Why I'm Hosting A "Discovery Trip" To The Philippines This Summer

We were sitting on the floor, in a circle. She took a deep breath and started to share her story. How she hand-stitched leather gloves for less than $6 a day. Gloves that were sold by a luxury brand overseas for $300, stamped with “made in the USA” even though they were truly made here in the Philippines. How the pressure to stitch faster, make more gloves, fill a quota, began to wear on her. The other women in the room chimed in with their stories, too: the American brands they’d worked for, the factory floor managers that had harassed them, the wages that were too low to allow for any saving, keeping them stuck in a cycle of exploitation. I thought to myself “I should share this”- but didn’t feel like social media was the perfect avenue. “What would be better”, I thought, “would be to just bring everyone here to sit on this floor and hear this stuff for themselves”.

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In that moment, the idea for a “discovery trip” was born. I started sending emails to all of the awesome Filipina entrepreneurs, artisan groups, and sustainable living gurus that have taught me so much during my time in the Philippines, determining the best way to bring a group of conscious living enthusiasts on a learning tour. After several months and lots of planning, we launched our first two 10-day discovery trip dates, with the first being slated for the very end of July.

Our goals for each participant our threefold:

Learn about the social enterprise climate in Southeast Asia from local innovators

In addition to visiting a total of 8 social enterprises in 4 different regions of the Philippines, learning sessions with local innovators will be sprinkled throughout the itinerary. Speakers for this trip will include Reece Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2Riches, Anya Lim of ANTHILL Fabric Gallery, Hannah Theisen of A Beautiful Refuge, Mark and Rochelle Martin of Precious Trading Company, and Kylie Misa of WVN Home, covering topics ranging from zero waste fashion to fair wages to sustainable farming.

Learn from women who know the inside of the {ethical} fashion industry better than anyone.

We’ll visit weaving communities, production facilities, and ethically-run workshops. You’ll have the chance to sit alongside artisans and be involved in the process of making a garment. You’ll learn how to repurpose fabric scraps into a unique accessory, sew and print your own tee shirt, and more through several exclusive workshops for our group. You’ll get to hear workers’ experiences within the conventional fashion industry, and learn what’s next as we look toward the future of ethical fashion in the Philippines.

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Be immersed in the color and beauty of Filipino nature and culture while participating in tourism-gone-right

It would be ridiculous to spend ten days in the Philippines without taking in the beauty of the turquoise waves, coral reefs, and mountain vistas that make this tiny chain of islands one of the most beautiful places on earth, so we’re going to do a bit of tourist-ing. You’ll get to experience Surfing Lessons, snorkeling, waterfall hikes, and more- but even those moments will be laced with learning opportunities and positive impact.

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We’ll learn to surf from a female surfing champion who’s smashing gender barriers, stay in a beach hostel that’s fighting single use plastic, take a walking tour of historic Manila that will tackle important topics like colonialism and development, eat at a bakery that provides job training for marginalized youth. Tourism dollars play an important role in the Philippine’s economy, and we’ll make sure to funnel all of ours into people and initiatives that are contributing toward the local community in a helpful way.

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Don’t worry about a thing- we’ll do that for you 

We’ll plan all your travel and lodgings, make sure that you have delicious vegetarian/vegan food for every meal, and cover all the costs once you land in the country- all for far less than the average price of a 10-day all-inclusive immersion trip (we did the research on that, too).

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You’ll have a small but dedicated local team making sure that the trip goes smoothly every step of the way, and I’ll be your 24/7 guide. Because we’re keeping the trips small, we can help tailor it to give you the best experience possible. Want to try a specific food or buy a certain souvenir or take a look at the deadstock fabric markets or make some connections for your fair trade boutique? We’ll work with you to set it up!

Ready? Let’s Chat.   

Want to learn more (and maybe say hello so it feels a bit less like flying overseas to meet up with a stranger)? Send me a quick email to set up a facetime chat or pass along any questions you have. You can check out a full itinerary here, and read the trip agreement here.

 

 

 

Spring 10x10 Challenge

I'm joining this spring's 10x10 challenge with Lee Vosburgh (Style Bee), Caroline Rector (Un Fancy), and Liz, founder of Elizabeth Suzann. What's a 10x10 challenge? Read this blog post for more information. Basically, the challenge is comprised of choosing 10 items from your wardrobe and wearing only those items for 10 days (shoes are included in the 10 items, but accessories can be added). 

Here are the items I'm including in my roundup: 

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  1. Denim shorts, thrifted 
  2. Black cigarette pants, thrifted 
  3. Black high-waisted shorts, thrifted
  4. Chambray button down, thrifted 
  5. Striped top, Synergy Organic Clothing
  6. Polka dot button down, The Fable
  7. Black tank top, thrifted 
  8. Sandals, RoHo 
  9. Sneakers, Un-ethically made by Nike 
  10. Black dress, Asuiro Pinafico 

Follow along with my 10 days of outfits on instagram!

6 Ways I *Really* Conserve Water

I recently completed a "7 gallon challenge" with Numi Organic Tea as part of World Water Day and to raise awareness about Numi's Together For H20PE Campaign (you can watch a replay of the challenge in the "highlights" section of my instagram profile). Living with only 7 gallons of water for an entire day was challenging, but manageable, and I realized that the manageability of the challenge fact was largely due to the fact that I've been slowly implementing water-saving habits over the years as I've become more conscious of the precious resource that clean water is.

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Sandals Replacement! RoHo's Comfy Beaded Beauties

Years ago, one of my childhood best friends spent a summer in Uganda. When she came back, she was sporting a beautiful pair of beaded sandals that she'd purchased from a local vendor there. I loved those sandals, and I watched her wear them for YEARS (actually, I think they're probably still going strong). I now own a pair of sandals from RoHo that closely mimic that legendary pair of shoes, and I'm having so many nostalgic feelings! 

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V Y A Y A M A Active Wear

Disclosure: I was not paid for this post, but I was gifted the pieces featured in this post by VYAYAMA


I’m excited to be talking about VYAYAMA active wear for one of my final two sponsored/gifted posts here on Life+Style+Justice!

VYAYAMA brings something new to the ethical activewear space by seeking to provide a natural alternative to synthetic yoga wear, using wool, cashmere, and micromodal/tencel made from beech pulp.

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I received a KALABLAK™sculpt crop top and KALABLAK™ leggings (Both pieces are made using tencel, sewn in Portugal)  to try from VYAYAMA.

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I love the intensity of the color in the garments! I’m a girl who loves black-black, not greyish black or brownish black, and the inky shade is right up my alley. After over 3 months of wearing and testing both the crop top and leggings, there hasn’t been any pilling or fading.

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I’ve worn my crop top and leggings for light workouts like yoga, as well as to boxing class. Next, I want to try wearing my leggings to surf! The crop top is made from thick, layered fabric and has plenty of support for me for most activities, and the cutout in back helps keep me cool while I’m working up a sweat.

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Check out VYAYAMA’s full line on their website and Instagram!

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Where I Get the Things I Use Every Day

A reader recently asked about the products that I use on a regular basis: shampoo, makeup, etc. I thought I'd whip together a quick post sharing my sources for the everyday items that help me in my zero-waste aspiring and ethics-driven daily routine! You'll notice that my routine isn't perfect, yet (see the paragraph about makeup at the bottom of this post), and I've purchased many of the things that I use every day from *gasp* Amazon.com. This is what is currently working out for me, with limited time, a very limited budget, and without good access to brick and mortar stores that sell the items I need (not all of us live next to the Package Free Shop in NYC!). 

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Cable and Cotton

I spoke with the team at Cable and Cotton to learn a bit more about how their operation is set up. I was impressed to learn that the company guarantees year-round income for their workers (unlike many fair trade cooperatives where artisans only get paid regularly if there is enough demand/overseas orders for their goods), and has an insurance policy of sorts set up to make sure that workers receive payment even if they are unable to work for a period of time. 

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Doing a Little Good Wherever I Can with 1040.com

I just paid in my quarterly tax payments. As usual, this mundane, 4-times-a-year action put me in a rather disgruntled mood. As a self-employed freelancer/business owner with low overhead and not a lot of write-offs, it’s always a bit disheartening to watch such a huge portion of the money I’ve made over the past few months whiz off to the IRS. I sigh and think of the things that I could do with that money to support good organizations that I love, or even just invest in my own ethical lifestyle (someday I will have an electric car fund), and try not to think of the things my tax dollars may be used for by the government that go against my values.

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Golden Geometry with Artisan & Fox

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Let me introduce you to Artisan & Fox. Artisan & Fox sources beautiful, artisan-made items from Afghanistan, Nepal, Kenya, Guatemala, Mexico and Vietnam. The products that Artisan & Fox carry are hand-selected by the Artisan & Fox team to ensure that as many natural and eco-friendly materials as possible are used, and Artisan & Fox seeks to build strong, sustainable partnerships with artisans focused on fair pay and support/mentoring as the artisans grow their craft and reach new markets.

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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

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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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