Brands for a Better World. Let's makes some Ripples!

Eco-Friendly Baby Toys

There are some fantastic eco-friendly baby toys out there.  However, with the amount of ‘stuff’ out there, finding great brands and toys can be pretty overwhelming.  Our team has complied the following list of our favourite eco-friendly brands and toys.  We hope you enjoy it!

EverEarth

EverEarth is a company that wants to inspire children and parents to get closer to nature.  Their toys are made from environmentally friendly materials and do not include harmful chemicals.  EverEarth has a great collection of baby toys on their website.  The following rattles are a couple of our favourites.

EverEarth Crocodile Rattle Toy

EverEarth Wooden Spinning Rattle Toy

Maya Organics

Maya Organic is a non-profit organization from India. The company is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization.  It focuses on livelihood development by working with a network of artisans, workers and micro-entrepreneurs to produce high quality wooden products. Currently, Maya Organic is working with the artisan community in a small town near the city of Bangalore,  India.  As part of their core business, they train several new artisans, particularly women, in the art of handicrafts.

MAYA ORGANIC Handcrafted Wooden Pull toy

Maya Organic Handcrafted Wooden Toy

 

Wonderworld 

Wonderworld is a company from Thailand that is a strong advocate of protecting the environment.  They use rubber-wood, an environmentally friendly, renewable resource in the production of their toys. Rubber-wood is harvested as a by-product from the culling of rubber trees that are in excess of 25 years of age. These trees no longer produce latex for commercial applications and are cut down so new rubber trees can be planted.  This process ensures that every part of the tree is used and results in no deforestation.  The wooden toys of Wonderworld are made from eco-friendly materials and water-based, non-toxic paints.

Wonderworld Wonder Sensory Block Toys

Wonderworld Peek-A-Boo Ball Blue Interactive Wooden Baby Toy

 

Uncle Goose

Uncle Goose is an American company that handcrafts wooden blocks in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The company uses materials from around the Great Lakes and is socially and environmentally considerate. They source their products using fast-growing sustainable basswood. Uncle Goose uses non-toxic, child-safe inks on all of their blocks.  This company creates some pretty unique blocks. Check out some of our favourite blocks below, but visit their website to see their entire collection of awesome blocks!

Sea Cubes by Uncle Goose

Sea Cubes by Uncle Goose

Cube Pets by Uncle Goose

Cube Pets by Uncle Goose

 

Learn more about these Eco-friendly Baby Toy Brands by visiting their websites!

Plan Toys

PlanToys is a company from Trang, Thailand.  Founded in 1981, it makes its toys from natural rubber wood trees that no longer produce latex.  To keep the wood pure, no fertilizer is added to the soil three years prior to the trees being cut down. The company uses recyclable packaging and water-based inks.  Here are a couple of their toys which we think are great!

Square Clutching Toy by Plan Toys

Clapping Roller by Plan Toys

 

anaMalz

Now these animals are plenty cool.  AnaMalz is an Australlian based company.  AnaMalz creates award winning eco and poseable animal figurines made from wood and plush materials. Each piece has its own markings that make anaMalz unique. For every anaMalz that finds a home, a percentage is donated to preserve nature.  They have a ton of animals and they are all pretty cool:favourites:

Moose by Anamalz

Horse by Anamalz

Gorilla by Anamalz

Pig by Anamalz

 

Sophie the Giraffe by Vulli 

Sophie the Giraffe is an incredibly recognizable baby toy.  We had a baby a few months back.  When our youngster is chewing on Sophie’s head, we often hear “oh, she’s got a Sophie too.  My kid had/has one of those”.  And this is true. Most babies that we know have or had this toy. They all seem to love it.  What is not as well known is Sophie’s environmental background.

Sophie is made by the good people of Vulli.  The French company make Sophie from 100% natural rubber.  The rubber comes from the Hevea tree growing in sustainable forests. The plaster used for the manufacturing of Sophie is sorted separately and recycled in the plaster industry. The waste plastics, scrap metal, and boxes created in the manufacturing process are set aside for recycling. You can learn more about the eco-friendly practices of Vulli here.

Sophie the Giraffe Natural Teether

Sophie Giraffe Bath Toy

 

Green Toys

Green toys manufactures all of its eco-friendly childrens’ products in the USA.  They focus on using a local supply chain to ensure high quality toys.  100% post-consumer recycled plastic is used in their toys.  This diverts material from landfills, but also reduce their carbon footprint and potentially harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Green Toys’ non-toxic food-safe toys and tableware are tested throughout every stage of production.  Here are a couple of their eco-friendly baby toys:

Green Toys Elephant-on-Wheels

Green Toys Twist Teether Toy

 

Apple Park

Apple Park was founded in San Francisco with a vision to create environmentally responsible and luxurious products for babies and children.  The name Apple Park comes from ideals that define the brand.  The word “apple” stands for a new beginning, the life cycle, nature, love, curiosity and education. “Park” refers to a place where man has collaborated with nature for the purpose of preservation and enjoyment.

Apple Park’s mission is to create unique, lovable and stimulating toys from organic, sustainable and recycled materials.  Here are a few of their awesome products:

Frenchy Fox

Rattle, Belle the Cow

Blankie, Belle the Cow

Plush Toy – Belle Cow

Olives and Pickles

The creator of Olives & Pickles sought a healthier and more innovative product that would make both babies and parents alike happy.  As a result, they created the organic, untreated crinkle bunny ears teether. This is a great product for babies of all ages.  An entire line of organic and convenient toys is now available from Olives & Pickles.

Olives and Pickles Organic Rattle Teething Plush Toy, Bunny

 

If you know of any other great eco-friendly baby toys or brands, please let us know about them in the comments below.

41 Awesome Social Enterprises

There is a fantastic growing trend of new companies that are giving back!  We are continually searching for these companies and looking to promote them.  We have found the following 41 awesome social enterprises that have a model of donating to a need for every product purchased.

Check out theses 41 awesome social enterprises:

  1. Akola Project – The Akola Project is a social business within a non-profit framework that empowers marginalized women to generate income to uplift the lives of their families and communities by employing them to make high-fashion jewelry, handbags and home goods.
  2. Alaffia – Alaffia is skin care company that was created to help West African communities become sustainable through the fair trade of indigenous resources.  Alaffia invests in local communities because they believe it is their moral responsibility and to ensure African resources empower African communities.
  3. Baby Teresa – Baby Teresa was originally founded in 2009 by two moms who were focused on giving back. For each piece of clothing they sell, an outfit goes to a baby in need.  For each accessory sold, a portion of the profits buys formula for babies in orphanages.
  4. Barnabas – The purpose behind Barnabas is to encourage people in every aspect of life.  They donate 10% of the profits to Living Room International, a non-profit in Western Kenya that provides care to those living with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses.
  5. Beza Threads – Beza Threads sells scarves that have been handmade by former slaves in Ethiopia. 100% of the funds go back to help remove children from slavery and to then educate and empower them.
  6. Better Life Bags – Better Life Bags started as Rebecca Smith’s hobby. To beat boredom during the last month’s of her first pregnancy, she made herself a diaper bag and posted pictures of it on Facebook.. Now with each purchase she donates to low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries and helps her own struggling Detroit-area community by employing women and offering them a living wage.
  7. Better World BooksThis is a company that was founded in 2015 with the mission to expand literacy rates. With each purchase they donate one book to Books for Africa.
  8. Bombas -Bombas was born out of a mission to help those in need.  They sell socks made for athletic performance. For every pair purchased, Bombas donates a pair to someone in need.
  9. Bottle Bright – The creators of Bottle Bright were fed up with the grime that plagued their hydration packs and water bottles, and the lack of suitable methods to clean them. So, they set out to create a safe and effective product for maintaining hard-to-clean drinking containers. The problem of dirty water containers carries serious risks to people in developing countries so they started to donate Bottle Bright to people in need of clean water containers.
  10. Cuddle + Kind – The family behind Cuddle + Kind wanted to make beautiful hand-knit dolls that help feed children. So, for every cuddle+kind doll sold, they give 10 meals to children in need.
  11. Do One Thing, DOT – Dot seeks to change the face of poverty for children all over the world. With every school and office supply you purchase, they’ll fund 1/2 a day of education in some of the poorest countries in the world.
  12. Divvy Up This company was created when the founders noticed that shelters have a huge need for clean socks. So, in 2014, they started a company where with every pair sold, they will donate a brand new pair of plain white or black socks to the local homeless shelter.
  13. DenikThe Denik brand began with a few college guys at Utah State University. They started selling notebooks, journals and sketchbooks designed by global artists with a portion of each book being used to build schools.
  14. Everything Happy – This company was born with the mission of bringing a smile to kid’s faces. That’s why for each Happy Blankie or Happy Pal purchased, one gets donated to a child in a hospital or orphanage.
  15. Half UnitedHalf United was founded in 2009 by brother/sister duo, with only $200 and a passion to change the lives of people in need. They sell jewelry made from bullet casings and Donate half of the profits from ever product sold to fighting the global hunger epidemic in the USA, Fiji, Cambodia and Madagascar.
  16. Hand in Hand Soap – Hand in Hand Soap was conceived in 2011 by two social entrepreneurs who believe that business can do so much more than just make money. They created this company that provides soap and a month of clean water to children in need around the world for each bar purchased.
  17. Jonas UmbrellasProvides high-fashion, stylish umbrellas to you and give the opportunity to make a difference in the global community through clean-water projects. Every Jonas umbrella directly supports a specific clean-water project.
  18. Kammok – Their mission is to equip and inspire others for life changing adventure. They also want to do some good in the world by donating 1% of profits to CTC International, an Austin-based nonprofit, that helps develop communities in Kenya by building necessary infrastructure.
  19. LSTN SoundTheir goal is to produce premium audio products and use proceeds from sales to change lives through the power of music. For the past 3 years, for every purchase, they help provide hearing aids to a person in need.
  20. MitscootsIn 2008 while volunteering, the founders learned that after food and water, socks and clothing are what they need most. So they decided to start employing homeless people to help them get back on their feet. Plus, for every sock purchased, another is donated to someone in need.
  21. Outland DenimThese guys sell handcrafted jeans made by young women who have been rescued out of sexual exploitation in Cambodia.
  22. Out of Print – This is a company that sells clothes. Each purchase helps to fund literacy programs and book donations to communities in need. It also supports the authors, publishers and artists who made these iconic works an integral part of our lives.
  23. Panda – When Panda Sunglasses was founded 2012, we envisioned a fashion company that would not only help people in a meaningful way, but also the planet. With each pair of eco friendly bamboo glasses that you buy you will allow someone in need to get provides an eye exam and pair of prescription glasses.
  24. Pacha Soap Their mission to implement sustainable solutions to the poverty cycle, to promote health and well-being around the world, and to provide quality products for customers. With every bar purchased they donate one to someone in need.
  25. Project7Project 7 is a specialty gum and mint brand dedicated to bringing great flavor back into your day while at the same time giving back to 7 areas of need. For each product purchased they make a corresponding donations for things like fruit trees, meals, digging wells, and providing education.
  26. Purse and Clutch – This is an ethical boutique that partners with artisans in developing countries who create their products with an emphasis on design & quality. These artisans are treated with respect & are paid a living wage. In their website you can find products under $100 from artisans around the world. Each purchase helps employ & empower the artisans who made it.
  27. Roma Boots – Roma Boots merges fashion with philanthropy to give poverty the boot. It was born in 2010 to bring impoverished children throughout the world hope, love, and lasting change through aid and education. For each pair of rain boots sold, a pair filled with school supplies is given to a child in need somewhere in the world
  28. Solo HopeIt opened in 2015 as a non profit corporation that works with women in Honduras to create Jewelry and Bags made of pine straw. Besides a fair, steady income, ten percent of all sales goes into an education fund for students in Honduras.
  29. Sheva This is a company that sells feminine hygiene products and works toward empowering women in Guatemala. Every time you receive your Sheva box, they donate a box filled with sanitary pads to a girl in need through their partnered NGOs.
  30. Solve Sunglasses Is a company that gives back with every pair of sunglasses you purchase. SOLVE will give someone in need clean water for life through Water Missions International.
  31. Smile SquaredIt was founded in hopes of giving children their smiles back. Millions of children in the United States and around the world lack access to basic oral health care. For every toothbrush purchased, Smile Squared donates one to a child in need.
  32. Sackcloth and AshesFounder of Sackcloth & Ashes, Bob Dalton, was inspired to help the homeless population when his mother, a hardworking single mother, found herself living on the streets in 2013. He realized that not all choose to become homeless. Since then for every blanket purchased, they will donate one to your local homeless shelter.
  33. Soapbox SoapsSoapBox Soaps was founded in 2010 with a simple mission: to empower people to change the world through everyday, quality purchases. It donates one bar of soap, fresh water or vitamin supplements to a child in need for every bar purchased.
  34. Tim WatchThey envision a world where all people—no matter where they live—hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and for others. To do that they starter providing micro-funds whenever one of their watches is purchased.
  35. This Bar Saves LivesEvery year, severe acute malnutrition claims the lives of 2.6 million children. That’s one child every 12 seconds. That’s why This Bar Saves Lives started sending life-saving packet of food to people in need with every non-gmo granola bar purchased from their store.
  36. Thistle FarmsThey sell bath and body products that are made by a community of women in Tennessee who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction. This allows them to support themselves.
  37. Thrive CausemeticsThrive Causemetics was born out of a friendship. While working for L’Oreal’s luxury division Karissa Bodnar lost her dear friend Kristy to cancer at just 24 years old. Kristy’s compassionate and vivacious spirit inspired Karissa to establish Thrive Causemetics, a beauty brand and philosophy that goes beyond skin deep by empowering women. That’s why with each purchase they donate a beauty item to women with cancer.
  38. Tukula – Tukula (meaning “we grow”) partners with organizations and businesses to develop amazing products, created a our team of artisans in Uganda. Along with a fair wage, the women that work with them receive medical care, an encouraging work environment, and access to savings programs.
  39. Twosome Socks This is a company that sells high quality dress socks with a buy one give one model. Whenever you buy a pair another one is donated to Village of Hope in Orange County, California.
  40. YoobiMany kids in the U.S. don’t have access to basic school supplies, unless teachers pay for them out of their own pocket. That’s not right! Because they sell school and office supplies they decided to donate the same number of supplies purchased to U.S. schools in need.
  41. Zen Pig Kid’s BookThe series uses rhythmic poetry and minimalist design so the morals and values Zen Pig embodies are the spotlight. Zen Pig is always speaking wisdom into and serving his town and neighbors. Every copy sold provides 10 people with access to clean water for 1 year.

If you know of any other companies that help people out, please let us know in the comments. We are constantly looking for more companies to support by sharing!

Hydrapak + Bottle Bright = Brilliance!

Not often is a socially and ecologically conscious company also extraordinarily practical.  But the people behind Bottle Bright have made the connection!  There are many wonderful companies and nonprofit organizations that make fantastic impacts on the world but sometimes the items sold aren’t always necessities.

Chances are you may be one of the many people who carry a reusable water bottle, or at least have tried one.  Some of you may enjoy being active and carry a hydration pack with you on long outings.  Or you bring your travel coffee mug with you to work every morning.  No matter who you are, chances are pretty good that you have or have tried a reusable drink container.  But, man, are they a pain to clean (if you can figure out how to clean them at all…).

The guys behind Bottle Bright had the same problem.  After enduring a long bike ride with weird tasting water, they realized that they had two choices. They could clean their packs with bleach or live with stinky, gross tasting water.  The guys resolved to create a new cleaner bottle unlike anything before.

Bottle Bright is an all natural cleaner, meaning no harsh chemicals and 100% biodegradable ingredients.  The packaging was chosen to reduce landfill waste by using recycled materials and making the end product recyclable as well.  It also promotes the use of reusable containers, thereby reducing waste created by disposable containers (not to mention, less energy is spent on creating those containers when people reuse their containers).

80% of illnesses in developing countries are water related.  There have been countless efforts to provide a clean water source to those most in need, which is fantastic!  But many have overlooked a step.  What good is clean water if it must be carried and stored in a dirty container?

bottle brightFor every purchase of Bottle Bright, the same amount is donated to people in developing countries.  Hydrapak offers hygiene education as well as donations of Bottle Bright.  The best part is, it is easy to use, safe to handle, easy to carry with you.  The cleaning solution can be discarded directly onto the ground with no ecological repercussions.  It also promotes domestic jobs as it is made in the USA.

The people at Hydrapak and Bottle Bright really got it right!  They are helping people desperate for clean water by helping them to keep their water clean.  Their product is so practical and simple and there will always be a need for clean containers, in both developed and developing parts of the world.

Look out world, there’s a new baby in town Baby Teresa

Clothing is one of the many basic needs of babies throughout the world. Though for some, that is one need that is hard to meet.  Baby Teresa was founded in 2009 by two moms who were looking to give something back.  With so many of their friends having children, they found it difficult to give truly meaningful gifts.

baby teresaBaby Teresa rompers and accessories are made with 100% organic and fair trade cotton.  Not only does this offer safety and financial security for farmers and their families, but it also gives your baby softer and healthier clothing.  It is particularly helpful for children with allergies or eczema.  Having residual chemical pesticides and fertilizers so close to the sensitive skin of a child is never ideal.

The wonderful people at Baby Teresa not only offer these adorable and well-made diapers to your family but for every one bought, one is donated to a child in need.  When they added the accessories, they started a campaign to donate formula to select orphanages.  Orphanages can sometimes be so underfunded that they have to water down their baby formula in order to feed the children.  Every accessory sold helps to alleviate that need.  Baby Teresa donates 25% of their profits to charities that help empower women from pregnancy to parenthood.

With all the stresses that surround raising a child, clothing shouldn’t have to be one of them.  By 2015, Baby Teresa has donated clothing to children in over 20 countries and counting.  They don’t just donate to developing countries, they also have donated to organizations that help women and babies right in their home of Australia as well as many European countries.  As long as babies are being born, Baby Teresa will be needed to help families.

Keep a look out for Baby Teresa’s new line of clothing coming out soon!  It is sure to be equally, if not more, adorable!

Clothe Your Neighbor As Yourself

Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself (CYNY) is a nonprofit clothing company dedicated to changing the face of poverty through clothing.  The founder, James Barnett, was raised in middle-class America by a religious family.  They went to church regularly but Barnett started to feel like there was something wrong in the way his family practiced their religion. So, at the age of 24, he quit his job, sold off all his belongings and became intentionally homeless for two years.  He wanted to discover a different way to serve God and figured he needed to immerse himself in a life he wasn’t used to in order to figure out how.

CYNYOne day, the life of one of his homeless friends changed forever with a pair of steel-toed boots.  He was able to land a job in construction and eventually housing.  Barnett could not believe that something as simple as clothing could have such an impact.  At the time, there were no nonprofit clothing brands and Barnett resolved to start one.  Today, Barnett is the executive director and runs the CYNY in Atlanta, GA with his wife and dog (who was appointed Chief of Snuggles).

Since the start of CYNY, customers have helped to provide:

  • seamstress jobs to women rescued from the sex trade in India,
  • school uniforms to orphans in Kenya and Haiti,
  • interview attire to the homeless,
  • wigs for women fighting cancer,
  • diapers to single parents, and
  • backpacks to US children living in poverty.

Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself has clearly been busy making impacts throughout the world.

CYNY recognizes that their clothing isn’t necessarily cheap.  That’s because they refuse to cut corners while trying to help people.  From the farmers who grow the cotton to the seamstresses who create the finished products, CYNY pays fair and ethical wages.

CYNYEach purchase from Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself provides a school uniform for an impoverished child or gives job training and a professional wardrobe to a homeless person.  When making a purchase, you get to choose the cause most important to you.

CYNY is currently working with the Safehouse Outreach in Atlanta and 410 Bridge which operates in Kenya and Haiti.

The company partners with retailers throughout the world.  The hope is to make a larger impact for those who need it as well as to change the culture of consumerism.

As people become more aware of the impacts on the earth and other people just through the purchase of simple clothing, it is good to see companies dedicated to positive impacts.

Elephant Landing empowering the women of India

elephant landingElephant Landing was started in November 2013 by husband and wife Caroline and Jayden, to benefit women struggling in India.  In 2001, Jayden first visited rural India to start an orphanage with his parents.  Once the orphanage was up and running, he was amazed that so many of the children under their care were not actually orphans at all.  They had families but their parents could not make enough money to take care of them.

In 2003, they started a training center where they taught women how to sew and embroider.  Widows and single mothers are the bulk of their students.  When the women graduate, each woman receives a foot pedaled sewing machine that they can take back to their villages and start a home business.  Upon finishing the training, these women have the knowledge and equipment to go into business for themselves.  Finally, the women can support their families and contribute to the communities in which they live.

By 2013 when Elephant Landing officially opened its doors, over 300 women had graduated from the sewing school that was started only ten years earlier.  Elephant Landing partnered with about thirty graduates to create the products that Elephant Landing sell today.

elephant landingelephant landingThe products are made from the family’s homes and all of the women they have partnered with are paid a fair wage.  They make household goods, literally from their home to yours.

Their handmade pillows and throws are unique to each one.  Each throw is hand-loomed and the dyes are eco-friendly.  100% of all profits go back to the women and into expanding the sewing program to new villages.

Elephant Landing is determined to continue to help create employment opportunities and hope for the future.  By making a purchase, you become a character in their story.

There are other great organizations helping in similar ways in order to help empower individuals.  In Uganda, Tukula trains single mothers in sewing and embroidery so they can start their own home businesses as well.  In Ethiopia, Beza Threads empowers young boys and girls saved from modern slavery.  The problem lies all over the world and Elephant Landing is gladly stepping up and trying to do something about it in India.

Jacob’s Scarves: Supporting Education and Artisan work

jacobs scarves

Jacob’s Scarves is a small apparel company working to provide high-quality jobs and education to people in disadvantaged communities.

Founder Kiri Berdan started the company in 2012 after visiting Zhongshan, China to teach English there for a semester. While she was there, she got to know a neighboring family that was struggling to pay for schooling for their son, Jacob. Thus began Jacob’s scarves, as a small operation selling scarves to help raise money for just one child.

Since then, Jacob’s Scarves has expanded, and its products are now produced in Uganda, Mexico, and Bolivia. They do their best to work directly with artisan craftspeople and provide them with reliable, well-paying jobs.

For example, you can read a blog post all about how Berdan started a relationship with workers in the town of Villa Abecia, Bolivia, when she visited there. She explains that she had been traveling in Bolivia looking for an opportunity to start a mutually-beneficial business relationship with local artisans, and just happened to meet a woman who made scarves while she was dining in a restaurant.

The woman Berdan met in Bolivia had many years of experience in crocheting and making scarves, but struggled to find a market for her high-quality product. Out of that chance encounter was born Jacob’s Scarves’ Bolivia line of scarves.

Scarves in the Bolivia line are made by women in Villa Abecia who do every step of the production process, from raising and sheering the sheep, to cleaning and dying the wool, then spinning and crocheting.

Jacob’s Scarves has a wide variety of vibrant scarves. Each country they work in produces different styles. You can peruse their wide selection here.

Beyond providing jobs, Jacob’s Scarves continues it’s mission of helping to provide education to children who are unable to afford it.

JC Denim Co.: Fighting Sex Trafficking in Cambodia

JC denim co jeans

Jeans from JC Denim Co. are handcrafted by young women in Cambodia rescued from situations of sexual exploitation.

The Australia-based company partners with Destiny Rescue Cambodia. Destiny Rescue is an organization that rescues young women from the sex trade and teaches them sewing. JC Denim Co. has become a consistent supplier of work for a number of these women, who are able to work from their own homes, and make more than they would in a factory.

JC Denim is a not-for-profit company, and they pay the seamstresses in Cambodia 3-4 times the average for Cambodian garment workers. They also have a line of women’s denim made by hand in Australia, where the manufacturing industry (much like in the U.S.) has taken a hit due to outsourcing of jobs.

A pair of jeans takes about a full day to make. JC Denim boasts that the jeans are made with old-fashioned coal-powered, foot-pumped sewing machines, since most of these women don’t have electricity.

It’s easy to see that the JC Denim Co. staff is passionate about helping the people they employ.  If you take a look at their extensive FAQ page, you can get detailed information on the working conditions, the wages the company is paying, the problems of sex trafficking in Cambodia, the history of the company, and more.

You can also read personal stories about a handful of the seamstresses that work for JC, to find out who is making your jeans and how making your jeans improved their lives.

As far as the product itself — the jeans run about $150. JC Denim also sells a variety of other rugged-looking products: belts, wallets, boots, and t-shirts, all with that hearty hand-crafted vibe.

For more on JC Denim Co., check out their impressively high-production value Vice-style documentary about the Cambodian sex trade and their work with Destiny Rescue:

Half United: Fighting Hunger, Fashionably

Half United is a rugged-chic jewelry and apparel company focused on fighting hunger. Siblings Christian and Carmin Black founded the company in 2009 in Wilmington, North Carolina, starting from very humble beginnings.

With just $200 to invest in their fledgling project, the duo started from scratch, selling recycled odds and ends at art shows — coffee mugs, plates, and bowls onto which they stenciled the Half United logo. They admit that their product wasn’t of the highest quality at that point, but they say people were eager to buy from them because they were inspired by their story and their mission.
half united bullet necklace
Over time they’ve definitely improved their offering, coming out with more and more stylish products. One of their signature products is their “Fighting Hunger” bullet necklace. Each necklace is adorned with a recycled bullet casing, which they say symbolizes the fight against hunger.

Half United sells a wide variety of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, as well as t-shirts with cute motivational slogans like “Giving Back is the New Black” and “Fight the Good Fight.” They also have a truly endearing collection of kids’ tees.

The philanthropic focus of Half United is fighting hunger. They promise that for each product you purchase, they will provide 7 meals to a child in need. So far, they have provided over 200,000 meals to children in the U.S., Fiji, Liberia, Nepal, Haiti, and Cambodia.

Half United’s hunger-fighting efforts are fairly comprehensive. They’ve focused on a number of countries where hunger is a problem (including their own, the U.S.). They’ve partnered with different organizations in each country, to make sure the money the donate is doing as much good as possible. Their website includes information on the specific hunger-fighting programs in each country.

To get to know the siblings who run Half United and learn more about their story and mission, check out their video:

Sevenly

Sevenly is a non-profitable organization founded in 2011 with the mission of leading a generation towards prosperity. It is based on a simple, core believe that ‘people matter’. This organization launched the now global ‘cause art’ movement and started creating 7-day cause campaigns.  In these campaigns, Sevenly invites customers to purchase products that donate to non-profits. Each campaign and every product creates conversations.

Globally recognized as one of the world’s leading ‘social good’ organizations, Sevenly performs campaigns that change lives and bring awareness and funding to the world’s greatest causes.

Sevenly-Blog

Sevenly Social Aspect

Sevenly focuses on raising funds and awareness for important causes. It commissions ‘cause art’ that celebrates the work of these causes, sells products that give back, and promotes stories of encouragement to all the people they reach.  Throughout the year, this organization features specific causes for all its campaigns.

7% of all items sold are donated to The Sevenly Foundation, which in turn donates 100% of that amount to its non-profit partner pledges.

Sevenly values work in their own way and with their unique preferences. They are committed to highlighting good words about good work, rather than creating a staging area for people to post things that might reflect a “glass half empty” approach.

slide-2-image

Sevenly products

Whether an inspiring print, a shirt, or an item from their curated cause collections, Sevenly products are decorated with seven unique designs for each cause that give back and create conversations.  Sevenly prints on high-quality, tag-less, apparel that are made of either 100% ringspun cotton, poly/cotton mix, poly/cotton/viscose, or tri-blend fabric hence environment-friendly.

Sevenly provide free shipping for all orders above $75. They also exchange products at no additional cost in cases where the products do not meet your taste, preference or size. They will also refund the full cost of the product (less the charitable donation) if they do not have your preferred product in stock.

In less than five years, Sevenly has raised over $4 million, created billions of cause-related impressions, and touched nearly two million lives!

Like Barnabas Clothing Co., Sevenly has gifts cards which are sent speedily via email to the recipient of your choice. This makes the perfect option for a last minute gift or for those who have just about everything. Donations are made through these gift cards when the card is used to place an order.  This allows the recipient to choose the charity they would like to support.

Order your product today at Sevenly.org and donate to non-profits with great causes.

Even Your Toothbrush Can be Sustainable!

humble brush

Being an eco-friendly consumer means making responsible buying choices with all of your purchases, from your choice of the car you drive all the way down to… yes, your toothbrush.

The toothbrushes from Humble Brush (based in Sweden) are 100% biodegradable. They’re made from bamboo, which is a naturally sustainable material, and the bristles are made from Nylon 6, which Humble Brush says is the “most biodegradable nylon in the world.” While it would be nice to see them do away with the Nylon, Humble Brush explains that this is the only way they could make the brush effective and affordable.

Humble Brush was founded by dentist Noel Abdayem in 2013, with the goal of creating a fully-functional toothbrush that is not only sustainable, but also helps to provide oral health to people in need around the world.

A laser-engraved, (almost) all-natural toothbrush might seem like a bit of a luxury fashion statement (and maybe it is… so what?), but these brushes are also another small step away from wasteful consumption practices, and toward sustainable, globally-minded production.

As Humble Brush explains in their video, 5 BILLION plastic toothbrushes are produced each year. Once they’re worn out, they have nowhere to go but landfills and the ocean. Humble Brushes, on the other hand, will last you the dentist-recommended 3 months, and then will naturally biodegrade when you throw them out.

For each toothbrush sold, Humble Brush donates 1 toothbrush (or the equivalent value in oral care) to a child in need. Humble Brush works with the Humble Smile Foundation to do its philanthropic work. Check out some examples of the Humble Smile Foundation’s oral health initiatives here.

Humble Brush was voted Best New Product in 2015 in the Natural and Organic Awards.

Check out Humble Brush’s video to learn more about the product and see the production process from start to finish:

Kammok: Camping Gear with Social Impact

Austin, TX-based Kammok makes high-tech hammocks, blankets, and other camping gear. They are a certified B-Corporation and a member of 1% For the Planet. B-Corp certification means that they are a for-profit company verified to have sustainable and transparent business practices, and 1% For the Planet membership means that 1% of all profits are donated to a philanthropic cause.

Through 1% For the Planet, Kammok partners with Ubuntu (also based in Austin), a philanthropic organization that does community development in Kenya. Ubuntu is the largest employer in a city of over 60,000 people in Kenya, where they focus on “five specific needs: Education, Environment, Economy, Health and Community.” Check out Ubuntu’s website for more on their mission and the work they do.

kammok roo
The main offering from Kammok is the Roo, their durable, versatile hammock that comes in a huge array of colors. For all the uses of the Roo, check out this video from the company:

At around just $20, these hammocks are super affordable, and they get great reviews from campers — Kammok calls it “The World’s Best Camping Hammock,” and customers seem to agree! Reviewers say the hammocks are easy to set up and easily fold up very small for packing away. The Roo is made out of parachute nylon fabric.

Kammok also offers various other camping gear items, such as insect nets, weather shelters, carabiners, suspension straps, sleeping bags… and trucker hats, in case you need one of those. For each product, their website offers a pretty thorough explanation of the high-tech materials and construction they use. Because why go into nature with anything less then the most advanced modern equipment?

Kammok products come with a lifetime warranty, and the company promises to recycle the product for you when it’s worn out (eventually).

Like any good outdoors brand, they also have a pretty good Instagram account worth checking out.

FASHIONABLE: Leather and Jewelry Made by Women

fashionable leather jewelry 1

FASHIONABLE makes high quality leather products and jewelry for women that balance stylish elegance with rustic sturdiness. The mission of the company is to provide jobs to women (both locally and globally) who would otherwise have trouble accessing dependable, safe employment.

The founders started the company when they were living in Ethiopia and observed huge numbers of women doing sex work because this was the only work available to them. They assert that FASHIONABLE is not a charity model — they believe that the best way to combat poverty is by providing opportunity, especially to women. “We believe that social businesses whose aim is to alleviate poverty should use their business skills to create job opportunities for the poor, not give them more charity…Through much study and understanding of the social sciences, those in the development world understand that giving a woman a job leads to a much stronger benefit to a family than when given to a man.”

fashionable handmade jewelry

They are in the process of becoming a certified B Corporation, a new standard for companies that live up to high standards of sustainability and transparency.

In 2015 FASHIONABLE took on a local approach as well, by merging with the brand Miriam. Products from the Miriam Collection are crafted by women in Nashville, TN, who previously had trouble accessing employment. They currently employ 5 women full-time through this program, and plan to continue growing it.

To demonstrate the impact that your purchase has, FASHIONABLE has a special “Women’s Stories” page — on this page you can read the personal stories of over 20 women employed by FASHIONABLE.

FASHIONABLE has a huge variety of totes, handbags, clutches, rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc. Customized and personalized products are made by the small crew in Nashville.

Quick tip: if you refer a friend who buys something for over $40 from FASHIONABLE, they’ll give you $20 off any product.

Alaffia: Diversifying Humanities

There are numerous brands out there that contribute to the betterment of man, but none is as diverse or as passionate as Alaffia. Founded by Olowo-n’djo Tchala and Prairie Rose Hyde, this brand takes social empowerment to a whole new level.

Alaffia produces and sells beauty care products made from sustainably harvested, traditionally extracted, unrefined coconut oil and shea butter from Togo, West Africa. Fair wages and prices are paid to the Alaffia members and farmers. The final products are completed in small batches by hand in their Olympia, Washington facility in order to reduce energy consumption and increase product quality. They even have environmentally mindful packaging.

All Alaffia products are Fair Trade certified. What does that mean? Basic fair trade requirements involve locally fair wages, equal opportunity employment, environmentally sustainable practices, and healthy, safe working conditions. Because of Alaffia’s fair trade practices, shea butter prices are twice as high as market competitors in West African ports. They pay 15-25% above market for their shea nuts, members receive four times higher salary than the average family income in Togo. Members also receive full medical care, employment security, and one month paid vacation per year. This has earned Alaffia the Fair for Life: Social & Fair Trade certification by IMO (the Institute for Marketecology).

What makes Alaffia’s beauty products superior to most of their competitors, besides the ethically and morally sound business practices, is the fact that their shea butter and coconut oils remain unrefined. This allows the product to retain all of the important vitamins and antioxidants that make shea butter and coconut oil so effective. It also allows members to process the raw ingredients in the traditional way.

In the Queen Alaffia Collection, each piece of the collection is one of a kind, handmade in Togo. The Alaffia Artisan Center, where the articles are made, rehabilitates women who had once been forced into the sex trade due to various circumstances. The Center offers these women a stable income and a respectable work environment they can be proud of. They also learn and retain traditional techniques and sewing skills.

Their Good Soap brand is offered exclusively at Whole Foods Markets nationwide. One percent of sales is donated to the Whole Planet Foundation which aims to alleviate poverty by offering microcredit to communities worldwide. Alaffia adds to the usefulness of this brand by allocating funds generated from the soap’s sales to building a kindergarten in Togo each year!

Already this company has earned the title of hero from its wonderful products alone. But that is just the tip of the iceberg!

Alaffia has started and funds multiple “Empowerment Projects” in Togo. The goal is to help alleviate poverty and gender inequality. The programs are certainly diversified; from education-based projects, the Maternal Care Project, Reforestation Project, Eyeglasses Project to the FGM Eradication Project.

Education Projects:

The education projects provide necessities to school children: uniforms, books, writing supplies, desks and even new roofs on schools. Alaffia partners with retailers in the United States to collect school supplies. To help, call 1-800-664-8005.

In the rural areas of Togo, many children have to walk ten miles to simply attend school. The area lacks buses and families cannot afford private transportation. Therefore, school becomes a very time-consuming part of a child’s day and often they will drop out of school in order to help their family with work. To help combat this inconvenience that costs children their education, Alaffia donates used bikes to school children. And it works! About 95% of bicycle recipients go on to graduate secondary school. The bikes are collected from communities in Washington and Oregon. They take bicycles destined for dumps and give them new life to encourage children to stay in school.

The Maternal Care Project:

The Maternal Care Project was started to help reduce the massive amount of deaths that occur each year in West Africa due to pregnancy or childbirth. Every year, Alaffia funds pre- and post-delivery care for local women, as well as provides information and training on often overlooked topic of women’s health issues.

FGM Eradication Project:

The Female Genitalia Mutilation (FGM) Eradication Project is an extension of the Maternal Care Project. Internationally, FGM is considered a violation of human rights and has many risks associated with it. Risks include severe bleeding, persistent infections, life-threatening complications during childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths. Alaffia offers a moving testimonial about this project on their website under FGM Eradication Project.

Reforestation Project:

This project encourages Togolese farmers to plant trees to reforest their homes. Reforestation minimizes erosion and improves food security. Training is conducted to discourage the cutting of shea trees for firewood, protecting an indigenous resource. It also investigates sustainable fuel alternatives to firewood and charcoal, primarily bio-gas and bio-oils.

Eyeglasses Project:

Due to the prohibitive prices of eye care in West Africa leaves children, adults and aging community members without clear sight. Eye exams in West Africa can cost as much as one month’s pay, and glasses as much as four month’s pay. This project collects used/unwanted glasses from U.S. communities and an optometrist in Togo properly fits and distributes the new glasses.

To read more about Alaffia, explore their website and donate to the cause. Be sure to check out the fantastic beauty care products they offer.

Information on Solar Power from Clarus Power

When people think of going green, they often imagine reusing bags at the grocery store, buying local produce and carpooling with their neighbors.  They foresee small, day-by-day actions compounding to create a more sustainable lifestyle and a healthier earth.  Sometimes, however, the biggest changes are actually the most straightforward.  Many Americans today simply buy electricity from their local provider, under the assumption that there are no desirable alternatives.  However, what they don’t know is that the greener route is also the easiest and most lucrative.

70% of Americans are interested in going solar but only 1% of Americans actually have it. Why is that?

There are several myths that are keeping people from powering their home in a cleaner, cheaper way:

The biggest misconception is that solar panels are expensive, and, despite their positive environmental impacts, they are only affordable for a small subset of Americans.  The opposite is actually true; depending on which state you live in, going solar can save you $20,000 in 20 years.  Furthermore, there is no upfront cost, as you don’t have to pay for the solar panels or the installation.  If you sign up with Clarus Power, you can switch to solar for no cost at all.

Many people also worry that solar power will not effectively power their home, because they live in a place with cold winters or little sun.  In reality, solar panels work well even on cloudy days.  Just think of California: people have happily gone solar both in sunny Los Angeles and foggy San Francisco!

Finally, individuals are wary of installing a new system that could be complicated to set up and a hassle to maintain. However, going solar with Clarus Power could not be easier.  The solar panels will be set up for you in just one day.  They require no maintenance and are resilient through harsh winters or storms.  An average warranty is about 20-30 years long; By that time, you will have saved about $20,000– enough to pay for almost two years of tuition at some state colleges– and will have offset about 178 tons of carbon dioxide– the equivalent of planting 10 football fields worth of trees.

For those of you who are incredibly excited about the prospect of going green and saving money in the process, there is a way to put more of your soul in solar.  We provide training for individuals to become Clarus Power ambassadors.  These ambassadors are paid help to spread the word about solar to those in their community and beyond.

With already one million Americans going solar, we are excited how quickly the movement has grown.  Join us in our efforts to save the planet– and your pockets!

Have You Heard the Buzz About Bombas?

Bombas built their company around the notorious fact that socks are the most requesting clothing item by homeless shelters. “Bombas are socks engineered and designed to look better, feel better and with a mission to help those in need.”

With every purchase of Bombas socks, another pair is donated to a person who needs them. Bombas works with non-profit organizations, homeless shelters, charities and individuals looking to make a difference throughout the United States.

Bombas has so far been able to donate 964,416 socks and counting. The more socks sold equals more socks donated, but in order to really make a difference, the company knows the best way to sell socks is to make a superior product. They have designed their brand of socks to be better than anything else on the market. They were designed with athletes in mind, yet to offer superior luxury.

The company, however, does not donate the same socks they sell. In fact, they have designed something far better in order to meet the needs of a person who doesn’t have access to a clean pair of socks on a daily basis. Their “donation socks” are designed in dark colors to show less visible wear. They have been treated with an anti-microbial which means that they are resistant to fungus growth and can go longer in between washes than the average sock. The seams are reinforced to increase their durability and the life of the sock.

Bombas is the Latin word for bumblebee. This company consciously chose this animal for something like a mascot due to the fact that bees always work together in order to make the whole hive better. They wanted to mirror this within their brand. “Bee Better” has become their slogan and their mantra: push yourself athletically and socially. Do your part to make the world better.

Get involved and partner with Bombas. Check out their merchandise and you can share Bombas with a friend. When you refer a friend, they get 25% off their first purchase and you get a free pair of socks.  Now get out there and Bee Better!