Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The House of Sweden, Continued...

Today was the day I have been eagerly anticipating ever since receiving my invitation to a luncheon at the Swedish Embassy. No, I don't get out much.

I covered the main highlights over at DC Metro Moms, but for you hard core Gift of Greeners, I thought I'd augment (my post) with a few tidbits that may be of interest to (?).

First, can I share with you some pictures of this beautiful space? I mean, do the Swedes have it right or what? Plenty of natural light, blonde woods, practical materials...and the Children First! exhibit! Adorable! Oh, and yes, I asked. The Embassy does provide childcare.

The Children First! exhibit. The computerized climbing wall and simple wooden toys.

Exterior Views

Interiors, including the Ikea-furnished apartment, the dishwasher (yes, it's an EnergyStar. I checked. I'm a nerd like that), the break room chairs made from recycled materials, and the incredible bench that's a lamp, no, it's a bench, no it's a lamp...

There were several instances that got my pencil a-waggin'. The first was during Lisa Thoren, daughter of Bjorn Jakobson, was speaking about the classic and quintessential BabyBjorn product: the bib. She mentioned that although the bib is extremely popular in Sweden, there is a definite "cultural issue" in terms of marketing a plastic bib to parents in the United States. What's your the only good plastic a non-existent plastic? And are we, as Americans sweating the small stuff whereas other countries might be much more eco-friendly when it comes to the big picture (use of public transportation/foot-power, for example) and are laughing at our preoccupation with fabric bibs? Are we freakin' out about plastic ware, yet jumping in our SUVs to buy organics?

Another aspect of the BabyBjorn products that Lisa mentioned was the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, a standard (product class I) which all BabyBjorn carriers meet. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 "is the world's leading label for textiles screened for harmful substances." In Product class I, "all baby articles are subject to the strictest criteria on account of the sensitivity of babies' skin. Any finishes containing formaldehyde are prohibited. The requirement of saliva-resistance means that dyes and prints should not bleed or stain when babies suck on them." I had not heard of this standard prior to today's presentation...had you?

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