Archive for the ‘socially beneficial’ Category

Paper Antler and Fifty Nifty

A friend of ours told us about a project that his brother and sister-in-law are endeavoring on. They are Jonny and Michelle, boutique photographers, and the couple behind Paper Antler. Their work is beautiful and captivating. Looking through their photos I see hope, love, romance, passion, adventure, and an unquenchable joy for life. Their desire is to bring together their passions–their gift for capturing the beauty of the world around them and social justice– through the Fifty Nifty project. One of the things that I really love is that it will only work if others join them. We need each other and the success of this project is dependent on more than just this lovely couple. It isn’t safe. It is risky. They are putting themselves out there with faith that they will be joined and that is beautiful.

Fifty Nifty:

  • Beginning in January of 2012, Jonny and Michelle will begin an adventure that will span one year.
  • Their goal: photograph 50 weddings in 50 states in 50 weeks donating $1000 from each wedding to She Dances for a total donation of $50,000. While this is their ideal goal, their primary goal is to raise $50,000 for She Dances in 50 weeks.
  • She Dances is an anti-human trafficking organization that they have worked closely with over the years.
  • $50,000 would assist She Dances in sustaining their current safe home in Honduras for one year or allow them to open a new safe home in another place of need.
  • They have a route mapped out, so check it out to see if they will be in your area when you or someone you know is getting married. Download this PDF for information about their route.
  • Spread the word.

Paper Antler‘s blog will have updates on Fifty Nifty bookings and other Fifty Nifty related news.

Sweatshop Free/Fair Trade Shopping

I was asked in response to my post yesterday to provide some suggestions as to what some of the best/worst companies to support are with regard to fair trade or to provide a resource.? Co-op America’s Repsonsible Shopper is probably the best resource that I can point you to.? It allows you to search for companies and get information about their environmental and social track record.? It is not a comprehensive list, but they are always adding new companies to their directory. Gap (this includes Old Navy and Banana Republic), Wal-Mart are some of the most notoriously bad companies as far as fair trade practices go.? Gap has repeated accounts of terrible working conditions overseas, including employing children as young as 10 years old in their sweatshops.? Some of the biggest complaints against Wal-Mart involve its treatment of workers in America.? According to reports, thousands of their employees are underpayed and rely on government assistance to meet their basic needs.? Nike is another traditionally bad company to support, however, they have been making a concerted effort to change their overseas labor practices. They recently have been more transparent about the locations of their factories and are being independently monitored.

Co-op America also has a great article on sweat shop free clothing.

Here is a list of some basic tips:

  1. Buy local.? Not only does this support your local economy, but you get to know the person creating the product and you can ask them as many questions as you like about their practices.? This goes for anything from food to clothing.? The clothing will more than likely be more expensive because it is handmade, but it guarantees that the product that wasn’t made in a sweatshop.? Etsy is a fun site to check out for handmade goods.
  2. Buy used products.? Go to a thrift store or local consignment shop and look around.? You will find some great deals.
  3. Research the companies you are buying from.
  4. Look for a UNITE label.

It is important to note that none of these can guarantee that the entire product was made in a fair trade facility.? Most products are assembled from pieces made all over the world and a Made in America label could mean that only the finishing touches were put on in America (like buttons).? However, following these guidelines is still important.? It is just not a perfect solution to the social justice issues of labor practices.

Here are a few more helpful resources in your search for responsible shopping:

No Sweat Apparel

Co-op America’s National Green Pages

Green Home’s Products Page

Fair Green Trade

The Green Earth Directory

Finally, I would like to leave you with an interesting article on Portland, OR, a city that is attempting to go sweatshop free.

StatAttak: tshirts that tell quite a story

StatAttak Mozambique TShirt

Los Angeles-based design company Stolen, Inc. was researching a project they were working on and came across some staggering information.

came across “Life Expectancy at Birth.” Andorra was the highest with 83.51 years, and all the way at the bottom was Mozambique with 31.1 years

They decided to do something about it. They’ve created a line of tshirts to educate and raise funds. It’s called StatAttak. Stolen will be setting aside 20% of the money from the sale of the shirts to build an orphanage in Mozambique.

Since Mozambique was the country that inspired all of this, the Sons of Stolen are putting 20% of the money from the sale of the shirts towards building an orphanage in Mozambique. Instead of giving the money to a charity, we will go to Mozambique with a group of volunteers from the design industry and build an orphanage from the ground up. We hope that this will help us better understand Africa and that a personal interaction with the local population will inspire everyone involved to keep working towards solutions to the many problems facing that continent.

Not only is this a great opportunity to make a change in the world, the shirts are also beautiful. Mollie and I will both be sporting StatAttak tshirts.

21 things you didn’t know you could recycle

Co-op America posted a list of 21 things you didn’t know you could recycle and I am sharing it with you.

1. Appliances: Goodwill accepts working appliances,, or you can contact the Steel Recycling Institute to recycle them. 800/YES-1-CAN,

2. Batteries: Rechargeables and single-use: Battery Solutions, 734/467-9110,

3. Cardboard boxes: Contact local nonprofits and women’s shelters to see if they Boxcan use them. Or, offer up used cardboard boxes at your local listserv or on for others who may need them for moving or storage. If your workplace collects at least 100 boxes or more each month, accepts them for resale.

4. CDs/DVDs/Game Disks: Send scratched music or computer CDs, DVDs, and PlayStation or Nintendo video game disks to AuralTech for refinishing, and they’ll work like new: 888/454-3223,

5. Clothes: Wearable clothes can go to your local Goodwill outlet or shelter. ShirtsDonate wearable women’s business clothing to Dress for Success, which gives them to low-income women as they search for jobs, 212/532-1922, Offer unwearable clothes and towels to local animal boarding and shelter facilities, which often use them as pet bedding. Consider holding a clothes swap at your office, school, faith congregation or community center. Swap clothes with friends and colleagues, and save money on a new fall wardrobe and back-to-school clothes.

6. Compact fluorescent bulbs: Take them to your local IKEA store for recycling:

7. Compostable bio-plastics: You probably won’t be able to compost these in your home compost bin or pile. Find a municipal composter to take them to at

8. Computers and electronics: Find the most responsible recyclers, local and national, at

9. Exercise videos: Swap them with others at

10. Eyeglasses: Your local Lion’s Club or eye care chain may collect these. Lenses Glassesare reground and given to people in need.

11. Foam packing: Your local pack-and-ship store will likely accept foam peanuts for reuse. Or, call the Plastic Loose Fill Producers Council to find a drop-off site: 800/828-2214. For places to drop off foam blocks for recycling, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers, 410/451-8340,

12. Ink/toner cartridges: pays $1/each.

13. Miscellaneous: Get your unwanted items into the hands of people who can use them. Offer them up on your local or listserv, or try giving them away at or giving or selling them at will also help you find a recycler, if possible, when your items have reached the end of their useful lifecycle.

14. Oil: Find Used Motor Oil Hotlines for each state: 202/682-8000,

15. Phones: Donate cell phones: Collective Good will refurbish your phone and sell Cellphoneit to someone in a developing country: 770/856-9021, Call to Protect reprograms cell phones to dial 911 and gives them to domestic violence victims: Recycle single-line phones: Reclamere, 814/386-2927,

16. Sports equipment: Resell or trade it at your local Play It Again Sports outlet, 800/476-9249,

17. Technotrash: Easily recycle all of your CDs, jewel cases, DVDs, audio and video tapes, cell phones, pagers, rechargeable and single-use batteries, PDAs, and ink/toner cartridges with GreenDisk’s Technotrash program. For $30, GreenDisk will send you a cardboard box in which you can ship them up to 70 pounds of any of the above. Your fee covers the box as well as shipping and recycling fees. 800/305-GREENDISK,

18. Tennis shoes: Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program turns old shoes into playground and athletic flooring. One World Running will send still-wearable shoes to athletes in need in Africa, Latin America, and Haiti.

19. Toothbrushes and razors: Buy a recycled plastic toothbrush or razor from ToothbrushRecycline, and the company will take it back to be recycled again into plastic lumber. Recycline products are made from used Stonyfield Farms yogurt cups. 888/354-7296,

20. Tyvek envelopes: Quantities less than 25: Send to Shirley Cimburke, Tyvek Recycling Specialist, 5401 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Spot 197, Room 231, Richmond, VA 23234. Quantities larger than 25, call 866/33-TYVEK.

21. Stuff you just can’t recycle: When practical, send such items back to the manufacturer and tell them they need to manufacture products that close the waste loop responsibly.

A list with some information.

This is the slightly longer version of the “10 small changes you can make for the benefit of creation” list I made for my church back in April for Creation Sunday. It has some good and interesting information in it so I thought that I would go ahead and share it with you guys.

  1. Eat Local (Grow your own veggies, buy a share in Community Supported Agriculture, shop at farmers markets)
    Info: Supermarket food travels an average of 1,500 miles by the time it gets to your plate. Buying local strengthens the local economy. A dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy. You get to celebrate the seasons by eating local in-season food.
  2. Buy fair trade, organic, shade grown coffee and fair trade, organic tea.
    Info: Sun coffee (grown with no shade canopy) destroys natural habitats and cannot be sustained for many years without intensive management (additions of chemical fertilizers and a range of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides). The few studies that have been conducted have found that the diversity of migratory birds plummets when coffee is converted from shade to sun (studies in Colombia and Mexico found 94-97% fewer bird species in sun grown coffee than in shade grown coffee) 1.
  3. Buy organic food when possible, especially organic chocolate.
    Info: Non-organic cocoa is 2nd only to cotton in terms of the most pesticides used on the crop. Exposure to pesticides is being increasingly linked to various kinds of cancer. Industrialized agriculture produces food that is deficient in minerals and nutrition because it has over-cultivated the land. Crops get their nutrients and minerals from the soil that it is grown on. If the soil is not taken care of and becomes unhealthy then the food grown on it will also lack nutrition and health.
  4. Buy products with minimal or reusable packaging or buy in bulk (like the bulk bins at Madison Market Co-op or Whole Foods) and use your own containers when shopping and bring your own shopping bags.
    Info: Around 33% of trash in the average American household comes from packaging.
  5. Start an indoor or outdoor compost bin.
    Info: “The landfill is not designed to help things biodegrade, which requires contact with air and water. Instead, landfills hermetically seal their contents away from the environment to protect it from the toxic things in the landfill that aren’t biodegradable. What this means, is that organic things like apple cores and yesterdays newspapers and cornstarch cups, when dumped in the landfill, either don’t break down at all and certainly don’t end up returning nutrients to the earth or they break down anaerobically, which means they produce methane, a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.”2
  6. Buy recycled paper toilet paper to help protect endangered forests.
    Info: Every day, the amount of toilet paper used equals about 270,000 trees.
  7. Make your own household cleaners.
    Info: The EPA says indoor air pollution is often 2-5 times worse than outdoor air pollution, and harsh cleaning chemicals contribute.
  8. Switch to compact florescent light bulbs (CFL)
    Info: CFLs are some of the most efficient lights available – they can replace incandescent bulbs that are roughly 3 to 4 times their wattage, saving up to 75% of your lighting energy.
  9. Buy used products when possible (books, clothing, furniture) and make repairs when possible instead of buying new.
  10. Print only when necessary and on recycled paper.
    Info: Offices use 1.5 lbs of paper per person per day.
  11. Use a coffee mug or travel mug.
  12. Reduce your carbon footprint caused by travel (buy a TerraPass, use flexcar, carpool, public transit, bike, or walk)
    Info: Every gallon of gasoline burned creates about 20 lbs of climate change-causing CO2.
  13. Enjoy God’s creation by being part of a community garden (or start your own community garden in your own backyard), volunteering on a farm, or getting out and enjoying nature with loved ones.

1Smithsonian, National Zoological Park, Migratory Bird Center; 2 No Impact Man;

Evan Almighty and The Conservation Fund

Get on Board

Lights, camera, take action! Ha.

Tom Shadyac, director of the film Evan Almighty, wanted to make the first major motion picture that was a zero emission (carbon neutral) production. He describes Evan Almighty as a film that speaks of our need to be good stewards of the Earth and he didn’t want to contribute to the destruction of the Earth while trying to get this message across. So, they worked with Habitat for Humanity, Conservation Fund, and Hope to Others to create a movie that left no trace (similar idea to “leave no trace” camping or hiking).

“Green” activities/efforts during production included:

  • The film’s production was carbon offset through a donation to the Conservation Fund.
  • All the landscaping, lumber, windows and other reusable materials were donated to Habitat for Humanity.
  • All crew members were given bicycles by director Tom Shadyac to reduce car usage.
  • Recycled paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass were used on set.
  • After production was completed, trees were planted near the site of the ark in Crozet,VA as a thank you to the community.
  • HtoO water was used -(Hope to Others, a company founded by Tom Shadyac, donates 100% of the profits after taxes to charity).

Go to their site to find out ways in which you can Go Zero (as individuals and businesses).

Sustainable shoes from two good shoe companies

Both Simple Shoes and Keen have started sustainable shoe lines. So now you can cause less damage as you walk around this green earth or more accurately, you can keep more of the earth green as you walk around on concrete.

Simple Shoes

Green Toe shoes is Simple’s line of natural footwear for both men and women and is their “effort to minimize the ecological footprint left by shoes” (they also make a really cool feedbag). Some of the ingredients they use in making their Green Toe shoes are: water based cement, which is less toxic and has a less propensity to be a fire hazard than traditional cement; crepe/laytex collected from Hevea (rubber) trees once the tree has matured; cork, which is usually harvested from the Cork Oak tree and naturally has a large composition of suberin, a waxy mixture that is water, mold, mildew, and pest resistant substance; jute, a long, soft, shiny fiber from the jute plant that can be spun into long, course, strong threads; wool, a fiber spun from the fur of a couple different types of animals, most commonly sheep; and bamboo, a woody, perennial, evergreen plant whose fiber can be spun into fabric.

Read more about the Simple Shoe company to get educated on their mission and practices (this is a good habit to get into).

Keen Footwear

I found Keen’s Ventura shoes when I was at REI last week. The Ventura is a woman’s shoe that is 100% vegan (no leather, no glues), features an organic canvas upper, a foot bed made from a combination of cork and natural latex, a natural rubber outsole, and recycled eyelets. Keen is also committed to reducing packaging, reduced printing, and using sustainable materials. I am not sure why, but the Ventura shoes are not yet on Keen’s website so if you are interested in buying some you will have to either look online at REI or go into an REI store.

Read about the Keen company to get educated on their mission and practices. Also, check out the Keen Foundation and learn about what they are doing to help people and the planet.

Greenfibre’s January sale

Greenfibre is having their biggest ever January sale. For those of you who don’t know Greenfibre “sells ethical, natural and organic bedding, organic clothing, organic and biodynamic skin care products, organic fabrics and wool and eco-friendly household cleaning stuff”. Right now they are having a sale of everything from organic cotton flannel duvet covers to men’s organic cotton blue jeans. This is not a call for needless consumption, but if you were in need of making some purchases anyway check out their site and see if you can find it on sale.

Natracare Feminine Hygiene Products

Female reproductive system
I want to preface this post by saying that I do not think the subject of feminine health and hygiene should or needs to be embarrassing or awkward. That being said, I realize that it is for some people for varying reasons. However, there is important information regarding feminine health/hygiene and education should not be avoided because of embarrassment. Women’s health is very important and awareness cannot be raised in an environment of shame. With that in mind I would like to encourage both men and women alike to read this post and/or find other ways of learning more about this subject matter.

Since puberty I have dreaded anything that has to do with my reproductive organs. I didn’t want to learn anything about the female body. Since the age of 12 when I first got my period I have hated it. There were a lot of reasons; the main one being that I quickly discovered that it was always going to be a significant source of problems for me. My way of dealing with this fact was to ignore it. I wouldn’t go to the doctor, I wouldn’t talk about it, I wouldn’t learn the correct terms that relate to this subject matter, I even refused to study the female body in my AP Anatomy/Physiology class. I still get really nervous about whether I am using the term “menstruation” correctly (To be totally honest I just looked it up again to make sure.). This has become a major problem in my life and a difficult one for me to fix mainly because it is an enigma. It is not like me to run away from a problem or pretend like it is not there. Living in reality is very important to me, even when it is difficult to do so.

Natracare feminine hygiene products

However, yesterday at the grocery store I made a very significant change. I made a change in my usual feminine hygiene purchase. It began as an accident when the term “organic cotton” caught my eye. I was already holding my regular products when I saw natracare‘s chlorine free, perfume free, plastic free, biodegradable, organic tampons, pads, and panty liners. Years ago I heard about the health problems caused by chlorine bleaching in the production of tampons, pads, and panty liners (most mainstream brands do this), but chose to ignore it.

Dioxin, among other toxins, is a by-product of chlorine bleaches (organochlorines); making even its production harmful to the environment. Dioxin is a carcinogen (cancer causing substance) that builds up over time in the environment, animals, and human beings (As a result of the food chain we receive dioxins not only from what we are immediately exposed to, but also the dioxins from that which we eat.). The more exposure you have to dioxins, the more you are going to accumulate this toxin in your body over your lifetime.

Dioxins, furans and PCB’s, which are generally referred to as dioxin-like compounds, are highly toxic organochlorines. These compounds are extremely fat seeking. There are some natural organochlorines in the atmosphere, but considerably greater amounts of artificially produced ones. Minute traces of dioxins may have existed before industrialization, but a huge rise occurred in the late 1940’s along with the expansion of organochlorine manufacture, which started at this time, and the extensive use of pesticides in agriculture worldwide.

The production of dioxins in the manufacture of paper pulp products such as tampons and sanitary pads, are not only harmful to the environment, but also unnecessarily expose women to low levels of dioxins every time they use these products. Dioxin settles in the fat cells of our bodies and stay there for the rest of our lives, building up cumulatively over time from birth, so increased exposure means increased risk.

The use of organochlorines and the resulting dioxins is not limited to feminine hygiene products, but can also found in cleaning products/sanitizers, cosmetics, pesticides, and chlorine bleached pulp and paper products (paper towels, toilet paper, paper, etc.) just to name a few. Natracare has a great Health and Environment section with a lot of important information if you are interested in learning more. Since I am new to this myself I don’t have a lot of resources to pass on to you at this point. However, if you do have any helpful information to pass along I would love it if you would do so in the comment section.

Today, I celebrate being a woman and all complexities that come with this body of mine.

The Summer of Fat Tire

New Belgium Brewing Company - Fat Tire Beer
Many evenings this summer over at Mom’s were spent in the company of loved ones, sitting in the three seasons room or back yard around a fire, relaxing, watching lightening bugs, and drinking Fat Tire beer. As the leaves are falling, the days are now getting colder, and the desires to cozy in and bundle up are increasing; it still makes me feel warm, happy, and free to think about those nights.

It was the beginning of this past summer, as my husband and I were walking through the grocery store, that we saw boxes and boxes of New Belguim Brewing Company’s Fat Tire. It was a great surprise to find out that it was now being sold East of the Mississippi and it was easily decided that we would buy one of those boxes. As it turned out, we would continue to keep a steady supply in the house throughout the summer; sharing its goodness with family and friends.

Adding to the greatness of this delicious beer are the practices of New Belgium Brewing Company. I will follow their lead and break their practices into three categories: Ownership, Sustainablity, and Philanthropy.

The company has been employee owned since the hiring of its first employee, Brian Callahan. It is important to Jeff and Kim (the founders) that employees have a “vested interest in the company” and that they all get to reap from the benefits and failures alike. “These days, ownership is awarded at one year?s employment (along with a one-year, commemorative, neat-o cruiser bike!).” In addition to this, there is “a policy of fiscal transparency” which they practice in order to encourage “a community of trust and mutual responsibility”.


Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction ? In 1998, New Belgium took an employee vote and decided to commit to being the nation?s first 100% wind-powered brewery. Employee owners voted to dip into their bonus pool to help finance the conversion.

Healthy Watersheds ? Water is a key ingredient of beer.Through recapture and reuse, New Belgium has nearly halved the industry average of using eight barrels of water to produce one barrel of beer.

Green Building? New Belgium has been a long-time participant in green building techniques. From sun tubes and daylighting throughout the facility to reusing heat in the brewhouse, we continue to search out new ways to close loops and conserve resources.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? New Belgium has found many creative ways to follow the three R’s.


Since its inception, New Belgium Brewing Company has donated more than 1.6 million dollars to organizations in the communities where we do business. This is our way of staying local and giving back to the communities who support us.

Party hard, but party sustainably. 😉

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