Archive for March, 2010

Reef’s Ugandal

We love style, but we love substance even more. To that end, this week we’re highlighting Reef, the popular sandal/flip-flop/slipper manufacturer for beach bums and babes alike. Here’s why we like them. They recently purchased paper beads from displaced women in Uganda to adorn a t-strap leather sandal. The women create these beads from recycled magazines and newspapers and sell them to make money for basic necessities like food, shelter and schooling.

Reef traveled to Uganda and filmed a short video clip of the women making the sandals too.  Check it out:  http://www.reef.com/girls/ugandal.php.

In addition to that feel goodness, the sandal itself is “green.” As mentioned, the beads are made of 100% recycled magazine paper and coated in a water-based lacquer. The leather is chrome-free, and it has a recycled leather wedge. The ‘Ugandal’ will be available for sale at major retailers and specialty boutiques across the country and 1% of the sales will go to the Reef Redemption fund which gives money to organizations like Surf Aid, Surfrider Foundation and Haiti Relief efforts.

So, buy them up and support our talented sisters in Uganda!

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Organically Delicious in Krabi, Thailand

Sarah Ivens, Founding Editor of OK! Magazine in the United States, shares more luxe-eco tips from her jaunt around the Far East. This time, she fills our readers in on the organic aspects of the very first Ritz-Carlton Reserve resort to open in the world.

Phulay Bay in Krabi, Thailand offers complete care with a conscience. The newly opened luxury five star destination took five years to complete because the owner wanted everything to be just right, for the guest and the local community. Architects were told to work around the existing flora and fauna, deep rooted mango trees taking preference over fancy garden designs, while the buildings were built and decorated by homegrown talent. Each room is hand-painted by artists from Chang Mai, who made a pilgrimage down to the Andaman Sea to bring a true Thai flavor.

Important scenes from life in Siam inspire the bedrooms –flirting, eating and dancing. The Thais certainly know how to have a good time with what nature had blessed them with. The bathrooms are not stocked with expensive, imported brands. Local artisans blend shampoos, shower gels and soaps from abundant herbs and flowers, like lemongrass and lavender, and refill delicate pots made in nearby kilns, especially for the hotel. Even the restaurants nurture the local environment rather than destroy it. The kitchens have their own vegetable garden and nursery – everything that is used for cooking or gardening is replenished – and they practice sustainable fishing, only serving at your table local fish caught that day that lives free and richly in the local waters. For a vacation that leaves you feeling like the King of the Jungle without feeling like the earth had paid for your privilege, Phulay Bay is the place.

For more info or reservations, call toll free in the US, 1-800-241-333 or visit:

http://www.ritzcarlton.com

Bicycles, Bicycles, Bicycles!

We can’t resist such a beautiful little face.

There’s an even more beautiful story behind it. Take the ethically-minded shoe and outdoor apparel company, KEEN, and the 88bikes Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to providing bikes to young people in developing countries, and you get these results:  Their 4th completed project with the gift of 300 bikes to orphans and children rescued from human trafficking in Ghana, India, Nepal and Vietnam.

For Project4, 88bikes traveled to orphanages, ashrams, centers and schools sheltering children rescued from human trafficking, delivering bikes at 12 locations in Ghana, India, Nepal and Vietnam. Overall, 300 children were given basic, one-speed, steel-framed bikes that are common to the region and were purchased from local vendors.

“A bike is that magical vessel of freedom and fun, the rare tool that’s as useful as it is enjoyable. For these childrenas all childrena bike provides happiness, freedom and autonomy,” said Dan Austin, founder of 88bikes. “Project4 has been a huge success and I was blown away when 14-year-old Rabina, an orphan in Nepal, began rhapsodizing about the power of bikes to curb global warming, improve health and even help Nepal improve its economy!”

As a KEEN Hybrid.Care partner, 88bikes received funding from KEEN for purchasing bikes and providing tools and bike maintenance training for bicycle recipients.  Hybrid.Care was created in 2004 to support social and environmental organizations that have paved the way for change through community, education and understanding. Since 2004, KEEN has partnered with more than 20 global environmental, conservation and social non-profit organizations, distributing more than $5 million in cash and in-kind donations. Other current partners include American Whitewater, Leave No Trace, The Conservation Alliance, Waterkeeper Alliance and Big City Mountaineers.

How awesome is that? Gives me the chills to see such seemingly small things create such smiles and good fortune.

“Dan’s description of the complete joy on the faces of these heroic children, who have each surmounted such great challenges, is the best partner feedback we could ask for,” says Linda Tom, Marketing Manager at KEEN.

We agree, Linda. That’s why we’ve decided to highlight you. If more companies cared, this world would be a better place. To that end, KEEN makes some great gear for trekking so now you, too, can feel good about your shameless shoe addiction.

About 88Bikes
It doesn’t always take a massive relief organization to tip the scales for joy and sustainability in places where children and young adults are challenged to be their own heroes. 88bikes provides a simple and direct opportunity to make a difference for a young person in the world: buy a child a bike! Project4 was their fourth endowment project. Their next project, VILLAGES, is slated for summer/fall 2010 and will endow between 500-1000 bikes.

www.88bikes.org

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