For the Greater Goods

A lifestyle blog for the conscious consumer


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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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Splurge or Save: Stacks on Stacks on Stacks

Now that the weather is (sometimes) warm enough to bare my wrists and arms while wearing a tee shirt, I’ve been really into stacking dainty bracelets. I’ve enjoyed experimenting with different stacks and while I’m no master, I like to have fun with it. But as I was looking for some dainty bracelets to add to my collection, I realized I am fairly boring when it comes to my stacking game. Most of what I own is gold chains or bangles. So I’ve made it my goal to mix up colors, textures, and metals to make a more interesting stack. I’ve got to diversify my portfolio, right?

I have picked out two similar, stackable bracelets at different price points that are socially conscious and will add a little pop of color to your wrist. Stylistically speaking these two bracelets are extremely similar. Both have a colorful, adjustable band with a metal bar centered in the middle. The materials and prices are what set these two apart.

Dogeared balance blue leather bracelet

The first and more expensive bracelet is from Dogeared, which you can buy here. The founder of Dogeared, Marcia Maizel-Clarke, believes jewelry could be both beautiful and meaningful. All of the jewelry is designed and hand crafted in the spirit of love, kindness, and consciousness out of their Southern California Studio. Dogeared is a certified B Corporation. Don’t know what a B Corporation is? Check out this video (it probably explains it better than I can). Basically, they’re all about creating, implementing, and sustaining ethical business practices.  Dogeared adheres to these standards by handcrafting everything locally, respecting the planet, and partnering with non-profit organizations that share their vision of a better world. While this bracelet won’t completely break the bank at $42, it is over twice as much as the other bracelet I’ve picked out.

Silver Bar Boarding 4 Breast Cancer

The next bracelet is by Pura Vida and can be purchased here. It is very similar to the Dogeared bracelet, but instead of leather, the band is made with string and only costs $15. The company started after the founders, Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman, took a trip to Costa Rica and fell in love with the pura vida (pure life) lifestyle. They met two men who were selling bracelets on the street and decided to take some of the jewelry back to sell in the U.S. The bracelets became very popular and blossomed into a business. Today Pura Vida provides jobs for artisans in Costa Rica. They also created the Charity Collection which gives back to charities all over the world through the sale of individual bracelets. The bracelet I have featured today gives $3 to Boarding for Breast Cancer.

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

(Also as a sidenote: There is an adorable dog named Annie (just like yours truly) that needs YOUR help. If you saw my my recent Friday Finds, you might have read the story about Lola’s Lucky Day, which rescues dogs in Houston. Annie is their most recent rescue and needs an operation to have a tumor removed. So whether you have $2 or $200 bazillion to donate, please take the time to help any way that you can.)


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Zoya Oh Boya!

I first heard about Zoya from my friend and nail enthusiast extraordinaire, Becky. Before she came across Zoya on Instagram, Becky was a die-hard Essie girl. She has accumulated 40 bottles of Essie polish, but it only took one bottle of Zoya to convert her. So when she told me it was the best polish she’s ever used AND they’re made without harmful chemicals, I knew I had to see for myself if this was too good to be true. IMG_1574
Zoya began in 1986 and revolutionized the nail industry by creating polishes that were free of toxin ingredients. All of their polishes are “five free”, which means that are made without: toluene, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and DBP. So what’s so bad about these chemicals? I’ll give you the rundown.

Toluene: When breathed in, this chemical can be harmful to your nervous system and can cause light-headedness and nausea. I already struggle to paint with my left hand so I don’t need any light-headedness to make it that much harder.

Camphor: In high doses this chemical can cause seizures. It also acts as a seal on your nails that deprives them of nutrients and can cause yellow staining. Definitely not something you want in your nail polish.

Formaldehyde- This is the stuff that’s used to preserve and embalm dead animals and humans. If that hasn’t turned you off, formaldehyde is also a carcinogen.

Formaldehyde Resin- This is derived from formaldehyde, and although it isn’t as toxic, it can trigger skin allergies and irritation.

DBP (Dibutyl Phthalate)- In 2006, companies began eliminating DBP from nail polishes because it is a suspected teratogen (causes birth defects). It is banned from children’s toys and should probably be left out of nail polish too!

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So after doing some research about Zoya, I bought a few (ok a lot of) bottles to try out. A couple weeks ago there was a buy one get one free sale and I took FULL advantage of it. They have a huge color selection so picking out a few favorites was definitely a challenge. A tip Becky taught me for buying nail polish online is to do an image search of the polish to see what it looks like painted on someone’s nails. When my products arrived, the first color I tried out is called Pinta and it is a so-dark-it’s-almost-black-purple. I love it. The color is super pigmented and the consistency thick enough to keep it from being runny and thin enough to make applying it manageable. IMG_1549 I’ve mentioned in other posts that I’m trying really hard to avoid harmful chemicals that can linger in beauty products. So I’m definitely trying to incorporate “five free” polishes into my arsenal. Of all the “five free” nail polished I’ve tried, I really think Zoya is my favorite. Other “five free” polishes I’ve used chip easily or never fully dry. That’s not the case with these. Zoya is definitely proof that you don’t need these chemicals to make a good polish.


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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.

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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?


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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

Friday Finds 3.6.15

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

1. Love is love.

2. Northern California may be known for its wine, but it is also home to some awesome, natural beauty brands. 

3. After watching this I not only want to eat a massive amount of jelly beans, but I also want to make the most of my day. 

4. Fast fashion is out and slow fashion is in.

5. So what are you up to on Sunday around 1 o’clock (EST)? The correct answer is watching Emma Watson’s #HeforShe and Gender Equality discussion live on Facebook. I’ll bring the popcorn!