THIS LITTLE PIGGY WEARS ORGANIC
Baby Blend Tees creator-mom Jennifer Leaphart gets cheeky with her organic infant and toddler clothing, which features messages like "world’s cutest alarm clock," "happy camper," "little piggy," and "night owl" on 100 percent certified organic cotton onesies, tees, pant and shirt sets. Shirts are $22.50, sets are $32, and all feature simple graphics on mostly plain, off-white organic fabric. And the company puts its money where its heart is: one percent of annual sales are donated to grassroots campaigns. Each Baby Blend order comes in its own custom-designed coffee bag, too, inspired by Leaphart’s much-needed daily cup. —Jessica Ann Knoblauch
CONTACT: Baby Blend Tees, (708) 524-0156,
DRINK A BEER, SAVE THE OCEAN
It isn’t often you can guzzle a beer for a good cause. But Alaskan Brewing of Juneau, which uses glacier-fed water in its stouts, porters and both winter and summer ales, is donating some of its profits to cleaning up the Pacific Ocean. One percent of the proceeds from the newly released Alaskan IPA (India Pale Ale) will go to a new initiative called Coastal CODE, or Clean Oceans Depend on Every-one. Alaskan Brew-ing is also trying to get people involved in CODE. It surveyed 500 North-westerners and found that nearly 100 percent think the Pacific is either in poor condition or at-risk. And 98.4 percent said that, when not drinking beer, they’d make at least one change in their lifestyles to support the ocean. Portland artist Spencer Reynolds" contribution was to create colorful surfboards from eco-friendly "Biofoam." The limited-edition boards will be auctioned to support CODE. "It’s refreshing to see a company take responsibility for the environment," says Mark Spalding, president of The Ocean Foundation. Almost as refreshing as an Alaskan IPA. —Jim Motavalli
CONTACT: Alaskan Brewing Company
MADE TO FIT
Eco-friendly tailored jeans of perfect size and personal style is UJeans" winning offer to consumers. It all begins with material selection. Cotton, the denim material for excellence, is a water-intensive crop, rich in pesticides and fertilizers, that has earned it distinction for some of the most threatening agricultural practices. UJeans buys its cotton from Pakistani growers who adhere to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-implemented farming program guaranteeing sustainable production methods and fair wage allocation (see www.panda.org). Harsh chemicals such as bleach and azo dyes—traditional in denim production and potentially carcinogenic—are replaced by natural minerals and enzymes. The company goes one step further: packages for delivery are made from re-claimed denim and designed for reuse. Check out the website for an easy-to-use guide for creating your own socially and environmentally responsible jeans. —Katherine Cure
CONTACT: UJeans, (800)203-1637,
EATING WELL, EATING RIGHT
Watch Sustainable Table, the 2006 documentary by producer and director Mischa Hedges, and the question, "What’s for dinner?" will take on a whole new meaning. By serving its audience a critical look at the modern food industry, Sustainable Table puts issues of production and distribution front and center. Viewers are taken on a West Coast journey, dropping in on agricultural experts, organic farmers, activists and various spokespeople, while learning facts about the industry through well-integrated graphics. What is most refreshing about Sustainable Table is that it doesn’t shout down from the ivory tower and proclaim a know-it-all stance on the best way to grow food. As author, vegan and former cattle rancher Howard Lyman says in a segment on bringing sustainability to the agricultural industry, "I don’t have all the answers—I have questions." —Kathryn Gutleber
CONTACT: Sustainable Table Movie
Winter boots just got greener with Timberland‘s holiday line of waterproof Earthkeepers boots ($160), made in the company’s tough looking, weather-ready style and crafted with 100 percent organic cotton canvas, with partially recycled outsoles and laces. The leather may be a sticking point both for animal lovers and those concerned about methane’s global warming effects, but Timberland’s company-wide commitment to better stewardship is hard to argue with. The company has purchased renewable energy and installed solar panels to power its plants, using recycled materials where possible and even packaging shoes in 100 percent recycled boxes marked with soy-based ink. Recycled leather tags on the Earthkeepers shoes double as bracelets and capture Timberland’s new ethic: "What kind of footprint will you leave?" —Brita Belli
Putumayo Records" most recent release, Tango Around the World, is an album blending traditional Argen-tinean tangos with more contemporary rhythms, such as electrotango. The album celebrates multicultural integra-tion and its sales will support L.I.F.E. Ar-gentina, which works with the country’s underprivileged children. Putumayo, producer of rhythmic compilations that promote the world’s cultures, is also an eco-friendly music choice because cardboard packaging replaces traditional jewel cases made of petroleum-derived polystyrene. Some 37 nonprofit groups receive the company’s support.
Mujer de Cabaret (IASO Records) is the live debut of Puerto Plata, an 84-year-old performer of the Dominican style son. The Roots of Chicha (Barbés Records) uncovers psychedelic Peruvian cumbias from the 1960s and 1970s, a mix of Amazonian indigenous rhythms, upbeat Colombian cumbias and electric guitar and organ. The album is a journey into the South American dancing scene. —K.C.
PLAY HARD, LIVE GREEN
Under the "play hard, live green" motto, the 63-North brand brings an assortment of lotions and lip balms for the environmentally aware, outdoor, active consumer. The products come from Klabin Design, a company created by athlete and environmentalist Justin Klabin, and use completely natural ingredients (no petroleum or animal products, phthalates or dyes) that bring moisture to wind, cold, sun and sea-exposed skin. Minimal packaging and easily recyclable materials add to the marketing strategy. Lotions ($16 for eight ounces) come in four subtle scents: rosemary vanil
la, coconut, peppermint and lemon eucalyptus, plus a "just" variety which offers an odorless alternative. All lotions are made with aloe leaf juice and a selection of natural oils. Beeswax, hempseed and wheatgerm oil are the main lip balm ingredients. The lotions come in screw-tops ($5) and tubes ($4), and a special peppermint variety is perfect for surf, sun and ski. Balm consistency is soft and textured with small granules that make it easy to apply and leave no sticky residues on your lips. Organic cotton apparel and accessories are also available, and one percent of your purchase contributes to worldwide conservation initiatives. —K.C.
We’re so often caught up in the environmental rightness of buying organic, sustainable clothes (reducing pesticide use and water consumption, following fair trade values), that we sometimes forget that there’s a purely selfish reason for getting planet-friendly T-shirts—the fabric is unbelievably soft. Take E Nature Girl‘s T-Shirts ($32) made with 70 percent viscose bamboo and 30 percent organic cotton. The blend allows for a T-shirt with some thickness, but with an unexpected softness that would take years (and many, many washings) to achieve with an ordinary shirt. The Colorado-based company also offers tank tops, travel kits and even sustainable bamboo longboards on its site. Another Colorado company, Tees for Change, makes its mission obvious with organic cotton and organic cotton/bamboo blend T-shirts (and long-sleeved shirts) that read "choose happiness," "live mindfully," "laugh often" and other words to live by. The shirts, $28 each, are light and clingy, perfect for workouts or layering. The company is in the process of switching to a carbon-neutral manufacturer, and donates a percentage of its proceeds to a different nonprofit partner each quarter. —B.B.
REFLECTIONS IN THE WATER
The disaster that was Hurricane Katrina brought one thing to the forefront of the national consciousness: the constant struggle of America’s poor. Writer and death penalty lawyer Billy Sothern, author of the emotional account, Down in New Orleans (University of Califor-nia Press, $21.95), might add another—the stark reality of racism in the land of the free. "For those of us who live here," writes Sothern of his adopted city, "it is impossible to ignore race or poverty." Having moved to New Orleans four years before Katrina hit, Sothern brings an insider’s perspective to this chronicle-of-disaster that takes seriously the claims of residents that race played a major role in what went wrong.
There is the heart-wrenching story of Zeitoun, a Middle Eastern local who launched his own boating rescue mission, saving elderly residents from drowning and caring for a pack of lost dogs before a group of soldiers hauled him away for unspecified suspicions. Many black residents believed that the levees had been bombed in their neighborhoods to keep the flood waters from destroying white neighborhoods. Sothern ties their concerns to New Orleans" history. In 1927, New Orleans" levees were dynamited to destroy the poor community of St. Bernard Parish and prevent flooding in the wealthy, white districts. His book is a necessary reminder that the problems that led to Katrina still exist, and until race and poverty are addressed, nothing will change. —Brita Belli
GREENE ON GREEN
Dr. Alan Greene, the pediatrician, father of four and online parenting guru, has a perfect surname for launching his latest title: Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth and Baby Care (John Wiley & Sons, $16.95). The eco-expert dispenses advice that will be familiar to most website-researching, paranoid-about-plastics/phthalates/lead paint parents. The chapters come in the form of "rooms," beginning with the womb. "Up to 300 quarts of blood a day flows through the umbilical cord," the book tells us, and can be the carrier of any toxins to which Mom is exposed. The chapter pushes the organic option and includes a chart ranking fruits and veggies for pesticide contamination (peaches are the worst; onions and avocado the best). The book discusses birthing centers and participating in a "carbon-neutral delivery." Beyond Greene’s advice to buy non-PVC plastics and sustainable toys, most of the book is packed with standard "greening your home" tips. —B.B.
DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET
In the coffee table-friendly Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (Ten Speed Press, $24.95), authors Peter Manzel and Faith D"Aluisio travel the world and take photos, capturing families eating their everyday foods. Through this cross-cultural ex-amination, they find an accessible path into the politics of the plate. In stunning photographs of families displaying the entire contents of their larders (echoing the landmark Material World series to which D"Aluisio contributed) the authors show how packaged and fast foods led to a culinary revolution, but not a welcome one. People who at one time had trouble taking in enough calories are now facing type-2 diabetes and obesity.
Hungry Planet‘s narrative is enlivened by informed essays from doctors and nutritionists, and by telling facts. In wealthier countries, a family of four may spend almost $500 on a week’s worth of food, while those in the developing world rely on $3 to feed eight to 12 people for that same period. —Carl Pino