being a better world shopper.

I recently bought this handbook, on the recommendation of my friend Carter. I have generally been a conscious shopper, buying organic & fair trade, and avoiding companies that I knew had a bad reputation for human rights violations or environmental irresponsibility, like Nestle & Tyson. But I wanted to be better - to know where my money is going, and to whom.

This book is incredible. It's very easy to use, & gives short examples of reasons why certain companies got their particular grade, and places to research to get more information. I am committed to never supporting any business which has gotten a "D" or an "F" now, and to try to support more of the businesses which have gotten an "A" or a "B." But man, it is difficult. Many of these corporations encompass TONS of different brands, and they don't have to tell us which brands they own.

For example, Procter & Gamble makes over 30 different brands, all of which get either a "D" or an "F" in their respective categories:

Always (Feminine Care) = D
Bounce (Laundry Supplies) = D-
Bounty (Paper Towels & Toilet Paper) = D
Charmin (Paper Towels & Toilet Paper) = D
CoverGirl (Cosmetics) = F
Crest (Dental Care) = D-
Dawn (Cleaning Products) = D-
Febreze (Laundry Supplies) = D-
Folgers (Coffee) = D+
Gillette (Body Care ) = D-
Head & Shoulders (Hair Care) = D-
Herbal Essences (Hair Care) = D-
Iams (Pet Food) = D
Ivory (Soap) = D
Luvs (Baby Care) = D+
Olay (Soap) = D
Old Spice (Body Care) = D-
Oral-B (Dental Care) = D-
Pampers (Baby Care) = D+
Pantene (Hair Care) = D-
Puffs (Paper Towels & Toilet Paper) = D
Secret  (Body Care) = D-
Swiffer (Cleaning Products) = D-
Tampax (Feminine Care) = D
Tide (Laundry Supplies) = D-

They also make Venus, Eukanuba, Mach3, & even PUR water filters. & how many of these different brands do we regularly buy? Sixteen. Yikes. We have a lot of changes to make. It's amazing how much work can still be done when you think you're doing so well.

By the way, Procter & Gamble scores so low because they continue to put unsafe ingredients, like known carcinogens, in their products (they have actually worked to weaken laws about the amounts of toxins in products in Europe); they disregard workers' rights in foreign factories; and they continue unnecessary testing on animals.

For anyone taking notes, there are plenty of responsible alternatives to Procter & Gamble products. By category, the most responsible companies listed by Better World Shopper:

Baby Care: Seventh Generation (which I've seen in Kroger & Target), gDiapers, Aubrey Organics
Body Care: Druide, Preserve, Tom's of Maine (which is available basically anywhere also)
Cleaning Products: Seventh Generation, BioKleen, Oxo Brite, Method
Coffee: Thanksgiving, Cafe Humana
Cosmetics: Aveda, Kiss My Face, The Body Shop
Dental Care: Preserve, Tom's of Maine, Jason
Feminine Care: Seventh Generation, Diva International, Gladrags
Hair Care: Druide, Aveda
Laundry Supplies: Seventh Generation, Method, Oxo Brite, Biokleen, Planet
Paper Towels & Toilet Paper: Seventh Generation, Earth Friendly, Green Forest
Pet Care: BioBag, Natural Life, V-Dog, Swheat Scoop (cat litter, which we actually already use)
Soap: Tom's of Maine, Dr. Bronner's, Juniper Ridge, Kiss My Face, Aubrey Organics

More Information (and where I got a lot of mine!):
Better World Shopper
Responsible Shopper
Ethical Consumer


love & forgiveness.

as my church is wrapping up its sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount, i've been thinking about what has impacted me most about the teachings. Jesus tells us here to love our enemies, and to forgive those who sin against us. i have struggled with these two things my whole life, like everyone else, but i have really been striving to understand what he means, & how it's even possible to do this.

previous romantic relationships that ended badly have a strong hold on me. i hold grudges against certain men for hurting me, for abandoning me, for not loving me. this is something i am completely broken by - i feel guilty still caring because i am married to the only man i have ever known that i would want to be married to. for some reason though, this doesn't eradicate the leftover pain of rejection i have from some of my former relationships. this very struggle of mine, however, has led to an interesting learning platform regarding forgiveness & love of your enemies.

have you ever seen (500) Days of Summer? this movie could have been written about the relationship i had before meeting Brandon, except he was Summer, and i was Tom. it was excruciating, never being enough for him, and always being uncertain - hopes rising, and hopes dashed. & exhausting. i have harbored bitterness for him ever since. i would have preferred to believe that he was just incapable of love - except, like Summer, he was engaged shortly after we quit dating.

fast forward to a couple months ago: i am brought to my knees in humility by his fiancee. she very graciously invited me to an event at their home that i was dying to go to, and then treated me like a guest of honor in their home. she has shown me nothing but kindness, and although it was a little awkward for him, for me, & for Brandon, the evening was very pleasant. when i look back at it, and when i observe the degree of friendliness the 4 of us now share, i'm honestly ashamed of myself. not ashamed for being hurt - no, i think that was justified - but ashamed of my hatefulness towards another human being. not only that, but displacing my anger towards him onto his fiancee, who had never given me any reason not to like her, besides being the object of his love. but i am ashamed that although i know Jesus, and i love him, and i strive to follow him every day, i would not obey his command to love my enemy, & forgive those who have sinned against me.

this new road of friendship with them has given me cause for a lot of self-examination, and made me scared, doubtful, and wary - but over all of that, it has given me an incredible sense of peace. i no longer harbor disdain, bitterness, and anger in my heart. i am free now, thanks to Jesus, and it feels great.

as much as i love my husband, and as perfect & wonderful as he is, he is not the end-all-be-all like i thought he would be. i still need Jesus. i still long for him to fulfill me and to heal me. he has given me a good gift - the best gift - a righteous, strong, gentle, loving man to treasure me and cherish me and to share life with me, but he is not meant to replace Jesus.

so now i am free to love my enemies, free to surrender myself to Jesus in every way, and free to love my husband more fully because there is nowhere in my heart that i'm holding back from him.

Jesus is so smart. :)