Now that Mini Mouth has surpassed the five-month mark and is ever more interested in the world around her (sigh, gone are the days of one-handed net surfing while the cute one slumbers in my lap), I'm finding it much harder to keep up with Wallet Mouth (not to mention other things, like email, my copyediting work, and, ahem, personal hygiene). Please accept my apologies for the lag. I shall persevere, however slowly.
This will be a short post. It's mainly just to say that yes, I'm still here; I'm just not e-here. It's also to barf out a few random bits, such as... I bought a new yoga mat after seeing two or three different stories within the same week talking about the fact that most yoga mats are phthalate-y (for more on phthalates, you can read my post on the sadly-now-defunct Alonovo Review here). I opted for Jade Yoga's "travel" mat, which is the same thickness as my previous, PVC mat and suits me just fine. I picked Jade's because (a) conveniently, I could buy it in person at my yoga studio, which is a member of the Green Yoga Association, and (b) Jade has partnered with Trees for the Future, which plants a tree for each mat sold. The natural rubber is a bit smelly, but it's not a horrible smell, and it should dissipate over time.
Uh-oh, Mini Mouth awakes. I guess that'll just be one random bit for this post, then.
Last month I blogged about Project Good, an upcoming collaboration between World of Good and eBay to create a large online marketplace for ethically made products. The unnamed marketplace is still in the works (it should launch before the holidays), but you can get the latest scoop on it—and do some good at the same time—by signing up for the Project Good email list. For every 20 people who sign up, Project Good will donate a fair-trade soccer ball to Better World Cup in Africa.
In other news, October is Fair Trade Month. The fourth-annual one, even! To celebrate, Trans Fair USA, the organization that certifies fair-trade products in the States, is holding a video contest. Submit five minutes or less of footage demonstrating what fair trade means to you, and you could get flown to Peru to visit a farmers co-op (hmm, I hope they’re going to offset all those carbon emissions).
Also in conjunction with Fair Trade Month, the Fair Trade Federation is launching the Fair Trade Towns initiative, modeled after the first such movement, in the U.K. This is not a certification program: unlike a package of fair-trade coffee, a fair-trade town does not get independently audited to ensure that it follows certain standards. The Fair Trade Federation doesn’t own the term fair-trade town.
Rather, the initiative is an invitation for municipalities to declare themselves as fair-trade towns, based on guidelines laid out by the Fair Trade Federation (that don’t necessarily have to be followed). A fair-trade town should have a steering committee, for example. It should pass a resolution in support of fair-trade principles. It should also have a certain number of fair-trade products widely available, and one or more of its larger institutions (such as a hospital or house of worship) should use mainly fair-trade products.
Frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about the Fair Trade Towns program. Does it really mean that much for a city to declare itself a fair-trade town? Fair-trade products have to undergo rigorous certification programs; I fear that using the same name for a municipality—which facilitates and encompasses so many different kinds of economic forces and transactions—waters down that rigor and could potentially cause confusion. (When I first heard the term, I imagined a city where everything—all products, contracts, etc.—were fair trade.)
I suppose it raises awareness of fair-trade principles, and that’s
good, but I worry that the designation implies something more concrete than it
really is, a vague statement of support with little to back it up.
I learned about Fair Trade Sports, Inc. the other day, when founder Scott James commented on my previous post, and it’s so cool I just have to blog about it. Who knew there was such a thing as a fair-trade pigskin? I certainly didn’t, until now.
James’s company, which was started about a year ago, is the first in the U.S. to sell fair-trade sports balls—for football, futsal (indoor soccer), rugby, soccer, and volleyball—as well as sweatshop-free sports apparel. And if that weren’t enough, it donates all after-tax profits to domestic and international children’s charities.
It’s worth checking out the site, which contains lots of interesting articles and links. I particularly liked the explanation of where FTS balls are made and by whom.
December 2010 I haven't actually bought anything from Po-Zu yet, but I appreciate their awareness of the fact that many vegan shoes are made of petroleum products and aren't necessarily better for the environment than leather footwear. Po-Zu seems to set a high bar for itself when it comes to ingredients and supply chains.
March 2010 After running out of dish soap, I started using our good old bars of Sappo Hill out of necessity. But you know what? Our dishes are just as clean, and when I pick up the soap at our grocery store, the only packaging on the bars is the price tag. And did I mention the soap is awesome? We love the oatmeal bar.
February 2010 TMI alert: If you're a squeamish guy, read no further. I'm done with tampons! Instead, I'm using the DivaCup.
January 2010 Mr. Wallet Mouth and I both love Pact. Its underwear is made of organic cotton, and the company donates 10% of its sales to worthy environmental causes. Not only that, but the company is serious about eco-friendly packaging. Each pair of undies comes not in a plastic bag but in a little cloth pouch made from fabric remnants. I'm also impressed with how responsive Pact is over email; when I asked a packaging question, I got a nice reply from the CEO.
December 2009 After reading about Skoy Cloths, the biodegradable paper-towel alternative, on Fake Plastic Fish, I bought a bunch for stocking stuffers and my own kitchen, and I'm now a fan. They're lasting a long time, despite repeated washings in the laundry, and they arrive with minimal packaging.
October 2009 I was already of fan of Straus yogurt (see June 2007), but now I love it even more. According to Michael Straus, a son of the company's founder, Straus yogurt "is made, cooled, and set in stainless-steel vats, unlike most yogurts, which are poured while still hot into plastic cups to cool and set." As someone who's concerned about plastics and chemical safety, I'm happy to hear that!
July 2009 I'm using a lot more baking soda now that I'm making more of an effort to clean the house in a nontoxic way. But from now on I'll be buying Bob's Red Mill, since Arm & Hammer engages in animal testing.
July 2008 Started feeling extra-good about buying one of my fave meat substitutes, Tofurky, after learning that its maker, Turtle Island Foods, is an independent, family-owned company (Unlike Boca Foods, which is a subsidiary of Kraft, and Morningstar, which is owned by Kellogg).
April 2008 I'm going to start buying my canned beans from Eden Foods, for two reasons: it uses custom-made cans that don't contain bisphenol A, and it's an independent, family-operated company.
February 2008 From now on, whenever I order takeout or ask for a doggy bag, I’ll make sure to avoid #6 polystyrene containers (and, of course, Styrofoam).