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The Collective Blog

// Featured Charity // Elephant Nature Park

// Featured Charity // Elephant Nature Park

Written By: Cherene Saradar 

Elephant Nature Park

Everyone loves elephants. Many people love them so much that they wish to interact with them and ride them. Sadly, the vast majority of these interactions cause great harm to these magnificent creatures we all love. 

Luckily there is a way to interact with elephants without causing them harm. Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai, Thailand is a place where animal lovers can truly have an ethical elephant interaction in Thailand. You go as a volunteer and can choose a day trip, stay over night or even an entire week.

Delicious vegetarian meals made from locally grown farms is included and they provide a rustic cabin with ensuite bathroom. Before you get to have fun with the elephants, you learn why the elephants needed to be rescued in the first place and why most tourist attractions are horrible for them.

The Sanctuary

On the first day you get a quick tour of the sanctuary with your guide. You will see various elephant families on this tour and are allowed to interact with a few of the elephants, usually the elderly female elephants. Each has a sad story. Many were in the logging industry where they worked long hours until they dropped. Many are deformed from broken limbs. The circus is responsible for many of theses rescues. Some are partially or fully blind from untreated eye infections and years of flash photography. Some elephants were 70, 80 and 90 years old and spent most of that time miserable as slaves.

The Experience

After orientation, you have lunch and then you get to bathe an elephant in the river. It is really adorable watching the old lady elephant get pampered while she eats bananas. In the evening, the day volunteers go home and the overnight volunteers have dinner. There’s cash bar and wifi to keep you entertained in the evening, as if the dogs and cats aren’t enough!

The next day you will take a morning jungle trek to see a few elephants that were placed in the forest. You also get another opportunity for elephant bathing as well as food preparation and feeding the elephants.

 Be a Hero for Elephants

This is an amazing place to support with your tourist dollars. You can continue to support their work after leaving as well. For more information or to donate click here: Elephant Nature Park. Also, I am collaborating with an amazing online store called Trunk Collective. All products are sustainably sourced from artisans around the world and are cruelty-free. Right now 5% of proceeds will be donated to Elephant Nature Park. If you want to shop and feel good about it, this is a great place to start.

Remember, elephants belong in the wild. They don’t want to play soccer, dance or paint. Also, they have strong family bonds, deep friendships and hate being alone. Don’t be part of the problem and instead, spread the word! 

What is Upcycling & Why Should We Care?

What is Upcycling & Why Should We Care?

Written By: Jordan Puyear

Before throwing away that perfectly fine glass jam jar, have you ever thought about what the possibilities for that jar could be… maybe pantry storage for some nuts and seeds, a container for your work lunch, or even a small flower vase. This act is referred to as “upcycling,” not to get confused with recycling.
Before we can dive into the logistics of upcycling, we first need to define what upcycling actually is. According to the Merriam Dictionary, upcycling means “to recycle (something) in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item.” Upcycling has become a new trend amongst sustainable companies, such as Pela Case, Reformation, and Hipcycle. These companies have found a way to not only make a profit off of what some people consider trash, while also creating a greener tomorrow.
In short, upcycling is taking something old, and giving it a new life. Take that old t-shirt you got from your mom and restyle it to give it a modern touch. Grab that milk crate and convert it into some stylish shelving units. Take all your old baby cloths and craft it into a memorable quilt. It’s simple modifications like these that stop our landfill from filling up with items that could easily be repurposed.
However, the real question of the matter is why go through the effort of upcycling when, at the end of the day, you can just recycle? The point of upcycling is to take something that normally would be considered “disposable” and creating something useful. Today, we focus so much on disposable products: fast fashion, poorly made household products, plastic containers, etc. However, we need to focus on upcycling to not only save energy and resources, but to also save
your wallet.
Upcycling tips to make for a more sustainable way of living:
  • Shop at the thrift store
  • Go to other family members or friends to receive hand-me- downs
  • Repurpose any old furniture or household items to give it a fresh look without consuming
  • Take any leftover food and add it to your meal for the next day
  • Buy more goods in glass containers instead of plastic
  • Salvage an old house instead of building a new one
  • Buy clothing and accessories that are made from upcycled materials. 
You shouldn’t stop at these tips, because there are plenty of other ways to upcycle. Keep in mind, upcycling is done in order to stop you from having to consume for no reason. Upcycling just requires a little creativity and some time to bring an old product back to life.

Nine Things To Stop Buying Now (for a more sustainable future)

Written By: Jordan Puyear  

1. Chemical Cleaning Products - There are so many cleaning products on the

market advertised for all areas of the home, however, what most don’t know is

that these products are laced with toxic chemicals that isn’t necessary to a

clean household. Ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, or

castile soap are all natural alternatives to your typical cleaning products.

2. Disposable Utensils – If you’ve ever frequented a fast food restaurant or

backyard barbeque, disposable dishes and utensils are always in sight. All of

these single-use items will most likely not be recycled, so instead, bring your

own reusable containers and utensils. It’s honestly not as much of a hassle as

you would think, and the earth will thank you later.

3. Plastic Bags – This might be an obvious one, but plastic bags are everywhere,

and while some places, such as Aldi, have refused to use such items, plastic

bags still remain number one in most stores. Instead, bring your own reusable

bags, and if you forget your own, opt for paper, which can easily be recycled.

4. Chemical Beauty Products – Beauty products are a staple in most women’s

routine, however, those cheap drug-store brands are laced with harsh

ingredients that age you, clog your pores, and congest the skin. Instead, opt

for cleaner, more natural brands that use simple ingredients. To even go one

step further, use products such as coconut oil for highlighter, and berries for

lipstick and blush. It might sound pretty granola, but your skin will really

appreciate it.

5. Single Serving Food/Drink Products – Everybody loves convenience,

especially if you are somebody who has a busy schedule. However, those

plastic water bottles and single serving protein bars are just creating more and

more waste that will eventually end up in our landfills. Instead, buy a reusable

water bottle and pack your own snacks, such as a reusable container filled

with dried fruit and nuts.

6. Meaningless Gifts – There are so many occasions that are centered around gift

giving: holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc. With gift giving, comes a whole lot

of meaningless waste, the plastic gift bag, the paper filling, and the gift’s

packaging. While you can reuse some of these items, it’s more meaningful to

give the gift of an experience instead of a material possession. Not only does

this create less waste, it also will mean more to the receiver in the long run.

7. Fast Fashion – Due to the vast array of clothing options we have in this day in

age, we have become accustomed to the idea of quantity over quality.

However, this creates so much more waste and, most of the time, supports

unethical working conditions. Instead of buying three tops that aren’t your

favorite, but you feel like you need them because they are on sale, buy one

quality top that you know you will enjoy for years to come, even if that means

spending a little more money at the time. Check out the sustainable fashion at

our site!

8. Chain Store Groceries – Instead of grocery shopping at a chain grocery store,

support your local economy and opt for the farmers market. Not only will you

find healthier options, but you are also able to interact with members of your

community, find groceries with less packaging, and shop seasonally. This also

applies to anything you would need to buy, such as clothes and household

items, try and shop local whenever you can.

9. Disposable Feminine Products – Shoutout to all the women out there, you

understand the struggles of “that time of the month.” However, there is a

cheaper, more eco-friendly option to those feminine hygiene products. Instead

of buying the disposable pads, panty liners, and tampons, try out either

reusable pads or a menstrual cup. Both of these products are not only better

for the environment, but they also may make that time of the month go by a

little more smoothly.

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