November 30, 2009

Really Natural November 2009 Monthly Round Up

Alternative Energy





Green Homes





Monthly Round-Up

Product review

Really Natural Books

Really Natural Products




Yard and Garden


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November 30, 2009

5 Ways to Get a Green Deal on Cyber Monday

greentoysdumptruck.jpgOh, it's Cyber Monday, the internet shopper's version of Black Friday. If you spent your Black Friday buying nothing, as many celebrate Buy Nothing Day, it may be time to get your responsible holiday shopping done. Shopping early ensures you get what want to give without settling for what is left, and it saves you money by not needing to pay pricey overnight shipping costs. Cyber Monday is often celebrated by online outlets with not only great deals, but free shipping. Here are five ideas to get the most out of your Cyber Monday:

1. Shop the blogosphere: Bloggers are assembling gift guides and looking for the best deals on products they have reviewed and tested. Check out some of the holiday gift guides on Blogpire for great gift ideas, such as our very own Really Natural Green Holiday Gift Guide or Kitchen Contraptions Holiday Gift Guide.

2. Shop locally online: Even though you are shopping online, check your local stores' websites for great deals. You can still support local vendors and support your local economy on Cyber Monday. For example, the outdoor gear shops where I live have great online deals that allow me to shop from home but make returns in the store. Some local stores even sell via Amazon.

3. Shop with Social Responsibility: There are so many wonderful non-profit organizations you can support to give a gift to someone who has everything or is more concerned with the plight of humans around the world rather than getting a material possession. Heifer International allows you to purchase livestock to provide food sustainability to help end hunger and poverty around the world. Kiva allows you to make micro-loans to entrepreneurs around the world and actually becomes quite addicting as you are repaid and reloan money over and over again.

4. Give the gift of a CSA: This is always a great deal to invest in a local farm, and you can do it online via Local Harvest. Last year, I gave my father the gift of Community Supported Agriculture.

5. Don't sacrifice green values for a deal: It is tempting to abandon your principles of sustainability and earth-friendliness when you see a really good deal, but it is not needed. There are a lot of wonderful gift ideas, like the Green Toys Dump Truck, that are made out of recycled plastic.

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November 27, 2009

Natural Beauty Products from Native Australian Plants

LillyPilly makes natural beauty products from Australian native plants.

For thousands of years the indigenous people of Australia have known about the skin revitalising properties of native Australian plants extracts - purifying lilly pilly, invigorating eucalyptus, soothing tea tree and rejuvenating Kakadu plum...LillyPilly is Australian owned and made and has been uniquely formulated in the harsh Australian climate to counter the effects of environmental pollutants and a busy lifestyle which can leave skin dull, tired and damaged.

We've tried out three LillyPilly products:

Eucalyptus with Nerolina Body Wash: At $17.99, this is a big tube that will last a long time.
Wake up your senses with Eucalyptus with Nerolina Body Wash. With its subtle menthol scent blended with the lavender and lilac undertones of Nerolina oil Eucalyptus Body Wash is the perfect tonic to decongest sluggish skin leaving it silky smooth and never dry.

Kakadu Plum Hand & Body Creme
: At $9.99 a tube, you will love the scent of this lotion.
Rejuvenate your skin with Kakadu Plum Hand & Body Crème. Fruit from the Kakadu Plum tree is the richest natural source of vitamin C in the world - an important antioxidant which helps prevent the breakdown of collagen in the skin. Blended with the naturally potent antioxidants and exfoliating fruit acids found in Lilly Pilly extract. Enriched with vitamins A & E, omega oils and Aloe Vera.

Tea Tree with Rosewood Hand & Body Creme: At $9.99 a tube, you will love the way this lotion hydrates your skin.
Soothe, calm and replenish sensitive and stressed skin with the healing properties of Tea Tree oil renowned for its antiseptic qualities. Enriched with vitamins A & E, omega oils and Aloe Vera.

Disclosure: I was sent the above described products in order to write this review. This is an authentic review and no prior assurances were given as to whether the review would be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 25, 2009

Naked, Package Free, Fresh Handmade Beauty Products by LUSH

LUSH Handmade Cosmetics prides themselves on selling "naked" products. 65% of their products are sold without packaging, making them more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, Lush is against animal testing, as you would expect.

Our Core Beliefs
We believe in making effective products from fresh, organic* fruit and vegetables, the finest essential oils and safe synthetics.

We invent our own products and fragrances. We make them fresh by hand using little or no preservative or packaging, using only vegetarian ingredients, and tell you when they were made.

We believe in buying ingredients only from companies that do not commission tests on animals and in testing our products on humans.

We believe in happy people making happy soap, putting our faces on our products and making our mums proud.

We believe in long candlelit baths, sharing showers, massage, filling the world with perfume and in the right to make mistakes, lose everything and start again.

We believe our products are good value, that we should make a profit and that the customer is always right.

* We also believe words like fresh and organic have honest meaning beyond marketing.

I've tried out two LUSH products:

Breath of Fresh Air Toner by LUSH: This is a nice skin toner that "tones without tightness". It's not my all time favorite toner, but I do like it. Perhaps it is the hint of patchouli that reminds me of my Dead tour days. I like that this product uses sea water as an ingredient.

Vanilla in the Mist Body Soap by LUSH: I'm a big vanilla fan, and I love this soap. It actually uses real vanilla pods to create a wonderful scent. Lush is also "the only cosmetics company in the world using a palm-free soap base, but we're happy to share the formula with other cosmetics companies (we've already done so) so they can make the switch away from palm!"

Disclosure: We were sent the above described products to test in order to write this review. No advance assurances were given as to whether the review would be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 24, 2009

Melting Ice in Greenland Responsible for 1/6 of Sea Level Increase

With the buzz surrounding climate talks in Copenhagen next month, the news about climate change is rather grim. For example, researchers have documented Greenland has lost "1500 cubic kilometres of ice between 2000 and 2008, making it responsible for one-sixth of global sea-level rise. Even worse, there are signs that the rate of ice loss is increasing."
1/6 of sea-level rise translates to "0.75 millimetres per year". That may not sound like much, but year after year the effect is cumulative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 23, 2009

Organic, Gluten Free Kids Cereals by Nature's Path Not Just for Kids!

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Celiac's disease runs in my family, so we try to limit our gluten intake, even though no one has yet to show gluten sensitivity. Many of Nature's Paths Envirokidz line of organic cereals has always been gluten-free. Some of our favorites include:

All of these products are gluten-free, organic, vegetarian, low in sodium, and contain no preservatives or additives.

Disclosure: I was sent the above described products to try out in order to write an authentic review. Assurances were not given as to whether the review would be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 20, 2009

Natural Art Supplies that are Genuinely Non-Toxic and Sustainably Manufactured

I truly believe that one of the best gifts you can give a child are art supplies; however, even though many kid art supplies carry the "non-toxic" label, they may not be truly sustainable or natural. Clementine Art's motto is "Non-toxic is just the beginning," and the company was born out of a children's art studio in Boulder, CO.

Clementine Art produces professional-quality and earth-friendly art supplies with pure, simple ingredients. Clementine's products are colored with plant and mineral pigments instead of artificial dyes, providing an innovative solution to chemical laden, artificially colored art supplies. Clementine Art's products do not contain any synthetic preservatives, animal byproducts, or petroleum bases, and Clementine is the first art product company to list all ingredients on its packages.

Considering how messy young children are when they create often getting supplies in their hair, skin, and even mouth, choosing quality natural products is key.  The Clementine Art Holiday Eco-Art Gift Set contains:

The vivid colors of these art supplies are wonderful, and the crayon and rock shapes are perfect for little hands. The soy crayons and rock work better than traditional crayons, and I am in love with all of the products we tried. Furthermore, Clementine Art's packaging is made from recyclable and recycled content in a wind-powered facility.

Disclosure: We were sent a Clementine Art Holiday Eco-Art Gift Set to review without prior assurances of positive or negative opinions.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 19, 2009

Eco-Friendly Sno Wovel Alternative to Polluting Snow Blowers

Snow season is upon us, and often neighbors are envious of each others gas-powered, polluting snow blowers that ease the burden of shoveling sidewalks and driveways. An eco-friendly version is now available that will be the envy of those competing to be the greenest on their street: the Sno Wovel Wheeled Snow Shovel.

The Sno Wovel™ is the only non-combustion alternative snow removal device performing equal to or better than a snow blower...Shoveling and snow blower injuries result in approximately 100,000 serious emergency room visits annually in North America. Cumulative injuries affect millions, resulting in lost time and productivity for recovery - all of which are now preventable without sacrificing performance. The University of Massachusetts, one of the top U.S. ergonomic research centers, has released the results of an independent study verifying that use of the patented Sno Wovel wheel-based shovel results in a 3-4 times reduction in lower back stress and cardio exertion. The innovative wheeled design allows for effortless snow clearing on all types of surfaces while avoiding twisting, bending and post snowstorm muscle aches.

I do not personally own a Sno Wovel, nor have I tried one, but I think this is an ingenious invention. According to Eco Cycle, snow blowers "send 30 percent of the unburned fuel out with the exhaust." From noise pollution to greenhouse gas emission, traditional snow blowers are not good for the earth.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 18, 2009

Environmental Books: Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming

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Written by the some of the great folks at DeSmogBlog, Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming explores how such a large portion of Americans have come to believe that climate change is just a hoax. Authors Hoggan and Littlemore explain how the climate "debate" is actually a "public relations creation" and support their claims with proof, including corporate strategy papers. Unfortunately, such debate "cripples public policy and paralyzes public action".

It seems that there are no safe compromises to be made in dealing with climate change. Denying it was wrong. Delaying action is dangerous. People who say otherwise should, at some point in the very near future, have to stand accountable for their recklessness.

It's time to drop the hype around climate change and deal with it now. Exposing those who are responsible for creating confusion on the issue, such as Exxon Mobil that "has funneled tens of millions of dollars into denial", is the first step, but it should also not hinder or confuse progress on true environmental policy. Thankfully, as Hogan and Littlemore write, "That tide is turning."
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 17, 2009

Pain Eased by Thoughts of Loved Ones

In a recent study published in Psychological Science, the somewhat logical has been discovered: thinking of a loved one eases physical pain. The study's co-author Naomi Eisenberger, assistant professor of psychology at UCLA, explains in LiveScience:

This changes our notion of how social support influences people. Typically, we think that in order for social support to make us feel good, it has to be the kind of support that is very responsive to our emotional needs. Here, however, we are seeing that just a photo of one's significant other can have the same effect.
Using psychological support to ease pain is a natural approach anyone can adopt, reaffirming the importance of love in our lives.  I imagine even the love of a pet can substitute when human relationships go awry.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 16, 2009

This Isn't the Caramel Apple of Your Youth (It's Also Not Organic)

You have until Monday, November 23, 2009 to order one of these unique Caramel Apples from Mrs. Prindables in time for Thanksgiving. Loaded with chocolate, almonds, and peanut butter chips, this apple serves between eight to ten people. Mrs. Prindables also makes gourmet gift baskets.

My family tried one of the Autumn Wreath Jumbo Apples. My deprived children had never had a caramel apple before, and they didn't know what to expect. This apple is so loaded with chocolate and peanut butter chips, it's hard to find the apple inside. It's a good thing a tart granny smith is inside to counter that sweetness on the outside. In my opinion, it's a little (OK, a lot) too much. My children enjoyed it, but this apple is not made from organic ingredients and contains corn syrup (not high fructose).

Disclosure:  I was sent this product for review at no cost.  No assurances were given as to whether the review would be positive or negative in exchange for the product.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 13, 2009

2009 Green Holiday Gift Guide by Really Natural

reindeer.jpgWhether you celebrate a religious or pagan holiday, the winter festivities are rapidly approaching. During the days of shorter light and the returning of the sun, giving gifts to loved ones and friends that are both sustainable, affordable,and unique is much easier than it was just five years ago. The following is a list of our favorite natural products we have reviewed in 2009 and highly recommend to you for their quality and value. Although you can't really put a price on sustainability, we all have to live within our budgets. You can always review our monthly round-ups or past eco-friendly holiday gift guides to get even more great green gift ideas

extrema cookware.jpgGreen Home

  • Green, Eco-Friendly Non-Stick, Non-Scratch Extreme Temperature Ceramic Cookware: Finally, there is a safe, green alternative in non-stick, non-scratch cookware. Cermacor's Xtrema cookware is amazing! From saucepans to tea kettles, "Xtrema is healthier than any other cookware and we have documented scientific and laboratory testing to prove it." There are many, many benefits to Xtrema, beside avoiding teflon or aluminum.

  • First Made in the USA Filtered Stainless Steel Water Bottle by EcoUsable: n the great reusable water bottle debate, Kleen Kanteen is always criticized for being made in China, and Sigg has fessed up to having BPA in its epoxy liner all along. Finally, there is a stainless steel water bottle made in the USA, and it has a bonus feature of filtration! EcoUsable 25oz Filtered Water Bottle - Stainless Swirl is so cool! It is the absolutely best stainless steel water bottle on the market that I have found, and the filter will last for approximately 12 months.

ArrowContinue reading: "2009 Green Holiday Gift Guide by Really Natural"

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 12, 2009

Select an Organic, Free Range, Antibiotic Free Turkey this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a week away, and you may be wondering what kind of bird to serve (if you serve a bird at all). The domestication of the turkey is actually a sad story in the history of poultry. In fact, genetic selection for conformity and weight have resulted in a industry in which artificial insemination is the norm and "natural mating is virtually impossible". Barbara Kingsolver shares her amusing tale in turkey breeding in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but not many birds are so lucky. Besides problems with natural procreation, the poultry industry produces between two to four billion pounds of feather waste each year!

Around Thanksgiving time, the old adage "You are what you eat" rings true, thus you should select an organic, free range, antibiotic free turkey. Consider these free range turkey facts:

  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the single condition for the term 'free-range' is that birds have access to the outdoors. All other facets of a free-range turkey's life can be indistinguishable from the living conditions of a conventional-raised bird.

  • To prevent free-roaming birds from injuring each other in the grow-out quarters, a portion of their beaks and toes are severed without the aid of anesthesia. Ian J.H. Duncan, a professor of Poultry Ethology at the University of Guelph in Canada, says "the idea of beak trimming being a short-lived discomfort for the bird may be far from accurate. The short and long-term changes in behavior, particularly the substantial decrease in activities involving the beak and the increase in inactivity particularly in the first week after the operation, suggests that the birds are suffering severe pain."

  • Free-range turkeys are slaughtered between 14 and 25 weeks of age. Reaching 'slaughter-age', turkeys are transported via multi-tiered, flat-bed trucks in overcrowded wire cages, enduring all types of weather conditions. Arriving at the slaughterhouse, the fully-conscious birds are hung by their legs and their throats are slashed. The Humane Slaughter Act and Animal Welfare Act exempt turkeys from legal protection.

Do your homework and buy a bird that has truly lived in ethical conditions before it ends up on your table, or you could avoid the bird altogether and have a vegan Thanksgiving.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 11, 2009

Green, Eco-Friendly Non-Stick, Non-Scratch Extreme Temperature Ceramic Cookware

extrema cookware.jpg
Finally, there is a safe, green alternative in non-stick, non-scratch cookware. Cermacor's Xtrema cookware is amazing! From saucepans to tea kettles, "Xtrema is healthier than any other cookware and we have documented scientific and laboratory testing to prove it." There are many, many benefits to Xtrema, beside avoiding teflon or aluminum:

  • Xtreme High Temperature: Cookware can withstand 2,700 F, Steel can melt at 2,200 F

  • Xtremely Easy to Clean: Non-Scratch, Non-Toxic Ceramic Glaze Surface

  • Xtremely Attractive: High Gloss Black Finish

  • Xtremely Versatile: Oven, Stovetop, Broiler, Freezer, Barbeque Grill, Microwave Oven, Dishwasher and Dining Room Table

  • Xtremely Healthy Cooking: No Trace Metals or Chemicals Leaching from the Cooking Surface

  • Xtremely Practical: Reduces Cooking Time and Uses Less Energy, Foods Stay Hotter Longer

  • Xtremely Tasty: Ceramic Far Infrared Cooking Enhances the Food Flavor and the Entire Cooking Experience

  • Xtremely Durable: Cooking Surface can not be Scratched, even by Metal Utensils and Industrial Steel Wool

Extrema cookware is handcrafted in China, taking 22 days from start to finish:
The Chinese artisans have been handcrafting ceramics for over 5,000 years and we believe in providing the consumer with the very best in product quality and that is why we decided to have our product made where the finest ceramics in the world are made and that is in mainland China.

My family tested out a Three Piece 20 Oz Retro Tea Set and pie plate. We love Xtrema. It is the best green cookware on the market, and I highly recommend it! It's super easy to clean, and I am assured my family is not being poisoned by the very cookware our food is prepared in.

Disclosure: I was given the tea set and pie plate in order to test the products to write this review. There were no advance assurances given as to whether the review would be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 10, 2009

Icebreaker Stylish Merino Wool Shirts for Men and Women

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I often think of Icebreaker garments as a base layering piece for cold weather play, and I especially love their eco-friendly kids' line; however, this New Zealand company makes some gorgeous, stylish clothes as well.

Icebreaker SuperFine150 Detour Polo Shirt - Short-Sleeve - Men's: This shirt is very hip, with subtle stitch details. The ultralite fabric is perfect for warm to hot weather, as it "breaths as well as cotton but won't hold odour - so you can wear it for days without having to wash it". This shirt also looks nice with a longsleeve shirt layered underneath. Certain colors and styles are on sale right now too!

Icebreaker Superfine 140 Henley Lite Shirt - Women's: This shirt is also made of superfine ultralite merino wool, which is not itchy at all and versatile for any weather conditions. The slight ruching and 3/4 sleeves gives this top a flattering, feminine shape.

Icebreaker is a sustainable company from product to packaging. Each step of the process (source, ethical manufacturing, transparent supply chain, and animal welfare) is part of the company's philosophy. They even add a compound to their plastic bags to assist in "oxo-biodegration" should the bags end up in a landfill rather than be recycled.

Disclosure:  I was given the above described products in order to complete this authentic review.  No guarantees as to the positive or negative nature of the review in exchange for this product.

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 9, 2009

England Names 10 New Nuclear Sites

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England aims to increase its nuclear power to 40% of energy production by 2025. Ten new sites have been named demonstrating the government's commitment "nuclear electricity generation". Renewable energy will account for 30% of England's energy by 2020 under the new policy. The Telegraph explains:

Mr Miliband said: "The threat of climate change means we need to make a transition from a system that relies heavily on high-carbon fossil fuels to a radically different system that includes nuclear, renewable and clean-coal power.

Similar moves to approve new nuclear sites are occurring in the United States with Florida endorsing its first nuclear power plant in 33 years.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 5, 2009

Reusable Baggu X3 Shopping Bags Go With You Anywhere and Make Great Gift Wrap

One of the things I love about the Baggu X3 Reusable Shopping Bags, besides the tough ripstop nylon fabric, is the convenient pouch that contains three bags. This pouch makes it easy to throw your Baggu bags in any purse or bag and ensures you will never run out of bags when shopping. Sure, it is relatively easy to remember your shopping bags at the grocery store, but what about your other errands? Having a few bags in your purse, pocket, or backpack means you never use a plastic bag again. Each Baggu bag can hold up to 50 pounds of merchandise.

Another great use of Baggu X3 Reusable Shopping Bags is wrapping presents! With the holidays approaching, using a reusable shopping bag instead of gift wrap is like giving two gifts!  It also gives a subtle hint to loved ones that it is time to break the plastic bag habit. With all of the bright colors and designs Baggu offers, your presents will look great.

Disclosure: Baggu provided me with X3 shopping bags in order to complete this review. No assurances were given in advance as to whether the review would be positive or negative. 

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

Wildlife Crimes in Britain Push Some Species Close to Extinction

Britain's wildlife is troubled by crime. According to the Telegraph:

The number of wildlife crimes more than doubled in the last year, from 2,177 to 5,854, with badgers and rare birds among the most persecuted, according to the National Wildlife Crime Unit, a police-led, multi-agency unit which gathers intelligence on national wildlife crime.

Cases of cruelty to animals in their natural habitat are now being reported at a rate of 120 a week. Among them are badger bating, egg thefts, bird trapping, deer poaching, hare coursing and habitat destruction.

Many of these species are close to extinction, like the hen harrier. Hen harriers are "hated by gamekeepers for killing grouse and other birds on shooting estates".  These birds have also had unsuccessful breeding seasons in recent years, further compounding the issue. Badgers have also been targeted by wildlife criminals, largely because they are thought to spread bovine tuberculosis.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 4, 2009

Handmade Upcycled Bags Made from Waste in Indonesia


XSProject USA makes upcycled bags from waste in Indonesia.  

the problem
80,000 tons of flexible plastic packaging are manufactured each year in Indonesia.
The average timespan of a single-use drink container packaged in flexible plastic is only 4 seconds. Because there are no safe disposal methods for flexible plastic, it may accumulate and then sit in a landfill forever. And because there are no traditional recycling techniques for this type of plastic it has little resale market value.

XSProject uses craftspeople and trashpickers to create unique bags from Indonesian waste.  A variety of bag designs are offered, from the Shopaholic made from recycled billboard bags to the What a Waste trash receptacle

I am not a fan of the aesthetics of most upcycled type bags, but I do love the concept.  I do think the Shopaholic is a great bag, and it is interesting to read the labels on the bags to see what products are popular in Indonesia.  The bags do have a very strong odor though, which is bothersome to me.  Many of the bags still smell like the products they once labeled.  Also, there are companies like Terracycle making similar products in the US, so it would lessen your carbon footprint to support them over purchasing a bag all the way from Indonesia.

Disclosure:  XSProject sent me three bags in order to write this review. There were no assurances given in advance as to the outcome of the review. 

Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 3, 2009

Lake Tahoe Restoration Act Would Provide $415 Million For Preservation and Improvements

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Lake Tahoe, a popular tourist destination straddling the Nevada and California border, may be in for a lot of restoration funding. Introduced today by senators from Nevada and California, the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act expansion would "improve water quality, restore lake clarity, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species at the lake, in addition to other environmental restoration efforts." According to the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, specifically the money would go towards:

  • $72 million in stormwater management and watershed restoration projects.

  • $136 million for priority restoration projects.

  • $136 million for forest fuels reduction projects.

  • $20 million to prevent the introduction of new invasive species, ongoing watercraft inspections and removal of existing aquatic invasive species.

  • $20 million for reintroduction of the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.

  • $30 million for scientific programs and research which will produce information on long-term trends in the Basin and inform the most cost-effective projects.

  • Authorized funding for public outreach and education.

Lake Tahoe has been plagued by forest fires and mtbe contamination in recent years, among other environmental degradations. This lake formed during the ice ages is a national treasure that should be preserved and protected.
Jennifer Lance Permalink social bookmarking

November 2, 2009

Really Natural October 2009 Monthly Round Up





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