One Day Without Shoes

toms1This Thursday, April 16, go without shoes to raise awareness of the need for shoes around the globe. TOMS is putting on this event as a way to remind people that others in developing countries go without shoes everyday, which can be hazardous to their health. The disease, Podoconiosis, is a debilitating and disfiguring disease caused by walking barefoot in volcanic soil. It is also 100% preventable by wearing shoes. Support TOMS and children everywhere who cannot afford shoes by visiting their website.

Many cities are putting on walks or events to help raise awareness in the community. Check the TOMS shoes website for an event near you. In Spokane, Wa., Whitworth University will be hosting a mile long walk around the loop at 12:15pm to help educate about the growing problem.

Use this promotional code when checking out the website: odwssa09PIY67UD

Go Barefoot and help make a difference in the world. We take for granted the fact that we get to wear shoes everyday. Help show your support by going barefoot for a day or buying shoes at TOMS website. Their mission of One for One will help to change the lives of children around the globe.

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prAna

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Image from prAna

Eco-friendly! That is the best way to describe the popular climbing company prAna. It’s fitting to have a company that sells products to help appreciate the natural playground to also work to diminish their carbon footprint and do their part to restore the earth.

 

Always looking for new ways to be sustainable, prAna is makes sure that the materials they use and their practices reduce the impact on soils, water supplies and other natural resources. They are also a member of the Organic Trade Association, increasing their use of organic cotton and other natural fibers that can be recycled.

 

The dyes and chemicals used to make the prAna’s products are low-impact and submit to standards set by the Global Organic Textile Standard. These dyes’ manufacture, use and disposal have less of an impact on the environment than that of conventional dyes. The dyes are promptly tested for safe and proper disposal.

 

All of prAna’s products are manufactured under the guidelines of the Fair Trade Association.

 

prAna is another great cause that is environmentally friendly and offers ways for their employees to get involved, too. Check out more about this climbing gear company on their website.

In 2005, prAna began the Natural Power initiative. The goal is to raise awareness among customers and other businesses about the advantages of renewable energy sources. The next year, prAna offset 100% of the energy consumption of 250 clothing stores across the US, its own corporate office, and all the homes of its full-time employees. 100 European and 50 Canadian retailers joined them in their alternative energy program in 2007 and 2008. All of these retailers now support wind farms and other clean energy programs to encourage further development in the pursuit of better energy sources worldwide.

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Honest Tea

Started by a couple of guys who just love liquids, Honest Tea was the product of a search for something pure. They put a lot of emphasis on being a sustainable company, too.

Honest Teas do not contain a lot of sugars or high-fructose corn syrup, two ingredients that are often used in high doses and are often blamed for causing obesity. Some of the flavors of Honest Teas called “tad sweet” have sugar but in much lower doses. The Unsweetened Just Black or Just Green teas have no added sugars or calories.  They believe that good-tasting beverages don’t need to be pumped with sugar to be enjoyed. This company is all about finding the natural goodness.

Image from the Dieline

Image from the Dieline

All the flavors of Honest Tea are USDA Organic certified, guaranteeing that they are made without any antibiotics, pesticides, irradiation or bioengineering. The farmers who grow the ingredients used in Honest Tea use certain soil and water conservation methods and their farming is monitored by a certified third party. Compared to other foods, it is extremely important that tea is organic. Tea leaves are not washed. The first time they touch water happens when they are brewed to make the tea. This means that if pesticides have been used on the tea leaves, it will most likely end up in your drink. 
In 2004, Honest Tea became the first bottled US tea manufacturer to have fair trade certified products. A number of flavors are now available, marketed as fair trade certified. Honest Tea looks for suppliers who use sustainable farming methods and treat their workers and families fairly. Funding from fair trade sales goes to support many initiatives voted on by workers at the tea plantation. One such initiative was proposed by a worker who had recently completed a computer course. She suggested that the Fair Trade Joint Body build a computer center for the people in the Makaibari village to use.  The computer center was set up shortly after and over 200 children signed up for computer classes to learn critical skills they would not have had the opportunity to experience because of high costs.

The bottles that Honest Tea is packaged in are fully recyclable, free of Phthalates, don’t leach, and need less energy to produce and ship. Plastic bottles are now available as well as Healthy Kids drink pouches, which are not made with the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA).

Honest Tea is just what the name suggests. It doesn’t try to cut corners or follow the rest of the beverage manufacturers. It’s just what it is. Tea.

Learn more about Honest Tea and all that it’s doing on their website.

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Patagonia

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Image from Life Delineated blog

Patagonia is a well-known outdoor clothing and gear producer. They are also renowned for their concern for the environment. With a mission statement that includes: “cause no unnecessary harm,” and ” use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis,” it’s easy to see why this company would be considered a cool cause.

One idea Patagonia stresses is “leading the examined life.” Giving thought to what you do and the impact your daily habits have on the planet’s health is something we’re all beginning to do, and should do more. Patagonia examines the impact it has as an industry, changing unhealthy habits and leading as an example to other manufacturing companies. 

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Image from PatagoniaVolunteer

An advocate for fair trade, Patagonia makes sure that their products come from fair, safe, legal and humane working conditions. They are a part of Corporate Social Responsibility, a movement that encourages companies to take responsibility for the impact their products have on customers, employees, communities and the environment. Patagonia is obligated to include international labor and human rights standards. They use CSR as a means to improve the quality of life for the company’s employees, their families and for the community and society in general.

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Image from Elk View Ranch

Since 1985, Patagonia has promised 1% of its sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. The company has donated over 31 million dollars to environmental groups making a difference in their local communities. The founder of Patagonia and the owner of Blue Ribbon Flies have come together to create a non-profit corporation called 1% for the Planet, encouraging other businesses to give back to the environment.

There is honestly too much to cover on this company. Patagonia is involved in many other organizations and programs, including Organic Exchange, World Trout Initiative and the Conservation Alliance. Learn about the great things Patagonia is involved in at their website.

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Ben & Jerry’s

Ice cream and a social mission. Not many know how much consideration and care the business behind the popular ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s, has taken into account. So grab a spoon and a pint of your favorite flavor and get ready to be surprised.

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Image from Business Week

Ben & Jerry’s began in an old gas station in downtown Burlington, Vermont in 1978. Back then it was a simple homemade ice cream scoop shop. Ben and Jerry met in 7th grade gym class in New York and have apparently been together ever since. In 1980 they rented space in an old spool and bobbin mill and began packaging their ice cream in pints to distribute through mom and pop grocery stores in the area. The first Ben & Jerry’s franchise opened the next year. The company has come a long way since then, but its small start and laid-back creators may be why they are listed in the top ten best companies on the Better World Shopper website.

Ben & Jerry’s is big on social change. The ingredients used in the ice cream are consciously chosen to induce change. The brownie used in the pints come from the Greystone Bakery, who give jobs and teach trade skills to people who would otherwise be unemployed. The bakery’s prophets go to the Greystone Foundation, which provides child care, housing, health care, job training and computer training for people in the Yonkers, New York area with low income. The milk and cream Ben & Jerry’s uses comes from a farm that has pledged not to use recombinant Bovine Growth Hormones. The popular ice cream company is also now featuring new organic and fair trade flavors. Look for them on the shelves of your local grocery store.

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Image from Chef 2 Chef

Any manufacturing creates waste. Ben & Jerry’s works to keep its impact on the environment to a minimum. To accomplish this, Ben & Jerry’s focuses on the things that can be changed to reduce the amount of waste and energy in their packaging, agriculture and energy consumption.

One goal the company has is to change the pint packaging to be made of completely renewable resources. The pint containers are made of paper, and the company is now working with a global environmental organization to help them choose renewable resources that come from suppliers and forests that practice the best forest management and respect and benefit the land and the people in surrounding areas. With the package change, Ben & Jerry’s will be eliminating 1,000 tons of waste that the previous packaging material generated.

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Image from Wikia Entertainment

Only sustainable agriculture is used to make Ben & Jerry’s products. Sustainable agriculture includes farms that work with the earth’s natural systems such as air, water, energy and nutrients to sustain its natural resources. Sustainable dairy farms strive to protect the natural environment, the welfare of its animals, and the local communities as it works to provide a higher quality of life for its farmers and their families.

That was a lot of information to swallow, but it’s easy to see that this company does more than just provide delicious pints of “Vermont’s finest” to our watering mouths. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream no longer needs to be a guilty pleasure, at least when it comes to what your dollar is supporting. Bon appetit!

Learn more about this awesome company on their website.

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WWF World Wildlife Fund

 

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Image from Eikongraphia

WWF is not just a terrible display of masculinity in spandex. These three letters also stand for a great organization with a heart for nature. World Wildlife Fund works to conserve wildlife and preserve the ecological systems of earth.

 

Probably most notable for its focus on protecting endangered species, WWF wants to ensure that our world will continue to be home to many of the animals threatening to disappear. Among the hundreds of animals WWF is safeguarding, giant pandas, tigers, whales and dolphins, elephants, polar bears, rhinos, giant apes and marine turtles are flagship species it pays special attention to. These animals are known as umbrella species: helping them helps many other species that live in the same habitats and need each other to thrive. WWF also works to protect animals that are endangered by humans, with the help of the organization TRAFFIC, by fighting against illegal and unsustainable trade.

 

WWF also works with indigenous people to build a future where human’s needs and wildlife can live in harmony. Visiting these indigenous groups, WWF promotes sustainable use of the natural resources in the area and advocates on issues that both share concern for. WWF understands the cultural differences and aims to build a relationship between biological and cultural diversity rather than simply focusing on one or the other. WWF was the first international conservation organization to recognize cultural rights of the indigenous groups and creating a policy called WWF’s Statement of Principles on Indigenous Peoples and Conversation to act as a guide in its work.

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Image from American Wildlife Foundation

More than just focusing on species and habitats, WWF looks at the big picture. Seeking out ways to conserve natural resources can be found in WWF’s science foundation. Through use of state-of-the-art technology, scientists working with WWF are able to work towards the advancement of biodiversity conservation. They use Geographic Information System (GIS) to identify threatened habitats, such as deforestation. Fitting animals with satellite and radio collars gives scientists the ability to track and gather information on populations and habitat use. Biodiversity in marine life is WWF’s next challenge. Scientists are currently conducting research to design marine protected areas (MPAs) as well as coming up with a conservation plan for coastal and continental shelf areas.  

 

Businesses today have the chance to partner with WWF in order to transform and improve business practices. At the same time, these businesses help WWF by investing directly in its conservation programs. In working with government agencies, WWF uses strong relationships with other wildlife services to help save the future the natural world. WWF also builds partnerships with humanitarian organizations to help the connections between people and the environment. WWF realizes one organization cannot save the earth alone. By partnering with numerous organizations, WWF hopes to further the advancement of maintaining a healthy planet.

 

WWF is a large organization that has plenty of influence. Because of this, it has a great opportunity to really make a difference for our planet. Learn more about this organization at their website and find out ways that you can get involved and become a partner in conservation.  

 

 

 

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One World Running

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Who knew running could change a life? In Ethiopia, girls are often forced to drop out of school to become wives and mothers. One way to avoid this path is to join a running team where they instead train to earn a living as an athlete. But running shoes can be hard to obtain in developing countries. Across the globe, aspiring athletes run without shoes or else give up the dream, unable to afford the luxury of running shoes. One World Running, an organization run completely by volunteers, works to bring running shoes to people in developing nations. OWR promotes fitness and health to the countries as well, creating awareness of the benefits of exercise.

In 1986, One World Running, then called Shoes for Africa, was started by sports journalist Mike Sandrock. After returning from a coaching and racing trip to Cameroon, Sandrock was struck by the barefoot Africans running faster than him in quality running shoes. Home in Boulder, Colorado, Sandrock and a number of other runners decided to send new and slightly used running shoes to West Africa. Today, One World Running’s volunteers collect and clean used running shoes, T-shirts and shorts in good condition to athletes and children in need around the world.

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Image from One World Running's photostream

Sending shoes and athletic gear is not all that expensive. For $195, OWR can send roughly 50 pairs of shoes to Africa, or 100 pairs to Haiti or Central America. Most of the shoes come from shoe drives put on by running clubs or Girl Scout troupes. Shoes that are donated and are not in good enough condition to send are sent to Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, where the shoes are ground up to make running tracks and playgrounds for schools.

Like TOMS shoes, One World Running offers volunteers the chance to go and distribute the shoes in another country. This spring, March 21-29, OWR is giving the chance to go to Belize to deliver shoes, participate in service projects at local schools, and help put on a race. Check out OWR’s website for more information about this trip.

Though the organization itself doesn’t focus on the social problems of women in Africa, this is a big issue that can be solved through OWR. Emily Latta, featured in Runner’s magazine, collected used running shoes last fall to help the women of Ethiopia specifically. The nine-year-old from Virginia sent 91 pairs through OWR.

Ethiopian men have long dominated the sport of running, winning plenty of Olympic medals and producing some of the fastest runners in the world. In the last ten years, however, women have started producing notable runners as well. Today, seven of the ten top-earning athletes in Ethiopia are supposed to be held by women. Ethiopian girls have become inspired by these incredible women athletes. Girls are now straying from the traditional role of wife and mother and aspiring to become runners. Another reason girls are starting to run in Ethiopia is to avoid harassment from men. Being physically fit makes the girls seem stronger and therefore make them less susceptible to be bothered by men. Girls also have a better chance at staying in school if they run. School is top priority for many girl runners, hoping to avoid having to drop out and learn the domestic skills women are expected to perform. To the girls of Ethiopia, running is much more than a hobby or extracurricular activity. For this reason, organizations like One World Running can really make a difference and be considered a cool cause.

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