The Greens are not just the boring legumes that kids love to hate at meal time.
The Greens, at www.meetthegreens.org, are animated characters that represent the emerging class of environmentally conscious households. From the makers of television shows such as Frontline, NOVA and Curious George comes this inspired online project to educate youth.
Izz, a pale green, eco-minded teen, is the main character on this interactive website. Her influences include her environmental journalist mom and CJ, a researcher at the local aquarium. Izz constantly finds new environmental missions to support, using helpful insights from her mentors. Each episode focuses on a different environmental issue and is supplemented by games, quizzes and discussions.—Kevin LeShane
Working, driving kids to practices, preparing meals and cleaning the house leaves little time for grocery shopping. You could shop on the weekend, but the checkout lines are usually backed up to the stock room. Instead, check out www.wellnessgrocer.com. This online green market offers more than 2,000 gluten-free, natural and organic products from trustworthy brands like BioNaturae, Organic Valley and Jason Natural.
Browse the site to find foods, household and cosmetic products, vitamins, herbal supplements and health tips. The site offers a large selection of frozen foods, including BoboBaby frozen and kosher organic baby food, which is regrettably delivered in Styrofoam coolers to preserve freshness. The site also provides an alphabetized database of creative, healthy recipes. Each recipe includes side dishes and nutritional information for conscious cookers.
In addition, Wellness Grocer has teamed up with LivNatural to create the Wellness Center, an informational guide to healthy living which contains detailed eating and lifestyle pointers for staying healthy. —K.L.
Blue Q, purveyor of Gnome air fresheners, Cat Butt magnets and Mullet shampoo is getting real with its new brand of beauty products. The Get Real lotion line boasts three varieties: orange ginger, lavender and unscented. Since they come from actual extracts and oils, the scented varieties smell light and sweet, not heavily perfumed. Blue Q promises "truckloads" of relief for even the most used and abused skin thanks to the inclusion of sunflower oil, which is rich in essential fatty acids. The lotion is also free of paraben ("No Fake Crap" proclaim the bottles). Paraben is a preservative widely used in food and body care products. According to the Organic Consumers Association, scientists have linked the chemical to the development of certain cancers. The worry-free Get Real lotions, sold for $10.99, are a natural eco addition to Blue Q’s already extensive line. —Jessica Goldberg
Ayurveda Essence Paints, produced by AFM Safecoat, add a touch of eastern philosophy to house painting. These paints aim to "restore balance in your mind and body through an accessible, holistic paint system." Using the art of Ayurveda, an ancient healing system based on a person’s "dosha," or energy, the paint colors are divided into three palettes based on three ancient constitutions: Kapha, Vata and Pitta. The paint color provides a counterbalance to a person’s "dosha," which the company says will lead to greater holistic health and well-being. AFM Safecoat comes doctor-recommended for its environmentally friendly practices and non-polluting properties. This paint is especially recommended for use around new babies or pets, since it carries no toxic ingredients and has a molecular seal that maintains indoor air quality. —Julia Hirsch
You don’t have to live in India to enjoy the aromatic foods native to the country. You don’t even have to leave your home, thanks to Seeds of Change‘s new line of organic simmer sauces. These sauces can be quickly heated and poured over steaming rice or pasta, and they"ll add an exotic touch to a main dish. The four sauces range from mild to "hot," with none too spicy to offend American palates. The Korma sauce is the mildest of the bunch, followed by Tikka Masala, a very popular curry in Britain. Slightly spicier are the Jalfrezi and Madras sauces. The 12-ounce jars are sold in health food stores and mainstream supermarkets for $4.98. —J.G.
Concerned about mercury levels in your tuna? Worried about sustaining our marine environment? Wild Planet provides one solution to the controversial issue of seafood consumption. Offering a variety of seafood items from fisheries that use only sustainable seafood methods, Wild Planet seeks to lead and educate in order to conserve our marine ecosystems. The fish is harvested and canned in Northern Cal-ifornia, Oregon and Washington. Wild Harvest promises to provide safe seafood, free of natural and man-made contaminants. The fish is cooked once and preserved in its own juices; the only additive is sea salt. Wild Planet also offers low and minimal mercury versions of its albacore. The seafood (including albacore, salmon, shrimp and crab meat) ranges in price from wild shrimp for $25.95 to Dungeness crab meat for $59.95 (both quarter cases). Free shipping is offered on all orders within the continental U.S. —J.H.
Most paper companies look at virgin forest with eyes clouded by dollar signs. GreenLine Paper Company sees a different sort of green. GreenLine offers a wide variety of recycled and tree-free office supplies online, and all the products contain at least 30 percent post-consumer waste. Buying recycled doesn’t just help conserve forests. GreenLine says that processing recycled paper uses 40 percent less energy than processing new paper, and it also uses less water.
A common recycling myth is that recycled products cost more, but actually prices are comparable. For instance, one case (that’s 5,000 sheets of paper) of 8" X 11" 20-pound HP Multipurpose paper at Staples.com costs $45.99. The 100 percent recycled-version of that paper at greenlinepaper.com is $45.95. For one 500-sheet ream of paper, the dent in your wallet is the same at the two outlets. The tax on the forests, however, is quite different. —J.G.
Genetically modified foods are entrenched in the U.S., affecting half the market or more, but a discerning shopper can still make healthy choices. Your Right to Know: Genetic Engin-eering and the Secret Changes in Your Food (Earth Aware Editions, $24.95) bills itself as an "illustrated shopper’s guide" for avoiding Frankenfoods. In concise, clear segments, it’s a primer on particular foodstuffs; a historical reference; and a collection of interviews with scientists, farmers, doctors and other concerned players. It contains guidelines for action in your community, including sample letters and relevant addresses. There are also plenty of full-color pictures, maps and graphs. It is rare to find a book that thoroughly covers its topic, teaches environmentally healthy practices and makes specific recommendations for grassroots campaigns. This is such a book, and it’s a good read, too. —Ben Chadwick
In middle-class suburbia, it’s local zoning battles that animate the political scene. Otherwise apathetic homeowners will turn out when a developer proposes an office building (or, worse, low-income housing). When the homeowners have mega-bucks, the NIMBY stakes are higher. Exactly that kind of turf war is being waged on Cape Cod, where an affable energy developer named Jim Gordon has proposed a 130-turbine offshore wind farm for Nantucket Sound. To hear the local landed gentry tell it, this zero-pollution energy producer will be a gross stain in a "pristine" ecosystem. In fact, however, the Cape’s electricity now comes from a dirty and antiquated plant that burns low-grade #6 oil. And, in 2003, a tanker spilled 100,000 gallons of that oil into Buzzards Bay.
Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nan-tucket Sound (PublicAffairs, $26.95) by Wendy Williams and Robert Whitcomb, chronicles all this and more. It’s very well-researched and entertainingly written, but decidedly an opinionated account. The authors dismiss the claims made by the heavily endowed Alliance to Save Nantucket Sound ("the turbines threaten birds and marine mammals!") and cut straight to the real story: preserving mansion views and exclusive sailing waters. The sad fact is that politicians from both parties—Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among them—are carrying water for this elite crowd. They love wind power, just not in their backyards. —Jim Motavalli
Barbara Kingsolver’s ode to local eating, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (HarperCollins, $26.95), has already received plenty of plaudits. Take away husband Steven L. Hopp’s practical sidebars on the benefits of family farms, and daughter Camille’s journal-entry-esque asides on canning and birthdays (with recipes!) and it’s all about Kingsolver’s love affair with growing, nurturing and preparing food. Clearly this is her lifelong passion, and she writes of her kitchen experiments with rapture. "A new recipe is as exciting as a blind date," begins one section, "A new ingredient, heaven help me, is an intoxicating affair." It seems impossible that anyone could be so earnestly devout about the first ripening of asparagus, or the crisp overload of cucumbers in season. But her enthusiasm is contagious. "It’s the visible daily growth, the marvelous and unaccountable accumulation of biomass that makes for the hallelujah of a July garden," she writes. While the book is meant to encourage others to take up gardening, get involved in community-supported agriculture and fatten their own turkeys, it’s enough that it immerses readers into what a local eating life might really feel (and taste) like. —Brita Belli
TOXIC HIGH, 90210
Parts per Million: The Poisoning of Beverly Hills High School (Viking $25.95) by Joy Horowitz examines the legal battle over the oil wells and power plant next to Beverly Hills High School. As rare cases of cancer and other terminal illnesses touch Horowitz’s classmates and former teachers at the school, she begins to question the links between the wells and toxic air.
Horowitz’s book provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the trial that ensued over this exposure, including accounts from Beverly Hills alumna, doctors, city leaders, residents and legal authorities such as high-profile lawyers Erin Brockovich and Edward Masry. Horowitz allows the reader an intimate view into a wealthy town divided. With charges against the oil companies, the power plant, the city of Beverly Hills and the school district, the legal battle is long, messy and as Horowitz implies, incomplete. Parts per Million raises important questions concerning civic and corporate responsibility, environmental toxicity, oil dependence and the restriction of public information. And as the author writes, "If it can happen in Beverly Hills, it can happen anywhere." —Julia Hirsch
SHINY, HAPPY FUTURE
"Green became the color of both money and survival," Harvey Wasserman remembers of the past from life in the year 2030, a year that he recognizes as marking the age of "Solartopia." In Solartopia! Our Green Powered Earth, A.D. 2030 (self-published), the author transports the reader into his vision of a sustainable future, a world in which people have ended their dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power and use only green energy. By the year 2030, what Wasserman calls "the Green Trinity"—wind power, solar power and eco-friendly biofuels (along with the utilization of renewable hydrogen)—have seamlessly replaced fossil fuels and nukes, and people can’t believe societies once relied on such costly, inefficient and environmentally degrading energy sources. Through his persuasive optimism, Wasserman is able to convincingly demonstrate how a future of green energy is entirely within our reach. —Kathryn Gutleber
As rich as the brews it describes, author Chris O"Brien‘s book, Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World (New Society Publishers, $18.95), is full of history, inspiration and wisdom regarding one of Earth’s most ancient beverages. O"Brien, possibly beer’s most fanatical advocate, draws an extended timeline from beer’s feminine beginnings through its corporate bastardization and finishes with a call to bring back small-scale brewing. After detailing beer’s growth into lagers, ales and stouts, O"Brien notes that when industrialization entered the scene, the diversity of local craft-brewing was replaced by humdrum factory production. These massive operations devour energy and resources shipping products around the world, but the author writes, "The new wave of small, local breweries and brewpubs is innovating closed-loop systems that shift society away from wasteful, polluting, oil-dependent business practices." As O"Brien explains, "beeroregionalism" concentrates production in local bioregions. The book also details the organic beer movement, brewers that practice sustainability, the health benefits of moderate beer drinking and concludes with a 24-point plan on how to drink beer and save the world. "My thesis is this," O"Brien writes, "Beer is good for peo
ple and the planet." —Kevin LeShane
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