Consume With Love: Minimalist Jewelry and Unique Accessories

I'm picky about jewelry. When I first started shopping fair trade, I bought several pieces of colorful, chunky statement jewelry (made from paper beads, seeds, etc- you know the type) because I wanted to support the good work of the companies that made the jewelry. I never really wore those jewelry pieces- which was a good lesson for me in the concept that I shouldn't buy something just because it's from an ethical company and within my budget... it has to be the right style, too, something that I'll wear regularly and cherish for years to come.

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Conscious Travel Guide: Bohol Philippines

Conscious Travel Guide: Bohol Philippines

Let's talk about Bohol! One of the Philippines's 7,641 islands, Bohol is famous for its "chocolate hills" (perfectly rounded geological formations), tarsirs (the world's almost-smallest primate), and starfish-studded white sand beaches. Tourism on this island has boomed in the past half-decade. While the increased tourism has boosted the local economy, it's also created some wear and tear on the natural wonders of the area, increased the trash making it's way into the ocean and coral reefs, and resulted in the exploitation of local wildlife. While visiting Bohol, Andrew and I packed our zero waste travel kit (reusable containers and bags and utensils), and made a point of spending our dollars on businesses and experiences that we could feel good about. 

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Asking All The Right Questions: Thesis Gems and Jewelry

I'm happy to bring you this inaugural post on ethically made heirloom jewelry in collaboration with Thesis Gems- a woman-owned company that operates from a belief that "people and the environment are more valuable than any gem". Owner Cate has loved gems and minerals since she was a rock-collecting child, which I love since I, too, had a expansive rock collection containing lots of fools' gold and even a few prized fossils that I collected on a fossil dig during a summer family camp. 

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A Month In Review: October/November

A Month In Review: October/November

It’s been 10 months in the Philippines. While there have been many beautiful moments of impact and breakthrough with the A Beautiful Refuge shop, we’ve been successful in getting the wheels turning for our big factory project, and we’ve been (mostly) able to acclimate to living overseas and (mostly) able to pay our bills, there has been a bit of a dark cloud hanging over my head- the feeling of failure.

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Things That Matter- A One-Stop-Shop for Ethically Made Filipino Products

I'm so excited about Things That Matter, a new ecommerce site spearheaded by social enterprise legend Rags2Riches and full of proudly Filipino-made garments, accessories, and other goods. Things That Matter is a joyful marketplace that creates positive impact and inspires an intentional lifestyle. It is envisioned to be a one-stop shop for beautiful and purposeful items made by social enterprises and brands with a cause. But more than that, it’s a community of advocates who want to create a better world by making more intentional and compassionate decisions.

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Zero Waste in the Philippines: A Resource List

Zero Waste in the Philippines: A Resource List

Since moving to the Philippines, maintaining a zero waste lifestyle has been a bit more challenging than it would be in the states. Some stores have small bulk dry goods sections, but selection is limited. Many products come in single-serving size plastic sachets. Every time I go to the beach, I see lots of straws, takeaway cups, plastic food wrappers, and more- making me even more motivated to keep on going with my zero waste aspirations! 

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We're Starting a Garment Factory.

I’ve been referencing “big plans” for awhile, now… And I think it’s time to share! I’m co-founding an ethical garment factory here in the Philippines!

As I've become increasingly disillusioned with the ethical fashion industry- "fair trade" factories that pay the same wages as sweatshops, "eco-fabrics" that shed plastic fibers into our water supplies, markups that thickly line the pockets of CEOs while giving an unfair slice of profits to workers- I've had this mantra beating in my head: we MUST do better. 

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When Untouched World reached out to me earlier this year I was intrigued by two facts about this New Zealand-based company: Untouched World has been recognized for the company’s high sustainability standards by the UN, which is extremely unique for a fashion brand, and the company is a pioneer in developing new types of wool and wool based textiles that perform well for everyday/all-climate wear. (Also, fun fact: apparently Obama and Prince Harry are Untouched World fans)! 

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Mud Houses, Pineapple Fiber, Crazy Big Plans: August


Andrew and I have been working hard on our Tagalog skills. I am nowhere near fluent yet, but I know most of the "essential phrases" plus over 1000 words and can put some sentences together (though my grammar is often a bit off). I've spent a fair bit of time in the past few weeks having awkward, halting conversations with anyone who will humor me. Apparently word has spread among the staff (guards, maintenance, etc) in Andrew's and my apartment building that "the American can speak Tagalog" because they've all stopped using English when talking to me. 

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I guess I'm writing about politics and religion now, Damn it.

I guess I'm writing about politics and religion now, Damn it.

I woke up this morning to a flurry of posts on my social media feeds that made me sick to my stomach. While I slept, hundreds of white supremacist terrorists with tikki torches gathered in Charlottesville. Met by counter protestors, violence between the groups escalated and resulted in injury and even death for one demonstrator. The president of my country failed to condemn the terrorists' actions, instead issuing a statement that basically said both sides (white supremacists and peace activists alike) had behaved badly. 

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Matter Prints- More Than Just "Pants To See The World In" Now!

I’ve loved Matter Prints ever since a dear friend in Singapore, where Matter Prints is based, introduced them to me years ago. A clothing company taking traditional Asian garments and turning them into modern, wearable pieces that will last in your closet for decades while employing artisans practicing traditional crafts like weaving and block printing? My attention was caught!

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A Month in Review: June and July

Today, I thought that I’d try a little something different here on the blog. Back in the day, I used to post little life-updates. I miss that. There’s something that is soothing to me about writing down and documenting the things I know I’ll forget about in a month’s time. There’s something comforting in opening up and creating a bit more “closeness” in this online community…

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Mahagedara Retreat: The Most Eco-Conscious “Hotel” I’ve Ever Experienced

Mahagedara Retreat: The Most Eco-Conscious “Hotel” I’ve Ever Experienced

 I’ve traveled to many places where I’ve felt “at one with nature”, but I can’t think of a single location that tops Mahagedara Wellness Retreat and Spa for offering the perfect combination of luxury-level pampering and relaxation and nature immersion.

Mahagedara translates to “childhood home”, and you truly feel welcomed as part of the family from the moment that you step into the beautifully maintained grounds of the retreat.

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Kantala: Vegan Handbags That Aren't Made Out of Plastic + Support Weaving Artisans

Vegan handbags usually fit into one of two categories: “vegan leather” (which is usually made of polyvinyl chloride and other non-natural materials that are actually quite awful for the environment) or cloth/canvas (cute, but not very sturdy and a bit casual for those who prefer a more traditional looking purse. Up-and-coming Sri Lankan brand Kantala is bringing something new to the table with vibrant, woven handbags using carefully sourced, all natural materials paired with traditional shapes.

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Chai Overnight Oats

Chai Overnight Oats

Overnight oats has been my thing ever since I started attempting to live a more zero-waste life. It's easy to get the ingredients completely zero-waste (bring a cloth bag to the grocery store and fill it up with oats in the bulk section- usually grocery stores with small bulk sections at least have staples like oats and rice), it's cheap, and it can be made so many different ways!

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Reasons I thought about quitting blogging (and why I’m still doing it)

I’m frustrated with many aspects of blogging (as you have probably noticed from my tone on Instagram lately), and I wanted to be completely honest and share those with you. I have seriously considered quitting blogging in the past 6 months over the reasons listed below, and have decided not to. I’ll also be sharing how I plan to position my blog moving forward in this post.

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