For the Greater Goods

A lifestyle blog for the conscious consumer


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Friday Finds

Check out what I’ve been checkin’ out this week…

Friday Finds 1.22.16

 

1. When I was younger, I definitely would have loved one of these “normal” looking dolls.

2. A few things to start doing in 2016.

3. A trashcan for the ocean.

4. Rhode Island celebrated a great cause this week for a new holiday called D-Strong Day.


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Ireland Goes Green

You may have noticed I was completely MIA for the first week or so in July (and if you didn’t notice maybe you should pay a wee bit more attention to my blog *wink wink*). Well, guess what? I was in Ireland (and subsequently  recovering from jet lag)! My friend and I drove around Ireland for a week and stopped at Dublin, Galway and Cork. We saw gorgeous green landscapes, explored castles, and ate one too many potatoes.

50 shades of green

50 shades of green

Green as far as the eye can see...

Green as far as the eye can see

Last year when I went to Iceland, I wrote a post about Icelanders’ socially conscious efforts. When I went to Ireland I was equally inspired by their environmental effort. Here are some of Ireland’s green initiative:

Biking

Public bike rentals were introduced to Dublin in 2009 and since there has been a big push to encourage riding bikes. Last year there was a 14% jump in the number of cyclist in Dublin. In the coming years Dublin hopes to continue to increase bikes use and further reduce their carbon footprint. And while Dublin is no Amsterdam or Copenhagen, one day it could be.

Now to a U.S citizen, bikers in Ireland seem nuts. These bikers are literally risking their lives for the environment. With the combination of narrow roads and fast drivers, willingly biking on the street seemed downright crazy to a foreign tourist. In the US people slow down and go around bikers. Even if they’re riding on the shoulder, we normally make an effort to avoid them. Not the case is Ireland! Bikers are given about 3 inches of space and no courtesy slow down. I can imagine that almost getting hit is just a regular old day over there. In the name of the environment I guess?

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This road shouldn’t be able to fit two cars and a biker, yet somehow it does.

ATMs

One of the more surprising Irish eco-friendly initiative were the ATMs. After you take out money the ATM makes you think long and hard about whether or not you really need a receipt. Apparently receipt litter became a big enough problem that in 2007 a protocol was developed to reduce the amount of ATM receipts that ended up on streets and sidewalks. The protocol includes:

  • receipts are only available when customers request one
  • an on screen message helps create awareness of receipts’ environmental impact
  • under each ATM there is a trashcan to throw unwanted receipts in

It may seem like a small step, but I’ll admit I didn’t see any receipts on the street. _MG_1857

Wind Turbines

It is Ireland’s goal to generate 40% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020. In 2013 47% of Ireland’s renewable energy came from wind. The biggest issue that surrounds wind turbines is the impact they have on the visual landscape and consequently tourism. Although I thought it was cool to see the turbines, I can understand the concern.While it may not be feasible to power the entire island with wind, it’s a step in the right direction. So whether or not more wind turbines pop up, Ireland is committed to decreasing their carbon footprint.

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Inspiring Individuals: Sonia Agarwal

When it comes to ethical fashion, names like Stella McCartney, Alex and Ani, and Warby Parker might come to mind, but the name Sonia Agarwal may not… at least not yet. I have seen Sonia’s passion first hand in classes at Babson College where we both graduated in 2012. Since graduating, Sonia has created Asia’s first online marketplace for ethical, luxurious fashion called WHITENIFE. I had the privilege of asking Sonia a few questions about her venture. Continue reading to learn more about her company and thoughts on the future of the fashion industry.

How did you come up with the idea for WHITENIFE? What initially sparked your passion?

I have always been passionate about fashion, entrepreneurship and conservation. On graduating from Babson College in 2012, I found my true calling in WHITENIFE. Initially WHITENIFE was found to develop a premium, animal-friendly alternate to leather. During its research, it was introduced to Elfh- a patent registered, mineral based composite that is 89% close to genuine elephant ivory. It has been quite a remarkable journey for WHITENIFE as for today it has transformed to become Asia’s first marketplace for ethical fashion products. It currently houses over 20 brands & designers from over 16 countries and ships globally.

AMALENA specializes in ethical and eco-friendly gold jewelry. It designs timeless handcrafted pieces in 18ct Eco-Gold, which is extracted from mines in Columbia in fair, healthy and sustainable working conditions. Amalena encourages local female goldsmiths to create unique pieces that honor their heritage and conserve their traditional craftsmanship. This unique piece is a tribute to the beautiful artistic expression in the Wayuú culture. In their dialect, the word “Aa’in” means heart, soul and purity. The intricate curves within the shape is an homage to the spirals painted on the faces of Wayuú women. Just as they pay tribute to the circle of life, this charm reminds us that love has no end.

AMALENA specializes in ethical and eco-friendly gold jewelry. It designs handcrafted pieces with 18ct Eco-Gold, which is extracted from mines in Columbia in fair, healthy and sustainable working conditions. Amalena encourages local female goldsmiths to create unique pieces that honor their heritage and traditional craftsmanship. This unique piece is a tribute to a Wayuú culture expression. In their dialect, the word “Aa’in” means heart, soul and purity. The intricate curves within the heart represent the spirals painted on the faces of Wayuú women. Just as they pay tribute to the circle of life, this charm reminds us that love has no end.

What has been the hardest part of starting your own company? And the most rewarding?

WHITNIFE has always been forward thinking in the fashion industry. It has evolved many times to take its shape. These transitions have been certainly been challenging, but have allowed me to introduce a fashion platform that can address social-environmental world problem. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to allow fashion enthusiasts to indulge in fashion without guilt. 

ABURY is a pioneering fashion brand, from Morocco, that combines traditional crafts with avantgarde designs; to create a new luxury style that fosters intercultural exchange. The Abury Foundation not only supports the village communities by providing them with work opportunities but also gives back the same number of education hours at the Abury School, as the number of hours taken to produce an Abury product.

ABURY is a pioneering fashion brand, from Morocco, that combines traditional crafts with avantgarde designs; to create a new luxury style that fosters intercultural exchange. The Abury Foundation not only supports the village communities by providing them with work opportunities but also gives back the same number of education hours at the Abury School, as the number of hours taken to produce an Abury product.

What is your criteria to consider a brand “ethical”?

Ethical issues have always been subjective and there are many ways a fashion brand can choose to be ethical. For us at WHITENIFE, Ethical Fashion is about celebrating real fashion and empowering communities. WHITENIFE supports many of world’s big problems today such as education, human exploitation, and loss of biodiversity, waste production, water pollution, community development and women empowerment.

Every brand on our platform supports at least one of the eight causes below:

  • Artisan & Craftsmanship Conservation
  • Animal Friendly & Vegan
  • Environmentally Sustainable Materials
  • Conflict Free Mining
  • Up cycle& Zero Waste
  • Cruelty Free & Ethical
  • Women Empowerment
  • Social Development
Beach to Boudoir is a UK based, socially conscious lifestyle brand is dedicated to empowering local communities. Inspired from the 50s, its collection is eclectic in nature with signature prints and intricate beadwork. It uses natural Oeko Tex* fabrics along with Azo free certified dyes. Beach to Boudoir, produces zero waste for the landfill, and donates all their fabric wastage to two charities in Bali “The Safe Childhood foundation” & “Bali Life Foundation”, for new design & skill development.

Beach to Boudoir is a UK based, socially conscious lifestyle brand is dedicated to empowering local communities. Inspired from the 50s, its collection is eclectic in nature with signature prints and intricate beadwork. It uses natural Oeko Tex* fabrics along with Azo free certified dyes. Beach to Boudoir, produces zero waste for the landfill, and donates all their fabric wastage to two charities in Bali “The Safe Childhood foundation” & “Bali Life Foundation”, for new design & skill development.

What are your hopes for the future of the fashion industry? And how do you see WHITENIFE playing a role in that?

The dynamics of the fashion industry are changing rapidly. We envision, that in the coming years, fashion corporations will be more sustainable and young, upcoming designers will take immense pride to embrace the possibility of transforming the world with Fashion. 

WHITENIFE has been a pioneer in the fashion Industry by creating Asia’s first platform to curate ethical brands and designers from around the globe. This platform will not only allow fashion connoisseurs to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle but also encourage more brands to strive towards sustainability. In order to extend our promise to be green, WHITENIFE works with its brands to reduce carbon footprint.

EARTH HEIR is a luxury craftsmanship company from Cambodia, with an exquisite collection of handcrafted fashion, and home accessories. Each piece weaves a human story, made lovingly by master craftsperson carrying the disappearing traditions of their forebears. They use natural fibers, upcycled materials and ecofriendly dyes to craft their unique products. Earth Heir return 10% of their revenue to charities supporting trafficking survivors and plant two trees for every scarf purchased.

EARTH HEIR is a luxury craftsmanship company from Cambodia, with an exquisite collection of handcrafted fashion, and home accessories. Each piece weaves a human story, made lovingly by master craftsperson carrying the disappearing traditions of their forebears. They use natural fibers, upcycled materials and ecofriendly dyes to craft their unique products. Earth Heir return 10% of their revenue to charities supporting trafficking survivors and plant two trees for every scarf purchased.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to create a more ethical wardrobe?

It is a myth that in order to have a more ethical wardrobe one needs to compromise on design and craftsmanship. One simply needs to address How is it made? Where is it made? With what is it made? Who makes it? And of course visit www.whitenife.com a platform that curates brands that address these positively.


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Splurge or Save: To The Beach

Summer is officially here! To me summer and the beach go together like peanut butter and jelly. I would go to the beach everyday if I could. The sand between your toes, the fresh, salty air, the soothing sound of crashing waves, looking for shells and wildlife, warm sunshine, even taking a dip if its hot enough (although it is very rarely hot enough in Maine). I love it all. I grew up around the ocean and since I am a seasoned veteran, I know how important it is to be prepared for a day at the beach. You gotta remember sunscreen, a towel, water, a good book, maybe a Frisbee, and most importantly… snacks! Now with all of that stuff, you’re gonna need a hefty beach bag to carry it all around. Lucky for you I’ve picked out two super cute, functional, and socially responsible beach bags for this month’s splurge or save.Mar y Sol Tote

The first bag is made by Mar y Sol, which is a company that enables families in Madagascar to gain economic independence. The founder, Laurel Brandstetter, traveled to Madagascar in 2003 for a community development project and while she was there she met many talented artisans who dreamed of making their products available in the global marketplace. So Laurel did just that and works as a liaison between local artisans and global buyers. Mar y Sol also promotes environmental conservation. This bag is made out of responsibly sourced agave leaves with organically tanned leather handles. You can learn more about Mar y Sol in this video. Each step of making these bags is done locally and by hand which means these bags don’t come cheap. This particular bag costs $125 and can be found online at Nordstrom. 

World Market Beach Tote

This second bag has a VERY similar look, but is blue and will only cost you $30. Apparently pom poms are “in” when it comes beach bags. This bag is sold by Cost Plus World Market, which actually has a very similar mission as Mar y Sol: to make unique items from around the world accessible to a global market. It began in the 1950s when a San Francisco businessman turned traveler began selling shiploads of hand-woven wicker he found along his journeys. People were enthralled by the unique treasures and the business took off. This bag is particularly unique because it is made out of recycled plastic bottles. You can buy it here at the Cost Plus World Market Website (also available in orange).


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Friday Finds

Check out what I’ve been checkin’ out this week…

Friday Finds 6.12.15

1. Jack Black + Red Nose Day = This.

2. Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt thinks science labs should be segregated by gender because women are too distracting and male scientists can’t help falling in love. Ummm, what? Women have cleverly responded. But I think men should be equally insulted.

3. Allow me to introduce you to the Ecocapsule, a portable, eco-friendly home. Think you could live in one?

4. And last but not least, rescued baby orangutans.


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Splurge or Save: Shades

Welcome to my new installment: Splurge or Save. In these posts I will show you two conscious products in different price ranges. Sometimes it’s nice to splurge on a quality, high end product, but other times, like when you’re low on cash or trying out a new trend, it’s definitely nice to save.

So since the days are getting longer and spring is right around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to write about sunglasses. I am so happy that the sun is out when I drive home from work, but it’s kind of a new hazard I have to work around. I find myself constantly reaching for my sunglasses in order to avoid being blinded. Bet hey, I’d rather that than the depressing winter darkness!

 Stella Oversized Square

Today’s splurge is sunglasses from Stella McCartney. These sunglasses come from Sella’s sustainable eyewear collection. All of the shades from this collection are made from at least 50% natural and renewable resources. The frame of these glasses is made out of bio acetate plastic, which is made from wood pulp and cotton linters and is biodegradable. They will set you back a couple hundred bucks, but if you love em’, you can get them here.

Warby Parker Piper

The next pair is from the Warby Parker. There are a few cool things about this company. The first is, for every pair of glasses you buy, they donate a pair to someone in need. So far they’ve donated over a million pairs! The other cool thing is that they will send you up to five pairs (free of charge) to try on before making your purchase. These sunglasses still aren’t extremely cheap ($95), but the quality is definitely worth it. So if you’re trying to save today, check out these shades here.


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What To Do When Spring Hasn’t Quite Sprung

We’re still buried in snow up here in the Northeast and apparently there is more snow on the way. You could say I am less than pleased. And even though the days are definitely getting warmer (hallelujah!), it’s still well below freezing when I leave for work in the morning. Nothing is worse than starting your day with freezing fingers from a freezing steering wheel. Luckily I came across Jack and Mary Designs to get me through the last few weeks of cold weather.

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At least a foot of snow still lingers in Maine. It’s hard to believe it is all going to melt soon (at least I hope!).

Jack and Mary Designs sells winter accessories that are handmade out of recycled sweaters. Since each item is made with a different combination of sweaters and buttons, they are all unique, one of a kind pieces. All the accessories are made in Maine and believe me, we Mainers know cold weather so you can imagine we know how to make wicked good hats and mittens.

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Functional and stylish? Yes please!

Although Jack and Mary is all about winter accessories these days, that wasn’t always the case. The designer and founder, Marilyn Robertson, started out as an interior designer. She focused on finding ways work with and reinvent what people already had, rather than buying all new products. The same philosophy gave her the idea to start making handbags out of old sweaters. She then used the sleeves of the sweaters to make mittens and the rest is history.

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“Winter can be such a somber season,” Robertson says. “So I keep the line, colorful, happy…The pieces are functional with a zippy pop of color that always makes people smile.” I know I smiled when I got my pair of mittens.

As you can see, upcycling has always played a huge roll at Jack and Mary Designs. The fact that they use recycled materials and create new value for materials that may have gone to waste has a positive impact on the environment because it helps to eliminate waste.  Upcycling is also said to create 84% less CO2 than other mass-produced items.

Want to learn more about upcycling? Head over to the Jack and Mary Designs Facebook page for tons of inspiration. Every Tuesday they post about ways to upcycle and help you find new uses for old treasures. Turning an old scarf into a camera strap and using an old muffin tin as a jewelry organizer are two of my favorite tips. And there are so many more!IMG_1512

You can check out all of their products on their website. And by some chance if you don’t see anything you like, Jack and Mary Designs can also make custom orders using your old sweaters.  Custom orders are the perfect way to upcycle the old sweaters you don’t wear anymore, but still have sentimental value. You can call (207-337-0521) or send an email (hello@jackandmarydesigns.com) to set up custom orders. Jack and Mary also make fingerless gloves and headbands, which are great for transitioning into spring… which hopefully isn’t too far away!


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Friday Finds

Check you what I’ve been checkin’ out this week…

Friday Finds 2.27.15

1. A reminder to always always always be kind to one another. 

2. “Marvel Comics made a movie about a talking tree and raccoon awesome, but you haven’t made a movie with Wonder Woman.” This little girl has a very good point.

3. Possibly the coolest toothbrush ever.

4. Check out which four celebrities wore eco-fashion to the Oscars.


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Giving Back In More Ways Than One: An Interview With Lions in Four Founder Julie Martin

What if I told you there was a globally-minded, socially conscious, affordable luxury brand that sold beautiful and functional accessories? It seems too good to be true, right? Well that is exactly what Lions in Four are doing.

Lions in Four 1

They sell fashionable clutches and scarves that give back in more ways than one.

First of all, they partner with WE CARE of India, which is a organization empowering women and educating children of rural villages in (you guessed it!) India. Right now Lions in Four are also working to create their own artisan studio and training facility, which will allow them to provide sustainable employment for women and girls in rural South India.

WE CARE

On top of all that goodness, Lions in Four use eco friendly materials such as high quality recycled leather and Italian eco-suede, which is actually used on some Porsche and Maserati seats. So cool! Also, all of the silk they use is hand woven and hand dyed in all natural vegetable dyes. No chemicals here!

I had the opportunity to ask Julie Martin, the founder of Lions in Four, some questions about her company, inspiration, and her experiences with nonprofits and social entrepreneurship.

First off, how did you come up with the company name Lions in Four?

Lions in Four was named as an inspiration from India’s national monument…it has four lions looking North, South, East, and West….Looking out for each other. Each lion stands for a virtue. Power. Pride. Confidence. Courage. We felt like they were all things we stand for so we drew inspiration from them.

I love that you’re combining social consciousness and eco friendly aspects into your products. How did you come up with the idea to combine these into a luxury line?

The socially conscious aspect came first.  In fact, it’s the entire reason we decided to start the company… because we saw a need in India with orphaned girls aging out of the home we worked with and needing employment.

The eco-friendly aspect came about as a natural response.  We wanted our workers to be working with natural dyes so that it was safe for them and the environment…so we searched on all the other components of our product…especially the leathers to ensure the entire product was “clean” so to speak.

We chose to do contemporary luxury because we are personally drawn to fine things and felt there was a gap in socially conscious items which are also refined and luxurious.

What inspired you to work with WE CARE India?

WE CARE of India is a non-profit I started after studying at Paris Fashion Institute.  While in school I met a lady on a train who was doing amazing work on behalf of abandoned girls in South India.  It has now been 12 years since that chance meeting and we have been working together all this time.  We have been dreaming about ways to employ these girls as they age-out of the home and need employment….and Lions in Four is serving as the economic engine to create demand for the silks they create.

What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve come across while creating your conscious business and how did you work through it?

Our biggest obstacle, I would say, is finding the right people to work with.  Everything from our website, manufacturing, PR, branding…you name it…requires us to find the right people to work with.  We haven’t nailed it every time and we are learning to really take our time and do our research before partnering with anyone.  This is our baby after all….  The greatest success so far, however, has been my two business partners.  We work together seamlessly and are all passionate about the company.

How would you describe Lions in Four’s style? Where do you get your fashion inspiration?

This is a fun question! I am inspired by so many things but if I had to narrow it down to two I would say

1. The fabrics…. Our Suede back came about after seeing this Italian brand at a textile show. The suedes were so yummy I wanted to work with them. It took two months to get them to work with us because we a new company.

2. Our woman…what would add beauty AND function to her life….How can we make her life easier and more beautiful.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to budding social entrepreneurs?

Read…. Read any book you can get your hands on that is written by someone who 1. Has what you want to have…and 2. IS where you want to be.
We can learn so much and avoid so many mistakes by learning from others. Sheila (my business partner) and I are constantly reading and when we feel like it’s an amazing book we both read it together.

You’ve already created some beautiful clutches and scarves, but do you plan to expand into other products? What are some of your plans for the future?

This Spring we are adding two new silhouettes of handbags.  We are also bringing in more exotic skins because our python is going over so well.  We will be introducing more color of course this spring which is fun.  On the scarves we have the SOFTEST hand-woven mulberry silk scarves coming out and we partnered with a young Indian designer to do a print he created.

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It sounds like there are some awesome things coming out in the spring, but check out what they have available now. I’m obsessed with these scarves. Could they be any cozier?Lions in Four 2

And their clutches are the perfect size to carry all the necessities without weighing you down.

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You can check out the other color scarves and clutches at their website. And be sure to keep an eye on Lions in Four because I see great things coming from this company in the future.


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Blogs and Business Cards

There are three things that are important when making a first impression in business: a good attitude,  firm handshake, and business card.

Luckily, I learned about handshakes in college. Only at a business school, amiright? But apparently I missed out on Business Cards 101. So when I decided to make business cards for my blog, I was totally overwhelmed. Rectangles or squares? Glossy finish? Rounded edges? Two sided? Font size? Pictures? Logos? Wording? Oh my!

I wanted them to be different, but not obnoxious.Memorable, but for the right reasons. So I bounced around the web for some tips and tricks and came across this website that really simplified the process for me.

As I was searching for card companies, I came across moo.com, which offers business card templates or gives you the freedom to design your own cards. After looking through all the templates, I decided to design my own cards. The templates served as great inspiration, but I really wanted to make the cards my own and I am very happy with how they came out.

card front

card back

When I saw this quote I KNEW it had to somewhere on my card. I feel like it fits perfectly.

It would only be appropriate that my business cards were made out of 100% recycled paper and I love that moo.com had this option. I’m glad that I did not have to sacrifice quality or my vision for a product that’s better for the environment.

I think business cards are a great way to increase your reader base. You can give them to friends and family and ask them to help spread your message by giving them to their friends and family. You can also leave them at the gym or a coffee shop in your town. Get the word out about all of the cool things you’re doing! A business card is the great opportunity to make a strong first impression.

And don’t you just love the idea of saying, “I’ll give you my card”?