I just got back from the most amazing vacation to the Gulf Coast of Florida. We spent part of the time at a beach house with my family and this view every day:
So gorgeous. I knooow. I felt like we were in the Caribbean.
Here are some interesting things I found across the internets while I wasted my days away (well, in between cuddling my nephews, attending weddings, gouging on sweets and playing cards games late into the night):
Guide To Ethical Lingerie // The Note Passer
Ditch Your Phone, Save A Life // Huff Post
Since it’s almost Spring, ethical clothing companies are launching their spring lines! I love browsing online look books. Here are a few of my favorites:
Mata Traders // Liz Alig // Passion Lilie //
I just finished up Notes From A Blue Bike by Tsh Oxienreider. It’s a book about living intentionally and simply in our crazy life. I kinda loved it.
Have you read anything interesting lately?
If you’ve spent any amount of time around fair trade you might have noticed a variety of certifications on the products you buy. Wondering what they all stand for? Here’s a little guide to figuring it all out:
Fair Trade Certified
There are several fair trade certifying agencies. The most common are: Fair Trade Federation, Fair Trade USA, and Fair For Life. These companies work towards the same basic goal – making sure the farmers and artisans are fairly treated. To carry one of these labels, companies must go through a rigorous screening process and agree to certain guidelines. The workers must be paid a fair wage, have a safe work environment and access to things like healthcare. Certified companies also pay higher prices for goods and pay out funds to help develop the communities where they purchase their products.
Beyond those basics, each certifying agency has little variances that make them unique. For example, Fair Trade USA mostly certifies commodities such as coffee, sugar, bananas and flowers while the Fair Trade Federation most often certifies handmade goods and clothing. For more information you can check out these websites:
Rain Forest Alliance Certified
While fair trade certifications focus mainly on social integrity, the Rain Forest Alliance has a broader, more environmental scope. They certify based on environmental sustainability practices such as soil and water conservation, wildlife and forest protection, social and economic responsibility, etc. The workers are allowed to organize, child labor is prohibited and care is taken to protect the environment. The Rain Forest Alliance certifies forestry, agriculture and tourism (such as hotels and tour operations) You can learn more about the certification here:
B Corporation Certified
B Corporation certifies companies that go above and beyond in their social and environmental practices. Certified companies are leaders in transparency and accountability. They have high standards for the treatment of their employees, the sourcing of their products and more. You can read the B Corporation Declaration and learn more here:
Now you know. Happy ethical shopping!
Today’s featured fair company has a special place in my heart…they employ women refugees who have relocated to the United States. Here in Boise we have a significant refugee population (small city in the middle of the high desert…surprising, I know!) and it is not uncommon to see African women in traditional dress at the grocery store or waiting at the bus stop. Our church has a refugee ministry and because of that I know it is difficult for refugees to adjust to a new culture, language and life. Take a cross-country move to a completely new city, add an unknown language and foreign culture and you would begin to understand what refugees experience every day. That’s why I love what Re:new is doing. Here’s the details:
What you need to know about Re:New
Re:new was founded outside of Chicago just a few short years ago. The founder, Rebecca, first encountered refugees when her and her family spent several years in Kenya with relief work. Once back in the United States she had a chance encounter with an african refugee woman and was inspired to start a business that helped refugee women with one of the biggest challenges they face – finding a job. (you can read her full story here) Renew’s main purpose is to train and equip refugee women with sewing skills and the opportunity to support their families. So far well over 100 women have been through the sewing program. Renew products are available at their store in Illinois and at their online shop. Read more about them here.
What I love about Re:new
As I mentioned before, I love that Re:new gives refugee women in the US the change to support their families. Each bag they create and sell online is completely one-of-a-kind and the name of the artisan who created the bag is attached. Here are two of my favorites:
The Sail Away cross-body bag:
The Flagstaff Cross-body bag:
If you are in the Chicago area, you should go check them out! If not, you can shop virtually here.
Have you heard of Re:new? What’s your favorite product?
I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse
to do something that I can do.
This thought has been in my head a lot this week. Sometimes I freeze up in this fair trade journey because it all feels a little lopsided. How can my small purchases actually make a difference in the big picture? I have no name. No platform. I clean up messes and fold laundry and try to remember to return library books on time.
I am one.
You are one.
We can’t do everything, but we can do something. We can walk the road before us and live with conviction, even if it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Ann Voskamp has said before that a pail with a pin hole loses as much water as a pail pushed right over. Little by little, what we do becomes more. It starts to change things.
All we can do is accomplish what is in front of us. If you know a need, fulfill it. If you have a conviction, stand by it. We can’t do everything but that doesn’t mean we are powerless. Our voices may not carry as far as a public figure but they are still important. And they will make a difference.
Since Valentines Day is just around the corner I am working on some ideas for our dinner at home Friday night. My goal is to keep it simple and to use things I already own. After rummaging around in my craft supplies, covering my fingers in paint and fielding a billion questions from my four-year-old who was supposed to be resting I finally came up with some things I kinda am in love with. My favorite so far are these little mailboxes!
I created mailboxes out of white and tan cardstock and set them on top of wine glasses. It makes the perfect hiding spot for little pieces of chocolate. I chose Endangered Species Dark Chocolate squares because they were individually wrapped and easy to divide up between my family. But holy moly, I don’t think 88% cocoa registered with me when I bought them! I love me some dark chocolate but these squares are really dark. I think I might have to buy a for a milder, sweeter version for the kids.
Our table has seen better days and one of my favorite ways to cover it up for fancier meals is a roll of brown wrapping paper. This time I painted the paper with pink and white polka dots for a pretty, romantic-ish feeling.
I’m all excited for Valentines Day now! What about you? Do you decorate for Valentines Day or just celebrate in spirit?
Earlier this week we found ethical alternatives to the classic Valentine’s Day gifts. Now, here are five super easy ways to celebrate the day of love that step a little bit outside of the normal chocolate and flowers cliche:
1. Cook up a romantic dinner at home.
Forgot the dinner reservations and crowded restaurants and create dinner at home! A few years ago I cooked up a whole heart and red-ish inspired meal. This year we might just bring home pizza or something special from Whole Foods. Either way, we are decorating the table and lighting candles and just enjoying time together. A sweet gesture I plan to add to the meal is taking turns sharing something we love about each other and our family. Not sure if our kids are quite old enough to understand the concept but we are gonna try. It’s never too early to encourage kind words, right?!
2. Write valentines to your friends and family.
Sweet personal notes really are the best. Sometimes it’s hard to speak exactly how you feel, at least I struggle with this. Words on paper somehow make up for all the um’s and uh’s that stumble out of my mouth. I absolutely love this idea from Oh My Little Dears…so beautiful.
3. Support at-risk women.
Each year thousands of women are enslaved by sex trafficking and even more face abusive relationships. Share a bit of Valentine’s Day love by giving to an organization that is helping women escape these issues and discover what true love really is all about, maybe for the first time.
4. Get together with your besties.
Valentines Day doesn’t have to be just about romantic love. Celebrate your friends by getting together for a movie, cupcake decorating, cookie making, knitting, crafting, clothes swapping or whatever you enjoy doing together!
5. Make this holiday a random acts of love day.
Give to homeless, leave anonymous notes or cash, etc. Here are some fun ideas to get you started: A Simple Way To Care For The Homeless // Lifestyle: Justice
134 Ideas For Random Acts of Kindness // And Then We Saved
And finally, whether you go out or celebrate at home, whether you spend lots of money or nothing at all, remember to take a minute and let the people you love know you love them. That’s really what V-day is all about!
What are your favorite ways to express love on Valentine’s Day?