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!

Book Review: The Vaccine Book

Book Review: The Vaccine Book via Feed Me Mama

One of the most terrifying things for me to be thinking about and researching lately is vaccinations. I was fully vaccinated as a child and I have received numerous vaccinations due to international travel in the past ten years, but this is a big subject that I want to make sure I am making an informed decision about!

To begin my research, I started with parenting’s most well-known vaccine guide: Dr. Sears’ The Vaccine Book. This book goes through each vaccination that a child will be given before they turn 18 (there are 12) and the corresponding illness, highlighting the ingredients, effectiveness, and possible side effects of each vaccination, as well as giving a comprehensive look at the illness itself and the chances that a child will actually contract the illness. The final chapters discuss vaccinations for travel, serious side effects of vaccinations, and allegations regarding the link between autism and vaccinations.

Before reading the book, I knew very little about vaccinations, only that it is a very polarizing topic for many parents, and that the extremes of either side both seem a little intense to me. On one hand, you have parents that blame vaccinations for any number of illnesses in the country and will actually go out of their way to infect their children with the diseases they might be vaccinated for. They claim that vaccinations are full of crazy ingredients and that the vaccine industry is a huge money-making conspiracy that doesn’t have the child’s best interest in mind.

On the other hand, you have parents who are somewhat blindly allowing their children to be injected with things that they haven’t even looked into, things that haven’t been thoroughly tested for safety and are meant to prevent illnesses that either a) aren’t that serious (like chickenpox) or b) are eradicated from the US (like Polio). They are following a schedule handed to them by a pediatrician and don’t look back,

Now, I should say this: I truly try not to judge other people’s parenting decisions, and I assume until proven otherwise that parents will do what they feel is best for their child. That being said, I know families on either side of this discussion and I fully respect where each is coming from, and it isn’t my intention to attack one side or the other! As you’ll see, my mind is far from at ease over this subject, and my goal is simply to keep learning and hopefully arrive at a conclusion that brings peace to my heart and health to my family, whatever that may be.

While I have picked up on other things along the way (and will discuss them in future posts) here are some basic things I learned from this book:

Many of the illnesses that we vaccinate against are either eradicated or very uncommon in the US. Polio and Diptheria have been completely eradicated, and others such as Mumps, Tetanus, and Measles are extremely uncommon. However, many people (Dr. Sears included) argue that this is because of the success of vaccines, and that we could undo this if vaccination rates do not stay as high as they are today.

Several of the illnesses that we vaccinate against aren’t actually that serious. Take chickenpox for example. Even as recently as my generation, the chickenpox was just a part of childhood- you take some oatmeal baths, scratch yourself some nice scars and you get over it. Now, parents are told that it is a very serious illness and that their child needs to be vaccinated for it, even though the vaccine can actually CAUSE chickenpox! This is similar to how we see the flu shot being marketed now. Though, in the case of both of these illnesses, a case in an adult or elderly person can potentially be very serious, which leads many people to vaccinate anyway. Even more “scary” VPD’s (vaccine-preventable diseases), such as the Measles or Mumps, are rarely life threatening and are easily maintained by medical treatment.

Vaccines contain some seriously disturbing ingredients. Besides the mercury and formaldehyde and aluminum we often associate with vaccinations, the way that the diseases are cultured and manufactured into vaccines includes things such as aborted fetal cells, monkey kidneys, guinea pig parts, cow parts, and eggs. while vaccine proponents claim that the amount of these in an actual vaccine dosage are negligible, it is enough that someone with an egg allergy is not given vaccines that use eggs in the culture. My father (though not allergic to eggs anymore) had to avoid egg-based vaccines as a child because he has a reaction to the first one he was given. Other vaccine ingredients include MSG and polysorbate. As a believer, I want to make sure that I am being a good steward of the environment and taking care of creation- using animal parts for science isn’t usually part of that for me.

There are very serious, albeit rare, side effects to vaccines– all listed in the product insert for each shot. These range from encephalopathy to Guillan-Barre syndrome to seizures to side effects that are strangely similar to the diseases they are preventing…

Many vaccines are being administered in ways that haven’t been clinically proven to be safe. While all vaccinations currently on the market have been tested for safety to some degree when administered on their own, there are no studies that look at the safety of various vaccinations when given as a group in one appointment. According to a normal AAP vaccine schedule, some infants will get as many as 5 shots at one doctor’s visit- which is pumping their little bodies full of many different things that haven’t been studied for reactivity together.

The healthcare system has made exemptions for vaccine ingredients, where in other sides of the medical field they may not be allowed. The biggest example I have seen of this is aluminum content- there is a cap on the amount of aluminum that an infant can receive during a given time frame via IV solution and other medical advances, but this cap does not apply to vaccination levels whatsoever. This is particularly bothersome to me because vaccines are not an “over time” treatment like an IV solution would be, rather everything is administered at once, which is much more difficult for the body to process.

Some vaccines that may seem inconsequential to US citizens can be very necessary when traveling out of the country, as those diseases may be more prevalent elsewhere. Polio, Hep C, and Diptheria may be the three most important examples, as they are all quite prevalent in the third world (mainly Asia and Africa) though they are not in the US anymore.

While doctors don’t get paid directly for giving vaccines, many do get end-of-year bonuses from their insurance companies based on the percentage of fully vaccinated patients they have in their clientele. Many doctors do not allow unvaccinated or selectively vaccinated clients as a part of their practice (I know many parents who have had to find new pediatricians because of this) and this may be a good indicator as to one of the reasons why.

Some vaccinations are given mostly for the sake of others, such as Rubella, which is asymptomatic in most people, but can cause severe birth defects if a pregnant woman contracts the illness. Another example of this is the flu shot, which many people get if they have close contact with infants or the elderly, which present in more serious cases.

Many recent outbreaks of VPD’s have also included vaccinated individuals. While the media never publicizes this, even the recent measles outbreak began with a vaccinated individual who travelled out of the country, and included a good number of vaccinated individuals as well as the unvaccinated ones who got all the publicity.

Most vaccines are only thought to provide immunity for around 10-15 years. Many people assume that vaccines provide lifelong immunity, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Boosters are available for some VPDs, but others are not approved once a person gets past a certain age.

Many vaccines have been proven to be effective with less doses than are given to children routinely. Blood tests called “titers” are available to test whether or not a vaccine has been effective. This can be a great choice for selectively vaccinating parents- give one rise of a vaccine and then test to see if that vaccine has been effective enough for your child.

In contrast, even the full set of doses of a vaccine are only effective 85-90% of the time. I know several people who have ran titers after having a full round of vaccinations only to find that they or their children did not develop immunity to the VPD at all.

So where does this book leave me? With just as many questions as I started with, though they are probably more informed questions than before. I think, mostly, I just wish that this was something that we, as parents had the freedom TO choose instead of NOT TO choose. Maybe that seems like a small difference, but it makes sense in my head.

There are many more posts to write as I work through this intensely complicated and difficult subject. Again, this post is limited to the points that I felt were raised in Dr. Sears’ The Vaccine Book. Feel free (please!) to share your research, one way or the other!


You guys, it’s the Christmas season! Did you know? Oh…

Shopping with responsible consumerism in mind is downright terrifying, especially with Black Friday and every commercial ever and family wish lists breathing down your throat. Well, I hope to lend you a helping hand with a lovely Responsible Gift Guide!


Etsy– this is a no brainer! Girls love jewelry, and no matter what her style, you can find something beautiful on Etsy. The great thing about Etsy is that it connects you directly to artisans- there isn’t any greed-crazed corporate middle man to deal with, just you and the creator. Now, in terms of materials or ingredient sourcing, you’ll have to investigate each shop to make sure that they fit your responsibility standards.

Light Gives Heat– amazing organization that partners with women in Uganda to create beautiful, handmade jewelry items, while teaching them life skills and providing counseling. Many of the women have been affected by or lost family members to the LRA forces. In addition to jewelry, the company also has many other lovely accessories, such as bags, tees, and scarves. Inventory is updated frequently and new styles come out all the time. I own several of their pieces and they are lovely! I’m loving this banana tree jewelry stand.


Conscious Box– Full disclosure, I already know that I am getting one of these for Christmas, and I absolutely cannot wait! This is a package subscription program, and every month you are sent a box of goodies from socially responsible companies. They even have a vegan option!

Julep– Nail polish that is free of nasty chemicals, yet it affordable and on-trend. Similar to Conscious Box, they also have a monthly subscription program. Try the promo code “penny” to get your first box for, well, a penny!


Roozt– This is a great outlet site for organizations and conscious brands to get their names and products out to consumers- and for consumers to score them for less. You can search based on “humanitarian gifts”, “eco-friendly gifts”, and more! Anything from body products to jewelry to belts to tees.

Everlane– this site operates on a new business model where they work directly with manufacturers to bring you high quality product for a lot less money. I’m not terribly sure about their sourcing, but I own a few of their tops and the quality is truly unmatched. Plus, you get rewards for referring friends!

LUSH– yes, everyone knows I love LUSH. If you’ve been my friend or read this blog for more than five seconds, you know. But do you know about their gifts? They really are spectacular. Gifts are themed and products are picked and wrapped- it’s all beautiful, colorful, and smells amazing. The recipient of a LUSH gift will be the happiest at the party, no doubt. It’s basically all I ask for for Christmas.


Dudes are intrinsically harder to shop for. Maybe its because I’m not a dude that I think this, but I really believe it’s true. However, there are some things that guys in general enjoy, and so I will try to play to those. If all else fails, check out Society6 or Roozt and find something fun there.

Patagonia– This clothing company is amazing. One of Better World Shoppers, highest rated companies for sustainability and responsible practices, they make high quality clothing, especially for outdoorsmen, that every guy on your list will love.

Society6– This is a super-cool site for artists. They upload their artwork, you pick the printing medium (canvas, card, iPhone case, etc). Really efficient way to find great artists and own some of their work for less.

REI– this is the place for a gift card. REI is every adventurers dream- if you can do it outdoors, they will have it. Another very highly ranked BWS company.

Coffee from a responsible company. Locally, we love Furnace Hills Coffee Company, a direct trade group that employs adults with disabilities, roasts here in town, and works directly with farmers worldwide. More readily available is Equal Exchange, which also makes the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.

Hello Somebody watches are a great find for the fashion-forward man in your life. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, and sometimes with interchangeable faces. Their organization focuses on providing care to children through food, hydration, education, and freedom.


Falling Whistles is an organization that focuses on advocating for peace in the Congo. Their product is one for a particular man of fashion- a large whistle on a chain necklace cannot be rocked by just anyon. They are also great for girls, too, but work really well as a masculine piece for a male that wears things like this.


Some of my favorite gifts that I have given, or received, are what I like to call ‘giving gifts’. These are gifts that someone else receives on behalf of your loved one- someone that needs it more. They are meaningful beyond just your relationship, and they help build the Kingdom with our generosity.

FH Catalog– Food for the Hungry is one of the most effective Christian holistic development agencies in the world. Their Gift Catalog allows you to bless a global family with something they need- be it a cow, chicken, mosquito net, or job training.

The Hunger Strike– When you buy a Mobilization Kit, you receive a tee, necklace, and more- and 48 meals are sent to famine-stricken areas of East and West Africa, as well as funding missionary programs and anti-poverty advocacy events.

Cure International– This organization works with children worldwide suffering from Hydrocephalus- something that two of my siblings are affected by as well. Your purchase helps to fund a lifesaving surgery for one of these children.

Save the Storks– This is a great small-scale pro-life organization run by our friends, Joe and Ann Baker. They work directly with Crisis Pregnancy Centers to equip them with sonogram buses to operate outside of abortion clinics, as well as providing counseling resources, support groups, and even alternative employment for abortion clinic workers. Their clothing is beautiful and makes a great ‘giving gift’.