For the Greater Goods

A lifestyle blog for the conscious consumer


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How to Make Halloween Spooky AND Sustainable

Like many holidays, Halloween is not the best for the environment. Many of the things we buy prior to Halloween end up as waste once they serve their purpose for a night. Below I have curated some ways you can incorporate sustainability into your Halloween celebration.

Candy

Candy is the star of the Halloween show (or at least in my eyes it is). This year be conscious of your candy choice. But whatever you do, don’t give out raisins. No one wants raisins. Here are a few lists to help you pick out the perfect treat for your tick or treaters:

Sustainable Palm Oil

Organic Candy

Not into candy? Not a problem. Give out little treasures like festive pencils and erasers.

Trick or Treat Bag

Unfortunately at my age it isn’t socially acceptable to go trick or treating, but back in the day I was all about using a pillowcase for my trick or treating bag. While I didn’t do it for the sake of sustainability (I used it because it held a stupid amount of candy), without realizing it I was doing the environment a small favor by not using a plastic bag. But rather than using your mom’s nice, floral cases without her permission, make it into a fun DIY project. Get a blank, white pillow case and some decorations at your local craft store or use some supplies you already have at your house and go wild to create a fun, unique bag that you can use for years to come.

Costume

Remember that awesome costume your friend wore last year? Ask to borrow it! It will save money and the environment. Don’t like that awesome costume your friend wore last year? Make your own! Making your own costume is so fun and rewarding. Try using things you already have or going to a vintage store to find unique pieces. But the most important thing is to have fun with it. And when all else fails, just slap a pair of animal ears on.

Mean Girls Mouse

If you have a bunch of old costumes in need of a new home, you can donate them to WEEN DREAM which is a nonprofit that gives free Halloween costumes to children in need. I hope these tips will help you have a happy Halloween. Leave your Halloween tips and tricks in the comments below!


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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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The Yoga Post

I started doing yoga about 6 months ago and as corny as it may be, yoga has changed my life. I can touch my toes now! But aside from that, I also love yoga for its peacefulness. I love that during each practice I am encouraged to only do what serves me, be conscious of my body, and declutter my mind. And I still get a good workout in!

So for all you yogis out there, I have put together a couple of conscious products that embody the thoughtfulness of yoga by giving back in different ways.

The Yoga Post

The Mat

“I am Free” Mat- Affirmat

Get it? Affirmat… affirmation? Clever. Life gets crazy sometimes and Affrimats are here to remind you to relax and stay positive. Each mat has a different saying on it that can serve as a reminder or mantra throughout your day. These mats are made out of a non-toxic, high quality, biodegradable blend that creates an ergonomically friendly and no-slip mat great for any yoga practice. They’re good for you and the environment.

Cimarron Mat (Cow Skull)- Wildlings Yoga

How funky, cool, and amazing is this mat? Each of these eccentric mats are named after and inspired by national parks. This one is inspired by New Mexican traditional folk art.

Wildlings Yoga believes in making the world a better place and being an example for others companies to give back. They truly embody the whole “be the change you wish to see in the world” thang. $3 from every mat sold is donated to Free Arts for Abused Children, which is a non-profit in LA.

The Treads

I’m Just Here For Savasana Muscle Tank- Spiritual Gangster

I mean let’s be honest, savasana is half the reason we drag our tired bodies through the cold to go to yoga class. Or is that just me? Anyway, Spiritual Gangsters believe in giving back every chance they get. All of the quirky apparel from Spiritual Gangster give back to national and international charities such as the Cambodian Children’s Fund, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Children’s First Academy, and Make a Wish Foundation.

California Dreaming Leggings- Zuvi

Believe it or not, the craziest thing about these pants isn’t the colorful print. These pants are actually made out of recycled water bottles. Crazy, right? Zuvi hopes to help the Earth become more sustainable by reducing waste in landfills… and making awesome leggings.

The Bling

The Doreen Bracelet- The Neshama Project

I love jewelry that has meaning, whether someone special gave it to you or it symbolizes something meaningful. The hamsa hand on this bracelet represents blessings, power, protection and strength. You can wear it on or off your mat to serve as a positive reminder. Also, 10% of each bracelet purchase goes towards an orphanage in Kaliro, Uganda. 

Ganesh Om Necklace- Relevee

This necklace design is a merge between the ‘Om’ symbol and Ganesh the elephant. It represents Zen. Even when you’re off your mat, this necklace can serve as a constant reminder to remain calm. I wrote about Relevee in one of my first posts, but as a refresher, the company works with women who have been rescued from human trafficking and 100% of the proceeds go to supporting human rights.


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Friday Finds

Friday Finds 5

1. Need a some last minute gift ideas? Check out these DIY face mists. Since you make it yourself, you know there are no harsh chemicals in it. They even provide you with cute printable labels.

2.Here’s a your guide to buying natural fibers. Not only does it let you know which materials are better for the environment, but it also shows you where you can buy clothes made by these materials.

3. Any Gossip Girl fans out there? Check out these “All about that Bass” shirts. You so clever, Ed Westwick. Portions of the sales go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Also a great gift!

4. Staying grounded and relaxed during the holidays can be a little tricky. Check out this blog post about holiday “baggage”. I promise it puts everything in perspective.

5. And on a lighter note, here are some of this years unsung heroes of cute. WARNING: super cute!


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Orange Harp Conscious Gift Guide (For Him)

Last week, after discovering the Orange Harp app, I created a gift guide/wish list for the ladies, but I couldn’t leave the fellas out of the fun. So here is a conscious gift guide for all the lucky gents in your life. All of these products can be bought on the Orange Harp app. Enjoy!

Orange Harp Gift Guide for Him

 

In the links below you can learn more about how each of these products gives back.

1. Mako Shark Crew Neck Tee by Purakai

2. The Thursday Pocket Square by Love Quixotic

3. Whistler Reversable Jacket by Ecoalf

4. Cable Beanie by Pirakai

5. The Margret Socks by Miscoots

6. Leather Belt by Sword & Plough

7. iPad Sleeve by Rickshaw Bagworks

8. Alabama Home Tee by The Home. T (there’s a tee for every state)


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I Come From The Land of the Ice and Snow…

I went to Iceland! Did ya miss me? I sure missed blogging. While I was away I thought of so many ideas for future posts and I can’t wait to get started. But first I would like to share a little about my trip and see how many times I can write the word “Iceland” without annoying everyone.

Right now you might be thinking, “Annie, what does Iceland have to do with your blog?”. I promise it relates. Icelanders are very conscious, environmental, and sustainable folk. You have to be when you live in such an isolated place where it can snow for 75% of the year.

First, I would just like to say that my trip to Iceland was an extremely fun and beautiful and inspiring experience. I highly recommend going on an adventure in Iceland if you get the chance. There are so many things to do and beautiful things to see and fascinating places to explore. I got to walk on a glacier, snorkel between tectonic plates (yes, the water was absurdly cold), hike in gorgeous national parks, trek through an ice cave, relax at a geothermal spa, ride a zodiac through a iceberg ridden lagoon, eat delicious local food, explore cities, and see more sheep, waterfalls, and rainbows than I have in my entire life.

I traveled around Iceland on the Ring Road, which follows the perimeter of the island.  It is about 1,332 kilometers (828 miles) and we did it in 9 days. Some days we drove three hours and others we only drove one. The driving wasn’t even bad because: a) there isn’t any traffic and often times you go miles without even seeing another car and b) the sights are incredible. It was cool to see how the geography changed from region to region. I really feel like I was able to get a good feel for the entire country.

Here are a couple pictures I took that’ll show you just how pretty this country is. It was so impossibly hard to narrow the pictures down to just a few from the 300 that I took…

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Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss. Foss means waterfall in Icelandic. So many fosses in Iceland!

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That white part on the mountain is a glacier. It is a part of the biggest glacier in Iceland, Vatnajokull. Jokull means glacier in Icelandic.

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They gave us axes to use during the glacier walk. We were suppose to use them for support if we needed them, but I think they were mostly just for show. Naturally I had to test mine out. It worked. Oh and the black/gray stuff on the ice is ash from past volcano eruptions.

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Iceberg dead ahead! The ice is a pretty blue because when the ice breaks off of the glacier it is super compact and all of the air is super compressed. So when light enters the ice all but the blue light waves are dissipated. Science. It works like the blue in the sky.

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And the pictures don’t even do the landscape any justice! You really have to see in person to experience the actual beauty.

All the people we met had a distinct respect and appreciation for nature and the beauty of their environment. Most of our local guides were excited about the volcanoes erupting, which is the exact opposite reaction I was expecting. Before I left when I told people I was going to Iceland they all asked if I was worried about the volcanoes. So I assumed Icelanders would also be freaking out about an eruption. And in some ways they were, but it was excitement freaking out and not worried freaking out. They talked about watching the eruption streaming live online and how areas around the volcano have to be blocked off during the eruptions because people will literally walk miles and miles (or kilometers and kilometers) to catch a glimpse of the volcano and sometimes they get a little too close. They have such a passion for the land and its geology and preserving the environment around them. It’s admirable.

On top of that, nearly 100% of Iceland is powered by renewable energy. Hydro and geothermal energy are responsible for powering almost the entire island. I got the see the largest geothermal energy plant and man did it smell! The stink is from the hydrogen sulfide in the steam collected from the geothermal reservoir.

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Imagine the stench of 100 rotten eggs. Now multiply that by the area of this plant. That’s how bad it smelled.

Although Iceland might seem like the environmental dreams, it is also suffering from the effects of global warming. When I did a glacier walk, I learned that the glaciers are melting faster than ever before. It is natural for glacier to through cycles of growing and shrinking, but the rate at which the glaciers are currently melting is unnatural. And what would this world be without giant chunks of ice in Iceland?

Icelanders are also very conscious when it comes to food. I went to Iceland expecting to have some to have some interesting meals. I’m a fairly picky eater and had read a few articles about strange and gross Icelandic food (sheep head, no thanks!), which worried me. Would I be able to eat? Huge concern. But I’m hear to tell you not to believe any of that hoop-blah! Sure they eat fermented sharks and eggs, but I don’t think those foods really represent Iceland. I literally didn’t have a bad meal while I was there. Everything was incredibly fresh and delicious. I had some of the best seafood of my life and I live in Maine!

Because of Iceland’s small populations, high environmental consciousness, strict government regulations, and geographic isolation, the meat and seafood are some of the healthiest and purest in the world. Om nom nom!

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LIttle sheep butts covered all the hills, valleys, and fields.

Another cool thing: in the summer they all let the animals roam free. We saw mostly sheep and horses wandering around. The animals are kept in a certain area by natural barriers such as rivers and mountains. Then at the end of the summer all the farmers from each town get together and heard all the sheep together then sort out whose is whose. Total teamwork.

So have I convinced you to go to Iceland yet? Maybe? Well if you’re on the fence, just check out this song. You are guaranteed to hear it 100 times while you’re there. I have no idea what the words mean, I just hope it’s nothing bad. Can’t you just picture yourself driving through the country with that infectious beat? I promise you won’t get sick of it at all….. ok maybe a little.

And if you have any questions, I would be more than happy to help!

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H&M Conscious Collection: Fashionably Sustainable and Sustainably Fashionable

In April H&M’s Conscious Collection finallyyyyy made its way to the US. The collection is comprised of everything from basic tees to pretty lace dresses. All the items in the line are produced in a more ethical and sustainable manner. I love that an affordable store is making the transition to appeal to conscious shoppers.

Fast fashion stores have gotten some heat in the past few years because of their environmental impact. They sometimes use inexpensive production methods and materials that aren’t great for the environment, but allow them to offer cheaper prices. H&M is making an effort to change that. To reduce their impact, H&M has come up with Seven Commitments, which have driven their goal to become more sustainable.

Seven Commitments

As a result of these commitments, here are some of their accomplishments from 2013:

h&m

I recently bought a pair of pants from the Conscious Collection.  The pants are 50% organic cotton and extremely cozy.

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That’s me in the middle. The mysterious blogger has been revealed!!! TA DA! These pants are perfect for a warm spring/cool summer day. You can easily pair them with a tank top or flowy tunic. The material is wicked thin so they’re very breathable. These lovely pants can be yours for the low price of $24.95. You can check out the rest of the collection HERE. If you want to check it out in store, you can easily spot the conscious items by their green tag. Hopefully this is just the start to a great endeavor!