How a protest over pine trees led this woman to create her dream company.

In 2012, Jen Horn watched as local residents in Baguio City, Philippines, protested over pine trees.

It might not seem like a particularly obvious political reason, but when people tried to expand a mall and eliminate a large area of pine trees in the process, the residents were so concerned about the environmental impact that they organized.

Jen, who owned a successful design company in the Philippines, was inspired by their collective action. It raised questions she had about the ethical responsibility of a business to treat the world well.


In regard to her own business, Jen often found herself wondering what happened to the things her company helped create when people were done using them.

Was her business conscientious, she wondered. Was she making the world better with her work?

Finally, someone who is as excited about succulents as I am! All images via Muni, used with permission.

That's when she got the idea for Muni, a community and company dedicated to mindful, sustainable, creative living.

"[I] really wanted to do something with greater impact and start creating more learning and networking events for like-minded folks," Jen told Upworthy in an email.

The name of the company is derived from the Filipino word muni-muni, which means "to think, ponder, muse, or reflect." And the core of the organization's purpose is just that — to facilitate mindfulness, sustainability, and ethicality among entrepreneurs.


"I wanted to create a way for all of these great people to be heard more, to be connected more to other people who share the same ideals," Jen said in a TEDx Talk last year.

With the pine tree activists' efforts at the front of her mind, Jen started this organization by uniting her personal values of sustainability and mindfulness with her business.

Because it wasn't just about her vision for the whole world. It was also about what was going on in her own backyard.

So, what exactly does Muni do? Well, a lot.

Muni brings awesome events to communities across the globe, like a series of talks in Manila, Philippines, a sustainability festival, and an upcoming "camp" for start-up founders to come together and learn from each other.

A Muni Meetup in the Philippines.

Jen hosts Muni Market Days for local creators, artists, and performers to showcase their talents to the community — kind of like a farmers market but for makers and creatives. People subscribe to Muni's Facebook page and get notified when they put up a new event.

"I wanted to create a way for all of these great people to be heard more, to be connected more to other people who share the same ideals." — Jen Horn

With this upswing in female business leaders, like Jen, there is also an upswing in sustainability.

Research has shown that female business leaders are more committed to corporate sustainability and creating businesses that function in harmony with the planet.

Why? One reason may be related to how female board directors and executives tend to be better at planning for the future and communicating a broad vision. A stronger reason is how diversity of all kinds always make the world a better place.

Including a diverse mix of voices in the decision-making process reveal smarter and surprising ways to make things systemically better at all levels — and sustainability is undoubtably a core area for that.

Unfortunately, only a fraction of Fortune 500 companies have women at the helm. It's clear that we need more Jens to lead the way.

The Muni community hosts Market Days to showcase local makers.

Jen's advice for other Jens out there is simple but effective:

"The goal is to be more mindful in your business or in your life every day, and the only way for us to figure that out is if we’re in the process, doing it, talking to people who are also trying to do things in a different way."

Every action to better our community can be a source of inspiration — and in this case, it planted the seed for a company that actively seeks to improve and protect the world.

As Jen says in her speech: "At the end of the day, your world is your choice."

Reflecting on our roles as consumers, producers, and stewards of the planet is something we can all definitely get behind.

Listen to Jen's talk about starting a mindful business and see if you're not inspired to make some changes of your own!

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

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WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

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Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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