Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bye Bye {r}ev!

I was sad to read today that {r}evolution apparel, the team behind one of my favorite garments, and a big source of inspiration for me to start shopping and dressing smarter, are closing up shop. I'm sad to see them go, but can't wait to see what they do next. If you don't have a Versalette yet, order one now before it's too late!

The Versalette is an ethically-made, one-size-fits-all garmet that can be worn in a variety of styles

I rocked my Versalette all summer!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's Giving Tuesday?

It's come to my attention that today is "Giving Tuesday." A day of giving is a welcome alternative to the more Get-Themed Black and Cyber days.

Today, I'll donate money to provide Lifestraws to children and families without access to clean drinking water (donate here) and drop off a trunk-load of clothes and winter coats to a Buffalo-area shelter. I'll also puruse the Giving Tuesday website for more ideas about how I can give to others today and every day. I hope you'll do the same.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Greenest Christmas Tree

Now that Thanksgiving is over and the holiday season is upon us, plenty of people are starting to put up their Christmas trees. If you're looking for a "green" Christmas tree option, here are some things to consider.

I first discovered living Christmas Trees when I was living in Santa Monica, CA. I saw the potted trees at my favorite farmers market, and asked the vendor about the service. There, you could rent a potted evergreen tree for a few weeks. The company would even deliver the tree for you, and pick it up when you were done with it. There are a number of companies that offer similar service in California and around the U.S.

In the Buffalo area, Urban Roots offers living trees for purchase (not rental.) When the holidays are over you can plant the tree in your own yard, or you can choose to donate it. If you do, someone from Urban Roots will pick the tree up for you and deliver it to the recipient of your choice (Grassroots Gardens, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, or Olmsted Parks.)

Whether purchasing a living tree is actually greener than a cut tree is debatable. In most cases, cut trees come from Christmas tree farms which are replanted with new trees every year. Noone's cutting down forests to provide holiday trees for the masses.

Here in Buffalo, the city actually offers a holiday tree recycling program. If you leave your Christmas tree at the curb during the designated week, it will be picked up and used for mulch rather than winding up in a landfill. If you don't live in an area that offers a similar service, perhaps a living tree is a better option for you.

Sonrickers Christmas Tree Farm - Attica, NY

If you're trying to have a green Christmas, it's always good to know where your tree is coming from and where it's going to wind up. Happy holidays to everyone!

Further Reading

Monday, November 12, 2012

Recipe: Macaroni with Creamy Turnip & Leek Sauce

While my CSA share has kept me eating fresh local produce all season, it sometimes throws me for a loop. Occasionally I'll get a vegetable that I've never actually cooked with. That's when I have to get creative!

This week, it was turnips. They seem like a common enough vegetable. I've worked with potatoes and even parsnips, and I adore beets. But turnips were not yet a part of my cooking repertoire. Luckily, I love culinary experimentation! So I took a quick inventory of what I had on hand and came up with a game plan.

I had a box of whole wheat pasta, some veggie broth from a soup I'd made earlier in the week, and the turnips, leeks, and broccoli left from this week's CSA bag. I was out of almond milk, but I'd like to try this recipe with a non-dairy milk in place of the broth to make the sauce a little creamier. I discovered that the leeks were really what made the difference in this recipe, and I almost wish there'd been more of them. They were really what gave the sauce the depth of flavor I was hoping for. I used broccoli because that was what I had, and because it's super easy to cook with pasta, but I think any kind of veggies would be great in this dish.

Creamy leek sauce in the food processor

Macaroni with creamy turnip and leek sauce.

Macaroni with Creamy Turnip & Leek Sauce

  • 6 medium sized turnips, peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 leeks, chopped (white and light green parts)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 lb pasta (I used whole wheat elbows)

  1. Cook the pasta according to directions. Add the broccoli to cook with the pasta for the last 2 minutes of cook time. Strain pasta and broccoli, and set aside.
  2. Boil a large pot of water (I started boiling while I peeled & cut the turnips)
  3. Add turnips to boiling water, cook for 25 minutes (until soft)
  4. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add leeks and cook to soften.
  5. Add turnips and leeks to food processor (or blender) along with thyme, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of broth, and blend until smooth, adding more broth as needed to desired consistency.
  6. Toss pasta and broccoli with the turnip leek sauce and serve.
  7. YUM!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Big Chew in Erie County

Here in Western New York, November 6th is The Big Chew! So after you do your civic duty and VOTE today, go out for dinner and help animals. Today when you dine at a participating restaurant or business, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the SPCA of Erie County!


Click here for more information and a list of participating vendors.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Donate Your Unwanted Halloween Candy

I hope you all had a safe and fun Halloween! Whether you didn't get as many trick-or-treaters as you expected, your kids have left you with their least favorites, or you just don't want it around for you to eat, you probably have some candy you want to get rid of after Halloween. That candy doesnt have to end up in a landfill OR in your belly!

There are a few great organizations that will accept your unwanted Halloween candy.

  • The Halloween Candy Buy Back is a partnership between Operation Gratitude and dental care providers around the country. Donors can bring candy to any participating dentist's office in exchange for various oral hygeine products and services. The candy (often along with dental care products from the dentists) is then distributed to U.S. troops overseas via care packages.
  • Operation Shoebox is another organization that sends care packages to troops overseas.
  • You might also consider donating to your local food bank.
  • A local Ronald McDonald House should also accept the candy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

You Can Recycle That: Bras

In case you didn't already know, October is Bra Recycling Month! Yea, I had no idea either. I guess it makes sense though; it coincides with breast cancer month. Someone decided that it's a thing, which is great because who doesn't have old bras they need to get rid of?

If you have old bras you don't use anymore, but don't want them to end up in a landfill, here are a few great organizations that will help you out.

  • The Bra Recyclers accept used bras via mail or drop-off locations and distribute them to women and girls in transition all over the globe. You can find a drop-off location or ship your bras directly to the organization.
  • Free the Girls is a non-profit organization that refurbishes and sells donated bras, providing jobs to rescued sex trafficking victims.
And if you're really crafty, you can always turn your old bra into a purse!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On Prop 37

I don't live in California anymore, so I can't vote on proposition 37. This post is for all my friends and family (and other readers) who can!

Prop 37 will dictate that all genetically modified foods require a label.
Here are some details about proposition 37.

If you have a short attention span and don't feel like reading about Prop 37, here's a video that explains it.

And here's a super adorable video that is way shorter.

Most of us may not live in California, but that doesn't mean that Prop 37 won't affect us. If it passes, it won't be long until we start to see GMO labels across the country.

Wondering why anyone in their right mind would vote against Prop 37? So was I. Here's what I found.

If you don't live in California, you can help by calling your own friends and family who do, and encourage them to vote YES on Prop 37.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Deals For Me, Deals for the Planet

Like just about everyone else, I love a good deal. When daily deal sites started to become popular, I ate it up. I bought deals for things I never would have considered buying before. Of course I eventually realized that buying deals for things I wouldn't use wasn't helping me, and it certainly wasn't helping local businesses.

What took me a little longer was stopping my habit for fashion deals online. I received emails from sites like Gilt Group and Ideeli for daily fashion sales. My conscience (and my bank account) eventually got me to cancel those accounts and the tempting emails.

But I still miss the deals.

So imagine my delight when I discovered that there is a plethora of more responsible deal sites! Sure, I'm trying to curb my shopping. I know people don't need most of the things we purchase. But it's fun to let ourselves splurge on something a little indulgent every once in a while. Especially when that indulgence is a more responsible or sustainable one.

So here's a list of sites you can use to find great deals for yourselves.
I hope you'll cancel your regular daily deal and fashion sale emails and accounts, and stick to these more planet-friendly alternatives.

  • BlissMo feaures daily sales on a range of ethical products. They also offer the BlissmoBox, which is a subscription service that offers a monthly surprise box of personal and food products.
  • borganics will feature sales on organic and eco-friendly products, but does not appear to have sales live on the site yet. (as of 10/21/2012)
  • DealGooder donates 50% of profits from each daily deal to a featured charity. They feature primarily businesses that operate out of Orange County, CA.
  • ethicalDeal offers daily deals in various cities across Canada and the U.S.
  • Ethical Ocean is one of my favorite new shopping sites. They feature reduced prices on all kinds of awesome stuff like clothes, gadgets, beauty products, food, and more.
  • is known as the "Groupon for Greenies." It features deals from responsible companies and is run by Green America.
  • Green Box Top currently only has local deals in San Francisco, but you can subscribe to receive information about national deals. Hopefully they'll expand soon!
  • JP Selects offers daily sales, most featuring eco-friendly fashion.
  • Loving Eco features greener brands and products, and gives 3% of net proceeds to a social or environmental cause.
  • Pure Citizen is an online marketplace featuring ethical and sustainable brands. There are daily sales on clothing, wellness brands, food, gifts, and more.
  • Strawberry Earth is based in Amsterdam, and features one ethical sale every week on things ranging from jewelry, to travel, to bicycles.
  • The Ultimate Green Store touts itself as "The ultimate web-based destination for eco-conscious shoppers." It also features sales and a green deal of the day.
  • Vegan Cuts has a daily offer, but also features a marketplace chock full of responsible products including fashion, food, beauty, and more.
  • WinWin features deals in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Help by Gaming

I'm not big into video games. My inner- (okay outer) nerd is into enough dorky stuff. But a lot of people love playing games online, and that's great. Here are a few games that let you help worthy causes just by playing!

  • Free Rice is a vocabulary game that donates rice to those in need through the World Food Programme.
  • Games that Give offers a whole list of games you can play, all of which let you give to charitable organizations by playing.
  • Joy Kingdom lets you allocate money to organizations that help animals. Ellen Degeneres helped to develop this one.
  • WeTopia is a Facebook game that helps real children while you play.

Where Does the Money Really Come From?

These games cost nothing to play, so who's actually donating? From what I can tell, the giving structure for these kinds of games is pretty simple. Advertisers pay money to have their ads featured on the game pages, or other sponsorship and marketing platforms, and that money pays for the games' development and the donations. So really when you're playing, you're just telling the advertisers where to donate their money. I'd prefer that the donors just give the money outright, but from a marketing perspective I can see that it's a great way to connect with an audience to increase awareness about a brand's charitable giving. Sojo Studios is the developer behind both WeTopia and Joy Kingdom. According to this article from Kotaku,
"Sojo's formula is pretty simple. Half of the profit from in-game purchases and advertising revenue is applied towards the various charities. Through choices made in game, you decide how your portion of that is distributed." 
And the Games that Give website states "GamesThatGive combined gaming with charitable giving to create the leading platform for engaging brands' customers in charitable activities."

Not into games either?

Care2's click to donate programs are even simpler. You literally just click to allocate funds to certain organizations. I like to add the links to my various online profiles and email signatures to encourage people to click!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

One Plastic Bag

Every once in a while I forget to bring my reusable bags with me when I run my errands. I recently found myself picking up a few small things at the little grocery store near my parents' house. When I asked the cashier to fit everything into one bag, she insisted on double-bagging it so the bag wouldn't break. Uhm, you're kind of missing the point there, sweetheart. And when I got home I discovered that she'd wrapped an item it its own bag before packing it, so I actually wound up with three bags instead of just one. D'oh.

So I'm making another small change. I always keep a stash of reusable bags in my car to avoid these situations. But now I'm going to start keeping a reusable grocery bag in my purse too.

If you're not convinced that your occasional plastic bag makes that big of a difference, take a look at some of my favorite infographics about plastic bags.

plastic bag lifecycle eco sustainable blog
This is a great visual, but take this inforgraphic with a grain of salt.
It was produced by a manufacturer of promotional reusable bags.

Before you go out and buy a reusable bag, check your junk drawer and ask your friends. They seem to be everywhere these days and, unfortunately, are being over-manufactured by companies who want to cash in on the growing trend. My mom is always asking me if I want the bag she was given for free and some store or other. You should have no problem getting your hands on at least one without spending a cent!

Further Reading
Here's an interesting range of information including arguments both for and against the banning of plastic bags, and the rising popularity of reusable bags.

This Video is Just Fun

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Beet Risotto Stuffed Squash

Now that fall is here, I've got more squash than I know what to do with, courtesy of my fabulous CSA share from Porter Farms. My kitchen is overflowing with spaghetti squash, butternut squash, and acorn squash. I can't eat it fast enough!

This week when I found out (via Porter Farms' Facebook page) that we'd be getting beets and acorn squash, I immediately came up with a plan of action. I'd come across this recipe for beet risotto on Pinterest, and knew right away that it would be perfect stuffed into a squash. Good news: I was right!

I'm lucky to have a local goat cheese producer here in Western New York. I visited the First Light Farm & Creamery stand at the Elmwood-Bidwell farmers market here in Buffalo this weekend, and decided that the honey-chipotle chevre would be a good match for the recipe. If they hadn't been out of the garlic-thyme, I may have chosen that flavor instead, but this was perfect! Of course if you aren't lucky enough to have fresh, local goat cheese available to you, a good chevre from your grocery store would be fine. And if you prefer to keep the recipe vegan, you can just leave the goat cheese out entirely.

Beet Risotto Stuffed Squash with Honey Chipotle Goat Cheese

  • 3 small acorn squash (or other small squash)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 beets, chopped
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ cups chevre goat cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place the squash cut side up on a baking sheet, bake about 30 minutes until squash is tender. (You can rub the squash with oil before baking, but I didn't and it turned out fine.)

While the squash is baking -
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the beets and onion, cook until soft (about 10 minutes.) Add the rice and toss to coat. Add broth and vinegar and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to simmer, add thyme, and cover.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, until rice is cooked and risotto is creamy (15-20 minutes.)
Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Remove the squash from the oven, stuff with risotto, and sprinkle with the goat cheese.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutritional Analysis of one squash half stuffed with the risotto including the goat cheese:
Calories per serving: 349 Calories from fat: 102 Total Fat: 11.4g Saturated Fat: 4.8g Cholesterol: 10mg Sodium: 237mg Total Carbohydrates: 56.7g Dietary Fiber: 6.1g Sugars: 5.6g Protein: 9.4g

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No More Junk Mail

I recently started receiving huge amounts of travel catalogs. I'm talking multiple reams of paper worth of literature about visiting Colorado. I don't have any immediate plans to visit the Centennial State, so I'm not sure why they've been sending me so much literature. But it kept on coming, and filling my recycling bin. Seemed wasteful to me, so I decided to look into it.

Over 100 million trees are cut down annually to produce junk mail. That's a lot of deforestation! Unfortunately, most of that mail goes directly into landfills, contributing more than 4 million TONS of paper waste every year.

The average person receives about 40 lbs of paper junk mail every year. So imagine the positive impact that one person cancelling their junk mail can have on the planet!

Stopping junk mail is a great way to help the planet AND stop the annoying junk from showing up in your mail box. Here are some tools to help you do it.

  • The PaperKarma App - I'm presently obsessed with this (free) mobile app. Take a quick photo of the junkmail in your mailbox, and the app takes care of the rest. The folks behind the app identify where the junkmail is coming from, and contact the sender to have you removed from their lists. Your profile can contain multiple addresses so you can use it for mail you receive at home, at work, etc. The whole thing is BRILLIANT.
  • DMA Choice is a service offered by the Direct Marketing Association. It allows you to manage what kind of junk mail you receive.
  • OutOutPreScreen is the official opt-out site for the consumer credit reporting industry. You can opt-out online to stop receiving mail from credit cards and insurance companies for five years, or print out and mail in the opt-out election form to have the mail stop permanently. You can also call 1-800-5-OPTOUT 
  • Catalog Choice offers a product that will block large data brokers from selling your contact information.
  • 41 Pounds is a paid service that contacts marketing companies on your behalf to remove you from major mailing lists.
  • The Native Forest Network has a great list of other resources for getting your name off of junk mailing lists.

PaperKarma eco mobile app screen shot
The PaperKarma App tracks all of your opt-out requests.

You Mailbox Needn't Be Empty!

Everyone loves getting mail. The advent of email and paperless billing is making your mailbox pretty obscolete. If you don't want to open an empty mailbox every day, here's a way to get something awesome in the mail that ISNT junk. Subscribe to the Paris Letters by my friend Janice. You'll receive beautifully illustrated letters from her about life and love in Paris. I'm pretty sure these will never make their way into a landfill!

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Love Letter to my CSA

You don't have to shop at farmers' markets or eat a vegan diet to appreciate the benefits of a CSA share. Sure, you'll get a bounty of delicious, organic, locally-grown produce, but you'll also save a boatload of money doing it, and who doesn't love that?!

CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture. CSAs operate on a business model that benefits both the farmers and the customers. Members purchase shares before the growing season starts so farmers get capital at the beginning of the season to pay for most of their costs. Customers receive a weekly box (or bag) of fresh local produce all season long.


This is my first year with a CSA membership and I only wish I'd done this sooner. I researched some of the Buffalo area CSAs and chose Porter Farms. I have not been disappointed! I actually split my share with a friend, which has worked out perfectly. I would never have been able to eat that much food myself, but half of it is perfect for one vegetarian to eat in a week. I can't believe how much money I've saved on groceries since the season started in the spring. I paid half of the cost of a $310 share which, when divided by 23 weeks, comes to about $7 a week. Considering the amount of food I receive each week, and the fact that it's all organic, I estimate that the same food would have cost me at least $50 at a grocery store. That's a savings of about $43 every week. (For 23 weeks that's $989!)

Breathe Easy

Not only has the CSA membership done great things for my wallet and my diet, I love knowing that it does great things for the planet too. According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, most produce travels between 1300 and 2000 miles to get to the consumer. That's a lot of fuel to burn for a salad. Buying local produce cuts down on air pollution, and buying organic produce means that less chemicals are dumped into the ground.

Want to Join a CSA?

If you're in the Buffalo area, you can try Porter Farms out for yourself. They even offer a sample bag. You can get a week's worth of organic produce for free before you commit to join.

I chose my CSA based on pickup location and produce offerings. There are other farms in the area that offer different produce, free-range beef, orchards offering fruit shares, and more. You may want to do some research to decide which CSA is right for you or your family.

Here are some additional sites and tools to help you locate a CSA here and around the country.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vegan Kugel for Yom Kippur

G'mar Hatimah Tovah!

Today is Yom Kippur. It is a day of self-reflection, and the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Though I don't consider myself Jewish, my father was raised Jewish and our family celebrates the High Holidays by having dinner together. My favorite Jewish dish has always been the noodle kugel that my aunt makes on Yom Kippur. I may not be fasting, but I'm still very much looking forward to indulging in that meal tonight! I've experimented with a few vegan versions of noodle kugel and though this one doesn't taste exactly like the real thing, it's pretty good!

Vegan Lokshen Kugel

  • 1 pound wide noodles **
  • 1/3 cup vegan "butter" such as Earth Balance
  • 1 (6 ounce) container of plain nondairy yogurt
  • 1 (8 ounce) tub of vegan cream cheese such as Tofutti
  • 1 (12 ounce) tub of vegan sour cream such as Tofutti
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of cinnamon
** I've always used the Manischewitz brand of wide egg noodles, but they are of course not vegan. There are some vegan kosher noodles available, such as the Gefen brand. If you can't find them you can certainly use regular old linguine or fettucini.
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
  2. Grease a 9x12 casserole dish
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions, and drain.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the hot pasta with the butter, yogurt, sour cream, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until combined.
  5. Pour noodle mixture into prepared casserole dish.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Strawberry Sauce
  • 1 pint of fresh strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  1. Combine the strawberries with the sugar and simmer until mixture thickens and reduces by about 1/3.
  2. Pour the strawberries over the slices of kugel and enjoy!!!

 Yield: 12 servings

Remember, vegan doesn't mean good for you! Here is a nutritional analysis of the kugel without the strawberry sauce.
Calories per serving: 440 Calories from fat: 227 Total Fat: 25.2g Saturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 43mg Sodium: 385mg Total Carbohydrates: 44.9g Dietary Fiber: 1.5g Sugars: 10.2g Protein: 7.4g

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why I Don't Wear TOMS

The terms are being used more and more frequently, but it's important not to take every "eco-friendly" "sustainable" or "socially responsible" branding message at face value.

TOMS shoes are a hugely trendy brand, best known for popularizing the "Buy One, Give One" business model. For every pair purchased, another is donated to someone in need. I was tempted to nab a pair of the shoes for myself, but ultimately I decided against it, and here's why.

Teach A Man to Fish

TOMS gives shoes to people who need them, and that's great. But what happens when the "Buy One Give One" trend comes to an end? Will they be barefoot again? Perhaps it would be more beneficial to set up shoe-making facilities in the target communities. Provide them with jobs. Or better yet, teach them how to make their own shoes! This article from the New York Times opinion blog states the problem better than I could:
"'There is definitely a need for footwear in underserved markets,' said Valeria Budinich, vice president of Ashoka, a nonprofit that supports social entrepreneurs. 'But those markets need new technology, production processes and distribution chains that [are specifically designed for] rural areas. Models like Toms have many great features but aren’t designed to come up with that level of transformation.'"

Made in China

Check your labels. TOMS are made in China. They aren't handmade by artisans in South America. They aren't bringing manufacturing jobs here to the good ol' U.S.A. In fact, it's hard to find any information at all about TOMS manufacturing practices. Here's a paragraph taken from the "Corporate Responsibilty" page from the TOMS' Web site:
"...our shoes are made in China, Ethiopia and Argentina. We are aware of the challenges associated with overseeing a global supply chain and our global staff actively manages and oversees our suppliers and vendors to ensure that our corporate responsibility standards are upheld. During 2012, we will ask our material suppliers to certify that the materials they supply to us are procured in accordance with all applicable laws in the countries they do business in. We also clearly define appropriate business practices for our employees and hold them accountable for complying with our policies, including the prevention of slavery and human trafficking within our supply chain."

I'm not sure what that means. What are your "corporate responsibility standards?" Who is actually manufacturing your products?

From what we know about manufacturing practices in many third-world countries, we can only assume they aren't ideal. It's quite likely that your super awesome vegan shoes are being manufactured by underpaid overworked child factory workers.

Dolla Dolla Bills Ya'll

It's important to remember that TOMS is a for-profit corporation. The money you spend on their (overpriced cloth) shoes is not being donated to communities in need. It's going into rich guys' pockets. It's sitting in coroporate banks and being invested in things like offshore drilling (ok I have no idea what their money is directly invested in. I don't have access to their financials. But big banks don't typically make the most ethical investments!)

To clarify, I don't think that Blake Mycoskie (Founder and "Cheif Shoe Giver" at TOMS) is a bad guy. I'm quite sure that when he started the organization, he had great intentions and sincerly wanted to help others. Somewhere along the line though, he may have lost sight of the real impact of his business practices.

Other Shoe Options

Wondering how you'll cover your feet without your precious TOMS? Don't fret! There are other options out there.

Sole Rebels - These shoes are hand-crafted by artisans in Ethiopia who receive fair wages for their work. They're made from recycled and locally-sourced organic materials, and are the world's first fair trade footwear company. On top of all that, the designs are attractive and the shipping is free!

Sseko - I have a weak spot for convertible apparel. These awesome sandals are no exception. They are manufactured in Uganda by young women who need to earn money for university. The sandals themselves consist of a leather base, and interchangeable straps that can be tied in a seeminly-infinite number of styles. To learn more about Sseko's mission and the women they support, watch this video.

Ethletic Footwear - These sneakers resemble Converse One-Stars but are made with organic and fair trade certified cotton. The rubber is also fairly traded and FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council.) The shoes are assembled in Pakistan by workers who receive fair wages as well as access to health and welfare facilities. They can be purchased domestically via The Autonomie Project.

Still want to help those in immediate need of shoes?

Soles 4 Souls is a not-for-profit organization that facilitates the distribution of used (and new) shoes. Donated shoes are distributed to those in need both stateside and overseas. For more information, visit

Further Reading (You don't have to take my word for it...)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Simple Message: Simplify

I came across this video on one of my new favorite blogs, Buy Nothing New for a Year. The message is simple, and beautiful. I hope I will able to conjure these sentiments the next time I'm tempted to buy something I don't need.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Responsible Fashion Choices from Fashioning Change

I won't say that they inspired this blog, but it was while I was trying to share their message via other online and social media that I decided to start it.

Fashioning Change is a Web site dedicated to being a one-stop-shop for fashion consumers seeking responsible alternatives to popular fashion.

I came across the site while searching for eco-friendly apparel options for my own wardrobe. Though my main concern was initially eco-friendly fashions, Fashioning Change has led me to consider human rights issues in apparel manufacturing as well. It is not enough for shoes to be made of organic vegan materials if they are still manufactured by underpaid child laborers. Fashioning Change presents clothing by comparing popular fashions to responsibly-made options. Using the site, fashion consumers can shop multiple responsible brands, and can search for items similar to old favorites. Like most consumers, I assumed that the eco-friendly or more responsible fashion options would all be more expensive than their more familiar alternatives, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that most items on the site are actually cheaper than their counterparts.

Shoppers can earn credits for sharing the site with their friends, which is great. I'm all about educating the masses about making responsible choices! Check out the "Wear This Not That" section for some great comparisons of trendy fashions and their responsible alternatives. It's not an exhaustive list of all the sustainable apparel brands out there, but it's a great place to start!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Small Ones Surround Us Every Day

"Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day."  -Sally Koch

Welcome to Small Ones Surround Us. I'm here to share small steps I'm taking, and steps I hope readers will take, to make every day a little bit better for people, animals, and the planet. That means seeking out responsible fashion, buying and cooking food that's better for us and the planet, and teaching others about how they can make small changes of their own.

Sometimes small changes locally can have an impact on big changes globally, so occasionally my posts will be specific to my hometown of Buffalo, but everything I share is about making small changes that affect the big picture. I'm slowly making adjustments to my lifestyle that I hope are making every day better for our planet, our fellow man, and our animal friends.