Organic Cotton: Worth the Investment?

Organic Cotton: Is it Worth the Investment?

When I first found out that I was pregnant, one of the things I was determined to be a stickler about was clothing my child in organic cotton. It’s no secret that the cotton industry is famous for their use of pesticides and is a major contributor of environmentally disrupting chemicals, and this simply wasn’t something that I was willing to subject my child to. However, with more research and thinking, I have slowly changed my tune- and I want to tell you why.

First of all, there is no governing body over what can be called ‘organic cotton’. Much like we face in our quest to eat real food, gluten free, or all-natural, companies can claim organic cotton when that might not be what they are actually producing. Which leads me to the next point: a truly organic cotton garnet is actually very hard to come by. Even clothing from companies that claim to use organic cotton is often dyed using commercial, chemical-based dyes that basically undo any benefit that there may have been to choosing organic cotton in the first place. There isn’t anything regulating this, either- so you may purchase a onesie that is made with organic cotton, but is printed with horrible chemicals, and nobody has to disclose that to you.

Organic cotton may not be all that necessary, anyway. Many of us are familiar with the ‘dirty dozen’ and the ‘clean list’ when produce shopping, which helps us know what fruits and vegetables are worth spending extra money on to buy organic. This is largely based on which fruits and vegetables have the most residual chemicals and pesticides by the time they get to our supermarkets. This has to do with a number of factors, but mostly the makeup of the fruit itself. For example, potatoes and onions are important to buy organic, as they have thin skins and grow underground, and thus absorb whatever compounds are present. In contrast, avocados are not nearly as important to buy organic, as they have thick skins and grow on trees, so it is harder for them to absorb chemicals. Cotton is very similar to the avocado- it is grown above the ground and encased in a hard shell, breaking open only when it is about to be harvested. Thus, the amount of chemicals and pesticides that are in the final product is actually pretty negligible.

What may be more dangerous for our children, instead, are unnatural fibers and blends. Things like polyester, spandex, and rayon, while they are very soft and comfortable, are made of chemical compounds and plastics– the very ones that we are trying to avoid. In contrast, choosing a 100% cotton garment guarantees the purity of the materials that your child will be exposed to. While there may be a negligible amount of chemicals, at least it isn’t composed entirely of them.

Innovations in textile production have enabled fabrics to be made of things like bamboo and even wood, but the processes to make these fabrics are questionable in terms of environmental impact. While bamboo and wood can be sustainably sourced fairly easily, it seems that the final product is so far removed from the original that it probably isn’t as environmentally friendly or sustainable as it may originally appear.

So what’s the answer to this clothing dilemma? For us, it’s hand-me-downs and secondhand stores, followed closely by 100% cotton. Buying secondhand or receiving hand-me-downs keeps us from pouring money into the industries that we don’t want to support- even the cotton industry, which is still a culprit for environmental damage.

Do you have standards that you try to adhere to for your children’s clothing? Or do you feel like it’s too much trouble than it’s worth?

This post was shared with Wellness Wednesday!

The Beauty of a Quiet Life

The Beauty of a Quiet Life- Feed Me, Mama

The Lord has been stirring something interesting in my heart lately. The past few weeks have been somewhat of a spiritual struggle for me as I’ve become increasingly tired and uncomfortable in the late stages of pregnancy and I’ve found that my capacity of what I can actually accomplish in a day is dwindling. It’s all very normal for where I am, I’m just not used to being completely wiped out by a trip to the grocery store!

With that being said, reflecting on ministry opportunities and how I am being intentional with my time can be somewhat frustrating as well. Because I have been accustomed to living a very public ministry life for the past few years, these quieter, more under-the-radar roles the Lord has led me into for this season often leave me questioning if I am actually making the difference in the Kingdom that I should be. I mean, nobody wants to hear about social media statistics or see photos of me doing blog research. I’m not going to broadcast my discipleship and accountability commitments. Much of the ministry I have been led into at this point is private, intercessional, and everyday. Not exciting. Quiet.

The struggle comes when the enemy tries to tell me that these things aren’t enough- that it isn’t worth being faithful in them- that I should have something to show, to flaunt, to prove that I am doing His work. Numbers or photos or page views or likes! When I see the public efforts of others, I am often discouraged and come down hard on myself, especially in regards to the physical demands of pregnancy and how it has effected the ministry I can be involved in at this point. However, I believe that these thoughts grieve the heart of the Father, who has placed these ministry positions before me, knowing that they are where I can best serve the Kingdom during this time.

As I have been meditating on this, the Lord has brought me back to the attitudes of the Pharisees. While the Pharisees performed many righteous acts of charity and tried to live their lives by the letter of the law, it was their insatiable need for public recognition for their deeds that so disgusted Jesus in His days of ministry. What a contrast to the ministry of Christ, who heals a man and tells him to tell no one! There is no flaunting, no public declaration- the ministry of love simply flowed out of Jesus daily, and He lived in obedience and grace. How I long for my heart to be like His- built out of love for His people, and a desire for the Kingdom- nothing more.

So today, I want to repent of my Pharasaical attitude that desires recognition- or at least, to do something that I tell myself is worth recognizing. I want to repent of my desire for excitement, for public display, for notoriety. Instead, I want to surrender, and embrace the beauty of the quiet and intimate life of ministry that the Lord has called me into for this season. I want to fashion a heart that longs to see the Kingdom be built and the Father be worshipped, by no publicized effort of my own. I don’t want to associate public opinion or recognition with how the Father has called me to work.

The Lord has placed me in positions of ministry that I can serve in faithfully during this (physically) challenging time in my life, and I am so thankful for His grace towards me in this way! I pray that my heart may be pure and confident in His will for me and for my family. Please, I covet your prayers during this time as well!

Don’t Surround Your Baby in Plastic!

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One thing that has always worried me a little bit about the typical baby’s life is the amount of plastic they are surrounded with. From swings and jumperoos to high chairs and diapers to an incessant amount of toys and tethers, it seems that everything the modern baby touches is plastic! In light of recent studies about the dangers of BPA and the chemicals that are leached from plastic in general, it seems only fitting that we should look for healthier and more sustainable alternatives to plastics for our children.

Lucky for us, there is a surge of artisans waiting to make our babies beautiful wooden toys, playlets, and high chairs! Not only are these items perfectly designed, but they are often sustainably sources, made by individuals in small companies, and are of heirloom quality. Of course, that means a higher price point, especially when compared to China-manufactured big box store toys. This begs the question: is it worth it, this quest to avoid plastics? Let’s take a look at the benefits of choosing wooden toys:

Healthier for your child. BPA has been villianized in recent years for it’s hormone-disrupting properties and cancer-causing agents, and rightfully so. But in addition to this, there are many other chemicals of concern in plastic toys, which often require batteries, are of concern for off gassing, and are regularly recalled for safety concerns. Wooden toys, void of these chemicals and never requiring batteries, can set our minds at ease.

Less environmental impact. Plastics rely on the crude oil industry, and take years to breakdown, if they break down at all. Many wooden toy manufacturers, in contrast, focus on using sustainable methods to source their wood, using wood sources that grow back easily or even that are somewhat of a nuisance (such as in the case of bamboo). Look for companies that work with the Forestry Stewardship Council! In addition, you can find great companies that not only source sustainably, but use plant based dyes and natural glues if they need to use these things in the design. Many toys are simply carved out of a solid piece of wood, perhaps embellished with a wood burning tool.

Heirloom quality. Plastic toys break, they are designed to. They are created to be a temporary fixation for your child, to be battered and bruised and then tossed away, easily replaced by the next chemical-laden gadget on the market. However, wooden toys are designed to last for generations- and they do. One toy can be passed down as an heirloom and barely look used at all. While the price point may be higher, you get so much more for your investment.

Encourage imagination and cognitive development. While plastic toys are designed to entertain, usually with a very specific purpose in mind, wooden toys have limitless possibilities. A set of blocks can become a princess castle, a boat, a tower, grocery store items- the possibilities are limitless. This flexing of the imagination paves the way for heightened cognitive development and encourages the child to think for themselves and be independent.

Here’s some of my favorite wooden toy companies:
Tegu
Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design
Plan Toys
HABA Toys
Little Sapling Toys

On the whole, I would so much rather my child be surrounded by wood than by plastic. What do you think? Are there plastic toys that your child just couldn’t live without?

Blend- It- Yourself Pregnancy Tea

Blend- It- Yourself Pregnancy Tea, with recipes for anxiety and heartburn! via Feed Me, Mama!

One of the very first sects of alternative medicine that I adopted into my own life was studying herbs and medicinal teas. Soon after I got married, I became fascinated with the properties of herbs- the way that chamomile tea could put me to sleep, but peppermint could wake me up, but both could help a headache? Who wouldn’t be fascinated by that? It wasn’t long before I started buying loose herbs and blending my own teas- a blend for sleep, a blend for immunity, a blend for PMS. My friends would come to me when they weren’t feeling well and have me blend something specific for their ailments. I loved the empowerment that came with understanding herbs and how they could help me!

When I first became pregnant, I could barely choke down a hot meal, let alone any kind of hot tea- so, supporting my pregnancy with this kind of alternative medicine was out the window (I went to acupuncture instead…but more on that another time). However, once I finally waded out of the nausea into the second trimester, I began drinking a few cups of Traditional Medicinals Pregnancy Herbal Tea each day, and supplementing that with specific blends from Earth Mama Angel Baby for heartburn and anxiety. Well, it wasn’t long before I started doing the math, and realized that it would be much cheaper for me to blend the teas myself- so I ordered some herbs from the Bulk Herb Store and got to work!

This is what’s in my daily pregnancy tea. The active ingredients are identical to that of the Traditional Medicinals tea!

Blend- It- Yourself Pregnancy Tea, with recipes for anxiety and heartburn! via Feed Me, Mama!

Peppermint
Red Raspberry Leaf
Alfalfa
Nettle

I mix equal parts of each herb in my french press and steep for at least ten minutes. Pour and drink!

When I am feeling anxious, I add in a half part each of Lavender and Chamomile.

When I have heartburn, I cut the peppermint in half and add some fresh grated ginger, or fresh squeezed lemon juice to the cup!

See? Mixing your own herbal tea can be that simple. I ordered half a pound of each herb, organic, from the Bulk Herb Store, and it will last me through the end of the pregnancy, and probably well beyond. The best part? I just ran across a great post from Modern Alternative Mama using these same herbs to make a hormone-balancing post-birth tea!

Do you have a tea blend that you swear by? Or a favorite that you buy without fail, that you’d like to learn to make? Tell me! Let’s try it!

Great selection of bulk herbs, books, and remedies. Articles, Research Aids and much more.
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