2021 Brand Partners on MLK Day

Today’s post is a bit unusual, but only because I’ve never explained how our family determines brand partnerships. We don’t do paid posts or sponsored ads, in fact we don’t even have ads enabled on the site. That’s because we give great thought to who we choose to work with. For example, when food brands reach out asking for us to try their products, asking for placement on social media, the first thing I do is check ingredient sourcing. Are these ingredients we actually recommend, is the product sustainable and environmentally-friendly, are the animals treated humanely? These are all screening questions I ask.

Why now?

This year, in 2021, as I work on my personal development and business plans for the year,  I’m adding more criteria to the vetting process. Do they believe in science? How do they treat the humans that work for them or purchase their products? Honestly, I’m a bit upset at myself for not asking those questions previously. After all, we have over 400 science-based podcasts and the sidebar bio on this very blog says “science nerds at heart.” So, while it seems natural to me as someone who (literally) provides recommendations as a living, it might feel odd to you to see some of the brands I’ve previously used fall off this list.

I’m writing this today, inspired by many of Martin Luther King’s quotes, to no longer be silent. As a foster family we have undergone extensive training and had first-hand experiences with the vulnerable population affected by decisions made for an individual instead of for the good of all of the people.

As a family, we stand in solidarity with millions of others who condemn the assault on the US Capitol last week. I was sad to see members of our “health and wellness” supporting it or simply not denouncing the insurrection. Then I realized I myself had not formally stated our stance on this: we condemn racism and white supremacy.

This isn’t political

I know many believe politics are unrelated to wellness. But, our leaders decide what social service programs are provided to the vulnerable populations. Food insecurity, food quality, access to healthcare, and the mental stress of living below the poverty line tremendously affect health. If we focus only on what those with privilege can do to optimize health, we are leaving behind a significant portion of the population.  I had to ask myself: what good does non-toxic living education do for someone who fears for their safety? 

It is why the double standard in the response to the insurrection, compared to any Black Lives Matter protests, ignited further need for action on my part.  Then, of course, the blatant white supremacy displayed was and will always be unacceptable. I didn’t get any of this even just a year ago. Listening, learning, and processing helped me make sense of it all.

2020 Recap

In 2020, we donated over $10,000 and supported non-partisan organizations focused equality in many communities. Including but not limited to Equal Justice Initiative, America’s Kids Belong and their Dream Maker Project, as well as World Central Kitchen. This year we have already begun fundraisers for Fair Vote and Human Rights First.

We also took diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) training, took anti-racist online classes from Black creators, watched educational documentaries, listen to or read books, went to therapy to process it all, and shared that knowledge with our children so that they too can continue to Do Better as they Know Better. You can see some of our resources as a result of that here:

  • Learning about anti-racism, IGTV
  • Racial Disparities in Health and Black Lives Matter podcast, The Whole View ep 407
  • Domestic Terrorism thoughts from January 6th, 2021, on Instagram
  • Saved highlights from discussions of privilege, on Instagram
  • Saved highlights on facts and core values, on Instagram

Plans for 2021

In that learning bore the idea that as a privileged person, with the means to protect the vulnerable, I must stand up. I now get all the MLK quotes shared with me as a child that seemed so obvious – but recent events have shown us they aren’t. It meant finding companies that are BIPOC owned, or are vocally transparent about their support and stances against racial injustices. I want to work with brands that choose to proactively support science and the idea of wellness for all, especially the most vulnerable.

Affiliates

This meant I needed to take action and make changes. I personally reached out to and spoke with many brands through emails, phone calls, and research on their websites and social media. I also spoke with colleagues for their insights to see if I’d missed anything. This is my plan going forward and I’m confident in it. I will continue to listen and learn to ensure I stay educated. This list is not entirely exhaustive, and certainly will share when I find more. Without further ado – today, I shift focus onto the brands I’m excited to support and work with this year:

  • Force of Nature
  • Wantable
  • Etsy
  • Beautycounter
  • The Detox Market
  • Thrive Market
  • Butcher Box
  • Balanced Bites
  • Legit Bread Co
  • Primal Palate
  • CBD Living

See below for more on each with discounts and links included. All of these are affiliate links – which is my point. I’ve been blogging for over 10 years and always partner with brands with whom I genuinely use and love. I’ve used that phrase countless times.  These may not align for you – that’s OK, too!

Force of Nature

This cleaning solution is the very definition of science: the family-friendly way to clean safely, Force of Nature is an appliance that turns tap water, plus a capsule of salt, water & vinegar, into a cleaner and disinfectant. It’s on the EPA’s list of Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19. Their website has a ton of information on how this multi-purpose cleaning agent is tested to perform better than the harsh chemical name brands you’re used to, while also being the most affordable in the long run, with just the need for eco-friendly “refills” once you have the electric system. I also love that their social channels are inclusive.

Our family also uses 7th Generation (unscented) for the remaining household cleaning products (like dish soap). They’re a B Corp demonstrating their values of people and planet.

LEARN MORE ABOUT FORCE OF NATURE HERE

BUY FORCE OF NATURE BUNDLE HERE and get 25% off with code STAYWELL25

Wantable

Wantable came to my attention from researching alternatives to StitchFix. I kept getting boxes with items that didn’t feel personally selected for me, so I tried Wantable. I liked that they had inclusive sizing for both “style” (who needs that in the last year?!) and “active” (definitely needed more leggings). Over the past 8 months or so I’ve tried about a dozen boxes. Each one has felt personally selected for me with my preferences considered.

I’m adding them to the list because they proactively sent out an email in support of science and giving back. Even better? They offer sustainable clothing options with recycled bottle, organic cotton, and other materials that are better for the earth. A brand that is doing good all around? Definitely makes my list!

GET $25 OFF WANTABLE HERE and get $25 off your first box

 

Etsy

I’ve been Etsy obsessed for over a decade. I have an ongoing wish list I ask the boys to choose gifts from for me. And, may or may not have gotten a LOT of houseplants and ceramics there in recent months. I love that they support small artisan businesses – which means women, BIPOC, and other minority-owned businesses get a platform to sell and market their goods. This year Etsy stepped up, highlighting Black owned businesses. I loved the Editor’s Picks that made it easy to find and support equity and inclusion.

SHOP STACY’S FAVORITES HERE

SHOP BLACK OWNED BUSINESSES HERE

Beautycounter

Their mission is to “put safer products into the hands of everyone,” and their advocacy has made a difference with changed laws in Hawaii and California accordingly. That is what will make lives better for the vulnerable populations. Admittedly, I wished Beautycounter had made a public this month, I do know they are committed to denouncing white supremacy and giving back to the Black and BIPOC communities. You can read their Black Lives Matter Commitment here.

Beautycounter also donated products to both the military and frontline health care workers in 2020. I personally attended several DE&I trainings, have seen the hiring process be inclusive, and know what their diversity goals are going forward. I genuinely believe, had the brand new VP of DE&I not started the day before the insurrection, we would have seen a statement. That said, as a leader partnering with this brand, I will continue to use my voice accordingly.

SHOP BEAUTYCOUNTER WITH STACY TOTH HERE and use code CLEANFORALL20 in Jan 2020 or CHANGEBEAUTY10 any other time for 10-20% your order when using an e-mail that’s never ordered before.

Detox Market

I shared my blog post about favorite finds at the Detox Market here, and was thrilled to find – when looking further into their brand – how supportive they are of both science and DE&I. Their Black Lives Matter Commitment is both internal, and outward facing – pledging $1M to Black owned clean beauty brands to support their growth. I love that their Coronavirus response addresses both how they treat their own employees as well as in-store customers.  This will definitely continue to be a go-to for me on items I cannot find with Beautycounter.

SHOP THE DETOX MARKET HERE and get 10% off with DETOX10

Thrive Market

Check out their Environmental Commitment to people and planet, Thrive is working to be “the planet’s most environmentally responsible market.” While also giving back to communities to ensure everyone has access to healthy, affordable options. Their one-for-one membership matching program means that your paid Thrive Market membership provides a free one for a low-income family, student, teacher, veteran, or first responder. As a community, we can all thrive together.

You get 2 free gifts, your membership provides one as a gift to another person who needs one, and you’ll save a ton shopping there! I have a full shopping list coming soon. In the meantime, see how we cleaned out our pantry and started shopping with them in 2020 HERE.

SHOP THRIVE MARKET HERE and get 25% off your first order plus a free gift

Thrive Market Collagen

Yes, this gets its own line. I’ve previously endorsed and supported two collagen companies that I no longer use or recommend. So I went back to basics and realized Thrive’s collagen, the one I’d purchased and used on my own for nearly half this year may meet the criteria, but I’d never asked. Thanks to Danielle Walker, who was also on this search with me, we were able to ask the hard questions about ingredient sourcing, chemicals used to create the dissolvable collagen, and confirmed there are no anti-caking agents.

What I love about this discovery is that it’s one less place to have to buy from and it’s nearly half the cost of the other collagens when looking at price per serving. If you’re not yet a Thrive Member, this alone is reason to join.

SHOP THRIVE MARKET HERE and get 25% off your first order plus a free gift

Butcher Box

Squee! I was so excited to see Butcher Box’s recent B Corp certification. We’ve been leaning on their high quality humane meat deliveries through quarantine. Any way to avoid more trips to the store is a win for this house! This certification means they’ve demonstrated transparency in their commitment to people and planet – what it’s all about!

SHOP BUTCHER BOX HERE and get free meat and money off!

Balanced Bites

This wholesome foods retailer has an option to donate meals to frontline health workers, requires safe mask use, and is a social justice supporter.  Our family has come to depend on their organic spice line; the toasted garlic chunks in the Super Garlic and Bagel blends are like nothing I’ve ever tasted from any other brand. And Trifecta is used pretty much everyday here. I love the wide selection of nightshade-free options, like Tex Mex blend. Even more, her nut mix, granolas, and prepared frozen meals are epic. I love that the meals can be ready in 5 minutes, are in BPA-free containers, and are recyclable.

Full disclosure, Balanced Bites is owned by Diane Sanfilippo who is a friend of mine – so there’s clearly bias there. But it means I also know her values, mission, ingredient screening process better than most other brands I partner with.

SHOP BALANCED BITES HERE and get $15 off your first box of meals with code STACY!

Legit Bread Co

Legit Bread Co is run by a jewish mother of 3 and military wife. She has been committed to social justice and thoughtful science (both holistic and western medicine) for as long as I’ve known her. The mixes she makes are such a useful shortcut tool in our home. The boys and I use the pancake and waffle mix at least once a month – even as a batter for squash blossoms! Not only do I personally know the owner’s deep commitment, it is demonstrated publicly here: Mask Use and Black Lives Matter

Full disclosure, Legit Bread Co is owned by Jennifer Robins who  is a friend of mine – so there’s clearly bias there. But it means I also know her values, mission, ingredient screening process better than most other brands I partner with.

SHOP LEGIT BREAD CO HERE and use STACY10 for 10% off

Primal Palate

Organic grain-free baking and cooking supplies, like high quality extracts, sugar, salts, spices and pre-made cookie dough! My favorite: the AIP-friendly Breakfast Blend. Primal Palate is also co-owned by a jewish family who fight for equality. They have shared their health journey of both holistic and western practices that have helped their family bloom beautifully. They have been open and committed to their support of science and Black Lives Matter. We recently tried their new cookie doughs and think you’ll love them too! See their statement in support of BLM here, I have also reached out and confirmed with the brand owners their support of science as it relates to safety, health and wellness for all.

Full disclosure, Primal Palate is owned by Bill & Hayley Staley who are friends of mine – so there’s clearly bias there. But it means I also know their values, mission, ingredient screening process better than most other brands I partner with.

SHOP PRIMAL PALATE HERE

CBD Living

I know it’s a taboo topic, but CBD (from a reputable source) doesn’t have any psychotropic properties and is legal across the US. I wish I would have tried it sooner! The last year is unprecedented and more stressful than anything in our lifetimes. CBD has become my go-to to get solid sleep, ease anxiety, and even to reduce inflammation to relieve back pain during flares.

Our family uses CBD Living because they have a wide variety of products that are effective, are grown organically in the US, and are lab tested to ensure no THC in any batches. They are pro-science and love that their leadership team pictured is very diverse. Plus, they offer discounts for military, healthcare workers, teachers and more.

Check out our detailed science-based podcasts (or skin the show notes) to learn more about the health benefits:

BUY CBD LIVING HERE

Other brands I love, too

These brands don’t necessarily have affiliate programs, but I will continue to patron and support them:

  • Hungry Harvest
    a produce delivery that is environmentally-friendly and gives back to those in need of food
  • Rothy’s
    sustainable footwear using recycled materials
  • Who Gives a Crap
    sustainable toilet paper that gives back to those in need
  • Honey Pot Co
    sustainable and better for you feminine care
  • Girlfriend Collective
    sustainable workout and lounge attire with strong diversity inclusion
  • Herbivore
    clean beauty brand committed to supporting Black beauty businesses (I recommend buying them at Detox Market for the discount)
  • Just Thrive Probiotics
    this is an affiliate link, this supplement brand gives back to vulnerable populations in need

The bad news

I absolutely support free speech and an individual’s rights to express their own beliefs. And just as I recognize there will be consequences to my openness, I choose who I support based in part on what they say as well. I feel as a privileged person it is my responsibility to stand up for the vulnerable, to be willing to forgo advantages, like income from affiliate programs, in order to take a stance. These changed recommendations are not made from assumptions, but rather direct reach out, research, and conversations.

It is with heartbreak and sorrow that I personally no longer use, and therefore can no longer recommend the following brands:

  • Vital Proteins

    after noticing a changed consistency (clumping) in my usual collagen, I looked into it and their formula changed last year; it now includes corn-based ascorbic acid and hyaluronic acid, which is a fermented “plant based” source – though don’t disclose which plant, HA is usually sourced from wheat and as a celiac is not worth the risk for me

  • Anthony Gustin’s brands: Equip and Perfect Keto

    my platform focuses on science-based information, including BMI being more wrong than right as a predictor of health, not to mention how fat shaming causes harm to health. My messages of self love, body positivity, and acceptance are my core beliefs. Choosing to make a judgement on someone’s appearance is what I work so hard to help us not do, I cannot partner with a brand who so readily does 

  • Primally Pure

    after personally reaching out to inquire about their sponsoring of what I perceive to be divisive videos that use hate speech, they wrote me in strong support of that decision. I recognized public statements made later now counter the sentiment, but given the direct clarity given to me personally it is not a brand I will be using or recommending any longer

  • BluBlox

    another paid sponsor of the aforementioned videos, we had a phone call that made it clear we mutually are choosing to no longer work together

4 brands, 3 very different reasons

That’s OK, things evolve and change. This has happened in years’ past too. I just felt it would be weird if I’d promoted and supported brands in the past, and then just stopped with no explanation or reason. It’s not “cancel culture”. That feels like a defensive response to how we all choose to behave as consumers. And recommendations are part of my job. Years ago when we walked away from the Paleo Parents label and I asked what words came to mind when you thought of us, “real” was by far and away the most prominent. I am nothing if not authentic, honest, and open.

I am sharing this public information from many hours worth of research that led me to make my informed decisions, I encourage you all to also be educated consumers. My personal beloved brands may not be a good fit for everyone. That’s OK – it’s why our country prohibits monopolies and protects free speech. From that, we can each make decisions on how we want to leverage commerce as an engine for change.

Please know this decision doesn’t benefit me, in fact I will lose significant income. But, it is what I feel is right – for the benefit of others. I am loyal to a fault; it breaks my heart to think a brand I once aligned with is no longer a good fit for me. But that’s the reality of listening and learning how to be an ally. There are plenty of other brands out there I am excited to partner with, as you’ve seen. That’s what I choose to focus on!

If you have questions about other brands not on this list – either to suggest further research or because you think we’d love them, we’d love to hear from you!

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