Meaningful Purchase - February - del forte denim

Jeans. Could there be a more difficult-to-shop-for wardrobe staple? Well it becomes even more difficult when you try to find jeans that weren't made in a Chinese sweatshop. I think this is why for so long, I just didn't bother. I have been aware of the problem of sweatshops in the denim industry for a long time. In fact, there is an image from a PBS documentary that, ever since I first saw it, I have not been able to get out of my head. These beautiful girls use clothespins to keep their eyelids open so they can work extremely long hours without falling asleep making the jeans that I buy without even blinking - many of which I don't even wear and instead keep piled up in the back of my closet. I simply can't support this any more. There is a store in my city that sells fair trade denim, but none of their styles fit me right. So, I started looking online. Now, let me be clear. Fair trade, sweatshop free, organic denim is not cheap. If there's one thing I've discovered since starting this blog, it's that shopping with a conscience is not easy, especially on your bank account. (Which is why one of my larger goals is to buy less, way less.) Since these jeans are an investment that I hope will last a long time, I was looking for a pair that were classic straight and easy fitting, nothing with a low rise or skinny leg. Well, mission accomplished! These jeans are made by Del Forte Denim. They fit exactly how I wanted them to: relaxed and easy. And I really like the deep indigo color of the wash.
I bought them from Nancy's Gone Green, which is a great little online boutique that sells new and vintage eco-friendly clothing and accessories.
They were a little too long, so I had them tailored and viola! Jeans I can wear and feel good about on the outside and the inside. Finally.


Organic Alternatives - Household Cleaning - seventh generation

I have officially heard/read one too many stories about how many unsafe chemicals are all around our houses in products we use every day. So, I am now in the process of replacing all of our household cleaning products (as they run out, except for those that were really toxic) with safer, greener, organic alternatives. One of the easiest to access brands that I've found is Seventh Generation. You can purchase many of this Vermont-based company's green products at major retail stores as well as smaller health stores and online.So far I've been happy with our new Laundry Detergent, Dishwasher Detergent and All Purpose Cleaning Spray. The cleaning spray does smell a little odd (like really intense herbs) but it's not hard to get used to it. Stay tuned for more Organic Alternatives posts as my husband and I continue our quest to green our closets and cupboards!


Meaningful Purchase - January - skunkfunk jacket

In Michigan where it's freezing for what feels like 9 months out of the year, most of the time I'm wearing a large puffy extra warm jacket filled with feathers. But all that bulk was leaving me craving something more simple and streamlined (not to mention fashionable). For my birthday, my friend Sarah had given me a gift certificate to a new store in downtown Grand Rapids called Lee and Birch, which has a kind of Anthropologie style and is owned by some cool local female entrepreneurs. Perusing their website, I came across this jacket and was instantly enamored.

It's the perfect blend of toughness and luxury. It's soft and comfortable, not restricting. It fits well over my winter sweaters, but it's light enough that I can even leave it on inside and just make it part of an ensemble. But here's the awesome part: this jacket looks and feels (basically) like leather, but it's actually made out of recycled plastic bottles! How cool is that?
The brand skunkfunk is among the few out there who have managed to successfully merge innovative fashion design and socially and environmentally conscious practices. Check out their standards here!



My name is Sara. My husband Josh and our daughter Blythe and I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Josh works for a local non-profit and I am a PhD student at Michigan State University.  About 2 years ago, after finally reading enough horrible news about the devastating impacts of our consumption-obsessed society, we decided to make some major changes in our purchasing habits. 

We both appreciate beautiful design and delicious food.  We want our home to be full of lovely and practical things, but we also want those things to be made humanely using sustainable environmental practices and traded for a fair price. We want our food to be whole, nourishing, clean and healthy.

We've learned a lot over the past 2 years.  It hasn't been easy and we've made some mistakes along the way.  But we have a lot of information we can share that might make this kind of lifestyle feel more attainable for you!  That's what this blog is about.

Here is a list of some of our major priorities when we make purchases:

- fair trade
- made in the USA
- made locally
- sold at a local/small/family owned/independent retailer (no big box stores)
- organic
- non-toxic

Basically, we try our best to make sure the things we buy help make the world better, not worse.  We avoid pretty much anything made in China or SE Asia unless we have thoroughly researched the company's production ethics and/or there are literally no other options.  When we have to buy from larger retailers, we try to support those who demonstrate ethical business practices.  For example, we purchase books from BetterWorldBooks rather than Amazon, and we occasionally get things from Costco as opposed to Target or Walmart.

We hope you find this blog helpful and inspiring.  Thanks for stopping by!