Ringling Bros to End Live Elephant Show

Wow! What a win for elephants & for all those who boycotted, protested, petitioned, and spoke out against the cruel and abusive treatment of elephants at the circus. Ringling Bros is expected to end their elephant shows by 2018, but what happens then?

 

While we are thrilled that the elephant acts are ending, it brings up an interesting question: Will people have as much exposure to elephants? For many people, their love of elephants stemmed from a childhood experience at the circus. Many kids take field trips to the circus in school, not as a fun activity, but as a type of cultural exposure.

 

After time, will people fail to recognize the majesty of the elephant?

 

Probably not – thanks to the good ole internet.

 

Luckily, elephants will no longer be subjected to cruel circus practices. Now… to work on the poaching and ivory trade….

 

Baby elephant & mom

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Family Vacation – The GRAND Canyon (part 2)

By Megan Vick

 

It’s hard to believe that 3 days in the Grand Canyon warrants 2 full posts, but it’s true! There is so much to see and do – no matter where you turn, it’s a new view with new colors depending on where the sun hits the canyon. In addition to spending a day hiking** around the canyon’s rim, we also managed to fit in a jeep tour and a helicopter tour. By the way, there are a ton of pics in the post, so KEEP SCROLLING!

**By hiking, I mean sticking to the mostly-paved pathway which winds itself a breathtaking, yet safe, distance from the rim.

 

Pink Jeep Tours

Remember I mentioned the ill-fated mule ride? We decided to do a Pink Jeep Tour after a recommendation from an awesome friend. He saw Pink Jeep Tours in Sedona when he was on vacation and came back to tell me all about them.

We were able to hop in an open-air Jeep with the whole fam and 2 new friends to see some of the less-traveled areas of the Grand Canyon. I have no idea where we were (maybe the east side of the south rim…) but it was absolutely gorgeous! Mike, our driver, was so much fun, so knowledgeable, and even let us gallivant a little longer than usual. He also indulged my quest to find elk – and we found 2!

If you ever have the chance to do a Pink Jeep Tour – whether it’s at the Grand Canyon, Vegas, or Sedona, it is well worth it. Consider this my verified recommendation.

 

 

jeep

Matt & me in front of the Pink Jeep. The whole family was there, but there wasn’t a good picture of all of us.

 

 

boy elk

A young male elk – I stalked him for about 20 minutes to get this shot. He was very nice about it.

 

 

lady elk

A young female elk. She was kickin it in the brush by the restroom… just loving life.

 

 

Mike

Mike, our friendly driver!

 

 

 

 

Maverick Helicopter Tours

After another recommendation, we took a chance (an expensive chance) on a morning helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon. Bennett, our delightful pilot, played awesome music (Def Leppard, anyone?) and told us some incredible facts about the canyon. We opted for the earliest tour they offer because we were told that once the sun comes up, the canyon can get hazy which doesn’t make for the best views or pictures. With about 5 minutes left in the flight, the sky got hazy and we could no longer see the mountains in Flagstaff (which is really far away!).

We looked at a lot of helicopter tour companies, but Maverick got some of the best reviews and came personally recommended. Now, I’m personally recommending it to you!

 

The group!

The group!

 

Colorado River

Colorado River

 

heli 2

 

Bennett, our pilot, with everyone!

Bennett, our pilot, with everyone!

 

Can You Save the Butterflies?

By Megan Vick

 

For most people, butterflies hold a special place in our hearts as a symbol of beauty and freedom. Many children learn about Monarch butterflies in school because of their beautiful and epic migration patterns. Today, the Monarch population is declining at a dramatic rate. Many studies over the past 3 years indicate that the increased use of GM crops are linked to the decline of Monarchs. 

 

Monarch on Pink Zinnia

 

The most notable thing about GM crops is that they are touted as being “Roundup Ready.” Roundup is a herbicide produced by Monsanto which can be sprayed onto crops without damaging them, but it kills any weeds and unwanted plants around the crops. A common weed in many cornfields is milkweed, which just so happens to be the plant of choice for Monarch butterflies. The Monarchs lay eggs on milkweed plants because it provides the baby butterflies with a large plant to eat and then cocoon safely during the metamorphosis process. With more and more GM crops over the years, there has been a massive decline in milkweed plants leaving Monarchs to either lay their eggs elsewhere, or continue to prefer the milkweed plant only to have it killed in the crop-spraying process.

 

 

There are several ways you can get involved and help, but for most people, you can do 2 things: buy organic food (especially corn) and plant milkweed in your yard! When you buy organic food, you’re not only supporting a healthier lifestyle for your family by not ingesting pesticides and GMOs, but you’re also voting with your dollars. Each time you choose organic over conventionally grown food, you’re making a stand against GM crops and an industry that is shutting out family farms across the globe.

 

 

Butterfly Garden

In addition to buying organic, you can get milkweed seeds and plant a butterfly garden to help attract these beautiful creatures and encourage them to lay eggs on your plants. Butterflies are amazingly resilient. They only need a little help from us to restore their population while we continue to admire their beauty.

 

 

Make sure you include some butterfly friendly plants for your spring garden!  

 

 

Namaste!

 

Living in a Labeled World

By Megan Vick

 

Today, everything has a label. Everything, people included, is becoming so specific about what something is and what it isn’t, that we are running the risk of not being able to truly enjoy anything.

 

Humans, by nature, seem to be contradictory creatures when it comes to labels. If you say one thing and do another, that’s okay. We’re not here to judge you. Just remember to always be yourself and do what you feel is right. Societal expectations almost demand to fit into a category, so we keep coming up with categories as if these will somehow define ourselves and our neighbors.

 

Quit worrying about if “fit” the category of vegan/locavore/anti-GMO/fashion-savvy/healthy/out & proud – whatever. You are who you are and there is a place for everyone in this world.

 

Namaste.

Why We Don’t Use Palm Oil

By Megan Vick

 

At the South Durham Farmers Market, we met a wonderful woman who used to live in Borneo. She was so thrilled to learn we don’t use palm oil in any of our products, particularly our soap.

 

Palm oil has been used for many years in nearly everything for both food and cosmetic use. It’s solid at room temperature, which makes it ideal for thickening and hardening products. It’s frequently found in granola bars, candy, and packaged food items as well as soaps, lotions, and other personal care items.

 

Palm Fruit Plantation

Palm Fruit Plantation

 

The problem with palm oil is not with the oil itself, but with the destruction of the environment that comes with the harvesting of the trees. Orangutans, an endangered species, live in the rain forests of Borneo and Southeast Asia. They are particularly affected by any deforestation in the region. In Indonesian,  “orangutan” means “Person of the Jungle” and these amazing creatures share 97% of DNA with humans. It’s important to say no to palm oil (link) to help protect the environment and the species.

 

In Southeast Asia, conservation is not on the mind of many like it is in America. Orangutans are thought of as pests and are casually run over with logging trucks or shot on plantations. Plantation workers also burn vast areas of land to clear it for new growth. Many believe slow-moving Orangutans cannot get out of the path quickly enough and are burned to death.

 

Because of this information, we are 100% committed to the Orangutans and we will never use Palm Oil in our products. Deforestation is an ongoing problem and there are many alternatives to Palm Oil in both food and personal care products.

 

Orangutan & baby

 

There are new and ongoing developments with sustainable palm oil. This oil is harvested responsibly and any product made with sustainable palm oil should bear a logo (find US logos, etc). Keep in mind that a very small percentage of palm oil is sustainably grown and harvested. In some cases, it’s also possible to mix certified sustainable palm with non-certified (or non-sustainable) palm and still make the claim. Food products labeled with the term “vegetable fat” may also contain palm oil. Be sure to check with the manufacturer if you are concerned.

 

With the increasing destruction of rain forests and of species around the world, we have successfully found alternatives to many cruel or questionable ingredients currently used. We’re proud to be a Palm-Free, truly vegan company and you can be sure no animals were harmed in the creation of our products.

 

Check out the World Wildlife Fund for more information on what you can do to help Orangutans.

 

Namaste

How Fair Trade Coffee Helps Save the Elephants

By Megan Vick

 

You may have recently seen excerpts from Yao Ming’s tour in Africa for WildAid.  He went to several areas of Africa to see first-hand what illegal poaching is doing to our rare wildlife. Not only did he see what the rhino-horn trade does, he saw the toll it takes on the elephant population for the illegal ivory trade. As cruel and horrible as these actions against animals are, there is something you can do to help!

Yao Ming baby elephant

Why are Elephants Being Killed?

The short and simple answer is- for ivory. Although the trade of ivory was essentially banned in 1989, ivory is still a hot commodity in China and other parts of Asia as a way of designating status and wealth. Now, as China’s middle class has more discretionary income, ivory is highly sought after. In Beijing, ivory is said to be around $1,000 per pound. Elephant poaching is so severe, many wildlife experts fear for the survival of the species.

 

How is Coffee Going to Help?

What a great question! Short of throwing boiling hot coffee on to elephant poachers, it doesn’t seem that coffee is a likely accomplice in the protection of elephants. But it is! By purchasing fair trade coffee, you can help ensure the protection of the environment. One of the values of the Fair Trade Federation is to ensure their business practices are “cultivating environmental stewardship.” All decisions are made with the environment in mind and members of the FTF actively engage in sustainable practices.

Since coffee is an important crop in Africa, the farms can often encroach on elephant habitats, leaving them less room to roam, and avoid poachers. Buying certified fair trade coffee helps small farmers and co-ops make money fairly, supports their local economy, and encourages environment and animal protection and conservation.

 

What Can I Do?

Of course, you shouldn’t buy ivory. Ever. There are also many conservation organizations if you want to get involved. You can also boycott organizations using elephants, like circuses or fairs, or boycott zoos that don’t give elephants sufficient space.

One of the easiest things to do is to buy coffee with the Fair Trade Federation or Fair Trade USA logos on it. Of course, I encourage you to buy as many fair trade products as possible, but coffee seems reasonable enough. If you don’t drink coffee, share this with your friends who do! If no one you know drinks coffee, make sure you try our Vanilla Coffee Face Scrub, made with organic and fair trade coffee.

 

Elephant

Shorganics’ All-Season Gift Guide!

Christmas • Kwanzaa • Hanukkah • Eid • Rohatsu • Yule • Valentine’s • Mother’s Day • Father’s Day • Grandparents Day • Wedding/Anniversary • Wedding Favors • Birthdays • Sympathy • Just Because

 

If you’ve been looking for some great gift ideas, look no further. We’ve compiled a big list of products which can be gifted all year! Whether it’s a birthday, Valentine’s holiday, or just because, we’ve found a gift for you to give! We’ll keep updating the page as we find more great gifts!

 

Cooking/Drinking

Crate & Barrel 10 Piece Glass Nesting Bowls

10pc Nesting Bowls

 

We love Crate & Barrel for a number of reasons, but mostly it’s because you can get such great glass cookware! These awesome glass nesting bowls are perfect for the baker in your life and they are such a space saver. Not to mention, they are both dishwasher and microwave safe.

 

 

Crate & Barrel Glass Storage Containers

Again, Crate & Barrel has amazing prices on glassware. These storage containers are amazing because (as the website describes) they can go from oven to table to freezer. That’s handy! Now you don’t have to do the extra dishes of washing the cookware and washing the containers from the freezer. These containers come with silicone lids and are dishwasher, freezer, and oven safe (up to 425 degrees F).

 

Crate & Barrel Weck Canning Jars

These canning jars are amazing. Because they are gently tapered, the shape is easier to fill and to clean. Glass lids remove the risk of rust and also provide an easy way to ensure the sealing gasket is working and intact. Here’s the best part: microwave, dishwasher, and freezer safe- and stackable!

 

Wine of the Month

While “of the month” clubs may not be popular with everyone, what wine lover wouldn’t love this gift!? Each month, the recipient gets a surprise by getting a bottle of organic, vegan wine! Worried about the taste? Don’t be. It’s not hard to veganize wine and organic grapes taste infinitely better than conventionally grown grapes. It’s a win-win for everyone!

 

Dharma Glass Straw

Glass straw

 

You might be thinking that a glass straw is a weird gift to give, but if you know a smoothie or juice lover, this is the perfect gift! Straws, typically, are made of plastic and are disposed of after one use. Glass straws are eco-friendly because they can be washed and used again and again!

 

 

 

Eco-Water Bottles

As the need for fresh, accessible water increases worldwide, more people are switching to reusable bottles and bottles with filters to get away from the disposable plastic bottles. We’ve picked out top three bottles and they all make great gifts!

 

Klean Kanteen: Our friends at Discount Filter Store have these for a great price. Made of stainless steel and BPA free plastic, the Klean Kanteen can be used over and over again. It’s also dishwasher safe for the easiest cleaning you can find.

Vapur Snowflake

 

Vapur: The Anti-Bottle: The Vapur bottle is about the coolest water-related product out there. It’s a “flexible, reusable, hand-held hydration product.” Made in the USA of BPA-free plastic, this anti-bottle is durable, freezable, and dishwasher safe. Anyone who carries a water bottle around will love this!

 

Bobble: The Bobble is a neat twist on a reusable filtered water bottle. With a cute, curvy design, and multiple color accents to choose from, this bottle is for the stylish water lovers. It’s also a great price, with the largest size bobble (34oz) coming in at just $12.99.

 

For the Home

Shorganics

Shorganics

 

Did you really think we would create this amazing gift guide and not toot our horns? You know us, you love us, so gift our soy candles and reed diffusers to those special people in your life. With a variety of scents, we’ve got what you need for your friends, family, and coworkers.

 

 

Coyuchi

Coyuchi is a bed, bath, and home company specializing in organic goodies. They have everything you’d love to give including organic sheets, towels, robes and pajamas, and nursery linens for the baby. Whether you’re going to a wedding, baby shower, or just treating yourself, we know you’ll fall in love with Coyuchi!

 

Gaiam

Gaiam is the go-to for organic and eco-friendly products for the home. They have everything from organic bedding collections to eco-friendly laundry products to organic cotton yoga wear to a table top water distiller. Most of your eco-friendly shopping could easily be completed at Gaiam!

 

Clothing/Accessories

Vaute CoutureVC Vegan Coat

Our friends over at Vaute Couture are inspiring. With a line of shirts and coats which are completely cruelty free, you can feel great being fashionable.  All clothing items are produced using no animal products and no sweatshops. Many items are also produced in America. Vaute has developed a cult following and several items have been featured on TV and are frequently worn by celebrities.

 

The Vegan Collection

The Vegan Collection has everything you need from wallets to belts to clothing. Our favorite part about The Vegan Collection is the great belts they have for men. Not to mention 25% of all profits are donated to animal advocacy organizations. What’s not to love!

 

Vegan Chic

We love Vegan Chic because they are a great 1 stop shop for vegan shoes and handbags. They do the work for you when searching for shoes and each pair is guaranteed to be free of wool, silk, leather, and suede. This may seem extreme to you, but there are many alternatives when creating shoes, so you’ll see brands you recognize on this website. See, veganism isn’t too scary.

 

Alternative Outfitters

Alternative Outfitters is a cool vegan boutique in Pasadena, CA (outside of LA). They have quite a range of product s for guys and girls as well as gift cards. They work extremely hard to ensure every product is cruelty free and manufactured under fair labor conditions. They’re open to questions, so don’t hesitate to contact them!

 

The Ethical Man

The name says it all. The Ethical Man is a men’s online store featuring fashion and grooming items that are of the highest quality. Everything they sell is vegan, manly, and eco-friendly.  They even have a style tips section as well as a section featuring real-life ethical men. If you’re looking for the vegan man in your life, stop by this store!

 

Donation/Adoption Gifts

World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a well-known animal conservation organization. They have programs for dozens of species for you to choose. You can symbolically adopt an animal and based on your adoption amount, you get a gift like an adoption certificate or a small stuffed animal. If you think the recipient would like a simple donation in his or her name, you can choose to maximize your donation by not receiving a gift in return. Whichever you choose, you’re giving a great gift to people and to animals.

 

Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd is a marine conservation organization most known for the hit TV show Whale Wars. Not only do they work to end whale killing initiatives in Japan and the Faeroe Islands, but they also have volunteers working globally to protect seals from slaughter in Canada, and the killing of dolphins in Taiji, Japan (setting of the documentary The Cove). With many more projects to help the animals, Sea Shepherd has a plethora of ways to donate.

 

Farm Sanctuary

Farm Sanctuary's BenFarm Sanctuary is a great organization which rescues farm animals (cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens) from horrible conditions at factory farms and gives them freedom to roam on acres of grass, roll in soft hay, and bask in sunshine. With two locations (one in California and one in upstate New York), donations are always appreciated to take care of animals many people know as food.

 

Because there are hundreds of organizations for the protection of animals, check out a large list here. Of course, just because we’ve listed animal organizations doesn’t mean other non-profits wouldn’t make our list! Donating is a great gift, so choose an organization that is near and dear to your heart.

 

Miscellaneous

VegNews Magazine Subscription

If you have a vegetarian or vegan in your life, VegNews Magazine makes a great gift. It’s got great news, information, products, and reviews for this specific community and at $20 for a year subscription, you can’t go wrong. To be even more eco-friendly, give the gift of a digital subscription sent right to someone’s inbox! Just be sure to let them know first so they don’t think it’s spam!

 

Seeds of LifeSoL Magnolia Tree

Seeds of Life is a unique company specializing in sending seedlings or trees as gifts. Whether you want to give tree seedlings as gifts for wedding or corporate favors, or you’d like to send a commemorative tree in honor of someone who has passed, Seeds of Life has some truly original ideas. We’re big fans of the Enduring Oak Tree or Olive Tree as a gift for a housewarming, wedding, or anniversary!

 

Kitty Grass

You might be thinking this is the weirdest gift on the list, but if you know a cat lover, think again. This organic cat grass from the Humane Society is excellent for pet owners (dogs eat grass too)! It helps with their digestion. Instead of Fluffy eating pesticide-laden grass from outside, bring the outside indoors. This also makes a great gift ideas because many cats enjoy nibbling on house plants, which often times are toxic!