November 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm , by Amanda Wolfe
We need your help! For an upcoming story in Ladies’ Home Journal, we’re looking for everyday women in the U.S. who help women around the globe. Do you know a local church group who raised money to build a school in a village halfway around the world? A woman who is a longtime pen pal with a woman abroad? A teacher who set up an exchange with another teacher across the globe? Or a woman who hosts families who come to the U.S. for medical emergencies?
If you know a lady or group of women who are doing great things (big or small!) to help other women or kids around the world, post them in the comments! (And pass along to your family and friends.) If we decide to feature you or the woman you know, we’ll get in touch with you directly via email.
November 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Three years ago, I read an article and saw a photo that changed my life and helped me realize that I had the power to make a difference. The article was about the growing problem of ocean plastic pollution, and the photo was of a dead albatross chick whose body was full of ordinary plastic pieces it had mistaken for food: plastic bottle caps, little plastic toys, even a toothbrush. In that moment, I suddenly realized my direct connection to other living creatures on this planet. Plastic was something I had control over, and I knew I had to act.
When I started my blog, Fake Plastic Fish, to keep track of my personal plastic consumption and report on plastic-free alternatives, I had no idea the impact and reach it would have or the lives it would change. I only knew I had to start with myself. Along the way, I have learned a few lessons about how we can take an idea or a cause that we care about and get results.
Trust your voice. How many of us have a great idea or cause we care about and feel that no one will listen to our opinion? Learning to speak up is empowering. And all it takes is practice. Speaking up to store managers about their plastic bags or visiting schools to talk about plastic pollution was hard for me at first. But the more I do it, the more confident I become.
Seek support. Yes, it’s important to start with ourselves, but real change takes many hands and voices. Writing one letter to a company is great. But encouraging others to write letters too, creating a petition, or joining an organization already working on the issue are ways to magnify your impact.
Use the Internet. The Internet makes it easier than ever to spread your message. Using my blog, Facebook, Twitter, email, and online petition software, I spearheaded a campaign to get Brita to take back and recycle their plastic water filter cartridges. Social media helped me connect up with other bloggers who could help me spread the word. And asking people to mail me their used cartridges made a huge visual impact.
Do your homework. Before contacting a company, writing a blog post or letter to the editor, or creating a petition, make sure you have your facts straight. Do some basic research. You don’t have to be an expert, and you shouldn’t let fear of being wrong stop you from acting. But having a clear understanding of the issue you’re tackling will give you confidence and help your cause.
Be persistent. Sometimes change happens over night. Once, I wrote to the owner of a small company about her plastic packaging, and she asked me to help her change it. Within one month, she had completely switched over to recycled paper. The Brita campaign, on the other hand, took 7 months of hard work and diligence. What kept me going was knowing that the only way I would fail is if I gave up early. Seeing a campaign through can be tiring but also incredibly empowering.
Give yourself a break. Persistence is important, but so is taking time out to rest and rejuvenate. Working nonstop is the way to burnout and disillusionment. For me, taking time in nature to remember why I am doing this work in the first place is what keeps me going. That, and playing with my rascally kitties who never take me too seriously.
What I’ve learned is that each of us has the power to change the world for good. We just have to learn to use it. When you care deeply enough about an issue to take that first step, a door opens through which you might never go back. —Beth Terry
By day, Beth Terry works as an accountant for a local home care agency, but nights and weekends she becomes an activist blogger writing about plastic-free living at FakePlasticFish.com. She’s a contributing editor to BlogHer.com and an advisor to the Plastic Pollution Coalition. Join Beth Terry via the web this Saturday, November 6, for the worldwide webcast of TEDx: Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an unprecedented event bringing together experts, activists, and artists like Van Jones, David de Rothschild, Jackson Browne, and Ed Begley Jr to speak about solutions to the plastic pollution problem. Beth Terry will add her voice to the mix, speaking about her plastic-free life and leading by example.
October 29, 2010 at 3:40 pm , by Julie Bain
In August I met a special young lady named Nora. I was in New Orleans to volunteer for a Rebuilding Together project to reconstruct homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina five years earlier. I hit it off with Nora and her mom while we were sweating and sanding together in the sultry New Orleans heat. Nora learned a thing or two about the power of community service, so I invited her to visit our offices at LHJ and write a guest blog about it. Here are her thoughts.
It all started when my Argentine grandmother, Lita, taught me to knit when I was 6. I put my hands on the knitting needles, and she put her hands over mine and guided the movements of my hands and the yarn. Once I knew the motions, I could do it myself at home. At first my knitted squares were loose and full of holes and dropped stitches, but I kept practicing and got better. Now my full ability is to knit scarves and hats. Sweaters and gloves are beyond my skills, although my grandma made beautiful ones.
When I was 11 or 12, I had a group of friends who all had learned to knit. In our religion class, the teacher suggested that we do some good with our knitting skills. She suggested we make a baby blanket and donate it to a hospital. So we each knitted several squares and then sewed them all together. It was in lots of pastel colors and was really cute! We thought it was amazing that we made it—it looked professional! And we were really proud to give it to someone in need.
It made me want to do more community service. So this past summer, my mom asked if I wanted to go to New Orleans with her for the 5th anniversary of hurricane Katrina and help rebuild some houses (below, that’s me with Julie Bain and my friend Julia Collins). I wasn’t sure what I’d have to do and was a little bit nervous, but I was into it.
I had painted sets for my school musical, but that did not prepare me for being on a ladder in 100-degree heat to prime and paint a two-story home. It was tough work. But what was so cool was that I could do it, and I painted a lot of that house. I also sanded almost the whole rebuilt front porch. We also met the owners and saw how grateful they were. They had lived there for decades before Katrina, and I thought it was so valuable to rebuild their home rather than tear it down and build a new one. I mean, they want to live in their own home!
Both of these projects made me want to do more. It’s very rewarding, and I plan to go again next summer. Doing good really does feel good!
Nora Gonzalez, 13, New York City
October 25, 2010 at 11:22 am , by Amanda Wolfe
Halloween isn’t necessarily a holiday that you associate with volunteering and giving, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great occasion to do a little good! Here are a few ways to help out:
- Still looking for a last-minute costume? Dress up for a cause you believe in. That way every time someone asks what you or the kids are, you can get a little plug in for your favorite charity. (If you volunteer at an animal shelter, for instance, go with a cute dog and cat theme.)
- Halloween is just a few days before election day. No matter what side of the political aisle you fall on, we can all agree that it’s super-important to vote! Help get out the vote in your area by volunteering with Trick or Vote, a non-partisan organization.
- Trying to figure out how to keep your kids (or yourself) from eating their weight in candy? Donate some of your haul to needy kids in your area who don’t get to go trick-or-treating. Call local shelters and organizations to find out how to donate. You could even dress up to deliver your treats together!
- Check Volunteer Match for a Halloween-themed volunteer opportunity in your area. We did a quick search and found lots of different spooky carnivals, food drives, auctions and other events around the country. (Just type in your zip code with the keyword “Halloween.”)
October 22, 2010 at 1:06 pm , by Chelsea Rae Simmons
Happy Genes Day, lovely ladies! It’s Chelsea, your resident fashion and beauty intern, letting you know today is a great day to look your best and Do Good. Lancôme has dubbed today Genes Day and, in honor of the celebration, will be giving $7 from every bottle of their much-lauded Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate sold today to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.
It may be a beauty splurge at $78 for a 1oz. bottle, but if it’ll give me glowy, even skin in only seven days or even make me look a quarter as gorgeous as celeb devotees like Christina Hendrix, Julia Roberts or Veronica Webb, it’s worth it.
And did I mention that part of the sales (up to $100,000) go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital? If you get a chance, visit your local Lancôme counter or lancome-usa.com for your chance to improve your skin and the lives of children in need.
P.S. If you’re new to the Génefique line and happen to find yourself at a Lancôme counter today, ask for a deluxe seven-day sample free of charge.
October 11, 2010 at 12:14 pm , by Amanda Wolfe
Today, on National Coming Out Day, we want to take a minute to talk about tolerance. LHJ is committed to doing good—whether that’s awarding our Do Good stamp to companies that care or highlighting stories of amazing women who are making a difference. But at its most basic level, our do good message is one of everyday action: small acts of kindness that can transform someone’s day—and change the world. We’ve been watching the news lately with dismay. From vitriolic political mud-slinging to gay teens like Tyler Clementi being bullied so much that they feel there is no other option than to take their own lives… it just feels like there’s an awful lot of hatred and anger going around these days. It’s sad, and scary.
That’s why we’re happy to see movements like Love Is Louder (which helps spread the message that love and support is more powerful than all that hate). If we all take a minute to do something nice for someone else every day, and try to have an open mind when we’re dealing with people who aren’t like us, and make sure our friends and family members know that they have our unconditional love and support, we can absolutely make the world a happier place.
Photo by Helga Weber.
October 4, 2010 at 9:20 am , by Amanda Wolfe
Do you make a difference in your community, or know a woman who does? Maybe she started a local charity organization. Or she finds the time in her busy life to volunteer for a cause that’s close to her heart. We’re looking for these amazing women for our Difference-Makers Contest!
Nominate your difference-making lady today and she could be featured in an upcoming issue of Ladies’ Home Journal and on Better! Don’t know a difference-maker yourself? We bet someone in your community does: Help us spread the word! Click the “Share” button above to share with your family and friends via email, Facebook, Twitter and more.