THE GREENER MOWER
As homeowners rev their lawnmower engines this spring, nature cringes. A well-groomed carpet of grass may be nice to look at, but popular gas-powered mowers pollute the air with noxious fumes and plenty of noise. Cleaner electric mowers are limited by those annoying long extension cords. But now there’s Neuton from Country Home Products, a battery-powered mower that’s lightweight, relatively quiet and starts at the push of a button. This attractive, compact machine ($399) has a one-hour battery charge that’s ideal for small lawns. An optional replacement battery doubles the mowing area. And no engine means no tune-ups—and almost no pollution.
Country Home Products
Tel: (800) 929-8401
When leading environmentalist John McConnell saw the first photos of our planet taken from space in 1969, he was inspired to design a flag that would go on to symbolize world peace, unity and environmental commitment. The now-famous Earth Flag, a two-sided printed image of our planet on a navy blue field, represents for many an enhanced awareness of and commitment to world
harmony in these times of turmoil and uncertainty. Often imitated but never equaled, The Authentic Earth Flag generates funding for non-political environmental causes with each sale. Flags range in size and price, from eight inches by 12 inches for $9 to three feet by five feet for $57.
Tel: (800) 421-3524
BREAK THE ICE
While deicing salt may be the best defense against falls, it wreaks havoc on plants, soil and groundwater. Natural Alternative Ice Melt ($18.95 to $23.95) from NaturaLawn of America is a deicer that’s safer for you and the Earth. Lower concentrations of sodium and calcium chloride than other salts mean reduced damage to the environment and less irritation to skin and pets" paws. Other advantages over conventional salts include effectiveness down to —12 degrees F and resistance to the freeze-thaw cycles that damage concrete. It’s available in nine-pound jugs and 20-pound bags.
NaturaLawn of America
Tel: (800) 989-5444
SWEET, SWEET CHOCOLATE
Chocoholics rejoice—now you can indulge your passion and still feel good about yourself. The Amazon Herb Company’s ChocaMaca ($21 for 30 pieces, $55 for 90) satisfies your craving with only 30 calories in each ball of rich, dark chocolate. Instead of refined sugar and oils, ChocaMaca contains herbs from the Amazon rainforest and blue green algae, giving it a unique flavor and, some say, health benefits. And it’s good for your conscience: the organic chocolate comes from a fair trade program that pays farmers a living wage and promotes sustainable agriculture. Ten percent of profits go to the Rainforest Rescue Fund.
Tel: (866) 866-0045
GIFTS THAT KEEP ON GIVING
Shopping for a gift that’s a little different? How about feeding the hungry, fighting disease or protecting the environment in somebody’s name? Alternative Gifts International (AGI) compiles an annual "shopping list" of reputable nonprofit agencies helping people and the planet. Browse the catalog for dozens of worthy causes to fit any budget. Just $1 will care for a Romanian child for a day; $12 buys one night’s shelter for a homeless American. The bigger spender can provide gardening supplies for a Bosnian family ($200) or a water buffalo to help Laotian villagers plow fields ($330). Any gift, big or small, means hope and change for people in need.
Tel: (800) 842-2243
The Benziger Family Winery uses organic and biodynamic farming methods to produce 180,000 cases of wine per year from more than 60 ranches. Pruning, planting and other vineyard upkeep is done in accordance with biodynamic principles, meaning it tracks the seasonal cycle and how the Earth is aligned with the moon. The special effort Benziger gave to its reds in 1999—a predominantly cool, dry season—paid off with full-bodied beauties like the 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon ($19). This well-structured organic wine is rich with the aromas of blackberry, plum and smoked oak.
Benziger Family Winery
Tel: (707) 935-3000
PAMPER YOUR SKIN
Should you put on your skin what you refuse to put in your body? As an alternative to chemical-intensive cosmetics, exfoliate, cleanse and moisturize with a blend of organic herbs, extracts and other gentle ingredients found in Kiss My Face’s new Obsessively Organic skincare line. Each product is made with natural and mostly organic ingredients. Kiss My Face’s Vitamin Ester-C ($18) stimulates collagen production and helps to rebuild damaged skin. Those with pore problems will appreciate the Botanical Acne Gel ($16), which helps control breakouts. The natural fruit acids and lemongrass in the Exfoliating Face Wash ($12) help scrub away dirt and dry skin cells.
Gently exfoliate elbows, knees and other dry areas with V"Tae’s fragrant Salamander Soother Almond Apricot Body Buff ($13), and hydrate your skin with the rich companion lotion ($13). Both are made with sweet almond essential oil and sensual vanilla. They smell so good, you"ll want to eat them. V"Tae products are skin- and Earth-friendly right down to their 100 percent recyclable containers. They are cruelty-free and contain no artificial colors or animal byproducts. Ten percent of V"Tae’s profits benefit numerous environmental groups.
Kiss My Face
Tel: (800) 262-KISS
Tel: (800) 643-3011
FIRST THERE IS A MOUNTAIN
"First there is a mountain/Then there is no mountain/Then there is," sang the folk-rock poet Donovan. "The mountains are alive," adds David Rothenberg in his stirring new book, Always the Mountains (University of Georgia Press, $29.95). "They give birth, and create life
If we cannot see it, it is only because we are not perfect." The book is a collection of essays in which New Jersey Institute of Technology philosophy professor Rothenberg (who is also a clarinet player with five nature-entwined CDs to his credit) explores our evolving attitudes—in literature, in philosop
hy—toward the lofty peaks that surround and inspire us. "The mountain will live on," he notes, "long beyond any uses for it we can think up."
STORIES FROM THE FRONT
In her new book Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising (New Society Publishers, $17.95), veteran author Starhawk examines current global economic and political structures from the viewpoint of an eco-feminist and Wiccan. She recounts what happened on the frontlines of anti-globalization protests in Seattle, Prague, Brazil, Quebec and Genoa. This world traveler reminds weary protesters that those with political power cannot continue to hide behind police barricades and tear gas while ignoring the consequences of their decisions. Starhawk acknowledges that September 11 changed the political climate, but she reminds us that the fight for global justice is far from over. We should not be censored by fear of terrorists or our own government, she writes. "When structures fall, something new can be built."
Since 1941, when the first bacterial infection was cured with a concoction derived from the fungus penicillium, we’ve depended on antibiotics to be there when we’re sick. But we may not be able to count on foolproof antibiotics much longer. The Killers Within: The Deadly Rise of Drug-Resistant Bacteria (Little, Brown and Company, $25) takes us on a voyage through an often-ignored war—one in which the bacteria we’ve been fighting off with antibiotics for the past 50 years are mutating to become increasingly resistant to new medications. Authors Michael Shnayerson and Mark J. Plotkin show that much of this resistance can be traced to over-prescription by doctors, antibiotic growth promoters given to farm animals and hospitals that have become bacterial breeding grounds. With an accessible style, the authors explain how the fight against germs is moving us into a post-antibiotic world.
"I bought an SUV because they’re safer." "I like to sit up high." "I need four-wheel-drive to get through the snow in the winter." "I hate minivans because of the image—people would think I was a "soccer mom."" "I have dogs." How many times have you heard these justifications for buying a sport-utility vehicle? Keith Bradsher’s excellent new book High and Mighty: The World’s Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way (Public Affairs, $28) demolishes the points one-by-one and convincingly demonstrates that these lumbering gas-guzzlers are a menace not only to the planet but to safety as well.
Among the many revelations in Bradsher’s book, this one stands out: SUVs are not safer than cars. "SUV occupants die slightly more often than car occupants in crashes," he writes. Further, SUV rollovers kill a thousand people a year who would not otherwise have died, and added air pollution caused by these vehicles is estimated to kill another 1,000 from respiratory ailments. What’s more, four-wheel drive is of no use in emergency stops, when it’s disengaged. Heavy SUVs also have terrible brakes, which means long, dangerous stopping distances. The history of SUVs avoiding environmental and safety regulations, fully detailed by Bradsher, will make you cry, so steer clear of this book if you can’t handle the aggravation.
THE TIGER MARKET
Dancing with the Tiger (New Society Publishers, $29.95) presents stories of individuals and teams in some of the world’s most progressive and well-known organizations as they develop new models of corporate sustainability. Brian Nattrass and Mary Altomare liken the modern industrial system to a tiger, which is fierce and competitive yet in jeopardy due to inexorable human forces. The authors call maintaining economic growth and environmental conservation "the Dance of Sustainability," which is the title of the book’s first chapter.
FIRST STEPS FOR BEGINNERS
For some folks, the Earth-friendly lifestyle looks daunting and is best left to those who frequent the corner co-op. Thankfully, Nell Newman, with Joseph D"Agnese, has done a marvelous job of making organics accessible in her new book, The Newman’s Own Organics Guide to a Good Life (Villard, $14.95). The pages are filled with first steps towards everything from eating organically and investing responsibly to phasing in biodegradable cleaners and do-it-yourself compost piles. Along with plenty of tips for beginners are stories about ordinary folks who have gone so far as to pioneer their own Earth-friendly businesses: inspiration for tree huggers at all levels!
—Laura Ruth Zandstra