June 29, 2007

Weekend Reading: Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest

512-IvTliCL._AA240_.jpgPaul Hawken, author of Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, has a new book out about the history of the environmental and social justice movement. It's called Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. We haven't read it yet, but it's on our list.

From the Publisher's Weekly review on Amazon:


Hawken traces the formation of the environmental and social justice movement from the beginnings of natural science across years and continents in this rousing and "inadvertently optimistic" call to action. Though it's argued that globalization; extinction of species, languages and cultures; and economic policies advantageous to the rich have degraded quality of life worldwide and engendered large scale feelings of fear, resentment and powerlessness, Hawken remains surprisingly hopeful. Strength, he contends, lies in the many thousands (if not millions) of nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to environmental protection and social justice that collectively form a worldwide movement geared toward humanity's betterment.

Available at Blessed Unrest.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 28, 2007

Birch and Willow Handmade Lamps and Sconces

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Want to bring the forest into your home? Artist and designer Katherine Ahern of Birch and Willow here in Boston makes one-of-a-kind pendants, sconces, and lamps from bittersweet vines, grapevines, reeds, sea grass, and stones.

cairn3.jpgThe lamps are positively gorgeous, and create almost magical shadows and reflections. Pictured here are Ahern's Roost Pendant Lamp (above) and her Cairn Table Lamp.

Ahern explains Birch and Willow's mission as "Nature illuminated." Her philosophy carries over to an eco-friendly manufacturing process, outlined on the Environment page of the Birch and Willow website.

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Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 27, 2007

Kitchen Coffee Handmade Soap by Flower Peddler Bath and Beauty

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Got an email last week from Michelle at Flower Peddler Bath and Beauty, purveyors of natural bath and body products. She noted that people often go the natural route out of concern about the environment or to avoid chemicals, but that sometimes "natural" products can be pretty boring. Flower Peddler works to counter that notion with products that look, smell and feel bright, exciting, luxurious -- basically anything but dull.

Flower Peddler actually began as, you guessed it, a flower store, near Richmond, VA. They noticed how customers reacted to the fragrance and color in their bouquets and developed an interest in aromatherapy. That led to interest in handmade soaps.

The site has a number of cool products, including lines for men, kids, and babies, as well as seasonal soaps and a spa line.

Here's their Kitchen Coffee Soap, good for removing kitchen odors and oils from the cook's hands. The soap includes real coffee grounds for a natural abrasive to clean and deodorize, and lots of moisturizers to keep your hands soft.

Buy Kitchen Coffee Soap.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 26, 2007

Under the Nile Carrot Teething Toy

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Tee, hee. This cracks me up.

The 100% organic cotton carrot teething toy from Under the Nile is great first toy for your baby to chew on. No pesticides or chemicals used in the production process. Totally adorable and completely friendly.

A nice way to teach your kids to eat their vegetables. Even before they have teeth to chew 'em with.

Buy Under the Nile's Organic Cotton Carrot Teething Toy.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 25, 2007

Little Twig Organic Baby Wash

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One of our favorite baby shower gifts: Little Twig Organic bath and body products for babies. A couple of friends bought us Little Twig Tangerine Body Wash. The smell is terrific -- light and clean and lovely -- and the packaging is too cute for words.

Little Twig products are developed with the advice of pediatricians and real-life parents as a safe and natural bath time alternative. They use organic and botanical ingredients that are pure and gentle for sensitive baby skin. Each year Little Twig chooses a charitable organization benefiting children's issues and donates a portion of its profits to help bring awareness (as well as time and marketing) to their cause.

Dermatologist-tested Tangerine Body Wash contains skin-softening Vitamin E, skin-soothing calendula, and citrus and rosemary.

ArrowContinue reading: "Little Twig Organic Baby Wash"

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 21, 2007

Evert-Fresh Produce Bags Preserve Fruit and Veggies

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We've been enjoying our CSA share this summer. But with only two of us, and a weekly food share that could feed a family of four, we're definitely looking for ways to keep our fruits and vegetables fresher longer.

Evert-Fresh Produce Bags tackle the problem by absorbing the ethylene gas that foods release as they start to decompose. Bags can be reused 5-10 times, and will reduce decomposition and vitamin loss by 50%. Meanwhile, an anti-fog surface inhibits bacterial growth.

Purchase the Evert-Fresh bags with Extra Life Disks, and you can evidently reduce ethylene build-up by 97%.

Buy Evert-Fresh Bags. Buy Extra Life Disks.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 20, 2007

Basura Bags Made from Recycled Juice Packs

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So your kid has a Mimi the Sardine Lunchbug lunchbag. What about something for you?

Allow me to recommend a Basura Bag tote bag. Made from recycled juice packs by a women's cooperative in the Phillipines, each bag is unique. According to the write-up on ReusableBags.com, the women's coop purchases the containers "through a network of local school children."

Indestructible and non-biodegradable by nature, foil juice packs clog landfills, fields and streets throughout the Philippines. Using clever designs that combine the material's strength & brilliant colors, the co-op helps keep the environment clean via this very cool method of recycling.

Buy Basura Bags.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 19, 2007

Robert's American Gourmet Chaos Snack Mix

6122FVBR83L._AA280_PIbundle-24,TopRight,0,0_AA280_SH20_.jpgWe can't get enough Pirate Booty. And we've been known to pick up the occasional bag of Chex Mix on road trips. So why not try Robert's American Gourmet Chaos Snack Mix, a mixture of organic pretzels, chips, caramel popcorn and other snack mixes from the creator of Smart Puffs, Veggie Booty and Tings.

The verdict: It's no Pirate Booty, but Chaos is a nice mix of sweet and salty. And the 2 oz snack bag is perfect for school lunches or an afternoon snack.

Buy Robert's American Gourmet Chaos snack mix.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 18, 2007

Mimi the Sardine Reusable Lunch Bags

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Disposable bags are out; reusable bags are in. But you don't want to use your EZ Bag for everything. Which is why we were excited to learn about Mimi the Sardine's Lunchbugs line of cloth lunch bags.

They're made of safety tested acrylic coated fabrics that are eco-friendly, are machine washable and 100% lead-free. They're also insulated, easy to clean, and resist odors from that healthy lunch you packed (that your kid left under his desk all day).

Mimi the Sardine Lunchbugs lunch bags come in three patterns - chicks, monkeys and kitties. Having trouble deciding which you like best? Pick up one of each and let your kid pick a different one each morning.

Mimi the Sardine Lunchbugs available at ReusableBags.com.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 14, 2007

Recipe: Sauteed Radishes and Wilted Radish Greens

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Fresh-picked radishes taste like summer. And sauteed baby radishes with wilted radish greens? Well, they just taste delicious. Here's the recipe Russ and I used to cook up the bunch of radishes included in our CSA share.

1 bunch of baby radishes with radish greens
1 Tablespoon butter
salt and pepper

1. Wash radishes in cold water. Cut off the greens and set 'em aside.
2. Slice the radishes thin, and saute them in melted butter.
3. Add the greens (still wet) and saute until wilted (less than 1 minute).
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Yum.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 13, 2007

Eating Local with a CSA Share from The Food Project

4-About-Us-03.jpgHooray for June! Time for longer days, warm nights, and -- perhaps best of all -- the start of our CSA share from The Food Project.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You buy a "share" of a local farmer's crop at the beginning of the growing season, and all summer you receive "dividends" -- baskets and boxes of fresh summer produce.

Russ and I bought our CSA share from The Food Project, a local nonprofit that employs city and suburban youth working organic farms inside and outside of the city.

In addition to growing veggies for CSA members, The Food Project distributes their organic produce to local soup kitchens and sells it at inner-city farmers markets. Youth who participate in the program learn about the food system, organic and sustainable agriculture, and about access-to-food issues facing inner-city residents.

Crew,-bulldogs,-04.jpgLast week, our share included enough greens to feed an army -- arugula, mizuma, spinach, lettuce, bok choy, baby field greens, and a handful of radishes and turnips. It provides a great lesson in eating locally (see Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Mineral), and a great reminder of how good food tastes when it's fresh from the farm.

Learn more about Community Supported Agriculture and find a CSA near you.

Support The Food Project.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 12, 2007

gDiapers: Not Cloth or Disposable

feet-bum.jpgWe've written about chlorine-free disposable diapers and re-usable diapers. But we have to admit, we haven't come down on either side yet for our own soon-to-arrive little bundle.

We don't want our diapers filling landfills. But we don't really want to deal with the mess (not to mention the energy use) involved in washing cloth diapers either.

Which is why we were excited to read about gDiapers in the Whole Foods Whole Baby Guide. (And then even more excited to hear that our friend Alexis is using -- and loving them!)

gDiapers consist of a soft cloth outer pant and a plastic-free, chlorine-free flushable refill. They come in several cute colors and patterns, and evidently breathe more than regular disposables, which translates into less diaper rash.

Available at Whole Foods and online at gDiapers.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 11, 2007

BioBags: Bio-degradeable, Compostable Garbage Bags

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"Have you blogged about BioBags yet?" Jane asked the other day from her kitchen. She came out with the box. "They're fantastic. You NEED to write about them."

BioBags are 100% bio-degradable, 100% compostable garbage bags. Made from cornstarch, they help to eliminate regular plastic bags from landfills, rivers, and forests. When disposed, BioBags will biodegrade as naturally as food scraps, leaving no harmful residue.

BioBags trash bags are GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) free and polyethlyene-free, with no polyethylene used in their production process. They're certified for use in organic agriculture, yet are shelf stable just like paper towels. And, importantly for those of us considering using them in our trashcans, they won't begin the composting process until the proper conditions are met - moisture, warmth and micro-organisms.

Plus, Jane loves them. Which is good enough for us.

Buy BioBags 13-Gallon Kitchen Bags.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 8, 2007

Weekend Reading: Vegan with a Vengeance

51TFFjknAVL._SS500_.jpgRuss and I are not planning to become vegans. But we're always looking for ways to eat more healthfully and "lower on the food chain." Vegan with a Vengeance : Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock by Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the perfect introduction to eating vegan-style without giving up good tasting foods.

Moskowitz, whose most recent book is called Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, is the queen of re-making non-vegan favorites as vegan dishes. Recipes in Vegan with a Vengeance include vegan versions of Spanakopita, Matzo Ball Soup, Glazed Orange Scones, and Seitan-Portobello Stroganoff. And, obviously, her vegan dessert recipes totally rock.

Buy Vegan with a Vengeance.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 7, 2007

Eco-Tourism: Best Eco-Tours Sites from Ideal Bite

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Ideal Bite published a newsletter last week dedicated to eco-tourism sites. Among the sites recommended:

* EcoTour Directory - lists over 65 eco-holiday providers.
* G.A.P. Adventures - offers tours for groups of 12 or fewer and encourages carbon offsetting.
* Sierra Club Outings - tour the world with other eco-conscious travelers.
* Sustainable Travel International - a non-profit that helps you book all sorts of eco-adventures, from archaeological digs to yoga tours.
* Relief Riders International - guided horseback rides that let you help the Red Cross and distribute books to kids along the way.
* Responsible Travel - awesome trip packages geared toward folks in the UK.

(Via Ideal Bite)

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 6, 2007

Recipe: Oatmeal Pancakes from Cooking with Aloha

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ReallyNatural's founder Jay Brewer recently returned from a trip to NYC where he met Ann Hall Every, the author of Cook with Aloha. We like the section of her site dedicated to Good Food, Good Health, where we found this recipe for oatmeal pancakes.

Cooking with Aloha Oatmeal Pancakes

1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) rolled oats
2 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tsp. pure vanilla or almond extract
Canola cooking spray

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Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 5, 2007

Coffee Made from Soybeans?

Coffee Lover.jpgWill Soy Espresso be the next big taste trend in coffee shops? It will if Marina Kushner has anything to say about it. Kushner, founder of Soy Coffee LLC, sent an email last week introducing Soyfee, a soybean and caffeine-free coffee blend she is selling to health food and gourmet shops (and via her website).

ArrowContinue reading: "Coffee Made from Soybeans?"

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 4, 2007

Hetty Rose Handmade Vintage Kimono Shoes

Holy kimono, Batman, these shoes are AMAZING. They're from the Hetty Rose Vintage Kimono Shoes collection and they're available at The Natural Store.

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Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking

June 1, 2007

Weekend Reading: Greening Your Cleaning by Deirdre Imus

51b4dNyoX5L._AA240_.jpgRuss and I spent time last weekend cleaning the house from top to bottom, preparing for our "new arrival." I wish we'd had a copy of Green This: Greening Your Cleaning by Deirdre Imus.

According to the description on Amazon,

Deirdre shows how cleaning house the environmentally responsible way can be as effective and often cheaper than the more traditional, toxic, means. This volume includes:

* Simple, efficient cleaning methods for every room of the house

* Spotlights on everyday products (all purpose cleaner, glass/window cleaner, laundry detergent) and the toxic ingredients you should be wary of

* Summaries of the latest research on the toxic effects of ordinary chemicals

* Resource lists of widely available "green cleaning" products and retailers

Filled with tips and testimonials, Greening Your Cleaning will show you how to streamline your cleaning products and practices, and how easy it is to make "living green" your way of life.

Buy Greening Your Cleaning by Deirdre Imus.

Jess Brooks Permalink social bookmarking
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