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8.25.2016

Review: Harmless Harvest Coconut Water is Actually Delicious

Harmless Harvest coconut water review

When I was in LA, my hostess was guzzling coconut water like it was regular water and it gave me a hankering to go out and buy a few bottles. Fortunately, Harmless Harvest sent me a couple of vouchers so I could pick some up at my local grocery store.

I've tried coconut water before, but I didn't have a great experience. The liquid seemed milky and had a sour aftertaste. But when a fellow Ethical Writers Coalition member suggested she would kill for Harmless Harvest, I figured it was too good not to sample.

Every bottle boasts the Fair for Life certification logo and the brand employs a Constructive Capitalism approach that benefits all people through the supply chain:
This model values and respects each person and community contributing to the creation and purchase of a product. It is understood that all stakeholders should benefit from Harmless Harvest, whether it be the plants at the source, the customer at the store, or any step in between.
In addition, the bottles are made of BPA-free plastic, the coconut water 100% certified organic, and the process free of heating methods that contribute to that sour taste I took issue with in another brand.

So, what do I think?

Harmless Harvest coconut water review

I love it! A little bit sweet, smooth, extremely drinkable. I drank a bottle of it while I was editing these photos and I keep looking down at my glass to see if there's any more. Though I received a voucher for my bottles, the retail price at the local Giant was $3.29 for a small bottle. A bit pricey for an everyday beverage, but nice if you need a nourishing pick-me-up in the middle of the day.

You may be asking, "why is it pink?" According to Harmless Harvest, coconut water contains antioxidants like polyphenols that naturally vary in amount across coconuts. Some of these antioxidants are light sensitive, and turn pink over time. I always like a good science lesson and the color is quite pretty.

It should be noted that Harmless Harvest coconut water is most likely located in the refrigerated section of the natural foods aisle at your local store. I ended up taking a tour of the store before I thought to check there.

Harmless Harvest also provided vouchers to try their new coffee flavor, but my local store doesn't carry it.

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Find a local store that carries Harmless Harvest here. 


8.23.2016

Review: Mable Delivers Sustainable, Self Standing Toothbrushes

Mable bamboo toothbrush review

A couple of years ago, I switched from conventional plastic toothbrushes to those now ubiquitous recycled plastic toothbrushes, which I can pick up at my local Trader Joe's for a few bucks a piece. But, while the company has a pretty good thing going, I've continued to have some reservations about a product made of non-biodegradable plastic (it turns out they have a mail-in recycling program, but I had no idea until I wrote this post, so I've just been tossing the toothbrushes in my regular recycling bin and crossing my fingers that something good would come of it).

Then Mable reached out and offered one of their bamboo toothbrushes for review and I was stoked (can you tell I visited southern California recently?) to get a chance to see what the bamboo experience was like. Bamboo is a sturdy, fast growing plant, which makes it one of the most sustainable materials in the world. Plus it's biodegradable, which makes a huge difference when you consider that "nearly five-billion plastic toothbrushes make their way into the earth and oceans every year." The Mable toothbrush is made from bamboo and new nylon, and the handle is designed so that the brush can stand all by itself on a counter top.

So what did I think?

Mable bamboo toothbrush review
I have mixed feelings. In terms of sustainability and design, the brush is spot on. I don't have to send in my toothbrush once it's worn out because it will biodegrade naturally over time (though Mable does recommend taking the nylon out of the handle and disposing of it since it's not biodegradable). The silhouette of the product is also really cool. I feel like it makes my bathroom look like a fancier place than it is.

On the downside, the self-standing aspect isn't that useful to me because I have limited counter space. I usually store my toothbrush in a little ceramic cup on one of those relic-of-the-past, built-in toothbrush holders that's been mounted to the wall of my apartment since the 1960s, but I need to store the Mable brush on the windowsill so it won't end up falling into the sink. The bamboo also feels a bit weird against your gums at first, but it loses some of its friction with continued use, so I'm adjusting to it now that I'm a couple weeks in.

Conscious consumerism is often about finding compromises you can live with and, as far as bamboo toothbrushes are concerned, Mable is a good option. They offer a subscription service that mails you a new brush every three months at a reduced rate ($8.00 instead of $10.00) and they're working on broadening their options to include new colors and a range of bristles (currently, they only offer Medium bristles).

If you've got more counter space than me and love good design, I think the Mable Toothbrush may suit you just fine.

Hannah at Life Style Justice reviewed the Mable brush last week. Check out her review here.

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Shop Mable here.


8.21.2016

Making the Case for a Vacation from Conscious Consumerism

Making the Case for a Vacation from Conscious Consumerism
Crashing waves near Point Dume

As a rule, when I travel, I don't network. 


There are hundreds of brilliant, inspiring women (and some men) who write on conscious consumerism around the country who I would love to meet someday, but when I go on vacation, I don't make plans with them.

I travel to visit with friends and family. I often stay at their houses, work with their schedules, and ride in their cars. I have limited vacation time provided through work, so I don't often get more than a long weekend when I visit loved ones, and it's just not worth it to me to carve out a space for friendly networking, no matter how beneficial or fulfilling it might be.

I also travel to get some perspective on my day-to-day. I spend nearly all of my spare time (and some of my work time) talking about consumer ethics, manufacturing, and sustainability. I write and photograph for this blog. I pitch articles and tinker with html and obsessively check Google Analytics. And, while I find it immensely gratifying, I also tend to get tunnel vision fairly quickly and it's hard to get a sense of what matters most.

Physically leaving my environment and visiting with people who know me outside of that context helps me better gauge my long term goals and better understand my role within the world I occupy.

Making the Case for a Vacation from Conscious Consumerism
Daniel and me at a dusty outlook over the city


Sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself is not be a "conscious consumer" for awhile. 


Now, that's not to say that I shouldn't be mindful of the things I purchase on trips, throwing my moral convictions to the wind. It's to say that I strive when I'm away to remember that I'm a person, first and foremost. It's healthy for me to separate the "consumer" part from the "conscious" part for a few days, to practice being considerate of others and myself without that being attached to want.

On my recent trip to Los Angeles, I explored desert landscapes, people watched at Venice Beach, admired modern architecture, ate cuisines not available to me in Charlottesville, watched the grandest ocean sunset I've ever seen, climbed to the top of Point Dume, chatted with the locals, binge watched all of Stranger Things with friends, and took lots of naps. I helped with the dishes and chopped the vegetables for dinner. I set the table and took twilight walks.

And I felt like I was able to get real clarity on what I want for myself and what I need in both a career and in a life. I was challenged by the task of living in someone else's home for a week and learned how to compromise and work through impatience, which reminded me that this task of just being with people harmoniously is something hard and worth accomplishing.

Taking a pause from conscious consumerism to practice self care
The sunset in Malibu


I think a lot of us conscious consumers and ethical bloggers think that if we can reach some secular humanist version of enlightenment and make ourselves perfect, that will have a ripple effect and the world will be forever better. 


But I think that's a lie. If I become a vegan who makes all my own clothes out of hemp I've grown and hand dyed with herbs, if I live on a homestead and sing to the animals and paint with all the colors of the wind, I might find some personal gratification. But that's just a drop in the bucket. The world is vast and it's not my job to change it by myself.

I believe I have a responsibility to act with intention in small and big ways. I believe that my choices matter. But if I burn out, what good am I to anyone? If I forsake intimate relationships for networking visits, if I visit a fair trade store instead of climbing a mountain to see the sea lions play in the water below, if I am nice on the internet and mean to my husband because I'm too tired to practice kindness, am I really succeeding at bettering myself in the end?

Some days, being a person is hard enough.

My advice to myself and to you is to be as patient and kind as you can be to yourself and others. Take a break from your personal brand and watch a sunset. Sometimes in the clutter of war, sweatshop tragedies, and political turmoil, I forget that life is actually still worth living. I forget why I'm fighting or what I'm fighting for.

But after time away, I remember that I'm fighting for my and everyone's right to laugh raucously with friends and binge watch Netflix and get soaked by the cold waves of the Pacific Ocean. 


I'm fighting for a right to live, and live well.


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