Merry (local and green) Christmas!

I stuck to my buy local mission again this year.  It’s stress-free (no mobs), supports small businesses and local jobs, and provides access to unique products that aren’t found in big-box stores. Avoiding the malls alone is reason enough!

I found some wonderful retailers that carefully curate their items with a focus on eco-friendly products. Here are some of my favourite picks.


 Ava’s Appletree – Natural Parenting Store

My 5 year old daughter has developed a recent interest in knitting. I thought an easy way to get her started is to get a starter knitting kit since she’s a bit young to really take on full-fledge knitting.  I found a super cute “knitting tower” on Ava’s Appletree site along with some kid’s size needles and some lovely colourful thick wool to get her started.

Love this store.  Such a great selection of all-natural products for babies and kids, including some really hard to find items (e.g., a knitting kit is unlikely a hot item – and if at a place like Toys R Us it would invariably be hot pink plastic). And thanks to the very helpful store owner, my order was processed the next day and at my doorstep two days later. The store-front is located in the Toronto beaches.


Simply Green Baby

Simply Green Baby (both online and in Oakville, Ontario) has a great selection of products for baby, kids and parents that are eco-friendly, non-toxic and organic.

I’ve been looking for an eco-friendly backpack for my daughter. She’s outgrown the one she’s had for a few years now, barely being able to fit in her lunch bag and now snow pants/hats/mitts/school folder etc.  Finding a backpack that’s PVC-free was critical and one that would grow with her for a few years so not too little kiddie (i.e., she’s done with the animal-themed packs). Her little sis on the other hand is itching to get the old Skip Hop monkey backpack.

I fell in love with this backpack below from a company called Milk Dot.  Plus I like the story of the company. The owner wanted to combine good design with healthy products for kids.  This is really so much about what Dream Child is about – bringing together good design and eco-friendly production methods to create safe, cool products for kids.


For more information about PVC and other toxins in kids’ school supplies, check out the Centre for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) back to school guide. Here’s what they say about PVC:

PVC, also known as vinyl plastic, is the most toxic plastic for children’s health and the environment.  From production to use and disposal, vinyl releases a toxic cocktail of chemicals including dioxins, phthalates, mercury, PCBs, vinyl chloride, chlorine gas and numerous other substances harmful to our health, some of which are building up in our children’s bodies and food supply.  Scientists have found find certain vinyl chemicals linked to asthma, cancer, birth defects, learning and developmental disabilities, obesity, diabetes and other preventable chronic diseases on the rise.


Geez, ‘nough said! PVC-free is a MUST.  So is reading the labels – if it doesn’t say PVC-free, it probably isn’t.


Simply Green Baby also has a great selection of cute eco-friendly toys that don’t break the bank. Here’s an Innovative Kids cute puzzle I picked up for my 2.5 year old who has recently discovered a love of puzzles.




Grassroots Environmental Store

Grassroots Environmental Store is a one-stop shop (with locations on Toronto’s Danforth, in the Annex, and online) for all things eco-friendly for the home.  For my daughter’s teacher I bought an all-natural beeswax pillar candle as a thank you gift.


Green America has good info about all the bad toxins in regular candles like lead in the wicks and petroleum-based aromatherapy paraffin candles that release carcinogens when burned. These beeswax candles on the other hand have organic cotton wicks and smell so good and natural (because THEY ARE!).

Check out this cute board game I found for Jade who loves to garden. How fun it will be to play “in the garden” when it’s icy and cold outside.

Grassroots is my go-to store for unique, eco-friendly ‘thank you’ gifts. So many great candles, cutting boards, cute planter pots, creams, journals, gadgets etc. that say you care not just about them, but about the environment too.

Check out these very cool rechargeable batteries that charge in any USB port – a perfect stocking stuffer.

Loads more ideas are listed in their Green Gift Guide (including on page 9 a feature about Dream Child Organics!).

An organic cotton made in Canada duvet cover set by Dream Child is also a perfect gift for your big kids.



Dream Child’s organic bedding

Dream Child’s organic duvet cover set


Sprout Watches

Jade had just two items on her Santa Claus wish-list: an alarm clock and a watch.

I was super lucky to stumble upon Sprout Watches when participating on a Twitter chat hosted by Green Moms Collective (this chat happens every Monday at 9pm EST – see @GreenMomsCo and #GreenMom to be a part of a community of eco-minded moms and learn more about all things healthy and green for your family).

Lead-free, phthalate-free,  and constructed from sustainable elements such as biodegradable corn resin, bamboo, cork, organic cotton, this watch is just about as perfect as it can get. No plastic, no toxins, and PURPLE. Love.


Kid Culture

Located in Toronto’s Junction, Kid Culture is a real treasure for parents looking for unique kids’ products made by local and independent artists and businesses.



The hand-made super-hero capes by Play Me Mama Crafts are so adorable, and can be customized for your little super-hero


Kid Culture is also now carrying Dream Child’s organic cotton duvet covers, so another great reason to stop by the store for a visit. ;-)


Freedom Clothing Collective

I recently discovered this amazing store on Toronto’s Bloor St. West strip on my way from a visit to the Spun Studio at Sistering (the community agency producing Dream Child’s organic bedding).

Ah, this store, wow, it’s a dream come true. All local designers. Everything from dresses to bags; jewellery to pillows; hand knit scarfs and hats to unique jackets.  Santa, are you listening?

Well, Mama Claus didn’t want to wait for Santa to indulge in this fabulous dark purple organic cotton dress by Montreal clothing line Atelier B. Oh yes, I have been a very very good girl this year.



As you may now be able to tell, I’m someone who actually enjoys shopping. Shoot, my dirty secret is out! But by avoiding the big box stores/malls and sticking to local shops I do my part for the local economy while actually enjoying the pursuit of beautiful eco-friendly products.

I look first for made in Canada products. If not made in Canada, then by producers who share my values for ethical production methods.  I look for products that are high quality, that have a lot of heart and that my family will love.  And of course, I read the labels for signs of BPA, PVC, chemical dyes and fragrances, pesticides, polyester, phthalates, etc.

For more about choosing non-toxic toys, check out this blog post from the California-based non-profit Healthy Child Healthy World .

Also, many of these local retailers have great on-line shops which makes life even easier.  This Christmas I took the time to research and pick fun, well-designed, eco-friendly products my family will love. High quality products with a less-is-more approach is my way to a merry Christmas!


From my family to yours, here’s wishing you a healthy and merry (PVC-free, BPA-free, lead-free, polyester-free, phthalate-free) Christmas and New Year!



Blog by Shelley Smith, owner of Dream Child organic cotton bedding for kids. Dream Child bedding is bold, stylish and fun, made with organic cotton and toxin-free dyes and providing jobs to marginalized women in Toronto. Dream Child organic bedding is ethical and green from seed to seam to sleep.

Recent Comments

  1. You’ve done some fabulous eco shopping this season, Shelley! Thanks for sharing all your gift ideas. I must get some of those USB rechargeable batteries. What a neat idea! Thanks as well for mentioning #GreenMom chat-we love when you get involved.

    My little guy is loving his scooters & bikes duvet cover-post following soon. Cheers!

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