Your coconut water may be doing a lot more for the world than you realize.
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Kroger (Earth Day)

Did you ever stop and think about the awesome, transformative power of the coconut?

Not only does it have seemingly endless uses, but each one has the ability to make our day a little bit better.

The inside of a fresh coconut. All photos via Kroger.


Its juice revitalizes us when we're depleted, its oil is great for cooking and making our skin silky smooth, and its meat makes a delicious, healthy snack.

Those are just some of the ways coconuts do right by the people who buy its byproducts. But coconut consumers aren't the only ones singing praises to the coconut — to the people who harvest them in the far-reaching corners of the world, coconuts can truly be life-saving.

And we're not just talking about any old coconuts — we're talking about Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Coconuts.

In order to understand what that means, let's journey to the 7,100 fecund isles of the Philippines.  

Just a few of the thousands of islands that make up the Philippines.

Many of these islands are volcanic, which means they're home to a specific assortment of natural minerals. Couple that with abundant salt from the ocean and warm, moist air, and you have prime territory to grow the best coconuts.

It's no surprise the organic brand Simple Truth® has decided to source coconuts from The Philippines to make a variety of products; everything from lip balm to coconut oil and water.

But their reason for choosing this particular locale goes much deeper than ideal growing conditions. The Philippines is also home to one of the major hubs of Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit that has made it a mission to support and give back to the farming communities it works with.

These small-scale farmers can often get lost in the shuffle of the world trade market. Fairtrade works to empower them, their families and their communities all while promoting environmental sustainability.

Considering all that, it's fitting that the coconut tree symbolizes the Tree of Life in the Philippines — because that's exactly what it sustains.

A coconut tree farmer picking coconuts in the Philippines.

As such, Fairtrade is sort of like the fertilizer that keep those trees healthy and plentiful.

"The meaning of Fairtrade for us is equity in trade, rich and poor, because everybody benefits," says Sherley De Guzman, a local Fairtrade member in the Philippines.

Economically speaking, Fair Trade helps level the playing field for smaller farmers by giving them a boost in the trade markets, helping them negotiate better prices for their products, and advocating for better agricultural techniques.

Then, of course, there's the social impact — Fairtrade bolsters these farming communities by improving their housing, medical care, and educational resources.

The coconut's looking pretty mighty right now, huh?

It’s nice to know that when you buy Fair Trade Certified products, you're not only helping these farmers, you're helping to keep the planet healthy, too.

Remember how many uses the coconut fruit has? Well that's just the tip of the iceberg.

"Almost every single piece of the coconut tree and the coconut are used in different things. It's truly a zero-waste plant," explains Jessica Custer, Fair Trade USA senior supply chain manager.

And when distributors like Kroger stock their shelves with Fair Trade Certified products, like Simple Truth Coconut Water, they're supporting sustainability at its most impactful level.

So the next time you're eyeing a coconut water in the store, remember: The brand you buy really does matter to the land it came from and the people who made it.

Enjoying the coconut is good for you on so many levels — why not return the favor to the people who make that possible?

It's just one more thing we can add to the long list of super powers this fruit possesses. Since the coconut came from the Tree of Life, it's only fitting that we should return the favor.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.