A bird’s eye view of the Baldaufs’ kitchen gives even the casual observer a glimpse into their vision of sustainable households.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
A bird’s eye view of the Baldaufs’ kitchen gives even the casual observer a glimpse into their vision of sustainable households. There isn’t a wasteful paper towel roll in the house.
Instead, Lynda and Lasse utilize super-absorbent Swedish dishcloths for all their clean-up chores, from heavy-duty wiping to polishing. As the masterminds of Three Bluebirds, which manufactures eco-friendly and economical cloths that last approximately nine to twelve months, they’re doing their share to diminish the 3,000 tons of paper towels that end up in the country’s landfills every day.
Having grown up in Finland, “It was completely natural to reuse dish towels,” said Lasse. “In Europe, we never used paper towels. We’d wash and recycle naturally.”
Lynda added, “Not growing up in Scandinavia, I learned about the sustainability factor from Lasse. When I visited Finland, back in 1987, shoppers were taking their own cloth bags to the market, like we do here now. They were way ahead of the curve with the environment.”
Through the Three Bluebirds website, consumer shows, and such retail establishments as Mrs. Green’s, the cloths are catching on. According to the eco-conscious couple, one of their cellulose/cotton dishtowels does the work of 17 rolls of paper towels. Making it more durable and hygienic than a slow-to-dry, bacteria-ridden sponge, they can be thrown in the dishwasher or washing machine for over 200 cycles.
In addition to promoting environmental preservation, the Baldaufs’ intention is “to make people smile” with the towel’s hand-drawn childlike and heartwarming designs. Embracing Scandinavian simplicity, functionality, and aesthetics, they’re decorated with whimsical motifs, which include graphics, birds, animals, and holiday themes.
“It’s fun to introduce something new to the American market with our own designs,” said Lasse, a retired trade promoter, who devotes all his time now to Three Bluebirds. “It has been an interesting process.”
Lynda and Lasse met on Mount Fuji, Japan, where Lasse’s engineering projects had brought him and Lynda’s Asian studies had drawn her. On her first visit to Finland, she hit it off famously with Lasse’s mother.
“She didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak Finnish, but we found a common language in stitching,” recalled Lynda, who had been a stitching aficionado since she was a little girl. That shared passion inspired Lynda, who started a needlework company called Scandinavian Stitches in the United States, where the couple married in 1988 and raised twin daughters, Maija and Amy.
Three years ago, she expanded the business to include gift items and began importing Swedish dishcloths. “Our aha moment came at our trade shows when people gravitated towards the prints on the dishcloths,” noted Lasse.
They became so popular, in fact, that Lynda launched Three Bluebirds last year. “In Native American symbolism, bluebirds are considered a sign of love and joy,” she explained. “I loved the imagery.” The ‘three’ is for Lasse and their two daughters.
Three Bluebirds’ playful logo and original cloth designs came from Maija’s boyfriend, Ken Baughmann, a graphic design major. Since then, Lynda phased out the imports and started manufacturing the cloths locally, featuring Lasse’s own designs. They source their raw materials from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified forests. A local printer screens their designs using non-toxic, water-based inks. Currently, there are 62 designs and custom designs will be available before long.
This fall, Three Bluebirds will become a part of New York City’s urban scene. The Baldaufs were selected to man one of the coveted kiosks at both the Bryant Park and Columbus Circle Holiday Markets.
“It feels really good to share something that makes sense and that we really believe can help the environment,” said Lynda. “I love the idea, ‘whatever blesses one, blesses all.’”
Log on to www.threebluebirds.com for events schedule and ordering information.