May 31, 2009
Really Natural Books
Really Natural Products
Yard and Garden
May 29, 2009
One of my favorite things about eating at the Millennium vegan restaurant
in San Francisco is the organic mixed drinks on the menu. To make organic cocktails, you need to start with organic spirits. Blue Ice American Wheat Vodka
is handcrafted from "pristine" Idaho water and certified organic neutral spirits by a family owned distiller.
As a USDA Certified Organic product, Blue Ice Organic Wheat Vodka bears the highest legal benchmark of purity that a beverage can receive. This guarantee ensures a commitment to environmentally sound farming void of chemical pesticides or harsh fertilizers and the absence of chemical additives or other possible taste-altering agents. Combined with a fresh harvest of hand-selected winter wheat and the seasoned palate of Blue Ice's veteran Master Distiller Bill Scott, the new spirit imparts a smooth body and a crisp, refreshing finish designed to please the discriminating vodka connoisseur.
Blue Ice also makes an organic potato vodka.
I'll be enjoying an organic cocktail this Friday evening thanks to Blue Ice!
May 28, 2009
Most people, including myself, don't consider the carbon footprint of the internet. According to NewScientist
One estimate suggests it takes a whopping 152 billion kilowatt-hours per year just to power the data centres that keep the net running. Add to that the energy used by all the computers and peripherals linked to it and the whole thing could be responsible for as much as 2 per cent of all human-made CO2 emissions, putting it on a par with the aviation industry.
Just one internet search on Google
creates 200 milligrams of CO2
. This may not sound like much, but think about how many internet searches are done each day across the world.
May 27, 2009
CVS Pharmacy is now offering a line of disposable plates and bowls made from sugar cane. CVS Earth Essentials Paper Plates and Bowls
are affordable and biodegradable. They hold up to water and oil (and a heavy plate full of locavore potluck foods
). Made from sugar cane, a natural and renewable resource, these plates are also microwaveable. In just one to three months, these disposable plates and bowls completely biodegrade. It is good to see eco-friendly products in national chains, such as CVS, even though I prefer to support locally owned stores. Reaching out to mainstream American with eco-friendly products, even disposables, at least can make life a little bit greener for the average citizen.
May 26, 2009
Earlier this month, angler Dan Frost found the carcass of an estimated 100-year-old white sturgeon
in Shasta Lake. This seven-foot long beast could predate the construction of Shasta Dam
, which was completed in 1945. White sturgeon live in Shasta Lake's inlets, but they have been unable to spawn since the 1960s when powerhouses on the Pitt River obstructed their spawning grounds. The sturgeon is not the first large carcass to be found near Redding, CA. An 85 pound salmon
carcass was found this fall in Battle Creek.
Via: Redding Record Searchlight
May 22, 2009
gave the following commencement address to the class of 2009 at the University of Portland on May 3rd, 2009.
When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was "direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful." Boy, no pressure there.
But let's begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation - but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement.
Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.
This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don't poison the water, soil, or air, and don't let the earth get overcrowded, and don't touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food - but all that is changing.
There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn't bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn't afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here's the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.
When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, "So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world." There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.
You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen.
Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.
There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity's willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. "One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice," is Mary Oliver's description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.
Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown - Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood - and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, and non-governmental organizations, of companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.
The living world is not "out there" somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can't print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.
The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe - exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a "little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven."
So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.
This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, challenging, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn't stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn't ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn't make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.
Via: Charity Focus
May 21, 2009
is the gradual transformation of habitable and arable land to desert ecosystems caused by climate change and/or destructive land use practices. Desertification is widespread in many areas of the People's Republic of China
. The Chinese government is relocating farmers whose homeland is no longer suitable for habitation or agriculture. According to the Guardian
The government says more than 150 million people will have to be moved. Water shortages exacerbated by over-irrigation and climate change are the main cause.
The problem is most severe in the north-west, where desert sands are swallowing up farmland, homes and towns. Huang lives in Mingqin, a shrinking oasis area that government advisers privately describe as an "ecological disaster area".
According to a study by the Centre for Agricultural Water Research in China, global warming is to blame. The Chinese government has begun paying farmers not to grow crops, in addition to relocating them. Unfortunately, most are relocated to land adjacent to desert areas which will eventually succumb to desertification.
May 20, 2009
Even though I do not consider myself vain, as I approach my late thirties, I have turned to anti-aging, all natural beauty products. Recently, I discovered three products by Sustainable Youth that feature Alasta
What is Alasta? Alasta comes from the rind of aloe plants and contains immune-stimulatory extracts.
Though its precise pathway has not been charted, based on clinical testing, it is clear that a positive, supportive relationship exists between the use of Alasta™ and the ability to help reduce overall inflammation in the body to help sustain the quality and appearance of youth.
Alasta™ appears to affect the performance of certain immune cells which results in less inflammation. Less inflammation results in less oxidative stress, fewer free radical reactions, and less collagen cross-linking, resulting in increased elasticity and firmness.
These products are clinically proven to increase skins elasticity and firmness up to 72% in just eight weeks. I cannot personally comment on these claims, as I have only been using the products for a week, but I really like the way they make my skin feel. Sustainable Youth products are organic, all natural, and vegan!
May 19, 2009
Most warnings of melting icebergs predict sea levels will rise and coastal land will be lost; however, the opposite effect is taking place in Alaska. Land is rising in Alaska as glaciers melt causing the sea to retreat. The New York Times
The geology is complex, but it boils down to this: Relieved of billions of tons of glacial weight, the land has risen much as a cushion regains its shape after someone gets up from a couch. The land is ascending so fast that the rising seas -- a ubiquitous byproduct of global warming -- cannot keep pace.
Glaciers near Juneau are retreating at a rate of 30 feet a year, not only causing the land to rise, but water tables to fall. Property boundaries are shifting, and ecosystems are threatened by the climate changes. Land near Juneau may rise as much as three feet by 2100 from global warming.
May 18, 2009
Reward your employees with fresh, organic fruit! The FruitGuys
make it easy by delivering organic fruit to your office every week.
The FruitGuys is the industry leader in providing farm-fresh produce to the American workplace. Founded in 1998 and headquartered in San Francisco, The Fruitguys has pioneered this fast-growing category that provides viable solutions to the ever-challenging workplace health crisis. The company was founded on the premise that bringing healthy brain food to the office can boost productivity, improve wellness and help companies improve their bottom lines. The FruitGuys provides fresh seasonal fruit from local farms to thousands of American businesses, from small family-run businesses to major Fortune 500 corporations.
My family received a box of fresh, delicious organic fruit from The FruitGuys. Almost all of the fruit is from California, which is where I live, with the major exception being bananas. From cherries to oranges, we thoroughly enjoyed our box of organic fruit. FruitGuys has expanded to home delivery via the office, which is a nice option to ensure your family has fresh fruit every week without a trip to the store.
Why fruit in the office? According to the FruitGuys, fresh fruit can increase morale, improve employee performance, and lower health care costs by improving health. FruitGuys makes it easy by setting up weekly or biweekly delivery, and the program is cost effective. Feeding your employees fresh, organic fruit rather than donuts or vending machine snacks will make them feel better and know that their company truly cares about their well-being.
May 15, 2009
Clean Body: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing Yourself
is an amazing little book about green beauty care. According to author Michael Dejong, you only need five ingredients to take care of you body needs. From cuticle conditioning to toothpaste, everything is contained in this highly organized book.
As with the first book, this is not merely about washing away the dirt: it embodies a mindset, a philosophy, an alternative to mass consumerism. DeJong draws from Eastern belief systems--especially the element theory in Chinese medicine and Asian cooking--and harmoniously balances five pure essentials in his recipes, using baking soda, lemon, olive oil, salt, and white vinegar as the basis for his all-natural concoctions.
Personal hygiene without expensive products: This book will save you money while keeping your body green and clean. Zen philosophy enters the process in drawing our thoughts and actions into all chores, including non-toxic body care. Cleansing with natural ingredients while focusing our minds and senses on how we are one with the universe takes personal care to a Zen level.
May 14, 2009
Warm weather and the upcoming Memorial Day weekend means it's outdoor barbecue time. On the Fourth of July alone, Americans burn enough charcoal to power 20,000 households
for a year! There is a cleaner alternative to traditional charcoal: ethanol-based charcoal. FlameDisk Charcoal Alternative
reduces 99 percent of carbon monoxide and has 91 percent lower VOC than regular charcoal. Ethanol-based charcoal alternative is an eco-friendly option for all your grilling needs.
May 13, 2009
We all know that the chemicals in plastics are bad for our health and our environment. Recent studies have even shown a correlation between phthalates in plastics and childhood obesity. It's easy to replace your plastic water bottles with stainless steel alternatives, but what about your plastic ice cube trays?
I remember stainless steel ice cube trays from my grandmother's house. These throwbacks from the 50s provide a modern day safe alternative to plastic ice cube trays. My kids think the handle that releases the ice is super cool, and I like how the metal actually seems to make the ice harden faster. At $25 a piece, these ice cube trays are more expensive than their plastic counterparts, but the stainless steel ice cube trays will last a lifetime (I bet my grandmother's trays are still in her home).
May 12, 2009
Time has expired for Obama's Secretary Salazar to rescind a "special rule" created by the Bush administration that sharply limits protections for the polar bears
under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Congress gave Salazar until May 9, 2009 to strike the Bush special rule that exempted federal activities from ESA review to protect polar bears, including those that produce greenhouse gases causing habitat to disappear. The Center for Biological Diversity
Salazar ignored strong criticism of the rule and requests to revoke it from more than 1,300 scientists, more than 50 prominent legal experts, dozens of lawmakers, more than 130 conservation organizations and hundreds of thousands of members of the public.
The rule severely undermines protection for the polar bear by exempting all activities that occur outside of the polar bears range from review. The polar bear, however, is endangered precisely because of activities occurring outside the Arctic, namely emission of greenhouse gases and resulting warming that is leading to the rapid disappearance of summer sea ice.
Once again, Big Oil and its powerful lobby
has won, as the Bush special rule reduces the protection bears receive under ESA from oil industry activities in the Alaska.
May 11, 2009
Written by Douglas W. Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded
explains how you can bring more wildlife into your backyard by planting native plants. Even just a few native plants can help you become a backyard ecologist. This book contains extensive lists of native plants for regional habitats, as well as incredible photographs.
But now, for the first time in its history, gardening has taken on a role that transcends the needs of the gardener. Like it or not, gardeners have become important players in the management of our nation's wildlife. It is now with-in the power of individual gardeners to do something that we all dream of doing: to make a difference. In this case, the "difference" will be to the future of biodiversity, to the native plants and animals of North America and the ecosystems that sustain them.
The Bringing Nature Home website
has a lot of information like "What should I plant where I live?", including an interactive map, and "The vital role of native plants." From suburbia to rural america, we can help promote biodiversity by planting native plants in our yards.
May 8, 2009
Most people are good about putting Sunscreen Lotion on their skin, but what about your hair? Aveda has just created a line of sun care products for your hair.
- Sun Care Hair and Body Cleanser: Gently and effectively removes chlorine and salt while helping to maintain moisture balance. Active natural ingredients are corn-derived chelator, babassu-derived cleansing system, and tamanu oil and certified organic coconut oil to help maintain moisture balance. The tropical aroma is delightful.
- Sun Care After-Sun Hair Masque: A cream masque that restores sun-exposed hair, moisturizes, and helps defend against free radicals. Active ingredients are morikue protein, amanu oil, certified organic shea butter, coconut and palm oils moisturize hair; anti-oxidizing blend of green tea extract; certified organic sunflower seed oil, and vitamin E. I love the smell of this product too!
- Sun Care Protective Hair Veil: Just spray on damp hair and reapply after swimming to provide up to 16 hour UV defense for your hair. Active ingredients are wintergreen and cinnamon bark oils to help protect hair from sun damage; anti-oxidizing blend of green tea extract, certified organic sunflower seed oil and vitamin E; and certified organic shea butter, coconut and palm oils to condition.
Thanks to Aveda, my hair is going to be healthier this summer. Aveda's Sun Care line would make a great last minute Mother's Day gift too!
May 7, 2009
Ever wonder what happens to all that hair on the floor after a haircut? Most salons simply throw it away, but Matter of Trust
will turn shorn hair into mats used by volunteers for soaking up oil spills.
Here we look at fibers (hair, wool, fur, feathers...). Thousands of salons mail us hair clippings, swept up off their floors, and the fibers are woven into Oil Spill Hair Mats. We all know about shampooing our oily hair, but it took Phill McCrory, a stylist from Alabama, to realize that hair was also an efficient and abundant material for collecting and containing petroleum spills. Salons, barbers, pet groomers, wool farmers, individuals... SEE HOW YOU CAN DONATE HAIR and spread the word.
The mats can be wrung out of oil and reused up to 100 times.
May 6, 2009
is a powerful movie that shows how children are being over medicated and dying from antidepressants and stimulants. Information on the serious side effects of these medications has been hidden by drug companies, and children have died as a result of this unscrupulous behavior. Drug companies have "made patients out of normal children for profit", and four out of 100 children die while on psychiatric medicine. These drugs were never intended to be used on children.
By employing the expertise of internationally respected professionals from the fields of medicine, ethics, journalism, and academia, GENERATION RX investigates collusion between drug companies and their regulatory watchdogs at the FDA and focuses on the powerful stories of real families who followed the advice of their doctors - and faced devastating consequences for doing so.
GENERATION RX is a film about families who confronted horror and found nowhere to turn for help - and how scores of children have been caught in the vortex of mind-bending drugs at the earliest stages of their growth and development. This powerful documentary also questions whether we have forced millions of children onto pharmaceutical drugs for commercial rather than scientific reasons.
Every family who is considering placing their child on psychiatric medicine should see this film.
May 5, 2009
Dogs are often used to find drugs, bombs, and track people because of their heightened sense of smell. Now, scientists are using dogs to find rare endangered species, like the dog Rogue in the video searching for rare Kincaid's lupine, an endangered plant where endangered Fender's blue butterfly lays pin-sized eggs. The Scientist reports:
Greg Fitzpatrick, Corvallis Land Steward for the Nature Conservancy in Oregon, says the idea of using dogs to pick out plants first came to him when he read in a local newspaper that Dave Vesely was using dogs to track a rare turtle. "It seemed to me that if a dog could find the nests of a turtle, a dog could also be trained to find a plant at its peak time of flowering." On his mind was the Kincaid's lupine, whose peak flowering period is only two weeks long, some time from April through July. "The dog is using his nose; we're using our eyes and trying to find small, flowering plants in a blackberry thicket, for instance, is time-consuming and not always successful."
Of course, there's a treat for the good doggy when he finds a lupine!
Via: Utne Reader
May 4, 2009
We've reviewed freeze-dried fruit snacks
before, but they were not organic. Now, Funky Monkey Snacks
is offering three organic flavors: Bananamon, Purple Funk, and Jivealime. Matt Herzog, president of Funky Monkey Snacks explains:
The Natural Organic Program certification process is a rigorous examination of every step in a food product's life, from the field or orchard to the finished product. It's great to be able to officially assure our customers that Funky Monkey Snacks are not only respectful of the environment in every step of production, but also are grown and manufactured using organic methods.
Funky Monkey snacks are made from 100% real fruit. Each one ounce is equivalent to three servings of fruit. They are gluten-free and contain no added sugar or preservatives. Funky Monkey Snacks
would be great for backpacking or putting in your child's school lunch.
May 1, 2009
Fiber, protein, and whole grains are the secrets behind Nature's Path Organic Optimum Slim cereal. Ingredients:
Made with love and ...
Organic rolled oats, organic evaporated cane juice, organic roasted soy nuts, organic wheat bran, organic whole wheat meal, organic brown rice flour, organic soy protein, organic soy oil, organic flax seed, organic flaxmeal, organic freeze dried banana, organic oat syrup solids, organic raisins (coated with organic sunflower oil), organic almonds, organic oat bran, organic puffed Kamut® Khorasan wheat, organic sunflower seeds, organic barley malt extract, organic cinnamon, sea salt, organic matcha green tea, organic molasses, tocopherols (natural vitamin E) added to enhance freshness, organic rice bran extract.
Cereal doesn't have to just be for breakfast. If you are watching your weight (or not), Nature's Path Organic Optimum Slim cereal
makes a great snack.
Nature's Path Organic Foods, Organic Valley, and Organic Gardening have teamed up to support the Farmers Can Be Heroes program. This program recognizes our farmers are our heroes who must feed our world while battling climate change. The program provides online courses for conventional farmers to learn about how to switch to organic agricultural practices.