Tools for Green Living


The wood mulch commonly used as ground covering in yards can be a hassle to keep up. Wood chips tend to rot, splinter, attract termites or even float away during rainstorms. Plus, conventional mulches generally need to be replaced annually. Try a recycled alternative: Rubberific Mulch. Made from 100 percent recycled truck tires, Rubberific Mulch lasts 10 years or more. Since it never fades or rots, it requires no maintenance. Available in four natural colors, the ground cover doesn’t attract pests. Rubberific Mulch can also be used as a safe, shock-absorbent playground covering for children.


Rubberific Mulch
Tel: (314) 336-1030

—Jaime deBlanc-Knowles


Most personal care products on the market use conventional cotton, which is typically full of pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers and defoliants. These products may also contain rayon and wood fluff, which is chemically derived from tree pulp and then bleached. Organic Essentials makes all of its personal care products with certified organic cotton and without the use of bleach or other harmful chemicals. In the past, the company has offered Earth-friendly tampons, ear swabs, cotton balls and cosmetic rounds. The line has now expanded to include disposable menstrual pads in regular and super absorbency ($8.25 and $9.28, respectively, for a bag of 22) and disposable nursing pads ($5.86 for a bag of 30). Both products boast the absorbent properties of organic cotton. With Organic Essentials, you may wonder why you ever put anything else against your skin.


Organic Essentials
Tel: (800)765-6491

—Laura Ruth Zandstra


This summer, bring a little of the tropics to your life with delicious, organic lip spreads from the islands of Hawaii. Mama Coco’s is an Earth-friendly, cruelty-free company based in Honolulu that offers lip balms made in the time-honored island tradition of hand pressing fresh, sun-roasted coconut meat to produce virgin coconut oil. This tropical oil has natural sunscreen properties and healing moisturizers and has been used by Hawaiians for centuries to protect their skin from the sun, wind and sea. All of Mama Coco’s lip balms are made with organically grown and certified ingredients, including cocoa butter, beeswax, honey and vanilla extract. Some of the delectable flavors are Coconut Cream, Hawaiian Vanilla and Ka"u Orange Cream. For $5, they soften lips, have delicious natural scents and are packaged in quarter-ounce "retro" recyclable tins that are just the right size to fit in the pockets of any scant island gear.


Mama Coco’s Hawaiian Lip Balm
Tel: (808) 524-5722



If you want an all-natural, vegan-friendly soap that will clean everything from your skin to your socks, that 1960s icon, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, is for you! A pure vegetable oil-based soap, Dr. Bronner’s is made in a one-step process that produces no waste. It quickly and completely biodegrades, and the blend of plant-based surfactants makes it an all-purpose cleaner great for hair, clothes, dishes or even dogs! The soaps come in both liquid and solid form and can be enjoyed in almond, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, aloe vera and best-selling peppermint. Each bottle is hand packed and labeled with colorful sayings that range from the awesome to the absurd.


Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
Tel: (760) 743-2211

—Jessica Worden


In the late 1990s, mainstream designers began using environmentally friendly fibers, such as organic cotton and hemp, in their clothing lines. It was this marriage of upscale fashion and environmental responsibility that inspired two entrepreneurs to start their own clothing lines. The result: organic, responsibly manufactured clothing that screams hip, not hippie. Sara Cross" CoolNotCruel features fashions that would look right at home on the catwalk: silk skirts, vintage dresses and organic cotton chinos. These ultra-chic numbers offer an alternative to the conscious consumer who wants to be eco-friendly without sacrificing style. Men’s and women’s articles range from $90 to $200.

Marci Zaroff’s Under the Canopy catalog offers trendy, comfortable styles for everyday life. It could be mistaken for the Nordstrom’s catalogue, with its A-line dresses and sleek yoga outfits. But Zaroff’s clothes are selectively chosen for quality and consciousness. All fibers are processed naturally and colored with organic dyes such as pansy and oregano. The resulting soft colors soothe the eye, as well as the mind. The catalog features apparel for men, women and children, as well as bedding and jewelry.


CoolNotCruel, (646) 221-6363

Under the Canopy, (888) CANOPY-9



Most Mother’s Day gifts include two things: the requisite bunch of flowers and something sweet to nibble on. Now, someone finally got around to combining the two. Dr. Sandra Perlingieri, founder of Renaissance Herb Shoppe, has created edible herb wreaths as Mother’s Day gifts. The fragrant garlands brighten up the kitchen and the organic flowers and herbs can be used in cooking or baking. Wreaths are available in lavender, rosebud, rosemary and white sage for $20 each. Once all the herbs have been used up, send the wreath back to Perlingieri to be refilled for $12.50. Renaissance Herb also constructs custom gift baskets containing essential oils and other organic luxuries.


Renaissance Herb Shoppe
Tel: (760) 765-2333




Children, with their fascination for wildlife, cherish books with animal characters—Curious George, Babar, The Berenstain Bears, and more. But few fiction books present the reality of the animal kingdom, sans funny hats and human speech. That’s why Clive and Helen Dorman created the Okomi series (Dawn Publications, $4.95), books based around a young chimpanzee growing up in the African forest. The stories incorporate the observations of primate expert Jane Goodall, and illustrate the way chimpanzee families actually communicate with each other. The issues that chimp Okomi faces—sibling rivalry, tantrums and exploration—parallel social stages that human children experience. Through books such as Okomi The New Baby, which are aimed at preschoolers, the Dormans hope to raise awareness of a species that Goodall says "is more like us than any other living beings." Proceeds support the Jane G

oodall Institute.



Advertisements for vacation cruises are covered with appealing images of sparkling blue skies, private islands and luxurious amenities. However, Ross A. Klein has exposed what he calls "the underside of the cruise industry" in his new book Cruise Ship Blues (New Society Publishing, $14.95). It is a horrifying catalogue of the free-for-all at sea that cruise lines fail to mention to their patrons. For example, most customers don’t know that these big boats dump raw sewage and garbage at sea. None of the brochures offer pictures of wildlife threatened by the industry or underpaid, fatigued workers. And there’s less than full disclosure of incidents of food poisoning, communicable illnesses and sexual assault on these pleasure vessels. Before consumers set sail, it may be wise to read this book.



Award-winning author Tim Palmer shares the adventures of his nine-month road trip from Baja to Kodiak Island in his new book Pacific High (Island Press/Shearwater Books, $28.) The book is a jarring juxtaposition of the majestic beauty of the Coastal Ranges and the prevalence of pollution and human destruction lurking behind the calendar photos. It is a grand exploration of rivers and the view from 100 mountain peaks. It is deserts, rainforests, ice fields and the vast Pacific, but also toxic urban air, jungles of telephone towers and clear-cut forests. Though he presents a grim reality, Palmer does not leave his readers without hope for the future.



Christopher and Dolores Nyerges took to heart the Native American saying, "Live lightly upon the land." Extreme Simplicity (Chelsea Green, $16.95) chronicles their mission to build a self-sufficient homestead that minimizes waste and maximizes production. Surprisingly, the location of their sustainable dwelling is not a remote rural setting, but the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles. The Nyerges" show how they pursue an ecological lifestyle in a city environment, and they provide a how-to guide for greening an energy-hungry, waste-producing household. The book offers practical tips and outlines for change, including models for solar heating devices and a catalogue of recyclable household items, from twist ties to old carpets.



It was a bright, shining dream in a sea of blight: A plan for a state-of-the-art paper recycling plant in the heart of the impoverished South Bronx, a partnership between a do-good community group and one of the nation’s largest environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Instead, as two new books, Liz Harris" lively Tilting at Mills: Green Dreams, Dirty Dealings and the Corporate Squeeze (Houghton Mifflin, $25) and Allen Hershkowitz" more technical Bronx Ecology: Blueprint for a New Environmentalism (Island Press, $25) make painfully clear, the project, launched amid great fanfare in 1992, disintegrated in 2000 under the weight of bureaucratic wrangling and simple greed. The community group, Banana Kelly, helped wreck the plan, as did the apparently misnamed South Bronx Clean Air Coalition (which at one point said the mill would "kill babies"). "I didn’t anticipate evil," says Hershkowitz, who was NRDC’s indefatigable point man on the project. "I didn’t anticipate schemes. I thought everyone was on the same page and we all had the same idea—let’s do good and let business make money." No such luck.

—Jim Motavalli