For the Greater Goods

A lifestyle blog for the conscious consumer


Leave a comment

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.

DSC00024

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.

DSC00028

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.

DSC00020


Leave a comment

Fair Treasure

I love the idea of subscription boxes. Like love as in capital L-O-V-E. I’ve tried Birchbox and Conscious Box, would love to try Ipsy, am intrigued by Rocksbox, and have heard great things about Stitch Fix.

I just love the idea of getting a special surprise in the mail each month. One subscription box that recently appeared on my radar is called Fair Treasure. Fair Treasure helps you find high quality products from around the world that are produced by people earning a fair wage to feed their families, lift themselves out of poverty, and educate their children.

This box is right up my alley! One of my biggest issues with other boxes is the lack of a socially conscious effort. While I’m trying to make a conscious effort with the products I buy, most subscription boxes don’t help with that, but the Fair Treasure box does. _MG_2208

Although Fair Treasure isn’t Fair Trade certified yet (key word), they are working towards it. All of the products they send out follow the 10 principles of Fair Trade, which are listed below:

  • Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Craftspeople and Farmers
  • Transparency and Accountability
  • Fair Trading Practices
  • Payment of a Fair Price
  • Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
  • Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Freedom of Association
  • Ensuring Good Working Conditions
  • Providing Capacity Building
  • Promoting Fair Trade
  • Respect for the Environment

Fair Treasure fills monthly subscription boxes with 2-3 handmade items that abide by their ethical, fair trade standards. Boxes usually include home décor, jewelry, or personal accessories. Along with each item is a corresponding note card that gives you a little information about how the item was made. I got three items in my box that I wouldn’t have thought to buy for myself, but will definitively use. In my box I received a bottle stopper, tea towel, and miniature vase.Below are pictures of all the items with their descriptions:

_MG_2214

_MG_2211

_MG_2202The subscription service costs $35 a month and you can pay for one or three months at a time. The quality of the products justify the price, but I understand spending $35 a month on a subscription box isn’t in everyone’s budget. I believe it is a great way to treat yourself once in a while. It would also be a great, unique gift. If you’d like some more reviews, you can check out My Subscription Addiction’s and Must Have Boxes reviews of Treasure Box.

_MG_2246


Leave a comment

Splurge or Save: Spring Scarves

Although the calendar says “spring”, the weather in Maine is still screaming “winter”.  It snowed last night. And not just a dusting. We got a few inches. Yes, inches. Did I miss the memo that spring has been canceled this year? I’m losing hope! Holdin’ on by a string! Warm weather better come soon or I might just lose it!

So with spring in my mind and winter still sitting in front of me, I decided to write about scarves. I think scarves are a great transition piece from winter to spring (or in my case from spring back to winter). As the weather gets warmer you no longer need thick, bulky scarves to keep in body heat for survival and instead you can focus on wearing light, airy scarves as accessories. So for today’s Splurge or Save, I’ve picked out two purpley scarves that are great pieces for transitioning into warmer weather. There is just something about purple that always reminds me of spring. Maybe it’s the thought blooming flowers or maybe it’s the purple Easter candy I just ate…

Anyway, in the last Splurge or Save, I wrote about two companies that are doing great things in two completely different ways. Today I chose two companies that have a similar mission. Both companies aim to empower artisans and entrepreneurs in developing countries.

On Purpose Purple.jpg (2)

The first scarf is from Kate Spade’s On Purpose collection. I wrote a post about the collection when it first came out. I was super excited when Kate Spade came out with a socially conscious line. I love that her products all have a little pizzazz and this scarf is no different. The small details are really what make this scarf unique. I think the faint purple mixes well with the playful pom poms.

All the pieces in this collection are hand made by women artisans in Rwanda. The employees are paid monthly salaries that are 40% above international guidelines for fair living wages. And unlike many other jobs available to them, the women are offered: paid vacation days, health benefits, maternity leave, and social security. The On Purpose collection is constantly adding new products, but most of them are a bit pricey. This scarf comes in at $158.

Marquet Free Weave Scarf

The second option is a more affordable scarf from Marquet, which is another company I have written about. Their goal is to empower entrepreneurs in developing countries and help them reach a global audience. Marquet imports scarves from artisans in Thailand and Vietnam. The company takes the time to build personal relationships with all of their artisans and follows all the guidelines set out by the Fair Trade Federation. The scarves come in all the colors of the rainbow, but this two toned purple scarf is definitely a great color for spring. The mixture of purples is subtle, but it makes the scarf unique. And the best part is this scarf will only set you back $22.

So which scarf do you chose? Will you splurge or save?


Leave a comment

Tea Time

I’m switching things up today. You might remember back in September I had Karrie from Karrie Oasis write a guest post for my blog and I wrote one for her. Well we’re at it again!

Every Tuesday Karrie writes a Tea Time Talk post where she reviews all sorts of teas. If you’re a tea lover, you have to check them out. I wanted to get in on the fun and thought she’d write a great tea post for my blog. Karrie discovered a really cool brand called Numi and here is her complete review. You can also head over to her blog to see my post about a photographer who’s made it her mission to spread awareness and inspiration through art.

________________________________________________________________

I was so excited when Annie asked me to do another guest blog post, and even more excited when she wanted me to write about tea! She asked me if I knew of any conscious-type tea brands. To be honest I hadn’t really thought too much about it before she asked, and I was surprised I hadn’t. When I was in Target one day, I decided to check out the tea isle to see what they offered. I was not expecting much, but to my great, and wonderful, surprise, I did find something–Numi. It is exactly what I was looking for–a brand that was conscious about their packaging, their tea, as well as the people that are apart of every step of the process.Numi 1

Numi’s vision is found on their front page: Numi inspires well-being of mind, body and spirit through the simple art of tea. Our company is rooted in the principle of creating a healthful product that nurtures people and honors the planet. In all of our company initiatives, we strive to foster a healthy, thriving global community while bringing you the purest, best-tasting organic tea.

Packaging:

The packaging of Numi’s tea is eco-friendly. They use recyclable cardboard, which is printed with soy-based inks, and natural biodegradable filter tea bags. Most items can be recycled or composted. They have even won a bunch of eco awards because of these actions.

Tea and People:

Their tea is organic, and what that means is that they don’t use chemicals. They use 100% real ingredients, and no artificial flavors. From the very beginning, in the gardens that these teas are grown in, they are nurtured and are made with love. Since there are no harmful chemicals, it means that not only is it good for the consumer and the environment, but it is also good for the workers. Numi values the people who work for them. They do this by having Fair Trade Certified and Fair Labor Practices. All the teas have different certifications and stamps on their boxes because many come from different gardens around the world, including in India, China, and Egypt. Every worker in each garden community can vote democratically on how they use their Fair Trade funds, usually for things like education, health programs and sanitation. Even if a garden may not be certified, Numi makes sure they get Fair Labor by direct sourcing, which ensures quality of the products and the fair treatment of the workers. Numi even allows their own employees to have 4 paid hours a month to volunteer-how awesome is that?Numi 2

One cool initiative that Numi is also a part of is called H2OPE. This is a charity in which they are trying to help people who are in need of safe and clean drinking water. They explain how important water is to people all over the world especially in 3rd world countries and what they go through to obtain water, which is usually not safe to drink. I think this is such a great idea, especially for this brand. Because what does it take to make a cup of tea? That’s right…water. You can donate money on their website, and you can even host tea parties to raise money as well. If you want to learn more, watch this video.

Now, on to the teas. I bought the Rooibos tea and the Chocolate Pu-erh tea. Both are delicious. The Rooibos comes from South Africa and is a type of herb that calms and has a vanilla-y type flavor, but, of course, no artificial flavors here-it’s all natural. Rooibos is also caffeine free which is great when you want a nice cup of tea before bedtime. The Chocolate Pu-erh is really good as well. Very velvety and yummy. It has a combination of pu-erh tea, organic cocoa, vanilla beans, orange peel, nutmeg and cinnamon. It’s a great combination of flavors. And hey, skip that bowl of ice cream and drink a cup of this for dessert instead-you won’t have any regrets!Numi 3

I love that you can find this brand at Target. It is easily accessible to most, which is really great. Although they don’t sell all their products here, including they’re flowering teas (they look so cool), and loose leaf teas, they do have a generous selection and I definitely want to try more. Can’t find them at your Target? Use their store locator to see if they sell it somewhere in your area. You can also order other products from their website, and the prices are truly reasonable.

I am so glad Annie asked me to do this post. I will now be more conscious about learning where my tea comes from and it truly is exciting to see what companies like Numi are doing to help the people and the planet we call home!


3 Comments

I Don’t Like Fall..

There I said it! And I’m starting to think I am the only person on the face of this planet who isn’t ecstatic for fall. What’s the big deal? The days get shorter and colder and more depressing. And worst of all, it means winter is coming…

jonsnow

I dislike winter more than fall, but sometimes the anticipation to winter is worse than it actually is… if that makes any sense. And maybe if I lived somewhere (almost anywhere) other than Maine, I would appreciate a break from the long, hot, sticky days, but it literally just started getting warm up here and then oh just kidding it’s cold again. Now I’m all worked up *deep breath* and moving on…

I will admit there is one thing I do like about fall. I’m not a complete fall Scrooge. No, it isn’t the pumpkin spice everything. I like scarves. Scarves to me are like little portable blankets you can wear all day and still look fabulous. That is what I call a win-win.

IMG_1405

I just cuddle up in my scarf and pretend the colder temperatures of fall don’t bother me.

For my birthday, which is September 21st and is TECHNICALLY still in the summer (that’s very important to me) my Aunt gave me a scarf from Marquet (the blue one I’m cozying up with above). I hadn’t heard of the company before, but on the label it mentioned something about being fair trade, which have kind of become trigger words for me to whip my laptop out and do some research.

Marquet Fair Trade Scarves

It turns out Marquet imports bracelets and scarves from artisans in Thailand and Vietnam. Their goal is to empower entrepreneurs in developing countries and help them reach a larger, global audience. They take the time to meet with all of their artisans to create a personal, long lasting relationship. You can learn more about their Fair Trade Federation business principles here. The scarves come in all the colors of the rainbow and are made of cotton and/or silk. I got the Binh Minh Shawl and it has definitely passed my cozy test.


Leave a comment

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.


4 Comments

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?

Image