When Lindsey Raymond, co-founder of She Changes Everything (S.H.E) made the very exciting announcement of both her pregnancy and the launch of #SHEbaby, she wrote, "I want my child to learn that there are real people with real stories behind the clothes we all wear...and our worth is not found in things at all...the goal is to always learn and grow." It seems too serendipitous to be true, but Lindsey's hopes align almost perfectly with the reasons we founded Olen Organic. We want to know the makers of our clothes as well as we know the purveyors at our weekly farmers' markets. We want safe, healthy, affordable clothes to put on our babies' growing bodies. We want more knowledge and less stuff. So, why does mindful manufacturing matter for babies?
1.) Mindful manufacturing matters because...babies come with a lot of stuff.
We know where babies come from, but we should also know where their stuff comes from. One of the most important lessons you can share with your child is "treat others the way you want to be treated," so why not start by buying from companies who are vocal about fair wages, safe working conditions, and transparent supply chains. Be on a first name basis with who made your stuff (hi!) or even be neighbors with them, like Chelsea is with our factory owner (Silver Lake in the house)! Buy more products that are made in California, which has some of the toughest manufacturing and labor laws in the world, guaranteeing protection and accountability for everyone involved with buying and selling clothes. Teach by example, when you can.
2.) Mindful manufacturing matters because...babies quickly outgrow that stuff.
We still laugh (and cringe!) thinking about Chelsea, at her baby shower, surrounded by mountains of wrapping paper and buckets of toys, holding up what must have been a 30-pack of pajamas from a mass retailer, a stricken look on her face. The generosity was much appreciated, but during what's already an emotional time of immense change, it was also overwhelming. Where was all this stuff going to go? Babies grow quickly, and what was once treasured in closets can all too quickly become trash in landfills. May we suggest you instead save for a second child, pass along to a friend (perhaps keeping your favorite onesie as a memento), or share with a local women's shelter. At Olen, we've partnered with www.givebackbox.com, a non-profit that provides prepaid shipping labels to send old clothes to new homes. We need to do our best to keep our homes and planet healthy and clutter-free for the next generation.
3.) Mindful manufacturing matters because...having a baby means embracing the unknown, not unknown ingredients.
Just like we deserve to know the ingredients in our food, we should be able to know what's in our clothing. 99% of cotton is grown with pesticides, but the Global Organic Textile Standard is a non-profit organization that certifies organic cotton and guarantees that when baby is chowing down on her pajama sleeve, she's not simultaneously ingesting toxins. But it's not just about how the cotton is grown, you also have to take into consideration the dyeing, printing or commercial washing of little ones "organic" PJ's. Sighs.
4.) Mindful manufacturing matters because...baby's sensitive skin is as soft as, well...you know.
Babies' skin is 20-30% thinner than adult skin, making it more absorbent and less resilient. In addition to most cotton being grown with pesticides, traditional clothing is artificially softened with silicone, printed and dyed with harsh chemicals, fastened with paint-covered snaps, and labelled with scratchy tags, all of which can irritate adult skin, so imagine how it can affect babies. Look for clothing that is printed with water-based or soy inks, made with naturally soft fabrics, secured with nickel-free snaps, and is tag-free.
5.) Mindful manufacturing matters because...it takes a village to raise a baby.
Mindful manufacturing means we're part of a community that looks out for the health and well-being of one another and at the end of the day, that's what really matters.