3 Ways You Can Travel with a Conscience

(This article, written by Rebecca Brown is used with permission from Cause Artist. It was published in full here.)

Over the decades, travel has become a multibillion-dollar industry. It keeps growing and becoming more accommodating, and we now find that plane tickets are cheaper, that there are travel agencies at every corner, that tourism is booming, and that all you really need to go somewhere these days is some money and a bit of free time.

As an interpreter, I travel more than an average person for the sake of work. And honestly? It’s all made so easy for me. I hardly have to plan anything on my own, and going from one end of the world to the other is no fuss at all. But comfort and convenience have their price, and it goes well beyond money.

The fact that I travel so much has actually made me think: how am I impacting the planet? And how can I make it better? While these are only my musings, they are based on research and experience, and if you want your own vacations and work trips to be more sustainable, read on.

1) Start with the Culture

If you ask your parents, they might remind you of a time when traveling somewhere meant having to learn at least a smattering of that country’s language. If you wanted to know how to ask for directions, or book a hotel room, or find a good restaurant, you had to know a few phrases.

Now? Everything is in English, and not only do you never have to inconvenience yourself to learn something new, you can even find all your favorite chain brands – from McDonald’s in the middle of the square in Milano, to a huge Starbucks at pretty much every corner in Beijing.

Being a green traveler isn’t just about the environment, it’s also about our impact on the culture of the place we’re going to. It’s about the fact that a beach in Barbados and one in Cancun look almost exactly the same because even when we go to a whole new place, we seem only to want to find familiar things and never get out of our comfort zone.

Sure, you’ll visit six museums in a day when you go to Rome, but you won’t remember any of them. Sustainable travel simply means mindful travel. It’s about paying respect to the place you’re going to, it’s about exploring and learning, not simply going to a Sephora in Paris and claiming you’ve seen France.

2) Get a Green Car

Solar-powered cars are a great way to lower your carbon footprint, and the prices are definitely getting lower as the world tries its best to find more energy-saving solutions. Since I can’t always afford to rent a green car, I also try taking the train instead of flying whenever I can. It’s slower, but unless I’m in a big rush, I actually don’t mind that at all. You get to see more of the country that way, and chugging along in a train is always better than flying in my opinion. Better for my health, and better for the environment.

3) Walk

When I fly for work, I try to be quick and efficient, but when I travel for my own soul, I prefer adventure. I want my vacations to be memorable and important, and so far, my favorite trip ever was walking the Camino de Santiago. It was hands down the most fun I’ve ever had in my life, and since I took the French Way (the longest route, basically) I got to learn so much about each little village, each little spot I visited.

I’m already planning to do it all over again next year, but even if you don’t think you’re up to such a long trip, I urge you to try similar options. You can actually go to pretty much any big city (Amsterdam is one of the best options), download a map of it, and then walk your way through it as much as you can. Don’t use cars or even public transport, simply get a good pair of shoes and see where your heart takes you. You might see fewer things, but the places that you do see, you’ll actually remember.

Always be aware of the impact you’re leaving on a culture. Instead of going to big places that are congested with tourists, try traveling locally, or try exploring a country that has never crossed your mind before. Be a mindful sustainable traveler.

(Read the full article, 5 Ways to Make Sustainable Travel a Reality)

How This Backpack is Tackling Plastic Waste and Looking Super Fly Too!

This article originally appeared on Cause Artist.

Meet 8hz: An Ethical Brand Doing Fashion Right

Meet 8hz, a new ethical brand dedicated to making products with fabric created from plastic bottles. The whole idea started when Mateo Neri, CEO of 8hz, was doing a large project on climate change with scientist and health experts around the world. After exiting his other startup URB-E, and being exposed to what’s been happening in the climate world he decided to focus on recycling, up-cycling and saving the oceans.

The core mission was to make beautiful products from waste and not virgin plastic derived from petroleum, which is the easy way to manufacture products but is also extremely detrimental to the environment. Making products here in the U.S. was also an important factor for Mateo and his team.

Below is a fantastic Q&A with the CEO of 8hz, Mateo Neri:

What made you want to start a social impact brand?

I have always been into the environment back from when I went to school for solar energy in Santa Cruz, but it was in 2012/13 when my previous company was hired by a fortune 100 consumer brand to do a large scale climate project looking 10-15 years out. We focused on a global scale in four main cities including LA. We seeked out and partnered with 40+ top scientist, health experts and Universities around the world and it was this project that gave me very deep insights and after URB-E, this stuck with me.

I had to call myself out as a design entrepreneur to do better and do something that had more impact. If I am educating my kids on this, then why not make it a reality. Having grown up in the beach area, I have always loved the ocean and we use to have sea life from kelp to jellyfish and now it’s gone, so seeing what’s happening with just the over consumption of plastics and the effects in our oceans and food, I wanted to impact this area and give back, this is why with every purchase we are donating to our non profit partners such as 5 Gyres.

The big goal is to create a closed loop in LA where waste is made into beautiful products and manufactured locally, while helping prevent plastics into the oceans.

Who is the design team behind these beautiful bags and how did the team come together?

We have an awesome team of partners and collaborators and an underlying passion or drive for what we do on different levels and life experiences. On this journey, I met my partner Frankie who is another Art Center College of Design alumni and he had designed a beautiful bag and snowboard that was unique and so after many meetings and building a relationship we decided why not team up and create this together. What’s cool is that Frankie is a Millennial and Jason and I am are baby boomer/GenX, so there is a good combination especially since that is our target. Frankie is an awesome designer and can quickly prototype products when we brainstorm, mainly from his farm up north. He has designed a number of styles and accessories in development that are going to be pretty nice.

Support 8hz on Indiegogo

Part of the idea of building a brand was that I have always been attracted to art and graffiti and wanted to use this in the products, so I met Saber, a legendary graffiti artist in LA and we hit it off and started discussing different types of collaborations. He is very passionate, hard core, talented and stands behind a movement he believes in and I knew it was right especially when Frankie said he went to school after being inspired by Saber, so when I told him we would be partnering with him, he was floored. Saber is really more than just an artist, he is pretty savvy in the digital world and strategically connected, so this is more than just using his artwork, this is a long-term partnership.

After a year of building prototypes, finding a great local manufacturer in Ventura, and creating relationships we needed a marketing expert and another entrepreneur with experience, so I hooked up with Jason, who started a pioneering SEO and online marketing company back in the early 90’s. Jason is a deep thinker, very strategic and I totally trust him since we had worked together at URB-E and a few other ventures so it was pretty seamless, knowing what he brings to the table, then the three of us officially launched 8hz end of 2017. The other cool thing is he was born in Hawaii and is a big ocean lover too and has been to Midway island, which is one of the areas that was affected by all the plastics in a dramatic way. The bottom line for everyone is there passion and drive for the environment and wanting to make an impact and we all have a story, but we all know we can do better and this venture allows us to put it all together.

We have some other creatives that are helping such as TC, an awesome animator.

With so many products you could have made, why choose the travel bag as the first product to be released?

Good question, like we need another bag right? There is probably no right answer, but like most people we use all types of bags and we all personally needed this type of bag that we didn’t find on the market where it was a travel bag we can take for the weekend or longer but also use it for work. When you compare our fabric to virgin polyester, there is a 75% lower carbon footprint, so this was one of the deciding factors to make a product using this fabric that was beautiful, yet sustainable as possible. Bags was better than apparel especially when using the recycled polyester since we are not wasting bags or much fewer than apparel which would wash off micro plastics into the system.

We are currently testing 3D printing of parts and products made from 90-100% recycled material. This will enable us to custom for consumers and build anything. We are also testing with other plastics and molding to make consumer products, but trying to make products that you don’t need to wash is a factor.

Our fabric we use is made from 23 recycled plastic bottles, but let’s clarify that, not all of these come from the ocean, they are mainly collected from from the streets and recycling centers and we partner with an amazing fabric manufacturer called Waste2Wear that is owned by a dutch woman entrepreneur. Once we start to use the 3D printed parts, the recycled material % will go up.

You are donating 8% of net profits to ocean related causes? Do you know who those nonprofit partners will be yet?

Yes, our first official partner is 5gyres a local org in LA. They are an awesome organization deeply rooted in the oceans and research. There are a few others globally as well that we are talking to but quality over quantity for impact. Work local, impact global right now.

What does the name 8-hz represent and why that name?

8hz comes from the Schumann resonance, the “beat” of the planet, an electromagnetic field surrounding the earth that connects all humans. I love numbers and 8 is a magic number, it also represents numbers from the Fibonacci sequence, which I studied in design school and how it is derived from nature. It is also related to brain waves, meditation and a lot more, but I think that might be deep enough! Why not do something with deeper meaning that is related to the earth, animals and people, and I love the look of it in a simple iconic way.

Goodio Organic Chocolate: Good For Munchies and The World

goodio founding team

This article was originally posted by Grant Trahant on Caustartist

Meet The Organic Chocolate Company Built On Beautiful Design, Transparency, & Sustainability

Meet Goodio, the pioneering organic chocolate company founded on transparency and sustainability. Goodio’s roots lay in innovation provided by founder of Jukka Peltola, a former game developer at Rovio, the company responsible for Angry Birds.

Meet Goodio, the pioneering organic chocolate company founded on transparency and sustainability. Goodio’s roots lay in innovation provided by founder of Jukka Peltola, a former game developer at Rovio, the company responsible for Angry Birds. After a creative career in technology and entertainment, Jukka came to food through a personal journey for better health.

Jukka found his passion in blending natural ingredients and fusing them with unique flavors, such as wild blueberry and sea buckthorn to give you a delicious one-of-a-kind treat. All Goodio bars are made with raw cacao, which is high in antioxidants and classified as a superfood.

Looking for alternatives to heavy sugar and salt-ridden snacks, Jukka did extensive research and found cacao — a superfood that’s often only associated with unhealthy chocolate bars you see in grocery stores and gas stations. By adding raw cacao to his diet and dropping traditional dairy products, Jukka changed his thought process and adopted a new diet and lifestyle.

After changing his diet and lifestyle he began to see amazing results, feeling more energetic, lighter, and rejuvenated, Jukka then set out to share this knowledge with his colleagues, friends, and family. While raw cacao and healthful treats were the focus, the team also wanted to build a company that stood for more than profit.

“There has to be greater transparency in where our food comes from, how it’s sourced, and how it’s treated,” Jukka says.

Below is a quick Q&A with the founder of Goodio, Jukka Peltola

Why chocolate?

It was 2010 when I started optimizing my wellbeing with nutrition. In a very short time period I got tremendous results which lead to totally a new relationship with food and nature. I was passioned and started experimenting and studying nutrition and found out about amazing nutritional properties of raw cacao, which is one of nature’s most nutritious foods, due to it’s wide array of unique properties.

Cacao is a main ingredient in a chocolate, but I couldn’t find chocolate that was produced in a way I wanted so I started doing my own chocolate at home. It was stunning to realize that you can actually do a favor for yourself by eating chocolate, if it’s just done with right ingredients, way and intention.

I felt so excited about chocolate and was really grateful for finding out what proper nutrition can do for wellbeing so I started thinking why are we suffering so much, why are there so many additives, fillers and other things in our food. I felt disappointed on big corporates’ contribution and also really small, because of the scale of this issue. I remember thinking that somebody should do something about it. Then I thought that self pity doesn’t help and I’m gonna do it for the greater good, no matter what. It still feels kind of crazy, but actually it makes so much sense, it’s just the right thing to do.

That’s how the idea of Goodio was born, not only to make the best possible chocolates but to accelerate the positive change in the world. Later on I found about the dark side of chocolate industry and decided that it’s not only nutrition that needs to be fixed, it’s the way the whole business has developed in the past decade.

Here is a little bitter sweet fact box of chocolate:

The global chocolate market is worth over 100 billion in 2017 and is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost 5% by 2020.

Around 70% of world’s cacao comes from West African countries where there’s estimated to be 2.1 million child laborers. Two biggest cacao growers are Ghana and Ivory coast. In Ghana the average income of a farmer is 0.84 $ a day and Ivory coast just merely 0.50 $ a day. Affordable chocolate has it’s price that has just been hidden from us.

goodio chocolate

Tell us about your cacao beans and the process of making Goodio chocolate bars.

We use cacao beans from DR Congo, Ecuador and Peru. Our Maranon Canyon beans from Peru are considered to be the rarest cacao beans in the world. Our Congo Mountains of the Moon beans, that come from Rwenzori mountain range, are certified organic and Fair for Life. Currently we have fine flavor cacao beans from 40-50 different farms in test. The beans are all wild, certified organic or organically cultivated.

We have our own factory in Helsinki where we make our bean-to-bar chocolates. We don’t roast our cacao beans and we stone ground all the ingredients around 72 hours in low temperature to sustain the good nutrients in ingredients.

Our approach to making chocolate is holistic and we are always willing to learn and make our products better. This doesn’t mean that we are changing our recipes all the time. It means we are constantly thinking how to have even bigger positive impact, whether it means biodegradable packaging, supporting small family farms or choosing healthier ingredients.

Related: How the Kind Foundation is Connecting Youth, Spreading Kindness and Creating Future Social Entrepreneurs

Why do you personally think the Nordic countries are such leaders in sustainability and innovation?

I think there are a multitude of things that have made this possible. Here is my personal reasoning in three points:

Engineer mindset and education system – Our ancestors have lived in harsh environment and just to survive you had to be very practical, especially before electricity and technology. Nowadays we Finns are world famous of our free and high standard education system. There are no tuition fees at any level of education and in higher education you can even get financial aid from the government. Because of this we are generally very well educated.

Our rough past and excellent education have made us logical, good adaptors and problem solvers. We Finns are not known about our small talk or marketing skills but for making great products that only a few know about, not to mention well-known brands like Nokia and Angry Birds.

Nature – Even though we are very tech savvy people we haven’t wandered too far away from our roots, nature. We are 5.6 million people, 71% of the country is forest and we have over 180.000 lakes, 500.000 summer cottages and 3 million saunas. In Finland we have the freedom to roam and foraging is very popular. Especially wild blueberries, lingonberries and many mushrooms are common bounty.

Wellbeing – We are very fortunate to have a high standard of living because of our free education, health care and extensive social security system. These privileges give us the freedom to think. When you don’t have to struggle so much and you have all your basic needs satisfied, you feel that you want to give back. We have ability to do things for greater good and that’s amazing.

What does transparency within an organization mean to you?

I’m fascinated to question general operating models that are just learned without deeper understanding or first principles thinking. Are these models still valid and working for our best? Therefore I like to ask ”stupid” questions. Questions like what if we make all our recipes public or what if we publish our whole business strategy.

Currently our priority is to make Goodio a fully transparent company. Everyone in our company is fully committed and excited about the direction we are going. It’s not only the right thing to do, but actually really inspiring and fun too. I believe that many other companies will follow us in the coming years and in the future it will become a new norm of doing things and it’s all good.

Get your own pack of Goodio chocolates on Amazon now — Click here for the latest deals!

How Fitppl’s Social Mission is Helping Busy People Stay Fit

This article was originally posted by Grant Trahant on Caustartist

“…there needs to be something to help busy people stay fit people.”

Fitppl is a BCorp certified collective of individuals who are producing forward thinking products, such as plant— based protein powders and ethical apparel.

The founder of fitppl, Patrick Schecht, strives to reduce plastic pollution by using kraft paper pouches and wooden scoops for their protein powders.

Fitppl takes their entrepreneurship a step further and provides funding for Active Cleanups, which are fitppl hosted events where the fitppl community cleans up heavily littered areas.

change creator fittppl

Check Out My Q&A with fitppl founder, Patrick Schecht.

What’s the story behind fitppl and its community!

Fitppl started from an idea back in 2012, while standing in the company kitchen of a startup that I was working at. The options provided were mostly unhealthy, and was I feeling the effects of consuming them daily. This was right after returning from living in Costa Rica, where I was eating clean local foods and smoothies.

I asked the office manager to bring in a protein powder to offer smoothies as a healthier option. She ordered a generic dairy based protein with flashy graphics and a laundry list of ingredients I didn’t understand.

Other employees wanted to make healthy choices too, but I noticed they needed simplicity to balance out the busy workday. I remember standing in the kitchen thinking, “there needs to be something to help busy people stay fit people.” This was during the explosion of social media and smartphones, common words were usually abbreviated on these platforms.

So I abbreviated people and came up with fitppl. I loved the simplicity and uniqueness of the name. Now I had a name and an idea.

I eventually quit that job in March of 2013 and pursued freelance film, a skill I’d taught myself from personal interest. This schedule allowed me to spend time traveling and put more focus towards fitppl, which was still just an idea at this point.

The purpose piece came to me while traveling through Thailand in the Fall of 2013. Swimming near Koh Hong Island, I noticed a lot of plastic floating around the otherwise clean and crystalline ocean, this sparked my concern. I started doing research while in Thailand, and the more research I did about plastic pollution, the more dire the situation became.

The catastrophic plastic waste in the oceans is one of the biggest problems facing our species and countless others.

The origins of the Ditch The Plastic initiative was born from the experience, which was the catalyst that took fitppl from an idea to conception.

I spent 2 years developing everything and then launched in late 2015. Our community has been flat out awesome since the launch. They are incredibly passionate and an integral part to spreading our mission.

What types of plant-based proteins can be found in your protein and superfood blends?

We started with two products, our plant proteins and our 2-in1 superfood. Starting a company that was so purpose driven towards the environment, I couldn’t use whey due to the environmental toll that dairy farming is causing, not to mention the nasty hormones and steroids in dairy. I also could never stomach whey protein with just water. I wanted something I could mix with water, but still versatile enough that people could make recipes.

For the plant proteins, we use an organic rice, pea, and hemp blend and instead of flavoring it with artificial ingredients commonly found in protein powders, we use fruits like acai, goji, pomegranate, and blueberries. Then, we created two flavor variations, Vanilla & Goji and Cocoa & Blueberry. Both are really smooth and delicious with just water, and can be added to smoothies or whatever you can think of!

Our 2-in1 superfood is a blend of alkalizing cereal grasses and algae which make up the greens, and a diverse array of fruits which make up the reds. Hints the name, Green & Red superfood. This blend delivers a combination of chlorophyll & antioxidants to increase energy, promote detoxification, battle cell damaging free radicals, boost your immune system, and other benefits. It’s our most versatile as far as recipes.

We even had one person submit their superfood avocado dip. It can be mixed with just water also, it’s tangy and delicious!

For those not in the fitness world, what makes your protein different from what most of us see on the shelves in stores.

It’s what sources of protein we use, and what we left out. If you look at our ingredients, you don’t have to google anything. No xanthan gum, emulsifiers, or artificial ingredients. We also left out the stevia. It’s usually highly processed in powder form, turning it from a green leaf to a white powder.

We’re 100% plant-based, which is better for people and better for the planet. Our diets have an immense effect on the environment, mainly due to meat and dairy production. Cows require a lot of water, energy, and transportation. They also release a good amount methane gas through belching and farting. This is without even touching on the animal cruelty aspect.

Do some research on humans consuming cows milk and there are some alarming facts. Plus, milk gets denatured due to Pasteurization, the process of heating milk to high temperatures, which destroys vital vitamins, minerals, good bacteria and enzymes. Additionally, most commercial whey protein powders are highly processed at high temperatures leaving a highly denatured and damaged protein.

Our plant proteins do not go through this high temperature processing, while still achieving a complete amino acid profile. You can also find plants and nuts that have more calcium than milk.

So, if you can replace meat or dairy with plants, it’s a win-win, for you, the environment, and animals.

[Related] If you’re liking this than you’ll probably love “Spotlight: On The Ground Floor With Yarden Garden


change creator

Tell us about the Ditch The Plastic Initiative and what it means to you.

“A lot of people don’t realize that 80% of plastic pollution enters the ocean from land.”

Our Ditch The Plastic initiative is an integral part of the of why fitppl was created, it’s all about action and awareness. There are too many people littering and not enough picking up, we want to shift this trend and influence individuals to make an impact in their everyday lives. If you see plastic or trash litter, pick it up and dispose of it properly.

This is really what put the idea into overdrive. I didn’t come from a background in any kind of environmental studies or influence. I just saw the plastic pollution issue first hand in Thailand back in 2013 and literally thought to myself, “This is f*cked up and I have to do something about it.” The challenge was how to get people behind a daunting issue, the facts are real and can be discouraging.

There’s an estimated 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile in our oceans, and by 2050 we’re estimated to have more plastic than fish in our oceans. Plastic production is set to double in the next 20 years and we’re dumping a garbage truck worth of plastic in our oceans every 60 seconds.

This is where the problem lies, when plastic makes its way to our oceans, it causes havoc for sea-life, and eventually human health. This plastic doesn’t magically go away, it can take up to an estimated 1000 years to decompose.

So the initiative is about action and awareness. I wanted to weave the initiative into the brand in a way that empowered people to support our purpose. Consumers have immense power with their spending. Where you spend and invest your money is a powerful way of voting each day to support a healthy you, and planet. So each purchase supports our mission to reduce plastic pollution through our Active Cleanups and forward-thinking products.

Our Active Cleanups combine the active lifestyle of fitppl and our company mission, by hosting free community workouts with an organized plastic cleanup afterwards. These are free for anyone to join and as the company grows, so do the cleanups, our goal is to host all over the U.S. and eventually the world. We also drastically reduce plastic packaging and eliminate plastic scoops. We did this by using kraft paper stand-up pouches and reusable wooden scoops included inside. All future products will honor this initiative. Our Ditch The Plastic initiative is an integral part of the of why fitppl was created. Our branding, messaging, products, and cleanups all tie together to allow customers to get involved in numerous ways.

We’re loving the organic clothing. What ethical fabrics are you using in crafting your fitppl tops?

We use organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles. They’re also made in California using low-impact dyes, and water-based screen printing. A lot of people are unaware that the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter of freshwater resources on the planet, behind the oil industry. A quarter of the chemicals produced in the world are used in textiles. People wanted apparel, but we couldn’t promote this mission, then cut corners when making products outside of our core focus.

What’s the fitppl collective about and how does someone become a member?

Most brands in the supplement space have ambassadors, which is commonly a person, celebrity, or athlete with a large social following selling their products for an incentive. What we’re doing with the collective is featuring people who are creating real change in their communities towards our mission. Activist, environmentalist, and community leaders actually doing positive things and making a real impact. We don’t care about followers or likes, we care about impact. We recently launched this and are looking for people to feature, you can go to fitppl.com/collective/ to apply.

If their were a few tips you could give to someone who wants to create a more healthier lifestyle for themselves, how would you tell them to start what are the most important first steps to take.

There is a lot of information, diets, and fads floating around. Simplicity is the best way to start. A good starting point is to eat 5 times a day. Eat mostly plants. An ideal day of eating should include breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and dinner. This will help keep your metabolism in check and curb over eating. There are calculations you can use with your weight and height for target calories.

When you buy food products, the less ingredients, the better. You should be able to count them on your hands. If you have to pull out your phone to google ingredients, you may want to pass.

[Related] If you’re liking this than you’ll probably love “Spotlight: On The Ground Floor With Yarden Garden