Thursday, July 11, 2019

What is the value of certification labels? Is direct trade really the best option? Looking at Essential Oils and Simply Earth

Hey folks! I am back on the bloggie, this time to chat about choices businesses have to make with ethical labeling, product sourcing / supply chain,  and profits in the essential oil businesses. This is no defense thesis, but you may learn something new or have an opinion to share. To begin with. Today's post was brought about by the opportunity to try out a new brand of essential oils (Simply Earth). You may be an essential oil user or not. I was not until I moved to Guatemala and wanted a natural, chemical-free bug repellent. One of my students' parents in Guatemala actually sells essential oils out there too! 

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In a time where being a socially conscious business is hip and to a certain degree expected, it is important to not only understand the players, but the game, when we are making choices. Why? Because companies may obtain certain certifications or slap fancy labels on their website or products which may actually be misleading. You, as the consumer, should be aware of what that pretty label is actually worth, especially if you are trying your best to be an informed consumer. There are many certifications including Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance Certification and Equal Exchange to name a few of the popular ones (read more here). However, for multiple certifications, the certification process is out of budget, and for some, only a small percentage of the product's materials has to follow the labeling standard to be certified. Recently in the makeup industry, we see the difficulties of following the production chain with how easy it is for the mineral mica to secretly involve child labor then be sold to a main supplier in a neighboring town who may in fact have an ethical certification. This is then sold to the producer of the sparkly lip gloss or eye shadow which you use. It is so easy to not be aware of all that occurs in the supply chain. The same thing happens with palm oil, which you can find in anything from makeup to ice cream to soap to shampoo! While I was studying for my Master's degree, I learned a lot about supply chains. This is all to say that I view ethical certifications as better than nothing, but I do prefer direct trade. When dealing with companies which are direct trade, weather they are certified or not, it is really up to the consumer to believe what they see based on information provided to the consumer, since it is not an option to visit every supply chain supplier for every single product which you wish to consume. Imagine that!

I have looked into a few essential oils businesses and pleasingly see how multiple work directly with farmers in developing countries across the world. In cutting out the middle man, a buyer (like Simply Earth) is allowed to purchase the raw material from the seller (farmer) and the seller can name their price. There are actually essential oil farmers not too far from where I live in Guatemala. Some work with middle man and some work directly with companies. Many times a middle man will push a seller to lower his price so that the middleman can take a cut for the coordination work involved in the transaction. You can see this in everyday life too! So, when companies like Simply Earth work directly with the farmer, the majority of the time, it implies that the farmers' work is more valued economically and socially. Moving forward to the post-production side of things, once a brand has their finished product, it is their choice to decide how to go about administration, packaging and profit distribution.

Simply Earth with their farmers in Haiti (Simply Earth 2019).

Companies like Simply Earth, and even food companies like Newman's Own, have decided to not only go ecofriendly with packaging, but have decided to go a step beyond and give profits to help further a social cause. In the case of Simply Earth, they donate 13% of their profits to help end human trafficking! Human trafficking (labor trafficking, debt bondage and sex trafficking) is a real-life problem which takes freedom, innocence and joy from millions of people every year! In college, I was very involved with a few anti human trafficking groups and to bringing down a multi-billion dollar industry requires a lot of funds to help raise awareness, rescue victims and provide rehabilitation to survivors. If you want to get involved in anti-human trafficking efforts check out this link. This is all to say that I am so pleased with the Simply Earth business model. They not only take into consideration production, but they area also conscious with their packaging and profit choices. Way to go!

As far as their essential oils. I am no essential oils know-it all. I can tell you that I had a lot of fun whipping up a few mixtures and that I thought that lavender oil was the best in the world because of it's anti-mosquito qualities, however, I am now a fur tree fan because of it's fatigue and pain relieving and deodorizing qualities. The great thing is that this month's Kid themed box came with both, so I am one happy camper! I was given a bonus box which came with a almond and coconut carrier oils, along with coconut oil and a bunch of glass bottles (diffusers and roll-ons). I am typically not a perfume smell person because strong smells usually give me a headache. But I think that in small portions I am a fan of these, because they smell like a fruit, a tree and a flower, which are all things found in nature! I also looked up the pros and cons of essential oils. One concern with the use of essential oils is that they cause free radicals. Free radicals are necessary for the body but are also found in fried foods and are created by excess alcohol and smoking and stress (anyone have stress in their life?). After reading more, I realized that, like anything, excess is harmful and that essential oils are an alternative to man-invented chemical lotions, bug repellents and detergents which also cause cancer. If I had to choose between the two, I would choose the choice closest to what God created for us. After all, if you are reading this, you are interested in a lifestyle that brings us back to the more natural and God-glorifying way of life. :)

Let me know what you think about certifications, supply chain and essential oils! This was very interesting for me to write and I would love to hear your opinion!

$40 Discount code: BEYOUFREE

Have a blessed rest of your week,

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Jessica Miller: Ballet Lines

Model: Jessica Miller
Williamsville, Buffalo, New York

In the winter time, when there is no snow, but the temperature is as though there was snow, what better to do than a photoshoot in dancewear?

Thank you Jessie for braving the chill, greeting passer-byers and for creating beautiful movement to be captured!

Have a Blessed January,

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Cozy Neutral Tones for Dressember

Sustainable, Wool Heart Handwarmers | Mulxiply (c/o Bonjoy Box)
Made in Nepal by an artisan group, you just heat these babies up in the microwave and they warm up your fingers in the winter or belly when you have cramps! This is a perfect way to decrease waste while supporting artisans.
Long Haired Alpaca Pullover | A Different Fur (out of business)
Artisan-made in Peru
Alpaca Scarf, Kyla Scarf | c/o Callina 
Artisan-made in Peru. Dyed using sustainable coloring
Convertible Maxi Dress | Seamly (c/o Fashion Revolution)
Made from waste fabric, polyester, made in the USA
Wool Crochet Handwarmers | Anthropologie
Handmade by an artisan group in Nepal. Although, being sold by Anthropologie, I doubt the artisans earned a living wage. I have seen the prices they pay to artisan groups/NGOs working with artisans when they purchase in high volume. But, I suppose this is better than not supporting artisans.)
 Black Suede Ankle Boots | hand-me-down 
Why waste and create more pollution, when you can pass something along?
2 PomPom Beanie | Free People
(not ethical; not sure why they are called "free people")


As we are coming to the end of this year and Dressember (which I joined late), I want to thank everyone who participated and made a donation to help bring an end to human trafficking! Click here if you are still interested in making any donation amount.

As the year comes to an end, I also want to thank you all for being alive and for caring about people and the planet through consumption. This sacrifice of managing money, subduing shopping urges, going against the hobby of shopping and taking time to investigate products, the people who make them and the environmental impacts of these processes is something I truly respect. It does take time. It does make a difference not only for the environment but for traditions of hand-made products (being the volunteer director of an eco artisan group, I see this first hand). If we do nothing, nothing changes. We each have our own calling in life, which may be different, however, conscious consumption on any scale is something we can all participate in.

MOREOVER, and not fully related... goodness gracious, I began this blog in 2012... way before "beyoutiful" was a thing. Back then, people would ask me how to pronounce my blog's name. Now every sister and her mother has "beYou" written on something, lol. Over the years, this blog has gone from an online diary of random fashion and advocacy things I was involved in, to a travel blog, to a way to receive free clothes, to an ethical fashion and faith blog. I also made a sacrifice to keep this blog running, saying no to joining my college rowing team to compete nationally(not fun). In the end, this blog greatly informed my choice to study international trade and how it impacts developing countries in graduate school which I was fully funded to do. Then God used that to bring me where I am in life, reaching out to girls and women to help them see how beautiful and loved they are in Christ. WOWWWW! So much! >.<

Thanks to those who have come along for the long-term blog ride: Jas (who you may have seen loads on my blog as a model and photographer), Erin (her blog is now on IG) and Safra of Tea n' Honey !

To all those reading this, may God grant you peace, safety and hope this coming year. May we all become people focused on loving God and one another, instead of criticising and picking fights. May we all become more humble in our words and actions. May the Lord Jesus touch each of our hearts to know Him and be fulfilled, using our talents to bring glory to the lord. That is the purpose of life. :)


God bless,