergy clothing as The Only Fabrics You Should Have On Your Body: “As modern society teaches us, technological advances don’t always prove to be beneficial. It wasn’t long ago that only natural fabrics were solely used like hemp, cotton, flax, silk, wool, cashmere, alpaca, and linen. Nowadays, though, our fabrics are chemically treated and processed, causing adverse effects to the wearer. Harmful detergents, petrochemical dyes, formaldehyde (to prevent shrinkage), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), dioxin-producing bleach, and chemical fabric softeners are a few of the additives involved chemical processing. These not only release toxins to the body, producing ill health effects and causing irritation (skin reactions are very common in those chemically sensitive), but produce harmful effects to the environment as well. Today’s clothing industry is a seven trillion dollar a year industry that uses an astounding 8,000 synthetic chemicals.”

For more information about why this clothing not only feels good but is good for you, be sure to check out Synergy’s blog. Here’s an excerpt from This Week’s Links: “The True Cost —  This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing? Yes, this should definitely be on your Must Watch List.”

Nadina’s Cremes: Seeking a “more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being”

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The practice of giving is universally recognized as a virtue and is the foundation of all spiritual practices. Another universally recognized truth is that giving provides reciprocal benefits.

In Sacred Economics, Charles Eisenstein “traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism” and visualizes “great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.”

Social entrepreneurs are discovering the reciprocal values of giving. Social entrepreneurship is booming globally. There’s a good reason for that: it works.

Social entrepreneurship is the work of entrepreneurs who create businesses directed toward solving social problems. Some entrepreneurs are highly successful with this kind of work, and they are finding that the benefits are indeed reciprocal. Jill Nadine Clements, owner of Nadina’s Cremes, is one of those.

Jill Nadine Clements’ journey toward social entrepreneurship began in 1986, when she traveled as an apprentice potter, selling cremes at Renaissance Faires. By 1989, she began working out of her grandmother’s kitchen, creating both cremes and containers. As a potter, she was well-prepared to create her beautiful, hand-worked containers.

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In 1990, Jill took definitive steps toward becoming a social entrepreneur, employing developmentally challenged workers to make ceramic jars and wooden displays for Nadina’s Cremes for the 100 stores she supplied by that time. In the following year, 1991, Nadina’s Cremes began to donate to environmental and social concerns and to share information about the Rainforest. In 1993, North American Indians started to make some of the jars for more than 1000 stores selling Nadina’s Cremes.

In 1995, Nadina’s Cremes introduced their “Have a Heart Gift Basket” to raise awareness about domestic violence, and a portion of the profits from each basket is donated to shelters for battered women.

In 2003, the company began a cooperation with Aubrey Hampton of Aubrey Organics on product development, creating Aubrey Organics scents and a lavender face mask and mist. In 2006, meetings with rainforest researchers Chris Kilham and Yellow Emperor’s Andy Levine brought a new level of knowledge and experience to product creation and ingredients at Nadina’s Cremes. Rain Forest Shampoo and Cream Rinse as well as a skin healing Tamanu oil product launched.

Social entrepreneurship has certainly been a two-way gift in the case of Nadina’s Cremes. Vulnerable individuals, environmental projects and society at large have benefitted at the same time as the company has grown and prospered. In 1996, Jill Nadine Clements, then 36 years old, was listed in Entrepreneur among 45 who made one million dollars before age 40.

Jill’s two passions are her all-natural, handmade body creams and her pottery, passions she has combined into one by designing and making both the creams and the jars in which they come. Throughout her amazing success as an entrepreneur, she has remained true to her company’s mission, advocating for education and many social issues, including rainforest preservation, domestic violence, homelessness and the developmentally disabled. As she says on her website, the company’s philosophy is to “contribute to a better future by giving back to the community.”

Nadina’s Cremes: a great example of how giving provides reciprocal benefits, providing, in the words of Charles Eisenstein, a “great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.”

Mata Traders: Beautiful on Both Sides

From Mata Traders - Hello Dolly Dress, black.
From Mata Traders – Hello Dolly Dress, black.

When I was a child, my Dad gave me a reversible dress as a gift. It was my favorite dress because it was “beautiful on both sides.” I wore it all the time, and I remember every detail of it today, sixty years later.

I am thinking about that dress as I write about Mata Traders, and “beautiful on both sides” takes on a whole new meaning. Every dress, every skirt, every top from Mata Traders is beautiful on both sides.

On one side, Mata Trader vintage-inspired clothing displays meaningful block-printed designs on simple, eco-friendly, natural fabrics, usually cotton. On the other side, Mata Trader clothing reveals a world of hard-working, talented women with an opportunity to lift their families out of poverty in an environment that speaks respect and fair compensation.

Mata Trader describes itself this way: “Mata products are original designs handmade in India and Nepal by women’s cooperatives and artisan groups that practice fair trade principles. This means that our producers are paid a livable wage in safe and fair conditions, and do their work at home and in small workshops rather than factories.  Services like on-site day-care, medical check-ups, and over-time pay are offered.”

Maureen Dunn, the founder of Mata Traders, and her partners, Michelle King and Jonit Bookheim, met at the beginning of their freshman year at Northwestern University and became instant friends. “Their journey with ‘Mother India’ began in 2003,” when Michelle, Joni, and Maureen “spent 4 months traveling the subcontinent . . . After that, while Michelle went to grad school and Joni worked at a community org,” Michelle returned to India yearly on buying trips. She soon became aware of the conditions of poverty in which much of the population lives. She sought out “producer groups that paid their workers good wages and practiced the principles of fair trade.”

Soon, Maureen’s friends, Michelle and Joni, joined her as partners in the business, followed by Scott Rosenjack. Chicago-based Mata Traders “topped $1.35 million in sales in 2013.” Throughout its growth, the company has remained true to its founding mission, “to work with organizations that educate, employ, and empower women.”

“Everything is interconnected. The point is to know it and understand it.” Maureen tells the story of Harshali, who started out working as a helper at the women’s cooperative and helping her grandmother and sister sell fish at the side of the road. Today, Harshali is an assistant to one of the co-op’s designers, oversees all sampling work is on the road to becoming a designer herself.

Michelle tells the story of a day in the sampling unit, where some women are trained to work on sewing machines and come into the cooperative daily. For many women, it is their first time working outside of their homes. Other women are talented hand-embroiderers, many learning techniques at the cooperative but returning home to do the work. All the women work hard, rising early to prepare food and get their families ready for the day, working a full 10 AM – 6 PM day, and returning home to prepare dinner for their families.

Reading the story of these dresses is exciting. First, the dresses are beautiful, “inside and out.” Made of simple, real, natural material, cotton, each garment represents the idea of clothing with meaning. Hand done block-printed designs and embroidery have personal meaning for the designers, the personal care that workers put into the garments has personal meaning to the workers, allowing them to develop their traditional skills as well as new skills.  At the same time, their work brings them respect and the possibility of lifting their families out of poverty.

And then there is the joy you can experience of wearing an eco-friendly garment, made with love and care, that is “beautiful on both sides.” You can know you have a part in repairing the world.

Harshali

Wei of Chocolate: A Transformative Experience

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Ritual, Meditation & Chocolate

You won’t often hear people talk about “ritual” and “ritual moments” outside of religious organizations and academics. Chances are good you won’t hear much talk about ritual even in those environments.

But Lisa Reinhardt, creator and owner of Wei of Chocolate, speaks of it with ease, welcoming you to the inner circle of knowledge so gently and deliciously.

Actually, ritual is a perfect word for how you’ll want to enjoy Wei of Chocolate. As Lisa says, “Sometimes how you do something can be as important as what you do,” and how you eat this chocolate is surely an important part of its appeal.

Ritual enhances moments in life, it enhances life itself. Ritual takes a mundane activity from everyday life, something we might otherwise do without thought, and turns it into something we notice. A ritual fixes our attention during the time we perform it. We repeat the ritual, and it becomes more powerful if we allow it.

And this is what Lisa recommends for Wei of Chocolate: create a ritual. There is even a chocolate called Daily Ritual. “How you do something can be as important as what you do.”

Plan to eat your chocolate at the same time each day, in the same way. For those who are more accustomed to meditation than ritual: meditate on the chocolate instead of on your breath. Let “layers of flavor unfold as the warmth of your body melts the chocolate – no chewing!” As Lisa says on her home page, “Elevate your chocolate experience.” And that is exactly what ritual does: it elevates experience.

Now here’s the interesting thing about how ritual works. If you create your ritual . . . in this case, your chocolate ritual, and you engage in it, well, religiously . . . the chances are good you will start to view the world differently. It’s a subtle transformation that happens over time. You might not even notice it at first. But one day you’ll look back at that moment when you first performed your ritual and who you were then, and you’ll look at yourself performing your ritual for the 1000th time, and you’ll realize that you see the world differently.

Maybe it’s the ritual that changes you, the quiet, focused moment repeated each day. Maybe it’s “that symbol on top of your piece of chocolate – the symbol for Ahh. You can train yourself, daily, to taste the deliciousness of the present moment.” Lisa says, “there’s a reason that’s the sound of enlightenment.” Change the way you are in that moment, and you will begin to change in all your moments. Maybe, just maybe, it’s something magical about the chocolate itself.

Chances are, it’s all of it, together. Be part of the experience. Share what Lisa knows. Get yourself some Wei of Chocolate, in a variety of delicious flavors, and create a ritual moment in your life. Discover the moment, enhance the moment as you savor your chocolate. It will make all your moments more meaningful.

About Lisa Reinhardt, creator and owner

In an interview with Phoenix New Times about her Tempe, Arizona-based business, Wei of Chocolate, Lisa talked about what she learned during 11 years in Tibet. She says she learned “that everything should be done for the benefit of others. That was the barometer, the view of the world. That belief infiltrated everything for me. Returning here, the biggest adjustment was recognizing that is not the way everyone operates.”

Lisa also saw that people here are always busy, in a hurry, impatient. She wanted to bring what she learned in Tibet to people in the United States. She thought perhaps she could show the transformative value of meditation and ritual through an experience — the experience of chocolate.

She found Fair Trade sources for her chocolate, kept the sugar content minimal and made the chocolates vegan since dairy blocks the anti-oxidant activity of the chocolate. She uses herbal and floral essences in the chocolates for their homeopathic properties rather than for taste.

Lisa’s business grew through her participation in local farmers markets and cooperatives. Wei of Chocolate is available at the Green Box Boutique:

  • Perfect for the health conscious
  • Satisfying for the discerning & eco-aware
  • Great for those with allergies to dairy, soy and gluten
  • Guilt-free! Only 2 grams of carbs, 30 calories per piece
  • Did we mention it’s delicious?

You know you want some!

Beauty is as beauty does: Organic, Sustainable, Fair Trade Fashion

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We can do it!

Americans like to spend money. In 2014, that means, among other things, we spent 82 billion on clothing (a trillion worldwide). That’s a lot of buying power, and used on behalf of organic, eco-sustainable, fair trade clothing, it could accomplish a lot.

As recent changes in the fast food industry demonstrate, we can shape policies when we vote with the dollars we use to purchase food. We can do the same when we purchase clothing and other items.

Brief Primer: Chemicals in Clothing

There are two phases to consider in looking at chemicals in clothing. The first is the growth stage of the plants, plants like cotton. During this stage, if the clothing is not organic, pesticides and insectides permeate the crop, and the residue remains through the second, processing, stage.

Relevant statistics cite that 50% of all fiber in the world is cotton; 10% of the world’s pesticide use is due to cotton, and 25% of all insecticide use.  Another report cites cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s land while using 16% of the world’s insecticides, representing very heavy saturation. In addition, it requires ⅓ lb. of synthetic fertilizer to grow 1 lb. of raw cotton in the U.S. and just under 1 lb. of cotton for one t-shirt.

Many chemicals then remain in the fabric through further processing into fabric. A Greenpeace study found harmful chemicals in both adults’ and kids’ clothing after checking over 20 of the big brands. These chemicals disrupt hormones and endocrine function, attack the immune system, and could be carcinogenic. Greenpeace presents a series of videos examining this problem and the beginning of solutions.

Organic clothing uses fiber grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers, materials like cotton, linen, hemp and wool.

The second phase to consider in relation to chemicals in clothing is the processing stage, that is, bleaching, sizing, dying, straightening, shrink reduction, stain and odor resistance, fireproofing, mothproofing and static- and wrinkle-reduction.

Many of us probably remember the days when clothing shrank fairly easily, when stains took hold more quickly and permanently, and ironing was a weekly, if not daily, chore. Probably don’t want to go back there. The chemicals used to achieve more care-free clothing, though, are daunting and include “formaldehyde, caustic soda, sulfuric acid, bromines, urea resins, sulfonamides, halogens, and bromines” as well as disinfectants. Organic clothing is not necessarily chemical-free at the processing stage, so it’s important to know your sources.

The power of One in making changes for the better!

We can shape policies when we vote with the dollars we use to purchase fashion items. When we buy clothing that we know represents what we would like to see in the world, we deliver a message that the big manufacturers will eventually hear — and some hear now.

Our purchasing decisions can:

  • Regulate the textile industry
  • Eliminate use of toxic chemicals in clothing
  • Require using natural fibers and low impact dyes
  • Eliminate carcinogenic waste from the production of synthetic materials
  • Reduce environmental degradation

In addition, since those small companies that produce organic clothing are usually fair trade organizations, our purchases have an impact on unethical labor exploitation.

If we feel beautiful in new clothing, imagine how much more beautiful we’ll feel knowing that the clothes we are wearing are making the world a better place as well!

Want to know more about us? Visit us at www.greenboxboutique.com, Like us on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/greenboxboutique, or Follow us on Twitter @grnboxboutique.