Tools for Green Living


A Better Cookie

A recent lawsuit against the makers of Oreos (Kraft Foods) for selling a product with high-cholesterol "trans" fats—found in hydrogenated oils and linked to heart disease and diabetes—makes us think twice before indulging in this classic treat. But we don’t have to give up the delicious combination of creamy icing and crisp chocolate cookie. Country Choice Naturals, a maker of organic cookies, cocoa and hot cereals, has recently reformulated and repackaged its Oreo-like Sandwich Cremes ($3.99), now advertising these rich, tasty cookies as free of hydrogenated oils and refined sugars. They are made instead with organic hi-oleic sunflower oil, which is low in saturated fat, and organic cane juice. Sandwich Cremes come in four varieties, including chocolate and vanilla, and contain no preservatives or artificial colors or flavors.

CONTACT

Country Choice Naturals
Tel: (952) 829-8824

—Tasha Eichenseher


Beauty Sleep Made Better

Looking to be wrapped in all-natural comfort? Ecobaby Organics, makers of organic clothing and toys for young children, has a line of bedding sure to keep adults warm and happy too. Using no synthetic chemicals, the company offers everything to outfit a bedroom, including mattresses, pillows, blankets, comforters and sheets. The organic cotton sateen bedding is wonderfully soft and has a slight sheen for an added aesthetic touch. Ecobaby also sells baby-sized items in soothing patterns and colors for the crib, and recently added fuzzy sherpa bedding as well. Prices are variable, but range from $10 to $80 for crib bedding and from $30 to $1,300 for adult sizes.

CONTACT

Ecobaby Organics
Tel: (888) 326-2229

—Kerri Linden


Caring About Cats, Too

Planet Dog, the manufacturer of Earth- and animal-friendly products for canines, has introduced a new line, aptly named Planet Cat. This brand includes a feline-friendly version of the popular Orbee Ball ($14.95), a non-toxic, long-lasting toy made from recycled materials, as well as an Orbee Mouse ($7.95), which has pockets for a jingle bell or catnip. Sleeping boxes made of cardboard, a cat’s favorite material, are also available. Additional products include pet carriers, collars, treats and various catnip products. Planet Dog donates 10 percent of profits to an in-house philanthropy to support animal welfare and environmental causes.

CONTACT

Planet Dog
Tel: (800) 381-1516

—K.L.


Meet Your Match

Lonely vegetarians may have a new way to meet company for dinner. VeggieDate.com, an online singles service sponsored by GreenPeople.org, boasts 11,000 personal ads for vegetarians and is "one of the largest and fastest-growing vegetarian organizations worldwide." Established in 1999, the service allows vegetarians to connect and create new friendships even if dating doesn’t pan out. Matches are even broken up into categories, including seriousness about vegetarianism. The site can be searched free of charge, and offers a two-week free trial for posting an ad, after which it costs $9.95 for three months, $14.95 for six months or $19.95 for the year.

—K.L.


A New Face for an Old Cleaner

A standard in the natural cleaning products industry, Ecover has given itself a makeover, coming out with newly redesigned packaging for its full line of products. In business for more than 20 years, Ecover has established itself as a mainstay for supplying green cleaners the world over. Using natural plant and mineral ingredients, the company offers a full range of household cleaning agents, including dishwasher, laundry and surface cleaners to keep your house sparkling. The list of non-toxic ingredients is also posted on Ecover’s website. Prices are economical, usually averaging $4 for a full-size bottle, depending on the retailer.

CONTACT

Ecover
Tel: (800) 449-4925

—K.L.

Books

Bio-Food Basics

A decade ago, the first transgenic food appeared in grocery stores—"vine-ripened" tomatoes. Scientists had flipped a gene in the tomato so the fruit would grow firm enough to turn red on the vine without rotting. Since then, genetically engineered (GE) foods have turned agriculture and consumer choices upside down worldwide. In his most recent book, Food, Inc.: Mendel to Monsanto—The Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest (Simon & Schuster, $24), author Peter Pringle examines events that have marked the growth and controversy of the industry. He remains open minded in his analysis of the technology. From "golden rice" to the cauliflower mosaic virus, Pringle puts the sticky politics, corporate control, and potential hazards and benefits of GE foods under the microscope, helping readers become better-informed consumers.

—T.E.


Only You Can Prevent Global Warming

If you have guilt about not being of more help to the environment, authors Jeffrey Langholz and Kelly Turner can come to the rescue. Their new book, You Can Prevent Global Warming (and save money!) (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $10.95), gives 51 ways to conserve funds and the Earth with tips about everything from household appliance usage to the greenest ways to get around. Many of the tips are no-cost, and provide easy methods that won’t force a complete lifestyle change. One suggestion is putting light-colored curtains or awnings on your windows. As the authors make clear, a few simple changes can make a big difference toward keeping Earth cool.

—K.L.


(Don"t) Go Fish

Readers will rethink the phrase, "There are plenty of fish in the sea," after diving into The Empty Ocean: Plundering the World’s Marine Life (Island Press, $26). The book blends detailed drawings by writer and artist Richard Ellis with illustrative descriptions of marine life and a rich history of the global fishing industry. Drawing on accounts of fishermen, researchers and writers dating as far back as the 17th century, Ellis tells the story of humankind’s exploitative relationship with the sea—an extensive, engaging and often shocking tale. The result is a book that gives voice to the thousands of species of marine life that have been hunted and fished to near extinction.

—Becca Manning


Busting the Bushmeat Trade

In this macabre journey through the chaotic bushmeat markets and disappearing forests of west and central Africa, author Dale Peterson and photographer Karl Ammann tackle the complicated cultural, economic and ethical issues surrounding the slaughter of apes for food. Eating Apes (University of California Press, $24.95)

investigates the unsustainable hunting of gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos, emphasizing the connections between increased commercial logging and growing demand for bushmeat. Because apes are so similar to human beings, it may be hard to stomach Ammann’s powerful photos.

—T.E.


(Still Trying to) Save the Whales

Despite common misconceptions, commercial whaling is still alive and well under the guise of "scientific research." Kieran Mulvaney lends a personal touch to the struggle by Greenpeace and others against this ruse. The Whaling Season (Island Press, $26) provides dramatic and engaging accounts of Mulvaney’s four expeditions chasing whaling ships in the Antarctic and the twists of his life that delivered him there. An article in BBC Wildlife, too many Jagermeisters and a romantic breakup helped propel this writer and activist into a David vs. Goliath, non-violent protest through icy waters to protect these intelligent and valued creatures.

—Sari Krieger