BEAUTY WEEK: Skinny Dip Coffee Scrub

I’m doing something a little special with the blog this week!  I’ve been really into making my own bath and beauty products and treatments lately, and I want to share them all with you, so get excited! It’s the very first FEED DIY BEAUTY WEEK!

The great part about this is that all of these things make spectacular Christmas gifts if you’re a bit behind in your shopping 🙂

The first thing I want to share is one of the first things I ever whipped up in my own kitchen- the Skinny Dip Coffee Scrub.  It’s an anti-cellulite and skin smoothing wonder that I absolutely adore, especially during the cold months!  Be careful, though, it’s pretty messy- this is a good one to use in the shower so that it’s easy to wash out.  It would definitely make coffee in your bathtub soooo you should avoid that if possible.

Ingredients:

Fresh coffee grounds (used is fine! I use the grounds from that morning’s coffee)

Olive oil or other oil of your choice

Cinnamon

Ginger

Cayenne Pepper

Lemon Juice (optional)

 Take a few tablespoons of coffee grounds and place them in a small Tupperware container (don’t use anything breakable in case it slips in the shower).  Add in three or four shakes each of the spices- I like to go heavy on the cinnamon because it smells so nice.  Add in enough olive oil to make a liquid scrub, but not too much- maybe a few tablespoons.  If you’d like your scrub more soupy, though, by all means add more!  It is yours, after all.

If you’d like to add in lemon juice, do so right before use.  Lemon juice has a great skin-brightening effect that is a nice addition to this scrub.  Overall, you are not only getting rid of all that rough dry wintery skin, but increasing circulation and detoxification from the spices!  Your legs should feel smooth, silky, and warm when you are done.

This scrub can be used over your whole body, but be easy on sensitive parts, as the coffee grounds can sometimes be harsh! Also, if you plan on shaving your legs during the same shower, do so AFTER using the scrub.  If you shave first, you will positively burn your legs because of the lemon and cayenne.  Ok, you wont burn them, but it won’t feel nice at all!

Once you rinse, pat dry with a towel and you’re done!  You shouldn’t even need a moisturizer because of that silky smooth olive oil.  Enjoy!

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…

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’.

Heroes: Big Box Retail Stores

This is actually a pretty difficult Hero for me to pinpoint. For as many bad things there are about Walmart, it is an unfortunate reality that many big box chain stores commit many of the same fallacies, just on a smaller or less public scale. Knowing this, I keep thinking back to a previous post I wrote, in which I asserted that sometimes it is better to bow out of an economy than to stimulate an unjust one. With that in mind, I will officially crown the Hero of retail stores: the local thrift store.

It may not be as glamorous or exciting as a trip to Target (that is what you were hoping for, correct?) but your local thrift store can provide you with many of the things you might go to a place like Walmart to get- clothes, shoes, electronics, decor, furniture, toys, and accessories. The beauty of thrifting is that the prices will likely be much better than Walmart, and not a dime of your purchase is going to an evil box store or a manufacturer making bad ethical decisions or employing children or destroying the environment. In fact, in most cases, proceeds from thrift stores benefit certain nonprofit or go towards beneficial programs within the business, such as Goodwill’s job training programs or, locally, the Westminster Rescue Mission rehabilitation program.

Admittedly, it takes more time and even a certain amount of practice to find the things that you need at a thrift store, but thankfully trends recycle and it’s easy to find something special these days! I completely believe that it’s worth the bit of extra effort to avoid supporting companies and industries that tear down the Kingdom that we are to be building with our money.

Do you have a favorite local alternative store you like to patronize? What other categories do we need a Hero and a Zero for?

Zeroes: Big Box Retail Stores

For my second installment of “Heroes and Zeroes”, I wanted to tackle a bigger issue- a subject that really effects how we purchase- and that is “big box” retail stores. There’s a good chance you went to one today, or at least this week. You might do all of your regular shopping at one, maybe even for groceries! Well, my friends, that is a lot of kingdom money being spent, and we’ve got to make sure that we are spending it wisely. This post might turn your shopping life upside down- I hope it does. The Zero of the retail store industry undoubtedly goes to: Walmart.

Despite all of the readily available information on Walmart’s downfalls, it shocks me how many people (especially believers) still patronize them for convenience’s sake or simply out of habit. The following is a non-exhaustive list of reasons to never set foot in a Walmart again:

-Forced overtime or forced open availability has led to worker strikes in several parts of the country. There has also been documentation of child labor laws being broken.
Lunch and rest breaks are frequently revoked.

-Full time wages that fall below the poverty line are normal for a career Walmart employee. Average yearly salary for a full time employee has been, at times, almost $1000 under the poverty line. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, is quoted as saying “I pay low wages. I can take advantage of that. We’re going to be successful, but the basis is a very low-wage, low-benefit model of employment.”

-Gender discrimination, both in the hiring process and within the workplace, had been proven in several lawsuits, including Duke vs. Walmart Inc.

-Several cases of illegal or undocumented workers have come up within Walmart, who has denied knowledge but then been proven as lying by tapped phone conversations.

-Strict anti-union rules make it exceedingly difficult for Walmart employees to stand up for themselves or band together against injustices within their workplace.

-Very poor or nonexistent healthcare coverage is standard for Walmart employees. Only about 54% of employees are insured, while comparable box stores insure as many as 98% of their employees. It is argued that Walmart employees don’t get paid enough to even be able to afford their health insurance.

– Salary caps are often enforced on veteran employees, and salaries are even cut at times based on sales within the store, often cutting what small benefits are offered in the process.

-The presence of a Walmart can kill local businesses, some of which were previously in operation for years. The ability to get everything in one place for a very cheap price is very convenient, but comes at the cost of smaller businesses seeing dramatic loss in customer frequency and often having to close shop for lack of profit. This inevitably results in job loss in the community, no matter how many (low paying) jobs Walmart created within its walls.

-Walmart’s continuous quest for low prices forces manufacturers to comply with their wishes, often creating poor working situations within those companies as well. there are reports of major companies, such as Kraft Foods, having to close down factories in order to cut costs to keep their priced as low as Walmart demanded, resulting in major job loss for Kraft employees.

-Sourcing ethics. Much of what is sold in Walmart is manufactured
overseas in subpar working conditions, often at the expense of child labor and good quality. Reports of sweat shop and prison labor are widely publicized, and the store has even sold jewelry lines contaminated with dangerous chemicals in the past. In addition, such overseas shipping creates pollution that could easily be avoided if local sourced were in use.

If you would like to see a succinct documentary on the toll Walmart takes on local communities, pull up your Netflix and find The High Cost of Low Price. It’s worth the watch, especially if you regularly (or ever) patronize Walmart.

As a believer, I feel that I cannot spend a dollar of money meant to built the Kingdom in a place that is committing such atrocities as those listed above. It certainly is less convenient to have to make a few stops rather than one, but I have no regrets whatsoever!

Stop by tomorrow for our Hero alternative for retail stores!

Thoughts on Global vs. Local Trade

I have an inner dilemma that I have been battling for a while now: the question of whether to support global economies or focus on local economies. Brands like American Apparel have brought “made in the USA” to the forefront of our shopping brains, particularly in a season when sweatshops and child labor run rampant in most parts of the world. But shouldn’t we try to provide for our brothers and sisters overseas if we can, too?

This debate reached a head for me when I discovered that a shirt that my organization sells is manufactured in Haiti. My initial reaction was negative- we have been active in Haiti and have seen the conditions of work there, and the thought of promoting those environments sickened me. When I raised my concern, however, I was gently reminded that the company that we work with was committed to high ethical standards and that, because the shirts were made in Haiti, we were providing jobs and income to those people that we love, and helping their economy in perhaps the only way we could from a distance. My mind was eased.

My thoughts are further compounded when it comes to food- while I love eating with the seasons, purchasing local foods, and building relationships with farmers and craftsmen, I also really appreciate many foods that don’t grow locally and items that are manufactured in other parts of the company, or even the world. Things like coffee, chocolate, spices, and tea are cultivated well in certain parts of the world that I just don’t live in. As a responsible consumer, do I forgo these things, therefore saving carbon emissions due to shipping and dedicate myself to eating what my local community has to offer, or do I support these global markets, while perhaps putting the global economy on the back burner?

I don’t know what the answer is, but here are a few things that I am confident in:

-If you can buy something local, do it. Especially when it comes to food. Local farmers and culinary artisans depend on their local economy because, for the most part, they can’t export. Plus, you are getting a better quality food that you can be confident in- less preservatives, easier to check on gardening and farming operations, and good relationships with the people you are buying from.

-Fair trade is a beautiful thing. If you can’t get something locally, fair trade is a great way to ensure that your purchase from the global economy is something that you can be confident is building up global individuals and not causing any injustice along the way. There are many fair trade stores popping up now, such as the 10,000 Villages network, that make fair trade shopping feel like a breeze.

-Sweat shops are terrible. If you can’t guarantee that an item you are buying was made without blood on someone’s hands, you just shouldn’t buy it- at least not with a clear conscience. At times, this requires research not only into a store, but also a specific brand- but it is well worth it to know that you are using your money responsibly, and not to cause injustice.

-If there isn’t a good alternative, try making your own. This is especially helpful when it come to things that are really hard to research, such as cleaning products or cosmetics. There are so many ingredients in these items that its hard to say with confidence if a product is manufactured and sourced responsibly. However, there are countless way to replicate these items at home, where you can source the items yourself and be confident n the products you are using.

-Support your friends. Why buy a grocery store card made in who-knows-where when you have a friend that makes them for a living? Why buy a headband at Target when your friend is upcycling pieces and selling them on Etsy? Maybe you have friends that are photographers, or event planners, coffee roasters, stuffed animal makers, or jewelry designers. Show them love, and be loved in return.

-It is better to bow out of an economy than to stimulate a unjust one for lack of a better option. Thrift stores provide a way to purchase (many times with proceeds to a good cause) without giving any money back to the manufacturers. This can be a great place to find things that are difficult to source well, such as shoes, dressy clothes, or furniture.

While I wish that the answers were more cut and dry, I recognize that these thoughts are just part of the journey in being a Christlike consumer, and I certainly have not arrived at full understanding yet. We have to educate ourselves in order to use our money well- each dollar is a tool we are given to build the Kingdom, and we must take that seriously.

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!