Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day to You and the Planet!

While some may view it as strictly a commercial holiday, Valentine's Day is a great excuse to do something nice for someone you love. Unfortunately, a lot of the traditional V-day gifts aren't so great for the planet, or the people on it. Thankfully, there are plenty of options that are better for the environment and don't exploit workers!


About 78% of all cut flowers purchased in the U.S. actually come from Ecuador and Columbia. Workers, including children, earn minuscule wages, sometimes working 80 hours per week, while being exposed to harsh chemicals. Those chemicals are used to grow the flowers and to keep them looking good while they're transported to the U.S. They're extremely hazardous both to the workers and to the planet!  Organic Bouquet has flowers that are grown organically, without the the use of any harsh chemicals. They provide their farmers with healthy working conditions and fair wages. And their arrangements are beautiful! Both FTD Go Green and 1-800-FLOWERS also offer a range of fair trade certified bouquet options.

Organic Bouquet offers flowers that are fair trade and organic!


The candy industry is another big offender of crimes against the environment and human rights. More than 75% of the world's cocoa is grown in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Like the cut flower farmers, workers on cocoa farms have to endure dangerous working conditions and are paid next to nothing for their labor. The only way to protect both workers (including children) and the planet is to purchase only chocolate that is labeled fair trade and organic. That doesn't mean your options are limited! There are loads of ethical chocolates on the market. Some of my favorites include Taza ChocolateEndangered Species Chocolate, and Dagoba. For more brands, check out this list of ethical chocolate manufacturers.

If you've already got the basics covered, but you're still looking for an eco-friendly gift for your Valentine, here are some really great ideas:

Ms. Betty's Original Bad-Ass Soy Candles - These candles come in glass containers featuring messages like "Be Mine (For the Night)" and "Blow Me (A Big Fat Kiss.)" They're made with soy and the heavy glass containers are reusable. You can choose from scents such as citrus and chili pepper or spearmint and eucalyptus. So cheeky!

Ms. Betty's Original Bad-Ass Soy Candles

A Subscription of Paris Letters - There's no city more romantic than Paris. If you can't be there, you can still get a lovely hand-painted letter from Paris every month! A subscription makes a totally unique and wonderfully romantic gift for your Valentine. (Or check out Paris Letters, the book!)

DaDa Underwear Subscription - This is a really fun gift idea for the man in your life. A membership in the DaDa Quarterly Underwear Club will get your dude a new pair of skivvies every three months. These aren't just your run-of-the-mill undies either. They're luxury underwear made from eco-friendly fabrics like bamboo, seaweed, or organic cotton. Choose from a variety of styles and fabrics when you order.

Do Amore - If you're planning to pop the question this V-day, make sure you do it with a conflict-free diamond! Your engagement ring should be a symbol of love, not war. Do Amore takes that concept one step further. Not only are their diamonds conflict-free, the company also guarantees that each ring is made using at least 80% recycled precious metals. Every purchase of a Do Amore ring provides a lifetime of clean water for two people, by funding wells. Celebrating the love of two people while giving a better life to two more? Now THAT'S romantic!

If you're single this Valentine's Day, there are even some planet-happy ways to treat yourself. Take another look at my post about recycling unwanted adult toys, and finding greener toys to have fun with!

Looking for a few more ways to be earth friendly this holiday? Here's a look at my Eco-Friendly Valentine's Day Pinterest board! It's loaded with ethical Valentine ideas like vegan dessert recipes, jewelry that gives back, and eco-friendly lingerie. There are great romantic gift and date suggestions for Valentine's Day, and every day of the year. Enjoy!

Follow Rachel Gottlieb's board Valentines Day - Earth-friendly romance! on Pinterest.

p.s. Need a soundtrack for your special day? Here's a playlist of some of my favorite love songs!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Best in Crowdfunding: February 2014

I've found some more really incredible products and campaigns that are currently seeking crowdfunding. If you have any crowdfunding projects you'd like to see featured, please submit them for future posts!


I personally am not a coffee drinker, but this is still a project I can get behind. The international coffee industry is mindboggling. With the millions (billions?) of people who drink coffee everyday, you'd think that coffee farmers could earn a decent living. Unfortunately, within the current system, there are too many stops between the coffee farmer and the consumer to make it a lucrative trade for the farmers. There are a number of fair trade coffee companies springing up trying to remedy the situation, but this project takes it a step farther. Bonaverde has developed a machine that will allow users to roast and process their own coffee from raw beans. They can purchase the beans directly from the farmers, skipping all of the middlemen that usually come in between. This shorter process will enable farmers to ask for a fair price for their product, while also getting better prices for consumers. It's a win-win for both parties. Bonaverde is also setting up an online interface that will connect users directly with the farmers, providing a market place for the buying and selling of raw coffee beans. I was surprised by how affordable the machine is. It seems like a no brainer for any conscientious coffee lover. Check out the video below.
Campaign Goal: $50,000
Deadline: Feb 14
Platform: IndieGoGo

Heatworks Model 1

Tankless water heaters work by instantly heating the water when the faucet is turned on, rather than keeping a large tank of water hot all the time. It's easy to understand why these heaters are more energy efficient than traditional hot water tanks. But they're still pretty expensive, and the options and requirements one has to understand before purchasing and installing such a tank are pretty overwhelming. The Heatworks Model 1 is relatively inexpensive. It uses state-of the art water heating technologies and apparently it can fit in just about any home. Check out the video for more info.
Campaign Goal: $125,000
Deadline: Feb 16
Platform: Kickstarter

Keepod Unite

Here's a fascinating little USB device that will house an entire operating system. The idea is to give people access to personal computing capabilities without forcing them to buy a computer or learn how to use multiple systems. Creators of the device hope to launch a pilot program in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Sponsoring the device for someone in Mathare is very affordable ($17) and the Keepods are also available to backers. Backers also have the option to get five and give five. These devices could be great tools for empowering people here in our own communities, so I love that option!
Campaign Goal: $38,000
Deadline: Feb 14
Platform: IndieGoGo

Keepod software could be life-changing for people without access to their own computers!

The Love Mark

This one is super fun and, if you're looking for the perfect Valentine's Day gesture, super timely. (Even if you're not into V-day, it's still pretty great.) The LoveMark will be an architectural monument to the best thing in the world: Love. Funders will have a cube inscribed with their personal love message. The cubes will be used to build the monument itself. Take a look, because the design is really gorgeous. Obviously the message of love is a positive one, and art is a wonderful tool for inspiring people to be better to one another. But if that wasn't enough, the creators of this project are going to donate a portion of the funds to charity. The best part about the project is that the creators haven't chosen a location to build the monument yet. It's up to the contributors to suggest locations and then vote! How great would it be to see this awesome structure built right here in Buffalo? It could be the BuffaLoveMark! So I hope my fellow BuffaLovers will contribute and suggest a building location right here in the Queen City. Check out the video below for details about this project.
Campaign Goal: $175,000
Deadline: Feb 15
Platform: IndieGoGo