Askr & Embla was born out of the ambition to make the best baby essentials possible. To us that means thoughtfully designed everyday items that are functional, eco-friendly, and 100% free from harmful toxins.
While we were expecting our daughter I constantly researched products and brands looking for items that were both earth and baby friendly. In Scandinavia where my husband and I originally come from, people are very hands on and practical in all aspects of life, including parenting. There, most parents co-sleep with their newborns in order to facilitate bonding and nursing and we knew that was something we wanted to do too. As an organic baby nest seemed impossible to find, I decide to pull out my sewing machine and make one myself but it wasn’t until the moms in my baby group started to ask to have one made that Askr & Embla was born.
Hemp has been used for thousands of years and its strength and durability is superior to most man made fibers. The toughness of hemp helps to protect the plant against pests which allows it grow well even in poor soils without using fertilizers and chemical pesticides. In good conditions hemp can yield up to 100% more fiber per acre than cotton on 50% less water, properties that makes hemp one of the most sustainable fibers available.
Organic cotton has the plush softness of cotton without the chemicals that comes with conventional growing. Organic cotton is free of toxic residue making it perfect for baby items. By removing the harsh chemicals from the process you preserve the soil while improving conditions for the workers handling the cotton fibers.
Organic wool is cut off the sheep without harming the animal. After cutting, the wool is washed (without harsh chemicals) and molded into shape using heat and pressure. Wool has been used for infant bedding for centuries as it creates a perfect micro climate for sleep. Wool felt makes a steady surface with high airflow. With the lanolin intact the wool helps to regulate body temperature, preventing the bedding from getting too hot or too cold. The lanolin also works wick away moisture, keeping the bed dry and clean. Wool loves air and hanging your wool products outside regularly will keep them fresh over time even with heavy use.
Kapok is a silky soft fiber that was commonly used in bedding and furniture before the introduction of synthetic fibers. It grows in South America, Asia and certain parts of Africa and the fibers are picked by hand as the seed capsule matures and falls off the trees. Kapok is naturally mold, mildew and dust resistant.
Babies have very thin and sensitive skin as just as you shouldn't use strong scented soaps or wash detergents, you should also avoid chemically treated fabrics and synthetics. Infants sleeps for up to 18 hours a day during the first few months of life so you want to make sure to keep their sleeping place free from harmful toxins and synthetic off gases.
Even natural fibers may contain toxins as conventionally grown cotton and even wool is treated with harsh chemicals during the production process. This treatment damage the natural properties of the fibers and is know to leave toxic residue on the fabric. Organically grown fibers will be cultivated in a sustainable manner without the use of bleach, flame-retardants and other common toxins. Not only is it better for your families health but it also helps to keep the integrity of the farmland for future generations.
Non organic wool has very little regulation to animal welfare and after its shorn (cut) the wool usually go through several bleach washes to remove farm residue, a procedure that strips the wool of all the fat (lanolin) and makes it brittle and dry. Organic wool comes from hormone free sheep that is only given organic vegetarian feed and instead of chemical cleaning it is washed in a gentle manner that removes dirt without washing away the lanolin.
We know that exposure to lead, phthalates, formaldehyde and flame retardants gives negative health effects and that there is really no guaranteed safe minimum exposure. By reducing toxins in your home and choose organic natural fibers that unlike synthetics never even been in contact with these substances you will come a long way in reducing the everyday exposure for you and your family.