Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability

SUSTAINABLE STYLE & ETHICAL LIVING

Small Wins: Why We Shouldn't Stop Trying to Shop Ethically

Why We Should Be Ethical Shoppers
This is a response to Michael Hobbes' article, The Myth of the Ethical Shopper, published July 15, 2015.

Michael Hobbes wrote an article for Huffington Post Highline a few weeks ago that shook the conscious consumer community. In The Myth of the Ethical Shopper, Hobbes outlines the myriad ways buying our way to a better world has failed us. It's well researched, and it's true. Imposing regulations on foreign companies without real oversight or local social change has little long term effect on the well being of factory workers.

If you've been following the movement for awhile, you've probably heard an outline of his argument before, but I encourage you to read it - it's an impressive amount of research. The primary point of the piece is this:

Listening to consumer advocacy campaigns, you’d think our only influence on the developing world was at the cash register. But our real leverage is with our policies, not our purchases...We are not going to shop ourselves into a better world.

In his followup, published last week on the Huffington Post blog, Hobbes responds to commenters who maintain that they are ethical shoppers - by virtue of buying American made or locally sourced items - regardless of what Hobbes has to say about it:

Let me be super clear about this, in words I might have minced in the piece itself: that is impossible. And pretending it's not is exactly what keeps sweatshops from being solved.

Responding to Hobbes is no easy feat, because he's absolutely right. We're spending too much time making shopping lists and not enough time doing the boring, excruciating work of lobbying for better systems. But it's not enough to write a convincing argument that we all suck at being good people. In fact, that's maybe the worst thing we can do. 

In 1984, psychologist Karl E. Weick published a study entitled Small Wins, which explains why large scale social problems are rarely resolved by simply proliferating social sciences research on relevant topics. The reason we fail to remedy social problems, he discovered, has everything to do with how problems are defined in the first place. He found that:

The massive scale on which social problems are conceived often precludes innovative action because the limits of bounded rationality are exceeded and arousal is raised to dysfunctionally high levels. People often define social problems in ways that overwhelm their ability to do anything about them.

Basically, if you're inundated with information about how terrible everything is, your brain is wired to shut down. This may be the reason The True Cost movie hasn't been as well reviewed as one would hope. There are simply too many reasons to give up hope. There are too many problems.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is low arousal, which can occur if you think too much about an issue until it becomes "depersonalized."

Whether one is too aroused or not aroused enough, Weick concludes that the solution is to break down large problems into small, manageable steps. The "small wins" system works, because:

Small wins often originate as solutions that single out and define as problems those specific, limited conditions for which they can serve as the complete remedy...Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win."

Breaking up a big problem into bite-sized pieces makes it possible to digest the whole thing over time. As we solve one thing, we get the confidence to keep moving forward.

All this to say that Hobbes' failure is not in his research but in his approach. It's one thing for an "insider" like myself to read an article like this, process it, and reorient myself toward a better way of doing ethics. It's another thing entirely to release it into the hands of the general public. If you're teeter-tottering on the edge of making more conscientious choices, even a little poke in the center of your chest can send you backward. The global manufacturing industry is corrupt - it's a Big Social Problem - but it cannot be remedied by just hollering about how big and terrible the problem is. You can't very well gain followers by telling everyone they'll never measure up.

Hobbes probably knows this, but his failure to mention it and his unwillingness to see the negative repercussions of his rhetorical strategy warrants a kind-hearted calling out. It may be true that we will never change the world through shopping, but it's just as true that we will never resolve serious social issues until we can learn how to break them down into smaller problems with concrete solutions.

In his followup blog post, Hobbes briefly mentions his "fair-tradey friends" who respond to his critiques with "it's better than nothing." He scoffs at this, saying that if we're going to do something, we should make it something that really counts, like donating money to pro-union NGOs. He pretends for the sake of argument that buying fair trade and donating to NGOs are mutually exclusive ways of being. But the reality is that there are lots of ways we can do better, and be better. And if I stop buying stuff from Ten Thousand Villages so I can really fix the world by donating money to an organization, I might not be in a better place than where I started. Things are more complicated than that.

Voltaire is credited with popularizing the saying: 
The perfect is the enemy of the good.


It's certainly true for the conscientious consumer movement that waiting for the best keeps us from working toward the good. It's easy to fixate on the huge, giant, impossible problems in the world and decide that they're un-fixable. And, you know, maybe they are. But we have a responsibility to do something and it could very well start with buying something from a fair trade shop instead of the local Wal*Mart. We need some nice gateway drugs into the movement. We need some smooth, solid stones marking the pathway to justice.

So, keep finding ways to shop, and live, ethically; you'll get better over time. Let your ethics trickle through every aspect of your life. Don't stop until the work is done. It isn't easy, but know that each step forward is a small win.

What else can we do about all this?

Brands and Bloggers: Stop pretending that buying stuff will fix anything. As the fair trade movement becomes trendy, we have to make sure that we're being honest about the type of impact a purchase will have, and the limits of the fair trade model.

Conscious Consumers: Try to detach your identity from the Capitalist system and see what you can see. You can't curate your way to joy and wholeness.

Skeptics: Consider that your choices have a domino effect and that, whether or not you have the tools to change the world, you can change something. What else do you have to live for?

And let's all consider donating to NGOs and organizations that empower people to lobby for themselves and improve their communities. Check out The Note Passer's Resources page for links to international labor organizations.

Everlane Review: V-Neck, Heavyweight, & Box Cut Tees

everlane review

Everlane has replaced Old Navy as my go-to for basics in fun colors ever since I learned that GAP Inc. can't manage to follow its own corporate social responsibility standards. I've talked about Everlane over and over again here because 1. they are committed to ethical manufacturing and 2. their price point is reasonable. With rapid expansion of offices and product offerings in the past year, their business model has proven to be what the people want, and they've just hired former GAP creative director, Rebekka Bay, to steer the design team as they continue to grow. I'm a little bit anti-corporate, so I hope they don't lose sight of their original mission of radical transparency as they scale. Let Patagonia's struggles be a lesson to us all: getting huge means not knowing when you're exploiting people in your supply chain.

I've tried out lots of things from Everlane this year, but I've never posted a formal review, so I thought I'd review 5 items in one go.

The V-Neck Tee

everlane v-neck review

This is my favorite item from Everlane. The cotton is super soft, lightweight, and a bit slouchy in a way that's flattering, not gross. A lot of Everlane stuff has a boxy, oversized fit, but the v-neck is slightly fitted and not too low cut. At $15.00, it's a steal. I own the v-neck in three colors and wear them frequently. I wear my typical Small in this.

(Also, get ready to see a lot of wrinkly shirts - I'm not great at hanging up my clothes in a timely manner and I don't currently own an iron.)

Heavyweight Tee

everlane heavyweight tee review

I was so freaking excited when I got the email that Everlane was about to launch a striped tee. This one's made of thick cotton reminiscent of t-shirt material from the 70s and 80s, so it's best suited for slightly cooler temperatures. The sleeves hit just above the wrist on me, which I think is intentional. I like this shirt a lot, but I wouldn't say it's particularly flattering. Priced at $45.00. Ordered a small; fits true to size.

The Short Sleeve Chambray 

everlane chambray review

In theory, I love this top. In actuality, I have a really difficult time styling it due to its boxy, cropped shape. I don't wear jeans when it's warm out and I don't find this particularly flattering with skirts. Maybe I should try it layered with a sun dress. $48.00. I ordered this in an Extra Small initially, but the arm holes were too small, so I sized up to my regular Small.

The Ryan Long Sleeve

everlane ryan tee review

I ordered this in black and navy and wore them a lot during the winter. The black one had a sewing issue at the shoulder, so Everlane refunded me. The Ryan tees are made of rayon instead of cotton, so they're best suited to cooler weather and they need a little extra TLC. I wash them in a mesh bag and let them air dry. I ordered these in an Extra Small and the arms are a bit tight, but they stretch out just fine. $30.00.

The Box-Cut Tee

everlane box cut tee review

This is the first item I ordered from Everlane and I was disappointed. The fit is just too boxy for my taste, but I think it would look great on someone else. I don't hate it, but I don't wear it. $15.00. Size Small.

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Everlane has that certain something that keeps me coming back. I haven't loved everything, but I always feel like the cooler version of myself in an Everlane item. They might be branding geniuses and I'm just drinking the kool-aid, but I'm ok with that.

Check out Faye's (of the Sustaining.Life blog) assessment of Everlane's commitment to ethics!

inspiration board: back-to-school 2015


I'm not going back to school, but it's hard not to get caught up in the frenzy, what with all the commercials of little kids skipping through hallways and twirling with backpacks. I loaded up on cold weather essentials last winter after two years of suffering through Virginia weather in Florida clothing, so there's no need to go wild this year. But, in my ideal world, I would buy a few high quality, ethical staples to round out my wardrobe as the temperature begins to plummet (though I wish it wouldn't do that!).

Namely:

  • The Alternative Apparel Alpaca Cardigan
  • A printed canvas bag, preferably crossbody
  • A simple striped tee from Amour Vert
  • A new bralette (I've given up on underwires after experiencing some chest pain)
  • The Krochet Kids Pocket Tee
  • Warby Parker Newton Frames (already have these!)
  • Loafers from Sseko Designs (they've improved the heel design since I last tried them, but I might go for the Chestnut Afar Loafer this time around)
  • A classic, roomy backpack from Everlane (for weekend travels)
  • The Everlane Street Shoe

Click the product images to shop. Please note that these are affiliate links.

Organizing my shopping list this way has all the advantages of a capsule wardrobe without the fallout. I can get a sense of what I like and visualize how they'll all work together, but continue to use my full fall/winter closet - nothing hides away in a far corner to be forgotten. 

trade in your madewell graphic tees for this one from KK Intl. x Ugmonk

krochet kids x ugmonk collab

I consider graphic tees a staple item, but I only wear them on days when the dress code calls for extremely casual, like when I'm cleaning out my closets or dusting blinds. If I'm going to wear one, I want it to say something that matters to me. With the prevalence of inane graphic tops that say things like "Saturdays and Sundays" and "Oui," we might as well balance it out with something a little more weighty. You can love weekend getaways to France and still be a deep thinker, right?

Krochet Kids teamed up with graphic designer, Ugmonk, to offer a limited edition range of t-shirts and prints that broadcast an important message: 

"Behind every product is a person."


behind every product is a person

Krochet Kids' products are signed by the individual who made the item and all employees receive a living wage and access to medical care and educational resources. 

Ugmonk collaboration products were made at Krochet Kids' manufacturing facility in Peru. This tee would look great beside my Who made your clothes? tee from Fashion Revolution Day 2014.

krochet kids intl.
*All images property of Krochet Kids Intl. This post contains affiliate links.

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Do you like graphic tees? Do you recommend any other ethically produced tees with ethical messages?

giveaway: $50 Liz Alig gift card [Ended]

liz alig giveaway and review
recycled tshirt liz alig
liz alig robyn top
Ethical Details: Robyn Shirt - c/o Liz Alig; Shorts - thrifted; Earrings - handmade by Hannah Naomi; Glasses - Warby Parker

This shirt was made from recycled t-shirts, just like the Ada skirt I reviewed Monday. Check out that post for more about fair trade brand, Liz Alig

Liz Alig is offering a $50 gift card to one Style Wise reader. To enter:
  1. Follow @liz_alig on instagram.
  2. Comment below with your instagram username for entry verification. 

The giveaway will run from Wednesday, July 22nd to 12:00 am EST, Monday, August 3rd. Open to international readers.

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Follow Liz Alig on twitterinstagram, and facebook. Check out the Fall '15 line, too.

the moral wardrobe: Liz Alig Ada skirt

liz alig review

Liz Alig has been on the ethical fashion scene for several years and had a wildly popular (well, wildly popular in my mind, at least) dress made out of flour sacks, which they still produce. This season's line offers lots of versatile options in recycled cotton sourced from old t-shirts. Liz Alig sent me the Ada skirt to review today.

Liz Alig products are designed in Indianapolis, Indiana (woot woot! I was born in nearby Anderson) with 100% recycled or organic fabrics and fair labor standards. They also incorporate traditional textile and weaving work done by artisans around the world. The Ada skirt was made in partnership with a fair trade organization in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Learn more about their mission here

liz alig ada skirt
liz alig
Ethical Details: Top - thrifted; Skirt - c/o Liz Alig; Necklace: handmade via (of)matter on etsy; Sandals - Sseko Designs

The coolest thing about this skirt is that all of the fabric is sourced from old t-shirts, but that also means that you can't select an exact color. I think I would have been happy with anything, but I can't resist heather gray, so I'm happy with the one I received.

I like the zig zag hem and the foldover top. It's a great skirt for weekend wear. I wore this outfit for a belated anniversary dinner at a new-ish Neapolitan pizza joint in town. I do want to mention, however, that though the skirt is advertised as a versatile dress/skirt combo, the seam edge is unfinished on the foldover portion that can be pulled up into a tube top, so it will be a bit obvious you're wearing a multi-use item. Also, an important note on fit: there is no elastic in the waistband and I had to pull this one over my head since it wouldn't go over my hips. This could pose a problem for people with different body proportions.

Check out Julia's behind-the-scenes post for more about Liz Alig. 
Follow Liz Alig on twitter, instagram, and facebook. Check out the Fall '15 line, too.

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Stay tuned for another product review and a giveaway coming later this week!

RIP beautiful overgrown backyard bush. My landlady had it cut down last week. :(

at long last, new glasses

warby parker review
warby parker review

Well, it took three home try-ons, an order, and an exchange, but I finally found the perfect new frames.

I've been set on getting my frames from Warby Parker because, as far as I know, they're the only prescription optical company with a social enterprising bent. But I'm (I think reasonably) picky about the thing that's going to sit on my face every day for several years and I didn't want giant frames or anything so out there you'd have trouble finding my face underneath all the plastic.

In the end, I went with the Newton style in Aurelia Tortoise, a textured, purple-y blue. I opted to have Warby Parker contact my optometrist for prescription details because I figured that'd be one less thing for me to mess up. I'm quite satisfied with the speed of delivery, the fit of the frames, and the color. Plus, the "no questions asked" return and exchange policy is no joke - she literally asked no questions and got my new frames out to me in under a week. Considering most of my closet is blue and black, I'll have no trouble coordinating these to my outfits.

To read about my home try-on experiences, check out this post and this one.

Update: After several hours of wearing these, I have a terrible headache and my eyes go cross-eyed when I try to read text up close. Looks like something went wrong with the prescription. I'm sure there are options for replacing the lenses, but I can't help but feel like it's not worth all the effort in the end.

This isn't the first time I got the wrong prescription from an online glasses company. You may remember that I sampled frames from now defunct Benji Frank a few years ago and ended up ordering a pair. After trying my darndest to get correct lenses, I gave up and returned them. This has been a - to use an Evangelical buzzword - convicting process for me. After all, the most sustainable thing I can do when it comes to glasses is only replace the part that needs updating: the lenses. I think maybe this is a lesson I needed to learn.

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P.S. Don't forget to enter the Amani ya Juu giveaway!

ethical review bonanza: summer edition

reviews


I've purchased a fairly high volume of new ethical goods recently thanks to a combination of an awesome ebay gift card and site sales. I thought I'd review them all in one fell swoop to give you an idea of what did and didn't work for me.

1. Fair Indigo Organic Sleeveless Shirt Dress  


This looked a little big out of the bag, but I washed and dried it and now it fits really well. My coworkers liked it, too. It hits right at the knee and you can unbutton the lower buttons if you want to make it a little more vacation ready. Fair trade, organic.

2. Fair Indigo Organic Scoop Neck T-shirt  


Heavyweight, soft pima cotton with a bit of stretch. I like the dimensions on this, but the small fits a little big. I kept it anyway, because I think the length and arm holes would be too cropped in a size smaller. The fabric is really high quality, too, so I think it'll be a closet staple for a long time. Fair trade, organic.

3. Pact V-neck Tee  


I love the white and navy stripes, but this felt too tight at the hips and the v dipped too low on my small chest (didn't want to expose myself!). I returned it, but if you have a straighter frame (and maybe bigger boobs), this might be awesome on you. Fair trade, organic.

4. The Body Shop Colour Crush Eyeshadow in Mon Cherry  


I love this eyeshadow. It leans a bit pink on my skin, but it contrasts beautifully with my hazel-brown eyes without being in-your-face. Slight shimmer. Uses community fair trade Marula oil.

5. The Body Shop Aloe Protective Serum  


I have used this sparingly so far, but the good news is that I haven't had an allergic reaction! I have really sensitive skin, particularly under my eyes, so that's really saying something. The serum adds a bit of moisture and smooths out and brightens my skin immediately upon application. I'd recommend layering this over your regular moisturizer because it's not quite strong enough to do it alone. Uses community fair trade aloe and Soya oil.

6. Oliberte Hirari Booties  


I ordered these two sizes up from my normal size (I typically wear a US 7 and I got a EU 40 in these). They're comfy and beautiful and have a great sole. I got mine on ebay, but they're currently available at the link I provided. Fair trade.

7. Synergy Organic Clothing High-Low Peacock Skirt  


I'd wanted this skirt ever since I saw it all over Floyd Fest last summer. I got mine in a pretty plum color in one size smaller than normal (a size small) and it fits great. The lightweight, stretch cotton is comfortable and the front length hits at the knee, which makes it more versatile than most high-low skirts in my opinion. Fair trade, organic.


All in all, some pretty good experiences! I've been working to replace everyday basics this summer as my old things deteriorate and pill. I feel confident that the things I ended up keeping will stand the test of time, which is such an important part of the ethical shopping process.

the moral wardrobe: bario neal recycled + fairmined gold

bario neal review

To be honest with you, I hadn't really considered where the world's precious metals were sourced from until a few weeks ago. When I got married 5 years ago, ethical consumption was just a glimmer in my eye - I was really into etsy, but I hadn't overhauled my thinking yet - so I haven't had the opportunity to look much into fair trade or recycled options (in case you haven't noticed, I don't own a lot of fine jewelry).

Philadelphia based jewelry designers, Bario Neal, contacted me a few weeks ago to introduce me to their Fairmined gold jewelry line. The brand specializes in eco friendly and sustainable jewelry pieces and, as such, already made all of their jewelry with recycled metals and gemstones. But, as they explained to some of my fellow Ethical Writers Co. members, demand for gold is greater than gold available on the secondhand market, so there's a "need" (that world is relative, isn't it?) for Fairmined options. You can read more about the process and requirements on the Fairmined website

fourth of july with bario neal

As Bario Neal explains in their press release:
"the fairmined gold certification ensures that the gold has been ethically extracted by artisanal and small-scale miners who are certified under the Fairmined standard."
Bario Neal believes in promoting good business practices all around, so they seek out ways to reduce their environmental impact, collaborate with local artisans, offer traceable gemstones and metals, and promote marriage equality. 

bario neal octillo small earrings
Ethical Details: Top - secondhand; Octillo Small Earrings - c/o Bario Neal

As it happens, the earrings I'm wearing here are actually made from recycled gold, and that's my preference anyway. They're the Octillo Small Earrings and they add the perfect touch to anything. I love that they're small enough that I can leave them in when I go to bed and wake up accessorized, but the light hits them in such a way that they still make an impact. Another plus: I have very sensitive skin and these don't bother me at all.

I wore this outfit on the Fourth of July, gallivanting around wine country with out-of-town guests and enjoying the fireworks at a local park. I also wore the earrings the following day, when my former boss at the coffee shop told me she liked my earrings. And she's quite picky, so that's a real compliment. (And then I proceeded to never take them off.)

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Shop Bario Neal here. Read more about their ethical and sustainable business practices here

giveaway: $25 Amani ya Juu Gift Card


Did you see Friday's post about fair trade organization, Amani ya Juu? If not, make sure to read my review of their beautiful Olive Branch spoon set and then head back here to read more about the company and enter a giveaway.

(Coincidentally, Friday's post fell on Daniel's and my fifth wedding anniversary. We didn't realize it then, but it's traditional to give your beloved something made of wood on your fifth anniversary, so it was rather fitting that I chose to review the most beautiful wooden spoons on that day.)

And now for the last two interview questions and responses:

Do employees "graduate" from Amani or do you find that many of them stay on long term?


Amani is committed to holistic development. Women gain experience in stitching, quality control, purchasing, bookkeeping, management and design. As new women enter the program they are mentored in quality workmanship with strong emphasis on ethical business practices and harmonious relationships with people of different backgrounds. 
Due to the circumstances affecting marginalized women, the ladies who come through our doors are in a very transient stage of life. They often move to to another city or return to their home country. Those who stay often move up in the ranks, training others, begin to oversee a certain department, or earn an administrative position. Some receive loans from us and start their own small businesses. Others apply for our scholarship program and further their education.

Besides making a purchase, what are the best ways for us to support Amani ya Juu?


Spread the word. Following us and sharing about us on social media is huge.  Introducing us to new people means more opportunities for consistent, sustainable livelihood for the ladies in Africa. Signing up for our e-newsletter blasts is also a great way to stay connected if you think you might want to purchase from us in the future (Christmas is only 165 days away!).  
Volunteer.  Host an Amani Box Party in your home, church, school or other community event.  Box Parties play a vital role in sustaining the women of Amani and in spreading God’s peace in your community.  Contact: volunteer@amaniafrica.org. 
Pray.  [If you're the praying sort,] join with us in praying that God’s peace will reign in Amani communities everywhere. 
Donate.  Support Amani’s work in extending God’s peace beyond her walls.  Donate online.
Amani is offering a $25 gift card to one lucky reader. Just enter via the form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest will run until 11:59 pm this Sunday, July 20, 2015. 
Open to US readers only.

Amani ya Juu: Olive Branch Spoon Set

amani ya juu

I'd snooped around Amani ya Juu's site long before they reached out to me a few weeks ago to tell me they enjoyed Style Wise. They use vibrant Kitenge textiles in a lot of their clothing and I love a good print. When Emily over at Amani asked me if I'd like to review something for the blog, however, I decided to go full on practical and get myself a serving spoon set. 

Daniel and I, despite being grownups for awhile now, had never bothered to go out and purchase anything suitable for serving salads and we'd been forcing our poor dinner guests to clumsily grip together two regular pieces of silverware all this time. The multi-colored grain and rich smell of olivewood makes this Olive Branch Spoon Set really special (and decidedly more impressive than tiny forks for serving salad).

olive branch spoon set

Amani ya Juu, which means "peace from above" in Swahili, is a faith based sewing and resource center that seeks to provide a place of peace and restoration to their employees, primarily women escaping war and political turmoil. Their network extends to 6 countries. They're also a member of the Fair Trade Federation, which ensures that their business practices are just and transparent. 

olive branch spoon set

I asked Emily to clarify a few things about the process:

How do women get involved in the Amani program?

Women get involved in many ways. It's often by word of mouth from a neighbor, friend, or family member who has been through the program. Sometimes they are referred to us from other organizations who provide some sort of immediate assistance but not jobs or training. We have a waiting list, and when there is space in our program, a woman comes in and interviews. The interview isn't necessarily based upon skill, in fact - usually it is based upon need.

Your program has several locations. Are women employed at each location? How is the organization organized?

Yes, women are employed at each Amani location (and a handful of men, too!). The largest has close to 100 (Kenya) and the smallest has 16 (Uganda) 
Many women working at our oldest and largest center in Kenya are refugees from other countries hoping to return home. As women returned to their homelands, they often carry Amani with them. For some, encountering peace at Amani has left such an impression that they developed a vision for an Amani in their home community. Through these women, Amani has established a presence of peace in five African nations. As Amani has grown from one location to a network of centers, each Amani center is locally registered and independently managed with support from an international leadership team.  
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If you're anxious to learn more about Amani ya Juu and maybe get your hands on your own set of serving spoons (or a new skirt or bag), make sure to check back Monday for another post + a giveaway! 


Visit Amani ya Juu on facebook, instagram, and twitter.

an ethical outfit: poolside at the retreat center

*This post contains affiliate links. 

Daniel and I are headed out to our annual church camp retreat this weekend. This will be our second year going. If you've been reading Style Wise for awhile, you may recall that our car broke down on the interstate last time around. We were stranded in the hot summer sun until the caravan of other drivers headed to camp spotted us on the side of the road. It was quite the adventure.

The retreat weekend itself was marvelous and I think I appreciated the time with friends learning Gospel songs by ear, reading, and playing ridiculous games all the more because of the way they rallied around us after the car-tastrophe. I'm looking forward to another year of peace and friendship (and hopefully the car will get us all the way there this time around!)

it's time to reduce our plastic consumption


Base photo: Plastic Pellets - "Nurdles" by gentlemanrook on flickr; used under Creative Commons license

This post was written by Hannah Baror-Padilla and originally appeared on Gold Polka Dots, an eco-conscious blog that focuses on ethical alternatives for fashion, beauty and food.
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Plastic has taken over every aspect of our lives and is affecting our health, animals and the environment. Over the last 10 years, we have produced more plastic than we had in the last century. Half of the plastic we use is only used once and thrown away. Throwing plastic away means it is either buried in landfills, remade into other products or lost in the environment where it ultimately washes out to sea because it takes 500-1,000 years to degrade. When plastic “degrades” it breaks down into smaller fragments, but never goes away because plastic was made to be indestructible. And yes, this indestructible plastic is made with chemicals that we as well as animals ingest.
BPA, or Bisphenol, was originally created as a human birth control chemical in the early 1900’s, but banned because of its risks of causing cancer in women. However, in the 1950’s, scientists realized that BPA can be used to harden plastic to make it that much more durable. To this day, BPA is still used in baby bottles, water bottles, food packaging, cans and receipts. 93% of adults are contaminated with BPA. There have been studies on animals that show BPA affects hormone levels, causes brain and behavior problems, cancer, heart problems and other conditions like obesity, diabetes, ADHD. There is an increased risk in children because their bodies have a decreased ability to clear BPA from their systems.
In 2010, scientists revealed that the general population may suffer adverse health effects from current BPA levels. In 2012, the FDA banned the use of BPA in baby bottles, but the Environmental Working Group called the ban “”purely cosmetic” and said the FDA would have to ban BPA from all food packaging. The FDA continues to support the safety of BPA in food packaging...
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Read the rest and find additional resources on this topic at Gold Polka Dots.

ethical sale alert: 4th of July weekend

4th of july sales

* denotes affiliate link

the moral wardrobe: on being (sunburnt) with American Nomad

Ethical Details: Dress - Mata Traders; Sandals - Betula; Hat - thrifted; Necklace - c/o American Nomad

The weird thing about blogging is that I feel obligated to tell you that my mother-in-law just left town after staying a week at our house. Her side of the family is rooted in Baltimore, so we spent the last two weekends road tripping up for surprise parties and backyard BBQs, getting hugs from people we'd never met, and eating more than we normally would in a week, including steamed crabs covered in Old Bay seasoning (a regional tradition). Fortunately for me, my mother-in-law did the driving (fun fact: Daniel doesn't drive) and I sat in the back reading Being Mortal by Atul Gawende (I highly recommend it!). 

We dropped Kathy off at the airport in Richmond on Monday and decided to meander through Carytown for a little while before heading home, which is how I got my first sunburn of the year; I forgot to bring my sun hat, too!

On to my outfit: Michelle, the founder of fair trade accessories brand American Nomad, contacted me a few months ago to connect and see if I'd be interested in writing a guest post for the American Nomad blog. We both got distracted by other things, so it took awhile to work out the details, but the post is up now! She sent me this beautiful necklace as a thank you and I love it because it's modern and reminds me a bit of honeycomb. Thank you, Michelle. 

I encourage you to check out American Nomad online. The shop is well curated and the graphic design and photography work is stunning!