Kveller talked to Lisa Borden, creator of Orb Candles and holistic marketing guru from Toronto. Orb candles are made of organic Manuka beeswax rather than paraffin. Lisa designed the candles to use on Shabbat, and considers them an actionable way to do tikkun olam–repairing the world. Here’s her thoughts on parenthood, $36 candles, and the environment.
1. What inspired you to start Orb?
My kids – I think that’s my inspiration for everything! I am not only a Jewish mother of 3, but I am also the owner of Borden Communications + Design Inc., where I commit myself daily to improving the quality of our health and the environment through business development and consulting. When I would gather around my family Shabbat table on Friday nights (a time I adore, marking the end of a usually hectic week), I couldn’t understand how in order to honor Shabbat, we were supposed to damage our world and our health by lighting toxic candles. It seemed very natural for me to want to raise awareness about the dangers of conventional candles, and how dangerous it can be to overlook them. But, I quickly realized there wasn’t an option on the market that was easily available and truly safe–so, being focused on solutions, and in marketing and design, I set into action to create a safe, healthy and beautiful Shabbat candle. Simple!
2. What’s the best part about lighting Shabbat candles every week?
Again, it’s all about my family. Lighting the candles usually means being offline and being with family and friends–such valuable and precious time.
3. Your promotional materials say that your candles are good for the environment. What else do you do that’s good for the environment aside from recycling?
Recycling? I don’t even think that’s good enough to be mentioned! Recycling to me is the last resort in being “green” – there is a reason that Reduce and Reuse come before it. I try everyday to learn more and do better than the day before – that’s for my own family and for my clients as well. I try and inspire people to do better, live healthier, work smarter and shop with a conscience through my life and work. I guess my list of what I do is very long, and getting longer. I love growing my own produce in my own garden and adore shopping for my food at the markets, and cooking based on what’s available. I adore packing my kids litterless lunches that they actually love to eat. But, I don’t live off the grid in a yurt, and I am very well aware that many of my daily actions still have a negative impact on our world, so I have something to constantly work on with fierce determination! If you want to know more, here’s 50 things that I do to reduce, and here’s a list of some of my positions and relationships at work , all of which, I hope contribute to a healthy and happier world, indirectly or directly.
4. Is $36 a lot to spend on Shabbat candles?
I guess it really is a lot when you think about how many conventional candles you can purchase for the same amount as for 10 Orb Candles. I hope that people will focus more on the value their health and our world–and our responsibility as Jews. Tikkun olam, meaning perfecting or repairing of the world, is a major theme in modern Jewish social justice theology. So, how can we put a price on doing what’s right or not doing wrong? Anyone who is fortunate to gather for a Shabbat dinner each week, including my family, probably spends quite a bit of money on food, flowers, wine, challah and even energy–perhaps people can cut back on some of what they spend on something else (ever tried a vegetarian Shabbat?!) to be able to honor Shabbat safely, keep their family healthy and repair the world. For 6 dollars each Shabbat, you can light Orb Candles, which not only burn beautifully, but will actually purify your air instead of making it toxic. Organic Manuka Beeswax Orb candles are pesticide free, chemical free and all Canadian made. I think $36 becomes pretty reasonable, don’t you?
5. You say you live and work by the African proverb: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.” What’s that all about?
It can feel at times that we are so small that our actions and choices do not necessarily amount to anything, but most of us can attest to a mosquito buzzing in your ear as something that can certainly make a difference to your night sleep. It also implies that one little buzz in one person’s ear can affect and start change, alter perspective, and more. There are so many ways that I use this proverb–not just for myself and my clients, but for my kids too. We all matter, no matter how little we are–and that’s not just our physical size, but our financial and social status and beyond. When it comes to tikkun olam and tzedakah (the two most meaningful pieces of Judaism, for me personally), we need to give what we can in spirit, in knowledge, in physical or financial support. And, no matter how insignificant our contribution may seem, it can spark an entire revolution, or help us to evolve. Believe in yourself, give to others, and give life your ALL.