A few nights ago, while in the throes of editing my book, I received an email from Jen Williams of Dress Me Up Organic asking if I would review her natural, organic baby products that she packages and ships without any plastic.
I took a quick look at the site and was blown away by how cute the toys are–I love the designs–but at the time, I was scrambling to get my book edits done, didn’t have time to do a review, and don’t have kids to test the products on anyway. So I asked Jen if she would write up her story, how she became interested in environmental issues, especially plastic, and why she decided to start her own company.
Here’s Jen’s story in her own words.
Jen Williams of Dress Me Up Organic
I have been interested in the environment and sustainable living since early in my high-school days. That was the time when the Clayoquot Sound controversy was rampant in my backyard. I was so inspired by nature during those days that, in University I completed a Bachelor Degree with a double major in Geography and Environmental Studies. I worked at several different jobs in the government that I quickly realized would not help me to feel good about preserving nature, but instead made me feel disconnected from it.
When I decided to have children, I was quite disheartened that I could not find products that I felt confident giving to my kids. So many of these products were made out of plastic and they seemed to be randomly getting recalled all the time. Even most stuffed toys were made with plastic and stuffed with plastic! International manufacturing seemed to be poorly monitored, and we heard that lots of paints from China contained unsafe levels of lead. I also hated loud toys, which took lots of them off my list.
I have a great friend named Tressa who has huge talents in the fiber arts realm. When she started having small children, she felt frustrated with the products available as well. Tressa had a whole bunch of creative ideas on bringing back some of the classic toys that would naturally inspire kids to use their imagination – and my kids and I loved what she was doing! She started to make things for her girls and crafted enough to sell on Etsy and at markets. The toys she was making started getting a lot of attention since there was nothing like it on the market.
Tressa and I had a great chat one night about how she wanted to focus on her little kids, and on crafting really unique products. My little ones were now all in school, I loved her creations, and I was passionate about sourcing the highest quality materials. We both decided that I should be the person to take her creations to the next level.
I have a dream to bring all of these high quality, handmade toys, teethers and linens to more families. In our business, I am very careful to thoroughly research all the sources of our fabric to make sure it is ethically produced to very high standards. In April 2011, we submitted our Organic Teething Bonbon to be reviewed by the Mother Approved Child Tested group. We won the excellence and green awards, which I am especially happy about because they look at the different components that go into making the toys.
We work hard to ensure that there are extremely limited plastics involved in the production of our products from start to finish. We do not individually wrap our toys in plastic for shipping, we stuff our toys with natural wool and occasionally organic cotton, and we use paper tape when shipping. I am always interested in finding out more ways to cut plastic out of my life, and I really appreciate what Beth is doing with “My Plastic Free Life” and I can’t wait to read her book!
Win a Dress Me Up Organic Teething Bonbon®
Dress Me Up Organic’s Organic Teething Bonbons® are made from certified organic cotton and naturally antibacterial wool, and are a safe, plastic-free solution for teething pain. Here’s how you use them:
1. Dip the ends in water.
2. Leave the center stuffing dry.
3. Toss in the freezer ‘till needed.
The cool, firm teether knots soothe tender gums, while the wool stuffing keeps little hands warm. Each Bonbon® is handmade one at a time in the company’s Canadian, west coast studio from organic and sustainable materials. The cotton shell is 100% certified organic USA cotton embroidered with one of a kind free form stitching. The center of the Teething Bonbon® is stuffed with Canadian wool.
To enter the contest: Leave a comment below with your favorite plastic-free kid solution. Could be a brand of toy. Could be a DIY idea. Could be anything that exposes kids to less plastic. I’ll choose a winner at random the week of February 13. Of course, while I usually use the random number generator to choose winners for my give-aways, I reserve the right to choose someone who leaves a tip that absolutely blows me away.
02/15/2012 Update: The random winner of the Teething BonBon is roc_phd. Congratulations!
Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for writing this post except for the Teething Bonbon that has been donated by Jen for the give-away.