High Standards: Ethics

Bummis Super Brite diaper cover

To recognize the companies that choose to go above and beyond, look for our Ethics standard. These companies exceed our safety and environmental standards, as well as commit to responsible, respectful fair labour, and human rights practices. These companies may also make an outstanding effort to give back to both local and extended communities. Their stories are nothing short of extraordinary.

Though we look at company practices for suppliers of all of the products we carry, we recognize with our Ethics label those who make a particular effort to meet very high standards. These companies look at the impacts of the products they make from the source through every stage until it reaches you, the end user.

We especially like supporting companies that make their own communities better places to live. We know that they are creating the real economies of sustainability for our children’s future.

Many of the products that we carry are mother-made products that either started out at the kitchen table or, in some cases, still are made at the kitchen table. We have been happy to feature mother-made baby care and cosmeticsmother-made baby carriers, and mother-made cloth diapers. One of those companies that started out at the kitchen table is Bummis.

Bummis cloth diapers

Bummis cloth diapers

Bummis is about more than just beautiful, functional, Canadian-made cloth diapering products. Bummis as a company considers the well being of their company, workers, suppliers, retailers, and community as part of their bottom line. “We believe that the way we do business matters,” they write, “and that business can be an important vehicle for social change.”

We live on a wonderful little cloth diapering planet here at Bummis that we and our employees have created. We have a lovely factory with lots of plants and natural light, and our offices are situated there as well. We also have two beautiful little stores in the Montreal area where we sell tons of cloth diapers, baby carriers and breastfeeding supplies. We all really enjoy working on our special little planet refuge at Bummis, and we have a great team – all of whom care passionately about what we do and how we do it.

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High Standards: Educational

Farmers Market cooperative board game

We offer a quality selection of educational toys to capture your child’s imagination and enhance intellectual growth. Our learning toys, puzzles or books encourage your child’s curiosity, discovery, and creativity. Equally important, our toy selection must also be non-toxic and safe for our children.

Every time we answer a child’s questions or feed her curiosity, we are taking an educational opportunity. Any time we encourage a child to be passive or follow a rigid path through a game, we are discouraging that curiosity that leads to discovery and real learning and development.

Children would probably tell you that they play for fun. Whether they realize it or not, they also play to learn. A toy doesn’t need to force a child into learning A Lesson. When we nurture curiosity, education comes naturally and without the explicit statement of what the lesson might be.

We like to leave open spaces for children’s own discovery and encourage children to make a toy of anything that strikes them as fun, even common household objects.

Among our educational products for children are a variety of art supplies, building blocks, or—one of our favorites—kits that encourage children to make their own.

Farmer’s Market Cooperative Game

Educational board game for children

In the Farmer’s Market, vendors and customers are looking, buying and returning products. If some vendors don’t sell enough, they will leave. The players’ shared goal is to look out for everyone’s well being. This requires discussion, planning and decision making. There is both a basic game for younger children and an advanced game for older players.

Handmade in Canada for 2-6 players ages 6 to 12.

A review of Farmer’s Market from Arlene:

I wanted to take this time to tell you how much we have enjoyed your games! I love the fact that my kids can play (without me) and I know that they will have fun and enjoy each other. The best part is that they don’t get frustrated with each other!

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High Standards: Positive Development

Waldorf dolls Canada

As parents, we are creating social, physical, and psychological patterns for our children as they develop. They will certainly be themselves and go in their own directions as they grow up, but they often build on the patterns we create.

At bynature.ca, we are committed to the positive, gentle approach of attachment parenting. We freely give our children the support they need through each phase of development. Babies want to be close to us, so we wear our babies. Babies need nourishment and comfort, so we breastfeed. Babies need toys that give them space to let their imaginations soar during play, so we keep toys simple. We make sure that our products support these developmental needs.

As babies grow to be toddlers, preschoolers, and teenagers, they still need us, and, as attachment parents, we continue to give them the developmentally appropriate support they ask for even as they become healthy, independent adults on their own.

Breastfeeding support supplies and baby carriers are two big categories of products for positive development, but we also carry many other products for bonding and learning. We have Little Soles soft baby shoes for developing feet. We have the natural rubber Tres Tria co-sleeping bolster to help parents keep the family bed safe. We have simple toys for open-ended play, and wooden teething rattles to satisfy babies’ desires to move and to chew.

Baby Bonding Dolls

Positive Development bonding dolls for babies

Baby’s first toy needs to be small, non-toxic, and chewable. This simple, Waldorf-style bonding doll is 6″ tall with only the head stuffed. That is small enough and light enough for a baby to hold and cuddle.

The outside of the all-natural doll is soft, 100% cotton, and the head is stuffed with 100% wool. The doll comes in a variety of colors dyed with AZO-free fabric dyes. The doll is safe for a baby to suck and chew.

These certified fair trade dolls are handmade in India. Handwashable in cold water. Line dry or machine dry on cool, gentle cycle.

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High Standards: Handmade

Handmade wool stuffed bunny

Products made by hand offer a quality, skill and craftsmanship that is absent in the world of large-scale manufacturing. Purchasing the handmade work of skilled artisans helps to grow and nourish the families and communities where these products are loving created, and ensures our ties to the local and human sources of our goods is never lost.

We are big supporters of handmade products for natural parenting. We love the beauty and imperfections of humans and their handmade goods over the rigid lines of machine-made goods. Handmade products often vary, and we like that variety and unpredictability.

We also support the place of artisans in their communities. We have followed closely the work of the Handmade Toy Alliance over the past two years as they have supported their members’ efforts to keep handmade children’s products legal and sustainable under U.S. law.

While a doll might be an iconic handmade product, we carry many other handmade products. We have handmade bath and body care from Lalabee Bathworks, aromatic play clay from Mama K’s, handmade board games, and more products for the whole family.

Handmade Rabbit from Recycled Wool

Handmade Stuffed Animals

No two stuffed animals from Cate & Levi are alike. Every animal is made in their Toronto studio from reclaimed wool sweaters sourced as close as possible to home, so the colors and patterns vary.

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High Standards: Sustainable

Tegu wooden toy blocks

A healthy planet ensures the future health of our children. While every product we carry is non-toxic, many are also made in whole or in part with recycled (or recyclable) parts and/or components, derived from sustainably harvested forests and may be biodegradable. Most importantly, we prefer products that are reusable first, replacing use-and-toss items.

No greenwashing!

We look for products made with not just any natural materials but sustainable materials—resources that can be and will be replaced. The oil and gas used to make plastics and other petro-chemical products cannot and will not be replaced. We ask what kind of materials a product is made from and how that material is made. True sustainability also considers the long-term good of the community in which a product is made.

Just because a product claims to be green, doesn’t necessarily mean it meets your standard of sustainability. Opinions can differ when people make their own conscious choices because each of us has different values and priorities. By making our choices transparent, we hope that helps you make choices that work for your family

Look for children’s crayons made from soy wax, cloth diapers made from cotton or hemp and wool, and toys made from sustainably harvested wood.

Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks

Sustainable wooden toy blocks

At Tegu, the product followed the desire for a positive social impact. The founders did not start with the idea of wooden blocks. They started by looking for a business that would use an under-used local resource and that could create jobs in Honduras. The beautifully designed wooden blocks followed.

The wood for Tegu blocks is cut by “small-scale woodcutting cooperatives supported by international NGOs focused on sustainable forestry.” Tegu also supports local reforestation efforts. Sustainability is built into the Tegu business model.

Your child probably won’t care about all of this—yet. You child is more likely to be fascinated by the blocks snapping together with the help of magnets. Tegu gives a new twist to an old toy.

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