December 21, 2009
Happy Winter Solstice!
Photo by di northey (on the road)
December 8, 2009
Every year, I struggle to find gifts for my parents. They really don't need anything, and I don't want to buy gifts that will just end up at the Salvation Army or be sold at a garage sale in the near future. Last year, I purchased a Community Supported Agriculture half share for my father. This year, I've decided to give a Heifer International gift to my dad.
Choose a meaningful gift to give a loved one and help children and families around the world receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant.
"I loved my Heifer gift. I don't need more chocolate or knick-knacks. Knowing that a family gets a goat for milk, and can be self-sufficient is a great positive thing to bring into the world. It's wonderful to know a family has been given help in my name."
-- Eileen, Rochester NY
I chose the "Hope Basket
" for my father.
The Heifer Hope Basket, with its chickens and rabbits, offers just that to Heifer's project partners. What can be more hopeful to a struggling farmer than a gift of fast-multiplying livestock? Rabbits are easy to care for and reproduce quickly, allowing their owners to sell the offspring for extra income once they've fulfilled Heifer's "Passing on the Gift" promise; and chickens lay eggs and provide manure for vegetable gardens. That's why this gift of Hope goes on and on, lasting much longer and helping more families than the usual gift basket filled with pastries or presents ever could.
I hope my father appreciates the Heifer gift. During this season of excess and overconsumption, I feel it is important to extend the spirit of giving to those with the greatest need.
November 30, 2009
Oh, 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.
November 13, 2009
Whether 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
- 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.
Continue reading: "2009 Green Holiday Gift Guide by Really Natural"
- 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.
November 12, 2009
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
November 5, 2009
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.
December 4, 2008
Founded on the principles of Cradle to Cradle design, as defined by William McDonough's book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
has designed zero waste holiday cards. The cards come with their own prepaid envelope, so the receiver of the card can send it back to a recycling center, where it will be repurposed into carpet backing
. You can even get photo cards from ReProduct. Nearly 7.5 billion greeting cards are sold in this US every year. If we could recycle all these cards, we would help close the loop.
November 28, 2008
is the day retailers traditionally kick off the holiday shopping season with big sales. The overconsumerism of western culture is not sustainable nor good for the environment, therefore, Black Friday is Buy Nothing Day
Suddenly, we ran out of money and, to avoid collapse, we quickly pumped liquidity back into the system. But behind our financial crisis a much more ominous crisis looms: we are running out of nature... fish, forests, fresh water, minerals, soil. What are we going to do when supplies of these vital resources run low?
There's only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consume less.
It will take a massive mindshift. You can start the ball rolling by buying nothing on November 28th. Then celebrate Christmas differently this year, and make a New Year's resolution to change your lifestyle in 2009.
It's now or never!
November 7, 2008
We've elected a new president who has promised us change, and you can do your part to bring about positive change for the environment and healthful living this holiday season by giving eco-friendly gifts. Less is more when living life naturally: less chemicals, less toxins, less stuff. Live life simply this holiday season and give gifts with small carbon footprints from sustainable companies. During these hard economic times, we have focused on value in our 2008 Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Guide, but we also recognize that value goes beyond monetary amounts to larger issues of conservation and sustainability.
For Baby and Kids
- 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. 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.
- Laptop Lunches are the big craze at my daughter's school.Although I try to avoid plastic, in children's lunches, plastic is a
safer alternative than glass, and Laptop Lunches are BPA-free. The Laptop Lunch System is inspired by the Japanese Bento.
The little compartments ensure you will pack your child a balanced meal with
many choices, as well as appropriately-sized servings. The Laptop Lunch
can be washed on the top shelf of the dishwasher.
- Envirosax kids series
reusable shopping bags appeal to little ones with their designs, and children's excitement to have their own bag helps parents remember to use their own reusable bags in every store,
not just the grocery store. Envirosax are very compact, which makes
them easy to toss into a purse or backpack. They are also great for wrapping other presents in!
Energy Saving Gadgets
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.
- What is Green Science? Green Science is a line of Aveda facial products
clinically proven to lift, making lines and wrinkles less visible in
four weeks. I've been using several of these products, and I really
like the Green Science Lifting Serum. This
serum promotes surface skin cell regeneration, moisturizes, and firms
skin. It is made from bio-fermented glucosamine, organic argan oil,
anti-oxidants and peptides.
- Gilden Tree's two-sided Terra Cotta Footscrubber and Callus Remover
is the perfect tool for giving yourself an eco pedicure. Ranked as "The
Best" by "O" (Oprah) magazine, this footscrubber is long-lasting, easy
to clean, and eco-friendly. It is made by a women's cottage industry in
Pakistan, and if used regularly, it helps remove calluses, and reduces
- Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk
is an amazing beauty product! This gentle cleanser is made from plant
oils that leave the skin feeling soft and healthy. Soothing jojoba
,almond, and rice germ oils combine with anthyllis extract to nourish
your skin. Fermented grain extracts and vitamin B strengthen and
fortify your skin, while gently removing impurities and dirt from your
face. Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk is perfect for all skin types! All ingredients are GMO-free and biodynamically grown. Dr. Hauschka products are truly natural!
- Splurge on an iPhone, then your loved one can choose from five applications to help them 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!
- Did you know that gas-powered lawn equipment is a major source of greenhouse gases? Operating your gas mower for one hour will produce the same pollution as driving a car 1300 miles! Depending on your source of electric power, the Black & Decker Cordless Mulching Lawn Mower may be an ideal item for lessening a loved one's carbon footprint. This is the only cordless mower to receive an Energy Star rating.
- USBCELL AA Rechargeable Batteries
are like other rechargeable batteries in the sense that you can use
them hundreds of times; however, these batteries can be recharged using
the USB port of your computer. There is no need for a separate charger,
and they are easy to use. Just pop off the cap and plug them in to your
computer. Over 15 billion batteries are discarded each year. Don't toss
'em, recharge 'em!
Continue reading: "Really Natural's 2008 Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Guide"
- Less is more when it comes to fashionable denim, as most Americans have more clothes than they need. Del Forte Denim
offers sweatshop-free, organic cotton, designer jeans. These jeans
combine high fashion with sustainability. Del Forte Denim participates
in the Sustainable Cotton Project (SCP).
- Founded in 1992, Maggie's is one of the first companies to offer US consumers affordable, organically grown cotton clothing.
Maggie's Functional Organics make the best organic, fair trade cotton tights! These tights contain 73% certified organic Peruvian cotton, 22% nylon, 3% lycra, and 2% rubber.
- Prana clothing products have long been the favorite of climbers and outdoor enthusiasts. Comfort and durability are synonymous with the brand, and now organic cotton material and sustainable energy practices make the prAna Divine Organic Cotton Pant truly eco-friendly. Perfect for yoga or just lounging around, these pants truly live up to their name "Divine". They are made made from 90% organic cotton with 10% spandex for stretch. Not only are these pants
made from organic cotton, but they are manufactured using renewable wind energy.
You don't always have to buy something to show your love. Giving a charity donation to an environmental group in a loved one's name or buying your friends and family members carbon credits are eco-friendly and socially responsible options for any holiday. Don't forget the pets this holiday season and give them eco-friendly treats! You also peruse our monthly round-ups for more great natural gifts and ideas to celebrate this winter holiday season.
October 31, 2008
Made with real fruit extracts and gluten-free sugars, YummyEarth Organic Lollipops are certified organic. These delicious treats are perfect for handing out Halloween eve. The 100% natural colors and flavors make these vegan treats a great solution for the crap most children receive while trick-or-treating. In fact, in my family, we exchange every piece of junky candy for organic treats, in order that my children do not lose out on the fun of trick-or-treating and don't fill their bodies with dyes and additives.
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