Looking for reasonably priced 100 percent organic cotton and hemp clothing for the environmental activist on your Christmas list? More Trees Clothing Company is one place to look. San Francisco-based More Trees offers a variety of options in chic urban styles. In this case, "all natural" does not mean plain, since the company’s organic cotton t-shirts, for example, feature eye-catching, environmentally themed artwork (and retail for a wallet-friendly $28). More Trees founder Meghan Clifford’s independently designed and produced line also features hemp pants for men and women, hand-dyed skirts, hoodies, women’s yoga wear, and unique hand-made hemp footwear with prices ranging from $28 to $198. Clifford says she founded More Trees, "to provide clothing for the conscious consumer produced in a conscious way." The company donates a percentage of proceeds to reforestation projects around the world. —Shauna Dineen
CONTACT: More Trees Clothing Company, (888)853-0389, www.moreTreeshemp.com.
HIT THE SHOWERS
With 100 percent vegan ingredients, Pangea Organics" soaps and shower gels are a natural, unique and refreshing way to clean. The company’s handmade bar soaps (4.5 ounces, $5.99), blend organic base and essential oils with herbs to create signature scents such as the Ayurveda-inspired Manipura, which is made with Moroccan rosemary, lemon and sage oils. For the less adventurous, Pangea offers more familiar soap flavors, such as Green Team Mint, a mild bar with organic green tea, mint and fresh-cut rose petals. The soaps are a delight and exfoliate gently. Also available are organic liquid hand soaps and shower gels (12 ounces for $11.99), which are made without detergents, sulfites or synthetic preservatives. The Lavender Aphrodisia soap, a blend of French lavender and Indonesian patchouli essential oils, disappeared quickly at the office. All Pangea products begin to biodegrade within 48 hours of use, and come in recycled and recyclable packaging. Profits support the Pangea Community Fund, an institute that researchers and teaches sustainability in developed and developing countries. Reclaimed-wood gift baskets are also available. —Jessica Worden
CONTACT: Pangea Organics, (877) 679-5854,
Counterculture icon Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps recently acquired Sun Dog Hemp Body Care, and has now launched a new line of hand/body lotions, lip balms and body/tattoo balms that meet the standards of the USDA’s 100 percent organic rules for food. Recently, the USDA agreed to reverse a previous ruling that had prohibited use of the organic seal on personal-care products (see "The Make-up Labyrinth, Your Health, this issue). The products are packaged in 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic and come unscented or in a variety of fragrances, including patchouli-lime, orange-lavender, peppermint, orange-ginger and lemon-lime. Prices range from $2.49 to $9.99. A portion of the proceeds go to Fair Shake, the nonprofit federal inmate re-introduction plan sponsored by Sue Kastensen, Sundog’s previous owner. —S.D.
CONTACT: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, (760)743-2211,
SOMETHING GOOD ON TV
November is an unusually good month for television with substance. On PBS stations Wednesday, November 2 at 8 p.m. (check local listings) is Global Warming: The Signs and the Science, a documentary underwritten by two obvious stakeholders, Toyota and reinsurer Swiss Re. Narrated by singer Alanis Morissette, the documentary (like E‘s book Feeling the Heat) uses peer-reviewed science to document climate change underway, from melting ice in Alaska to disappearing glaciers in Switzerland. Filmed before Hurricane Katrina, the documentary nonetheless mentions the threats from "rising seas in Louisiana and Bangladesh." For a program narrated by a pop star, Global Warming is refreshingly sober, though the producers are not above adding dramatic sound effects to images of cracking ice. And speaking of storms, another documentary, Can Animals Predict Disaster? airs on PBS Wednesday, November 13 at 8 p.m. Before the Asian tsunami, the show notes, elephants in Thailand began trumpeting madly, Indian antelopes stampeded and flamingoes in Sri Lanka sought higher ground. It’s not all new age nonsense; the president of a Sri Lankan conservation society reports on the "surprisingly little evidence of [tsunami] fatalities among higher vertebrates." —Jim Motavalli
A GLOBAL VOICE
Producer and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell was a pioneer in introducing reggae music (including Bob Marley) to Western audiences; he has also worked with Cat Stevens, U2 and Melissa Etheridge, and is an inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now, Blackwell is expanding his horizons to satisfy an audience that he feels has been ignored. Allow Palm World Voices ($39.98) to transport you to exotic lands filled with stunning landscapes, new faces and joyous song. The Palm World Voices series comes in a colorful package that includes a CD and DVD along with a map produced by the National Geographic Society. Created by Blackwell, in partnership with Universal Music Enterprises, the Palm World series features six installations that focus on the music and cultures of some of the world’s great places, from Africa to India to Brazil. —Kate Slomkowski
CONTACT: Palm World Voices, www.palmpictures.com.
In response to rising demand for organic foods, Nature’s Path has created USDA-certified organic toaster pastries. These apple cinnamon, blueberry or strawberry pastries ($3.49) come in 11-ounce boxes of six and can be frosted or unfrosted. Each pastry is made from organic, whole grain flour and contains organic fruit fillings, with no transfats. For more than 30 years, Nature’s Path has offered a variety of quality snacks, baking mixes and energy bars that are more natural than conventional fare. The tasty pastries are available for purchase online and at select retailers nationwide. —Stephanie White
CONTACT: Nature’s Path, (888) 808-9505, www.naturespath.com.
Does household cleaning give you headaches, nausea, dizzy spells or skin irritations? Green Clean (Melcher Media, $16.95) by Linda Mason Hunter and Mikki Halpin may be the book for you. This book is a step-by-step guide to a clean and chemical-free environment. The book includes recipes for cleansers that are made of such common ingredients as vinegar, baking soda and salt, and it suggests techniques to render many different areas around the house spotless. The authors report, "A New York Poison Control Center study found 85 percent of product warning labels to be inadequate," suggesting how ill-informed we are about the toxins lurking in everyday cleaning products. Green
Clean also contains a handy product guide. Even the book’s cover speaks to environmental ideals, since it is made from special synthetic paper (which makes it reusable over and over again, and is stain-resistant as well as waterproof). —Jayasudha Joseph
HUMANE COOKING THAT TASTES GREAT
The Connecticut-based Friends of Animals has been working on behalf of creatures that walk, swim, climb and crawl for decades. Helping keep them alive and not on dinner plates is the group’s new vegan cookbook, Dining with Friends ($19.95). This vibrant, beautifully produced book is not only packed with vegan-friendly recipes, but it also gives interesting background information and offers many helpful suggestions for novices who are learning the ropes of vegan cuisine. Being an avid (though non-vegan) cook myself, I can say that the advice contained is useful across the spectrum. The book stays fresh by offering both original dishes and excellent vegan adaptations of traditional dishes. The pages are sumptuously illustrated and contain a photo section of selected dishes that will pique the interests of any bon vivant. A favorite selection: Creamy Cucumber Gazpacho. This book covers the field from breakfast through dessert, with some surprises along the way. —Mike LaTronica
In 1982, when there were only an estimated 4.6 million striped bass in American coastal waters, the nation’s commercial fishermen were insisting that this prized game fish needed no special treatment, that they could rebound on their own despite an annual catch that routinely took juveniles and pregnant females. They were wrong: It took a tough management plan and careful rebuilding for the striped bass to come back in historic numbers. Last year, there were an amazing 56.7 million striped bass available for sport fishing and commercial harvest. The heartening story of striped bass recovery is told as an edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller by veteran environmental writer Dick Russell, who was there. In Striper Wars: An American Fish Story (Island Press, $26.95), Russell goes back to 1964, and little-noticed plans to build a Hudson River hydroelectric plant, which just coincidentally, would have decimated a huge striped bass hatchery. The hero of the battle against that plant, Robert Boyle, went on to found the Riverkeeper organization and lead the fight against PCBs in the Hudson River. Russell himself was a key player in what became a hard-fought struggle, and he deserves our thanks not only for his activism but also for this excellent book. —J.M.
ONE WOMAN’S STRENGTH
"A reasonable woman adapts to the world. An unreasonable woman makes the world adapt to her," Diane Wilson writes, loosely quoting George Bernard Shaw. So begins a captivatingly true story of Wilson’s fight to save her town and way of life from deadly industrial chemicals. Coming from four generations of fishermen, the sea and its bounty mean something special to Wilson, and when she discovers that her county is the most polluted in the U.S., she takes the news personally. Wilson bravely goes up against a powerful multinational company and is met with scorn, bribery and even death threats. An Unreasonable Woman (Chelsea Green, $27.50) is a powerful work of nonfiction written with honesty and poise by a woman who made an extraordinary difference. —K.S.
NOT JUST ANOTHER GUIDE BOOK
Any vegetarian or health nut who plans on traveling across the U.S. should pick up the expanded fourth edition of The Vegetarian Journal’s Guide to Natural Foods Restaurants in the U.S. and Canada (Vegetarian Resource Group, $12.95). The book presents a unique series of reviews that were provided by a number of different people, from college students to CEOs of large companies to the most frequent travelers—airline pilots. The reviews are listed in easy-to-read categories and cover such destinations as spas, inns, camps, B&Bs and other vacation hotspots that cater to vegetarians. Tour companies are also included, as are listings for some overseas adventures. —S.D.
OPENING ALL THE CAGES
Animal rights has long been a hot-button topic in American culture, attracting attention not only from activists and angry opponents, but also from scholars intrigued by its philosophical underpinnings. Tom Regan, a retired professor at North Carolina State, is a leader in shaping that evolving philosophy. In his book Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights (newly published in paperback by Rowman & Littlefield, $16.95), Regan takes us on a tour through the thought process that led to his becoming a vegan and a committed activist for animals. Citing many graphic examples of abuse, he makes clear connections between human rights and those of animals. "Whether any animals have rights depends on the true answer to one question: "Are any animals subjects-of-a-life?" This is the question that needs to be asked about animals because this is the question we need to ask about us," he says. Regan focuses on the different ways humans have turned animals into resources and uses the "subjects-of-a-life" question to bolster his philosophy throughout. The book is persuasive, though the under-representation of counter-arguments weakens its potential impact somewhat. —M.L.
INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY COMES OF AGE
Edited by Reid Lifset and colleagues of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the bi-annual Journal of Industrial Ecology (MIT Press) is an excellent resource for anyone seeking to find solid, peer-reviewed information about this little-studied and emerging field. The topics range from ecological efficiency in industry to studies on material and energy flow. In the Winter/Spring 2005 edition, the contributors address consumption—both on the part of industry and that of consumers. The study of consumption and the environment, the magazine argues, "is moving out of its early phase," and now fundamental questions are being asked: Is consumption really "good" for us, or is it environmentally and psychologically damaging? If we’re so well off, why are rates of depression doubling every decade? Articles include a look at sustainable consumption of food (by Rensselaer economist Faye Duchin), an analysis of U.S. house size (Alex Wilson of BuildingGreen), and a discussion of work hours (by Harvard sociologist Juliet Schor). Betsy Taylor of the Center for a New American Dream also opines that, for economists and scientists, "It’s time to talk." The journal also includes reviews of relevant books and offers lists of material for further reading. —M.L.
A GREAT PANDA ADVENTURE
In 1936, a dress designer and Manhattan socialite by the name of Ruth Harkness decided to embark upon a journey into the wilds of China. Her plan was to pursue the elusive and mysterious giant panda. Her mission was said to have been doomed from the start due to her lack of experience and the fact that no one had ever successfully captured a live panda. However, in that beautiful, sheltered world Harkness prevails with a sense of humor and a New Yorker’s stubbornness. With the help of the dashing young explorer Quentin Young, Harkness brings an infant panda from the wild, not in a cage or on a leash, but cradled in her arms. Thoroughly researched and eloquently written, author Vicki Constantine Croke breat
hes life into this astonishing tale of one of the greatest zoological explorers. The Lady and the Panda (Random House, $25.95) is the true story of one woman’s exciting adventure and her tiny, famous panda. —K.S.