April 29, 2011

Really Natural Books: The Way of the Happy Woman

The Way of the Happy Woman: Living the Best Year of Your Life by Sara Avant Stover is an inspirational book for any woman and would make a nice Mother's Day gift.

Our ancestors adhered to the daily, seasonal, and yearly rhythms of nature by necessity, but modern life overrides these cycles, compromising women's health and happiness.

In this book, Sara Avant Stover shows how simple, natural, and refreshingly accessible practices can minimize stress and put us back in sync with our own cycles and those of nature. When we honor spring's seedlings, summer's vibrancy, fall's harvest, and winter's quietude, we harmonize our inner and outer worlds.

Sara's suggestions nurture the body, invigorate the mind, and lift the spirit. Illustrated yin and yang yoga sequences, one-day season-specific retreats, enticing recipes, and innovative self-reflection techniques make it easy to reconnect with the essential.

I especially appreciate the seasonal yoga sequences and recipes. In fact, I plan to make the quinoa and roasted asparagus tabouli today!  Asparagus season has begun in my garden!

This book is all about treating yourself right, and Sara even shows you how to find the time to do so. It's not about pampering, which implies decadent luxury. It's about nurturing your body and spirit.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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April 28, 2011

Your Steering Wheel Harbors 9 Times More Germs Than a Public Toilet Seat

Here's your disgusting thought for the day: Your steering wheel harbors nine times more germs than a public toilet seat. You can avoid putting your hands on a public toilet seat, but can you drive hands-free?

The Daily Mail reports:

Research has found that while 80 bacteria lurk on each square inch of toilet, around 700 harmful bugs inhabit the car's interior.

The study also revealed that 42 per cent of motorists regularly dine while driving...

Dr Ron Cutler, director of biomedical science at Queen Mary University, London, said: 'While most of the bacteria were unlikely to cause health problems, some cars were found to play host to a number of potentially harmful bacterial species.

'Most people clean their homes but many are neglecting to clean their cars and are driving around in vehicles which resemble a rubbish bin.

'A car is the perfect place for germs to breed, especially if you eat in it and leave litter or uneaten food around. To avoid potential health risks it would be wise to regularly clean your car inside and out.'

When was the last time you cleaned your car? We really like the Eco Touch car cleaning products we reviewed three years ago!


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April 27, 2011

Really Natural Beauty: Exfoliate Naturally with derma e Microdermabrasion Scrub

We love derma e and were very excited to try derma e Microdermabrasion Scrub. Cruelty-free, paraben-free, eco-friendly, not tested on animals, etc...it's everything you would expect from derma e.

A salon skin treatment alternative. Exfoliant. Derma e Microdermabrasion Scrub immediately improves your skin's appearance by utilizing a crystal blend system to remove dead skin cells in this safe and effective formula. Markedly diminishes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars. Retexturizes skin and leaves it silky smooth. This product uses Aluminum Oxide as part of the crystal blend system. Because it is the crystal and is only on the skin for several minutes, there is no absorption. No animal testing. Made in USA.

I appreciate derma e's full disclosure of ingredients, including the aluminum.

derma e Microdermabrasion Scrub really does exfoliate! You can feel the dead skin being removed as you use it. A gentle touch should be used; if you scrub too hard it may make your face feel raw. A slight citrusy smell accompanies this scrub leaving your skin feeling refreshed and new. It is recommended this product be used twice a week.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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April 26, 2011

Maine Towns Enact Local Food Freedom Laws


In what can only be a response to the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, communities in Maine are enacting "local food freedom" laws to supersede federal laws (only it doesn't actually work that way in the Constitution). Treehugger reports:
Blue Hill, Maine will be one of several towns in Maine to recently enact food freedom laws declaring that the federal government doesn't have the right to intervene in local food matters, according to a story on Natural News. The bill allows this rural community of around 2,500 people to decide what foods that they buy and sell locally as well as exempting all direct sales of local food products from complying with state and federal inspection requirements.

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April 25, 2011

Really Natural Books: The Moral Lives of Animals

The consumption of and treatment of animals is often justified on the belief that they do not possess the same mental capabilities as humans, especially morality. As a child, my own experiences with pets taught me differently and was probably the first step towards my choice to be a vegetarian. 

The animal brain varies by species and may not be exactly the same as humans; however, Dale Peterson explores the behaviors and values of animals in his new book The Moral Lives of Animals.

"Cooperative hyenas, scorekeeping impalas, heroic rats--humans are not the only creatures with a code of ethics. Dale Peterson of Tufts University argues that animals across many species exhibit behaviors that reveal evolutionary continuity between us and them. The rules and values Homo sapiens shares with other species provide a basis for Peterson to speculate about the future of our relationship with our fellow fauna."--Scientific American "Recommended Books" column

Peterson even explores sexual relationships, as humans are not the only ones to copulate for pleasure or engage in homosexuality. Evidence for such behavior is found in Bonobos.

I've witnessed moral behavior amongst my dogs. When we recently added a puppy to the pack, one dog took it upon herself to protect the pup whenever her sibling was mean to the new pup. It surprised us all to see her take a stand against her sister, whom she is extremely close to in order to protect the puppy.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day


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Dr. Hauschka Daily Body Care Kit: Holistic Skin Care You Can Trust

Dr. Hauschka is my most favorite, trusted brand of beauty care products. This German company has been making holistic products since 1967, before it became trendy and simply a marketing term. The company was founded on the real Dr. Hauschka's mission "to heal humanity and the earth." This may be a noble goal for a skincare company, but once you try these products, you understand.

Dr. Hauschka Daily Body Care Kit

This handy tin features six products that soothe, nurture and renew skin: Hand Cream, Lavender Bath, Quince Body Moisturizer, Rose Body Moisturizer, Lemon Lemongrass Body Oil and Rose Body Oil.

  • A selection of Body Care products to soothe, nurture and renew

  • A great introduction to the Dr.Hauschka Body Care range

  • Perfect for travel, providing holistic body care on-the-go.

  • Features a selection of holistic products beneficial to all skin conditions

 Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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April 21, 2011

Recalled Turmeric Sold at Target Contained Lead

Here's a scary thought: your spice rack could contain lead! Not the rack itself, but the spices you sprinkle into your recipes. According to UPI, turmeric sold at Target has been recalled for lead content!

Officials in Georgia confirmed Archer Farms Ground Turmeric, a curry spice sold at Target stores, is being recalled due to high levels of lead...

B&M Inc. of Mount Vernon, Mo., shipped the jars of spice to Target stores from June 2009 to February 2010, the newspaper said.

Lead is toxic if ingested. It is known to cause mental and physical problems, including learning disabilities.

How the turmeric was contaminated with lead was not disclosed, but it is pretty scary to consider what may be lurking in our spices.

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April 20, 2011

Eco Bags Wine and Gift Bags: Recycled, Fair Wage, Fair Labor

We get a lot of reusable shopping bags sent to us for review, and by far, my favorites are made by EcoBags. EcoBags motto is "Clean up the planet one bag at a time". Unlike many reusable bags made of synthetic materials, Eco Bags are made of recycled cotton. They wash easily and can be customized easily with silkscreens or paints.

We are really excited about the EcoBags wine bag and gift bags! They are a great alternative to paper bags. Given their solid construction, they are sure to be reused over and over again.

ECOBAGS Canvas Wine Bag

Looking for a thoughtful way to present a gift of organic wine? Our rustic wine tote is made of a 100% recycled cotton canvas with double-stitched seams and sturdy handles to make sure your carefully chosen spirit arrives safe, sound and spectacular-looking!

ECOBAGS Embroidered Gift Bag
Our recycled cotton "Celebrate!" tote is the perfect alternative to disposable wrapping paper this holiday season. It adds a classy, eco-friendly flair to your gift and will live on for 100's of uses! This set contains three natural color bags embroidered with beautiful Silver, Ocean Blue and Forest Green thread and constructed with 100% recycled cotton and double-stitched seams for maximum durability.

I absolutely love these bags!

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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April 19, 2011

Japan Nuclear Disaster Will Last 3 Months


Although we may not be thinking as much about the nuclear disaster in Japan as we were a few weeks ago, the problem is far from over. UPI reports:

Takashi Sawada, deputy director of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, said in a CNN report Saturday it would take two or three months to restore cooling systems at the damaged reactors.

The plant's coolant systems were damaged by the March 11 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami, resulting in a near meltdown and causing a nuclear accident on par with that at Chernobyl, in the former Soviet Union, officials said.

The evacuation zone is being expanded to include the village of Iitate.

That's three more months of radiation. Although our exposure in the United States is minimal, it's still important to protect your family and pets. Keep up your iodine levels by eating lots of seaweed!

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April 18, 2011

Cholula Hot Sauces: The Flavorful Fire Great on Tofu Scramble and Home Fries

Cholula is a classic hot sauce straight from Mexico that's a favorite of egg lovers. It is great in all kinds of recipes, but I like to add a little spice to my tofu scramble or home fries with the sauce.

We were sent four flavors of Cholula:
Cholula Original Mexican Hot Sauce

Cholula Hot Sauce Original is all about Flavor, Fire and Fun. More than any other Hot Sauce, Cholula's delicious blend of piquin peppers, chile arbol and signature spices enhances food flavors without overpowering them. It's a combination that has defined Cholula as The Flavorful Fire.

Cholula Chili Lime Hot Sauce
Cholula Chili Lime Hot Sauce gives you all of what you love most about Cholula's original Flavorful Fire but with the distinctively delicious, tangy hint of fresh lime. It's a hot 'n' tangy flavor sensation that is incredible on tortilla chips, seafood, chicken, salad dressings and more.

Cholula Chili Garlic Hot Sauce
A garlic lover's dream. Cholula Chili Garlic gives you the full benefit of Cholula's original Flavorful Fire complimented with an abundant presence of fresh, coarse ground garlic. It is an incredible flavor enhancement to pasta sauces, pizza, poultry, soups and anywhere you would enjoy a little garlic!

Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce
Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce featuring a savory blend of Cholula's original "Flavorful Fire" and the smokey and slightly sweet flavor notes of real Chipotle peppers. It brings sensational new flavor to soups, ranch dressing, steaks, chicken and more.

I love the wooden stoppers on these natural products. I only wish they were made with organically grown ingredients.  I am also extremely disappointed our sauces were shipped in huge box of styrofoam peanuts.

I quit spicing my food after having children. Hot flavors weren't good for breastfeeding, and children don't like spicy food. Cholula makes it easy to add a little flavor to any plate without making a whole recipe too hot for little mouths.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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April 15, 2011

Really Natural Books: The Tote Bag

Before using reusable shopping bags was eco-etiquette, I knew a teacher who was a tote bag collector. She loved tote bags and would get so excited if we got a new one at a conference or workshop.

The Tote Bag by Jitesh Patel is an art book of tote bags! From Los Angeles to Japan, unique tote bags and their artists are featured.

This book showcases some of the most striking, inventive and subversive examples of the ubiquitous tote. From eco chic to style icon, the featured totes come from a wide range of illustrators and graphic designers around the world, with designs including floral prints, typography, illustrations, and characters. Each book will be beautifully packaged in an original and eye-catching tote bag.
There are some really amazing designs. Not only is using tote bags eco-friendly, it's also eco-chic!


Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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April 14, 2011

Easy Way to Add Organic Spelt Flour to All Your Recipes

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For the past couple of months, I have been using organic spelt flour in all of my baking recipes. This ancient whole grain has been around since the fifth millennium BC.

Many commercial products made with spelt are crumbly and fall apart. I've been experimenting, and I think I have found the perfect way to add a little spelt into any recipe.

My spelt substitution rule is simple: 1/4 to 1/2 cup spelt flour replacement for regular whole wheat or unbleached flour. For example, in this banana bread recipe, I simply replace 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour with spelt flour. The flavor change is subtle, giving it more of a whole grain flavor without affecting its consistency. Spelt flour is really good in brownies too!

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April 13, 2011

Conserve Environmentally-Friendly Cleaning Products: Just Mix Tablet with Water

If you look at the ingredients of your favorite cleaning products, you will find water near the top, whether the product is eco-friendly or not. I always think it is silly to be paying for water, and besides water adds to the shipping weight and increases any product's carbon footprint in transportation from manufacturing to retail.

Conserve by Baum Gartens makes buying concentrated cleaning products easy and affordable. By putting the product in tablet form, there is no measuring (or spilling) of the cleaning product involved when mixing it with water.

We tried out two Conserve tablet cleaners:
Conserve Glass Cleaner, Makes One Gallon, Vanilla Lavender

More economical than the competition Quickly cleans and shines windows, mirrors and glass surfaces, leaving behind a fresh scent. Environmentally friendly, yet as powerful as the leading brands. Simply drop one effervescent tablet in the reusable bottle, fill with water and start using. Kit contains 32-oz. trigger spray bottle and four tablets; makes one gallon. Contains no petrochemicals, phosphates or acids. Cleaner/Detergent Type: Glass; Application: Mirrors; Windows; Applicable Material: Glass; Mirrors; Windows; Chemical Compound: N/A.

Conserve Odor Eliminator,w/32oz Refillable Bottle/4 Tablets,Lavender
Keep your home and office smelling fresh. Apply to clothes, upholstery and drapes to neutralize odors and leave behind a fresh scent. Environmentally friendly, yet as powerful and effective as the leading brands. Simply drop one effervescent tablet in the reusable bottle, fill with water and start using. Kit contains 32-oz. trigger spray bottle and four tablets; makes one gallon. Contains no petrochemicals, phosphates or acids. Scent: Lavender; Physical Form: Tablet; Application: Odor Control; Capacity (Volume): N/A.

You need to be patient while you wait for the tablets to dissolve (about five to ten minutes). I am not sure what the ingredients are in each product, as they are not listed. Given the marketing of the term "environmentally-friendly", these products could be such simply by reducing waste of plastic spray bottles, or they could also contain green ingredients. I just don't know. At least they do not contain petrochemicals, phosphates or acids.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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April 12, 2011

I Want This Car! Prototype Toyota EV Rav4

I live on a rough mountain road, and so far, every hybrid or EV I've seen would not stand the test of country living. I've longingly wanted one of the few Toyota Rav4's that were mistakenly sold, as featured in Who Killed the Electric Car?. I saw one in San Francisco once, and then again on Ebay, but now, the future looks bright for my dream of owning one!

Autobloggreen reports:

  • The RAV4 EV weighs 3,942 pounds, about 1,000 pounds of which are in the Tesla battery.

  • The SUV can go from 0-60 in nine seconds.

  • It has an official 100-mile-per-hour top speed (unofficially, test drivers have gotten it to over 103).

  • The RAV4 EV has 73 cubic-feet of space, which is exactly the same as the standard RAV4 V6.

  • Toyota is claiming a range that varies between 80 and 120 miles from the battery that has 37 kWh of useable energy. The engineers are guaranteeing that the RAV4 EV will beat the Nissan Leaf and its official EPA range of 73 miles. This is nice, but the RAV4 EV is bigger and heavier, an electron-guzzler or sorts, that gets just 2-3 miles per kWh (other EVs get around 4-5 miles), and we assume it will cost a lot more, too. Whatever the official range estimate ends up being, Toyota representatives told us that they will under promise and over deliver.

  • The prototype has a Tesla charge port, but the production version will have the standard J1772 connector.

  • The demonstration vehicles take ages to charge: 28 hours to fully charge over a standard 110 volt outlet (12 over 240V), but the production version, everyone promised us, will be "significantly improved."

There's a lot of bugs to be worked out before this beauty is released in 2012, but I am excited!

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April 11, 2011

I'm Not a Paper Cup: Porcelain Reusable Coffee Mug

You've probably seen these cups before; they always make me do a double take. Looking exactly like a disposable coffee cup, I'm Not a Paper Cup makes a statement.

The original "I'm Not a Paper Cup" is the eco-friendly alternative to disposable paper or styrofoam coffee cups. It features a durable double-walled layer of thermal porcelain and a silicone top, both of which are dishwasher and microwave safe. The cup is 100% non-toxic and reusable. Holds up to 10 ounces.

One thing I like about the I'm Not a Paper Cup, besides the obvious message, is coffee joints know exactly how to make a latte or cappuccino in it. I've been frustrated on numerous occasions when baristas insist on making my soy latte in a paper cup, then pouring it into my stainless steel coffee mug because they don't know its size for the proportion of milk to espresso. It completely defeats the purpose of using a reusable cup, and I never win the argument.

I also think that porcelain is probably a safer material for hot beverages than China sourced stainless steel. I think this is also true for the lid (silicone vs. plastic).

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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April 8, 2011

Really Natural Cooking: Heart of the Artichoke

heart of the artichoke.jpg
Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys by David Tanis is an amazingly beautiful cookbook! Although not strictly vegetarian, the pictures are incredible and make you salivate over the recipes. From Fresh Peach Ice Cream to Black Sticky Rice Pudding with Coconut Cream, the meals are varied and unique.

A recipe is "what happens between the concept of a dish and its final result," he observes, then paints a fine line between "om" and "yum" with 14 meditations on kitchen rituals, small moments of epiphany that tie his childhood oatmeal to his adult polenta or celebrate the genius of the Ziploc bag. Cooks who live in an unchanging climate seem to have a penchant for dividing their cookbooks into seasonal chapters and Tanis is no exception. The (artichoke) heart of this work consists of 20 full menus, five for each season. Spring offerings include Vietnamese vegetable summer rolls, and "The Flavor of Smoke," featuring tea-smoked chicken salad. Summer belongs to herbs with choices like flat-roasted chicken with rosemary, and rice salad with sweet herbs. With the fall comes flatbread, a focaccia served alongside stuffed raviolone.

This cookbook provides seasonal menus perfect for anyone trying to eat locally and for selecting the freshest ingredients. For over 25 years, Tanis has been the chef at Chez Panisse, but you don't have to be a gourmet cook to follow these recipes.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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April 7, 2011

World Health Day: "The world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era"

Last summer, I had a little taste of antibiotic resistance when a typical case of strep throat was not remedied by the usual course of amoxicillin. The doctors scrambled to use other antibiotics as an abscess then developed. It was gnarly, and I was scared.

Today is World Health Day. The World Health Organization is using today to highlight a very real problem we are facing: antibiotic resistance. ScienceBlogs reports:

The development and widespread use of antibiotics counts as a public health triumph, as infections that once routinely killed large numbers of people became much easier to treat. That triumph can be undone, though. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan warns, "In the absence of urgent corrective and protective actions, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated."

Those who've become infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacteria probably already know that we have a problem, because their illnesses tend to be longer and more severe. Some of these patients are cured by other antibiotics, which are often more expensive and can bring worse side effects. Some die.

Image:  Attribution Some rights reserved by jbtiv

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April 6, 2011

Rapunzel Vegetable Broth: Not Just for Soups

One staple of my pantry is Rapunzel Pure Organic Vegetable Soup Broth. This powdered vegetable stock is delicious for making soups, but it is also an excellent flavor enhancer for any dish. It dresses up plain rice, and it makes the best gravy.

We search the world over for the highest quality organic ingredients that retain important nutrients and provide you with a whole healthy and sustaining meal for our line of Vegetable broth. This broth helps eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and provide better earnings within rural communities.

Not only is this product vegetarian, it is gluten-free!
Ingredients: Sea salt, yeast extract, rice flour*, sunflower oil*, onions*, carrots*, celery*, spices* (tumeric* mace*), parsley*. *organically grown and processed ingredients.

If you plan to use this product as an all around spice, be sure to cut back on the salt you add to your recipes, since it already contains sea salt.

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April 5, 2011

North Carolina Bill Attacks Natural Health Providers

Have you ever seen an herbalist, naturopath, homeopath, or midwife? Under a proposed bill in North Carolina, these alternative, natural health practitioners could face felony charges. Organic Consumers Association explains:

Alternative health practitioners in North Carolina (NC) and their patients need your help to defeat a stealth bill that flew under the radar of most everyone in the natural health community. Senate Bill 31, which clarifies the penalties for the "unauthorized practice of medicine," essentially criminalizes the practice of unlicensed forms of medicine, which includes the work of many naturopaths, homeopaths, herbalists, aromatherapists, and even some midwives in the state. The bill was adopted by a judiciary committee in early March, and it recently passed the NC Senate. Now, the NC House is set to vote on the bill tonight, and unless NC governor Bev Perdue vetoes it, the practice of natural medicine for many in NC may soon become a more severe criminal offense.

SB 31 states that anyone who practices medicine or surgery without having been first "licensed and registered to do so" will be guilty of a Class I felony. Class I felonies in NC are the least severe kinds of felonies, but they do include things like burning crosses on private or public property, and sexually exploiting children. So if passed, SB 31 will essentially make those who practice alternative medicine without an official, state-sanctioned license and permit, criminals of the likes of sexual predators and cross burners.

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April 4, 2011

Green Pets: Planet Dog Toys Thinking Globally & Acting Doggedly

Pet toys are typically made from the cheapest materials. They do not hold up to the demands of humans and dogs, and they end up in landfills. In fact, I usually will not buy a dog toy, as a stick can serve the same purpose, then again, a stick dog is an annoying dog.  My children, however, enjoy having toys for their dogs (I don't think the dogs mind).

Planet Dog's mission is "to amuse, explore, support, innovate, create, educate, celebrate, & philanthropate...all in the name of the dog". We (humans and canines) love Planet Dog!

We tried out two Planet Dog products:
Planet Dog Wood Chuck Ball Toss Toy with RecycleBall:

Engineered with sustainable bamboo and reused cork scraps. A sleek take on other ball-tossing devices, Wood Chuck's® bamboo core offers strength and maximum chuck-ability with an ergonomic cork handle for comfort and grip-ability throw, after throw. Wood Chuck's® 4-pronged claw coupled with the pliant nature of our Orbee-Tuff® products make it a cinch to grab and throw. Goes the distance every time. Wood Chuck® is offered with Orbee-Tuff® RecycleBALL®. Can be used with Planet Dog's Orbee-Tuff® 2.5" toys or certain unpressurized standard tennis balls.

Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Glow for Good Ball:
100-Percent of the sales of our doggie-durable, buoyant, bouncy, minty Glow for Good Ball go directly to the Planet Dog Foundation, our not-for-profit arm whose mission is to support canine service programs.

These are great, durable toys. I really like them both!  The ball tosser really flings the ball far, allowing the dogs to get a great work out running up and down the hill as I toss it. The glow-in-the-dark ball is fun for nighttime ball play!

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review would be positive or negative.

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April 1, 2011

Really Natural March 2011 Monthly Roundup




Fair Trade



Green Cleaning


Herbal Medicine


Monthly Round-Up

Organic Food News

Product review




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