Every decision impacts the Earth, especially when it comes to personal products.

Did you know that every time you buy something, you can make a big difference to the planet?

It's true. Just ask Brad Kahn.

He is the director of communications at the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a nonprofit that works tirelessly to promote responsible management of the world's forests, so he knows quite a bit about protecting the Earth. And part of it, he says, is making good choices in the store.


Any time you make a purchase, he says, "you're actually making a decision about the environment."

"I think people don't really realize how pervasive forest products are. Virtually every business on Earth uses forest products in one way or another," he continues.

Image via Anton Darius/Unsplash.

The good news is, it isn't hard to make smart choices for the environment.

It just starts by choosing products from companies that are working to do good.

L'Oréal, for instance, has a global program dedicated to integrating sustainability into all areas of their business.

For example, all of L'Oréal's U.S. facilities incorporate 100% renewable electricity — and they will be carbon neutral by 2019.  

Solar panels in use for Garnier manufacturing. Image via L'Oréal USA.

And that's not all.

Danielle Azoulay, head of corporate social responsibility and sustainability for L'Oréal USA, says that the company's size is part of what makes their environmental efforts so important.

"At L'Oréal, we take a holistic approach to sustainability. From carbon emissions reductions to water stewardship in our factories, we're working to improve our environmental footprint across the company, every day," she writes.

"We've been focusing on light-weighting and integrating recycled materials into our packaging," she continues, "and [we] continue to encourage our consumers to recycle products once they're done using them."

"As the largest beauty company in the U.S. and the world, when we apply these changes across our brand portfolio, we have the opportunity to make an enormous positive impact on our communities, translating to big wins for the planet," she explains.

Image by Steven Rowe, used with permission.

It also helps that organizations like the FSC help shoppers easily identify these sustainably packaged products from brands — like Garnier — that are committed to reducing their harmful impact on the planet. All you have to do is glance at a product's packaging, and if you see an FSC logo — which usually shows up on the back — you'll know it's certified as forest-friendly.

When it comes to the beauty industry in particular, doing the right thing is important.

Industry organizations and media point to data briefings from market researcher Euromonitor that indicate the global cosmetics industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging every year.

That's why, for their boxes of hair color and skin-care products, Garnier, a brand in L'Oréal's portfolio, uses all FSC-certified paper. It's one of many strategies — along with similar thought given to plastics, glass, and energy use — that the brand uses to reach their sustainability goals.

Image by Steven Rowe, used with permission.

That means, for example, that someone looking for a bright new look could buy shampoo that comes in recycled plastic and hair color in sustainably-sourced cardboard.

You're also keeping those bottles out of landfills. In 2014, Americans discarded about 33.6 million tons of plastic — a number that we can all impact by making smart choices, backing the brands that are committed to doing better. For example, all of Garnier's shampoo and conditioner bottles are made of recyclable PET plastic.

Photo via L'Oréal USA.

Looking out for packaging with sustainable materials is a simple shift that doesn't force you to compromise your beauty and personal care needs.

You still get to stick with the routine that's best for your hair and skin — and feel even better by making smarter choices for the planet, too.

To put it in perspective, Kahn says:

"There is no chance of life on Earth without healthy forest ecosystems. I don't think that's an exaggeration because forests provide much of the air we breathe, something like two-thirds of the water that we drink, the carbon storage to have a stable atmosphere. … We really rely on forests every day."

Image via iStock.

So when you've seen the FSC logo on your packaging, and you know your shampoo bottle is made from recycled plastics, feel free to sing your heart out with that shampoo bottle in the shower — as one of our planet's heroes, you've earned that joy.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture