Spirit Shop sells social justice

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SpiritShopThe Marquette Spirit Shop has introduced products from an organization aimed at making an impact on social justice issues.

The items are from Project 7, a company that gives 50 percent of its profits to what it has defined as seven different areas of need around the world: heal the sick, save the earth, house the homeless, feed the hungry, help those in need, build the future and hope for peace.

Project 7 founder Tyler Merrick decided that instead of trying to only focus on abstaining from the seven deadly sins, he wanted to start an organization to help alleviate problems that were a consequence of those sins, according to the group’s Web site.

The company started earlier this year by only selling bottled water – an item people consume on a daily basis. But it has since expanded its product line to include shirts, gum and breath mints – all items available at the Spirit Shop.

When Spirit Shop Associate Director Larry Birkett heard about Project 7, he decided to try out its products in the store. He said he thought students would be interested in the organization.

“I was very excited about the product line,” Birkett said. “It is a really great way to consume a product you would normally consume in everyday life and give back.”

Birkett also said the company was “very transparent,” making it is easy to know exactly where profits go.

“I thought that their mission statement was in line with the university’s mission statement,” Birkett said.

The packaging for all of Project 7’s products is made of a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer recycled material. The shirts are made from 50 percent recycled water bottles and 50 percent organic cotton.

“(The shirts) are really comfortable,” said Betsy Conrad, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and a Spirit Shop employee.

The Spirit Shop doesn’t carry Project 7 water bottles, but Birkett said he would like to sell the water in bulk for students to use in their dorm rooms or apartments.

So far, Birkett said the Project 7 products in the Spirit Shop have generated a positive response. Spirit Shop employees have also embraced the products.

Spirit Shop employee Anna Kirchner, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, said she thinks Marquette does a good job of serving the Milwaukee community, but she also thinks it is important to help communities around the world.

“Any little step the campus can do makes a difference,” Kirchner said.

To decide where the profits will go, Project 7 will accept applications throughout the year from nonprofit organizations in each area of need. Project 7 employees will choose three finalists in each category and then will invite consumers to vote online for the winners. The seven chosen organizations will all receive a donation from the proceeds generated by Project 7 for the year.

Though this is Project 7’s first year on the market, the company has committed $15,000 to charitable organizations for each of the seven areas of need. That means it will donate at least $105,000 this year.

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