I really like Late July products, perhaps it is their nostalgic Norman Rockwell-like labels or perhaps it is their organic goodness. The chocolate and vanilla bean with green tea sandwich cookies are really delicious. The organic vanilla is harvested sustainably, and the green tea extract provides the perfect complement to the flavor, not to mention the rich chocolate! You can't feel too guilty about these organic vegan cookies with their 2g of whole grains and antioxidants (thanks to the green tea).
Changing your light bulbs from incandescents to compact fluorescents (CFLs) has become the mantra of the green movement for what one individual can do to lessen their contribution to global warming; however, CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury making them hard to dispose. Vu1 has created a "light without compromise" with the ESL (Electron Stimulated Luminescence) bulb. According to CleanTechnica:
The technology works by using accelerated electrons to stimulate a phosphor coating on the inside of the glass bulb. In contrast, incandescent bulbs run a current through a filament inside the bulbs, and LEDs stimulate semiconductors to create light...Vu1 claims that their bulbs do not have the trace amounts of mercury that CFLs contain, and they do not require the manufacturing energy of LEDs.
ESL bulbs should be available next month and retail for about $12.
What is biodynamic? Biodynamic farming goes beyond organic gardening by focusing on a holistic balance between soil, plants, and animals in a closed, self-nourishing system on the farm. Seeds are sown according to celestial events. As Steve Diver explains:
A basic ecological principle of biodynamics is to conceive of the farm as an organism, a self-contained entity. A farm is said to have its own individuality. Emphasis is placed on the integration of crops and livestock, recycling of nutrients, maintenance of soil, and the health and well being of crops and animals; the farmer too is part of the whole.
Jurlique has created a line of biodynamic, organic beauty products. Grown on their own certified biodynamic and organic farms in South Australia, each product combines herbs, flowers, and naturally derived ingredients. These products do not contain parabens, mineral oils, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl, sulfate, synthetic emulsifiers, artificial colors, or fragrances.
Biodynamic Beauty Refining Treatment: This natural skin polisher is made from calendula, horsechestnut, soapbark tree extract, apricot seed and willow bark extracts to help renew skin and improve your complexion.
Biodynamic Beauty Serum: To address the visible signs of aging, this serum is made from organic black elder, licorice, beech tree buds, hibiscus, and yeast to brighten and strengthen skin.
Biodynamic Beauty Eye Cream: This deep hydrating cream is made from euphrasia and arnica to reenergize tired eyes. It has been tested by ophthalmologists.
Biodynamic Beauty Night Lotion: This nighttime cream is designed to regenerate skin while you rest with organic licorice, black elder, marshmallow, and calendula to soothe and calm the skin.
When we talk about lessening our dependency on foreign oil, it is not just gasoline we need to find alternatives for in making this change. Green Earth Technologies (G.E.T.) makes high performance motor oils made from American grown base oils, including cow fat! Although I am a vegetarian and appalled at the way the beef industry treats cattle, making oil from leftover cow fat is a good solution for eliminating some waste in the industry while meeting our needs for engine lubricants. I especially like how Green Earth Technologies rapidly decomposes outside of your engine. According to G.E.T.:
One five quart oil change improperly disposed can:
* create an oil slick on the surface of ten acres (about ½ million square feet),
* render five acres (about ¼ million square feet) unusable for planting for decades,
* and, contaminate one million gallons (a year supply for 50 people) of water.
Should such an accident occur with cow fat oil, it will mostly biodegrade in 9 days and completely biodegrade in 28 days. It is much safer for our soil and water.
Did you know that over 400 billion cups of coffee and tea are consumed each year? Imagine the energy and waste involved in fulfilling our desires for these hot beverages. Wisdom Wands thinks they have the solution with their eco-friendly glass coffee and tea accessories.
The Health Tea Wand Portable Single Serve Loose Tea Brewing Tool is basically a handcrafted glass straw that filters out loose herbs while you drink. Simply place the herbs in your tea cup, add boiling water, let steep, then sip away through your wand. I like the simplicity of it, and my daughter thinks they are "very cool"; however, it takes some getting used to drinking hot tea through a straw.
The Java Wand Portable Single Serve Coffee Brewing Tool is just like the tea wand, only it has a finer filter for the coffee grounds that really works. One advantage to drinking your coffee through a glass straw is it prevents dental stains, besides allowing you to make just one cup and not leave a wasteful coffeemaker on all day. Coffeemakers waste 65% of energy per cup versus just boiling water, and the coffee wand is much easier and cleaner to use than pouring coffee through a filter or using a French Press. Living-off-the-grid, I've never been able to run a coffeemaker because of its high energy use.
I have to admit, at first I was a bit skeptical about Wisdom Wands and thought they were just another green gimmick. After trying them out, I like them and will use them regularly for their simplicity and easy clean up (they are dishwasher safe). The wands come in a safe travel container making them easy to take to work. I have even gotten used to sipping my organic coffee through a straw!
I still remember tasting Nutella for the very first time in Paris and thinking it was absolutely divine. When I made the switch to eating only organic food, I searched high and low for a substitute to this chocolate and hazelnut spread. Thankfully, Rapunzel's Choconut allows me to keep my organic standards and still enjoy this favorite treat on a baguette.
Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) has been deemed the "missing greenhouse gas", because it is not covered by the Kyoto Protocol, yet it is 17,000 times stronger than carbon dioxide! NF3 used to be produced in tiny amounts, but the boom in flat-screen TVs has changed that. According to the Guardian:
Manufacturers use a greenhouse gas called nitrogen trifluoride to make the televisions, and as the sets have become more popular, annual production of the gas has risen to about 4,000 tonnes...Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Prather and a colleague, Juno Hsu, state that this year's production of the gas is equivalent to 67m tonnes of carbon dioxide, meaning it has "a potential greenhouse impact larger than that of the industrialised nations' emissions of PFCs or SF6, or even that of the world's largest coal-fired power plants".
Now, I have another good reason to convince my hubby we should hang on to our old TV besides the cost of a flat-screen. Until our TV breaks, there is no reason to upgrade. Via: The Guardian and The Grist
Verterra is perhaps the most eco-friendly dinnerware product I have ever come across! These unique bowls and plates are biodegradable, chemical-free, non-toxic, sustainable, renewable, microwave oven and refrigerator safe, reusable, and compostable. Best of all, they are made from fallen leaves! No trees are cut down to make this dinnerware, and Verterra products naturally break down in two months.
From start to finish, the impact we make on the earth is our top priority. We start by collecting fallen leaves from plantations without cutting down any trees. Normally, these leaves would be burned on the side of the road. Instead, they are brought to our factory, sprayed with high pressure water, steamed and UV sterilized. We recapture over 80% of the water we use. No chemicals, lacquers, glues, bonding agents or anything toxic are ever used. The entire process uses only a fraction of the energy used in recycling.
Wow! Who would have thought that compressed fallen leaves could be used for dinnerware?
The Toyota Prius has long been the golden child of the environmental movement for its fuel economy. When the EPA changed the standards for reporting fuel economy on new car stickers to include the use of air conditioning, the hybrid Prius lost a few miles per gallon. That may all change, now that Toyota plans to install solar panels on the roof of high end models to power the AC. The Kyocera solar panels will produce between two to five kilowatts.
Hopefully this power can be stored while the car is idle to power the electric motor too. People just may have to think twice about parking in covered garages if solar panels become a regular feature on car roofs. Via: BBC and Treehugger
Certified organic, fair trade, low impact dyes: what could be better? Go Natural Baby offers such eco-goodness in its Zah Collection of children's clothing. I got the Paloma dress for my niece. The simple design and silk-like organic jersey cotton fabric is perfect for warm temperatures, as well as can be layered with a long sleeve onesie or t-shirt for cooler Fall temperatures. Since my children are growing up too quickly, I am glad to see that Zah Collection will soon offer select styles in sizes up to eight.
Go Natural Baby espouses corporate social responsibility:
Go Natural Baby™ will only put our name on products that are made with Fair Trade values, including providing a healthy work environment for its workers, paying a fair wage, and ensuring that children are not in the work environment. Each year a portion of our profits will be given to the people that work in the factory, fields, and/or the school in our factory's village.
Eco-friendly and corporate social responsibility must go hand-in-hand for green companies. I am proud to support Go Natural Baby.
One of my favorite food combinations is peanut butter and milk chocolate. Use organic ingredients, and this makes a heavenly treat for the eco-conscious candy lover.
Newman's Own Organic Peanut Butter Cups are one of my favorite sweets. According to Nell Newman, "I couldn't resist recreating a favorite childhood treat. Our cups have a wonderfully creamy, melt-in-your mouth texture." Thank you Nell!
Newman's Own Organic Peanut Butter Cups are made from organic Valencia peanuts that are roasted with the skin and germ, and they are cultivated in New Mexico. The organic cacao comes from small farmers in the Talamanca region of Costa Rica using ancient methods that do not destroy rainforests. Really, if I am going to feel guilty about eating candy, at least I won't feel any enviro-guilt with Newman's Own Organic Peanut Butter Cups.
I learned a new word today: hypermiling. Hypermiling refers to techniques used to save fuel, such as putting your car in neutral as you coast down a hill. If you own an iPhone (sadly this Mac lover does not), then you can choose from five applications to help you save fuel! From finding the cheapest price per gallon to graphing your fuel economy, these iPhone apps can help you find out what your car's gas mileage really is so you can be a better hypermiler!
The Bicycle: Transportation is a huge contributor of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. The bicycle "costs pennies per mile and less than bus fare per trip...Oh, and it is hugely democratic: it is equally available to all."
The Condom: This chapter sure catches everyone's attention, but human population growth is a big environmental issue. "Today, human beings will have sex more than 100 million times...Today's sex will also make one million women around the world pregnant-about half of them unintentionally."
Other wonders under discussion in Seven Wonders for a Cool Planetare the Ceiling Fan (fossil fuel efficiency), the Clothesline (renewable energy), the Real Tomato (food production and distribution), the Library Book (resource conservation and reuse), and the Microchip (information economy). This book is an easy, informative, and entertaining read that can vastly help you lessen your personal carbon footprint.
Dutch researchers have discovered the power of kites! Since kites are not in a fixed location, like a wind turbine, they are able to soar to higher altitudes where higher wind speeds exist. With their initial test, the Delft University of Technology scientists produced 10 kilowatts of power with one kite. They hope with future tests using multiple kites, the researchers can produce 10 megawatts!
Every time I put on sunscreen or apply it to my children's skin, I feel like I am protecting our long term health, but not all sunscreens are created equal. I am not referring to the safety implied by SPF protection, but the ingredients of some sunscreens cause serious safety concerns. Furthermore, there aren't any US sunscreen safety standards, despite 29 years of writing drafts by the FDA. Thank goodness we have the Environmental Working Group to sort out the safety of sunscreens!
Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Almond Grain Cereal is very hearty! This organic cereal is good with soymilk, milk, or yogurt, but my favorite way is to heat it hot. Cook gently twice as much soymilk as cereal to the desired consistency, top with a little organic sucanat sweetner, and you have a very healthy breakfast. This cereal combines six sprouted grains and legumes to make a complete protein. According to the product description, the protein quality is so high that it is 84.3% as efficient as the highest recognized source of protein. Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Almond Grain Cereal also contains all 9 essential amino acids, as well as an additional 18 amino acids. Whether hot or cold, what a way to start your day!
We are nearing the end of summer, which is the perfect time to buy a new pair of sandals because of sales. Last year, I made the switch from Tevas to Chacos. At first, it took some getting used to having my big toe wrapped by the strap, but then I discovered the straps were fully adjustable by sliding them through the sole of the shoe. Speaking of Chaco soles, these sport sandals are made from 25% recycled rubber and last forever! They can be repaired, rather than pitched in a landfill, so they are worth the investment, or you can donate them back to Chaco to be redistributed around the world to needy feet. Furthermore, Chaco pays their employees to to ride their bikes to work, volunteer their time, and advance their education. The company purchases wind-powered green certificates to match 100% of their energy needs.
The skin around our eyes is different than the rest of our face, yet it is often neglected. Signs of aging and damage around the eyes make us look older and tired. Aveda's Green Science Firming Eye Creme is a natural remedy for keeping the skin around our eyes looking young, healthy, and free of dark circles. Lady's thistle, organic argan oil and cactus formula moisturize the skin and smooth fine lines. Peptides and plant-derived buckwheat wax help to minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles. If used twice a day, you will notice an improvement around your eyes in about four weeks. I have been using the Green Science Firming Eye Creme for less than that, and I am very pleased with the results.
Using the process of photosynthesis as a model, MIT scientists have discovered a way to store solar energy when the sun is not shining. Current off-the-grid solar systems rely on expensive batteries to store excess power produced during the day for nighttime and cloudy day use, and these batteries need to be replaced every eight to ten years. MIT's Daniel Nocera has discovered a new process that uses a catalyst to split oxygen from hydrogen in water, in order that later it can be recombined as a fuel cell.
The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity -- whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source -- runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.
Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.
James Barber, the Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry at Imperial College London, explained the implications of this discovery:
This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind. The importance of their discovery cannot be overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels and addressing the global climate change problem.
Nocera thinks within 10 years, this new solar technology will be available to home owners.
Playing on the title of Jon Krakauer's personal account of the disaster on Mt. Everest titled Into Thin Air, Jim Malusa has written Into Thick Air about cycling alone to the lowest points of six continents. Over six years, Malusa went on a series of "anti-expeditions" to the "anti-summits" with his bike and beer kept cold by swaddling it in his sleeping bag.
Malusa's writing style is easy to read and enjoyable, and he takes us to parts of the world we may never travel to. His botany background enables him to describe the landscape from Lake Eyre in Australia to Death Valley. In Africa, Malusa learns there are only 12 lawyers in all of Djibouti, where disputes are brought to elders rather than lawyers. One of my favorite writers Barbara Kingsolver said about Malusa, "I've followed all of Jim's amazing and hilarious journeys, and I am happy to claim him as one of my favorite writers." With an endorsement like that, you are sure to enjoy Into Thick Air.