Polar Society

If you love Polar Bears, you may want to check out the Polar Society.

Polar Society is an apparel company founded by Geovana Flores and Joanne Wong. When they first started, in 2008, the two conducted research and discovered that the polar bear was listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) specifically because of the projected effects of climate change on their habitat. As you may recall in our earlier articles, there is significant precedent that climate change is real and environmental stewardship is a necessity.

“There needs to be a reduction of gas emissions in order to prevent the declines in polar bear population.”

—Geovana Flores & Joanne Wong of the Polar Society

Polar Society’s apparel brand is “not only fashion forward[,] but provides a means to improve the current natural habitat for polar bears and their preservation.” With every purchase, Polar Society donates a part of their profit or proceeds to organizations that “support polar bear conversation and habitat preservation.” Clearly, both Geovana Flores and Joanne Wong are inspired about how to be activists in a consumer-based economy. They are inspired, simply, by both preservation of the polar bears as climate change worsens and are concerned about the future generation.

Success for the duo is a work in progress. Each time the company is able to donate part of their profits to Polar Bears International is something they consider a success. In January 2019, the company donated $300 to the cause! This is fantastic! Further, the love and positive optimism they have received from customers or with their brand ambassadors is what helps them keep their focus, according to the owners.

Parting Thoughts

When asked what are a few things that everyone should know, they said… eat less meat, use energy efficient light bulbs, turn off electric devices when you’re not using them, walk, ride bicycles or take public transportation whenever possible. Not only are there immense benefits to you health, but these simple ideas have benefits psychologically too! So, be sure to get out there and save the world with one small decision at a time!

If you want to learn more, check out their website or follow them on Instagram at @polarsociety!

Life as an EcoFellow: Morgan and Natasha

The Center for EcoTechnology (CET) is way ahead of its time. 

In the last three short years — from 2016 to 2019 — of its 40 year establishment, the Center for EcoTechnology has made a massive impact on consumer practices. CET is projected to help approximately 95,000 people and businesses in three ways. Firstly, CET is on track to reduce carbon emissions by 391,000 metric tons. This is the equivalent of taking 85,000 cars off the road for one year! Secondly, CET has helped to keep 80,000 tons of waste out of landfills. Thirdly, CET has saved the equivalent energy of powering 35,000 homes for a year. But, best yet, they have saved $70 million (that’s right million!) in lifetime savings for both individuals and businesses by “going green”.

Change-Agents Combating Climate Change.

This non-profit organization helps both individuals and businesses to “go green” by reducing energy and waste consumption. Their website has a fantastic step-by-step guidance system that discusses renewable energy incentives that are available at the local, state, and federal levels. Often these local, state, and federal initiatives work with Solar Access and are funded by both the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Department of Energy Resources.

These three organizations offer credibility to the Center for EcoTechnology’s mission. Between qualification, certification, and other forms of quality controls, CET clients are assured that “going green” can be profitable for both firms and individuals. Included in profitability metrics is also the inherent good generated by thoughtful, conscientious consumerism. In terms of the financial breakdown, the Federal government provides a 30% solar tax credit and Massachusetts also provides a 10% solar tax credit. These type of sensible policies are just one of many reasons why the solar industry is growing so rapidly!

Green Practices Galore!

Not only does CET focus heavily on waste reduction, but they also provide assistance on reduction guidance and how to optimize food donations, trash collections, which construction and demolition materials to use, and other topics on waste. Just like a for-profit organization that provides business to business (B2B) services, the non-profit matches people and businesses with recycling and redemption facilities. The Center for EcoTechnology truly maximizes ways to make recycling, reusing, and waste reducing easy. In Massachusetts, they rely on a partnership with RecyclingWorks to get the job done.

We at Counter Current love to write about the environment. Even more fun than writing about the environment is the ability to feature good people who are passionate about an environmentally-focused cause. Therefore, it was an absolute no-brainer getting the chance to interview a couple of recent college graduates, Morgan Laner and Natasha Nurjadin, who have delved deep in CET’s mission through their 11 month EcoFellowship Program

Morgan Laner

Morgan loves trash! While studying at Rollins College in Environmental Studies, she made the leap to study abroad her sophomore year in Australia. This decision is what sparked her passion about waste. While she was in Australia, Morgan attended a lecture. When she walked in and sat down, she initially thought it was just going to be like anything else — just a lecture. However, this one was different. The lecturer was enthusiastic about the material and discussed why the concepts of “zero waste” and “voluntary simplicity” matter in our society. Morgan recalled that it was at this moment when it all clicked. When Morgan returned to Rollins College, she increased her focus and became heavily involved in sustainability programs on campus. In particular, she focused her energies on reducing waste, increasing recycling practices, and she created the “plastic bag ban” at school.

Not only is Morgan an EcoFellow who focuses on Program Operations, but she also enjoys the challenge. Working at a nonprofit, the challenge she encountered was how to sell a free service. When she would cold call individuals, firms, and partake in other forms of outreach, she noticed most people aren’t used to hearing about free products. Her second love is crafting. In the EcoBuilding Bargains store, Morgan has demonstrated how waste can be diverted from landfills in creative and eco-friendly ways.

Another experience Morgan particularly enjoyed during her EcoFellowship was the opportunity to grow professionally. Such opportunities included shadowing other members of the CET team, talking with experts in fields she was interested in learning more about, and participating in a Career Day organized specifically for her and the other EcoFellows. For Morgan, she knows she wants to stay in the environmental sector and share her passion for waste reduction with others, so this opportunity was key toward reaching her future goals.

Natasha Nurjadin

Over the last 6 months, Natasha’s concern for the environment has really flourished! She credits the Center for EcoTechnology’s EcoFellowship Program as a key influence in developing her concern. Before her EcoFellowship, Natasha studied Earth & Environmental Science and History at Wesleyan University and was involved in the University Sustainability Office, accidentally. Her intent was to work in the Administration Office, but Natasha quickly shifted gears towards sustainability when a spot opened up.

Upon becoming an EcoFellow, Natasha found herself on the “Lifestyle Talk Shows” on Mass Appeal TV every Thursday morning. On the local station, Natasha had a platform to share her ideas with 1,000s of viewers. This platform exposed Natasha to become more comfortable with advocacy and public speaking. However, Natasha is still committed to finding a quantitative way through data management to provide an eco-friendly perspective to individual consumers and firms!

Natasha’s involvement on Building Science and Solar Access has led her to combining several atypical skills. In particular, she has learned how to incorporate urban planning with energy efficiency — not a practice most recent college graduates are familiar with! In the future, Natasha plans to continue her education in graduate school through an environmental program ranging from sustainability to urban planning. Her interests are expansive, but mesh together nicely!

In just half a year, these amazing women have done so much for the environment!

If you liked reading about Morgan and Natasha and want to meet more people like them, check out CET’s website! Further, if you want to be like Morgan or Natasha, then mark your calendars! The EcoFellowship Program Application is open and available until February 17. Follow them also on Twitter, @CETOnline!

JD Slajchert

Engineer of Words. Division 1 Student-Athlete. Author.

Grab a pencil and a sheet of paper. Ready? Write down JD Slajchert. You’ll want to remember his name. Although JD is just 23 years old, he already is a published author. MoonFlower, his debut novel, has done extremely well — especially, as a first time author. To elaborate, on Amazon the book has only earned “5 Star Reviews” from 16 different Amazon members and has two fantastic editorial reviews. Further, what’s very unique about JD’s writing process is how few people knew about the book before it was published.

“I wanted to keep the writing of my first book a secret because I was afraid of what people might think. To be a full time student and a college basketball player while writing a novel is a pretty strange combination, to say the least. So, rather than trying to sound high and mighty about my routine, I kept it all to myself.” — JD

For those who have not read the book, our writing staff would highly encourage it. MoonFlower is a great story because it captures two of the most powerful emotions humans can experience — love and loss. Inspired by true events, JD expertly navigates the trenches of heartbreak warfare by allowing the reader the chance to witness whimsical love. As the story unfolds, the reader is introduced to difficult, real-world concepts like how to be a co-parent to a chronically ill sister and more. While many of the reviews on Amazon for the book left the reader in tears, the love JD shares in the story is unquestionably real.

Q: In your own words, who are you and what motivates you in life? — Ryan

A: I am someone that focuses on the little details. In my opinion helping someone or doing the right thing doesn't have to be some grand gesture, so I strive to live by that. It's the small things that excite me which is why I wanted to become a writer. The loss of my best friend at the age of ten years old motivates me everyday. I know that he had dreams and goals, so it is up to me to not only pursue my dreams for myself, but also for Luc Bodden. — JD

When JD was only ten years old, his best friend died. Luc Bodden passed away from sickle cell disease. The book is just one of the ways that JD honors the life of his former best friend. Currently, he serves as the Director of Relationship Development on the Luc Strong Foundation. The Luc Strong Foundation was established by Luc Bodden’s parents to help alleviate the financial hardships of families. In particular, the foundation focuses on reducing costs for children with sickle cell disease who are undergoing a bone marrow transplant process.

Tangentially, in life, we have all crossed paths with individuals who say something and do something else. With JD, he was never like that. For him, writing is a method to capture emotions, thoughts, and even moments in a snapshot of time. Our guess is, if you ever were to praise JD for the work he has done to honor Luc Bodden’s memory, he would either sheepishly say thanks and redirect the conversation or politely dismiss the gratitude by mentioning that there is much more work that needs to be done.

Environmental Stewardship & Disaster Relief

When considering how to balance the concepts of environmental stewardship and disaster relief for the Woolsey fire, JD had several great thoughts. According to him, “[success] in my opinion for our disaster relief is coincidentally the same as success with our campaign for the book. If we helped one person then it was worth it.“

“If one person read my book and it helped them through a tough time or showed them to follow their dreams then it was all worth it. If our disaster relief helps one person bounce back who lost their home in the fire then I'm more than happy with our effort.” — JD

Further on the topic of environmental stewardship is the idea of waste. Personally, as a writer, JD has not experienced too much waste in the industry. Generally, all forms of communications are done electronically and this reduces the need for paper. His book is even available on the Kindle which is encouraging. Despite the importance of environmental stewardship, JD is primarily focusing on rehabilitation as it relates to disaster relief.

“The protection and conservation of our environment is the most important political topic for our country. No other topic matters if we don't have a planet to execute these orders on and if we continue to waste and pollute our environment then we will have irreversible consequences. We have to do a better job.” — JD

Philanthropy: The Woolsey Fire & Teresa Alaniz

Until March 3rd, 100% of the book sales from Moonflower will be donated to the victims of the Woolsey Fire. So if you want to buy a copy of the book, JD encourages reader to buy prior to the deadline. Here is the Amazon link, if you are interested!

Concurrently, JD is attempting to raise $20,000 for a little girl named Teresa Alaniz. In the last week, JD has already managed to raise $4,860 to help Teresa. For those who are unfamiliar, Teresa suffers from a multitude of issues. Several include: “a lack of proper facial development, internal structural issues involving the location where her brain sits in her skull, the inability to breathe properly through her nose and mouth due to internal developmental problems, the inability to talk because of missing facial muscles, and trouble with spatial recognition cause by the unusual location of her brain.” If you want to donate or learn more, here is the Go Fund Me link!

Parting Thoughts

When we asked about plans for a second book, JD mentioned that “[only] a select few people are aware of the contents for my second novel and I plan on keeping it that way to protect the creative aspect of creating a compelling story.” Understandably, we’ll just have to read it when it debuts later in 2019!

Generally, when Counter Current features individuals or products on our site, we are doing so for informational purposes only. However, personally, I plan to buy a copy of JD’s book and definitely will donate to Teresa’s GoFundMe. If you like what we write, follow Counter Current on Twitter @CountCurrent, on Instagram at @thecountercurrent, and like our Facebook page! If you like the message JD is promoting, check out his website, follow him on Twitter @JD_Slajchert, and on Instagram @jd_slajchert! Happy Monday!

Katie Nation: Vegan Nation

Be Vegan AND a Foodie!

Why can’t vegan food satisfy those midnight-snack, craving, taste buds?

Meet Katie Nation, a 26 year old professional, who knows how to cook up a storm in the kitchen! Not only does she love good food, but she seeks to share her vegan recipes with her hungry followers. Her hungry followers include those who just begun or haven’t even started their journey with veganism to those who are fully immersed vegans with years of experience. Her content is great which is why she has amassed a strong follower.

“The future is vegan.”

When Counter Current interviewed Katie, she was adamant that veganism is not a cultural shift that will happen over night, but rather a slow transition. However, that transition has started. While most know that processed meats like bacon are not healthy, other types of meat may shock you. Like plain chicken breast? Katie can still recall how shocked she was when she learned more about the meat and dairy industry. Not only were these products not environmentally sustainable, but they were not as healthy as most people had assumed. Despite her past blindness, Katie is convinced that people are starting to catch on as veganism becomes less of a fringe issue and more mainstream. Unfortunately, the gradualness of this ‘enlightenment’ is too slow for her. She wants to help others realize how preconceived notions may not always be correct, especially when it comes to the meat and dairy industries.

“Since the meat and dairy industry does such a good job of masking the true ugliness of it, people don’t see it’s a very cruel industry. Profit rules all — profit to these companies is more important than your health, your safety, the environment, and the lives of innocent animals.”

After Katie made this claim, we did some research and we found that there is truth to her statement. Meat and dairy are linked to various chronic diseases such as inflammation, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and type-two diabetes. In particular, milk has been linked with the onset of dementia, conducted by one study. Further, animal agriculture is the leading cause for climate change, and this needs to be slowed down!

If the apparent negatives outweigh the positives, why do we continue to consume meat and dairy in such large volumes?

Habit patterns. We, as a society, have established cultural norms and whenever norms are established it is harder to shift away from them — even if they are wrong. For example, a majority of people in the 1700s may express slavery is wrong despite partaking in the system. Similarly, whenever a person makes a choice the person must consider the outcomes. Katie is helping us realize the consequences of our actions through sharing vegan recipes. Despite juggling her work in marketing and going back to school to become a nutritionist, she still finds time to live her values. This is a practice we encourage. To her, a successful life and life for her company is one dedicated to those values.

“There is no trophy at the end of the finish line, so you have to focus on what feeds your soul and keeps you going.”

This year she plans to set up a blog website to further share these ideas across the world. So, go support Vegan Nation to help you make eco-conscious choices and eat yummy food! Thanks so much and it was fantastic to have you!

“With just a little knowledge we can make a world of difference…”

Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of veganism, rather an informational interview meant to expose the reader to a different perspective.

Empathy and Laki the Sugar Glider

We are the wildlife generation. Or at least we were.

From National Geographic heroes, like Steven Irwin, to amazing programs on the television, like Blue Planet 2, we grew up surrounded by the beauty of the wild. Whether it was an octopus darting through coral, a hippopotamus submerging underneath water, or a Nile crocodile snapping down on unsuspecting prey — there was absolutely nothing more fascinating on the television.

However, at some point along the way, we stopped watching the shows we once loved. We stopped being as fanatical in our love for nature. We focused instead on our formal education, sports, college acceptance letters, and jobs. As our generation grew up, discussions shifted away from who wanted to be a reporter for National Geographic to who wanted to work as a software engineer at Facebook.

The fact that people have different interests is a good thing. This is how our a market-based economy must function. We must acknowledge that, in our society, people are lucky enough to have the liberty to express self-determination. However, the necessity to be connected to nature and the environment is not conditional. That is, our ecosystem must shift away from being a fringe issue. All life and all things on this planet are merely derivatives of the natural world. Therefore, we must protect universal common goods by realigning our consumption in a consumer-based economy with the natural limitations of our ecosystem. Clearly, everyone is a shareholder in the success and liable for the failures when we think in the context of environmental stewardship.

The Erosion of Empathy

In a consumer-based society, it is easy to become fascinated by material goods and advancements in technology. This type of thinking is not prohibitively bad for the environment, but actually sustainable if business is conducted in an environmentally conscientious manner. Incentives must align with ecological measures of protection. Too often, this does not happen. Unchecked greed has a tendency to circumvent legislative controls and capital incentives to allow for the destruction of our habitable planet. For example, the common talking point by environmentalists is any failure of fracking.

For the very same reasons that make this world so amazing, these are the very same reasons that make this world so terrible. Perhaps the failures we witness are sparked from those of who do not practice empathy. There is a fantastic TED talk titled the “Erosion of Empathy” and the topic was presented by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen who serves as a Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the University of Cambridge. As a cognitive neuroscientist, he breaks down empathy into two categories: cognitive and affective. Cognitive is the recognition of another person’s emotions and the ability to place oneself in another person’s shoes. Affective empathy, Baron-Cohen argues, is the ability to be affected by the recognized emotional experience another human being is experiencing. Or, in other words, it is the necessary factor in explaining human cruelty towards anything.

“Empathy is our most valuable natural resource for conflict resolution.” —Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen

In the video, Baron-Cohen acknowledges that there are three social factors that primarily affect empathy. The factors are the influence of authority, political or religious ideology, and tribalism. Tribalism, in particular, relates to both in-group and out-group relations that perpetuate propaganda for the explicit purpose of dehumanizing the opposition. Later in his talk, Baron-Cohen notes that those who are autistic and those who are psychopathic are mirror opposites. Essentially, those with autism tend to have affective, but not cognitive empathy and the converse is true for psychopaths. This understanding has a caveat, that is, people have varying shades of either or both types of empathy. To support his claims, Baron-Cohen referenced James Blair’s experiment at the Broadmoor hospital, discussed the MOA-A gene, and the impact of fetal testosterone.

How Do We Get It Back?

Naturally, if we assume Baron-Cohen is correct, the best way we can become more skilled practitioners at affective empathy is through targeting the three social factors he mentioned. As people, we have no control over the varying degree of the MOA-A gene we were predisposed to or the fetal testosterone we experienced during embryonic development. Despite the multiple ways to successfully break down social barriers, our team at Counter Current would like to feature a friend who owns a sugar glider. This example of atypical pet ownership is meant to be informative and not persuasive — this is not an analysis on the ethics behind the global wildlife trade rather insight on the marsupial.

Angela Karamanos is the proud mama of a semi-famous, female, sugar glider named Skatoulaki or, Laki, for short. For those who are not versed in Greek, we suggest you ‘Google it’. Angela, better known as Ang, is a 2018 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and played Division 1 Women’s soccer. Following graduation, she became a combat systems officer in the military and considers herself “wild, adventurous, and energetic.”

Q: “What do most people think when you tell/show them Laki?” —Ryan

A: “They say “only you would have a flying squirrel” and then proceed to ask me if she flies. After a minute or 2 they think she’s so cool because she’ll just hang out and jump between people like a little ninja. Then she’ll curl up and they all think she’s so cute.” —Angela

laki.jpeg

While living in Florida, she decided to purchase a sugar glider because they seemed like a lot of fun. According to her, “[they’re] tiny so you can take them anywhere without people knowing and they’re easy to take care of.” For her, compared to a dog or a cat, Laki is a way better fit. During the bonding process, she noticed how skittish sugar gliders can be, so it was awesome when she would “walk up to her cage and [Laki] would realize it’s me” as she “crawls right up my arm into my pocket.” From the description, it’s hard to imagine anything so cute.

However, sugar gliders are nocturnal creatures. In particular, it can be challenging to hear Laki barking at 4:30 AM because she wants to play, but it’s totally worth it because Laki is super loyal. Despite the patience required at the beginning, once Laki became familiar with Angela the nibbling or "crabbing” stopped. She recalled in the interview that there was this “one time I fell asleep with [Laki] in my pocket and when I woke up she wasn’t in my pocket anymore. I had no idea where she went and then I found her in my closet going crazy climbing up and through all my clothes!” Marsupials will climb on anything — or at the very least, try. Angela also mentioned another time she was lying down and Laki pounced right into her face with absolutely no regret. Without a doubt “it was pretty funny.”

An average day with Laki is built around routines. Angela loves to hang out with Laki and tries to as much as possible. In the morning, Laki is let out of her cage and fits snugly into Angela’s pocket. Later in the day, when Angela revisits the cage, she places Laki in to get some uninterrupted sleep. Around 8 or 9 PM, Angela will cut Laki some fresh fruits and veggies, so Laki can eat when she wakes up around 10 PM. From 10 to 11 or 12 PM, there is a strictly enforced playtime before Angela goes to bed. However, every day is different because Laki can be carried anywhere with Angela! Oh, and let’s not forget, that owning a pet has been show, scientifically, to make a person more empathetic.

Parting Thoughts

A huge thanks to Angela Karamanos for the interview! She was such a help and we wish her and Laki all the best. Stay tuned for an article about Laki, Zoboomafoo, and other marsupials that have made a splash in the lives of so many.

Disclaimer: This article is not a critique or an endorsement of the global wildlife trade for exotic animals. To our readers, expect a follow up article to discuss the potential benefits and negative implications of the global wildlife trade.

Kier Mellour: Eco Bikini Girl

Be Glam and Give a Damn.

Kier Mellour is the hottest environmental fashion, beauty, and travel blogger to hit the L.A. scene. Her wildly successful “classy, sassy, over-the-top style” fashionista blog is emblematic of the true Kier Couture image. However, at first glance, many wouldn’t know that Kier Mellour lives a not-so-secret, double life. Just like Christian Bale was the best Batman of our generation, Kier Mellour is unequivocally the best “Eco Bikini Girl” of our generation. She demonstrates on a daily basis that it is possible to both take care of our planet and remain ever-so fashionable. Or, in her words, you can “be glam and give a damn'.

Boy Scouts, Water Taste Test, and An Instagram Friend

Kier’s life — like all great stories — starts in the outskirts of a small town. Growing up as a regular kid in the Pacific Northwest, she learned to foster a great love and respect for nature, animals, and the earth. She credits her father and his former experience as a Boy Scout for nurturing her love for the wild. Whether she was camping in the summer, growing their own food, or reading books inside when it rained, Kier learned what it meant to incorporate sustainable practices into daily life. For example, she would mend clothes and fix toys instead of tossing them or buying new. This lifestyle made her that friend who would talk about how to live an eco-friendly life in a consumer-based society. That’s a good thing. You want to be that friend because environmental causes are not fringe issues, they are universal common goods that impact the lives of everyone.

Q: “After your first photo and beach clean-up, what happened?” —Ryan

A: “I began to talk more about plastic and easy swaps people could make in my stories and I realize that my audience was really interested in hearing more… They started to ask questions and I started to get messages about how much I had inspired them to make changes in their life which just encouraged me further.” —Kier

In 2017, Kier wanted to create more videos for her Youtube channel. The idea was to conduct a blind taste test of water bottles in California. Oddly enough, California was also experiencing a severe drought, even though Kier was buying most of her water bottles from the state. How was the private sector able to sell water that originated from a state that, supposedly, was lacking water sources? After extensive research, she discovered how terrible bottle water was for the environment. She thought about what she learned until one fateful day at the beach. Kier could absolutely not just relax in the sun or lie in the sand, as plastics had washed ashore and were scattered around the formerly, pristine beach. Therefore, she took action. She spent the day cleaning up the beach and at the end, she had her picture taken. Nearly immediately, the photo spread like wildfire and her flame for the environment was ignited even more.

Eco Bikini Girl represents that “women can be intelligent, conscious, and compassionate as well as stylish, sexy, and beautiful.”

Following the first beach clean-up, Kier started to participate in clean-ups once or twice a month. She also began following an Instagram account @CleanOurSeas and quickly became friends with the account manager, Natalie. After several Direct Messages (DM) and with the goal to spread as much awareness as possible, Kier began to write “#CleanOurSeas” on Instagram posts to encourage others to cleanup the environment. Naturally, Natalie loved Kier’s work and featured the post on the @CleanOurSeas account. Unfortunately, a male — unnamed for this article — derisively degraded the purpose of Kier’s actions. He insinuated that she had only participated in these clean-ups for Instagram “likes” and not because she cared for the environment. At that moment, the “Eco Bikini Girl” was born and she hasn’t looked back.

Thoughts on Consumer Behavior and Environmental Stewardship

With respect to consumer behavior, there are two great options that Kier recommends. The first is re-homing products and the second is to buy secondhand. As a consumer-based society, the value of our dollar is important. In fact, we have the ability to vote for the society we want based upon the products we sell. Therefore, it is necessary to practice a certain level of mindfulness when browsing Amazon or shopping in L.A.

“Literally, I’ve posted “free clothes hangers” and had a friend come and pick them up within an hour. There is so much stuff already out there, but you could use this tactic in reverse, as well…”Does anybody have a blow up mattress I could borrow for a week” will not only save you money, but it might reconnect you with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. [Facebook] prohibits you from buying something that you might not need forever.” —Kier on Consumerism

Further, Facebook and other social media platforms are great tools when connecting with others. It’s more than possible and should be encouraged to reach out to friends and family when it comes to products you may need for only a short amount of time. Whether it is borrowing a blow-up mattress or giving away hangers, there is not a need to constantly “buy”. However, thoughtful exchange could revolutionize the way we interact with others by furthering friendships and protecting our planet at the same time.

Thoughts on Defining Success and Environmental Stewardship

Success occurs on an individual level for Kier. Whenever there is a shift in thinking from someone who did not recycle and now they recycle, refuse, reuse, and practice conscious green consumerism — that is a win. She definitely feels successful in proactively reaching out to others, but her greater goal is to curb cigarette waste. Cigarette brands ought to switch to compost-able, natural filters. As many readers may know, cigarette butts are the number one most littered item, so if there was a shift from cigarette firms (either through legislation or profitability metrics) that would be a huge success. The implementation is the difficult part.

Thoughts on Politics and Environmental Stewardship

As a libertarian, Kier often finds herself arguing with both sides and, generally, thinks government should stay out of a person’s life. However, as an environmentalist and as a libertarian that possesses a strong belief in limited government, she is very torn on the best method to decrease nonessential plastics. Taxes on nonessential plastics or incentives in the form of tax credits or subsidies often come to mind — however, she is conflicted.

In Oregon, the cash redemption value machines have had astonishing success — it would be excellent if programs like these could be implemented nationwide. Witnessing the “success of common sense laws” that allow for cashback or discounts help any person on a budget. Further, it keeps plastic, glass, and metal containers in a circular economy for longer without needing to be placed in a landfill or dumped into an ocean. Anecdotally, California could be massively improved by implementing machines that are more visible, in higher frequency, and socially encouraged. However, often times these machines are swarmed with homeless people which typically makes it less than appealing to most people — this is another social problem that ought to be addressed.

“We can’t trust the government to protect us — we need to be the change we see.”

On the flip side, our government is incredibly wasteful — “I don’t think they know anything about how to be sustainable!” If sustainability was a greater focus, recycling and redemption facilities would be more frequent and self-education on the topic would be less necessary. Similar to the idea of including the true environmental cost when taxing a company for using plastic, it is not that rough of a thought to consider plastic as hazardous waste. This term would require companies who produce it to be responsible for disposal and cleanup. This is a realignment of our consumer-based economy, again, to reflect the true environmental costs.

Clearly, any policy change would need bipartisan support. The easiest way to make a change now is to convince others to “vote with their dollar” and not buy plastic. Companies want to be profitable. Companies will realign their strategic vision and operations to what the consumer wants and that’s why the “consumer truly holds the most power”. Changing our actions on a personal level are a lot easier than changing laws that have undercurrent agendas.

Counter Current Parting Thoughts

This article is dedicated to Vivian. Vivian is Kier’s chihuahua who was laid to rest on January 30th. For the last 13 years, Vivian is the one who showed the world that “you can be small and make a huge difference.” Nothing will replace you Vivian and you are forever treasured in the hearts of so many. We love you.

If you liked what you read, be sure to subscribe to Kier’s YouTube channel, follow her Instagram, and pray for Vivian. All links are in the article.

Maddie Charland: Arbonne Consultant

Meet Maddie. She’s an Arbonne Consultant.

Every New Year’s Eve, we tend to make promises we can’t keep. We call them resolutions. Last year, the top three resolutions were related to eating healthier, getting more exercise, and saving more money. Only 64 percent continue with their resolutions past the first month and after six months only 46% are still continuing with their resolutions.

Q: “Why did you want to work for Arbonne? What was the motivation?” —Ryan

A: “Arbonne changed my life. And I know that seems dramatic and all, but this product changed my outlook on living a healthy life, so why in the world would I not want to work with a company that has given me so much? The idea that I have the ability now to change people’s lives for the better through Arbonne motivates me every day. All I could ask for is to have one person experience the happiness and success that I have gotten from Arbonne.” —Maddie

Let’s face it. To say it is hard to go to the gym, diet well, perform at work, be a good friend, and a good family member is an understatement. However, Maddie decided to realign her priorities by incorporating the three goals many of us have into one. When she first heard of Arbonne, it was through a friend in college and she was skeptical. We all have friends who are brand ambassadors and sometimes it turns out to be a scam.

However, she realized that she had put on a couple of unhealthy pounds from traveling around Europe for over 20 days. When she came back to the United States, she realized her usual work-outs weren’t cutting it for her. Her diet was off and she got in touch with that same friend who worked with Arbonne, but she waited four months before taking a leap of faith. Although, they sell nutrition, skin-care, and makeup products, Maddie only has used the nutrition line. Despite the good things she has heard about the skin-care and makeup products, she will not unequivocally vouch for any products she has not tried.

“My philosophy is I can only vouch and stand behind things that I have personally tried and had success with. I can 100% say I have had [success] with Arbonne’s nutrition products. I have seen also hundreds of other women and men who have experienced the same things.”

—Maddie

When our team reached out to Maddie, about covering her for a story, we asked her about the company’s sustainability image and the role of competitors. Essentially, we wanted to know if other weight-loss alternative or fitness products had the same eco-conscientious image they were trying to project. Maddie readily mentioned that she was not necessarily familiar of other products and that it would not be fair to speak on another company’s behalf for a product she has not tried. However, she was happy to speak about Arbonne.

For the last 38 years, Arbonne has been on a mission to honor their core philosophy of “pure, safe, beneficial” products that leave a lighter environmental footprint. The company is, currently, carbon-neutral and working towards a zero-waste goal. The California Office has also achieved their zero waste goal. Further, more than 97% of global facilities are at least 75% of the way towards achieving the zero waste goal. Lastly, Arbonne International is a participant in the UN Global Compact — the most prominent, international governmental organization that focuses on promoting human rights, fair labor practices, anti-corruption measures and environmental sustainability.

However, on a day to day basis, consumers are not always actively thinking about what products have which environmental impacts. Ultimately, for Maddie, she realized that her mission is to help make others feel and look good. She “cannot emphasize enough that I did not join this company for the money, rather I joined because I truly believe in their products and what they stand for as a company.”

Disclaimer: We are not endorsing this product or any others. We just would like to convey information.

If you would like to contact Maddie and ask her questions, she would be more than happy to answer them. She has no interest in pressuring someone into doing something they do not want. Her website is madisoncharland.arbonne.com, her Instagram account is @maddslyfe_, and email is maddsarbonne@gmail.com!

The Rise of the Eco Blogger

Environmental practices are no longer fringe issues.

During the era of Al Gore and before his claims of creating the internet, many environmental activists were decentralized and unable to communicate with each other in the same way that we can do today. Similarly, consumers are learning more about the supply chain structures of companies. This frequent dialogue between firms and consumers has led to the ‘Rise of the Eco Blogger’. While this may sound ominous, we assure you it is not!

“When you tie anything back to revenue most companies will be on board and as marketers, we successfully showed that recycling and reducing trash actually equaled cost savings. As for changing the mentality of others in the company to get on board with recycling the educating piece helped to some degree. The real change began with us stepping up and becoming advocates within the company.”

Cheryl Cross, @theecofriendlymom on Instagram

Below are five Eco bloggers that we would like to highlight and share with our viewership. We chose some of these people based upon impact and others based upon growth potential! Feel free to look them up and we encourage readers to check out their pages.

  1. Sustainability in Style on the web.

  2. Simply Carbon on the web.

  3. @life.in.a.shell on Instagram

  4. Conscious Tay on the web.

  5. @theecofriendlymom on Instagram.

While all of the above are great resources, we would like to briefly highlight #5 on our list. When we talked to Cheryl Cross, she recently began her @theecofriendlymom in 2018. Despite the freshness of her blog, Cheryl more than makes up for it with her passion for the environment. Like so many of our readers, not only does her blog bring her joy, but she also loves to share tips and “bring awareness to causes that are important to [her].”

Without a doubt, she noted, “inspiring and educating others to make or feel empowered to make zero waste changes is what compels me”. When asked further about her time since college to now, she further explained how awareness for single-use issues has re-surged and companies are now focusing on more sustainable, renewable practices. This gives her hope to believe we could make significant strides in eliminating single-use products. For example, Anheuser-Busch released their sustainable 2025 developmental goals and their presence will encourage others to do the same.

We hope you have a great Sunday and be sure to check back in on our articles! Go follow each of the above accounts and read more!

RecyProcity: Get Paid to Recycle

RecyProcity, a New York based firm, will pay you to recycle.

Yes, you read that right. RecyProcity is one-of-a-kind and absolutely revolutionary. Founded by Chris and Gennine Hauser in Walden, New York, this husband and wife duo are passionate about recycling. As avid bottle and can redeemers, they witnessed how difficult it was to recycle. Whether it was the long lines, broken machines or some other trite issue, it was an overall frustrating experience. However, they were still amazed at the money they had saved by recycling.

To them, recycling was common sense. However, they couldn’t understand why only a small percentage of people recycle. Well, in addition to the issues above, they uncovered that an inaccurate social stigma existed around redeeming recyclable materials like bottles and cans. Essentially, they found many believed it “isn’t worth the time and effort”. However, with the extra money in their wallets, they knew this wasn’t true and felt an obligation to get every individual imaginable to participate in the redemption process.

Over the next two years, they did loads of research. Ultimately, they concluded that motivation to separate recyclables stemmed from a reward. The Hauser family decided to take matters into their own hands by aligning the financial incentives with the work. This effort was mean to streamline and improve an inefficient process. This inspired them to create RecyProcity.

“Every school in bottle redemption states can raise THOUSANDS of dollars a year by using RecyProcity. Money for books, field trips, supplies and so much more can be raised, all while teaching our children the importance of caring for the environment.”

While the RecyProcity app will be completed later this spring, functionally, the app does two main things. Firstly, it has a “Drop & Go” function that allows users to drop pre-tallied and labeled bags of recyclable materials at redemption facilities. After the redemption facilities verify and itemize each drop-off, the customers are then paid via direct deposit to a linked account. No machines. No lines. No Waiting. Secondly, an “Exchange” is set-up to allow users to bid on recyclable material or waste with an asking price or a request for a donation. Think about it as the eBay of recyclables. Others on the “Exchange” can then view and negotiate times to pickup the materials and collect the cash from the “Drop & Go” system. Simply put, before anything is thrown away, there is a better chance that recyclables or waste will be re-purposed for a greater social benefit. This saves users of the app both time and money.

In terms of funding, the Hauser family has invested over $250,000 into RecyProcity. They truly believe in the functionality of the app and, honestly, it is hard to not be totally in love with the idea. The duo hired a team of 8 programmers from AppyPie LLC to build the app. With a long list of over 200 redemption and recycling facilities, to include various private sector companies, the will be ready to be front-runners in this emerging market. Within 2 years, RecyProcity will be a household name for those in the multi-billion dollar redemption business. However, their greatest obstacle, they believe, will be the democratization of the industry from the redemption facilities to the hands of the private citizens. They have the “drive and desire to make this happen,” but it is not an easy process — but, it is a worthwhile one.

“We hope to change that and get the households that have never even thought of participating in this… and monetary gain is likely going to do it.”

In conclusion, the demographic that the Hauser family is trying to target are not the “hardcore recyclers” and the “environmental activists” because they will always be proactive when considering environmental implications. Rather, they want to target the average household and show them that their time and efforts are valued.

To learn more, please visit their website by clicking here. Their Twitter account is @apprecyprocity, and their Facebook page is here, and their Instagram is here. We hope you check them out because they will revolutionize this space!

The Eco Shed

The Eco Shed, a store based in England, sells environmentally-friendly household products.

After three months of successful sales in the Trinity Market, a young entrepreneur decided to take his business online. Based out of the fishing city Hull in East Yorkshire, England, Kallum wanted to share his love of the oceans with others. As the son of a fisherman, Kallum’s dad taught him about the importance of oceans from an early age. Coupled with the hit British TV Series, Blue Planet 2, his natural affinity for the environment was nurtured even further. The love imparted to him by his father and cinematographic productions was the basis for his inspiration to start The Eco Shed.

“I was brought up being told to look after the planet, especially the oceans.”

—Kallum

When we were in correspondence, our team asked Kallum how he defines success. To him, he quickly replied that “success to us is spreading the message about looking after the environment to our city and even further”. Clearly, Kallum wants and will make a global impact, but understands that actions start on a local level first. Further, he also believes that this success is achievable, but understands the constraints of only using social media. He has advocated for environmentally-friendly practices at schools, colleges, local groups, and talked on the radio. He is keen on getting the word out and explaining why the oceans matter to him.

Before starting The Eco Shed, Kallum researched what consumers wanted and reflected on his experience as a consumer. To him, he had the greatest issue with plastics — especially single-use plastics. Even more so, so many firms offer alternative products that an individual consumer can purchase that are better aligned with protecting the health of the planet.

Lastly, our team asked him how consumers should be modifying their behavior. How might an individual better respect the oceans? Kallum suggested that firms could provide “warnings on packaging very similar to cigarette warnings. I’ve heard on the grapevine that this may happen, but you never know!” Further, Kallum essentially advocated for having the environmental consequences of using single-use plastics be added into the price of a product. He mentioned firms could “always just cut out single use plastics in their stores and offer the alternatives without the option of single use plastics” for an additional 10 or 20 pence.

Finally, the Counter Current team would like to extend a massive thank you to The Eco Shed for allowing us to conduct our first interview!! We have two other fantastic interviews lined up, so be sure to check back later today and tomorrow!

If you wish to learn more about The Eco Shed, click here! If you wish to follow them on Twitter, they are @ecoshed. If you wish to follow them on Instagram, they are @theecoshed.