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What The Hell Was Magic Dirt?

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The pandemic has been a surreal time for all of us. Filled with job losses, canceled events,  toilet paper hoarding, and one of the weirdest MLMs to grace the internet. 

That’s right, amidst a time of widespread panic, yet another predatory MLM company was pedaling their shitty “product” to unsuspecting people. And I put “product” in quotations because, well, it was dirt. Dirt which was advertised to have many health benefits. In turn, it was circulated by many many anti-vax and COVID deniers. 

What a time to be alive. 

Here’s the breakdown of the Magic Dirt controversy; one of the many reasons to NEVER trust an MLM. 

Planting The Seeds

From Instagram

It all began in May of 2021 when we were finally getting into the rhythm of our “new normal.” Of course, health was a huge talking point in the media. It’s no surprise that many alternative medicines were taking social media by storm. It was during this month when people saw a very peculiar brand on the rise. Depictions began circulating with smiling women slathering black mud on their faces, drinking jars of black liquid, and placing their babies’ feet in a tub of black water.

In the captions, they listed the numerous benefits of using this new  “magic dirt.”  And of course, the benefits varied from person to person. You might read one post that credits the dirt with curing her child’s low energy and constipation. Then you might scroll on to read another post claiming that it rejuvenates the skin while calming anxiety. 

One thing these posts had in common is that they contained the hashtag #BOO while providing a shoutout to the company Black Oxygen Organics.

So, what does Black Oxgen Organics have to say about their “magic dirt”? As a brand, they described their product as,

 “the end product and smallest particle of the decomposition of ancient, organic matter.” 

Yeah, it’s purposely vague. In short, Magic Dirt is supposed to be a form of fulvic acid. This is a compound derived from the decayed plants of an Ontario peat bog. Sounds super rejuvenating, right? 

To be fair, fulvic acid is shown to help with allergies, and gastrointestinal function. But as with your average MLM, Black Magic Organics has exaggerated these benefits to the tenth power. They’ve taken these benefits, and used them to sell 4.5 ounces of literal dirt; sealed in a fancy black bag and stamped with a $110 price tag. And if that didn’t feel like a slap in the face already; this stuff didn’t even come with free shipping!

Magic Dirt is claimed to be safe for anyone of any age. This includes your children and your pets. It’s been said to help heart health, brain function, and pretty much every common health problem in the world.

Of course, with it being 2021 and all, it started getting sent around to anti-vax and COVID-sceptical groups. So instead of getting treatment for a deadly virus, people were mixing mud in their smoothies and calling it a day. 

The Immediate Downfall

From @blackoxygenorganics on Instagram

As Instagrammers and TikTokers promoted this “cure-all” product, an alarming number of women were eager to become direct sellers. For many, this company was their first introduction to the notorious Multi-Level-Marketing schemes. 

That is until the professionals got involved. You see, Magic Dirt was not at all FDA approved. And when health regulators from the U.S. and Canada got wind of its popularity, they investigated. They called for multiple product holds at the border, which in turn gave rise to an army of online skeptics. 

And in typical MLM fashion, Black Oxygen Organics took their money and ran for the hills. Only about six months after its initial success, the company announced that it was officially shutting down. This initiated a very public backlash from online sellers. They grieved the end of miracle supplements, while also petitioning to win back the thousands they invested in direct selling. 

Unfortunately, most victims of these schemes will likely never see their money again.

The fact of the matter is that Black Oxygen Organics and similar companies are based on a scam. Period. That’s what everyone needs to remember, so they can avoid making the same mistakes as so many others. Always be on the looking out for predatory companies.

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5 Questions To Ask About Financial Sustainability

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When it comes to financial sustainability, you’re going to want to know as much as possible. As the negative effects of climate change exacerbate, financial sectors are (finally) starting to shift their investments toward Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations. 

Sustainable finance is the process of taking ESG considerations into account when making viable investments. That means putting money into companies that develop renewable energy, hire and promote employ members of marginalized communities, and infrastructure that will help protect humans in at-risk environments. 

This is a very serious, very complicated issue that we are running out of time to meaningfully tackle. There is also the risk that many of these efforts are performative (see: greenwashing), we have to make sure we are keeping those in power accountable. 

Once again, we bring in our favorite finance expert, Danetha Doe Chief Economist at Clever Real Estate and creator of Money & Mimosas. There is a lot to consider when financing sustainability – and she’s here to break it down in a digestible way. 

Here are 5 questions you should ask when considering financing sustainability, as explained by Danetha Doe. 

Are these investments profitable? Or is this just charity for rich folks to pat themselves on the back?

Imperial College of London’s business school ran a multi-country analysis comparing the returns from each country’s largest fossil fuel and renewable energy stocks over the last 10 years. They found that renewable energy stocks delivered higher returns for both 5 and 10-year time periods. 

Some people such as Kara Swisher and Chamath Palihapitiya think the next trillionaire will be someone that cracks a major problem in green energy. And for better or for worse, Elon is the richest person in the world based primarily on Tesla’s value. 

All this to say, the answer is YES. You can care about the planet and make money at the same time.

Will these investments actually help the environment in tangible ways? How soon?

Broadly, yes, these investments will help – and are helping – the environment in tangible ways. Investing in solar panels, rainwater harvesting, and electric vehicles while divesting from fossil fuels will help to reduce the pollution from power plants. 

The timeline of course correcting the damage that has already been done depends on a lot of factors. addition to investments from individuals, we need governmental bodies, Wall Street, and other parts of the private sector to continue to get on board. 

President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act includes environmental measures that will go a long way to support climate change efforts. The fashion industry, one of the biggest pollution culprits, has started to place a bigger emphasis on resale which will help to reduce waste. Wall Street has pumped out ESG funds that are more greenwashing than helpful, so we will need to hold them accountable. 

As an individual, the way you choose to spend and invest your money will go a long way because it will force corporations to prioritize sustainability efforts.

Will taxing the wealthiest people their fair share help? Would something like a ban on private jets help?

The short answer is maybe. The corporate tax structure may need to be reviewed, but I’m a bigger fan of adding fees to resource use to cover the externalities and then redistributing those funds to climate change efforts. For example, Kourtney Kardashian exceeded her water allotment budget by 101,000 gallons in June. Instead of increasing her base income tax percentage, maybe there’s a fee of $1,000 for each gallon over the allotment budget. The $101,000,000 fee is then redistributed to technology companies solving the freshwater scarcity crisis. 

Instead of banning private jets, you should have to pay a carbon fee for each ride. These fees might not stop the behavior, but they could finance the changes needed to get us to a greener future.

There are wealthy people who are actively trying to help with climate change efforts. Instead of penalizing all of them with a blanket tax, I suggest adding fees to resource use.

What kind of expenses will we be looking at if we fail to address climate change?

Deloitte’s report shows that inaction will cost the U.S. economy $14.5 trillion by 2070. Utility officials in Illinois estimate the warmer summers could cost locals an additional $11 billion over the next 30 years. By 2040, extreme heat in Arizona could add up to $110 to residents’ electric bills each year, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago predicts homeowner’s insurance premiums to rise due to climate change. In fact, some insurers have already stopped covering parts of California deemed too risky because of wildfires

Why me? Why do I have to make these changes? Should it just be the corporations since they’re the ones ruining the world?

This is an all-hands-on-deck scenario. Corporations should be held accountable, but they do respond to your spending and investing decisions. Greenwashing wouldn’t exist if corporations thought no one cared about the environment. At the very least, be selfish and think about the fact that the quality of the environment directly impacts you. The more you do your part, the greater chance you’ll have at being able to enjoy the beautiful outdoors without worrying about fire smoke ruining your lungs or extreme flooding wiping out your island vacation home.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Investing in ESG is critical – but we have to be selective where we divest and relentless in our pursuit to ensure accountability. Further things to consider when financing sustainability are: 

  • Are these ESGs contributing to organizations or projects that counteract environmental harms perpetuated by the company? Or are they arbitrary investments that let them greenwash their reputation/only investments that provide “accreditation” over genuine impact?
  • Are ESGs investing in genuine solutions, or projects that perpetuate inequities and environmental harm?
  • Are companies engaging with ESGs also changing their own practices? Probably not: “They found that the companies in the ESG portfolios had worse compliance record for both labor and environmental rules. They also found that companies added to ESG portfolios did not subsequently improve compliance with labor or environmental regulations.”
    • Also – looking at ESG investments relative to a company’s other investments is imperative.

We send many thanks to Danetha Doe for her expertise in the financial field and her lovely disposition. Be sure to check out Money & Mimosas for other financial tips! 

Big thank you to Molly Blondell for her perspective on sustainable finance as an expert in the field. 

We can solve the climate crisis – we have a lot of work ahead of us. Get involved in your community, start in your neighborhood. Organize a clean-up, press your local officials to get serious about recycling programs, any little thing you can do helps. 

Let’s get to work.

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Lifestyle

Why You Need These 5 Mental Strengths to Achieve Success

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two women

According to psychotherapist and best-selling author Jody Michael, there are five main mental muscles that help us develop our emotional intelligence and resilience to build better interpersonal relationships that allow us to succeed in life. She states that many have mastered these mental strengths, but most people simply aren’t there yet. 

Much like how we exercise to stay physically fit, these mental strengths can be practiced and developed to help us succeed. 

1. Accountability

Many people wrongfully believe that they’ve mastered accountability, but personal responsibility goes far beyond daily menial duties like picking up your kids from school or doing the groceries. Proper accountability can be achieved when you:

  • Own up to your feelings and the circumstances that led to them instead of blaming others. 
  • Fully understand your participation in the events’ results while also being able to determine other potential contributors. 
  •  Have a grasp of what’s yours and hold others to owning up to what’s theirs. 

2. Helpful Beliefs

Beliefs are often thought of as truths but are simple assumptions that can be adjusted. Depending on the lenses you view them with, these beliefs can be examined and challenged to develop new ones. Here are some lenses you can set:

  • Collaborative lens: An inclusive perspective, this approach focuses on the concept that “I win when you win,” allowing everyone to gain insight no matter the result. 
  • Possibility lens: This view allows you to gain perspective by taking a step back, allowing you to see all possible problems, doubts, and obstacles to gain insight and perceive a better outcome. 
  • Opportunity lens: Seeing in this manner allows you to find opportunities no matter your situation.

3. Self-Assessment

Assessing your internal state, such as your self-doubt, the emotions you may feel, and the sensations you are experiencing, is vital to understanding your moods. For example, you may be experiencing a painful headache that is actually being brought on by the fears and anger you are going through. Knowing these self-assessment muscles allows you to determine which combination of experiences you are feeling, which helps you manage and regulate your responses to those triggers. 

4. Holding Multiple Perspectives

happy adults

Considering and understanding different perspectives that may not align with yours can help you live a happier life. Many people tend to stand firm on their individual viewpoints, which often leads to disagreement. When you’re not focused on proving yourself right and allowing differences in opinions to exist, you won’t need to enact judgment on who’s right or wrong. Letting go of this black and white mentality and accepting the reality of complexity among ourselves allows us to value our respective endeavors. 

5. Calming Your Physiology

We all must understand that our thoughts can influence our nervous systems, significantly affecting our physical state. We can choose to get wound up over anything easily or develop the ability to calm ourselves instead. By practicing effective techniques such as muscle relaxation and breathing exercises, we can manage and control the triggers that may set us off to be better. 

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Lifestyle

The ONLY 4 Happy Hormones You Need

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balloons

The human brain produces four feel-good hormones associated with happiness: Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphin, and Oxytocin. These innately made chemicals are responsible for many bodily processes, such as triggering your feelings of happiness and helping regulate your mood. 

In our daily lives, there are many stressors that contribute to anxiety and low morale. Knowing how to improve your outlook with simple practices that boost your mood can significantly benefit the way you go on with your day. Specific happy hormones are triggered by certain events or rewards that lead to positive feelings, such as happiness and pleasure. Activities like cooking, reading, exercising, and listening to music are some examples of practices that can help you feel better and enhance your mood.  

Boosting Happy Hormones Naturally

The four hormones responsible for happiness can be specifically activated naturally to provide the boost you might need to face the challenges of your day. Knowing how these hormones work can help you set your feelings and actions towards triggering them. 

Dopamine 

happy couple

Identified as the “feel-good” hormone, dopamine plays a huge part in your brain’s motivation and reward systems. It is responsible for pleasure, memory, and learning, which is why it gets activated when you aim to achieve exciting goals. The expectation of claiming a reward once a goal has been achieved triggers dopamine release in our system, providing an extra boost of energy that helps in the effort. 

Drinking coffee and consuming sugar are common ways of increasing dopamine in our system. However, there are simpler ways of conditioning yourself to boost dopamine more naturally. This can be achieved by setting new goals for yourself and taking small achievements every day to fulfilling them can provide you the reward of developing new dopamine pathways that make you happier. 

Whether it’s a professional goal or taking on a new sport or hobby, the practice of taking on challenges and completing goals can help you boost your mood and stay motivated. 

Serotonin

This neurotransmitter regulates your mood and is responsible for your appetite, digestion, sleep, and even bone health. In addition, serotonin is a vital hormone to control anxiety and depression. 

Having belief in your self-worth and the feeling of being confident can trigger your serotonin response. In addition, building a habit of believing in yourself by adapting to something new and conquering new challenges can help build confidence and boost your serotonin. 

Oxytocin

women

Oxytocin is responsible for bonding relationships and the feeling of trust. This “love hormone” is also essential for biological activities such as childbirth, breastfeeding, and the development of parent-child bonding. 

Social trust and physical intimacy can trigger your oxytocin response. Emotional connection with who you interact is also crucial to how this hormone is released, which is why developing relationships and trust networks can help you achieve more positive steps. 

Endorphins

Endorphins are your body’s natural pain reliever, which is why they are primarily associated with exercising. These hormones provide pleasure and mitigate pain, allowing you to push through tasks like running or trying to survive without being hampered by injury. 

Doing activities that you love, such as watching a movie or eating your favorite food, can help you release endorphins. Laughter is also a natural way to gain a burst of this hormone. 

And for other stories and news, read more here at Owner’s Mag!

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