It’s a powerful thing when women take action. Little actions in the face of big problems, taking on things that matter and inspiring all of us to do the same.
Char San Pedro is a feminist, friend, humanitarian, social entrepreneur, advocate, community-builder, and writer. We can’t help but feel inspired by Char’s creative and spiritual approaches to social and environmental issues in her community and abroad. Scroll down to watch the video feature and written interview with our leading lady Char.
What inspired you to start Good To Be Good Foundation?
Charity has always been an important part of my life and the moral makeup of who I am. My grandma nurtured the virtues of generosity and community and encouraged me to navigate through the realities of the world with eyes and heart wide open. In a world that promotes self-indulgence, cynicism, and individual isolation, my grandma knew life was so much more. I learned very early on that a life of serving is one of the most rewarding commitments you can ever make for yourself and for those you care about. The act of giving is more than the benevolent act itself – it’s an investment in the welfare of others that reaps lasting benefits for everyone. The concept of ‘charity’ has always been an evolving one for me, but this perspective has remained the same – no matter how small the deed may be, if it’s done with love and conviction, it will make a difference.
In 2015, I was volunteering at a local homeless shelter and I noticed the urgency for basic essentials. For my birthday, I asked my friends to bring canned goods, baby items, and new toiletries in lieu of gifts.
The tradition would continue for a year at any informal gathering we had going on. As an aside, it was during that time I noticed that a number of people really wanted to be of help and give back to their community but had no idea where to start. Upon reflecting, I realized that charity isn’t something we just do, it’s a vocation. A vocation that supports humanity; that brings people together; that turns intention into action; that helps advance common goals like making our communities more sustainable, inclusive, and equitable. I created the Good To Be Good Foundation in 2016.
During its inception, I considered the areas with the greatest needs, who we were going to serve, and our holistic approach to community-building. That was the springboard for our ongoing fundraiser events and localized initiatives – while staying rooted in our advocacy of gender equality, kindness, and how that all connects, together, on a larger scale.
Good To Be Good is more than a grassroots, non-profit organization, we are a values-led movement that believes empowered and compassionate communities can generate social progress and that every person deserves to live a life free from violence, tyranny, and poverty. We’re still learning and listening, but at the core, we recognize that equality belongs to the responsibility of everyone and we honor that through the work we do.
How do you prioritize sustainability in your busy life schedule?
For me, it's about remaining rooted in my values no matter the circumstance. Sustainable prosperity is one that involves everything and everyone, and I do my best with what I got and who I am to look at everything in life with this lens so that I'm able to make the best decisions in my day-to-day. Taking small yet actionable steps create ripple effects that make a difference if we just care a little more than we did yesterday.
How can you, as a modern, intelligent consumer, do your part? Do some research before making your next purchase. Support ethical brands that are manufactured in an environmentally and socially conscious manner, even if at times come with a lofty price tag. Buying fewer, higher-quality pieces you love that are ethically made tend to last much longer in your closet than those of the fast-fashion method. With some brands, your purchase supports local artisans (the majority of whom are women) all over the world. There are positive benefits of up-cycling, swapping, renting and borrowing clothes as well. From sourcing to wearing, the ways to prioritize production and consumption sustainability are endless and available. This is not a trend or niche market but a holistic tactic to consumption that requires our conscious and innovative efforts. At the same time, this also asks us to be kind to ourselves and each other, to be responsible without blame, and to participate in collectiveness in our own unique ways. Practical strategies and tactics are useful, but the quality of its outcomes are determined by the degree of awareness and emotional labour we put into it.
Additionally, in order to tackle this ecological global challenge, we must take into robust account the human challenge implicit in that. Maybe we can’t reimagine change in the world without reimagining ourselves? Perhaps the biggest challenge of our time isn't how "busy" our lives have become, but our challenge of working together in unity to reflect a long-term vision for our human family so that we may increase the healthier, happier and prosperous future we all long to see. We are facing the greatest issue of our time, and as a result, we are seeing a shift in awareness and attention that’s giving rise to new ways of thinking and living. It’s been wonderful to be around the efforts made by many, myself included, who see a place worth going to. Knowing that our actions matter because we matter makes prioritizing what we value a 'big picture' kind-of journey. And with that perspective, it helps anchor us to what is truly important.
How does your passion for creativity seep into your personal fashion sense?
As they say, “variety is the spice of life” and fashion enhances it. Getting the opportunity to dress yourself every day is a ritualistic, sensorial and productive experience. The cool thing is that you don’t need a giant, pretentious wardrobe or professional skills to be creative. You can just be and let be with what you got. And have fun along the way! It’s a nuisance to be paralyzed about what to wear or how to present yourself, but if we allow the experience to be joyous and sensible, we ought to have more time doing the things we love and being with the people we care about.
The wonderful thing about creativity is that it is an inherent gift that belongs to each and every one of us. The idea that we go out of our way to make something that much more beautiful or special to us is something quite unique to our species. When I choose to engage creativity, in a spiritual and/or empirical sense, I open myself up to the wonders of the world and then dare to be pleased with what I have created in the process.
When creativity influences all that I love - writing, work, fashion, cooking, relationships, etc - it helps me measure my worth by my dedication to the journey while helping me battle personal anxieties and the never-ending seductions of blame and shame. And at the end of my days, I can thank creativity for having made my life a little more magical, charmed, interesting, and worthwhile.
Do you have a favourite vegan meal/recipe?
When it comes to food, I'm a simple gal. I love dishes that focus on fresh, colourful produce and meals seasoned well. My favourite vegan dish right now is a hearty kale salad with tahini dressing.
Your personal instagram is filled with gorgeous snaps in sustainable fashion - why is choosing and advocating for sustainable fashion important to you?
I respect designers that combine innovation and levity with ethical practices to create beautiful, timeless pieces while empowering local artisans with financial independence and a safe space to use their traditional craft skills. When a designer or business works together with artisan makers and groups and considers the planet by sourcing recycled or tenable materials where they can, I choose to champion that over the next ephemeral ‘hot trend.’ Fashion can and must have a conscience. It does not dictate who we are but with responsibility, can help us build the kind of world we want to live in.
In the last few years, I’ve placed a strong priority on transparency and sustainability - from the everyday choices I make to the establishments and businesses I buy from. This challenge has been of great importance to me and has changed the way I move through the world, in that I am continually finding ways to understand our complicity in human activity and social impact. Looking and feeling good should not come at a grave cost to others and the environment, so it is incumbent on us to lead with morals and interconnectedness rather than vanity metrics. The truest way we can feel good living in this life is when our collective personal efforts benefit the good of all.
Fashion and art are wonderful ways to express one’s self, but at the end of the day, they're not worth pursuing if they're at the expense of others, human health, and the planet. Recognizing your consumption habits, taking time to choose wisely and appreciating what you have can contribute to total mindfulness, not just as a consumer - but as a citizen of the world. Our decisions, whether subtle or grand, are relevant to society at scale so we should live as if it were true by how we talk to each other; what we campaign for; the way we vote and by our behavior. The simple act of educating yourself on where your clothes come from, how it’s made, whose hands made them, is an investment of time and energy worthwhile. Sustainable or slow fashion doesn’t guarantee enlightenment but they aren’t terms to shy away from; what they do is prompt us to wake to the harsh realities of what is and where we need to improve. Fashion that extends expression is a wonderful thing, yes, but to fashion better forms of living, is a stronger statement.
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