Monday, November 29, 2010

☺ Inspirational: See through Your Eyes ☺

We have these two beautiful eyes on our faces and this wonderful gift called Sight, yet we wander through life quite blindly. 
We can walk along the same street every day and never even notice the beauty amongst it. The architect of a building, the trees along the roadside, the faces of the people we pass by. 

The truth is, we take our eyes for granted. We take the world around us for granted. 
Try opening your eyes, try really looking through them. Pay attention to all of the little details. Take it all in as if you've never seen it before in your life. In a sense, you haven't seen it before in your life. 
Try looking at everything with a child-like sense of awe and wonder. 

The scene is always the same, never changing, and yet things change around it, and so will your perception. The Beauty has always been there. It's a matter of Choosing to see the beauty that exists around us. Of opening our eyes to it, of breathing it in, and appreciating it. 

By looking at the world this way we reawaken a sense of Gratitude. It becomes a sense of newness, of discovery, a fresh new outlook. It deepens Appreciation and awakens a deeper sense of Self-awareness as well. Paying attention to all the details, sipping it all in, also helps return us to the Now. It helps us just Be--the happiest and simplest principle of living, of our Being

You'll be amazed by what you'll see and what you'll discover in what seem like ordinary places. Places that you pass every day without notice. 

Life is full of Beauty. Notice it. Notice the sights and the feeling and the smells. The smell of fresh rain. The wind on your face. The sight of a caterpillar. Live your life to the fullest by seeing what is around you. Choose to not walk blindly. Choose to walk with awakened senses.  

Open your eyes and take in the Beauty of the world around you. Appreciate. See through your Eyes. Just Be.  

Peace & Love,

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

☆ What's Going On: Smoking; Ugly for You, Ugly for the Planet ☆

They're gross. They're smelly. They cause cancer. They cause pollution. They're bad for you and they're bad for the Planet. Yes, I'm talking about cigarettes. 

There are admittedly fewer things that irk me more than Cigarettes. No offense to Smokers, but most of you are horribly inconsiderate. You smoke everywhere and anywhere, subjecting those around you to your filthy habit. And it is especially sad when those subjected are babies and children. Obviously, not all Smokers are this way. I have seen many that purposely smoke out of people's way in more secluded areas. So to those people, I am appreciative.
Smoke being involuntarily inhaled is one thing, but it's not just this that I find inconsiderate. Cigarette buts are littered carelessly all over the sidewalks, streets, grass fields, parks, highways, and wildlife. And they don't just disappear, they take 18 months to 12 full years to decompose!

Most people know the health hazards (unless you live under a rock) so I don't really need to go too much into that. Tobacco kills one person every 10 seconds. Lung cancer is the ninth most common cause of death in the World and the most common form of cancer, taking someone's life every 30 seconds. It is estimated that smoking a single cigarette lowers one's life expectancy by 10.7 minutes--which may not seem like much, but that's for EVERY cigarette! Add them up and on average that's an estimated 23 years of your life. 
More than 53,000 people die each year from secondhand smoke.  
This is just brushing the surface. 

Now, I'm sorry if I seem a bit frank here, offending people isn't ever the purpose that I write. I'm just trying to just give you a little dose of reality, or at least a little eye-opener. 

Sadly, most people forget the severe environmental impacts of this bad habit. When you light up, you're sending up to 4000 chemicals up into the atmosphere. Amongst that toxic cloud are air-polluting, smog-inducing VOCs such as formaldehyde, benzene, and hydrogen cyanide, as well as ammonia, arsenic, tar and carbon monoxide, just to name a few. Now, put into perspective that there are about 1.2 billion smokers in the world (that's one-fifth of the world's population!) and you've got quite a scary reality to face. 

To make matters worse, the production alone uses over 11.6 million kilograms of pesticides on these crops every year in the US alone. Then consider that most of the production takes place in developing countries where the safety of workers and the protection of rivers and wildlife are disregarded. 
Drying out the leaves has led to serious deforestation in some parts of the world. Tobacco curing and production is responsible for about 200, 000 hectares of chopped trees a year in Southern Africa, and fingered for nearly half of South Korea's deforestation in the 90's. 

Back to that damn littering... Filters have been found in the stomachs of sick or deceased fish, birds, and other creatures who have mistaken them for food. And regardless of where they end up, they all inevitably leach out those thousands of chemicals from your cigarette. As if this wasn't bad enough, all that damn butting was responsible for 14,030 fires between 1995 and 1999 in Canada alone, as well as killing 356 people and searing thousands of acres of beautiful Canadian forest. 

Don't feel guilty enough yet? "One tree is axed to fire-cure every 300 cigarettes rolled in paper. That's one tree every two weeks if you smoke a pack a day, and 26 trees for every year you've been hooked."
Are you really comfortable with that weighing on your shoulders?

I don't know who decided that smoking was sexy, but it is not. I will see a beautiful person but as soon as I see a cigarette laced between their fingers, the hot factor dissipates. It's not cool. You don't look "bad-ass." You don't look sexy. You like a moron, especially when you're standing out it the middle of winter in freezing temperatures just to get your fix. It is just simple not attractive. Teenagers need to wake up (cuz we all know that's almost Always when smokers start and then get hooked for the rest of their lives). Teens needs to realize that there is nothing cool about it and realize that it does not make them look "grown-up"--it's immature, there is nothing "grown-up" about it.  

Sorry people, but there's no upside to the ugliness of smoking. 

Quit the bad habit, for yourself and for the planet.   

Peace & Love,

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

☺ Inspirational: A Positive Mind is a Positive Life ☺

As much as we are what we eat, we are equally, if not more, what we Think. 

We cannot control the events that occur in our lives, but we can control how we act and react to things. We can choose to have a Positive Attitude to everything and take things as they come. 

No dwelling on Negativity. This only becomes a snowball effect of pessimistic disaster that becomes hard to break. 

Smile. Look optimistically at life. Remind yourself that nothing is set in stone, Change is only natural so don't resist it, and life goes on. 

Embrace every incident and ever Moment. Remember that each of those moments you won't ever experience again so truly appreciate and embrace them. This Moment is all you have. 

Look around with a Smile. Positive Thinking and a Positive Outlook are the key to Happiness and an all-around Positive Life. 

Positivity breeds more Positivity, becoming a Good circle. Don't waste your time on Negativity. Tell yourself that there is no place for it in your life. Catch yourself before the snowball effect has a chance to come into motion and set your Mind back on track. 

Positive Mental Attitude = Happiness.  

Smile, Laugh, Love, Be Happy, Be Positive. 

Peace & Love,

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

♥ Wednesday Favorites: Gifts that Give Back ♥

In light of the holiday season approaching, I have been pondering christmas presents--of course, because advertising has you thinking about Christmas so darn early ;p 

Last year, the hubby and I didn't really do Christmas Presents. Why? Because we aren't all for the "spend tons of money" consumerism side of the Holidays. We would rather do something special and appreciate the time spent with each other and loved ones. Isn't that was holidays should be about? 

Well, I am still buying Christmas presents for some people because not everyone has the same views that I have and it would be awefully rude to not get people presents. But it got me thinking, what can I buy but still keep to my views and not be so consumer based? Two answers: One, which is Buy Locally and Handmade--but I will be doing that wednesday favorites next week ;). This week; Gifts that give Back! ^_^ 

WWF Adoptions: You know by now how much I love WorldWildLife Fund, and I know I have mentioned this one before, but it is such a great gift idea! I mean, what better gift than to "adopt" a species?! There are over 100 species to choose from and each comes with a soft plush version of your adopted animal wrapped in a cloth WWF gift bag, a formal adoption certificate, a color photo of your species, and more, including a personalized letter to your lucky gift recipient. ^_^ What your adoption does is support WWF's global efforts to protect animals and their habitats and helps protect the future of nature. 

Adopt-A-Farm Animal Project: Farm Sanctuary is amazing! They work to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate vegan living. Their Adopt-A-Farm Animal Project is a way that you can get involved and help out. "Farm Sanctuary's shelter animals are in need of loving "parents" to sponsor their monthly feed, shelter and veterinary care costs. By participating in the Adopt-A-Farm Animal Project, you help provide the necessary support to care for a rescued farm animal and defend all farm animals against cruelty." 
Much better idea than "things" for the holidays, right? ^_^ 

David Suzuki's Wish List: Over at the David Suzuki Foundation there is yet another great way to give back this holiday season AND be creative while doing so! There are several neat ideas and projects to choose from, including a "lump of coal", except this one isn't a "naughty friend" idea anymore, it support a brighter energy future that uses clean, renewable power instead of fossil fuels like coal. Or there's things like the "Critter Passport", "Green Key", "Planet Prescription", and more. 
"David Suzuki’s Wish List helps to protect nature in Canada. These symbolic gifts are unique, meaningful, and help us protect the diversity of nature and our quality of life on Earth, now and for the future. Donate to a project in honour of your loved one, and send an e-card saying the gift will support what really matters: a healthy, happy environment. It’s a present that lasts the whole year long!"

There are plenty of ways you can give back to the earth this holiday season so keep that in mind. And don't forget to wrap presents in reusable bags or newspaper or other creative recycling ideas! ~_^ 

Got any Christmas gift ideas that You might choose this Holiday season that give back? Do share with the rest of us!

Peace & Love

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ⓥ Vegan Recipe: Yummy Falafel! Ⓥ

Falafel is one of my all time favourites! You can do soooo many things with it! It's high in protein, low in fat, and absolutely delicious! What more could you want?
This Recipe is suuuuper easy to make and is ready in minutes! Plus it tastes wayyy better than any pre-packaged "add water" varieties you can buy in stores. Perfect if you're in a rush or just don't feel like slaving in the kitchen for hours on end.

Gluten-Free Falafel:

1 can Chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder (or 2-3 Garlic Cloves)
2 tablespoons Parsley (fresh or dried)
3/4 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoons Brown Rice Flour (or flour of your choice)
1-2 tablespoons Water
Olive Oil for frying. (or oil of your choice)

Combine all the ingredients (except for the oil of course, that's for frying them silly! ~_^) in a Food Processor, and start with just a tablespoon of water. You want the result to be a thick paste so if it's still a little dry add one more tablespoon of water. Don't add more than this though or it'll be too runny, trust me!

**If don't have a food processor you can mash the chickpeas, mince the garlic, and mix the ingredients together in a mixing bowl, but the food processor just makes it soooo much easier.**

Form the mixture into small balls, and flatten them a little bit (I usually get 12 balls out of this recipe). 
Heat the Oil in a large frying pan before you place the balls into the frying pan. 
Fry them on fairly high heat until brown. Flip and repeat. Don't be alarmed, this only takes 2-5 minutes!

**I use the bare minimum of oil to keep it less fatty but make sure you're using enough so that they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. I also use a non-stick Environmentally-friendly ceramic frying pan, which helps keep the amount of oil needed low.**

And voila! Falafel! Goes great in wraps, pitas, or even by itself. :)

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

☺ Inspirational: Turn Negative Thinking into Positive ☺

There is a lesson to be learned in everything, in every experience, good or bad. Life is much easier & Happier when we can look at the Positive side of things rather than always focussing on the Negative. Optimism vs. Pessimism. The glass half full rather than half empty. 

Seek Understanding, Compassion, Respect, and Sympathy instead of the Judgmental, Blaming, Self-centered, narrow-minded outlook. Again, things will go much smoother with this outlook & Positive Mindset. 

If you're like most people in today's world, then this isn't always easy. It does take some "reprogramming" of the Mind. Try to turn those negative thoughts around as soon as they surface. This eases the process rather than dwelling or ignoring problems until they manifest into a bigger nuisance or mood-dampner.

Do whatever works best for you to change your Mindset. Maybe its meditating. Maybe it's just pondering for a moment or sitting with it. Personally, I write. It helps to get my thoughts straight and I always seem to discover more of my thoughts lurking in the depths of my brain that I hadn't realized were there. 

If something in particular won't let you think Positively, don't give up. Work on it every day. 
Remember, it can take time to reprogram the Mind. Be patient and light-hearted. Think Positively and take time with your Happy self every single day. Be persistent and be resilient. Remember that Repetition in this way of thinking will get you there. 

Above all, choose Love. Let it into your life and into your every thought and action. It will truly transform your life. Keep a Positive outlook. And work at it every day. 

Peace & Love,

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

☯ What's in my Closet: Vegan Knits!! ☯

Yesterday, I blogged about the horrors of the Wool Industry, how it is Completely and far too often overlooked and why you should stay clear. 

Today is a follow up to show that you don't have to sacrifice awesome fashion to be Wool-free. 

In case you got the wrong idea from yesterday's post. I LOVE knits! I think they look awesome and I think the art behind making them is wondorous. But you seriously don't have to use or buy wool. Period. 

I made the effort to find the very best knits I could. Totally fashionable and will totally rock your socks...or arms or head ~_^
Remember, the ethical standards for these items is important to me, no mass-production on My list! So, Etsy seemed like the best place to find my lovely Birthday presents to myself

These are not only Vegan but they are also Eco-Friendly! Hand crocheted made using soft acrylic/polyester eco friendly yarn made from recycled plastic bottles. Beautiful slouch fit, super cozy and the color is so vibrant! Plus if Purple isn't your thing, there are lots more colors to choose from! She has lots of other fun items worth snooping through her shop for! Oh, and she is suuuper sweet! ^_^

Striped Button Up Crochet Armwarmers by Captain Apricot: I am totally in love with these! Made from Vegan yarn, they are super comfy, cozy warm, and look amazing! She uses lots of recycled materials for her creations as well and her shop is sooo worth checking out! These arm-warmers are totally unique. I love the buttons and stripes (which I requested as a custom order ^_^). 

See? Proof that you don't have to sacrifice groovy knits for animal welfare ^_^

Peace & Love,

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Friday, November 19, 2010

☆ What's Going On: What’s Wrong With Wool? ☆

Knits are in! And they are everywhere. Cute mittens, adorable beanie hats, leg-warmers, those fleece-lined Wool Jackets. They are everywhere. Which means WOOL is everywhere. 

Now, have you taken any thought into the creature of which that wool came? Probably not. 

Sheep have become hugely wronged and hugely over-looked. They are treated as nothing more than wool-making machines. 
What is wrong with this picture?

Wool comes from sheep, Correct? Yes. Taking that wool doesn't harm the sheep right? Wrong!

Many people don't consider that there is any injustice done at all in the production of wool. Well, there is! And here's the reality for you to consider. 

I strongly encourage that you watch this video:

It made me cry. It is so incredibly sad but it is something that you must watch. The injustices we do to animals is insane and so sadistic, cruel, and wrong.

If you don't want to watch the video or have something against PETA, I'm none to judge. Here's some reading material instead ~.^...

First off, let's think about it for a moment. Sheep have their naturally produced wool for a reason, don't they? Yes! It's to protect them from weather extremes. And they produce just enough to keep their bodies either cozy warm or cool in the heat. We are stripping it from them! How would you feel if someone took away your cozy winter jacket in the middle of winter? Yes, it does grow back but most sheep don't really ever get to keep their coat at all. 

The above becomes a small factor, however, when you consider that shearing those sheep has its own slue of horrors. And, as with any mass production where animals are involved, the welfare of the animals gets disregarded and neglected.

Most wool will come from Australia (about 50% of it) or New Zealand, but there are still sheep farms for wool all over the world. The problem with most of these farms is, again, the large scale means intensive sheep farming. NOT good for the animals.

  Workers are usually paid by volume vs. than by the hour, equalling a disregard for animal welfare. Sheep end up being routinely punched, kicked, and cut during that shearing process. 

  These farms are responsible for the degradation of natural waterways and land habitats. They are responsible for greenhouse gases, such as methane, as well as they are released into the atmosphere. So certainly NOT Earth-friendly! 

  140 million sheep each year (in Australia and New Zealand alone) undergo a procedure called "mulesing." **(see below for more information)

  Within weeks of birth, lambs' ears are hole-punched, their tails are chopped off, and the males are castrated without anesthetics. 

  Male lambs are castrated when they are between 2 and 8 weeks old, either by making an incision and cutting their testicles out or with a rubber ring used to cut off blood supply—one of the most painful methods of castration possible. 

  Every year, hundreds of lambs die before the age of 8 weeks from exposure or starvation, and mature sheep die every year from disease, lack of shelter, and neglect.

  After their wool has been taken the Sheep are sent off to the Middle East for slaughter.

  They will travel in overcrowded, disease-ridden ships for weeks to months. Here, they will have little access to Food or Water. They will suffer through weather extremes, where the temperatures on board can exceed 100°F. Many will become stuck in their own feces, unable to move, and will become ill because of it. Many others are smothered or trampled to death by other sheep. 

  The suffering sheep that survive the journey are dragged off the ships, loaded onto trucks, and dragged by their ears and legs to often unregulated slaughterhouses.

  Their bodies and throats are slit while they are still conscious and without pain-killers.

Starting to sound like the horrors of Factory Farming? Absolutely! As you can see, Sheep are certainly not exempt from similar horrors for their wool. 

** Mulesing Debate: **

There is some debate whether mulesing is better for the sheep or worse.
What is it? 
It is a procedure done when lambs are about 2 months old. Shears are used to slice dinner-plate-sized chunks of skin off the backsides of live animals, usually without anesthetics. Scar tissue then forms and the wool never grows back. 
Why is it done?
With no wool in that area the chance lessens of blowflies laying eggs in the moist,poo-stained wool. If flies do lay eggs, maggots emerge and the sheep becomes 'flystruck'', where the sheep is slowly eaten away from the outside. 
"Flystruck" sheep can be saved by removing the wool from the affected area--which is done by cutting the area with shears or scissors-- and treated with a chemical powder, spray, or liquid. The sheep is then closely monitored until pronounced fit to return to the flock.

Why it's InHumane:
It is said that the procedure takes a few seconds and that the lambs usually recover fairly quickly. However, it obviously still causes the sheep pain. They bleed. They have to heal. How would you like to have shears on your backside? Without painkillers to boot. 
Also, when it comes to large-scale farming proper care is often neglected. 

Wouldn't it be better to let sheep just Be? To not use them to produce wool? Is it worth their suffering to have a "fashionable" item? 

Even if you're unsure on the Mulesing debate, the animals still live upsetting lives as described further above. Again, it is a problem with any mass production, especially when it comes to animals. Sheep are still soaked in pesticides and insecticides. They can be chocked full of anti-biotics and other chemicals. The bottom line is this: They are NOT Happy animals living this way! 

Finding out where your wool products came from can also be a tricky ordeal. 
You know now that most wool comes from Australia and New Zealand, but most wool is also routed to China, Italy, or other countries for processing, so the product labeling will rarely be a good indicator as to where it was originally sourced. There are lots of other Sheep farms all over the globe, many of which have the same sadistic approach.  
Don't be easily fooled by "Organic wool" either. From what I have found the requirements are vague and questionable, not unlike Organic Meat and Dairy.

I'm not saying that "humane" sheep farms don't exist. But they are hard to come by and unless you actually go visit the farms themselves you never really know if they are happy sheep or not. 
My opinion? You are better to go without wool. 

Animals are not human commodities. They are real, living, breathing, emotional creatures! We are not better than them because we are human. 

I have made this point before, and I will again. Would you treat your pet at home the way we treat these animals? Would you put them through these same arduous procedures for the sake of fashion? Probably not. Because you consider That cruel. I will tell you again, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE! 

Sheep have amazing characteristics, not unlike your pet. They are intelligent and have problem-solving abilities. They are able to recognize faces for years and can differentiate emotional states through facial characteristics. They are gentle animals that, like all creatures, feel pain, fear, loneliness, love, and happiness. 

Is it worth essentially having blood on your hands for fashion? Animal cruelty does not have to be involved for the sake of fashion. There are so many vegan alternatives out there.

Be Compassionate. Choose to be Wool Free.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

☮ "Be the Change" Clothing & Consumerism ☮

We all do it, we love to buy Things. We all have our vices. Our society teaches us to consume. It is what our economy is based on. The system does not work. But it is why we love to buy so much. We have essentially been taught: You are what you Buy. Your social status, your livelihood, your happiness all depends on what you wear and what you buy. This is not truly the case, of course, but it is the illusion that is embedded into our brains by lovely Society. And it has been working. We are perfect little puppets without even being aware of it.

It is wrong for so many reason, but that rant is for another time ;)

"Things" do not bring true Happiness. A momentary "high"...maybe. But not Happiness or any feeling of true fulfillment. 

Our relentless need to consume is becoming much too taxing on our environment. Economy has been placed above Ecology. And this simply can not work. It is why we will end up killing our planet, and therefore ourselves... all in the name of consumerism and Things. 

Imagine another species of life from another planet observing us... Oh, how did these people die? Well, they destroyed their planet so they could have "things". Wha??!!!! *smacks forhead*

Is this reaaaally how we want to go out?? 

Here's a little look into the Fabric Industry....
It is one of the most polluting on the planet! Cotton soaks up 10% of the world's pesticides and 25% of its insecticides--many of which are carcinogens (cancer-causing), toxic, and cause major water pollution. It takes 1/2 pound of chemicals to produce one regular old t-shirt. Is it worth it? Do you even really want to wear toxins on your skin?

Anyways, there's my little ramble for the day. Now, here are some tips to greening up your footprint when it comes to "Things" and Consumerism...

Buy Organic or Sustainable: such as Organic Cotton, Hemp, Soy, Bamboo, or recycled fibres for clothing and other items. There are so many choices out there now so there's really no excuse! If you have a favorite designer, ask them to use eco-friendly materials as well. Remember consumer-demand is everything!  

Buy Second Hand! There is nothing less environmentally straining than buying something second-hand! We have enough materials out there to easily please us. Be creative and go exploring. There are plenty of fun treasures to uncover and reinvent!  

 Buy FairTrade & Close to Home: On top of the above, just as equally important is to be aware of WHERE the products are made. No one wants to support child labour and unfair labour laws! Also, mass production in foreign countries with no pollution laws is a frightening thought--even if the tag does read "Organic." Not to mention all those items then have to cross oceans and travel all over the place before they get to stores and then you. Buying Locally is so important and supporting Handmade goods as well. There are sooooo many amazing products out there that fit this ideal. p.s. Etsy is a great place to search! :)  

Buy LESS: We don't need to consume as much as we do. Remember, you can't buy Happiness. Be happy with what you have. Splurge every once in a while, sure, but learn some restraint. Plus, it's easier on the pocket. Simplicity is environmentally friendly and it's sexy! ;)

Clear out your Closet: Chances are, your closet is over-crowded. There's probably items in there that you barely wear or maybe have only worn once, or maybe that you didn't even know were in there. What are they doing there?? If you don't wear them, give them away, donate them, or repurpose them--but don't just throw them out, that's wasteful. I cleared out my own closet during the recent move--twice. Once while packing, and again when unpacking. I was embarrassed by the humungous pile I had laying on my bed. Someone else will want and/or appreciate some of those things you have, so give a little!  

Re-Wear, Re-Wear, and Wear again! Why on earth do we wear one item and then throw it in the laundry? This is so wasteful! I re-wear my clothes many many times before they go to my laundry machine. And don't give me the smelly excuse. I sweat a lot, I'm a smelly Italian girl ;) and I still manage to re-wear my clothes without being stinky. Even if you just wash the arm-pits of a hoodie and re-wear it, this is still much better than clothes going directly to your laundry machine.  

Do Laundry Less: The above tip is a good one to do Laundry less. It is a new commitment for me, even though I already only did laundry once ever three weeks. I now go at least a month and a half before doing laundry! It is a great feeling to know I can manage to do this! :)    

Hang Dry! If you're able to, absolutely hang-dry your clothes! This eliminates the need for wasted energy from your dryer--and again, is easier on the pocket. 

Even though I was already very eco-conscious in my buying habits before, I still wanted to improve. I have now made 
the Commitment to only buy Organic or Eco-friendly Products. 
Not just for clothes, but for everything I buy, ever. 
I'm enjoying it thoroughly and it is incredibly rewarding. Sometimes you have to dig a little harder if there is something you're after, but there is always a solution. Plus, you end up finding some really neat things this way! ^_^

Remember, no matter what Society will have you believe, You are NOT what you Buy! 

What are Your new Earth Commitments lately?  

Peace & Love,

If you found this article to be helpful, please consider a small donation or visit the shop. Thank you for your love and support.
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