World Gratitude Day

World Gratitude Day

grat·i·tude -ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/
noun
  1. the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
    "she expressed her gratitude to the committee for their support"
    synonyms: gratefulness, thankfulness, thanks, appreciation, indebtedness; etc.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein

World Gratitude Day is celebrated annually on the 21st September, so let me first say thank you for reading and thank you for your interest in Swell. According to gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, gratitude is just happiness that we recognize after-the fact to have been caused by the kindness of others. Multiple studies have shown that gratitude induces pro-social behavior. Surprise, surprise: gratitude actually feels good. Yet only 20% of Americans rate gratitude as a positive and constructive emotion (compared to 50% of Europeans). Positive emotion improves health. The details are complicated, but the overall picture is not – if you want to improve your health, improve your mind. Not only that, but gratitude also increases sleep quality, reduces the time required to fall asleep, and increases sleep duration. I don't know about you, but I am always looking for more effective ways to get to sleep at night. Though this is not an advertisement for showing thanks, I feel a bit like an infomercial -- but wait, there's more! Gratitude generates social capital – in two studies with 243 total participants, those who were 10% more grateful than average had 17.5% more social capital. Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends, deepen our existing relationships, and improve our marriage.  So take today to thank those you encounter, for anything and everything.  We could all use a little more thanks in life -- that's our Swell Vision.

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” —Dalai Lama

September 21, 2017
The Benefits of Bamboo Apparel and Accessories

The Benefits of Bamboo Apparel and Accessories

I am not sure how much you know about the Bamboo plant, but it is truly incredible.  This shoot is one of the fastest growing plants in the world and once harvested, bamboo can replenish itself within the year.  It is a naturally abundant and resilient plant, one that does not need fertilizers, chemicals, or pesticides to encourage growth, because bamboo is naturally pest-resistant. This sustainable plant absorbs more carbon dioxide from the air than either cotton or timber, not to mention it also releases more oxygen into the environment to improve the quality of the air we breathe. Bamboo is 100% natural and biodegradable, so when you no longer have use for a bamboo product you know it will not be clogging up a landfill somewhere, or joining the Pacific Garbage Patch in pieces.  Now that you know a bit about the bamboo plant, you probably understand why we are creating consumer products with this material.  The sustainability factor of bamboo is the number one reason we utilize this as the primary material for our product, but the other is the insane comfort factor.
You don't have to take it from me, take it from Dave at StuffWeLike.com, "When you wear something that feels so good you don’t even notice  you’re wearing it, life is officially GREAT, in my humble opinion. This is especially true when you’ve got a little something in the nether regions. It’s simply crazy how soft these boxers feel. They’re made of 95% bamboo rayon and 5% spandex. So they stretch when needed, feel smooth and cool to the touch. I do think the biggest selling point for most guys will be that you won’t feel hot down there, but you never feel an uncomfortable cold. It’s just the right amount of coolness. Since these boxers are made from bamboo they are several factors that stand out from typical fabric. Bamboo itself grows fast and uses little water. So this creates a fabric that is environmentally friendly to harvest. Bamboo fibers help fight odor on several fronts. They will wick moisture and allow it to escape as the fiber is very breathable."  Dave is specifically talking about our newest product release, the "Down Under Collection."  These boxers, like all of our products, are made from bamboo and will not only make you feel good about wearing them, but also you will have peace of mind knowing that your dollar has been well spent on a product that promotes sustainability, education and a greener future for our planet.  

Bamboo does not only play a role in the comfort factor of our apparel line, but it is also what makes our sunglasses float, and our watches so lightweight.  Between the sustainability factor, the comfort offered, and the natural look, it is a no-brainer as to why you should do your research on how to be a more environmentally conscious consumer before shopping for your fall wardrobe.  Not only are we working to provide eco-friendly alternatives to everyday accessories and apparel, but we are simultaneously working to educate the future generations to pave our way into a greener future.  This is why Swell Vision donates a portion of proceeds from every sale to a scholarship fund at John Hardy's Green School in Bali.  This place is uniquely incredible, unlike anything I have ever seen -- the entire school is built from bamboo and operates as one of the greenest schools on Earth.
Take a moment to check out Mr. Hardy's Ted Talk on how the Green School is working to change the future of education.
September 16, 2017
Back to School: How to Stay Focused

Back to School: How to Stay Focused

 

 

 

                                        It is that time of year again -- back to school.  If you're not going back to school, the tides are still changing as summer winds down and business kicks into high gear before the end of the year.  Waking up from the lazy days of summer to get back to the grind is not exactly fun, but there are certain things you can do to make the transition as painless as possible. Making sure you are firing on all cylinders, physically, mentally, and emotionally, will lead to higher productivity in school or your job.  This year the Swell Life blog has been focused on health and wellness, with our Year of Yoga series and supplementary articles, and we hope to be helping keep you on track with your goals this year.

 

There are many competing factors that can creep into our lives and distract us; from smartphones to siblings, there is always something or someone who can cause a disruption that breaks focus.  Without focus how will we be able to achieve our goals and move forward?  This is a question I constantly struggle with, not to mention keeping my own focus on track. In the age of ADD and the internet, it is almost as if we are programmed to multitask, not allowing ourselves to get too entrenched in anything before something else pulls us away. A trick I learned from a TED Talk encourages you to keep an elastic band, or a sustainable bamboo bracelet, on your wrist -- when you find your focus drifting, snap the bracelet against your wrist.  This action serves as a reminder to get back on task, and is a great way to train your own psychology, as association between the bracelet snap and lack of focus builds.                

Time management is another hot button issue.  It seems as there is always too much to do in the day and simply not enough time to accomplish everything.  In my corporate day job, I learned the importance of maintaining an accurate calendar and time blocking.  Setting reminders that alert you when the time block is finished serve as a gentle nudge to move on to your next task.  With the mentality that you only have a set period of time to accomplish a task, it is inevitable that your focus is targeted to achieve as much as possible during each time block.  Whether it is homework, athletics, or working on your own start-up business, keeping a strict schedule and holding yourself accountable to your calendar will ultimately push you closer to accomplishing your goals.  

  

The other critical component to remaining focused is your health.  If you are not eating a balanced diet and scheduling some physical activity you are doing yourself a disservice.  I do not need to restate the plethora of health and wellness articles out there, but it is important to keep your body finely tuned.  The combination of a balanced diet and exercise has proven to sharpen your memory and improve overall cognitive function.  When your brain is in the right head space because your body is properly nourished, and you are implementing time blocking techniques and psychological training, you will most certainly see success in your endeavors. Please comment below if you have additional suggestions for improving focus and starting the school year off on the right foot!

August 30, 2017
How to Help Houston - Hurricane Harvey Aftermath

How to Help Houston - Hurricane Harvey Aftermath

For those of you who have not yet heard, Hurricane Harvey pounded Houston, TX this weekend.  The city has ordered evacuation, as the torrential rain forecast is not showing signs of slowing down until later in the week.  In a matter of 24 hours the hurricane, which has now been downgraded to a tropical storm, dumped over 12 inches of rain on Houston and the surrounding suburbs.  Some areas are expecting over 50 inches of rainfall by the end of the week.  

How interesting the timing of Hurricane Harvey -- it makes landfall only a few days after the removal of "change" from all climate change articles on our government websites. Though there are many arguments and heated debates about the extreme weather patterns and their connection to climate change, it cannot be argued that we are seeing a significant impact around the United States and the rest of the globe, due to storms like Hurricane Harvey.  This particular hurricane is the strongest to have hit our country in 13 years, and the worst Texas has seen since 1961.  Take a look at some of the images below that provide a glimpse into what Houston is experiencing, and read further to understand how you can contribute to disaster relief efforts.

via SFGATE:

Brock Long, FEMA's administrator, said the agency is still focused on saving lives in Houston and along the Gulf Coast, where Harvey hit hard days ago as a Category 4 hurricane and then lingered, sending bands of heavy rain toward the city. He estimated up to 30,000 people may need shelter and some 450,000 could be eligible for federal flood victim assistance."This is a landmark event, we have not seen an event like this," Long said. "You could not dream this forecast up. The bottom line is that it's going to continue," he added.

Nikki Hathaway, a NWS meteorologist, said the 2 to 5 inches forecast locally for Monday might not sound like a lot, but "it is a lot when the ground is already saturated."

 

The Federal Trade Commission suggested on its site, it is perhaps best to avoid any new or young charities because even if "they are legitimate, they probably don’t have the infrastructure to get the donations to the affected area or people."

To give specifically to the Red Cross simply text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10. The charges will then appear on your next phone billing cycle.

There are a number of other organizations in Texas that can use your donation help, including the Houston Food BankFood Bank of Corpus ChristiHouston Humane SocietyHouston SPCA, or San Antonio Humane Society.

To apply for disaster assistance, visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA.

August 28, 2017
Eco Friendly Fashion | Fall Trends | Fewer, Quality Things

Eco Friendly Fashion | Fall Trends | Fewer, Quality Things

It is that time of year again.  With Labor Day weekend just around the corner to remind everyone that it is time to head back to the classroom and hit the books.  Back to school came more quickly than we all expected, it seems that is always the case, isn't it?  Whether you dread the back to school shopping or are excited to purchase the hottest trends for your fall wardrobe, keep in mind the impact that your consumption will have.  There are countless places to find what you need to sport fashionable attire, but do some research to educate yourself before this year's back to school shopping spree.

 

It is no secret that you can stop into Forever21, Zara, or most any other box store and find fashion that is purported to be the craze of this fall season.  That said, when you choose to spend your money here, you are supporting an industry that has a reputation of labor exploitation, environmental destruction, and encouraged consumerism.  Though it may seem like a great bargain, you can get items for under $10, after all.  However, you will need to repurchase that $10 item every few months, due to quality issues ranging from durability to size.  The low price point of clothing and accessories in these retailers perpetuates a "fast fashion" industry that requires the consumer to repurchase often.   The fast fashion industry spends impressive sums on marketing campaigns that imply you cannot wear the same outfit in an Instagram photo or to an event.  Couple this preconditioning with the fact that after one or two wears the product has come apart at the seams, shrunk in the wash or has broken in some other way and what has been created is a demographic of shoppers who will keep coming back.

Though there are many ways to lead a more sustainable life, I would argue that one of the most important things that an average individual can do to make a difference is voting with his or her dollar.  Recycling, reusing, carpooling, composting -- I could go on for days about all of the ways to promote sustainability and have a positive impact on our planet's environment; however, if we continue to consume at the rate we are then carbon emissions will continue to escalate.  As an educated consumer you can influence the market by saving your money to purchase one quality product, made from sustainable materials, that encourages environmental awareness.  By purchasing fewer, better clothing and accessories, you are taking revenue away from conglomerates that produce with only profit in mind.  The actions we take now can have an incredible impact on the future of our Earth, so it is imperative we educate each other about the importance of sustainability.  

This fall when you are back to school shopping, take a pause before buying that sale item in the department store because it is only $19.99 (hey, it retailed for $49.99 originally).  Instead, pocket that money and save for the future.  Budget yourself to ensure you are not making impulse decisions, because sales are just another marketing ploy to clear inventory and begin pushing a new product.  Buy less, focus on the quality of the product, research to see if the materials are sustainable.  At Swell it is our mission to change the current culture of consumption and promote a sustainable product that can have a positive impact beyond your purchase.  A portion of each purchase is allocated to a scholarship fund that allows qualified students an opportunity to attend the Green School in Bali.  This is a non-profit founded by John Hardy that is the most sustainable school on Earth.  Through education we will truly begin to change the tides of our current culture and promote an eco-conscious future -- that is our Swell Vision.

August 26, 2017
The "Climate Change" Agenda

The "Climate Change" Agenda

Generally I do not keep myself up to date on the governmental websites, but it came to my attention recently that things are changing.  The new administration has brought about many changes, from new leadership to shifting priorities regarding the environment and sustainability.  Now the information is changing; our government websites that are created to provide objective educational research on a wide range of topics -- one of those being climate.  

Our mission is rooted in the promotion of education to ensure future generations develop into environmentally conscious consumers.  This is why we partner with the Green School in Bali and is at the core of our product development.  Our Swell Vision is to encourage consumers to shop sustainable -- from bamboo watches and sunglasses to organic cotton and hemp apparel, we practice what we preach.  Stay up to date with our blog to remain informed on the latest environmental news and other ways to promote an eco-friendly lifestyle.

"This time, it's the website of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which is a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The alteration largely involves just one word — "change" — and appears to be relatively minor when compared to, say, the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to remove its climate change website.

 

The Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, which scrubbed and saved Obama-era versions of web pages across the federal government, found five references to “climate change” that were altered to read “climate” on the NIH website," writes Dino Grandoni from the Washington Post.

As we continue to see weather patterns grow more extreme and face environmental challenges due to pollution and abuse of natural resources, it cannot be denied that times are changing.  What you as an ordinary citizen can do to make a positive impact: vote for your elected officials; vote with your dollar to encourage sustainable consumption.  Whether it is a birthday, holiday, celebration or some other special occasion, Swell Vision has a variety of sustainable options for your gift needs.  With back to school shopping in full swing, consider purchasing fewer, quality items, from environmentally conscious sources.  When you shop sustainable with Swell you are reducing your carbon footprint and promoting eco-friendly education, in style.  That's a pretty Swell Vision.

August 24, 2017
The 2017 Solar Eclipse

The 2017 Solar Eclipse

As everyone has seen on TV, social media, and any other channel that disseminates information, today is a big day.  The last time the U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979.  For the first and last time in many of our lifetimes, we will have the unique opportunity to see a solar eclipse, and depending upon where you are located, you may see nothing short of a total eclipse.  For those of you who have waited until today to actually research as to what a solar eclipse is, I will provide a brief rundown with the help of some information from NASA.

NASA's website shares the technicalities of this phenomenon, "This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun's tenuous atmosphere - the corona - can be seen, will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun's disk."  This process will last all day, but at any given location you will only have the opportunity to watch it for about 2 1/2 minutes.

Check the table below for visibility in your location, and what time you will be able to catch the show!  If you did not know, the headquarters of Swell Vision is in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, only a few miles from the most visible spot to see the solar eclipse.  As you all know, our Swell shades cannot protect your eyes from the solar eclipse, so please remember to find protective glasses. 

If you miss this incredible phenomenon, do not stress too much.  There will be another solar eclipse in 2024, and hopefully by then we will be living in a much more sustainable world.  In the meantime and between time continue to educate yourself and talk with the people around you to encourage sustainable practices.  

August 21, 2017
Year of Yoga: The Yoga Sutra

Year of Yoga: The Yoga Sutra

For those of you who practice yoga, but have never done much research into how it came about, I have put together an informative post about the Yoga Sutra for an educational segment of our "Year of Yoga" series.  Though you may recognize yoga as an alternative workout, or a peaceful way to break a sweat, the practice actually originated in India with the Hindu religion.  The root of "Yoga" is found in hymn 5.81.1 of the Rig Veda, a dedication to rising Sun-god in the morning. The texts explaining the Yoga school of Hindu philosophy include both a theory of values through the observances of positive values and avoidance of negative, as well as an aesthetic theory on bliss from intrinsic and extrinsic perspectives.The values to be observed are called Niyamas, while those to be avoided are called Yamas in Yoga philosophy.  

Have you ever felt completely exhausted, stressed, anxious or overwhelmed? I can imagine everyone has experienced this at some point, as I know I certainly have -- how do you cope?  There are medications you can take or immerse yourself with distractions, but do these ever address the root cause of your feelings?  If not, give yoga a try. Though I cannot promise that it will be the solution to all of your problems, it can help in many ways that will allow your mind and body to operate on an optimal level to tackle any challenge head on.  Improved flexibility, better circulation, improving posture, strengthening muscles, protects your bones, increases heart rate, boosts immunity -- the list goes on to cite countless health benefits associated with the practice.

Whether it be mental, physical, or spiritual health, you can enhance your whole self with the practice of yoga and the study of its sutra.  Being aligned in both mind and body creates a state of happiness, one that does not need constant replenishment in the form of short term rewards.  This practice encourages awareness, which in turn mediates reckless behavior.  Personally my yoga practice has encouraged me to spend more wisely, voting with my dollar for businesses that I believe in and products that promote a sustainable lifestyle.  When I shop for clothing or accessories I prefer to buy fewer, better things.  No longer am I swayed by marketing techniques that try to teach -- just one more purchase, one more thing I need to be happy.  Instead I take pleasure in knowing that my decisions are deliberate, my happiness comes from taking actions to support my beliefs and make a positive impact on the Earth.

Using yoga as a method of encouraging self awareness can have countless benefits for you and the environment in which you live.  In closing I will leave you with a quote from the Yoga Sutra:

"...having become calm and concentrated, one perceives the self (atman), within oneself." 

August 16, 2017
The Daily Cartoon: PGA Edition

The Daily Cartoon: PGA Edition

Courtesy of the New Yorker.

August 13, 2017
Oceans Are Losing Oxygen, Just As They Did 94 Million Years Ago (via Forbes)

Oceans Are Losing Oxygen, Just As They Did 94 Million Years Ago (via Forbes)

A recent study sheds light on why Earth's oceans have been losing oxygen in recent decades. Globally, scientists can measure oxygen levels in the ocean and evidence points to a 2% decrease in oxygen levels in the past 50 years.

Although this decrease in ocean oxygen levels seems small, there is a ripple effect that can alter ecosystems. This, combined with estimates that oxygen levels will continue to decrease by one to seven percent by 2100, leaves scientists concerned about what lies ahead.

The decrease we see in our ocean's oxygen will stress ecosystems and alter habits of fish and mammals. For example, larger fish that require more oxygen will be more limited in the areas they can go to eat and reproduce.

 

What Is Causing Oxygen Levels To Decrease?

A number of factors are likely influencing the decrease in oxygen levels in oceans. However, the key culprits are likely an increase in fertilizer use and a warming planet.

Humanity has drastically increased the amount of fertilizer we use to produce ever higher crop yields. However, when that fertilizer runs off into our waterways it eventually makes its way to the ocean. When that happens, microbial communities and algae all of a sudden receive a massive delivery of food. Bacteria and algae colonies exponentially increase to feed on the newly delivered food and when that happens they respire, same as humans. As in, they take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, removing dissolved oxygen from the ocean.

You have likely heard of dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico for instance. This is a scenario where enough nutrients are brought to the Gulf of Mexico that you get algae and bacteria blooms, plummeting the available oxygen in the water. This, in turn, kills nearby fish that require oxygen to breathe. In case you missed it, we just had one of the largest Gulf of Mexico dead zones in history.

NASA, Mississippi River sediment plume into the Gulf of Mexico

The second culprit to declining oxygen levels is a warming planet. This one is fairly straight forward. Basic principals of chemistry and physics dictate that colder liquid can hold more dissolved gas than a warmer liquid. You can witness this by opening two Coke cans, then leaving one out on your counter and the other in the fridge. Come back the next day and I bet the one in the fridge has more dissolved carbon dioxide (carbonation).

History Is A Glimpse Into The Future

Has something like this ever happened in the past? Have oxygen levels in oceans declined and if so, what were the effects? To answer the question of oceans declining oxygen levels, professor Jeremy Owens from Florida State University had to step back 94 million years ago.

Approximately 94 million years ago there was a well documented Oceanic Anoxic Event (OAE), whereby large swaths of oceans were devoid of oxygen (anoxic). These anoxic events are a key source of oil and gas around the world. This is because when the ocean is anoxic, bacteria cannot break down organic carbon as it falls to the ocean floor. Thus, the organic carbon is preserved, buried, heated, and forms hydrocarbons.

The study finds a period of 50,000 years before the anoxic event where oceans saw gradually declining oxygen levels. In fact, the rates of declining oxygen are similar to the rates we see today, providing these events as good analogs into Earth's future.

However, what triggered these anoxic events in the past, as clearly humans weren't around to spread fertilizer in the oceans? The deoxygenation period was coincident with a noticeable increase in volcanic activity. As you may know, volcanoes emit large amounts of carbon dioxide during an eruption. This would have the same effect as burning fossil fuels today, an increase in global temperatures. On top of that, large volcanic eruptions can send volcanic ash and dust around the globe, providing nutrients to oceans in the process.

Hence, studying these oceanic anoxic events provide useful insights into how our planet will react, specifically in terms of ocean oxygen levels. While we clearly will not see the effect of this in our lifetime, it will certainly impact future generations.

August 10, 2017
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