Ethical Mother's Day Gifts for the Mamas in Your Life (or, For Yourself)

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This is my sixth Mother’s Day and it still feels surreal. For many people, Mother’s Day is a difficult day when facing loss, broken relationships or difficulty, and a list celebrating Mother’s may not be relevant or needed. For many others, Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the female role models in their lives, or for others, the single dads who raised them. Whether you’re approaching Mother’s Day from a place of excitement — maybe it’s your first Mother’s Day after the birth of your child, or you have traditions with your own Mother you look forward to each year — or a place of hurt or difficulty, I hope you feel seen and valued on this day. This list, although I’ve specifically chosen gifts for moms, is meant to be unspecific. Buy these gifts for your step-mom, your best friend’s mom, your friend, your grandma, or of course, yourself if you need an extra boost of self-care this season.

I love celebrating mothers. The soon-to-be mothers, the mothers who are still waiting to conceive, the mothers who have dealt with loss, the mothers who have grown children and the ones who have been a mother to someone else’s child. We’d be nowhere without these women in our lives and they deserve all of the celebration.

Here are a few gifts I picked out from some of my favorite ethical shops (some of the links are affiliate) in hopes that you would shower a mother figure in your life with the same love she’s showered on you.

Ten Thousand Villages Harmony Bell Necklace

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This necklace, although perfect for anyone, is designed with expectant mothers in mind. It’s traditionally worn in many cultures by pregnant mothers, with the chain just long enough to skim the belly, and send soft chimes in for your baby to hear and be soothed by.

Shop here: Harmony Bell Necklace ($125)

LA Relaxed Loungewear

Loungewear is the gift that keeps on giving (for real life). LA Relaxed is one of my favorite resource for insanely comfortable garments that are made with plant-based materials. Their recently introduced hemp and organic cotton pieces are to die for.

Shop LA Relaxed (use the code SIMPLY25 for 25% off!)

Sela Designs “Known Necklace”

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Another one of my most worn pieces this year, my Known Necklace from Sela Designs is especially perfect for mothers. You can select letters to symbolize people she loves — I have one for each of my littles and wear the necklace everyday. It’s an understated, non-cheesy piece with just the right amount of symbolism.

Shop here: Known Necklace ($28 starting with one charm — hurry though, shipping in time for Mother’s Day ends 5/2!)

Do Good Shop

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A beautifully curated one-stop shop of fair trade home goods, jewelry, clothes, and more, Do Good Shop is owned and operated by a mother herself, and proceeds of the 501c(3) non-profit go towards supporting organizations that fight trafficking and provide dignified employment to women all over the world.

Shop Do Good Shop: Use the code SIMPLYLIVANDCO for 20% off!

The Little Homeplace Care Package

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I just stumbled on this sweet mama-owned company a few weeks ago and have fallen in love with how thoughtful and practical each box is. The shop offers three selections right now, the Original Homeplace Box, A Kitchen box, and a Bath box, all packed with homemade, eco-friendly goods.

Shop the Little Homeplace Box

Bohemian Reves Skincare

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Because every mother figure needs an extra excuse to care for herself too, skincare and body products make the perfect gifts. Bohemian Reves is one of my most recent favorites — I love their zero waste packaging and plant-based, organic ingredients.

Shop here: Bohemian Reves collections

ABLE

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From denim to leather bags to footwear to apparel to jewelry, ABLE is truly a one-stop shop with ethics that are hard to beat. They’re having a Mother’s Day sale too, use the code MAMA15 for 15% off at checkout!

Shop ABLE

ROUND + SQUARE

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For organic pieces that make a statement, look no further than ROUND + SQUARE. This brand is on a mission to empower women and girls through their collection of organic cotton tees and gorgeous silk scarves. Any piece from their shop would be a meaningful Mother’s Day gift.

Shop ROUND + SQUARE


*This post, while not sponsored by one brand, contains affiliate links which means I may make a (small) commission off of items purchased from these links. It is also part of a long-term collaboration with Sela Designs. LA Relaxed, ROUND + SQUARE, and Do Good Shop. Thank you for supporting these amazing brands!*

Where to Find Ethically Made Maternity/Nursing Bras

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Nursing bras and I have a love/hate relationship.

After breastfeeding two kids for a nearly combined 4 years of my life and, of course, adding a third baby soon to my boob journey, I’ve tried just about everything. There was the phase with my first when I stubbornly refused to buy nursing bras, because ew and because I was 20 and barely had time to discover normal lingerie before being thrust into a world of ultra supportive, ultra covering, ultra “mom-ish” undergarments. There was the phase with my second where just I gave up and bought cheap nursing bras at Target that wore out from literal days and days (and nights and nights) of wear at a time.

I’m not sure what “phase” I’ll go through with baby #3 yet, but I’m hoping it’s the “finds a few really high quality, ethically made nursing bras that also work post-nursing and never looks back” phase.

If you’ve breastfed a baby before, you’ll know that breastfeeding in typical underwire bras just doesn’t work (sorry, 20-year-old me). And most bralettes and sports bras are, simply put, unprepared for the amount of leaking, spraying, spiting up, and mess making that takes place in their vicinity. So, buying at least a few nursing bras will really, really, really make your life a lot easier.

But.

Finding ethically made ones is like finding a mythical creature that most people assume doesn’t exist.

I’m hoping this post will convince you otherwise.


What to look for:

A few notes before we dive into the bras I’ve found thus far about nursing bras in general:

  • In my opinion, maternity bras that are incompatible with breastfeeding (if you plan to breastfeed, of course) are pointless. When you shop, look for ones that will fit you during pregnancy (much easier to swing) that are also breastfeeding friendly.

  • You’re going to spend A LOT of time in these bras, so don’t be afraid to shop around, spend a little more, and keep looking/exchanging till you find the perfect fit.

  • I recommend getting mostly “comfy bras” and maybe 1 or 2 “big girl bras” with underwire for when you want to feel more like a human and less like a farm animal. I love breastfeeding, but I never said it was glamorous.


The Ethics of Lingerie:

Like with all ethical shopping, there are certain things people will prioritize when shopping. Aside from fit and compatibility with breastfeeding, the qualifications I’m hoping to meet for my nursing bras are:

  • Made from a sustainable (ideally organic) material

  • Made in responsible, traceable, ethical conditions

  • Fits a wide ranges of body types (so I can more honestly recommend them to you all!)

  • Is a practical bra that transitions well from pregnancy to postpartum and beyond.


My picks, this time around:


First up: Aside from the obvious conclusion that it’s really hard for me to take a photo without touching my hair, my next conclusion is about this sexy (yes, take heart, 20 year old me, I finally found a sexy nursing bra) bra from Azura Bay.

Azura Bay is a Canada-based lingerie shop collecting the best of sustainable and ethically made bras and undies from around the world in one convenient place. I’m wearing their Nikki Black Lace Nursing Bralette from Mayana Geneviere. The bra is great for pregnancy (soft, elastic waistband) but is actually designed for breastfeeding with pull-away nursing access.

The shop also has another beautiful and similar nursing bra, the Alexander Black Lace Nursing Bralette, that’s essentially the same bra without the longer lace trim.

I haven’t gotten any other nursing bras yet, but the following list are a few on my radar that I’m planning to add to my repertoire in the coming months:

  • 24/7 Bra by Boob Design: ($55)

    • This bra is made to be worn all day and night and has medium support, which is ideal for comfort. Really, I can’t recommend Boob more highly - I’ll be sharing more about them in the coming months, but if you’re pregnant or nursing, it’s a great resource.

  • Padded Daily Bra by Majamas ($39)

    • I’ve worked with Majamas before and, although they don’t have many bra styles to choose from, their mission is admirable and they’re empowering moms all over the world through their products.

  • None So Pretty Lace Nursing Bra by Mothers En Vogue ($36)

    • This is a Singapore-based brand that I learned about via Eco Warrior Princess. They’re transparent about their production and strive to use natural fibers but what most excited me was that their bras look like NORMAL bras.

  • Marvella Classic Nursing Bra by Kindred Bravely ($49.99)

    • Although not marketed as an ethical brand, I did some digging and spoke to their Customer Care team who informed me that KB only works with supplier and factories who meet strict ethical requirements (they visit their factories often and even told me their largest factories comet to visit their team headquarters as well). There is obviously room for improvement, but I would prefer to shop from a brand who knows where their clothes are made instead of a bigger “box store”. They utilize organic cotton in several of their products as well.

  • Jane’s Bra Top by Blue Canoe ($49)

    • Similar to the 24/7 Bra from Boob, this bra is meant to be comfortable and is made with organic cotton.

Shopping for sustainable lingerie in general is difficult, but finding options that are nursing friendly AND ethically made is almost impossible. I've rounded up a few of the best sustainably made nursing bras on the market - save for later or buy your favorite now!

Have you found any other places selling sustainably made nursing bra? Let me know and I’ll add them to this little list!


*This post was sponsored by Azura Bay as part of a long term partnership - all opinions and photos are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this world a better place*

25 Things I've Learned About a Conscious Lifestyle

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Today I’m 25. Here are 25 things I’ve learned about this conscious living thing.


1. Like the name implies, a slow life happens slowly. Be patient with yourself.

2. Ethical living (and all of the in’s and out’s of it) has different definitions to different people. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to conscious consumerism.

3. There’s a common misconception that ethically made clothing all looks like a hemp-grown, shapeless, burlap sack. Although I’m a fan of the style, this isn’t true.

4. You don’t have to have a plan to start living more consciously.

5. You don’t have to have a lot of money to start living more consciously.

6. Thrifting is, in my opinion, the most ethical form of consumerism.

7. Your life isn’t more ethical if you share about it on Instagram.

8. You can start slowing down right now.

9. Self-care isn’t a choice - it’s a necessity to live a full, healthy life.

10. It’s ok if your kids wear 100% thrifted pieces. Kids grow faster than our wallets do.

11. It’s ok if you don’t know where to start. Or if you get discouraged.

12. Capsule wardrobes may be trendy, but they’re onto something. They’re like the gateway drug to conscious consumerism.

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13. No, you cannot have too many tencel garments.

14. If there’s a “fast” option, there’s always a consciously made alternative.

15. Supporting people and their ideas, dreams, and talents is always, always, always worth it.

16. Saying “no” is self-care.

17. Let go of unhealthy guilt ASAP. No one is 100% ethical and eco-friendly 100% of the time.

18. Sometimes, you’ll talk to people who think you’re legitimately crazy. That’s ok.

19. Living a “conscious lifestyle” doesn’t mean all the other alternatives are “unconscious”.

20. Fall is the most ethical of the seasons. (Just kidding, but can fall never end, please?)

21. Investment pieces are worth it and the 30-wear rule is legit.

22. You can love color/prints/patterns and still shop ethically.

23. “Minimal Grandpa” is an acceptable personal style descriptor.

24. Each purchase is a vote for the kind of future you want. Be it a white tee, a new purse, or a tampon.

25. One step in the right direction is better than no steps.


Thanks for joining me on this little journey, friends. This space is better because you’re here. <3

10 Ethical Handbag Brands I've Tried and Love

When I began the transition to ethical shopping, finding fairly made handbags felt like the simplest “gateway” into the new lifestyle. They were pricier than running to Target for a new purse, but I knew that with the higher price would come a higher quality and it felt easier than revamping my wardrobe overnight (which definitely didn’t happen). As I blogged about my lifestyle journey, I started to collaborate with brands more and more frequently and, not surprisingly, handbags were often their medium for introducing sustainability, fair wages, and ethical style into the world.

I’ve worked with a handful of amazing brands creating beautiful purses, totes, wallets, and more and thought a little round up of them all would be helpful for anyone looking to upgrade their bag game. These brands offer many different styles for many different value-systems, lifestyles, preferences and budgets, but all of them are made by people treated fairly and with respect for the planet.

1. ABLE

One of the forerunners in the ethical fashion movement, ABLE has gone above and beyond time and time again in terms of transparency, quality, and durability. I own several of their pieces and this Mamuye Classic Tote in Cognac has been my go-to for the past 6 months or more. It’s classic, wears well (even when my toddlers “color” on it with a screwdriver), and goes with everything.

2. Malia Designs

Malia Designs was one of the first brands I ever partnered with and years later, I’m still excited to support the beautiful work they’re doing reducing waste, creating jobs, and fighting human trafficking. Their newly released Ikat bags merge traditional pattern and craftsmanship with affordability.

3. Filbert

Filbert creates 100% vegan and cruelty free bags that are extremely versatile and perfect for real life. They sent me their Steiner bag in grey and it’s elevated and classy, perfect for work, the market or anywhere your day takes you.

4. D. Franca Designs 

I had the honor of meeting the founder and designer of D. Franca Designs, Diana, a few weeks ago which only furthered my love for this beautiful brand. All completely handmade with ethically sourced fabrics celebrating the rich heritage of their “birthplace”, Diana designs her bags to be functional works of art. This gorgeous clutch/crossbody has been my go-to for quick outings when I don’t need a “mom bag”.

4. Vele

My Vele Simple Wallet has been such a help for downsizing the pieces I keep in my bag. I used to carry a giant clutch wallet stuffed full of receipts, cards I didn’t need, and other non-essentials. Now, I’m forced to simplify, carrying only my debit card, license, and maybe a bit of cash. Vele also sells gorgeously crafted handbags, all supporting victims of human trafficking.

5. Mother Erth

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Mother Erth creates eclectic and unique pieces from plastic waste collected and woven into something beautiful. I’ve used my tote mostly for travel and beach days - it’s perfect when you need to carry a lot of things, pack a lunch, and add a fun pop of color while you’re at it.

6. Lionheart Collective

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Handwoven with naturally dyed agave and vegetable-tanned leather, Lionheart Collective creates the most beautiful bags that are natural conversation pieces. Mine has been a favorite all summer long.

7. Sseko Designs

Although Sseko sells much more than handbags, their leather bags deserve an honorable mention because of the quality and beauty of the designs.

8. MAIKA Goods

Functional, fun, and perfect for dreamers with big to-do lists, MAIKA’s pieces are all made with ethically sourced recycled canvas printed with eco-friendly inks. As one of my clients, I’ve gotten to test their products and photograph them in addition to writing for their blog and social media.

9. ENAT

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Another brand I worked with several years ago who I still admire and love to support is ENAT. A two-woman show designing vegetable-tanned leather bags made by artisans in Ethiopia, their pieces are classics and sold at a more affordable price-point than some of the others I’ve found.

10. My Fight

With proceeds donated to support victims of trafficking, My Fight sells the most beautiful handmade leather bags supporting the mission that “her fight is my fight”.


*This post isn’t sponsored by any particular brand, however I have partnered with each of these brands at some point in time and am currently working with several of them to create new content. This piece is just a round up of brands I genuinely love.*

Simple Ways To Clean Up Your Coffee Routine

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If you've read my blog or followed along for any length of time, you know that SL&Co primarily focuses on ethics within the fashion industry - a topic with more than enough subjectivity and sobering statistics to keep me busy for a while. However, another realm that I'm equally invested in, with an equal amount of corruption, pollution, and confusion, is the coffee industry. 

Whether you work in coffee, are just beginning to dip your toes (or, mug?) into the world of specialty coffee, or you fall anywhere in between, most conscious consumers would agree that, like any other industry, there are ways to "do coffee" well, and there are ways to do it poorly. I'm not just talking about whether your coffee tastes like it should or whether you know how to brew it properly (both of which, I would argue, are important as well), but about all of the "unseen" aspects behind your morning pour over. 

It's estimated that more than 40 hands and over 2,000 hours go into make a single cup of coffee. From seed, to plant, to processing, to roasting, to brewing, coffee, like most things in life, isn't simple. And crafting excellent, ethical coffee is even more complicated. 

This post is by no means as in depth or exhaustive as it could be. Instead, it's meant to be a "gateway" to cleaning up your coffee routine, for the sake of craft coffee, the livelihood of the hands who produce it, and for the environment, with simple steps and basic statistics. I've implemented all of these "steps" into my daily coffee routine and I would love to hear how you make them work in your day to day life too!

1. Swap Your Beans for Direct Trade and Certified Organic Coffee

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This piece is first on my list because, like sourcing with textiles or food, the supply chain behind each bag of coffee is incredibly important. And, incredibly varied. It probably comes as no surprise to learn that slavery, forced labor, child labor, unsanitary working conditions, pesticide use, and scant wages are all fairly common among coffee farms all over the world. 

According to Coffeelands, extreme poverty (and lack of education and ability to gain better jobs), demand for coffee, and cheapening prices of coffee per pound all contribute to the slavery-like conditions that plague coffee workers around the world. 

However, there are ways to make sure your morning cup isn't contributing to slavery (a statement that sounds loaded and emotionally charged, but a quick look at the facts shows that it really isn't). 

With the growth of Fair Trade Certification, more standards are being put into place to ensure that the working and living conditions are safe, that the coffee is grown in pesticide-free land, and that it's a higher quality of coffee than non-certified coffees. In fact, the FTC reported that of the 400 million cups of coffee that Americans drink per day, if each person switched to just one fair trade cup per day, an additional $2 million would be re-invested into the farmers, helping them address the issues that cause the vicious cycle of poverty and forced labor. 

To take it a step further, opt for Direct Trade Coffee over Fair Trade. 

What's the difference? In a word, Direct Trade gives control to the roasters, allowing them to directly interact and support the farms that grow their coffee. It eliminates the third-party middle man, so to speak, and actually allows coffee farmers to make more money as a result. 

Click here for an excellent infographic on the difference between Fair Trade and Direct Trade, (of course, buying fair trade is far better than buying non-certified coffee, but if you can, find a roaster who works directly with the farmers via Direct Trade!) 

(See the bottom of this post for a round up of a few of my favorite roasters and coffee companies!) 

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2. Ditch Single Use Filters (or Opt for Compostable Ones)

When it comes to at-home coffee, chances are you're using a single-use system like a Nespresso or K Cup. If you're not using one of these, you're likely using a drip brewer. According to Statista, single use coffee makers generated retail sales of almost 4 BILLION dollars. However, Business Insider noted that the vast majority of these pods can't be recycled, meaning that the amount of discarded K-cup and Nespresso pods could easily circle the Earth more than ten times, if stacked side by side (source). 

Although, luckily, there are more eco-friendly options out there (like compostable and re-usable pods) I'm a fan of manual brewing methods combined with reusable filters to ensure the least amount of waste and the best tasting cup. (Coffee snob alert, I know, I know). 

I recently picked up a few organic cotton/hemp filters from Pinyon Products and have been loving them. They don't alter taste (my biggest concern), are as easy to use as paper filters, and last for years and years and years. Pinyon sells cloth filters for drip machines, Chemex and more. 

(Extra-Coffee-Snob note: using non-paper filters can yield a bit thicker cup- less clean than you might be used to, so to compensate, I suggested using a coarser grind if you're using a Hario V-60 like I am). 

If pour overs aren't your style, there are recyleable and compostable paper filters available too. 

3. Invest in a Reusable Mug

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Similarly, single use coffee cups are generally not recycleable due to a thin layer of polyurethane on the inside to insulate and waterproof the cups. (Ew, I know). However, this poses a huge problem, especially if you enjoy frequenting your local cafe. There are recycleable single-use cups on the market, which is great for the shops that actually use them. But unless you're going to call up each shop ahead of time to ask what kind of cups they use, bringing your own mug is a simple way to reduce waste. 

It's no secret that I love my KeepCup, but it doesn't really matter what brand or style of cup you use, as long as you remember to bring it ;) You could save an average of 158 disposable cups from landfill (source). 

 

 

4. Support Local Cafes That Value Farm-to-Cup Transparency

It's no fun to drink coffee in your kitchen all the time. I'm a bit of a coffee shop addict and love discovering new shops. But before I head to a new shop, I like to research a little bit beforehand about what roaster they use, and how transparent that roaster is about where and how their coffees are sourced. 

Small, local shops are usually the quickest way to find passionate shop owners passionate about transparency. 

5. Re-use Your Coffee Grounds

Although coffee is rather acidic, the used grounds are almost pH neutral and are perfect for composting, DIY fertilizer, and even using in body products. 

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Brands to Support: 

Roasters: 

In a very non-exhaustive list, here are a few all-time favorites. (Some fair trade, and some direct trade). Leave me a comment and I'll help you find great roasters in your area!

Equipment/Gear/At-Home Products: 

Products that I use at home or admire. 


*This post was sponsored by a few of my favorite coffee brands. Thank you to Ethical Bean Coffee, Pinyon Products, and NotNeutral for making the coffee industry a little bit better and more beautiful.*

No matter how you take it, your morning coffee comes with a dark side. From slavery to pollution, there is a dark side to the coffee industry that's hard to ignore. Luckily, cleaning up your coffee routine is possible and much less intimidating than you may think!