For the Greater Goods

A lifestyle blog for the conscious consumer


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Decluttering 2016: Out with the old

January is the month of resolutions and new beginnings. New year, new you, right? That being said, start of a new year is the perfect time to go through all of your things and decide what you want to bring with you in 2016. Out with the old and in with the new. Start off the year on a conscious note by clearing out and donating the things you don’t need/like/want, so you can focus on the things you love.

Often times once the hype of the New Year dies down, so does our motivation to keep to our goals for the New Year. Here are a few ideas to help you stay motivated in the first few months of 2016 while you clean out, organize, and declutter your life.

1. Read a Book:

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But not just any book… While I have yet to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I have heard WONDERS about it. Japanese cleaning consultant, Marie Kondo, gives you a step-by-step guide to organize, simplify, and store all of your belongings. Many organization methods recommend a room-by-room method, but Kondo explains a new category-by-category system that can help you achieve better results. She urges you to determine which of your possessions “spark joy” and which do not in order to minimize your possessions. The ultimate goal is to come to the realization that you have more processions than you need and it’s cluttering your life. This book will help you take the necessary steps to make a permanent change in your life.

2. Clothes Capsule:

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Clothes capsules and mini wardrobes are a great way to weed out clothes you don’t need and figure out which ones you can and can’t live without. The idea behind a smaller wardrobe is that it saves you time when deciding what to wear, saves money, and simplifies your life. I recently heard about a clothes capsule challenge called 15 for February, which you can read more about here. Basically, you challenge yourself to choose 15 items to wear in the entire month of February. 15 for February is also tied to the charity Contact a Family, which is a British charity that helps families with disabled children. Get your friends involved, get sponsored, and get rid of all the clothes you don’t need!

3. Give Back:

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Now that you’ve successfully organized, cleaned, and de-cluttered, it is time to give back. Donate all the clothes you cleaned out to charity, which could be a homeless shelter, Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc.. You could even give them to a friend who will appreciate them. Or if you’re looking to make a buck, sell them to a consignment shop. All of these are a great way to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Only discard of things that you KNOW no one in their right mind would want. Those stinky, scuffed up, full of holes, used-to-be-white-but-are-now-pale-yellow sneakers are probably good to go.

I hope these tips will inspire you to take a good look at everything you own and take the time to simplify your life. Happy 2016!


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2015 Gifts That Give Back

Tis’ the season for giving! I’ve curated a fun list of gift ideas that give back in more ways that one. By giving these gifts, you’re also giving back to a great cause.

2015 Gifts That Give Back

 

1. The Gemma Hat by Krochet Kids: Krochet Kids supports women living in poverty in Northern Uganda and Peru by providing them with jobs, an education, and career counseling in order to create long lasting, sustainable change. This classic, gray pompom beanie is perfect for colder weather.

2. Dime Collection (tortoise frame with gold mirror lenses) by Diff Eyewear: These shades not only keep you from squinting on bright, sunny days, but also help to supply eyeglasses to rural areas in Africa. For every pair of eyewear that is bought through Diff Eyewear, a pair of eyeglasses is given (at no cost) to communities that do not have access to vision care.

3. Resilience Necklace by Made By Survivors: Made By Survivors provides jobs, education, and shelter to thousands of human trafficking survivors in Nepal, India, Cambodia, and Thailand. This particular necklace is inspired by vines that grow in Northern India. Like the women who make these necklaces, vines are very resilient. When you cut them down, they grow back even stronger.

4. Black and Gold Striped Vase by Ten Thousand Villages: Ten Thousand Villages is one of the world’s largest fair trade organizations. They are the founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization and strive to improve the lives of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries. This vase is made with a traditional Peruvian technique, but the black and gold stripes give it a modern twist.

5. Nine West Cross Body from The Fashion Foundation: Recently Nine West donated over 300 bags to the Fashion Foundation. So if you want to get a good quality bag for a fraction of the cost while also supporting a good cause, this is the place to do it. The Fashion Foundation has donated over $10,000 to schools in need of basic supplies like pencils, crayons, uniforms, and basic gym equipment. You can read more about The Fashion Foundation in this interview I did with the founder, Amanda Munz.

6. Maria Poncho by Moorea Seal: Moorea Seal is an awesome store that donates 7% of profits to a variety of causes. This poncho combines comfort and style and gives back to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. I call that a win-win-win. You can also check out my Moorea Seal gift guides from last year: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

7. Dark Chocolate with Peppermint Crunch by Endangered Species Chocolate: There’s no better winter combination than chocolate and peppermint. 10% of the proceeds from each bar go to one of two foundations Endangered Species Chocolate is currently partnered with: African Wildlife Foundation or The Xerces Society.

8. On Purpose Blue Leather Tote by Kate Spade: What girl doesn’t want to find a Kate Spade bag under the tree? This particular bag is from the On Purpose collection, which provides jobs, heath care, and fair wages to 150 women in Masoro, Rwanda. The end goal is to positively transform the entire community of over 20,000 people.

9. Tiny Treasures Lil’ Zip by Dogeared: The makers of this adorable pouch are a little different than the rest of the companies on this list. Dogeared is a certified B-Corp, which means it is a for profit company that is certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

10. In-Ear Wired Sport Headphones by SMS Audio: These headphones help support Feeding America, which is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization. SMS Audio was founded by 50 Cent so you know they’ll be stylish, yield high quality sound, and will be appreciated by the music lover in your life.


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Orange Harp 2015 Gift Guide (For Her)

Every year I make myself wait until after Thanksgiving to start thinking about Christmas. No Christmas decorations, no holiday music, no gift shopping until I have properly stuffed my face with turkey. And every year I find myself in a mad rush to find last minute gifts. This year I’ve decided to take a new approach. In respect for Thanksgiving, I will still keep the holiday tunes and décor to a minimum, but I am going to start thinking about gifts a little earlier to spare myself any last minute stress.

I thought I would help my readers out too by creating my first gift guide of the year. Last year my first seasonal gift guide revolved around a company called Orange Harp. For those of you who have never heard of Orange Harp, Orange Harp is a mobile app that serves as a marketplace for high-quality, ethically crafted, socially conscious products. They partner with brands that make things the right way. The thing I love most about Orange Harp is that they believe you don’t have to sacrifice quality or style to lead a conscious life.

Since my original gift guideOrange Harp has grown in many ways. They currently have partnered with 45 brands and sell over 4,000 products. Orange Harp has also updated their app with filter options for easier navigation. In my opinion, the coolest new addition is their Orange Harp Heroes program. They encourage users to send in their socially conscious tips and stories so Orange Harp can share them with the world. You can email you tips to life@orangeharp.com for a chance to win a $10 gift card.

All the products below are available on the Orange Harp app which you can download from the app store. You can click the links to learn more about each product and why they’re considered socially conscious. This is your lucky day because you can also save some money by using the code GREATERGOODS at checkout to get 15% off your entire purchase (valid through November 30, 2015). Happy shopping!

Orange Harp For Her Gift Guide 2015

1. Aasha Glass Cuff

2. All Natural Hand Cream Smoother

3. Arapahoe Red Button Down

4. Ring Holder

5. Presidio Tote

6. White Sage & Wild Mint Tea

7. Kiss Ring

8. View Sera Cosmetic Bag


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Food For Thought

The local farm to table food trend has taken the restaurant industry by storm, but there is another socially conscious movement that is starting to pop up among our favorite eats: charity. When it comes to charity, the restaurant industry might not be the most obviously place to look, but times are a changin’. I’ve recently come across three restaurants that are helping their communities in three very different ways.

Rosa’s Pizza: Helping the Needy One Slice At a Time

I am particularly interested in the entrepreneur who created Rosa’s Pizza because he is a fellow Babson grad and got to meet Ellen Degeneres. It gives me hope that one day Ellen might grace me with her glorious presence… A girl can dream.

What makes Rosa’s Pizza so unique is its pay it forward business model. For only a $1 you can buy a piece of pizza for a homeless person. It is so simple and inexpensive, yet clearly has seen great success. If you want to participate, but don’t live near Philly, you can still donate slices of pizza by clicking here.

Worth Our Weight

WOW Cafe Santa Rosa: Developing great lives through good food

Worth Our Weight is a cafe in Santa Rosa that empowers at risk youths by providing a unique, yearlong apprentice opportunity in the culinary industry. The young adults (age 16-24) in the program face major challenges such as: difficulties with the law, homelessness, or significant family disruption. The program offers an introduction to sustainable farming, professional cooking, operating a restaurant, and access to high-quality food prepared by chefs and the skills to prepare quality food for themselves. Apprentices who successfully complete one year’s training may be invited to stay for a second year of advanced training, which includes: learning the role of sous-chef, line cook or manager. Click here to learn about how you can get involved.

The Stray Cat Cafe

The Stray Cat Cafe: Helping Strays Find Their Way

The motto at the Stray Cat Cafe is: “Eat, Drink & Rescue!”. They directly support the  Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, which rescues abandoned or displaced dogs and cats and puts them in happy, safe homes. To date the LDCRF has saved over 18,000 animal lives.

The menu focuses on the 3 S’s: soups, salads, and sandwiches. The menu is scattered with cleverly named items such as Cats-a-dillas, Cat Nip Dip (contains no actual cat nip), and the Calico Club. Following the cat theme, the inside of the cafe is scattered with pictures of adopted cats. Not a cat person? Not a problem. You can check out the Lost Dog Cafe, which the Lost Cat’s sister restaurant and benefits the same Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation. Both restaurants are locating in Arlington, VA.

So if you’re ever in any of these areas, definitely grab a bite and support an amazing cause. And if you know of any restaurants that are making a difference in your communities, write them in the comments down below.


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Fair Treasure September Box Review

Last month I wrote a post about my first experience with Fair Treasure, which is a monthly subscription box that contains ethically sourced “treasures” from all over the world. To my delight I received another box this month.DSC00012

Just like my last box, this one included three items and a set of cards that give a description of each item and how it is made. All the items in this box are very relevant for fall and will surely get a lot of use this season.

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Alem Necklace By Raven & Lily

This bohemian, woven, rusty red necklace is very fall appropriate. It’s causal, simple, but also very versatile. You can tie it into a necklace or wrap it into a bracelet. And I’m sure if you think a little outside the box you can find some other creative uses.

It is made by Raven + Lily, which is an ethical fashion and lifestyle brand dedicated to empowering impoverished women from all over with world with a safe job, sustainable income, health care, and education.DSC00016

Home Fires Candle Set by Silence

Nothing says its fall like a room full of cinnamon scented candles, right? This set includes scented candles in a variety of fall shades. These candles smell exactly like the fall section of a craft store (minus the old ladies who are trying to pick out the best faux leaves for their latest DIY). I’ve had them sitting in my room for a while and without even lighting them, they completely stunk up my room, but in the best way possible. One thing I love most about this set, besides the smell, is that it comes with three frosted glass holders. So they can serve as a decorative piece on their own, or you can place them in a candle holder like the Silver Prayers Candle Holder that also came in the box.

The candles are made by Silence, which is a very unique self–help project for artisans who are deaf or physically disabled . It gives them an opportunity to become self-sufficient and earn a living.

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Silver Prayers Candle Holder by Noah’s Ark International Exports

I’m not usually one to get excited about candle holders. It holds a candle, what’s the big deal? But I actually really love this one. I love it because when you put a candle in it the light flickers and shines through the faint, transparent holes throughout the silver coating and it reminds me of a starry night sky. I know so mushy, right? But it’s true! I love the effect light has on this semi-translucent piece.

The candle holder is made by Noah’s Ark International Exports, which is a fair trade handicraft distribution organization that supports local artisans in India.DSC00037

Besides the quality, practicality of these products, I love the fact that each of them support small businesses. Fair Treasure allows you to support and access goods from local economies all over the world. And while I do believe heath, education, and many other philanthropic causes are equally important, I think creating a stable economy isn’t usually associated with humanitarianism. And that’s why I think Fair Treasure is so wonderfully unique.

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Inspiring Instagrams: Accounts That Are Making An Impact All Over The World

While there are many superficial aspects surrounding Instagram and social media, both are powerful ways to reach an enormous audience and spread awareness. I’ve gathered a cornucopia of accounts that are currently inspiring me. What I love about all of these accounts is that they don’t just present you with problems, but rather solutions and an outlet to get involved. They spread awareness in a positive and unique way. Check em’ out, stir up some awareness, donate if/when possible, and get ready to get inspired.

National Geographic (@natgeo): “Life is an adventure—enjoy the ride and the world through the eyes of the National Geographic photographers.”

I learn something new about world cultures, animals, and the environment every day from the National Geographic Instagram feed. It brings attention to environmental causes, human rights issues, and endangered species while posting breathtaking images from remote locations around the world. But this feed not only spreads awareness to global issues, but also shows you what people and charities are doing to solve these problems.

Charity Water (@charitywater): “We’re bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in need around the world.”

Of all the charity Instagram’s I’ve checked out, Charity water is my favorite. Charity Water brings clean, safe drinking water to people around the world. Their Instagram does a great job of showing their incredible impact while also teaching you about the importance of clean water access. Their feed shows how your donations directly impact people’s lives.

National Wildlife Foundation (@nationalwildlife): “Home of #wildlifeselfies — a series of silly and close-up wildlife photos. Working to inspire people to protect wildlife and enjoy the outdoors.”

If you don’t think this account is adorable, then I question whether or not you have a soul.  Cute animals, funny captions, what more does an Instagram account need? The feed is also peppered with tips on how you can do your part to support their mission to protect wildlife and enjoy the great outdoors.

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Before this fundraiser, Fatima had exhausted her financial resources in the struggle against bonded labor to the point where she feared that she'd be unable to pay her own medical bills. Thanks to everyone who donated over the past 72 hours, she now has nearly $2 million to continue her organization's fight against bonded labor. (To fully visualize this impact, it should be realized that the purchasing power of a dollar in Pakistan is about 5x greater than in the United States.) This is an absolutely transformational amount of money. Fatima is meeting with the board of the BLLF to plan a major expansion of their efforts, and she wanted me to pass along this statement: "From BLLF and from all of the bonded labourers, thank you. Thank you to everyone who has opened their hearts and donated to our cause. I struggle to find the words, I don't think I have the words to tell you how grateful we are. You have donated for freedom, for rehabilitation and we are indebted. Thank you so much. The prayers of every labourer are with you and they will always hold you in their hearts. Our responsibility now is to honour what you have trusted us with, and we will. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we want to build a real freedom center in Lahore, here we can work on not just releasing families but rehabilitation. We want workers to be treated with the rights they deserve as citizens. Pakistan faces a lot of challenges, and we want industry to thrive in Pakistan, but the labourers must be free. You cannot make people work by beating and chaining them. I believe that the day the owners understand me, that the day the worker is happy, the profits will be greater. Labour rights need to be regulated, owners have the right to make profit but not through abuse, and deprivation. That is not an industry, that is slavery. This is a big step for labourers that this has received so much attention, and that their voices have reached a global stage and we are being heard. With this we hope to end bonded labour in Pakistan."

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

Humans of New York (@humansofny): “New York City, one story at a time.”

On this account, photographer Brandon Stanton captures photos of people on the streets of New York and asks them questions about themselves to generate a caption for the photo. Whether the stories are happy, sad, funny, or inspirational, it generates a sense of community and support that reminds you of the good in the world.

Although most pictures are taken in New York, Stanton’s recent trip to Pakistan has helped raised over $2 million for an activist who is trying to end slavery in the brick making industry. This is an issue prior to HONY, I knew nothing about. Check out this article to learn more about how HONY changes lives.

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Keep it positive! 💕

A post shared by KELLI ★ HAPPY INSPIRATION (@happsters) on

Happsters (@happsters): “to create, dream & spread happiness. Science of Happiness graduate.”

Need a pick me up? Check out the Happsters. This account is committed to spreading happiness, which is surely a worthwhile cause.  This account posts inspirational quotes daily. I like to screenshot my favorites and save them for a rainy day. If you like my Monday Motivation posts, then this account will be right up your alley.

What inspiring accounts do you follow on Instagram? I love hearing about what inspires others so feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section below.


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Malas, Mantras, and Meditation

A little over a year ago I started doing yoga. Since starting my journey with yoga I have noticed many of the physical benefits, but also some of the mental ones. Yoga was my first introduction to mindfulness and meditation. I began to find there were times when I craved that peaceful, clear mind, everything is good in the world feeling you get after yoga. So I made it my new year’s resolution this year to meditate more often hoping to bring that post shavasana feeling to my daily life. I read numerous articles about the health benefits of meditation, but I quickly realized that sitting and doing nothing was a little harder than I originally thought…

I began trying different variations. Guided meditations have been a great introduction to the practice. The guides give you a focus and help me concentrate on the present moment rather than what I want to eat for lunch tomorrow, why didn’t my boss respond to my email, will I have time to work out later, what was the name of that book I wanted to read, or is that new crossbody bag I’ve been ogling is worth the $$$… You know, the “important” stuff. _MG_2149While my meditation practice has improved from constant fidgeting to being able to sit still for five minutes, I’ve looked for other techniques to broaden my experience. I read about using mala beads for meditation and was immediately intrigued by the idea. It felt like the right step between a guided meditation and sitting in silence. Mala beads, which are very similar to prayer beads, help you keep count of mantra repetitions. There are 108 beads on every mala and you repeat your mantra once for every bead. There are many different beliefs that explain the importance of the number 108. Here are a few:

  • 108 multiplied by the diameter of the sun equals the distance between the earth and sun and the same thing goes for the Earth’s relationship with the moon (mind.blown.)
  • 108 is said to refer to the number of Hindu deities
  • 108 is the number of energy lines converging to form the heart chakra

If you’d like to learn more about 108, click here. _MG_2154 The biggest challenge I’ve come across while using mala beads instead of guided meditations is that in a guided meditation you are given a point of focus or mantra and while using mala beads you have to come up with your own. A mantra is a word or sentence that is repeated during meditation. Often times a mantra focuses on an intention. Picking a mantra is a very personal choice. I’m still playing around and finding what works for me. I’ve even gone as far as using hakuna matata – it does mean no worries. But finding the perfect mantra isn’t something you should worry about. That pretty much defeats the purpose. For starters you can check out this list, Google mantra inspiration, or simply use “Om”. _MG_2150 Once I decided I wanted to incorporate mala beads into my practice, the first step was to find the perfect mala. I knew I wanted to find one that was meaningful and could serve as a reminder of my intentions. I ended up buying one from Blooming Lotus Jewelry for a variety of reason. I will admit that these pieces are on the pricey side, but I justified the price knowing that I would have and use it for many years to come. There was also an inner force in me saying, “Annie you paid this much money, now you better use it!”.

I liked that the products are hand made out of high quality materials. I also love that each set has a special meaning and the sales give back to charity. 5% of every sale goes to support the Kid for Cancer to help children who are battling cancer. Also, keep an eye out in October for limited edition breast cancer awareness bracelets that donate a portion of the sales to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

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I decided to buy the free spirit necklace from the wanderlust and adventure collection, which is made up of the following:

  • Amazonite= helps to develop intuition and communication; emits soothing energy to help diminish worry, fear and anger; helps to balance mood
  • Onyx= balances, grounds and absorbs negativity while letting through positive vibrations; increases concentration, stimulates thinking and logic and encourages better decision making
  • Aquamarine= a vital tool in cleansing and clearing the water element (symbol of our emotions and feelings); clears away toxicity and brings inner peace; maintains a connection between the heart and throat chakra so you can speak your heart
  • Sandalwood= promotes humility and its scent (which is amazing!) is believed to aid alertness during meditation

_MG_2163 I feel in love with the meaning of each stone in this set. Wearing my mala as a necklace also serves as a reminder of my intentions. Everyone will be drawn to different types of stones depending on your desired intention. Meditating with mantras and mala beads is only one of many ways to practice. Besides using mantras you could focus on breath, music, an object, or mental visualization. And there really is no right or wrong way to meditate. What technique works the best for you?