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The Art of Conscious Gift Giving

Conscious gift giving is an act of pure love. It’s not something you have to do but something you want to do! With so many responsible companies giving back to the community and Earth, there is no reason not to invest in gifts for loved ones if you can afford it. Here are five socially responsible companies worthy of investing in during the season of giving and real joy. Ranging from modest to decadent, all items are high quality, earth friendly, and made with love.


Photo courtesy Rust & Fray

For the beloved Traveler on your list, Rust & Fray bags are an earth friendly, sustainable total win. All Rust and Fray bags are upcycled and hand crafted. The Nomad, featured here, is made of recycled leather and canvas. The company’s goal is “to provide textile workers with the opportunity to earn fair wages and come together to stand up against the destructive fast-fashion industry.”


Shar Veda

For the yogi or athlete, LVR Fashion creates lovely organic cotton active wear in Los Angeles, California. All styles are flattering and super comfy. From lounge pants to tanks, LVR has got you covered in ethical, sustainable style. LVR was founded in 2010 by Eric Clarke, an entrepreneur with a passion for animal rescue, who had the vision of creating high quality, affordable, earth-friendly products that would benefit the community - both locally and globally. LVR partners with ARCAS wildlife rescue center in Guatemala to donate a portion of their revenues to aid in wild animal rescue, rehabilitation and release.


Image courtesy Moondeli

For the wellness advocate, Mom and Dad, or a really cool couple, this fair trade raw chocolate super food tonic blend set from Moondeli is easy to use, delicious, and life enhancing. Mushroom Adaptogen, an anti-viral, anti-inflammatory mood enhancer is made with wild crafted chaga and cordyceps mushroom. Bliss Blend, an aphrodisiac, hormone balancer and mood enhancer is made with Maca. All Moondeli ingredients are vegan, organic or wild crafted, and ethically sourced.

 

Who doesn’t need lip care? For the Lover of Beauty and simple luxury, Henne Organics Lip Collection is sure to please. Inside of the classic white and black gift box are three of the best lip care items known to human kind: Luxury Lip Balm V2, Luxury Lip Balm, and Rose Diamonds Lip Exfoliator. The Henne philosophy is to “reintroduce a splash of luxury into the everyday without sacrificing design, ethics or one’s health. A modern and minimalistic approach replaces standard lip care product with something extraordinary.”


Image courtesy Theo Chocolates

For the Chocolate Lover: Handcrafted in Seattle Washington Theo's Holiday Collection make an excellent addition to any holiday stocking or gift basket. "For Theo, being a bean to bar chocolate maker goes beyond words, it means deliberate and thorough stewardship at every stage in the agricultural and manufacturing process." Small batch production is truly an art form you can see and taste." Fair Trade Sugar Rush for the Holidays anyone?


Shar VedaShar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook and Instagram!


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Charity Spotlight: CARE


CARE
Image courtesy CARE

This issue's charity: CARE

Why they’re crucial: In the world’s poorest communities, women and girls bear the strongest burdens of poverty.  When families struggle to grow food to eat or save money to send children to school, girls are often the first to be kept home. CARE works in developing communities around the globe to reduce poverty, build infrastructure and provide emergency aid, with a particular focus on educating and advocating for women and girls.  

What they do:  

• Partner with communities and local groups to prepare for disasters, and provide immediate assistance when emergencies hit.
• Provide recovery services to disaster survivors in countries around the world, including the Phillippines, Haiti and countries in Africa and the Middle East.
• Provide medical, legal, psychosocial and protection services to victims of gender-based violence in more than 40 countries.
• Create community savings and loan programs in 26 African countries that allow members to pool savings and loan each other money to pay for health care, start businesses and cover education costs.

Did you know? In Kenya, for every 10 young men infected with HIV, there are 45 infected young women. 

To donate to CARE, visit care.org or call (800) 521-CARE (U.S.) or (404) 681-2552

The Gift of Charity: Products that Give Back


Photo by Fotolia

Looking for the perfect gift for a loved one this holiday season? Consider giving a gift that will also help a deserving cause. Many companies have decided to do a little good this holiday season by donating part of their profits to a charity or by partnering with causes to help people in need. These gifts will make a difference this holiday while putting a smile on the face of the receiver.

 

1. Conscious Step Socks

These fashionable socks are designed with a specific cause in mind, and each pair makes a difference. The company partners with charities and non-profits to design a comfortable and environmentally friendly sock that symbolizes the cause, and then each purchase gives back. For example, one pair is a blue and gray paisley design with a water drop on it. The purchase of this pair will provide 18 months of safe water to a person who needs it. Other pairs fight hunger, plant trees and donate books. 

 

2. Alex & Ani ‘Charity by Design’ Bracelet

With Alex & Ani’s Charity by Design line, you can choose a cause that means the most to you or the person who will be receiving the bracelet. Some of the options are Toys for Tots, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The National Network to End Domestic Violence and UNICEF. The bracelets represent each meaningful cause beautifully and 20% of the purchase goes to the nonprofit you choose.

3. Wakawaka Power+ Solar Charger & Light

Get your resident phone addict this solar-powered charger. It can come in handy when there are no plugs around to charge a phone or tablet, and all it needs is sunlight. Plus, there is a flashlight on it to use when the sun isn’t shining. After it has been exposed to the sun for a day, it can provide 150 hours of light from the flashlight or a full charge for your phone. For every charger sold, this company donates a solar light to a family without electricity through the International Rescue Committee.

 

4. LifeStraw Go Water Bottle

This water bottle includes a 2-stage filtration system to provide clean and safe water no matter where you are. It cleans bacteria and contaminants as you drink and is a perfect gift for an adventurer or athlete. For every product sold, a child in a developing country will receive access to safe drinking water for a whole school year.

5. Charcoal Soap

Does somebody on your list deserve coal this year? Instead, give them charcoal soap! Charcoal has made a big splash in beauty products this year because of its purifying properties. With the purchase of this soap, a charcoal-efficient stove will be donated to a woman in Kenya. In Kenya, women often walk over 10 miles and 30 hours a week to collect firewood. Then, they cook over an open fire, which is the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes every day. Many women die from this exposure, and you can lessen that number with this bar of soap.

6. Moleskine Red Classic Notebook

Moleskine is a classic stationary notebook that is perfect for list-makers and planners. This Moleskine notebook is the classic with a twist. With a red elastic band and bookmark ribbon, Moleskine has taken this notebook to the next level by raising awareness for AIDS research. A portion of each sale goes toward the Global Fund to Fight AIDS and provides life-saving medication for people affected.

 

7. WeWOOD Watch

This is a unique and useful watch that comes in many styles and has no toxic or artificial materials. It has a rustic and nature like look. For every watch purchased, a tree is planted in an effort to bring awareness to the importance of nature and save the environment. Their goal is to plant 1 million trees by 2020, and you can help them reach that goal with a stylish gift.

8. Kidbox

Kidbox is a subscription service that sends hand-picked seasonal clothing for your child right to your doorstep. You’ll receive 6-7 items, and you can return what you don’t want to keep. You and your child can have fun all year opening the boxes together and discovering new clothes and styles. The best part is that for every box you keep, Kidbox will donate a new outfit to a child in need.

9. Adopt an Animal

Give the animal lover in the family the gift of symbolically adopting an animal of their favorite species and support the National Wildlife Federation. Some of the animals you can adopt include emperor penguins, seals, lions and kangaroos. The recipient will receive an official certificate of adoption and a poster of the animal that you have adopted for them, plus the knowledge that you helped save their favorite species on their behalf.

 

10. Story Shares Book

This nonprofit is based in Boston and its goal is to spread the love of reading and literacy. For every paperback book you purchase, it will donate another to a school where it can be given to someone who needs it. The library is full of books for struggling readers.

Make a difference this holiday season by choosing some of these feel-good gifts. There’s something for everyone on your list!


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Socially Responsible Gifts for the Holidays


Photo by Fotolia

If you ask people what is important to them when it comes to being kind to the earth, you’ll hear an array of answers. Going vegan, conserving energy, reducing waste…they are all important.

The holidays can be a time for a lot of waste, with lavish gifts and meals. I’ve done some research to create a list of gifts and stocking stuffers that will make this Christmas merry, bright, and a little more socially responsible.


Mata Traders

Clothes

Farm Fresh Clothing is a family owned company that creates 100% organic cotton shirts while using eco-friendly, water based inks. The line is very simple, featuring top quality clothing that serves as great staple pieces for your closet. The fabric is smooth, soft, and washes very well, proof that sustainable is practically perfect in every way.

Natural Life is a bohemian style store that sells handcrafted accessories and clothing. Each piece is completely unique. Their dresses are soft and versatile with a generally loose fit, which is great for all body types.

Mata Traders is a design-driven fair trade clothing brand dedicated to help end global poverty. The company’s stylish, colorful clothes and jewelry are made by artisans in India and Nepal, providing a stable source of income for workers and their families.


Evolution Salt co.

Home

Salt Lamps make rooms cozy, and balance the positive ions released by electronics. Evolution Salt lamps have natural cut, stone-like shapes, or more unusual options, like spheres or raindrops. The salt is pulled from more than a mile deep in Himalayan salt mines, then chunks are secured to rosewood. An open hole remains in the bottom for a light to be inserted for warming and releasing the lamp’s benefits.

When you discover chemicals you are exposed to when snuggling up in typical brand name sheets, you’ll understand the importance of going organic. Coyuchi or Syona sheets wash well, are soft and come in a variety of winter colors. Plush Saranoni blankets are a nice touch if giving bedding as gift; the patterns are unique and can be personalized.

The Kanata Blanket Company has many variations of faux fur, cozy, warm blankets. Their vintage throw looks as if it is made with leather and fur, but is actually vegan!


YogaRat

Adventurist Gear

Kleen Kanteen pushes to rid our environment of the 500 billion plastic bottles we toss in landfills every year. Made with all sustainable materials, Kleen Kanteen containers come in all shapes and sizes, keeping contents hot for up to 30 hours, and cold for 100 hours. Even the coloring is natural.

YogaRat has a variety of fun packaged gifts for yoga lovers. Materials are eco-friendly while remaining affordable. The Rat Pad is a multiuse cushion for floor style workouts. Their yoga towel has “grip” feel and can assist in prevent slips during poses.

It’s ski season, and everyone needs to have proper layering gear before hitting the slopes, something I learned the hard way; a story for another time. You’ll need a base “thermal underwear” layer, an insulating coat, water resistant pants, a shell layer and great boots. EVO is an outdoor outfitter that gives back, investing in non-profit organizations, engaging with their communities and even offering paid volunteer time off for employees.


Cate and Levi

Kids

Itching get away from the mainstream toys aimed at kids? Where did the creativity go? Cate and Levi's “Be the Maker” hand puppet is a beginner’s level hand puppet kit that allows parent and child to create the toy together. Instructions are simple and materials are 100% recycled.

One gift I always received on Christmas as a child was a cozy blanket and a tin of popcorn. During my break from school, I’d cuddle my blanket, eat popcorn and watch movies. Popcornopolis has many fun flavors without artificial colors or sweeteners, which can be purchased in a cone or a festive tin.Tins can be upcycled as ornament storage.


Oliberte

Shoes

Oliberte  treats every employee with respect, protecting the rights of workers in Africa. They have provided substantial jobs to those in poverty, and profits from their product go back into creating more jobs. The quality of the product is as solid as their values; each shoe is made with Fair Trade and sustainable materials. The Toria women’s boot is a rustic lace-up that slides on easily and provides a protective, comfortable fit…especially in the winter. The Yabela pull-on boot reaches well above the ankle if  more coverage is needed.

LOWA Boots are handcrafted in Europe, and are “cleanly” manufactured, following tight regulations on minimizing waste and pollution. Employees are also paid fairly. The result is a strong, earth friendly hiking boot for men and women. Veering away from fashion boots, the sporty footwear is more functional, but still attractive.

For the hiker or adventurer on your list, IceBug boots are made to have extra traction. While aimed at hikers and adventurist, these could serve the elderly well during the winter.


Rainwater Botanicals

Bath and Body

New Leaf Konjac Sponges are effective in gently polishing and cleansing skin. New Leaf’s Bamboo Charcoal sponges exfoliate and infuse skin with minerals, while being extremely gentle. Soap isn’t necessary but can be used. The charcoal variation is particularly perfect for acne prone individuals.

Rainwater Botanicals products are locally sourced and organic. They started out making a popular healing salve, then things took off from there. Pumpkin chai is a festive scent, which you can find in creams and all-natural perfume.

Detoxing during the holidays is important due to stress, and maybe a few too many cookies. Zoe Natural Creations Dirty Dude salt bath pulls out impurities and reduces stress, with its main ingredients being a variation of salts, black lava, and soothing oils.


Equal Exchange

Stocking Stuffers

Many Hershey’s products have artificial flavors, so I found different options. Instead of buying mass-produced chocolate, try a quality fair trade brand, such as Equal Exchange, which also offers coffee, tea and other gifts.

Packaged in recyclable material, Glee Gum uses chicle, which is sustainably harvested, meaning trees aren’t chopped down. No artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners either.  I’m a fan of their good old fashioned bubble gum.

B True Beauty Eyelash Enhancer is the perfect mascara replacement. With our makeup forward society, it’s exciting to see a line that enhances natural beauty. All natural, organic ingredients come in a tube identical to mascara, and thicken lashes. One stocking-friendly tube lasts for 6 months.

Coastal Classic Creations offers natural lipsticks with simple ingredients, and has a low hazard rating on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. The less artificial coloring that ends up in those stockings, the better!

Lauren Brooke Cosmetics offers a full line of make-up products, each item being cruelty free and highly above EWG standards. Foundations and eye shadows apply smoothly, and lip colors are naturally vibrant.

I hope this gets your brain turning so you can finish your shopping and have more time to make snow angels, eat cookie dough and snuggle. Merry Christmas!


Karyn WoffordKaryn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.


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Lifestyle Decisions That Make It a Little Easier to Live Green


Photo courtesy SocialMonsters

The current generation is the most eco-conscious generation yet, but attitudes and actions don’t always match. A study by the Shelton Group found that while millennials were the most likely of any group to have a green attitude toward energy conservation, this doesn’t necessarily translate into actions. Statistically, millennials are less likely than the average American to sacrifice personal convenience when it conflicts with environmental interests, and less likely to take simple eco-friendly actions such as recycling, bringing their own bags to shop, drinking water from reusable containers or unplugging items not in use.

Research by the Glass Packaging Institute similarly found that millennials are less likely than other age groups to take actions that save energy. Truly translating pro-environmental attitudes into action takes conscious planning of your lifestyle. Here are four ways you can adjust your lifestyle to make green living easier.

Where You Live

Where you live can make a difference in how easy it is for you to be environmentally friendly. For instance, cities that have better public transportation systems and bike routes make it easier to travel green than cities that don’t. WalletHub ranks the 100 greenest cities in America using 20 indicators, such as greenhouse gas emissions per capita and smart energy initiatives. Six of the top 10 cities are in California, with San Francisco ranking first, reflecting the strong environmental awareness of the Golden State.

But even if you don’t live in one of the top eco-friendly areas, you can still look for places to live in your own area that support a green lifestyle. For instance, if you’re looking to rent an apartment in New York, finding an apartment within walking distance of your workplace will cut down on your carbon footprint while helping you get some exercise.

Where You Work

Where you work also impacts the green quality of your lifestyle. Working for an employer who follows energy conservation practices or uses sustainable materials is a way you can contribute to the general welfare of the environment. In partnership with the Corporate Knights, Newsweek publishes an annual ranking of the top green companies in the United States, based on eight specific indicators, including energy productivity, greenhouse gas productivity, water productivity and waste productivity. In 2016, Hasbro came in at the top of the list, followed by Nike and Hershey.

How you get to work can also make an impact on both the environment and your health. You can choose greener transportation by walking or biking to work, taking public transportation or working from home.

What You Buy

Being more selective about what you buy is another way you can live a more green lifestyle. The Environmental Protection Agency points out that 42 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from energy used to produce, process and transport food and other goods. Shop for products made of sustainable, recyclable materials, and built to last so that you’ll generate less waste and consume less energy. Look for environmentally friendly packaging labels, such as ENERGY STAR, Water Sense, and Design for the Environment. Select green companies to buy from, using lists such as the Corporate Knights’ annual lists of America’s greenest companies or their list of the world’s most sustainable companies, currently topped by BMW.

Who You Know

Choosing a green lifestyle can also affect your relationships. If you want to conserve energy, but your roommate wants to run the air conditioner all day, you may find yourself butting heads. While you shouldn’t necessarily limit your friends to people who see eye-to-eye with you on environmental issues, seeking out friends, roommates and romantic partners who share your values in this area may make it easier for you to live a green lifestyle.

Being in favor of green living is one thing, but it takes some effort and being proactive to make a difference. But if you're unsure of how to put your principles into action, any or all of the above are great starting points!


Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

4 Nature-Inspired Halloween Costume Ideas

What we know as Halloween dates back to the Celtic festival of Samhain. During these festivals, Celts would adorn themselves in costumes, typically consisting of natural elements, to celebrate the end of harvest and the coming winter. Although the traditions surrounding All Hallows Eve were longstanding in England and Europe, its history in colonial New England was limited for a time due to religious beliefs. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the concept of treat-or-treating came into play, and by the 1930s, Halloween had become the secular holiday it is today.

Instead of opting for an ultra-modern or store-bought costume, hark back to ancient times with one of these nature-inspired Halloween costume ideas. Most of them can be made by upcycling existing clothes, adding a few accessories and a bit of makeup.

owl costume makeup

Owl

To create a complete owl look, hot glue some felt feathers onto a black, brown or tan top, or add a cape to create your wingspan. If kiddos aren’t willing to sit for make-up application (or, like me, your make-up skills aren’t great), you can always add a simple, tie-on mask to create the owl’s face. Pretty Pleased offers a fairly easy tutorial for creating the look above, and it doesn’t require a ton of products! Via Pretty Pleased.

simple Mother Nature costume
Photo by Viktoria Haack.

Mother Nature

Embody Mother Nature herself with this simple, woodland-inspired costume. Wear a dress made from natural fibers—cotton, linen, hemp—in the color scheme of your choice. Just because its fall doesn’t mean you can’t adorn yourself as a spring or summer version. Pin butterflies in your hair, create a bird’s nest atop your head, or keep it simple with a natural crown or flower crown. Via David Graves.

butterfly wings

Butterfly

Pair black pants, shoes and a black top with butterfly wings to create this striking costume. Your wings can be as simple or elaborate as you like. Attach black pipe cleaners around a headband to create antennae, and you’re all set. Via Cherie Harris.

tree costume

Tree

There are many ways to build your tree costume, but to create the unique look we’ve chosen you’ll just need some temporary, spray-in hair color (optional), natural accessories (optional), a brown outfit, and face paint. Add greens to hair, if you wish, and pin in any accessories you’ve chosen—moss, butterflies, birds or flowers. Put on brown clothing, and begin painting bark on any exposed areas, such as arms, neck and face. Via Joni Lynne.

Whether you’re getting ready to take your tots out for their first Halloween or dressing yourself for a party, these nature-inspired costume ideas are sure to please any crowd. If you're short on cash and time, check out 4 Last-Minute Halloween Costumes for more fun ideas.

5 Companies Worth Supporting, Pledged to Zero Waste Status


Photo via SocialMonsters

The concept of zero waste has created quite a buzz in the business world. With society continuously growing more and more eco-conscious, businesses across all industries have begun to reconsider how their recycling and waste management practices can be adjusted to achieve highly coveted zero-waste status.

Zero-waste status, which can be certified by the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, means that a company's product design and daily practices, from manufacturing to shipping, are strategically devised, with the goal of eliminating all waste and instead conserving and recycling resources. To officially earn this classification, a company doesn't have to literally produce zero waste, but rather divert a minimum of 90 percent of waste away from landfills.

Here are five companies that have achieved zero-waste status:

Subaru

This Japanese car manufacturing giant has created a landmark precedent in the automotive world. Subaru is the first automobile manufacturer to earn zero-landfill status. All waste from Subaru is diverted from landfills instead of being reused or recycled.

In 2002, Subaru announced its intentions to earn the zero-waste status, and within 18 months the company was able to completely overhaul its practices and procedures to achieve this status year after year. Most recently, Subaru announced a partnership with the U.S. National Park Service, in which the auto manufacturer will help national parks throughout the U.S. achieve zero-landfill status.

TireBuyer.com

TireBuyer.com sells an assortment of top-name brand tires like Goodyear, Michelin and Firestone. The company also has a firm commitment to sustainable practices, as any used tires tires and their packaging contents are properly recycled.

Tire disposal became a hot-button issue across the U.S. in the 1980s. But, since then, federal and state regulations have been passed to manage the issue of scrap tire disposal to ensure all material waste can be ground down and repurposed for new use.

Procter & Gamble

The consumer products giant is fully committed to doing its part to help Mother Earth. With 66 top-selling brands under its umbrella, like Gillette, Tampax, Pantene, Tide, Dawn, Bounty and Crest, more than 45 Procter & Gamble factories have a zero-landfill status. P&G has announced the entire company plans to be zero landfill by 2020.

Additionally, P&G plans to revamp its product packaging strategy by 2020, so that all its products will be made from recycled or renewable resources. The company also has plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and its overall energy consumption during manufacturing, as well as create power plants with more renewable forms of energy.

Bigelow Tea

Bigelow Tea is one of the most sustainable brands in the tea industry. Through its SustainabiliTea program, the company diverts 94 percent of its waste away from landfills and instead recycles and reuses what it can. Bigelow Tea also works exclusively with sustainable farmers in Sri Lanka, India and China in an effort to support ethical tea gardens and ensure the quality of its product.

DuPont Building Innovations

DuPont Building Innovations manufactures an assortment of top-quality building materials, including Tyvek building wrap, Corian countertops and Zodiaq quartz countertops. In 2009, the company announced a plan to transform its waste handling procedures to become zero waste within three years. By 2012, DuPont Building Solutions was able to dramatically reduce its waste from 81 million pounds annually to zero.


Allison Wilkinson is a WAHM, an explorer, an amateur chef and a fitness buff. You can find her Instagramming photos of her (adorable) son or researching everything from the latest parenting theories to healthy hacks for desserts.
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