Inner Warmth Feet Fuzzies, Delectable Olive Oil, Aromatic Teas and Spices, Non-Scary Bug Spray and a Staple-less Back-to-School Stapler
You don’t have to break out the snowboard gear to appreciate the latest house shoes from California company Freewaters whose co-founders have backgrounds designing snowboard boots for Burton and O’Neill. Designed for down time, the shoes reportedly feel like a “snowboard jacket wrapped around your feet.” The super-soft vegan Japanese micro-suede provides the ultimate cozy cushion for worn-down, cold feet. And all of Freewaters’ shoes are made with mostly recycled and always nontoxic materials, and packaging consists of biodegradable, corn-based polybags with recycled post-consumer cardboard hangers, hangtags and shipping inserts. And though the comfort of these house shoes alone is apt to evoke a warm and fuzzy feeling, it’s also nice to know that every purchase goes toward providing clean drinking water for one individual for a year. —Linsey Blomberg.
BUGS BE GONE
It was easy to find out how well the Citronella Camping Spray ($8.75/8oz.) made by Vermont Soap Organics works to ward off bugs. After a few spritzes of the pleasantly aromatic stuff, this tester walked into the woods and, voilà, no more flying bloodsuckers. It worked like a charm—and without a host of foul chemicals. Vermont Soap Organics specializes in nontoxic, biodegradable products for just about every purpose, whether you want to clean a baby, a yoga mat or a horse. —Don Baxter
A NEW OIL
Equal Exchange just released a line of organic, fair trade, cold-pressed, Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($15.99/500mL). The oil comes from two Palestinian farmer co-ops that are part of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, a nonprofit organization located on the West Bank that helps small-scale olive farmers in Palestine keep their land and preserve their independence. Made from the Nabali olive, a variety native to Palestine’s western region, the olive oil has a rich consistency and has been described as “robust and peppery” with a “strong fruit finish.” —Alisen Downey
Ukrainian-born Zhena Muzyka began offering aromatherapy and custom teas from a cart on California street corners in 2000 in part to raise money to pay for a life-saving kidney operation for her son. Now Zhena’s Gypsy Tea is a thriving business that helped pioneer the organic and fair trade movements. Seasonal offerings include Pumpkin Spice ($6.99/22 sachet tin) and Pomegranate Cider ($7.49/22 sachet tin). Though the aroma of her tea pods are enough to sell me, the 100% organic, 100% fair trade teas are also incredibly healthy and formulated with “super spices” that have increased antioxidant capacity and immunity boosting properties. —L. B.
Did you ever stop and wonder how many staples you use in a given year, both at work and around the house? How about the collective carbon footprint of all that metal waste? ThinkGeek’s Staple-Free Stapler ($6.99/plain version or $8.99/dog or cat version) can put a stop to staple waste. The contraption simply slices and tucks the corners of up to five pages so that they bind neatly together, without wasting staples. It’s far lighter, smaller and safer than a conventional stapler and doesn’t require any refills. A perfect tool for forms, notes, shopping lists or even short essays and reports. —Stephen Dworkin
SPICE IT UP
Let them push away their now-empty plates in amazement. Where did this sort of cuisine come from? Certainly your cooking will be wildly more flavorful than before, unless you have a spice market hidden in your kitchen. Vermont-based Teeny Tiny Spice Co. has assembled some striking flavoring tins ($9.95/2.8oz.) full of 100% organic spice blends that include familiar favorites (masalas and vindaloos) with surprising and original combinations. The Persian Adwiya serves as pre-grilling rub or in a couscous. Citrus Pepper will raise eyebrows, and the Chocolate Chili might yet spark a revolution. All ingredients are listed—only Himalayan Pink Salt is used for salt and only organic Vermont maple syrup for sweetening. —D.B.