Sunday, April 27, 2014

The End It Project: stepping out

Inspired by the End It Movement to live a life free of slave-made goods, the End It Project is my journey toward that goal. Each month I post an update on the 27th to commemorate the 27 million slaves in our world today - won't you join me in taking steps to make that number smaller?

Spring has sprung, and it's time to get out those summer shoes! The top pick for most versatile (and adorable!) is Nisolo - a company that employs South American shoe artisans (yes artisans - these shoes are amazing) at a fair wage. They have a nice variety of well-made leather shoes at a reasonable price point, including flats, loafers, and sandals. (UBCers! If you know Taryn Blocker, then you've probably seen her adorable blue Nisolo flats and heard her talk about them :)

If you'd like to try something fun, Sseko sandals are the way to go. The soles are made from recycled tires and leather, and then you can choose from a wide variety of ribbons and add-ons. Since they're just a sole with 5 contact points and a long ribbon, you can retie them in an infinite number of ways - so they're perfect for traveling, since they don't take up much space and if you get a blister from walking too much then you can retie them to avoid rubbing the sore spot. I've worn them to weddings and to the beach --- using the same ribbon. And they're made in Uganda, providing jobs for women to empower them to pursue higher education.

For guys (and girls), Hari Mari flip-flops are not your average flip-flops - they're sturdy, come in lots of wonderful colors, comfortable, ethically made, some of them are recyclable, and proceeds from all of them go to pediatric cancer research. They are made in China, but they personally went to meet the owners and inspect the factory to ensure ethical manufacture (why aren't more people willing to do that?)

And don't forget TOMS --- wait, before you tell me all of the ways that TOMS are terrible, let me go ahead and agree with you. Their original model was flawed, born of a generous heart but an uninformed mind. But it has come to Blake Mycoskie's attention that changes need to be enacted - so TOMS is changing. Beginning in Haiti, they're moving their shoe-making factories to the areas where they give shoes, providing the parents with jobs that they desperately need. By the end of 2015, they plan to have at least a third of their factories moved, with the end goal of having all of them in their giving territories. If this is news to you and/or you just love TOMS and you'd like to join me in a gratitude flashmob to encourage them in the changes their making, just email me at or contact me through Facebook and I'll get you the info you need! I'd love to get a lot of people to write between now and April 29 (One Day Without Shoes) - won't you join in? Letters really do make a difference (seen the back of a Chex box recently?)

But, before you can slip on a pair of sandals, your feet have to be fit to be seen! For an over-all spa-worthy pedicure, head to Lush. They have a mask, a scrub, and several creams that will work wonders on feet that have neglected for all the long, dry Winter. All of their products are ethically produced, and animal-cruelty free, as well.
Klhip is the best brand for nail clippers, and if you like to file, instead, go with a glass file over a metal or disposable one.
Polish, however, is an issue. All that glitters is mica and mica is a high risk for being collected using child and/or slave labor (children as young as three). Since the mining process is somewhat hazardous, many suppliers refuse to allow companies to personally examine their mines and facilities, forcing them to depend on corruptible auditors. Now, Revlon assured me that they personally inspect their supply chain to ensure ethical practices - but another reputable company stopped using mica because they weren't allowed to personally inspect. The alternative is that they're not getting their mica from India (there are other sources, but that's where 60% of it comes from) - but I haven't been able to verify their source. Please don't stop going to get your nails done - boycotts only hurt  the independent salon owners, creating innocent victims. Instead, choose a non-glitter hue, and every time (that's important - every time) you get your nails done or paint them at home, write to the company and tell them which color you chose and why you chose it, why you're not using their glittery options until they start using a synthetic alternative.
Contact page links (see, it's not hard or time consuming - if you have time to paint your nails or get a pedicure, then you also have time to make a difference. Send a message while you wait for the polish to dry!):
China Glaze
Sally Hansen
Creative Nail Design (CND)
Mineral Fusion
(Let me know who I've missed, and I'll add them to the list!)

[shout out to The Mustache in Fayetteville for their awesome displays!]

Accessory postscript! This month, I'm highlighting JOYN. From the weaving to the making to the printing, these pieces are made by people in need of jobs who are fairly compensated for their work. From their website: " order to bring real hope and lasting change to impoverished places, you can’t just swoop in with a rescuer mentality and a bunch of handouts. You have to bring opportunity, to give people the chance and the dignity to pull themselves out of poverty. The artisans in Rajpur could make beautiful textile products, but they lacked markets. They lacked jobs. So the Murrays and their team were determined to start a sustainable business and to employ as many people as they possibly could."

They make a variety of lovely items (I can personally vouch for their bags, clutches, scarves, headbands, and their wonderful TOMS collaboration - above is only a small sample of my own collection), and you can shop through their website, or if you're a Fayetteville native, you can find a selection of their wares at The Mustache and at Mama Carmen's Espresso Cafe.

How will you beautify the feet that bear the news of freedom this summer?

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