Category Archives: Making a Difference

Not just socks ~ socks with purpose!

I recently purchased a pair of socks and the tag noted that they were B Corp certified, sustainably-sourced, ethically-made with zero waste. All good, but what does B Corp mean?

I used to think it meant the product was ‘B’ grade quality as opposed to  ‘A’ grade, much the way teachers mark essays.

I was wrong.

A B Corporation is a company that uses its business as a force for good in a variety of areas. B Corps provide high-quality goods and services, while also meeting and exceeding the highest standards in environmental impact, supply chains, treatment of employees, good for the community, accountability and transparency. Whether your goal is ethical shopping, fair wages for all or eco-friendly, B Corp are also working towards these goals.

Certified B Corps are for-profit busineses that are for balancing profit and purpose. B Corps are out to prove that you can do social good while still making money. (from donegood.co) (also B Corp certified).

Who wouldn’t want to support that?

So the next time you purchase a product or service that is designated B Corp, feel good about your choice. All our small choices add up to make  big differences.

And yes, the socks are awesome.

Pre-loved

When my daughters were very young I used to set them loose in our local thrift shop a couple times each year. They loved choosing clothes, toys and books. And I loved that  I could outfit them for so little money.

Fast forward to their teen years. I didn’t dare suggest second-hand shopping in those days. Brand names and fitting-in were all  important so they had to settle for less in order to stay within the budget. I forgot about buying ‘pre-loved’ merchandise for awhile.

Recently a friend invited me to volunteer with her at a large church-run thrift shop. I hadn’t been in one for years and my last volunteer job had been at a grizzly bear refuge, helping care for the bears. That work had been so interesting.  Could working in a thrift shop come even close to being as rewarding?

The answer is yes. Absolutely. Maybe even more so. I get such satisfaction in seeing all those clothes and household goods get repurposed. I love watching the shoppers fill their baskets with treasures that they may not otherwise have been able to afford. I love knowing that the money earned by the store is channelled into worthwhile charities. And I wonder, why have I not been shopping in thrift shops all these years?

And as I become more involved in fighting climate change I realize how important the whole economy of second hand buying/selling is for our planet.

“According to the Journal of Industrial Ecology, mass consumerism is bad for the environment in a myriad of ways. Millions of shoppers buying and then discarding smartphones and TV’S, for instance, contribute to the fifty million tons of e-waste the world generates each year. If you were to add up all the stuff people around the world consume, everything from food to birthday presents to toilet-bowl cleaner, it would total a whopping 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and between 50 and 80 percent of total water, land and material use.” (from Hope Matters by Elin Kelsey)

So repurposing those items that we no longer need/want is a good solution. Our belongings are kept out of the landfill and charities reap the rewards. Less  ‘stuff’ has to be manufactured. Fewer natural resources are consumed.

And in the ‘what goes around comes around’ category, one daughter recently showed up wearing a beautiful  dress.  It looked fantastic on her.  “Where did you get it?” I asked.

“Thrift shop,” she answered.

 

 

I Am Only One

After viewing Seaspiracy and then the equally disturbing companion documentary Cowspiracy  my heart felt bruised. I’m ashamed of what mankind is capable of doing to sentient beings.

In order to heal my heart and feel some sense of control, I  return to these quotes.

Empowering words. And, I might add, no one is too old to make a difference either. Maybe that is the best time of all, when the distractions  of youth have passed and there’s time for reflection. And action. Every day.

 

Wise Words

The following are the wisest words I’ve heard since the start of this pandemic.

“Undoubtedly, the Covid 19 pandemic has introduced uncertainty into all echelons of daily life. But uncertainty need not inspire fear. Uncertainty is the precursor to innovation and innovation is the precursor to change.

We are offered two choices today: To fear uncertainty and to fear change, or to see this generational challenge as a generational opportunity.” (Andrew Weaver, former leader of the BC Green Party)

When the pandemic first hit I was amazed at how fast the grocery stores installed plexiglass partitions, curb-side pick up became the new norm for small shops and crosswalk lights became automated. No need to touch any surfaces. Yes, innovation quickly evolved from the uncertainty of the lurking coronavirus. These were small, quick fixes. Imagine if this same ingenuity was used on much larger issues. I’m thinking of Senior Care Homes for starters. Climate change to follow up.

This is our moment for leaders and institutions to revamp those systems that no longer serve us well.  I’m going to imagine the day where we live in balance with the natural world and also  live harmoniously  with all of humanity in its many delightful hues and cultural variances. These could be the hidden opportunities the coronavirus offers us.

Image: quotulatiousness.ca

Do We Have The Will?

The coronavirus has taught us that it takes every single individual to do the right thing (self-isolation/social distancing) to curb the spread of this insidious disease. Going forward, can we take what we’ve learned from this pandemic to reverse the human impact on climate change?

It may be too late to  wait for government and industries to pass the necessary laws but if each of us – every single person – changes our behaviour as abruptly as we have with this pandemic, I like to think it might be possible. Global warming may kill us at a slower rate than the coronavirus, but the predictions of climate catastrophes (droughts, deadly storms, melting polar caps) are frightening. For now the planet has been given a reprieve as there are far fewer planes in the sky and cars on the road (you can almost hear Mother Nature sigh with relief) but when this is all over, will we go right back to our old ways?

Frantic consumerism has been slowed as we stay home.  Single-use plastic consumption may have risen temporarily as we focus on  food safety,  but If, at the end of this pandemic we all made positive personal changes perhaps we could stop choking the oceans with our plastic waste. We have seen how it takes everyone working together toward a common goal for it to be be successful.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could turn that same  focus toward our beloved planet?  And if not for us, for our grandchildren and their children? The changes would be much less difficult to put in place. We could still gather in groups, hug(!), eat at restaurants, go out and play.  Is it too much to hope for?  It’s easy to educate ourselves on how, we know the why but do we have the will?

Fast Fashion – Is it worth the cost?

Fast Fashion definition: inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends

We all know the thrill of spotting a bargain – that fabulous-looking shirt or jacket that is dirt cheap. Without thinking we reach for it, our brain mentally scanning our wardrobe for matching accessories.  We check the price tag again  (can it really be that cheap?)  before we remember that no, it can’t be. Someone, somewhere is paying the price. We place it back on the rack.

“If these garments cost so little, chances are the factories where they’re made are filled with child labourers and the dyes used to make those bright jeans are flowing into their drinking water.” https://donegood.co/blog/cheap-clothes-cost-a-lot

But it can be hard to shop for ‘slow fashion’.  First of all, how do we know which products are eco-friendly/ ethically make? And if they are, how can we afford them? Continue reading

Having Purpose – Can it Bring You Good Health?

In a conversation with Jonathan Fields on his Good Life Project podcast, Dr. Frank Lipman shared stories that showed how our health can be greatly improved when we find a sense of purpose.  Jonathan agreed, adding that many of the things we’re afflicted with simply fall away when we find that purpose.

So what does finding purpose look like? It can be working at a job that is meaningful to us. It can be participating in our community on a project of common interest or joining a non-profit to work for something that feels important. Volunteering for an organization whose values match our own can provide deep meaning. Setting personal goals and meeting them also works.

Writing gave my life purpose for a long time, and it still does in many ways. Being supportive of  my grown children also gives me purpose as does participating in my community through friendship and activities. But recently I felt that there was room for more and through a couple serendipitous meetings with old acquaintances I found my way back to a local Unitarian fellowship whose mission is to ’empower people to live with greater depth, meaning and purpose.’ Simply being among other people with these shared values makes me feel that a door is opening, inviting me to live with that greater depth.

It’s not easy to discover what our purpose is and it changes throughout our lives.  We can go for long periods of time feeling restless, but I believe if we consciously open our minds for opportunities to live more intentionally those opportunities to live with greater depth and purpose will appear.

And if you like podcasts, be sure to check out Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields.

It All Matters

Today would have been my mom’s 98th birthday.  Her last few years were spent in a care home and the care providers were truly angels on earth. Being a care provider for the  frail is not a ‘sexy’ job. It’s hard, sometimes dirty, often thankless work, and fortunately there are people who are willing to do it, caring for those in our communities that are the most vulnerable.

This passage from “We Are Called to Rise” by Laura McBride makes me think of those wonderful  care providers.

It all matters.

That someone turns out the lamp, picks up the windblown wrapper, says hello to the invalid, pays at the unattended lot, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry, plays the game fairly, tells the story honestly, acknowledges help, gives credit, says good night, resists temptation, wipes the counter, waits at the yellow, makes the bed, tips the maid, remembers the illness, congratulates the victor, accepts the consequences, takes a stand, steps up, offers a hand, goes first, goes last, chooses the small portion, teaches the child, tends to the dying, comforts the grieving, removes the splinter, wipes the tear, directs the lost, touches the lonely, is the whole thing.

What is most beautiful is least acknowledged. What is worth dying for is barely noticed.”

So I’m thinking of my mom today, and I’m thinking of those angels who cared for her at the end of her life. Through them I learned that ‘it all matters’ and it matters a lot. I’m trying to be that person who does those small, seemingly unimportant tasks, those little things that matter as much as anything else. I fail every day, I’m so far from perfect, but I will keep on trying.

  • Angel craft by artist Carole Burdett

Be Imperfectly Sustainable

I love this. It’s about awareness.

Could I use a reusable container to pack the leftovers instead of plastic wrap?

Can I find a similar product (for purchase) that’s not sold in single-use plastic?

Could I  eat a few more vegetarian/vegan meals this week?

Could I walk/cycle to my destination instead of drive?

Small conscious changes, yes, which become habit forming and make us strive to do even better.

 

 

 

 

 

Candle Season (or how to spread kindness)

As we light candles to add a soft glow to our homes during these long, dark nights of winter, let’s think of the flame as a way of spreading kindness.

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” (Buddha)

“So spread your light through love and kindness to the people around you and let the ‘giving spirit’ you initiate spread like a virus, infinitely touching the lives of people you may never meet, across boundaries you may never cross, in ways you may never have thought possible. That is the power of our love and kindness, and it’s your ticket to making the world a happier place.” (author unknown)

I remember the day a total stranger pulled over to the side of a busy and narrow highway to help me change a flat tire. It was dangerous work with huge trucks barreling past, threatening to drag us along in their undertow. I asked for the stranger’s name, wanted to buy him lunch, something, but he simply asked me to do a good deed for someone else. I was  touched by his kindness. I do try to practise kindness in my life, but need to make a greater effort to practise random acts of kindness for strangers each and every day. It may not be a  something big, like changing a tire, some days it may only be a sincere compliment, but who knows where it may lead? Hopefully the gesture will ‘spread like a virus.’