Handcrafted in Vermont using a GMO-free vegetable wax, Way Out Wax‘s Bug Out! ($6.49 for a 12-ounce tin) provides a natural approach to keeping your outdoor activities free from pesky insects. Made with plant-based oils of lavender, tea tree and neem, Bug Out! candles deter mosquitoes and black flies, enabling you to venture outside without the threat of being eaten alive. The pleasant product comes in a recyclable tin, and the wicks are metal free, unlike many brands. These candles are available direct from the company. CONTACT: Way Out Wax, (888)727-1903, www.wayoutwax.com.
—Fred Durso, Jr.
REFRESHING PRODUCTS FROM A REFRESHING FAMILY
A good skin-care company boasts that its products are never tested on animals, but a great company can boast that its products are "thoroughly tested on my family." That is why Kathy’s Family personal care products are a step above the rest. Founder Kathy Swanson takes her passion for her family and for clean living and pours it into every item she makes. Each product is aptly labeled with a photo of a different member of the Swanson family and a little piece of family history. The 100-percent natural and organic products include Kathy and Her Brother Dale’s Body Wash, Uncle Earl’s Massage Oil, Aunt Marlene’s Lotion, The Swanson Kids" Foot Scrub, and many other offerings. This unique line will make you feel good on the inside as well as on the outside.
CONTACT: Kathy’s Family, (413)634-5796, (866)634-0008, www.Kathys-family.com.
SAVE WHILE YOU SURF
Surfing the web has never been this easy
or beneficial. With Red Jellyfish online services, you can obtain quality access to the Internet while saving precious rainforest acreage all at once. Users of the company’s dial-up service ($17.95/month) are helping to preserve nearly 6,000 acres of rainforest a year through a donation sent to The Nature Conservancy. For those surfers looking for an added boost, the company has recently introduced DSL service ($46.95/month). With speeds rivaling an Amazonian jaguar, you can enjoy Internet access 24 times faster than dial-up. Your subscription is part of a donation benefiting the Rainforest Action Network, which will, in part, save 10,000 acres. Both services come with 24/7 technical support. With rainforests disappearing at a rate of 50 acres a minute, this is an easy way to make a difference.
CONTACT: Red Jellyfish, (866) 732-8408, www.redjellyfish.com.
HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME
Give those backyard barbecues a kick this year with salsas sure to spice up any event. Drew‘s line of certified organic salsa ($3.79) combines ripe tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and onions with a number of fresh seasonings for a truly homemade taste. This Vermont-based company has also developed a taste-test winning salsa using chilies that have been roasted not once, but twice.
Reportedly developed by a medicine man whose ingredients were considered a "fountain of youth," 505 Southwestern‘s organic salsa (3 pack of 10-ounce bottles for $20.95) provides a low-carbohydrate, low-sodium way to gorge without the guilt. Available in mild, medium, medium hot "chunky chile" or hot, these flavors are bound to create a buzz. Their prices already include shipping costs.
Enjoy a tasty treat this summer from a company doing its part to give back to the environment. Kettle Foods offers a variety of organic potato chips with a crunch that doesn’t quit and flavors sure to satisfy even the most finicky of eaters. Using Russet potatoes grown from small organic farmers in the Pacific Northwest, these chips have a robust flavor and come in such varieties as Sweet Summer Herb, Chipotle Chile Barbecue, and Sea Salt and Black Pepper. Take note that the cooking oil used is recycled into biodiesel fuel, which powers company vehicles. Who knew eating potato chips would feel this good?
CONTACT: Kettle Foods, (503) 364-0399, www.kettlefoods.com.
WATER FOR LIFE
"Be prepared to pay gas prices for water," warns a concerned Stockton, California citizen fighting against the possible privatization of his local tap water. The film Thirst, produced and directed by Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman, is a character-driven documentary examining the global debate on whether water should be handed over to the private sector. While citizens in Stockton fight to be heard by their local officials, a grassroots movement in India opposing the sale of their water sources is gaining steam. This strength-in-numbers approach proved victorious in Bolivia, where citizen outrage reversed a government decision to privatize the water. The film makes clear that substandard drinking water, job loss and price hikes could be probable effects of a resource already in jeopardy. The documentary will air on PBS this summer.
CONTACT: Snitow/Kaufman Productions, (510) 841-1068.
James Gustave Speth takes a long view of the environmental movement. He was on board at its dawn, co-founding the Natural Resources Defense Council right out of law school in 1970, then serving as President Carter’s environmental advisor, and, in the 1990s, directing the UN Development Programme. The warnings in his Red Sky at Morning (Yale University Press, $24) are not novel, but his book provides an even-handed history and analysis of the movement. He argues that global treaties are doomed because national self-interest undercuts them and explains why an unconstrained market will invariably promote "consuming nature’s capital and counting it as income." While recognizing the costs of globalization, Speth also see its potential as a force for conservation. He argues for the promise of public-private partnerships and small-scale initiatives (like the pledge by Home Depot to avoid buying endangered wood). It’s perhaps no accident that Speth’s book reads rather like a textbook—he’s dean of Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
BACK TO THE GOOD LIFE
Are you tired of living in polluted, overcrowded cities? Do you wish you could get back to the simple life, the so-called good life? That is just what authors John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist wanted when they moved from downtown Chicago to a sm
all farm in southwestern Wisconsin. They tell how they did it in their charming and refreshing book Rural Renaissance (New Society Publishers, $22.95). This new book is a great how-to on living a more sustainable life, and it is filled with practical information from the authors" experiences running their bed and breakfast, Inn Serendipity. Ivanko and Kivirist share everything with the reader, from recipes to how they generate power from a wind turbine and built a greenhouse out of straw bale. Rural Renaissance teaches us, "Every day we’re given a fresh start, a clean mixing bowl in which to create and concoct our life journey, if not also a fresh, delicious salad."
A FORGOTTEN FRONTIER
In his new book The Lobster Coast (Viking Press, $24.95), veteran journalist and frequent E contributor Colin Woodard transports his readers back to a forgotten way of life that still exists in the rural fishing communities of coastal Maine. Woodard speaks for the rugged New Englanders who from the 1600s to the present have defied overexploitation of their land and water, and largely turned their backs on commercialization in favor of an egalitarian lifestyle. The author was born and raised in Maine, so his impassioned writing is full of pride for his subjects, as well as fear that their homes may become yet another over-populated suburb. The book champions the efforts of small communities, which are, the author says, "certainly one of the few places in the world where the scions of great moneyed families are socially and politically outranked by persons who earn their living stuffing rotten herring in nylon bags in an effort to ensnare large bottom-feeding bugs."
THE NATURE OF THE WILD
"People need to learn to feel more about the world, not less…life is death, too, so why cover your eyes?" explains Seth Kantner about his raw and candid tale of survival in the tough arctic landscape. In his debut novel, Ordinary Wolves (Milkweed Editions, $22), Kantner chillingly juxtaposes the self-relying/live-by-the-rifle dogma of the Alaskan frontiersmen with the invasiveness of the "everything-wanter" persona of the modern world. This strife overwhelms the adolescence of an Alaskan boy who goes by Cutuk. As a yellow-haired outsider in Eskimo territory, Cutuk feels threatened and challenged to prove his strength. He tries relentlessly to mold himself into something he is not able to become—his own, uncertain version of a hero. Kantner takes his readers on an inspiring and eye-opening expedition from the arctic outback to the smog-filled city and back again as Cutuk comes to terms with the journey of living and our own true nature.
The Heart of the Sound (University of Utah Press, $21.95) is one of those rare books that calls to mind a true sense of place—in this case the glacier-bound shores of Alaska’s Prince William Sound. As the reader follows author Marybeth Holleman from her North Carolina home to resettlement in Alaska, he or she can almost feel the cold, starlit nights and see the magnificence of the glaciers with Holleman as she kayaks the inlets of the Sound, her company the otters and seabirds living in the shadows of the ice. The attention to natural detail imbues the book so strongly that when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker alters that environment overnight, the horror and depression that Holleman describes in her community is palpable (see features, this issue). The ineffective clean up that leaves many animals more traumatized than the oil spill, and the deaths of animals for research with dubious benefits, is described with the passion of an animal and environmental advocate and the research acumen of a journalist. Holleman understands that wild places are best left alone, and shows how easily human beings cause destruction even as they try to heal a toxic scar.
THE TOXIC COMPOUND WITH A POLISHED IMAGE
Searching the aisles for toothpaste enhanced with fluoride? There may be no need. Americans are exposed to the fluorine compound fluoride from hundreds of different "enhanced" sources: processed food, tap water, food packaging, the air and so on. This is the same element that once held a day job as rat poison and was used in the creation of the atomic bomb. Fluoride has also been linked to cancer, emphysema, arthritis and tooth and bone deterioration. If this substance is so hazardous, why would the government allow it to be infiltrated into the lives of American citizens on a daily basis? In his new book, The Fluoride Deception (Seven Stories Press, $24.95), award-winning investigative reporter Christopher Bryson uncovers detailed and alarming evidence linking the decision to allow this potentially harmful chemical into the public water supply with the U.S. military and big business. This shocking anthology of incriminating stories and scientific discoveries is a must read for every consumer who owns a toothbrush.