March 30th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Dragons' Den

Snugabell Travels the Road to the Dragons' Den


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It was a little less than two years ago that I quit my job of almost 21 years at a large telecommunications company to accept a position in the BCIT Entrepreneurial Skills Training (BEST) program - a government sponsored self-employment program.  The program consisted of 10 weeks of classroom training and another 38 weeks of support from a business advisor, to whom we had to submit monthly reports, and a little bit of monetary support via Employment Insurance.

The program was one of the best things I've done for personal and professional development in recent years, but the PEOPLE are what I remember and value the most!  There were 17 of us "budding entrepreneurs" accepted into the program and I'm still in contact with more than 10 of them while three have become good friends whom I see or talk to on a regular basis.  We also keep in touch with our business advisor who joins us for coffee from time to time.

It was during the BEST program that I was reintroduced to the show Dragons' Den on CBC (I had heard of it, but had never seen it).  We watched a few episodes as part of our classroom training.  I was intrigued.

Dragon's DenDragons' Den originated in Japan and versions of it have emerged in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, The Netherlands, Finland, in the Middle East and of course our own here in Canada. More information can be found on Wikipedia.  There is also a similar show in the US by the name of Shark Tank in which Robert Herjavec and Kevin O'Leary also appear.  (I watched this show once, but didn't like it nearly as much).

This is how it works in a nutshell... you pitch your business to five self-made millionaires/billionaires in the hopes that they will invest in your company in exchange for a stake in it.  The catch is, you have to leave with at least as much money as you asked for.  Therefore, if you over-value your business, they will have to take a larger stake to give you the money that you're asking for.  Capisce?

Back to the classroom...  so the Dragons' Den audition tour came through town and our business advisors and instructors encouraged us to apply.  I considered it... briefly... and promptly chickened out. ;-)

Fast forward to the Fall of 2009.  I generally don't watch TV, but I am now ADDICTED to Dragons' Den on CBC, Wednesday nights at 8 pm.  My husband is too.  I now feel like I'm ready to apply but according to the website, "Applications are currently closed. If Dragons' Den returns for another season, applications will open in spring, 2010. Please subscribe to the newsletter for audition announcements."  What do they mean "if"?  I start visiting the website regularly only to see the same message over and over.

Now it is, I believe, February 2010.  Mike and I are in our usual spots on the couch snuggling on a Wednesday night when "the Den" breaks for commercial and they announce the audition tour!  I immediately go online and sign-up for an email alert that will advise me of the date(s) for Vancouver.

The dates are set within a few weeks - I can audition on March 13th or March 27th.  I ask my friend Donna to model for me.  She says yes (YAY!) but can only do the 27th (I am relieved that I can procrastinate until then).  You may remember Donna from our How to Take an Overbust Measurement video.  Donna had her baby just a few days after that video was shot - a little girl named Serenity who is now almost six months old!  Honestly, it feels just like yesterday that we shot that!

It is now a few weeks before my audition.  My "BEST" gal pals Pauline Siu of flora and fauna and Kathy Day of Earthly Presence and I decide that a "dry run" is in order.  Kathy recruits Ethical Bean's owner Lloyd Bernhardt to participate as well (thanks Kathy!).  We scramble to find a time that works with everyone's schedule.  Another date set - whew!  Finally the day arrives and I head over to EB at an ungodly hour with my homemade banana cake (it was the least I could do).  Let me say once again - THANK YOU ALL for participating.  The feedback that I received was invaluable.  Really.  Oh and if you haven't tried a Chai Tea Latte from Ethical Bean.  Oh my GAWD you haven't lived yet! (and I'm a Starbuck's Toffee Nut Latte die-hard).  But I digress...

Up to this point, I hadn't allowed myself to TRULY think about the audition or the possibility of me ACTUALLY going to Toronto (if I was chosen to go to tape) and thus I was pretty non-chalant about this whole "Dragons' Den thing".  But when I got to the EB boardroom last Wednesday morning, I got nervous!  I realized after the fact, that I was nervous for a couple of reasons.  First, I wasn't prepared enough.  And second, it was now REAL.  Probably the biggest thing that I took away from those couple of hours, aside from all the great advice and feedback that I received, was that in order to get through this audition, I had to prepare, prepare, prepare and then prepare some more!

I know my product inside and out, I know my numbers inside and out.  But when I get frazzled (yes I DO get frazzled sometimes), I forget everything. And then some!

So true to form (I'm a master procrastinator), there I was on Friday night - AFTER movie night with my daughter - re-writing my pitch, timing my pitch, editing my pitch and practicing my pitch while folding the laundry (so that I had clean clothes to wear to the audition).  I was feeling pretty good about it when I turned in around midnight and quickly hoped to myself that I didn't dream about the audition ALL.NIGHT.LONG.

Mission accomplished - no dreams about Dragons. :-)  I got up early and decided to see how much of the pitch I had retained overnight.  It must have sunk-in overnight as I felt pretty confident and decided to jump in the shower (where I practiced my pitch some more).  Then Donna arrived and I ran it by her, Mike, Antonia and Michaela.  Oh no!  Feeling a bit nervous again.  Well, no time for that - off we went to hook-up with Leslie Cairns - founder of the Buggy Bag - who was also auditioning.

We had previously discussed going down early - around 8 am - to beat the line-up.  Then we heard from someone that auditioned last year who said not to bother going down early as they scout the line-up and pull people randomly (my girlfriend that works in film had told me they might do it this way, so it sounded legit).  So we showed up right at 11 am...  aaaaaaand there were already 37 people ahead of us.  Yup, first come, first served.  They told us to put our name up on the board and allow 15 minutes per person.  Quick calculation...... that's 9+ hours.  GROAN!

I texted Mike to let him know that I may be a little later than I had originally thought.  And I updated all my friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.

We found some seats and tried to digest the fact that we may be spending the next nine hours in this room.  I tried to practice my pitch some more, but it was pretty noisy in there with more than 50 people, plus they were playing last season's episodes of the Den.  So we started chatting with people to pass the time.  I met the owners of Pee-pee Teepee.  I was familiar with their product but didn't know that they had diversified to include other products like shoes, blankets and clothing.  So awesome!  We'll see them in Vegas this year at the ABC Show.  And Jamie from S2S Nation (his website isn't quite live yet) - cool, limited-edition, custom-designed, bamboo and organic cotton t-shirts.

A couple of hours in, they were only at #11, so we decided to refuel.  I had been craving sushi for a couple refueling at Starbucks (L-R: Donna, myself & Leslie)of weeks so we headed across the street to a Japanese restaurant.  I eyed the Starbucks on the opposite corner for my "dessert".  After stuffing ourselves with yummy sushi and then grabbing a Chai Tea Latte (not nearly as good as EB though), I was totally recharged and feeling über confident for the first time since arriving!

When we got back to the room, the board was a mess - there seemed to no longer be any semblence of order with names crossed off randomly all over the place.  So Donna went up to the fellow holding the "official list" and asked him where we were at.  Donna came back and I asked her what the verdict was.  She said, "I'm not telling you."  I said, "We're next?"  She said, "Pretty much!"  I was ready!  Woot!

The next thing I knew, we were in the next room pitching!  I started my shpiel when about 1/2-way through they interrupted us to say, "Show us how it works."  So we jumped to the demo portion of the pitch and they started firing questions at me, all of which I answered. :-)  Then they took a picture of Donna with the PumpEase on and asked if they could take two samples back to Toronto with them.  And then they told us we did a great job and we were done!

After we left the room, Donna said, "You are SO going to Toronto." and promptly offered to be my model there as well.  I was so focused on my pitch that apparently I missed a bunch of stuff - whispering, body language, eye contact.  But I'm not counting my chickens just yet...

We walked back into the waiting room and everyone asked how we did.  I said it was awesome (because it was) and I tell ya, if it hadn't been 4:00 already, I would have dragged both Donna and Leslie off to the bar for a double!  We were definitely on a "high"!  As it was, had to get home to Mike and the girls for dins.  However, we did head out that night to a local pub with a bunch of friends including Angie, whose hubby was playing in the band.  I had a coupla Caesars, danced a coupla songs, caught-up with a coupla friends and had a great night!  Cheers Dragons!  I'll catch-up with you in T.O.!

Are you a fan of Dragons' Den?  Do you have a favourite pitch?  Please share it with us below...

March 16th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Customer ServiceInside SnugabellMedia & Marketing

PumpEase Wins PTPA Award "Because Parents Know Best"


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Parent Tested, Parent Approved Seal of Approval!We are excited and honoured to announce that earlier this month the PumpEase hands-free pumping bra was named a winner of the Parent Tested, Parent Approved (PTPA) Seal of Approval!

I was pleasantly surprised with the level of customer service that I received from PTPA Media.  Every email, every phonecall, every voicemail and every letter that I was promised, I received.  There were no surprises, no delays and no misunderstandings.  Everything that I paid for, that was CLEARLY explained to me, I received.  This makes Wendy a happy girl!  (I love happy endings!) :-)

As you may already know, I am a huge proponent of extraordinary customer service.  Not just good, not just excellent, extraordinary.  And if you've ever had the occasion to deal with me on a customer service issue, then you already know that I won't stop until you are happy.  Really happy.  I want to make you say, "Wow!".  Aside from the obvious reasons that customer service is so important to us, I believe that this, along with web 2.0 practices (I'll quote Peter Shankman here) transparency, brevity, top-of-mind and relevancy, FLATTENS THE PLAYING FIELD for smaller companies like ours to compete with the "big guys".  This is the beauty of doing business in today's world.  And I love it!

But let's get back to the award!  We received some great feedback (both positive and not so much), all of which is super useful for us going forward with new product development and current product improvements.  I will now share some of the accolades with you... *blushing*

"This product more than met my expectations. At first, when wearing the hands free pumping support, I was very stiff and slow in my movements as I was unsure how supportive the product would be in holding my breast pump. In a short period of time, I realized that the breast pump was secure and I was able to move normally without worrying about my breast pump falling off.  I inserted batteries in my breast pump so as to not be restricted by the cord length and then attempted various activities. I was able to clean my house, prepare meals, surf the internet, type emails, read books, knit, and interact and play with my 2-1/2 year old and 6 month old, all while pumping. In addition, I pumped with the PumpEase hands-free pumping support while nursing on the other side. With all these activities undertaken while wearing the support, the breast pump was held securely. At no time did it feel like the breast pump felt loose or in danger of falling off. The hands free pumping support held the breast pump on my breast with evenly distributed pressure in such a way that was more consistent and secure than holding the breast pump by hand, resulting in an increased amount of milk being expressed."

"The quality met my requirements. The product appeared very well made and was very easy to care for. It cleaned up very well and dried quickly. I wore the product for lengthy periods on its own and with the breast pump in order to see if it would begin to sag or stretch out. After lengthy and day to day use, the support maintained it's shape, and comfort without stretching out or becoming loose."

"The hands free pumping support is very comfortable to wear. It is supportive enough to hold the breast pump in place securely, while not feeling restrictive. There were no parts of the support that scratched, poked, pulled or pinched the skin. I wore the support both alone and over my nursing bra. The product was just as effective either way."

"I received the "Tuxedo" style which is black with white trim. It is very appealing and classy looking. For others that enjoy more colour, there are other prints available which are just as fashionable."

I could include more, but don't want to bore you.

And here is some of the constructive criticism...

"There were a lot of latches on the front of the bra to close it. Too many for my liking."

"I didn't really care about the style and colour because no one sees it but me."

"Taking the equipment out and apart was a little challenging and sometimes my milk would leak onto the bra as I was taking the equipment off."

"I found it took extra time to set up to pump rather then just pumping like I normally do, it took me some time to get comfortable."

"I think the product is over priced. I think that $30-ish would be fair. I think that the competitors are over-priced as well."

At this point, I'd like to thank all the product evaluators for their thorough and honest opinions.  As I've said many times before, we LOVE feedback because that is one of the many ways that we can make things better for YOU, our customer!  And isn't that what it's all about?

So keep your eyes peeled for further announcements about PumpEase as this marketing campaign unfolds.  If you have any feedback about PumpEase, please leave it in the comments below.  Bring it on!

March 14th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Inside SnugabellJust for Fun

We're Back... but Still Catching our Breath!


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Have you been wondering where we've been hiding since the end of January?  We do apologize... we've been JUST a tad busy! 

What with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and the pending launch of our new product on May 1st, we admit we have fallen quite behind!

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic GamesLet's start with the Olympics.  I have to be honest with you - I wasn't that jazzed about the Olympics coming to town.  I'm a bit of a control freak (shhhh!) and the thought that our city was going to be "invaded" (for lack of a better word) by essentially the world, well... disturbed me.  I was checking my calendar and planning any trips into the city BEFORE and AFTER the games.  It was the unknown.  How crazy would it be?  I didn't want to know.  And I don't think anyone really DID know.

And then of course there is the money that we have spent for the last SEVEN YEARS getting ready for this world-class event.  There has never been an Olympic Games, from what I understand, that broke even, let alone made a profit... so obviously as a taxpayer, I was concerned about that as well.

BUT (and this is a big "but") then there were those Opening Ceremonies.  I actually missed the better part of them as I was out to dinner with my girls, my mom and my sister's family for my niece's 7th birthday (DH was working afternoon shift).  Afterwards, EVERYONE was talking about how fantastic they were.  Twitter and Facebook were all a-buzz.  No matter where you were, you heard about them.  AND.I.MISSED.THEM.AND.I.WAS.STRESSING.ABOUT.IT.  Ya, I know, I'm a geek.  For the record, I bought both the opening and closing ceremonies on iTunes a few days back so now I have them for all prosperity.  So there!  But I digress...  They were touting our Opening Ceremonies as one of the best in the history of the Olympic Games and Canadian pride swelled in everyone's hearts - I didn't have a chance - I was HOOKED!  You see, I am a pretty proud Canadian anyways.  I have a big Canadian flag on my house 24/7/365.  When I travel, I wear a Canadian pin on my person.  And now I have not one, but TWO Canadian flags on my car.  And although I would like to experience living in another country at some point in my life, I would always, ALWAYS come back to Canada... Vancouver, Canada - my home!Olympic cauldron

So we decided, after swearing up and down that we were going nowhere near downtown Vancouver between February 12th and 28th, that we would check it out.  Mike and the girls and I ventured downtown on Sunday, February 21st with my sister and her family.  We caught the Skytrain as we had NO IDEA what the parking would be like (turns out that because so many people were scared of the parking situation and thus took transit, there WAS actually parking throughout (most of) the Olympics!  Who Knew?).  We headed to see the cauldron first.  There were wall-to-wall people so we didn't wait in line for the viewing platform.  And despite the gorgeous sunshine, it was COLD and WINDY down at the waterfront, and in general, that day... BRRRRR!

Vancouver Art Gallery (BC Pavillion)Then up Burrard to Robson Street.  We window-shopped and people-watched.  We saw the zip line and its 6+ hour line-up.  We cruised past the flower-bedecked Vancouver Art Gallery (aka The BC Pavillion).  We met up with my good friend Vici and her dog Max... We saw street performers and tons of people, people, people!  And it was SO COOL to see the "sea of red" - almost everyone was wearing red for Canada!  After a quick lunch we walked some more, checking out the amazing transformation of the beautiful city that we call home.  The Residences on Georgia (corner of Georgia and Howe Streets) were wrapped in a HUGE Canadian flag. I wonder how many millions of people took this pic?

We then went to the Olympic Store at The Bay.  I had to eat my words Canadian flag wrapped building in Vancouverbecause I had already told my sister that I was NOT going downtown to go "shopping".  But we were both SO JONESING for the zip-up hoodies with "CANADA" emblazoned across the front that we totally went tourist.  First we went inside only to find out that the only way into the Olympic Store was via an outside entrance.  And yes, there was a line-up.  Keep in mind that you don't get anywhere "quickly" on a weekend during Mike, Antonia & Sumi on the Skytrain homethe Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, let alone with eight people including three kids under 8 and a 14-month old.  So off we went to go back outside.  The line-up looked L-O-N-G (over a block and 4-5 people deep) but was only about a 20 minute wait.  Did we get our hoodies?  NOPE.  We found out later that they were sold out pretty much everywhere.  I even asked my cousin who lives in Regina, Saskatchewan to check there and in Saskatoon where she just happened to be the following weekend - NADA!  BUT they're on Craig's List for $300+ if you REALLY want one.  I REALLY want one, but not "$300 want".  We did get a couple more things for the girls though and they were pretty stoked about that!Me & Michaela on the Skytrain home

It was a good day - and I hope the girls will both remember "the day they went to the Olympics".  Here we are on the Skytrain home.  As you can see, the girls are pretty tired and so is Mom and Dad.

But Mama wanted to check out the Olympics "adult-style" so off my friend Vici and I went the following Thursday, February 25th!  It was the evening of the day that the Canadian Women's Hockey Team had won the Gold Medal (for the third straight time by the way... ahem).  We didn't have a clue how "nuts" it was going to be downtown, so we started out in Yaletown and after kyboshing waiting in line to go into LiveCity Yaletown, we decided to check out some of the False Creek pavillions.  There were line-ups everywhere, but most of them moved fairly quickly.  Many of the pavillions had free admission and I had "heard" which ones were especially good and which ones were sleepers - but I soon found out it just depended on the night and who (athletes, celebs, media) were inside.  The Saskatchewan Pavillion* was our first stop ... meh.  Had a drink and got our pics taken Vici & I outside Saskatchewan Pavillionwith two RCMP officers decked out in their red serge.  Off to Ontario House.  Again, not quite the "party" we were looking for (yes, we was lookin' for a PAR-TAY).  Had a drink and off we went.  We went by Molson Canadian Hockey House and tried to get in there.  Ahem... private event - $900 to get in (no joke).  Well, I guess that's where the women's hockey team was hangin'!  They obviously had no idea who we were.  I mean, look at my boots!  How could they NOT let me in in those boots!
me in front of Molson Canadian Hockey House

We then headed back to Yaletown and went to the Yaletown Brewing Company.  They had a rockin' live band and the place was packed!  SCORE!  We miraculously found a couple of seats and started chatting with our neighbours.  EVERYONE was in a great mood!  We met some lovely people from all over the world including Kimmy and Hannu from Finland (I had never met a Finn before - too cool!).  That's Kimmy with Vici and I below.  I was having fun "discussing" (read bragging) about how Canada was going to "whoop their @SSES" in Men's Hockey.  Hannu and I texted each other over the next few days - teasing each other to the max - after Finland's loss to the USA (I have to apologize to all my American friends as I was rooting for Finland.  After that initial Canada-USA game, I'll admit I was trying to avoid you!) and right up to THAT NAIL-BITER GOLD MEDAL GAME!  My goodness, Mike and I were GLUED to the TV that day - I nearly had a heart attack!  I think Mike's poor thigh was bruised from me hitting it everytime we scored!  Now please look the other way while I gloat... CANADA RULES HOCKEY!  Not to mention the records that we broke:  Canada won more gold medals than any host nation in Winter Olympic history AND it also marked the most gold medals Canada has won at any Olympics — winter or summer.  Finally, Canadian WOMEN were first in GOLD overall!  LOVE IT!

Myself, Vici & KimmyBut I must say, meeting people from all over the world and listening to them "gush" about our city was right up there with all the medals and the broken records.  Their words acted as a MIRROR, so as to remind us, when we are "too close" to all this fantasticness (is that a word?) and taking for granted where we live, that we really DO have the pleasure of living in one of the greatest cities in the world!  Needless to say, I was feeling pretty proud to be Canadian that night too!

Lana, Laura, Mike and me
We danced, we drank, we got home at 3:30 am... groan!  I was soooo dragging my butt the next day (but it was worth it!).  Then two days later, I did it all again - this time with my hubby Mike.  We walked Granville Street, checking out the cool art installations, we hooked-up with friends and we ate pizza-by-the-slice at the wee hours of the morn' after leaving Doolin's Irish Pub - part of Irish House.  Guess what time we got home... yup 3:30 am.  Thank goodness Grandma had the girls overnight and we could sleep-in a teensy bit past their normal wake-up time of 8 am.  Twice in one week and I was thinking, "I'm too old for this".  Then I came to my senses and realized that I'm just out of practice.  Yup, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

And here it is the middle of March already, a full 2 weeks after the closing ceremonies, and I am just getting to this blog post.  So yes, we are still behind, however, the good news is, we've FINALLY hired an office assistant (official trés cool title TBA) so we hope to be back to posting a little more regularly going forward.  Her name is Rebekah and we're counting down the days until she starts (this Friday, March 19th - T minus 5 days and counting woot!), so please watch for our blog post introducing her - she is quite an interesting gal!

And we promise to really try not to go MIA ever again...

I almost forgot!  If you want to hear more about the other reason that we are so far behind - our fantabulous new product, ETA May 1st - you will simply need to keep coming back here to check.  But I WILL tell you this... you are going to love it!

So what did you do during the Olympics?  Were you lucky enough to go to any actual events?  Any victory ceremonies?  The opening or closing ceremonies?  Tell us about it below!


*I am linking to pages that were live during the Olympics as well as at the time of posting, however there is no guarantee how long they will stay "live".  I apologize in advance for any dead links.

January 27th, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • Giving BackHuman Milk Banking In the News

Breastfeeding is the First Line of Defense in a Disaster


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The United States Breastfeeding Committee issued the below updated press release today.  Please donate milk via an HMBANA milk bank (and that includes our milk bank here in Vancouver, BC) and/or continue to donate funds to HELP HAITI!  Here at Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear we are proud to donate $2.00 from every PumpEase sold to Doctors Without Borders until February 14th (which will then be matched dollar for dollar by the Canadian Government).

United States Breastfeeding Committee

January 27, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UPDATED STATEMENT:

Breastfeeding is the First Line of Defense in a Disaster

Washington, DC--The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), International Lactation Consultant Association/United States Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA/USLCA), and La Leche League International (LLLI) strongly affirm the importance of breastfeeding in emergency situations, and call on relief workers and health care providers serving victims of disasters to protect, promote, and support mothers to breastfeed their babies. During an emergency, breastfeeding mothers provide their infants with safe food and water and disease protection that maximize their chances of survival.

This week, the International Milk Bank Project and Quick International Courier coordinated a shipment of milk from the HMBANA member banks to supplement a mother's own milk for the premature, medically fragile, and orphaned infants aboard the U.S. Navy ship Comfort stationed off the coast of Haiti. This milk will help this small group of infants. In this highly unusual circumstance the infrastructure associated with the Comfort's resources allows U.S. sourced donor milk to help fragile Haitian babies.

Donor milk, however, is not a solution for the large number of infants and young children affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Members of the public who wish to promote the survival of mothers and babies in Haiti can donate money to the following organizations: UNICEF, Save the Children Alliance, World Vision, and Action Against Hunger. These organizations are using best practice to aid both breastfed and non-breastfed infants. Members of the public can be confident that donations to these organizations will support breastfeeding and help save the lives of babies.

Interventions to protect infants include supporting mothers to initiate and continue exclusive breastfeeding, relactation for mothers who have ceased breastfeeding, and finding wet nurses for motherless or separated babies. Every effort should be made to minimize the number of infants and young children who do not have access to breastfeeding. Artificially fed infants require intensive support from aid organizations including infant formula, clean water, soap, a stove, fuel, education, and medical support. This is not an easy endeavor. Formula feeding is extremely risky in emergency conditions and artificially fed infants are vulnerable to the biggest killers of children in emergencies: diarrhea and pneumonia.

As stated by UNICEF and WHO, no donations of infant formula or powdered milk should be sent to the Haiti emergency. Such donations are difficult to manage logistically, actively detract from the aid effort, and put infant's lives at risk. Distribution of infant formula should only occur in a strictly controlled manner. Stress does not prevent women from making milk for their babies, and breastfeeding women should not be given any infant formula or powdered milk.

There are ongoing needs in the U.S. for human milk for premature and other extremely ill infants because of the protection it provides from diseases and infections. If a mother is unable to provide her own milk to her premature or sick infant, donor human milk is often requested from a human milk bank. American mothers can help their compatriots who find themselves in need of breast milk for their sick baby by donating to a milk bank that is a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

For more information about donating milk to a milk bank, contact HMBANA at www.hmbana.org. Additional information for relief workers and health care professionals can be provided from the United States Breastfeeding Committee at www.usbreastfeeding.org, ILCA/USLCA at www.ilca.org or www.uslca.org, or La Leche League International at www.llli.org. A list of regional milk banks is available on the HMBANA Web site at www.hmbana.org/index/locations.

USBC is an organization of organizations. Opinions expressed by USBC are not necessarily the position of all member organizations and opinions expressed by USBC member organization representatives are not necessarily the position of USBC.

United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC)

The United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) is an independent nonprofit coalition of 41 nationally influential professional, educational, and governmental organizations. Representing over half a million concerned professionals and the families they serve, USBC and its member organizations share a common mission to improve the Nation's health by working collaboratively to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. For more information about USBC, visit www.usbreastfeeding.org.

###

________________________________________

United States Breastfeeding Committee

2025 M Street, NW, Suite 800

Washington, DC 20036

Phone: 202/367-1132

Fax: 202/367-2132

E-mail: office@usbreastfeeding.org

Web: www.usbreastfeeding.org

Have you donated to the relief effort in Haiti?  If so, tell us to which organization you donated and why you chose that particular one.  If you have any other thoughts about what is happening in Haiti, please share.

January 2nd, 2010 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • In the NewsResources

Single-Use, Ready-to-Serve, Formula-Filled Baby Bottles - a "Green" Idea?


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Ready Made Single-Use Ready-to-Serve Bottles
A few months ago, I stumbled across a press release entitled "Ready Made Inc. debuts new disposable baby bottle prototype at Smart Baby Expo."

And I quote, "The new biodegradable paper based design was a major selling point for parents who are concerned with the environmental impact of plastics and the threat of Bisphenol-A in plastic baby products."

You have GOT to be kidding me.  Talk about a green wash!  How on earth can this company tout this DISPOSABLE, FORMULA-FILLED bottle as "green" (and keep a straight face).

Now that 2010 has arrived, this product is going to be hitting the shelves, or to quote the manufacturer, "will be sold in stores throughout the US and be available to global humanitarian markets" (excuse me while I vomit).  And so I thought I had better make you aware of it...

A fellow mompreneur summed up the carbon footprint of infant formula production quite nicely in a recent blog post:

"Think about all the consumption of natural resources, landfill space, etc. that goes into the production, packaging and delivery of formula, a completely derived and unnatural product that, with adequate support and education, should be very rarely required. Consider this quote:

"If every child in America were bottle-fed, almost 86,000 tons of tin would be needed to produce 550 million cans for one year's worth of formula. If every mother in Great Britain breastfed, 3000 tons of paper (used for formula labels) would be saved in a year. But the formula is not the only problem. Bottles and nipples require plastic, glass, rubber, and silicone; production of these materials can be resource-intensive and often leads to end-products that are not-recyclable. All these products use natural resources, cause pollution in their manufacture and distribution, and create trash in their packaging, promotion, and disposal."

Source:  "Mother Nature Loves Breastmilk" by Dia Michels

Plastic bottles and nipples are rarely recycled, take over 200 years to break down, fill up landfills and when burned, release toxic pollutants into our air... that we breathe... that our babies breathe.

Then, let's talk about the dairy industry. Most breastmilk substitutes are made from cows milk. The biological equivalent of walking up to a cow in a field and sucking on her tit. The mass factories that produce this milk contribute to a polluted environment in a myriad of ways. Here's a few:

  • Cows excretion and flatulance produce 100 million tons of methane every year, which equals 20% of the earths total emissions. (Methane is the second most problematic gaseous contribution to the greenhouse effect and global warming).
  • The fertilizers used to grow feed for dairy cows pollute rivers and groundwaters.
  • The ammonia from cow pastures and slurry tanks cause acid rain.
  • The clearing of land for pasture means deforestation, an increase in greenhouse gases, the destruction of animal and plant species and erosion of the soil. For example, each kilogram of baby milk produced in Mexico "costs" 12.5 square meters of rainforest.

Think Soy is better? Even the production of soy based formulas are detrimental to the environment:

  • Soy formulas require just as much natural resources and energy to produce and package.
  • In Brazil, forests are cleared and burned to create soy plantations. The soya beans are then used to feed cattle and as the base for soy based formulas.
  • The growing of soy beans requires a high input of fertilizers and irrigation."

Source:  Breastmilk: A World Resource by Andrew Radford

Sadly, according to Ready Made Inc, 85% of consumers surveyed at the Smart Baby Expo, a consumer trade show, said that they look forward to using the Ready Made bottle, with 20% of them stating that they would use them DAILY no matter what brand of formula came inside!    Good GAWD people - the last thing we need is more disposables in our landfills!  I mean convenience is one thing, but convenience to the point of drowning our planet in garbage is certainly another!

What I find most disturbing however, is that this bottle is also being targeted towards the developing world - to prevent the spread of HIV no less!  Ready Made states in their press release that, "One-third of children in Africa with the AIDS virus contracted the disease from breastfeeding."

This is NOT TRUE.

According to Wikipedia, "The transmission of the virus from the mother to the child can occur in utero during the last weeks of pregnancy and at childbirth. In the absence of treatment, the transmission rate between a mother and her child during pregnancy, labor and delivery is 25%.  However, when the mother takes antiretroviral therapy and gives birth by caesarean section, the rate of transmission is just 1%. The risk of infection is influenced by the viral load of the mother at birth, with the higher the viral load, the higher the risk. Breastfeeding also increases the risk of transmission by about 4%.

4%. Four percent. Not 33-1/3%. Not one-third. FOUR PERCENT.  I guess they just got there numbers mixed-up there, right?

They might as well just climb into bed with Nestlé as far as I'm concerned.  And I won't be the least bit surprised if the brand of formula that indeed ends up in those bottles IS Nestlé!

The truth is, on December 1, 2009 the World Health Organization (WHO) updated their HIV recommendations on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.  Tanya from Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog explains...

"In the past, it's been the recommendation that women who are HIV positive not breastfeed as long as formula feeding is "acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe".

Many women in developing countries don't have access to clean water, much less the resources to purchase formula, and not breastfeeding puts their infants at a high risk of death and disease. In one recent study of 14 developing countries, not breastfeeding resulted in over 325 deaths per 1,000 births compared to 35 deaths per 1,000 births among breastfed babies.

That's why breastfeeding, even though it may mean that a child becomes infected with HIV, is considered safer than not breastfeeding in much of the developing world. Both feeding options carry significant risks, but a child is far likelier to die early in life if he is not breastfed.

So, until today, the recommendation has been that women in developing countries feed their babies breastmilk substitutes only if it is "acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe." Otherwise, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended during the first six months of life, to be discontinued as soon as is feasible thereafter.

This has been a really difficult recommendation to follow, for several reasons. Exclusive breastfeeding (considered the safest method) is relatively rare. Weaning from exclusive breastfeeding to no breastfeeding at six months, as you can imagine, is extremely difficult. And women face significant stigma when not breastfeeding. Unlike the US, many developing countries never lost the "breastfeeding culture", and not breastfeeding is considered a give away that a woman is HIV positive.

But recent research has shown that when HIV positive mothers take antiretroviral drugs while breastfeeding, it reduces the risk of transmission dramatically. Access to ARVs has increased significantly in recent years. Accordingly, the WHO has changed its recommendation:

WHO now recommends that breastfeeding continue until the infant is 12 months of age, provided the HIV-positive mother or baby is taking ARVs during that period. This will reduce the risk of HIV transmission and improve the infant's chance of survival.

"In the new recommendations, we are sending a clear message that breastfeeding is a good option for every baby, even those with HIV-positive mothers, when they have access to ARVs", said Daisy Mafubelu, WHO's Assistant Director General for Family and Community Health."

I for one would NEVER buy a disposable baby bottle.  If people say that it would be convenient "on occasion" to use such a product, then I say it wouldn't be too inconvenient "on occasion" to use a reusable and recyclable BPA-free plastic or better yet, glass baby bottle and wash it and dry it and use it again and again and again.  And then I would pass it on to another mom.  I really have a hard time throwing anything in the garbage.  I donate clothing and household items that we no longer need or want; I have made the switch to LunaPads reusable menstrual products and the Diva Cup; we are avid recyclers and composters; we use reusable grocery bags and stainless steel water bottles; we buy organic as much as we can; and the list goes on and on... Then you hear about a company like Ready Made and it undermines you and everyone else that is trying to make a difference in our society... in our world.

And now that I'm researching this further, I've found many other companies selling pre-sterilized, single-use, disposable baby bottles - albeit not filled with formula - such as Steribottle and Vital Baby, to name just two.  I had to stop searching as I kept finding more and more!

I also had to laugh that the Vital Baby bottle was labeled "from 0 months" and yet had a fast flow nipple.  And then parents wonder why the baby has "reflux".  But I digress...

Please know that I am not attacking mothers that formula feed, whether it is by choice or by necessity.  Rather, I am upset with companies like Ready Made that skew the facts and bring questionable products to market all in the name of the allmighty dollar.  They simply don't care about anything else than their bottom line, but try to make you believe that they are being socially responsible.  If they really want to help the HIV pandemic, why don't they develop a truly green product and then donate a percentage of their profits to purchase the ARVs that these HIV positive mothers so desperately need?  Nestle?  Did you hear that?

So tell me how you feel about single-use baby bottles, either empty or filled with formula.  Tell me what you think about these companies that attempt to green wash us.  Tell me all about what you're thinking.  (And if you see the Ready Made bottles in stores, please let me know!)