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New Year’s Resolutions: Shopping for a Difference

Statistics show that roughly one in three people make January New Year’s Resolutions, and out of those, only eight percent keep their commitment throughout the year. According to Time, resolutions date back to ancient Babylonians “who made promises to their gods for the New Year, often having to do with concrete, easily achievable tasks like vowing to return borrowed farm equipment.” Today, we set our sights on more psychological, self-improvement related goals: eating better, helping others, improving our spending, or de-stressing. Resolutions feel good to make, and can feel bad to drop, so why not make a resolution that is fun, good for you, good for others, and achievable? Resolve to shop more conscientiously by purchasing the things you like from companies who put their products and profits towards the greater good. Here’s some products we carry at the Co-op to get your easily achievable resolution started!


Alaffia
Empowerment and gender equality are two major missions in Alaffia’s business model. “To Alaffia, fair trade means paying a fair price or wage in the local context, providing equal employment opportunities, engaging in environmentally sustainable practices, providing healthy and safeworking conditions, being open to public accountability, and reducing the number of middlemen between producers and consumers.” Alaffia’s fair trade shea butter and palm oil are certified as both Fair for Life Social and FairTrade by the Institute for Marketecology, which inspects for strict organic, fair trade, and social standards. A cooperative itself, Alaffia was created to support West African sustainability through women’s cooperatives, education and community involvement with both Alaffia and each other. Sales support collecting bikes for disadvantaged students in Togo to get to school, pre- and post-natal care, school supplies, and reforestation.


Alter Eco
Alter Eco believes in being “reliably delicious, environmentally responsible, and socially just.” They are one of the many Certified Benefit (or B) Corporations we will mention in this article, meaning they are committed to high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Their commitment includes Fair Trade, Non-GMO, Organic, Compostable Packaging, and Carbon Insetting Certifications. Their chocolates and other products are supporting a number of farm cooperatives, producers, empowering women and 24 community projects and development programs worldwide.


Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s has been a socially conscious ice cream maker since 1988, and was the first ever wholly owned subsidiary to become a Certified B Corporation (they are a subsidiary of Unilever). In their 2012 assessment of social responsibility, they found that they contributed over 5,000 hours of community service;  over 40% of board and management are from underrepresented populations; 45% of their cost of goods sold went towards investing and supporting small scale suppliers through the Caring Dairy program; and that they donated more than 5% of profits to charity.


Co-op Sauce
“Great Sauce for Good,” Chicago’s Co-op Sauce brews, bottles, and sells hot sauce made from ingredients grown on Midwestern farms to restaurants, farmers’ markets, and retailers. Half of all of their profits benefit Co-op Image, a board-operated youth art education and entrepreneurial organization. Another Certified B Corporation, Co-op Sauce employs Chicago youth from the Co-op Image program both part-time and seasonally. Co-op Sauce is “no longer officially a Co-op” yet still “proud of its holistic and cooperative approach to social entrepreneurship.”


Equal Exchange
For over 25 years, the worker-owned, Fair Trade and Social Certified cooperative Equal Exchange has been the leader in making the “Big Change” by building long-term trade partnerships that contribute to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world. Their coffee, tea, coffee, nut, and berry products support small-scale farmers all over the world. In addition, they offer their products for fundraising projects, and partner with a number of interfaith coalitions to promote living out values through consumer choice, and greening the planet.


Friends of Pheasant Branch
Restoring, protecting, and promoting the Pheasant Branch Conservancy and its watershed for now and future generations is what Friends of Pheasant Branch is all about. Located in and partially owned by Dane County, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the City of Middleton, Pheasant Branch Conservancy is helped by the Friends via fundraising, volunteerism, public education, and hands-on, on the land restoration projects. For several years, the Friends of Pheasant Branch have published a Phenology Calendar (sold at the Co-op and elsewhere), which features local photography and writings, and space for phenology observations, nature notes, and other nature facts and data. 100% of the purchase price for Phenology Calendars at the Co-op goes to the Friends of Pheasant Branch’s annual fundraising efforts.


Global Mamas
Global Mamas is all about creating prosperity or happiness, good health, and financial well-being for African women and families. Their community is comprised of almost 600 producers from seven communities creating and selling unique and hand-crafted apparel, accessories, home decor, reusable bags, and more. Since their inception, they have created hundreds of jobs in Ghana using Fair Trade practices and participatory decision-making, while interns and volunteers provide hands-on trainings to improve their businesses, personal income, production skills, and family health.


GROW Bananas
Organics Unlimited is a group of growers focused on importing top quality bananas while remembering their social responsibility to care for the workers who provide the fruit. GROW Bananas (Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers) is an Organics Unlimited product that “aims to provide financial support and services to programs that help build better lifestyles and futures for farm workers and their families.” Funding from GROW, a label sustained by private donors and administered by the International Community Foundation, is made possible through a small surcharge added to boxes of bananas with the GROW sticker. GROW’s funds have helped charitable programs provide families in Mexico and Ecuador with educational programming, scholarships, dental programs, vision exams, and other unique programs and services. “Without the support of GROW, many people in banana-growing regions would not have access to necessary health care and educational opportunities.”


Porchlight Products
Porchlight is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting and providing solutions to homeless individuals and households. Porchlight Products employs clients as a means to foster independence, develop job skills, find a path to stable housing, and generate revenue for their nonprofit programming. They also partner with Wisconsin growers and suppliers for ingredients and are committed to prices both fair for the farmer and fair for Porchlight. As a result, 70% of their ingredients are local.


Yahara House Note Cards
Yahara House is a certified clubhouse of the International Center for Clubhouse Development for members living with mental illness to receive support by building relationships, learning, connecting with job opportunities through the Transitional Employment Program (TEP), and learning job skills by working at the clubhouse. Members of the clubhouse produce art for notecards that we sell in our stores. When note cards are purchased, just like the Friends of Pheasant Branch Phenology Calendar, the Co-op passes all of the money received directly to Yahara House.


Yumbutter
Yumbutter, a local producer of peanut butter packed in both jars and pouches, is another Certified B Corp. They also carry a YouthTrade Certification, verifying they are young, mission-driven entrepreneurs. As part of their commitment to Holistic Responsibility™, they created the BuyOne:FeedOne™ model. Every time a jar or pouch of Yumbutter is purchased, proceeds help feed and provide holistic care to malnourished children, mothers, and expecting mothers in Guatemala.


PACT Socks
Certified in Fair Trade, Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS), B Corp, SA 8000 (Ethically Correct Certification based on International Labor Organization Conventions), and Okeo-Tex 100 (independent certification testing for illegal substances, non regulated substances, harmful chemicals, and toxicity), PACT is committed to change in the apparel industry by developing a transparent supply chain and educating the consumer about how their clothing is connected to farmers and producers. Their socks contain 100% cotton and are grown and harvestedby farmer-owned cooperatives that PACT pays a fair premium to for growing and sustaining healthy farm communities. All the factories involved with the creation of their clothing are GOTS-Certified, meaning that they are held to the highest global environmental and social standards in apparel manufacturing. Each season, PACT designs clothing collections inspired by social and environmental sustainability, and then they turn around and invest in community based projects to benefit those very greater goods.


Resolve!
We all make differences in our communities in many ways, some are big impacts, and some are small. All of them count. Resolving to be a conscientious consumer can mean many things to many people. There are many more businesses like these whose products we are proud to offer, and we wish we had room to share them all. Let us know if there is a company like these we didn’t mention you want us to share more about! We hope you enjoyed this little round up of just some of our well-rounded, thoughtful, impactful suppliers, and that we can help you get your New Year off to a socially responsible, fun start.

Madison Waldorf SchoolNorthside Animal HospitalMadison Music Foundry


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