For the Greater Goods

A lifestyle blog for the conscious consumer


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Be My (Conscious) Valentine?

Valentines day is right around the corner and while giving gifts is fun, giving socially conscious gifts is MORE fun. Here are a few twists on the typical chocolate and flowers. All of the products below are socially conscious in a variety of different ways and are sure to make the guy or girl in your life happy.

Chocolate:

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To me chocolate is great any time of day, month, year, etc., but chocolate on Valentine’s Day is always a little extra special. It’s a great time to splurge on a pricy piece of chocolate that you normally might not gravitate to for your daily (or weekly/monthly/not at all if you have a better self control than I do). I love the Endangered Species Chocolate bars, which are in fact not made out of endangered species, but give 10% of profits to endangered species organizations. My favorites are the dark chocolate with espresso beans and dark chocolate with peppermint crunch. You can find this brand at a variety of grocery stores, but if you can’t find this particular brand, Whole Foods usually has a decent selection of socially conscious chocolate.

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This next one is a type of chocolate you might not want to eat. This Too Faced eye shadow palette is made with cocoa powder so it smells delicious. The soft texture, high pigmentation, variety of neutrals and statement colors, and the oh so delicious chocolate scent make this palette something special. Another thing that makes it special is because Too Faced is a cruelty free brand.

Flowers:

Before starting my blog I would have never thought to look into the flower industry’s effect on the environment. But with the upcoming holiday, the idea popped into my head and I started to do a little research. Did you know that 80% of cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported? Between transportation costs and the pesticide usage, there are plenty of reasons to look into flower alternatives. Luckily there are some alternatives:

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  1. To ensure your flowers are local, stop by a farmers market. You’ll be supporting local business too.
  2. Order flowers from a USDA certified organic companies such as: OrganicBouquets.com, LocalHarvest.org, or Veriflora.com.
  3. Not into flowers? Buy some herbs! A potted herb is the gift that keeps on giving. There’s nothing like having fresh herbs for cooking. So convenient and so tasty.

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day? Leave your plans in the comments below!

 

 

 


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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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The Endangered Species Chocolate Ranking

I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’m kind of a chocolate expert (toot toot). My credentials don’t go beyond the fact that I eat A LOT of chocolate, but believe me; I know what I’m talking about.

I’ve seen these Endangered Species Chocolate bars every time I go to the grocery store and I thought it was about time I tried some. Yes, not just one, some.4 barsYou can probably tell by the brand name that Endangered Species Chocolate has something to do with endangered species. 10% of net profits go to species conservation, habitat preservation, and humanitarian efforts. Currently the donations go to the African Wildlife Foundation and the Xerces Society. But that is not the only great thing this company is doing.

They are Rainforest Alliance certified (ethical business standards), USDA Organic certified, and 30% of the packaging is made from recycled materials. Endangered Species Chocolate also tackles a problem I wasn’t aware of: palm oil. Below you will see the impact conventional palm oil production has on the world.

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Endangered Species Chocolate uses Agropalma, which is a certified sustainable palm oil committed to zero deforestation.

So after hearing all of these great things, the real question here is, is the chocolate good? And the answer is yes.

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Here is my ranking of a few (six!) that I tried from my most to least favorite:

Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans: I was a little surprised by how much I liked this one because I’m not usually drawn to coffee flavors. The sweetness of the chocolate and bitterness of the coffee compliment one another very nicely. 

Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint: This one was a close second. The mint flavor is subtle, but adds another dimension to the smooth, rich dark chocolate. I really like that the mint flavor is natural and doesn’t taste overly sweet or artificial.

Dark Chocolate with Raspberries: I will admit the raspberry flavoring isn’t very predominant, but the pieces of raspberry do add extra sweetness. I think this bar would be great for someone who normally indulges in sweet milk chocolates, but likes to mix it up with dark chocolate once in a while.

Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee: This one has so much potential! The sad part is that the toffee bits are few and far between, but when you get a piece with a good amount of toffee in it, it’s goooooood.

Dark Chocolate with Blueberries- I may be a little biased on this one. Being from Maine (the leading U.S producer of wild blueberries) I have high blueberry expectations. Chocolate covered blueberries are sold by the carton up here and I was a little disappointed in the low blueberry to chocolate ratio. 

Dark Chocolate with Cranberries and Almonds: This is the only one I was actually disappointed with. The almond pieces are very, very tiny. Normally when I crave chocolate with almonds I’m looking for that extra crunch. You don’t really get that with these little shreds of almond. The cranberries add a little bit of flavor, but like the almonds, are very small in size.  

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There are a lot of other flavors available, but I had to limit myself to six. You can check them all out at the Endangered Species Chocolate website. If you try a flavor I didn’t get a chance to review, I would love to hear what you think!


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The Cocoa Plan

Recently, I came across a fairly new Nestle innovation I couldn’t resist trying. It was the new Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cup and even though it was a Monday and I try to eat healthy (or relatively healthy may be a better way to put it) on weekdays, I bought said candy bar and devoured it as soon as I got back in my car. Clearly my health initiative and self-control are a work in progress. Anywayyyyy, unfortunately, the candy bar was not as amazing as I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed every second of eating it, but being a peanut butter candy fanatic, I had VERY VERY VERY high expectations. So from now on I will just continue to consume Butterfingers and peanut butter cups separately. But I digress. The important part of this story is that I noticed a stamp on the wrapper that said “Nestle Cocoa Plan” and Googled it to find out what it was. Butterfinger PB Cups

The Cocoa Plan is Nestle’s initiative to solve the environmental and social problems that often plague the cocoa industry, which I mentioned in my very first blog post. Nestle’s solution to these issues is to educate the farming communities and create partnerships with 3rd party organizations to assure that Nestle is implementing ethical business practices.

Farmers are being educated on sustainable cocoa farming techniques, which will create a more effective supply chain and allow the farmers to produce more crops, ultimately resulting in increased wages. Nestle is working with UTZ* and Fairtrade* to certify farm practices with the 3rd  partys’ standards of ethics, both in terms of environmental

Nestle Plan School Progresssustainability and working conditions. Most recently, the Kit Kat production in the UK has become 100% Fairtrade certified and the goal is to get all European Kit Kat production UTZ certified by the end of 2014.

Nestle is also working with the International Cocoa initiative (ICI)* and World Cocoa Foundation (WCF)* to insure child labor is not being used and the children have access to education. The goal is to open 40 new schools in targeted communities in rural parts of the Ivory Coast.

So props to Nestle for taking an initiative. Obviously, like they said, the Plan isn’t a quick fix, but to me the important thing is that they are making an effort. So excuse me while I go devour as much Nestle Easter candy I can in the next 4 days. But like, not because I want to eat all that candy, I obviously just want to support the Cocoa Plan! You can learn more about the Cocoa Plan HERE. Nestle Partnerships

*Fairtrade Certified– Fairtrade works to assure fair wages, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.

*UTZ Certified – UTZ provides ethical standards for sustainable farming and opportunities for farmers, their families and our planet.

*International Cocoa Initiative– Their mission is tooversee and sustain efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor and forced labor in the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products.”

*World Cocoa Foundation– This foundation promotes sustainable cocoa business practices through economic and social development.


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Chocolately Responsible

Welcome to my first blog post!

First of all I will let you know that I probably love candy more than the next person. I have an abnormally massive sweet tooth. I could eat candy all day errrryyyday and I’m sure there have been days where I have. But of all the candies in the world, chocolate is usually my sweet treat of choice.

Sadly, there are some major problems with the chocolate industry, which include forced labor, human trafficking, and child slavery. If you would like to learn a little more you can watch a documentary called The Dark Side of Chocolate that came out in 2010. More recently there has been a social movement towards fair trade certified chocolate, which ensure that the chocolate is produced in an ethical manner. And that is precisely what Madécasse (pronounced MAH-DAY-KAS) does.

Madécasse is Fair for Life certified, but what makes it different from other fair trade companies is the fact that Madécasse grows AND manufactures their chocolate in Madagascar. Over 50% of the world’s cocoa is grown in Africa, yet roughly 1% of the world’s chocolate is made there.  Madécasse aims to change that and strengthen the economy in Madagascar by:

  • Creating well-paying jobs and market stability
  • Cutting the supply chain to decrease costs and increase farmers income
  • Training farmers and production technicians skills to increase quality and value of products

The founders claim that by keeping all of the production within Madagascar, their products create 4 times the economic impact than other fair trade chocolate producers.

Great stuff, right?!? Now let’s get to the fun part, how does the chocolate taste? I tried the Toasted Coconut on a whim. I’m normally not a huge fan of coconut (unless it is on my Caramel Delight Girl Scout cookies) and I must say I was pleasantly surprised! The bitter dark chocolate and the sweet coconut really create a great combination.

I’ve seen this chocolate at my local Hannaford and Shaws, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were sold at other grocery stores. The chocolate is a little pricey at around $6 per bar, but definitely worth it for the occasional treat or possibly a gift. If you can’t seem to find them in store or find a flavor you like, you can order the chocolate from their website. There are a bunch of cool flavors! To me the Citrus and Winter Spice both sound amazing and I hope to try them soon! What chocolates sound good to you?

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