Weekend To-Do (Good) List: Shopping Edition!

Last month we brought you the Weekend To-Do (Good) List: Circus Edition, and I rather enjoyed using a theme. This week, the stars aligned again and a theme emerged…shopping! No, I’m not going to tell you to spend Palm Sunday at the mall. That might be my worst nightmare. I will however make the following shopping suggestions for bringing some good works into your busy weekend: Have a good one and may your dollars make some change!

~~~S Wave~~~


1. Look Good While You Do Good

If you haven’t heard of Sevenly.org yet, it is time. This company produces very cool clothes with proceeds going to various charity organizations. The organization changes every week so it’s an exciting challenge to make your purchase before the clock runs out! No, I mean there really is a clock on their site counting down the time left. Pressure’s on!

This week, they’ve come up with trendy, comfy tees and jackets to support The Gentle Barn and especially its work with special needs and at-risk children. Check these styles out: Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 4.28.24 PM They always have great designs and artsy images. Obviously these would make great gifts too, for those of you who don’t want to spend money on yourselves. Find out more at www.sevenly.org!

2. Smart Easter Shopping

Easter is around the corner and though it is always tempting buy a real, live bunny for your little bundle of joy, please keep in mind the facts about cuniculture (yes, that is a word.) Cuniculture, or raising rabbits, is no joke and is just as much of a commitment as owning a dog or a cat. Maybe even harder! Rabbits aren’t generally the cuddly buddy you hope they will be. They tend to be more sensitive to noises, don’t usually like to be held, need a lot of quiet time and special housing, and they spray urine right on ya sometimes!

Now, of course there are exceptions to the rules, but unless you are ready to give your rabbit the time and energy it takes to bond with them, they will be facing a pretty sad life indeed–a life which, by the way, can last 10 years. Are you sure you want a pet rabbit until your child goes off to college??

In addition to all of that, breeding practices for rabbits are often cruel. Plus, post-Easter shoppers’ remorse results in abandoned, homeless rabbits and chicks every spring. So if you’re ABSOLUTELY sure you want to bring a rabbit into your family, raise it well no matter the cost, and give it the love it deserves, then please adopt, don’t shop.

Copy and share one of these Easter messages with your friends to spread this important information:EasterBunnyInfo



3. Speaking of Palm Sunday…

Sunday is a special holiday as Christians celebrate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is a day typically celebrated with special worship services and family gatherings. For those of you celebrating this holy day, may it be a beautiful time of communion between you and the Divine.

The reason it is called Palm Sunday is because the scripture says that Jesus’ followers laid palm fronds across his path and waved them as he passed.  What a different symbolism palm leaves have in our current times! As we’ve written about before in past Life As a Wave posts, the rapid demand for and production of palm oil has been devastating to our earth’s rich biodiversity, especially in areas of South America, Africa, and southeast Asia.


The campaigns to end the heartbreaking deforestation have been iconicized by the beautiful ape, the orangutan, which is facing the loss of massive amounts of its natural habitats.

laststand What can you do though, right? Once again, your money speaks. Palm oil can be tricky to spot since it’s derivatives go by so many names, but it’s likely that many of the items in your grocery cart contain palm oil. Now it’s easier than ever to find out for sure because the El Paso Zoo and SGB Solutions have designed the Palm Oil Guide and Scanner. This free app allows you to scan UPC codes to find out if your purchase contains palm oil or not. I downloaded the app yesterday and made some wiser shopping decisions for the future after scanning some items in my fridge.

There are palm oil alternatives flooding the market, and with our purchasing patterns plus our social media voice, change is possible.


That’s all, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you have a beautiful weekend and remember to let your dollars make some change!

~~~S Wave~~~


Now you can connect with Life As a Wave on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. We’ll see you there!


The Gibbon Conservation Center (and a giveaway you won’t want to miss!)

GCC Spec Feat

Welcome to a new development happening on Life As a Wave!

From time to time we will be bringing a Special Feature to our readers. Each feature will highlight a person, a film, a book, an organization, etc that we feel is doing important work of interconnection for the larger GOOD.  ~~~S Wave~~~ and Life As a Wave guest writers will be visiting places and interviewing people to find out more about these efforts and to bring inside detail straight to you.

And so, without further ado, I bring you our inaugural Special Feature:

Welcome to the Gibbon Conservation Center!

White-Cheeked Gibbon Credit: LIfe As a Wave

White-Cheeked Gibbon
Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

First thing first. Gibbons are not monkeys!

If you accidentally refer to them as monkeys at the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, California, you better be prepared to donate a quarter to the Monkey Pig.

The Monkey Pig

The Monkey Pig

"25¢ for saying 'Monkey'"

“25¢ for saying ‘Monkey'”

Since I had planned to visit to the GCC with my 3-year-old niece, I had reinforced the term “monkey” into my vocabulary by using that term with her repeatedly prior to our trip. Needless to say, I had to contribute a fair number of quarters into the Monkey Pig. Despite my best efforts, I found myself repeatedly saying, “…Monkey. Er! I mean…gibbon!” during our private tour with stellar tour guide, Neta Ambar.

Neta Ambar

Neta Ambar
Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

Neta knows pretty much all there is to know about gibbons, including of course the simple fact that they are technically “lesser apes.” Neta has been working at the center since 2008 and with a background in cognitive science and a longstanding interest in primatology, she was able to give us the full lowdown on everything gibbon.

The GCC is found about 40 minutes north of Los Angeles. It houses 41 gibbons which represent 5 species of the 17 species that exist. ALL species of gibbons are categorized as “vulnerable,” “endangered,” or “critically endangered.”  Their biggest predator is…..?

Us, of course. The decimation of their natural habitats and populations in southeast Asia is the result of factors such as mining, logging, political unrest, poaching, and the exotic animal trade–causes which are clearly intertwined. However, the most significant current threat to the gibbons’ habitats is…..


…palm oil.

Palm oil is a food additive that is ubiquitous in the foods that you’ll find on your grocery store shelf. The oil and it’s derivatives are easy to spot on an ingredients label. Just look for anything “palm.”

To plant massive fields of palm, companies such as Nestlé are leveling rainforest ecosystems and devastating the populations of animals that live there, including gibbon species. It is estimated that over 26 million acres of rainforest have been destroyed for palm fields.

Palm oil plantation adjacent to native rainforest.

The GCC collaborates internationally with other Species Survival Plans, or SSP’s which work together to repopulate endangered species that are put at risk by rainforest destruction and many other threats. The GCC itself houses the rarest group of apes in the Western Hemisphere. The gibbons here are kept in enclosures in paired or family units. The apes are not tamed so as to better prepare them for possible reintroduction and to help them maintain their family units.

Mother and son. Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

Mother and son.
Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

Though it can still be hard for us animal lovers to see animals in chainlink enclosures, the greater good certainly prevails at GCC. The enclosures are designed to allow for the brachiating (arm swinging) that is the gibbons’ main mode of transport and exercise. (Sidenote: Did you know that their other way of getting around is by walking upright? They are our only other relative to do so on a regular basis.)

Armspans can be near twice a gibbon's height! Credit: Life As a Wave

White-Cheeked Gibbon. Armspans can be nearly twice a gibbon’s height!
Photo credit: Life As a Wave

Also, it is reassuring to know that some of the enclosures are temporary since 1) the facility is frequently undergoing renovations to expand the apes’ space and 2) some of the gibbons will be released back into the wild.

Javan Gibbon. (My favorite.) Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

Ivan, a 40 year-old grandfather Javan Gibbon.
Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

The GCC has been doing its important work for 37 years and is funded through grants and donations. A team of volunteers, veterinarians and an exceptionally smaller number of full-time employees take great care to tend to the gibbons’ needs, including the 7-10 meals per day that they require. Joe, the volunteer who greeted us during our visit, has given his time for 8 months and drives over an hour from Long Beach to do so.

Neta and Joe are doing their good work. It was an honor to spend the afternoon with them and an equal honor to meet the gibbons they care for. Our interconnection with the earth and with our non-human animal partners calls us to be aware of and involved in some way with their plights. (Because, see, their needs are ultimately our needs too…interconnection.)

So what are some of these ways to be involved? I have 5 suggestions for you. My first suggestion has gradually become my response to most cases of the “But what can I do?” question. No matter what the context, I believe the best and most basic answer to that query is similar to the Pablo Picasso quote:

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

So my first suggestion to you is FIND YOUR GIFT! How will this help the gibbons? Because the more we walk in our gifts and begin to share them with the world, the more the world will begin to change. I am coming to believe more vigorously that the state of our future (ecological, political, spiritual and social) as a species depends heavily on our individual willingness to realize the thing that we are here to do and to enact it, despite how crazy it might seem!

Number two: Stop eating palm oil! I know this is a hard one because palm oil seems to be in everything. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. How about cutting out some products with palm oil. I’m sure you can do without some of those processed foods anyway!

Number three: Sign a petition against palm oil or find local anti-palm initiatives that you can participate in. Click here for a list of ways to get involved. Now is a good time to do so since just earlier this month momentum began building toward positive industry changes.

Number four: Donate to the Gibbon Conservation Center! After all, doesn’t your year-end giving need a little boost? And which of you doesn’t know some child in our lives who wouldn’t like to “adopt” a baby ape like this one??

Dennis the baby gibbon.

Dennis the baby gibbon.
Photo Credit: Life As a Wave

You can make that possible for them by clicking here.

Lastly, number five: Visit the GCC and preservations like it in person. You will be showing your support while also allowing yourself and those with you to connect to the animals in a way that can’t be done through a computer. Nothing is quite like looking into the eyes of an animal and realizing that we really are all in this together.

Javan Gibbon Photo Credit: LIfe As a Wave

Javan Gibbon
Photo Credit: Life As a Wave



And now, GCC and Life As a Wave would like to thank YOU for supporting the center’s mission and for making time to connect with the animals in your life. You are thus invited to enter to receive a special gift from the Gibbon Conservation Center simply for spreading the word about the GCC’s good work. No, a live ape will not be delivered to your doorstep! Nice try. But you will receive a T-shirt and a 2014 calendar from the center. All you have to do is:

1) Share this post with either your WordPress or Facebook network. For Facebook, just copy and past this URL to your page: https://lifeasawave.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/gcc/ OR click on the link by the comment box below.

2) Leave a comment letting us know how you find a way to connect to animals in your life.

A winner will be selected soon, on December 24th, so don’t monkey around! Drat, there’s another quarter.


Be well, readers. Stay tuned for another Special Feature in January when we will introduce you to a beautiful new film. Brace yourself for some stunning images!

Weekend To-Do-Good List – 6/22/13

I’m a huge fan of To-Do lists. Sticky notes are my best friend. This is an aerial view of my desk at this very moment (3pm, 6-21-13).There IS an order, though you might not see it.

There IS an order, though you might not see it.

About half of those are probably some version of a to-do list.

And so it is with great solemnity and in deep reverence for The List that I share with you a list designed especially for YOU. It’s not just any old “To-Do” list though…it’s a To-Do-GOOD list. So in the midst of the leisure and labor that I’m sure will be part of your weekend, make some time for the giving back that we always want to do but have a hard time finding time for in our busy schedules.

I’ll make it very easy for you. Just click on the links or pictures below to do a small good deed. If you have a campaign, organization, petition, or gathering that you arepart of, that is doing good for the world, and that you would like to share with your fellow readers, feel free to provide a link in the comment section!

Without further ado…… ladies and gentlemen, your weekend To-Do-Good list!

1. Orangutans  

As most of you probably know, the Palm Oil industry is swiftly decimating the wild orangutan populations by destroying their ecosystems. Here are some ways to help:

Sign this petition!


Take this pledge to reduce purchasing products with Palm Oil!



2. Veterans

We continue to hear about the social and financial struggles that our veterans face. While I bite my lip and keep this apolitical, I invite you to take these steps to support The Mission Continues…an organization that is thinking outside the box and getting real results in their work with veterans.


Find out about The Mission Continues from the founder himself HERE.

Visit their website and consider donating to their cause HERE.

3. Healthy Eating

You know that you’ve been meaning to change your diet! You want to eat less meat, drink less soda, try more organic…maybe even dip your toe into the raw food world. You can do it! Challenge yourself to try removing one bad thing from your diet or adding one good thing. Maybe just for one day a week. Find something doable and go for it! Here are some helpful sources to motivate you….

14 Things You Really Don’t Want To Know About Your Groceries

PETA’s Vegetarian/Vegan Starter Kit

Find a farmers market near you with Localharvest.org.

Find vegetarian, vegan, and veg-friendly restaurants and stores near you with HappyCow! They have a great app for this too.