ROUNDING THE BASES
Vintage rules in our book, but there’s something particularly cool about the eco-friendly women’s sportswear line Vintage Blue. Their line of tees ($24-$28) and totes ($18) are dedicated to the women who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1943 to 1954, the athletes captured in the classic 1992 movie A League of Their Own (starring Madonna, Geena Davis and Tom Hanks, among others). Not only do the pouty-lipped models on their retro-looking site harken back to the era, but the organic tees feature images of women swinging, running and catching that are both inspiring, and a little sexy. And, 5% of sales go to charitable causes. —Brita Belli
CONTACT: Vintage Blue.
Can you have enough reusable tote bags? No, we cannot. Especially if the bag is called a Shagbag, features modern psychedelic-styled or beach-ready graphics, and is not only recyclable and machine washable, but weatherproof, too. These bags ($22) can be used for hauling gym clothes, carry-on luggage, the stuff that would otherwise go in your too-small purse and, of course, groceries. They’re made from Tyvek, a DuPont-made fabric that’s flexible but strong, and gets increasingly softer with wear. All bags come with a matching drawstring pouch that they can be stuffed inside. —B.B.
CONTACT: Shagbag (410)499-6090.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
LED (light-emitting diode) lights have an environmental leg up on CFLs (compact fluorescent lights). And now they can even provide the same quality of light. EarthLED has lighting for every outlet—including dimmable LEDs, decorative bulbs and warm-to-bright traditional lightbulbs. The cost is high—a ZetaLux warm white bulb goes for $49.99—but you"ll make up for it in longevity and energy savings. If you’re using that lightbulb for 8 hours a day and your electric rates are $.10 per kilowatt-hour, it will set you back just $2/year, according to the company. Every EarthLED bulb lasts 50,000 or more hours (compared to 1,000 for an incandescent) and, unlike those CFLs, there’s no mercury to worry about. —B.B.
ASLEEP WITH THE NOODLES
Who would’ve thought that noodles could lend so much to a restful sleep? But the CozyPure La"Noodle Pillow ($52 for a standard) is filled with latex noodles that are not only squishably soft, but offer serious head support, too. Encased in soft organic stretch-knit cotton, it’s a pillow that seems almost a shame to cover. This environmentally friendly, animal-free option is also a perfect fit for allergy sufferers—it’s mold-, mildew- and dust-mite resistant. —B.B.
CONTACT: CozyPure, (800)229-7571.
SAFER SUN FUN
Here are a few new biodegradable beauty products to toss in the beach bag:
John Masters Organics Shine On Hair Treatment ($30) is a welcome alternative to petroleum-based pomades. Kelp replaces traditional silicone for shine and softness. Other key ingredients include carrot seed oil and calendula extract.
Also from John Masters Organics is a new SPF 30 Natural Mineral Sunscreen, which provides non-greasy and quick-absorbing sun protection for face and body. With aloe, shea butter and jojoba oil, this serves nicely as an everyday facial moisturizer as well.
For those who live in the pool all summer (or year-round), there’s a new line from Aveda called Sun Care that’s formulated to cleanse and protect hair from the damaging effects of sun, salt and chlorine. First, mist dry or damp hair with the water-resistant Protective Hair Veil ($26) before swimming or spending time in the sun. This lightweight conditioner provides natural UV protection, derived from wintergreen and cinnamon bark. Next, Aveda Sun Care Hair and Body Cleanser ($20) is a gentle all-in-one shampoo/body wash that removes the discoloration that can be caused by chlorinated water. Finally, the After-Sun Hair Masque ($26) is an intensive conditioner containing morikue, a protein derived from Brazil nuts.
Both John Masters and Aveda feature recycled and recyclable packaging, too. We especially like that the Protective Hair Veil comes in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle. —Jessica Rae Patton
Anyone who’s ever stood downwind of a conventional barbecue grill knows, as the ads say, "there’s no such thing as clean coal." The uGo FlameDisk ($19.99 for a three-pack) provides an alternative power source to those soot-producing briquettes, in the form of solid ethanol packaged in a recyclable aluminum pie tin. About the same weight and size as a side dish, it’s certainly easier to transport to the cookout than a bag of coal. Another plus: It both heats up and cools down quickly—you’re ready to cook in less than five minutes, have about 40 minutes of burn time and are left with no hot coals to dispose of. It even comes with a book of matches. —J.R.P.
A HALLMARK CARD, IT ISN"T
For a unique gift for Mom, consider the new book In the Womb: Animals (National Geographic Books, $26). It’s the print accompaniment to the latest installment in the critically acclaimed "In the Womb" video series. Premiering on the National Geographic channel Mother’s Day, May 10, 2009, the series reveals through 3-D and 4-D ultrasound technology the "extreme" baby-making methods of sharks, penguins, kangaroos and wasps. In the Womb: Animals follows the gestational journeys of the forementioned menagerie, as well as a golden retriever, a dolphin and an elephant. Science and nature writer Michael Sims authors the book with gripping language and the senses of both wonder and humor necessary to undertake a project of this topic. The in utero photographs are both startling and touching—an elephant suspended in amniotic fluid; a close-up of a fetal sand-tiger shark, its toothy grimace all the scarier when we learn that it fights its siblings to the death—before birth; puppies-in-the-making, with their whisker dots and fuzzy paws.
The book’s details will take up permanent residence in one’s imagination, from the fortitude of female elephants, who have the longest gestational period (22 months) and the largest birth we
ight (270 pounds); to the merciless determination of the parasitic wasp, who injects her eggs into as many as 30 young caterpillars, where her larvae feast and gestate until eating their way out of their unfortunate hosts" bodies; to the promiscuous nature of dolphins, who engage in sexual antics across the age and sex spectrum. We learn that dolphins descended from land animals, elephants originated in the ocean, kangaroo joeys are barely the size of a jellybean when born and penguins share in parenting duties long before the arrival of their offspring, with Dad babysitting the egg while Mom goes fishing. This book will lend any reader a new and entertaining perspective on motherhood. —Jessica Rae Patton
COOKING WITH A CONSCIENCE
As the summer months approach, a slew of new cookbooks provide mouth-watering menu options that can be prepared without sacrificing creativity or conscience. Renowned vegan cookbook author Sarah Kramer provides Vegan A Go-Go! A Cookbook and Survival Manual for Vegans on the Road (Arsenal Pulp Press, $17.95). The first several pages of this kitschy guide include five different ways to say "I"m a vegan," airline, cruise and safety tips and money-saving lessons from the experienced vegan traveler. Snacks like Righteous Orbs and Chocolate Nut Energy Bars are the perfect pick-me-up for foodies traveling by train, plane, car or foot and on a budget.
Priscilla Feral‘s The Best of Vegan Cooking (Nectar Bat Press, $19.99) offers a wealth of fresh plant-based recipes from renowned vegetarian and omnivore chefs, including Susan Wu, Mark Bittman and Mary Lawrence. Dishes like Zucchini Risotto and Authentic Mexican Tortillas embrace regional, local and seasonal flavors. As president of the nonprofit animal advocacy group Friends of Animals, Feral understands the environmental consequences of eating meat—and the limitless possibilities available to a plant-based diet. This cookbook shows how a "commitment to peace blends with opportunities to prepare healthful, delicious, attractive dishes."
If tofu and vegetable kabobs are not enough to entice meat-eating barbeque guests, the recipes in Almost Meatless: Recipes that Are Better for Your Health and the Planet (Ten Speed Press, $22.50) by former vegetarian Joy Manning and self-professed meat lover Tara Mataraza Desmond will. This cookbook embraces animal products, and offers facts on how to enjoy meat more while consuming less. Their Beefed-Up Bean Chili and Tofu-Turkey Sloppy Joes present American favorites in a health-, budget- and Earth-conscious way. —Alexandra Gross
My earliest and best memories with my father were at the town dump. That’s what landfills, recycling centers and waste transfer stations used to be called. From it we gleaned barely used tools, balls with plenty of bounce left in them and a bathroom door that said "Ladies" and soon replaced the staid barricade to our household loo. The essays in Going Green: True Tales from Gleaners, Scavengers, and Dumpster Divers (University of Oklahoma Press, $19.95) contain similarly wistful childhood recollections of recycling, starting with author and editor Laura Pritchett‘s proud recounting of her first big trash bin score at age five—a silver necklace and a blender. Hers was a family pastime in which her parents and eight siblings partook, and which she now continues with her own two kids. These 20-plus personal accounts interpret "gleaning" broadly—from the act of obtaining castoff food (be it organic produce from the grocer’s dumpster or road kill from the breakdown lane), usable household goods and wearable clothing to collecting stories and life experiences. Going Green questions our culture’s commitment to first-hand belongings, recounts and inspires creative ways to employ the proverbial three Rs in one’s life and just may send a legion of readers to the town dump. —J.R.P.
THE BIG, GREEN DAY
The Everything Green Wedding Book: Plan an Elegant, Affordable, Earth-Friendly Wedding (Adams Media, $15.95) is true to its title, covering just about anything the eco-conscious couple could possibly need to know in order to tread lightly down the aisle. Author Wenona Napolitano hits all the wedding-planning marks, from prenuptial pampering to eco-friendly wedding apparel, jewelry and decorations (including informative shakedowns of the diamond and floral industries); from tree-free invitations (elephant-dung paper; e-vites) to compostable tableware and plantable favors. This comprehensive guide includes a wedding-planning timeline and checklist, and lest you think she"ll leave you at the alter, Napolitano also helps her newlywed readers plan their eco-honeymoons and manages to dispense with green cleaning, nest-building and baby-prep info as well. —J.R.P.
CHANGE IS COMING
One of the most common complaints leveled against environmentalists on the climate change beat is that they’re just too gloomy. There’s a lot less hand-wringing in Fred Krupp‘s re-released in paperback, Earth: The Sequel (W.W. Norton & Company, $15.95). Here, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund gives us a peek inside what’s possible. He starts in the solar arena, with a California company called Innovalight that’s making solar cells at an atomic scale using nanotechnology. Essentially, the company has created cheaper nanosilicon powder that can be added to ink and printed on almost anything. Then there are "microbial factories"—bacteria that are able to convert sugar to usable biofuel. Both gasoline and diesel have already been produced this way—and can be made so that they don’t create harmful emissions when burned. There’s wave energy, and heat energy, and a way to use even coal, via underground gasification, without mining it. "To save the planet from calamity," Krupp writes at the book’s end, "innovation and deployment of known technologies must occur now at a pace as intense and a scope as vast as the settlement of the western frontier." What’s great about Krupp’s book is not just that it’s packed cover to cover with workable ideas, but that he lays them out in a way that’s not going to alienate the non-technical reader. This is a book for anyone who believes American ingenuity has stagnated, or who thinks, when it comes to climate change, all hope is lost. Necessity, it turns out, really is the mother of invention. —Brita Belli