READ THIS: Better World Shopping Guide

My staple tools of being a socially and environmentally conscious individual are the Better World Shopper listings.  If you have never been exposed to this educational wonder, head on over to their website immediately and figure out where your favorite products lie!

Available for personal use via their website (limited products), book (great but will need to be updated eventually) or smartphone app (best), this is a resource that you can use for just about anything.  Ellis Jones has compiled countless hours of research on different companies and ranked them overall according to human rights, environmental issues, animal protection, community involvement, and social justice.

Companies are divided into categories, like “clothing”, “fast food”, “retail stores”, or “frozen dinners”, and then ranked A-F according to the research done by Jones and his team.  Each category is also given a Best and Worst, and some specific reasons as to why they are awarded that title.  For example, did you know that Back to Nature, a staple in many supermarkets natural food aisles, is actually owned by Kraft, one of the worst companies in America?  Back to Nature gets an “F”, though its store placement might suggest otherwise.

I love this guide because I can use it when I am grocery shopping- I whip out my app ($1.99) and I can see what brands of cereal are better, or toothpaste, or almond milk.  I now appreciate some well-known brands a lot more (IKEA for example) while not totally loving others that I used to trust (like Kashi).  I have also been introduced to many new brands that I has never heard of, but now have grown to love and respect.

On the whole, even if you just visit the website when necessary, this is an invaluable tool for anyone looking to make their purchases consciously.  Check it out, and tell me what you learn!  Were you surprised by anything?  I know I was…

A Word About Sourcing

A friend asked me recently about my sources for this blog.  Since I’m not in college anymore, I’m rebelling against citing every source of my writings in MLA format with footnotes, thank you very much, but I do think that it’s very important for my readers to see where I am getting my information from.  Though my writing style might be somewhat anecdotal, I am striving to relay information that is important not only to me, but should be to you also, and I want to use the most reliable sources to do so.  There are several categories of media that I pull from, but the following is a thorough list that I will update as new sources come about.

COOKBOOKS:

Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day

Jim Donovan’s Outstanding in the Field

The Organic Seasonal Cookbook

Five Ingredient Vegetarian

Raw Food, Real World

The Sneaky Chef

Sundays at the Moosewood

 

WEBSITES:

Modern Alternative Kitchen

The Road Not Processed

Kombuchakamp

Designsponge.com

Betterworldshopper.org

Various company websites (when companies are featured)

REFERENCE BOOKS:

The Better World Shopper Handbook

Taking Charge of your Fertility

Sufficient

New Choices in Natural Healing

Healing Diets

 

ANECDOTAL BOOKS:

Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

The Gradual Vegetarian

Diet for a Small Planet

 

MAGAZINES:

Yoga Journal

Natural Health

Real Simple

Whole Living

Vegetarian Times

Mother Earth News

 As I said, I am not 100% concerned with footnoting everything that I say here.  Much of it comes from my own experience and conversations. However, I want you to be as informed as possible, and I will do my best to link everything I can to articles and sources that you may find helpful to do research yourself!  Happy reading!

THE FEED GIFT GUIDE!

You guys, it’s the Christmas season! Did you know? Oh…

Shopping with responsible consumerism in mind is downright terrifying, especially with Black Friday and every commercial ever and family wish lists breathing down your throat. Well, I hope to lend you a helping hand with a lovely Responsible Gift Guide!

FOR HER:

Etsy– this is a no brainer! Girls love jewelry, and no matter what her style, you can find something beautiful on Etsy. The great thing about Etsy is that it connects you directly to artisans- there isn’t any greed-crazed corporate middle man to deal with, just you and the creator. Now, in terms of materials or ingredient sourcing, you’ll have to investigate each shop to make sure that they fit your responsibility standards.

Light Gives Heat– amazing organization that partners with women in Uganda to create beautiful, handmade jewelry items, while teaching them life skills and providing counseling. Many of the women have been affected by or lost family members to the LRA forces. In addition to jewelry, the company also has many other lovely accessories, such as bags, tees, and scarves. Inventory is updated frequently and new styles come out all the time. I own several of their pieces and they are lovely! I’m loving this banana tree jewelry stand.

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Conscious Box– Full disclosure, I already know that I am getting one of these for Christmas, and I absolutely cannot wait! This is a package subscription program, and every month you are sent a box of goodies from socially responsible companies. They even have a vegan option!

Julep– Nail polish that is free of nasty chemicals, yet it affordable and on-trend. Similar to Conscious Box, they also have a monthly subscription program. Try the promo code “penny” to get your first box for, well, a penny!

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Roozt– This is a great outlet site for organizations and conscious brands to get their names and products out to consumers- and for consumers to score them for less. You can search based on “humanitarian gifts”, “eco-friendly gifts”, and more! Anything from body products to jewelry to belts to tees.

Everlane– this site operates on a new business model where they work directly with manufacturers to bring you high quality product for a lot less money. I’m not terribly sure about their sourcing, but I own a few of their tops and the quality is truly unmatched. Plus, you get rewards for referring friends!

LUSH– yes, everyone knows I love LUSH. If you’ve been my friend or read this blog for more than five seconds, you know. But do you know about their gifts? They really are spectacular. Gifts are themed and products are picked and wrapped- it’s all beautiful, colorful, and smells amazing. The recipient of a LUSH gift will be the happiest at the party, no doubt. It’s basically all I ask for for Christmas.

FOR HIM:

Dudes are intrinsically harder to shop for. Maybe its because I’m not a dude that I think this, but I really believe it’s true. However, there are some things that guys in general enjoy, and so I will try to play to those. If all else fails, check out Society6 or Roozt and find something fun there.

Patagonia– This clothing company is amazing. One of Better World Shoppers, highest rated companies for sustainability and responsible practices, they make high quality clothing, especially for outdoorsmen, that every guy on your list will love.

Society6– This is a super-cool site for artists. They upload their artwork, you pick the printing medium (canvas, card, iPhone case, etc). Really efficient way to find great artists and own some of their work for less.

REI– this is the place for a gift card. REI is every adventurers dream- if you can do it outdoors, they will have it. Another very highly ranked BWS company.

Coffee from a responsible company. Locally, we love Furnace Hills Coffee Company, a direct trade group that employs adults with disabilities, roasts here in town, and works directly with farmers worldwide. More readily available is Equal Exchange, which also makes the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.

Hello Somebody watches are a great find for the fashion-forward man in your life. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, and sometimes with interchangeable faces. Their organization focuses on providing care to children through food, hydration, education, and freedom.

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Falling Whistles is an organization that focuses on advocating for peace in the Congo. Their product is one for a particular man of fashion- a large whistle on a chain necklace cannot be rocked by just anyon. They are also great for girls, too, but work really well as a masculine piece for a male that wears things like this.

THE GIVING GIFTS

Some of my favorite gifts that I have given, or received, are what I like to call ‘giving gifts’. These are gifts that someone else receives on behalf of your loved one- someone that needs it more. They are meaningful beyond just your relationship, and they help build the Kingdom with our generosity.

FH Catalog– Food for the Hungry is one of the most effective Christian holistic development agencies in the world. Their Gift Catalog allows you to bless a global family with something they need- be it a cow, chicken, mosquito net, or job training.

The Hunger Strike– When you buy a Mobilization Kit, you receive a tee, necklace, and more- and 48 meals are sent to famine-stricken areas of East and West Africa, as well as funding missionary programs and anti-poverty advocacy events.

Cure International– This organization works with children worldwide suffering from Hydrocephalus- something that two of my siblings are affected by as well. Your purchase helps to fund a lifesaving surgery for one of these children.

Save the Storks– This is a great small-scale pro-life organization run by our friends, Joe and Ann Baker. They work directly with Crisis Pregnancy Centers to equip them with sonogram buses to operate outside of abortion clinics, as well as providing counseling resources, support groups, and even alternative employment for abortion clinic workers. Their clothing is beautiful and makes a great ‘giving gift’.

Easy Health Tips: Best Eco, Health, and Social Responsibility Apps!

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend! We are headed to a show in West Virginia tonight, and then home for a few days. I intend to spend a great deal of time in my kitchen with friends in the next few nights, so get excited for some creative and healthy recipe reviews! Now, onto today’s fun…

The iPhone is a wonderful thing. I can’t imagine going without it anymore- it helps me keep up with my friends and family, track my diet and exercise, document my life in photographs, and find new recipes and fashions. That being said, the iPhone can be a powerful tool for the social, health, and Eco-conscious individual. I wanted to highlight some of the best apps in each category- hopefully you find something that appeals to you!

SOCIAL
Better World Shopper is one of my favorite tools- I reference them all the time while shopping. The app, especially is a great reference while shopping and allows you to quickly compare different brands on a scale of Eco-onsciousness, social responsibility, and other criteria. Browse their website for a full explanation of their ratings.

Free2Work is similar to BWS, but concentrates in social responsibility, articulately with child slavery and trafficking offenses. Created by the Not For Sale Campaign, it is self-described as the “modern day abolitionist movement”. A nice feature of this app is the barcode scanner- it will pull up that product directly and give you a full report.

GoodGuide allows you to search by products or brand, but also by different criteria- social, nutritional, environmental. Your can make your own favorites out of the 50,000+ products featured, and even make “products to avoid” lists!

ECO
IRecycle– shows you what items can be recycle, when, and where. includes recycling center maps based on your location, relevant articles, and infographics. More than 300 types of materials a reviewed. Easy to use and very visual.

Locavore– for the adventurer and local foodie at heart! Foraging tips and recipes for using local edible plants, CSAs, farmers markets, vegan and vegetarian filters, and seasons according to your location. Includes maps of local sellers, with directions! A gem of an app.

Green Book– This app doesn’t feature specific products or brands, but instead focuses on principles and how to make good green decisions, offering a plethora of eco-living tips and tricks.

Get There By Bike is an interactive bike map and directions application that helps you safely get from point A to point B by bicycle. Includes tools to mark traffic, dangerous intersections, bike parking, bike theft, record and share your own routes, and a timer.

HEALTH
Map My Run– I use this every time I run! This app uses GPS functions to tell you exactly how far you have run, shouts our your time on mile splits, and gives you an overall pace at the end of your run. You can even save runs and try for your personal best time, or search for others runs in the same area! Very useful. Especially when I think I have run five miles and actually only ran two. 😉

My Fitness Pal– I use this app almost every day, along with most people on our tour. While I personally think that calorie counting can be very dangerous (particularly for this who have struggled with eating disorders) it can be a powerful tool, particularly if you have trouble gauging portion sizing or how much to eat at one time. It allows you to input exercising, weight loss or maintenance goals, and create favorite meals. One of my most- used apps.

Hatha Yoga– while I have not personally used this app, it has received glowing reviews online as being both easy to follow and authentic to the practice of yoga. Allows for use f both preset and customized classes. Great for the yogi on the go!

BodyRock.tv -okay, these workouts are insanely good. If you want to kick your butt into shape, download this app and get started. Workouts are between 10-20 minutes, full body, cardio, killer. They have built up quite a following! They also have a full website.

Do y’all have any apps that you swear by? Anything you feel like is missing from the app world? Let’s make it happen!