GOOD

Ecomom Helps the Rest of Us Keep Earth and Baby in Balance

“I’ve never been as wasteful as when my kids were young.”

This post is brought to you by GOOD, with support from UPS. We’ve teamed up to bring you the Small Business Collaborative, a series sharing stories about innovative small businesses that are changing business as usual for their communities and beyond. Learn how UPS is helping small businesses work better and more sustainably here.


“I’ve never been as wasteful as when my kids were young,” a friend whispered in a confessional tone when I was expecting my first baby. She remembered the thousands of diapers a baby will go through before potty training. What she didn’t warn me about was the onslaught of other must-have clutter that would sweep into my home as gifts: bottles, toys, multiple strollers, swings, furniture, sippy cups. What began as well-meaning gestures became a flood of plastic paraphernalia that would be used and then stowed in the attic or freecycled after my son met each new developmental milestone. As troubling reports about BPA and phthalates increased, I began to see the clutter not just as an overwhelming sea of excess, but also as a potential threat.

Emily Blakeney had the wherewithal to reflect upon these choices well in advance. “When I got pregnant with my first child in 2005,” she remembers, “it was probably the first time that I stopped in my tracks and thought about what I was putting in, on and around me, my baby and my husband.” Even the internet, at that time, had limited information about the products she used. So soon after her baby was born, naptime and other quiet moments were dedicated to researching diapers, bottles, food. “I was doing a ton of research, because I wasn’t liking what I was seeing that I had easy access to—plastic bottles, for example.” She began what she calls “very, very amateur product testing,” ordering goods and seeing what she liked. It was Blakeney’s first step toward becoming a curator of healthy, environmentally sound products.

By the time her daughter was two-and-a-half, Blakeney had opened Eden’s Green Closet, a shop named after her daughter that aimed to “change the face of consumerism for new and young parents” by offering a mix of gently used and sustainable goods. It was when Blakeney was pregnant with her second child that social entrepreneur Jody Sherman stepped into her shop with an idea—they could launch an online store together, much like her shop, designed for moms in search of healthy products.

That notion evolved over time into a growing online business now based in Las Vegas, with the memorable URL ecomom.com. Sherman is CEO and Blakeney serves as “Chief Mom Officer”—a role that has formalized the process of curation that she began years ago.

Every item at Ecomom passes a stringent set of protocols and is tested at home by Blakeney and her family. But before any product makes its way into the hands of Blakeney or her children, it must first pass an audit that includes questions ranging from an ingredient check (i.e. known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins and the like eliminate products from the get-go).

Points are given for vegan products, packaging that is chlorine-free or FSC certified, and for companies that offer parental leave and flexible work hours for their employees. Blakeney is clear that the process may not be scientific, but for products that pass muster in the audit, she carefully cross-references each ingredient in chemical databases like those of the Environmental Working Group, also checking to see how chemicals react when combined. If deemed safe after that test, Blakeney tries a sample in her own home. If, for example, a laundry detergent doesn’t clean her kids’ clothes, it won’t make it onto Ecomom. Those that do well in the home test receive the “Ecomom Trusted” seal. Finally, with what might be described as ex post facto-style curation, Ecomom checks its entire inventory weekly for recalls, and though their selective process has not yet allowed a later-recalled item into their line, they save all users’ purchase histories in order to be able to contact them if a recall does occur.

Helping families stay healthy has become a model for a different way of doing business. The glut of plastic, disposable or short-term baby goods that fill nurseries across the country are part of a broader consumption cycle. “I think that it really is going to take businesses a long time to catch up with changing their model from disposable and convenient to long-lasting, non-toxic, healthy, valued and valuable products,” says Blakeney.

At the same time that Ecomom has created a logistical model to help families find quality products so they fill their homes with less stuff, there are far too many families living with not nearly enough. From its beginnings, Ecomom annually made charitable donations, but just writing a check “didn’t do anything for our customers.” The company’s founders learned that millions of American kids under the age of five grow up without adequate nutrition—“which is absolutely alarming,” says Blakeney.

The company decided to connect the two. Launching the program “It’s All Good,” Ecomom began donating one day’s supply of baby food to six participating food pantries for any purchase, in any amount, made on the site. According to Blakeney, the program has already donated over 80,000 days' worth of food and will reach 100,000 by the end of this year.

It’s an effort to increase accessibility to the same GMO-free, organic baby food Ecomom sells on its site. Those who staff food pantries know just how rare it is to receive donations of baby food at all. St. Joseph Center’s Food Pantry in Venice, California serves hundreds of households that have very small children at home, and according to St. Joseph’s executive director Va Lecia Adams, Ecomom is the only regular source of baby food the organization has. “Every parent wants the very best thing for their children,” Adams explains, “and our families really appreciate that the baby food Ecomom donates is healthy and organic.”

For all the stuff parents are nudged into buying for our kids, most of us just want to provide happiness and health. When measured in meals given to babies who need them, Ecomom’s ethos of healthy mindfulness helps put the consumption of baby gear in context. Their approach helps its customers take a step back, gather what they trust from companies that share their values—give a meal to a family that needs it—and leave the rest.

Illustration by Zoe-Zoe Sheen

Articles
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture

In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News