Flame Retardant Sleepwear for Children

A question posed by a fellow WAHM on an industry discussion board (namely, “a customer just asked me if my diapers conform to the flame retardant guidelines – what?”) got me curious about the history of these regulations.

(note: no, diapers are not required to be flame retardant.)

I’ve known that children’s pajamas have to be either flame-retardant or tight-fitting, and that many people (myself included) don’t relish the idea of the flame-retardant chemicals rubbing on their kids’ skin all night. (if we purchase commercial pjs, we get the tight-fitting ones.)

I also know that many WAHM’s label their items as “loungewear” in an attempt to exempt themselves from the children’s sleepwear rules, but was interested to find that the law defines “children’s sleepwear” as “any article of clothing, such as
a nightgown, pajama, robe or loungewear, that is sized above 9 months and up to size 14 and that is intended to be worn primarily for sleeping or activities related to sleeping.” The Commission makes a determination based on whether the item is suitable for sleeping, and whether it’s likely that it will be used for sleeping, not on whether it’s labeled as being for sleeping. (Which seems to be how they do things, and I support their way of handling this. The most common suggestion after CPSIA came out was to just label my items as being for dolls instead of for babies. This is completely dishonest, and most consumers would be appalled if they discovered that any large company was skirting regulations by mislabeling products.)

And though I’ve always joked that I find it unlikely that my cosleeping children will spontaneously combust, and thus nonflammable garments are not needed (we all go to sleep at the same time and my children nap in whatever room I’m in, so they’re never sleeping alone), I found while I was researching this that one of the problems that this regulation was trying to solve was children’s clothing starting on fire while they played near a fireplace. (also not a danger my children currently face, as our fireplace is a bigger fire hazard than flammable clothes, lol.)  I can also readily acknowledge and recognize that MOST children in the US do NOT sleep with their parents, but sleep alone in their own rooms at night.

This page has an interesting collection of information about the regulations, as well, including that fire is the third leading cause of accidental death. I will say that I’m not a crazy huge fan of the chemicals used in pajamas, but the law DOES give parents an option – tight-fitting garments – and of course there is always the option of not wearing actual pajamas at all, but simply dressing your children in sweatpants and a sweatshirt at bedtime.

Unlike other regulations I could name *cough* CPSIA *cough* the regulation on children’s sleepwear really does seem like it’s at least fairly likely to be achieving its intended goal – protect children from the very real risk of catching on fire during the hours of the day when they’re most likely to be a fair distance from their caregivers.

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Green Business Practices

A recent post over at Crafting a Green World got me thinking about my own business practices. And, as Kristi from Wrapsody observed on Facebook recently, we all have to make choices that balance sustainability vs cost in our own lives, and it sometimes means making difficult choices.

I, too, have to balance green ideals with costs, and with the need to make a profit. I also have to balance that against my mission to keep cloth diapers affordable. There are too many $20 diapers out there!

So, here’s a few of the things I think I do Good:

– Minimize printing. I really only print invoices (receipts) and shipping labels. Shipping labels are printed 2/page.

– Reuse all paper that comes into the office. Paper that’s been printed on only one side becomes paper for the kids, either for art or for school, or I use it for scratch paper. Paper that’s been printed on both sides, or the one-side paper that’s been drawn or written on, gets shredded and those shreds become bedding for the animals.

– Minimize energy useage.  Our dehumidifier is energy star certified, as is our space heater. We don’t have A/C, and we don’t have any sort of central heat in the basement. That said, the basement is pretty good at temperature regulation on its own.

– Use green materials and green suppliers where possible. This is such a balancing act, particularly with materials prices skyrocketing in the last year. And it’s not as cut and dried as it appears. Hemp is generally considered to be green, but it must be shipped here from overseas because domestic hemp production is illegal. Some consider Bamboo to be green, but in addition to the shipping issue, there’s the chemical-laden process of turning it into fabric. I try to tread a path here that gets me acceptable levels of “green” without adding tons to my cost.

– My office is pretty green. My own desk was purchased new, and I guess my sewing table was also purchased new, but considering that they’re both pretty old by now, I think they get green creds. (desk: 8 years, sewing table: 15 years). Wally’s desk was picked up from Craigslist, and my cutting table (a piece of wood on top of two filing cabinets) had been a fixture in my parents’ home since at least 1984. I painted with leftover paint from other projects, and many of my storage shelves and bins are repurposed.

– I try to be as energy efficient as possible. I lanolize wool covers here in large batches, for example, instead of having customers lanolize them one at a time in their own homes. I sew in bulk when possible. I turn things off. I open the windows when it’s nice; insulate them in the winter.

– I upcycle, repurpose, and use up my scraps. I only throw away teeny tiny bits of fabric. I re-cut most of my scraps into smaller products: baby shoes, wipes, breast pads, cycle pads or cycle pad bags, or even appliques. Scraps of fabrics that are too small for me to use are passed on to other crafters. I also turn old stuff into new stuff, most notably sweaters, which are turned into longies, shorties, skirts, and pants.

– I think I get some Green Cred for just the nature of the products I make, most of which are meant to replace single-use, disposable items with reusable, washable items.

– I don’t commute, lol. Heck, I rarely leave the house. The postal carrier would be coming to my house anyway and there’s a UPS drop box across the street (to which I walk with your UPS packages). I use very little gas for the business.

– I recycle things I can’t reuse. Many of our recyclables are actually re-used in-house by the kids for craft projects. What we can’t reuse, we recycle.

What I Don’t Do:

– I do not use recycled paper. I buy office paper when it goes on sale, and my prices for unrecycled office paper on sale are roughly half of what I would pay for recycled paper when it goes on sale.

– Use organic fabrics. Regular cotton is pretty expensive right now. Organic cotton is MUCH more expensive. I cannot convert to all organics without at least doubling my prices. I’ll write more on the possibilities of adding an organic line in a separate post.

– Use recycled ink cartridges. I’ve tried, and I’ve tried to refill, and the printer goes into spasms. It’s kind of old and I’m nursing it along.

– Believe every “environmentally friendly” claim that comes along. I’m so skeptical, I end up researching most things before believing them. And most environmentally friendly claims are shaky at best.

 

How do YOU make choices between eco-friendliness and cost?

Should we be recycling plastic bottles??

Crafting a Green World had this thought-provoking post earlier this month.

Is upcycling an excusable practice if we abuse or ignore the “not-so-green” materials as a medium, all in the name of art and crafting?

How about using “eco-friendly” materials, like eco-felt or wool-felt or reusing plastic juice pouches or PET plastic bottles, thinking it’s OK to use, since they are eco-friendly, even though they originated from not-so-green resources?

(snip)

There is a whole industry of reusing “evil” materials into “green” material: recycled cotton, bamboo, plarn, bags using juice pouch, pillows with eco-felt, etc. And the list goes on.

But shouldn’t we just NOT buy any plastic, chemically treated materials that result in environmental damage? Even if the end result is pretty or functional? I’d rather buy long lasting, natural, minimally processed materials to craft with, even if that means NOT crafting or upcycling, because truthfully speaking, what is the shelf life of a barrette made from eco-felt? Or a bag made from juice pouches?

We can make playground equipment with recycled plastic that will last much longer than any of the accessories that are made with recycled plastic.

 

Right now, there’s such a “cool” factor to many items. Tshirts made from old soda bottles. Bags made from old juice pouches or recycled water bottles, etc. I think some people buy into the whole idea without really thinking a whole lot about it. I’m a professional skeptic, so I tend to think TOO much about this stuff, lol.

But I’m not sure where I land on this one. The upcycling I do is all turning one relatively OK, but unwanted, thing into another thing that’s usually a reusable replacement for a disposable item. (Um, so turning an old sweater into a cloth diaper cover, which is a replacement for a disposable diaper.) I don’t do a lot of crafting with disposable single-use items (like juice pouches or water bottles) – but not because I’m against it philosophically. That’s just not the kind of crafting I do. Plus, I’m not sure where Id acquire quantities of clean, used water bottles or juice pouches, and I don’t use them myself.

I do like her point that we can recycle old water bottles into playground equipment that will last MUCH longer than anything else we could do with an old water bottle. It’s looking at the lifecycle.

One thing she doesn’t mention is the environmental impact of reusing the bottles – it obviously takes energy and probably chemicals and unsafe working conditions to change the water bottles into fabric, or into whatever else. It would be interesting to see just what that process is, and how nasty it is. (Like the process of turning bamboo into fabric.) I’ve looked, but haven’t found anything published by anybody who’s not trying to sell something made from recycled water bottle fabric, and it seems to me that those information sources might be a tad biased.

Wikipedia has an interesting few paragraphs under “Challenges” in their Plastic Recycling entry, but most of their statements are uncited. Green Talk has a thought-provoking blog entry on this subject, as well. The author here discusses Antimony, which is a cancer-causing chemical released when PET is burned, and which inevitably ends up in the products made from recycled PET. Among the things that the author learned in her quest for information:

  • The energy consumption to make recycled polyester is more than conventional cotton, organic cotton and hemp. (But less than virgin polyester.)
  • Creating recycled polyester can causes toxic chemicals to leach into our waterways unless the facility treats its wastewater.
  • The demand for post consumer bottles has increased so much that companies are sourcing  new unused bottles from the bottle manufacturers.

They also provide this tidbit from the EPA on Antimony (again, released when plastic bottles are melted down for recycling):

“Breathing high levels for a long time can irritate your eyes and lungs and can cause heart and lung problems, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach ulcers.

In short-term studies, animals that breathed very high levels of antimony died. Animals that breathed high levels had lung, heart, liver, and kidney damage. In long-term studies, animals that breathed very low levels of antimony had eye irritation, hair loss, lung damage, and heart problems. Problems with fertility were also noted. In animal studies, problems with fertility have been seen when rats breathed very high levels of antimony for a few months.”

From GreenTalk, I found a link to O Ecotextiles (a company known for environmentally responsible textiles, and for being well-researched) and their blog on the same subject, titled “Why is recycled polyester considered a sustainable textile?”

The majority of the world’s PET production – about 60% – is used to make fibers for textiles; about 30% is used to make bottles.   It’s estimated that it takes about 104 million barrels of oil for PET production each year – that’s 70 million barrels just to produce the virgin polyester used in fabrics.[2] That means most polyester – 70 million barrels worth –  is manufactured specifically to be made into fibers, NOT bottles, as many people think.  Of the 30% of PET which is used to make bottles, only a tiny fraction is recycled into fibers.  But the idea of using recycled bottles – “diverting waste from landfills” – and turning it into fibers has caught the public’s imagination.

Their post is very science-y and FULL of citations. I highly recommend it, but I’m into science-y blog posts, lol.

 

Please Do Not Use Paper Envelopes

I feel like a broken record sometimes, when people email to ask about sending something in for a repair, or even for a return. “Please don’t use a paper envelope – use a box or a polymailer, or even a padded envelope, but not a paper envelope.”

I usually include an anecdote about the time I received an empty half of an envelope in the mail. The diapers inside had disappeared, and the return address label was, I assume, still affixed to the other half of the envelope. I’ve received numerous other paper envelopes of diapers that have just been mutilated and are lucky to have arrived with all the pieces present.
DSC_0479

So over the weekend, I received another paper envelope with a diaper to be repaired. And I remembered to take a picture of the packaging. It’s above. The envelope was not too far from ripping completely apart, and chances are the diaper would be lost. So, please, if you value the items you’re sending here, spring for a polymailer, or use a box. (Some people opt to use a paper envelope but tape the heck out of it – this actually means that I have to use scissors to open the envelope and raises the risk that I will accidentally cut into your diaper.)

Privacy Statement

I’m noticing that EVERYONE issues privacy statements these days. I’m pretty certain that nobody reads them. But I thought I’d issue my own statement.

Wallypop uses the identifying information you provide to us to process your orders. Without your address, we would not be able to mail you things. Without your first and last name, it is difficult to mail you things and nearly impossible to process your credit card. Without a phone number or working email address that you actually check on a regular basis, it is difficult to get any questions or problems resolved in a timely fashion.

If you ask to be added to our mailing list, you are.

If you don’t, you’re not.

I don’t even save your email address if you haven’t asked to be added to the list, and if you have asked to be added to the list, I don’t pair your email address with your name.

I lack the time to do any sort of creative cataloging of the identifying information of my customers and I wouldn’t know who to sell your information to even if I wanted to, which I don’t.

Your name, address, and phone number are entered into my invoice program, where they will reside until the end of time. It’s a secure file, protected by a password, but in all honesty, for most of you, this is information that anyone with a phone book could obtain. I don’t legally need to hold on to old customer contact information, but I do so in case there is ever a need to contact you about the products you have purchased.

Your credit card information resides on the secure server that handles my order intake, protected by two passwords and encrypted. The credit card processor has won all sorts of awards for security. After I process your card, the information is discarded within about 2 weeks (it’s an automatic process, and I put it out for two weeks because of the large number of requests I get to just add one more thing and put it on the same card). I don’t hang on to your card information. At all. It is never downloaded to my computer, never printed, never written down. On the rare occasion that I need to write down the credit card information of a phone order or an in-person order, I shred the card number as soon as I run the card. I’m obsessive about this, because I do not want the responsibility of having your credit card information sitting around.

That’s it. That’s what we do with your stuff.