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 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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Inspiring Individuals: Malala Yousafzai

This month’s Inspirational Individual is Malala Yousafzia. If you haven’t heard yet, last week ten people were sentenced to life in prison for their roles in the 2012 attack on Malala. And in other news, by some crazy coincidence, last week I also finished reading Malala’s book, “I Am Malala”. Honestly, it took me a while to get through this book. Not because I didn’t like it, but more because I dedicated most of my time this winter to watching Netflix instead of reading and being a real person. Over time I picked away at the book and learned something new each time I picked it up.

Malala 3

For those of you unfamiliar with Malala’s story, get your head out from under that rock. No, just kidding. I’ll give you a little background. Malala is from Pakistan’s Swat Valley, which she describes as a “land where rifles are fired in celebration of a son, while daughters are hidden away behind a curtain, their role in life simply to prepare food and give birth to children”. But Malala’s father was different than most and raised her just like he raised his son. He strongly encouraged his daughter to go to school, study hard, and plan for the future.

As you can imagine, many girls in Swat weren’t given the same opportunities as Malala. Many dropped out of school because they couldn’t afford it, their parents’ beliefs, or they were forced to get married. Things became worse for the girls in Swat when Talibanization spread through the valley and girls were told they should be forbidden at schools. The Taliban began bombing schools, killing teachers, and threatening students.

Although many girls became afraid to go to school, Malala never let fear get in the way of her education. She continued to go to a secret school with her books hidden under her shawl. She began giving speeches, radio interviews, and writing a blog for BBC about her experiences in Pakistan and the importance of accessible education for everyone. The Taliban later targeted and shot her for speaking out against them.


Her book gives you a firsthand experience of how war and radicalized religion can sweep through and destroy a region. Malala also gives you a look at the culture of Pakistan. She has great pride in her country and openly shows you the good, bad, and everything in between. One thing that really struck me was how ‘normal’ she seemed. She reads “Twilight”, likes to sleep late, has fights with her younger brother, and gets stressed over exams. She also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, but besides that, fairly normal.

There are also times throughout the book when it’s hard to believe she is just a teenager. Her book is so clearly articulated and promotes profound wisdom.  It is hard to believe she is only 16 when she drops incredible knowledge such as: “I’ve always been a daydreamer, and sometimes in lessons my mind would drift and I’d imagine that on the way home a terrorist might jump out and shoot me on those steps. I wondered what I would do. Maybe I’d take off my shoes and hit him, but then I’d think if I did that there would be no difference between me and a terrorist. It would be better to plead, ‘OK, shoot me, but first listen to me. What you are doing is wrong. I’m not against you personally, I just want every girl to go to school.’“. Her book is filled with inspiring tidbits like this.

There are so many lessons embedded in this book. Malala’s exuberantly positive outlook on life and sincere mission to promote accessible education are incredibly inspiring. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this incredible young woman.

Malala 1

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Deadly Fashion

How would you feel if you spent the last 14 years sewing the same seam on the same sweater while making barely enough money to live? This may sound extreme, but it’s a reality to some garment workers in Cambodia.

I recently stumbled upon a Norwegian mini-series called Sweatshop- Deadly Fashion that follows three young fashion lovers on a trip to Cambodia where they see how their clothes are really made. At first I was going to include it in today’s Friday Finds, but I decided it deserved its own post (and Friday Finds will return to normal next week). The mini-series is five episodes long and each one is between 10-15 minutes. It only takes about an hour to watch all of them and it’ll give you a nice break from you’re Netflix binge. Sometimes its nice to get a reality check after 5 straight episodes of House of Cards. Amiright?

Episode 1

I found the participants transformation from the first to last episode astounding. I don’t want to give away too much, but in the beginning the three participants were very naïve about sweatshop conditions. Like most of us, they hadn’t taking the time to think about where our clothes come from. I think a lot of us avoid thinking about this. We don’t want to believe or think about these things because they make us uncomfortable and force us to justify our actions. So we push the thoughts away and try to make ourselves believe a happier story.

deadly fashion 2

And I don’t think this makes anyone a bad person. It’s hard to know what you can do to help because we are so far removed from the problem. The great thing about this mini-series is that is breaks down the distances (geographical, cultural, emotional, etc.) that often lead to inaction. It gives a face to the problem. It shows us that these workers have higher hopes. That they didn’t grow up dreaming of sewing clothes. That they are unhappy.

It is also noted in a post production interview with the participants that the conditions in the factory that they filmed at were significantly better than most. This was a family owned factory and the only one that would allow them to film in. You can only imagine what the others must be like. I highly recommend reading the entire interview. It gives more behind the scenes insight and continues to show the evolution of the participants relationship with fashion and what they are doing/have done in order to improve sweatshop conditions.

deadly fashion 1

The main purpose of this mini-series isn’t to make you feel bad about buying clothes. The workers from the factory actually encourage you to continue to buy their clothes because if people stop buying, then their job is at risk. The main purpose of this series is to shine light on a serious problem and put pressure on big apparel companies to change their policies.

I encourage you to watch the entire series, read the interview, reflect, and remember to appreciate all that you have.


Friday Finds

Friday Finds 2.6.15

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

1. Inspired by the Joan Didion’s Celine ad, which hit the web this January, Fusion writer Elisa Rodríguez-Vila does some of her own model casting for other high fashion lines.The results are pretty fabulous and I really hope this sparks some diversity in the fashion world.

2. If you couldn’t tell by now, I love a good animal rescue story. I’ve featured dogs, cats, koalas, manatees and now… a flying squirrel. Let the cuteness ensue!

3. The American Edit is a website that celebrates brands that manufacture in the USA. And while we know it’s good to buy “made in America” products, it’s sometimes hard to articulate exactly why. That’s exactly what this article does.

4. Check out this article about the World Bicycle Relief organization, which brings wheels to those who need them most. As the article explains, “Mobility is as literal as it is metaphorical, and providing the means to move provides a tangible hope”.

5. We all cope in different ways. Check out this girl who created a bucket list for her dying dog in order to help cope with the parting of her companion. Yes, the story is sad, but it is also very inspiring.

Now here is a funny cat picture to cheer you back up. Happy Friday!

thin mints

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An Inspiring Summer Read: Six Months in Sudan

Yes, I know summer is still over a month away, but with the weather finally getting tolerable up here (above 50 degrees), I have already begun planning my summer reading list like the nerd that I am. I wouldn’t quite consider myself an avid reader, but I sure do love a good book. So whether you’ve started your own summer reading list or you didn’t plan on picking up a book this summer, I’ve got a book you should consider throwing in your beach bag. I assure you that this read is as entertaining as it is enlightening.

The book is called Six Months in Sudan and is about a doctor volunteering with the organization Doctors Without Borders in, you guessed it, Sudan. The book is based off blog posts written by James Maskalyk while volunteering in the small Sudanese village, Abyei. He began the blog as a way to bring readers closer to his experiences and the lives of the locals in the war-torn village. And I think he does a great job of that. He breaks down the distances (geographic, emotional, and cultural) that often times hinder people from understanding and helping one another. He explains that it is these distances, not our indifference, that hinder action.

I will admit that there are times when this book is very hard to read. There are a few excerpts that would be labeled “viewer discretion advised” if it were a TV show. I mean a majority of the book takes place in a hospital. Not always pretty, if ya know what I mean.

I hope you take a moment to enjoy this book. If you live near me, you’re welcome to borrow mine! But you better give it back!

Six Months in Sudan cover

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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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Keepin’ Up With What’s What

Today I am going to do something a little different. Instead of informing you about another awesome socially conscious product, I am going to show you some quick, fun, and easy tools to stay up to date on the current happenings around the world. As the world seems to get smaller and smaller, being aware of current events helps you stay part of the global community. It also helps you build informed opinions and spark engaging discussions on issues that can impact your town, state, country, and world. Sometimes when we see what is happening around the world in full view, it can change our whole perspective on how we see our own life. There are many many many resources out there, but today I am just going to share with you three tools I have come across that can help you sift through large volumes of news to find what issues interests you.

ImageEvery morning while my tea is cooling off and my brain is warming up I read the Five Things to Know for Your New Day on Each morning it gives you a brief paragraph on that day’s five biggest stories. You can see today’s here. Every morning it is posted under The Latest on the CNN homepage, but you have to act quickly because it is usually gone by 10am.

For mobile information, my favorite app is Buzzfeed.  I like that it is easy to read, share, and bookmark articles. It also combines popular news with vital information, which makes it both fun and educational. I like that I can get updates about Russia and Ukraine, but find scientific articles about pizza. You can also customize a “My Feed” page on the app to show you the top articles from your favorite topics.

Last on my list is theSkimm, which is a daily email newsletter. Its motto is, “We read. You Skimm”, which is perfect for anyone crunched for time.  Along with being quick, the briefs are made enjoyable with their witty wording.  It’s great to read while you’re eating breakfast or on your morning commute (as long as you’re not driving of course). You can check out today’s Skimm right here.

Once you have found some topics that interest you, I would highly recommend looking at a news website to further your knowledge. CNN is usually my go to, but you can also use: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Yahoo, NPR, LA Times, BBC, Financial Times and the list goes on. Feel free to try one or all of the above to find out which one is best for you.

And finally, if you are looking to stay up to date on all the coolest socially conscious goods, feel free to subscribe to my blog to get emails every time I post something new. Just click the follow + button at the bottom of the screen (it pops up when you scroll down) and submit your email so you never miss a post!