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Shanna Lao

Pure. Simple. True. Red Bird Naturals

Red Bird Naturals is a small business that makes non-toxic organic body care products. These include everything from facial care creams to sunblock and bug spray. Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, most of the ingredients are grown locally. 

Meggi, the founder, is very hands-on with creating her products. She not only tests and formulates each product, but she partners with local farms to get the freshest ingredients. Some of these ingredients include calendula flower, hemp, honey, and beeswax. In a few years, she plans on becoming a certified herbalist.

Whipped Tallow Butter

Whipped Tallow Butter – A Bestseller at Red Bird Naturals

Red Bird Naturals is a name inspired by her grandma, Zimmer. She hopes to be the red bird from her grandma’s story, which flies and brings good news. She wants her products to reflect the best qualities of her grandma. Pure. Simple. True

“All of our ingredients come from trusted companies where sustainability & quality are at the forefront. Herbs, butters, waxes, and oils are ensured to be low impact and safe for Earth’s renewal processes. This is our bottom line when considering new ingredients.”

Meggi, the Founder of Red Bird Naturals 

To learn more about Red Bird Naturals, visit her shop on Mindful Market. If you happen to be in Colorado, you can check her official site to find her products at local stores!

Zero-Waste Living

Sierra Wooten is the founder of The Sustainable Switch, a business that not only sells reusable straws but is actively teaching us about zero-waste living. Through her business’ Instagram page @thesustainableswitch, it’s clear that her main goal isn’t just to sell sustainable products but to be a part of the zero-waste community. She often shares tips, memes, and daily sustainable swaps from other small brands like hers.


“Our dream here at The Sustainable Switch is to support, inspire, and provide individuals and communities with the best zero-waste products and practices for their daily lives.”

 -Sierra Wooten

The Sustainable Switch is based in San Diego, CA and they currently make reusable stainless steel and bamboo straws, eco-friendly toothbrushes, straw cleaning, and carrying kits, and a 3-in-1 stainless steel utensil. 

The Sustainable Switch is committed to using only eco-friendly materials to ship its products. This includes using recyclable boxes made from post-consumer waste and recyclable and compostable paper stuffing.

When supporting The Sustainable Switch, you can trust that your entire purchase will be handled sustainably. 

For more information, check out her Mindful Market Shop!

Ethical and Sustainable From Every Touchpoint

Chews Happiness – a dog treat bakery, based in Boulder, CO, was created after founders Tavor White and Meeta Gawande returned from an impactful trip to Bhutan. 

Inspired by Bhutan’s commitment to Gross National Happiness (GNH), a concept that values protecting the environment, people, and culture over making money, they quit their corporate jobs to start Chew’s Happiness.

From sourcing to production and packaging, Chews Happiness takes it seriously to uphold ethical and sustainable practices. The Pet Sustainability Coalition has named them one of the top 20 pet companies in 2020. They are also recognized by 1% for the Planet, the Animal Wellness Magazine, and vets.

Chews Happiness is committed to supporting traditional lifestyles and local cultures of indigenous people. Their Ingredients such as camel cheese, are sourced from nomadic herders in the Gobi Desert, who are facing forced migrations due to droughts caused by global warming.

Chews Happiness

Their yak cheese is sourced from Bhutan, the only country in the world that is carbon-negative. In fact, 72% of Bhutan’s land is covered in forest, allowing native wildlife to flourish and roam freely.

Sourcing ingredients from herders isn’t the only way they are helping this developing country. Their artisanal dog sweaters are woven by women in Bhutan, providing them with income. They also give back 1% of purchases to animal rescue efforts in Bhutan.

Other organic ingredients such as free-range chicken, dairy, and honey are sourced directly from small farmers. Partners of Chews Happiness must meet a list of policies that positively impact people, animals, and the environment. They are also regularly evaluated. 

Dog treats at Chew Happiness are handcrafted and packaged sustainably. Their packaging materials include recycled paper, vegetable-based ink, and reclaimed cotton.

No plastic is ever used unless it is certified biodegradable. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved of their eco-friendly packaging through its BioPreferred® program. 


By taking a holistic approach to business and the world, our goal is to create a never-ending Happiness Cycle for pets, people, and the planet.


– Chews Happiness

To learn more about their principles, dog products, and global projects, read their CSR guideline and visit their Mindful Market shop!

Meaningful Candles

Mystic Pines Candle Co. is a small conscious business in Connecticut that not only makes quality candles but leads in the way they make an impact. 

Since their launch in 2015, founders (Christina & Christopher Cox) have worked tirelessly to ensure that their mission of “spreading light and kindness… one candle at a time” is not just words but followed by an action. 

Conscious businesses exist for reasons beyond just making a profit. Social impact companies make a positive difference in the world.  At the end of each month, 30% of all candle purchases go back to their community. 

Mystic Pines founders, along with their customers, have donated to many charities throughout New England. As a community, they have brought awareness to causes such as Paws New England, SNORT Rescue, the MLK Community Center in Rhode Island, and much more.

Candles

At Mystic Pines Candles, all candles are 100% soy wax, cotton-wicked (lead-free), and are Reiki blessed. With each candle having its own story behind it, they often create new designs to keep it special.

If you follow their social media accounts, you will see their compassion towards the world. Their incredible energy. And their transparency with donations. Not only do they share screenshots confirming their donations, but they also invite charity members to speak about the cause in their videos.


“Our passion doesn’t end with being mindful and infusing each creation with pure love and positive intentions along with high-quality products, as a living tribute to those we love and hold dear in our hearts, we donate 30% from every candle sold to animal and human charitable causes, always!” 
– Christina & Christopher Cox

While candles may be their specialty, they also sell a variety of products at their retail store. These include everything from essential oils to artisan jewelry. In addition, they offer workshops, candle readings, and other services, which you could read more about on their official website.

With their generosity and quality candles, it’s no surprise to see them grow. Since opening, they have expanded their online business into a physical store. They have also created Knotty Pines Co., which allows customers to make their own candle messages.

To visit their shop page on Mindful Market, click here.

P.S.

If you ever have time to visit their store in person, you should! Their store is inside a gorgeous building that was built in 1821. For those that are far, you can check out their store (virtually) through a guided tour by Christina. Just head on over on their Facebook page!

https://www.facebook.com/MysticPines

5 Benefits of Buying Handmade Products in the USA

Buying Handmade Products in the USA

We can all agree that Buying Handmade Products is expensive. This is especially true with handcrafted items. But what happens when we choose to understand why these prices are fair? What transformative benefits are there? 

We can all agree that buying products made by hand is expensive. This is especially true with handcrafted items. But what happens when we choose to understand why these prices are fair? What transformative benefits are there? 

In choosing handmade over mass-produced products, we make positive effects on the environment. We help the seller. The buyer. The economy. And dying traditions.

To know how we create impact, it’s important to first know the difference between buying handmade and handcrafted items for sale.

So, What’s the Difference Between Handmade and Handcrafted Items?

To begin, both terms are widely and interchangeably used. They both mean that a product is made by hand rather than a machine from a factory. But, they also differ in terms of skills required to produce the product. The tools and methods used are also different.

Handmade

Handmade products are usually assembled by hand but the use of machinery might’ve been involved. To give an example, a jewelry vendor can purchase beads and ear wires (that were produced by machines) and then use them to assemble their earrings. 

It is important to note that when something is handmade, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire product was made ethically and sustainably.

Some vendors, however, do try to buy locally sourced products and make it their mission to be sustainable.

They do this by using upcycled materials to create products. And in other cases, choose recyclable and compostable materials for their shipments. Of course, each vendor has their own ways to be sustainable, so the buyer should do their research. 

Handcrafted

Handcrafted items are usually made entirely by hand by a skillful artisan. Traditional tools and traditional methods are often used to craft the product.

For example, a vendor who specializes in traditional weaving will need to know how to use a loom. This is a traditional tool usually made of wood and bamboo. Additionally, the artisan will need experience creating patterns and interlacing threads to form a piece of fabric.

Handmade Products
~

The skills to make handcrafted items are much harder to learn than handmade products. 

For new vendors, learning how to make well-known products made in America such as soaps and candles isn’t difficult. It also doesn’t require the maker to get special equipment. 

Traditional methods such as glassblowing, woodworking, and basket weaving, on the other hand, are difficult to learn. There aren’t as many resources and it’s hard to find someone that knows the craft. Traditional methods also use raw materials to make their products. This increases the time, labor, and skills it takes to produce an item. It also explains why the value of handcrafted items is often higher than handmade and mass-produced items.

Whether you choose to buy handmade or handcrafted goods, they both lead to positive impacts.

Benefits of Buying Handcrafted and Handmade Products in USA

  1. It directly supports the maker. When we purchase handmade products, we enable the maker to continue pursuing their passion. We recognize the seller’s story and why they are creating products. In addition, the maker will get paid fairly because the prices are usually set by them.
  2. It supports our economy. When we buy from local vendors, we strengthen our economy. Not only does the maker get paid, but all the vendors who provided materials will get paid. 
  3. It is more sustainable. When we buy from local vendors, we eliminate the need for international shipping. By choosing to pick up items locally, we eliminate the need for packaging. And when we buy from shops that make only a limited amount of products, we cut waste.
  4. The buyer gets quality items. Consumers are benefiting by getting products that are one-of-a-kind. Instead of buying and replacing items as we do with mass-produced items, we are buying items that are made to last longer. Items that are customizable to our needs.
  5. We keep traditions alive. By purchasing handcrafted items, we create demand. We help artisans make a living and thus, allow them to pass down their tradition.
handcrafted items

Where to Find Handmade and Handcrafted Items for Sale

Online

  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Etsy
  • Handmade Amazon 
  • Mindful Market
  • Artfire

Offline

  • Flea Markets
  • Art Galleries
  • Coffee Shops
  • Pop-up Stores
  • Workshops 

When shopping online, take into consideration that the seller may need to pay additional fees. 

Sometimes, online marketplaces will charge for listing and commission fees. This means that the vendor will get charged every time their product is shown and when a purchase is made. 

To get around this, you can try to buy directly from the seller’s official website. This way, the seller gets paid fully.

Workshop classes are also a good way to support local artisans. 

When you take part, you can create your own handmade product and bring it home. You could also choose to customize it and turn it into a meaningful gift. 

Some places to find workshop classes in America are through sites like Eventbrite, Facebook Events, and Groupon. Whether you choose to attend workshops as a fun activity to do with friends and family, or as an independent hobby, we are creating an impact. 

By experiencing and learning the craft, we help keep traditions alive.

Conclusion

There are many reasons why we should buy products made by hand in the USA. The economy, environment, seller, buyer, and traditions are all benefiting when we make this choice. When we purchase from handmade and handcrafted vendors, we are helping our planet and the people in it. We are choosing to be a part of the conscious consumer movement.

So, if you would like to join this movement as well, remember to look beyond the price the next time you see a handmade product. Take a moment to learn about the maker’s journey. Learn about how the product was made. In addition, ask yourself, in what ways will my purchase impact the vendor and the environment? 

If you know of other resources to help support handmade businesses, please leave a comment! You never know who will find your comment helpful.

Photo credits:

https://unsplash.com/@ra_oul

https://unsplash.com/@chris_chow

https://pixabay.com/users/dmgreen44-35647/

What Does Fragrance-Free Mean?

Fragrance-Free

Do you know how people say you should never judge a book by its cover? Well, you should never judge a product by its scent. Given that we’re not all scientists, it’s often tricky to know what is toxic and what is safe to use. It may also be confusing to spot the difference between unscented and fragrance-free products.

So in this blog, let’s break down what you need to know about fragrances, why you should avoid them, and if there are safe alternatives.

Why are Fragranced Products Dangerous? 

Most products today (e.g. shampoo, toothpaste, laundry detergent, dish soap, and cleaning wipes), are not fragrance-free. They contain chemicals to make them scented and more attractive to consumers. They are dangerous for two main reasons.

They are Loosely Regulated in the U.S. 

In a 2016 study on fragranced consumer products, 46.4% of Americans were unaware that “fragrance” is typically a mixture of dozens to several hundreds of chemicals. In the same study, they revealed that 64.6% of Americans didn’t know that fragrance chemicals do not need to be fully disclosed on product labels. Shocking, right? There’s more to it…

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates fragrance in cosmetics and personal care products, has stated some interesting laws on their website. 

Under U.S. regulations, mixes of fragrances are considered trade secrets (a.k.a confidential business information). For this reason, any combination of aromatic ingredients, whether they are toxic or natural, can be listed as just ‘fragrance’ or ‘flavoring’. Here’s another surprising fact.

The FDA has no legal authority to make companies list ingredients that may cause allergies or skin problems. You see the problem, right? This leads us to the second issue with synthetic fragrances.

They Raise Health Concerns

With the rise in consumers wanting clean and non-toxic products, more research has been done to make fragrance chemicals known. The International Fragrance Association, for instance, has a list of over 3,000 chemicals. Some of which have been found harmful.

Not to scare you with complex names, but here are a few to demonstrate the problem. Through extensive research, fragrance additives like hexyl cinnamal were found to have caused skin allergies. Phenol to cause neurotoxicants. And phthalates (which is used to make a scent last longer), cause reproductive problems. Research by a Harvard professor also found that it could cause neurodevelopmental problems for children. 

Phthalates and other synthetic chemicals have already been banned in countries like the EU, Canada, Japan, and Korea. But for some reason, research from dozens of countries is not enough proof for the U.S. to join in on the ban. 

If you still don’t believe synthetic fragrances are dangerous, think about the health risks that are more easily seen. When exposed to disinfecting wipes and perfumes, have you experienced respiratory difficulties, migraines, or itchiness?

Defining Fragrance-Free

If you’re new to the term fragrance-free, it’s common to think of it as an unscented product. However, unscented and fragrance-free labels are different. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fragrance-free items do not contain fragrance chemicals or masking scents. For example, CeraVe and Aveeno are well-known fragrance-free moisturizers in America. They are unscented however fragrance-free products can still have a scent.

To be clear, fragrance-free isn’t about whether a product has a scent but whether aromatic fragrances were added to the product. Something like fragrance-free soaps can still have a scent from natural ingredients such as aloe vera or coconut. Now you may be wondering if fragrance-free products can have scent then what about unscented products?

Unscented products have little to no smell, but it doesn’t mean they are safe. The EPA noted that chemicals could be added to neutralize and mask the odors of other ingredients.

Are Essential Oils Fragrance-Free?

Essential oils may be natural but they are not fragrance-free. As mentioned earlier, fragrance-free products can’t contain added fragrance chemicals. And by extracting oil from plants, there are natural fragrances such as lavender. Essential oils, however, are still a better alternative to artificial fragrances. 

In addition, the global demand for essential oils is growing. Industries such as food and beverage, household, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and fragrance are weighing in on the benefits. Not only are essential oils pleasantly scented but they have health remedies. 

A study published by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI), shows that essential oils can help with sun protection, anti-aging, and anti-acne. Scientists have also proven that oils, specifically from orange and lemon, can help with skin elasticity, scars, and stretch marks. 

Essential oils have health benefits but they can contain sensitive agents. Those who are prone to skin irritation should thoroughly research the ingredients before buying, as they are highly concentrated.

Tips for Finding Fragrance-Free Products

As we have established, product labels with fragrances don’t always list their full ingredients. We also can’t rely on our senses to figure out if a product is toxic, so how do we buy fragrance-free products online or in stores?

To make this all less confusing, here are a few tips:

  • Look for the EPA Safer’s Choice Certified label. Products with this label let consumers know that EPA scientists have reviewed every ingredient. They do yearly checks to ensure that products with this label are safe for human health and the environment. You can find this label on brands like Seventh Generation, which produces fragrance-free cleaning supplies.
  • Use the EWG Skin Deep Database. The Environmental Working Group is dedicated to filling in where the industry and government left off. They review and rate personal care products based on ingredients and health concerns.
  • Use the Think Dirty App. This app allows you to scan the barcode of products while you are shopping in stores. They can also help you find everything from fragrance-free skincare to fragrance-free laundry detergent. From using the app, it may be easier to search for items directly in their search bar. Some may find their fragrance-free filter not as user-friendly.

The Takeaway

Products that smell nice are not always the safest. The same goes for unscented products. They both can contain chemicals that are toxic for many. With this said, we should also take caution with these products because they are under-regulated in America. It is also important to remember that fragrance-free products aren’t just for those with sensitive skin or allergies. They’re for anyone who wants to use safer products in their life.

Photo Credit:

https://unsplash.com/@mathildelangevin