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3-Piece Organic Cotton Baby Clothes Set Giveaway

December 23, 2009

If you have not checked out the INO Mommy blog, this is your opportunity to get to know a fabulous and fun mommy/baby blog and also enter the contest to win a three-piece set of First Step Organic’s super cute “Cuddly Bear” collection.  Enter here.

Don’t forget to let your friends know…  Tweet, put it on your facebook page, e-mail…  Good Luck!

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BioMimicry and Organic Farming

December 20, 2009

Imagine being able to use spider web in place of Kevlar, or in place of the cables of a suspension bridge. Or using a sealant based off of the lotus plant on your shower walls, and never having to clean your shower again. These are only a few of the exciting innovations biomimicry makes possible.

Biomimicry is the utilization of designs, systems, materials, or processes originating in nature and applying these to human use. The application of such is often more sustainable and more efficient than similar human attempts. Current examples of biomimicry include Velcro, passive cooling (inspired by termites), and Gecko Tape. There’s a list of 15 of the coolest examples of biomimicry available here. As exciting as the current list is, the upcoming potential is far greater.

This blog post is about the use of biomimicry in crop growth, possibly one of the greatest impact and furthest reach in this area. Currently most crops are grown in a field as a homogenous species. Row after row and field after field of a mono culture. These crops are often rotated, meaning that for several years in a row they will use one single field to grow these crops, when that field becomes nutrient depleted they switch to another field following the same practice and patterns but allowing the first field to nutritionally recharge. The fields are often fertilized regularly, and the crops are covered in insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and any other pest inhibiting, growth promoting products.

Obviously the above described practice does not happen outside of the human influence, there is no location untouched by man where you would see one particular crop planted as a single species switching growth locations. Instead what you see in the natural process is year after year of multiple species, bio diverse, pesticide free, insecticide free, and herbicide free plants thriving. This type of farming where nature is being mimicked can and is currently being introduced to many organic farms.

Studies have also revealed that the yields of these organic farming practices can be comparable to those of more conventional practices, however with the reduction in pesticide and fertilizer applications and therefore the reduction in cost associated with those inputs. As a result, organic farmed product can generate higher profits.

The list of additional resources for biomimicry is small but growing quickly. To get started do a search for the following terms:

Bioneers:  Also known as the Collective Heritage Institute, a New Mexico-based nonprofit organization promoting practical and innovative solutions to environmental and social problems based in a philosophy which recognizes the aliveness, interdependence, and intelligence of the natural world.

Bionics:  Also known as biomimetics, bio-inspiration, biognosis, biomimicry, or bionical creativity engineering is the application of biological methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology.

You can also take a look at Nature’s 100 Best List to view a collection of these technologies, or submit your own.

More resources:

Wikipedia
Science in School – spidersilk
Cotton Day – biodiversity

Great Gifts – Zero Waste

December 7, 2009

With Christmas, Chanukah and New Years around the corner, there seems to be one thing occupying everyone’s mind:  Gift-Giving!  Giving and receiving gifts are fun.  While we are thrilled when we unwrap that box to unveil something we’ve always wanted, more often than not we will receive just another something that will end up in the dark corners of our already overcrowded closet. 

Maybe we can re-gift but that will just move them from our closet into someone else’s garage.  Think for a second:  if this is how we feel about the gifts we receive, are those people we are giving gifts to reacting any differently?  Not to our faces of course; but have you ever seen Auntie Maggie use that kitchen gadget you bought for her?  And whatever happened to the mug with your picture on it; or that expensive toy (aka: pile of toxic plastic) that you thought would be a big hit with your sister’s toddler?

Let’s do something different this year and give our loved ones gifts they will actually like and use!  Something that did not consume a gazillion of unnecessary resources to create and won’t end up in the landfill.  What a novell idea…  Are you up for the challenge?  Okay, I will make it easy for you and share with you some of my favorites.  Here it goes:

  • Something Personal:  Gift your time!  Print a gift card on recycled paper that is redeemable for something you can offer personally (i.e. car wash, computer help, bike tune-up, babysitting, you get the idea). 
  • Something Magical:  Give an experience!  This is similar to the first one but here you’ll let the experts do the job.  You can gift a day at the spa, tour & tasting of an organic winery or micro-brewery, museum admission… Now who would waste that?
  • Something Edible:   If you can bake you’re lucky.  Make something yummy, put it in a container salvaged from a prior purchase (jars and tin boxes especially work well), embellish and personalize if you must, and voila – you have a gift sure to be consumed.  Beware, they may ask for more!
  • Something Organic:  It’s hard to purchase a sweater or pants for another person.  I hardly get the sizing right when I shop for myself 🙂  But babies are easy right?  All you need to know is how many months old they will be at the time of gift-giving.  If they are closer to the upper end of their range, I would suggest to go with the next bigger size.  Babies grow really fast.  Why does it have to be organic?  Because conventional cotton is grown doused in pesticides and insecticides.  Who wants that on their baby?  Organic baby clothes are naturally soft and don’t irritate the skin or cause allergies. 

There you have it.  I have more ideas that I will cover in my next post.  In the mean time, feel free to share with me your eco-friendly gift-giving ideas.

Organic Cotton 101 – Focus: Baby Clothes

December 2, 2009

Organic baby clothes are becoming more and more popular every day as parents become increasingly aware of green and environmentally friendly products in general.  By now we know that “organic” is a good thing and it helps save the planet.  But how?  How much do we really know about organic baby clothes?

 

Not all organic cotton is certified

We need to read the label carefully.  There are a handful of legitimate certifying agencies for organic cotton.  SKAL and GOTS are widely known and respected in all markets.

Not all organic cotton is 100%

When it comes to being 100% organic, this needs to be clearly indicated on the label.  If it only says “organic cotton”, more than likely this is a blend fabric and there is some non-organic content used in production,  Keep in mind that conventional cotton farming uses a lot of pesticides and insecticides, not to mention all the chemicals used during the bleaching and dying process. 

Certified organic cotton growers use only natural methods to fight insects and practice crop rotation to promote soil fertility.  There is absolutely no bleaching, hence the unavailability of optic-white organic cotton products.  All dyes used to color the fabrics are also certified and do not contain any toxic ingredients.  Organic cotton is naturally softer and more durable.  

While the end product is gentle to your baby’s skin and non-allergenic, the process of creating it is good for the environment.

Now that you learned all the eye-opening facts about organic cotton, you want to buy some for your baby, right?  We’ll get you started right here.  Our featured product is from First Step Organic .  This adorable baby tee is made from 100% organic cotton that is certified by GOTS.  It has lap shoulders for easy in and out!  The orange “funny alien” print on the front is complemented by orange sleeves and an apple green trim.  This supersoft baby tee retails for $19.50 and is available for 0-9 month old babies.  There are many other 100% organic cotton cute styles on their website. 

First Step Organic is offering free shipping when your purchase totals $75 or more, so stock up and save on shipping!

Technorati verification

November 30, 2009

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Eco Business Directory

November 30, 2009

First Step Organic is now listed on on ecofirms.org.  Check out our profile and search for the many other eco-friendly companies listed there.

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How Are We Being Green?

November 26, 2009

At First Step Organic we are committed to conducting business in a way that respects the environment.  We don’t do this so we can advertise how ‘green’ we are, we just don’t know any other way of doing it!  We share this with you so you know you found the right place to buy your baby clothes.  And if you have not done anything for the environment yet, maybe we can inspire you to start now. 

 

Below is a list of a few little things we do to keep our impact at a minimum:

  • We Recycle:  Not one piece of recyclable item gets mixed up with regular garbage; everything is sorted.
  • We Buy Second-hand Whenever Possible:  Our office furniture is from craigslist.  Saved us some green and prevented more desks and shelves from ending up in landfills!
  • We Re-use:  All our packaging materials and stationary are made from recycled and recyclable post-consumer content.  We don’t mind paying a few extra bucks to give the trees a break!
  • We Unplug:  Cellphone chargers, printers, computers, routers, you name it.  Anything that is plugged gets unplugged when not in use.
  • We Compost and grow our own vegetables and herbs:  Well, we do this at home but it does impact our approach on doing business.
  • We Reduce:  All our bulbs are CFL which use up to 75% less energy; and all our office equipment is rated energy efficient.
  • We Breathe: The walls at First Step Organic are painted with absolutely-no-VOC paint.  Cleaning is done with environmentally friendly products.
  • We Save Gas: Our company car is a hybrid but we still plan ahead and combine trips; we love walking and biking; and we encourage the use of public transportation whenever available.