CALLING THE SHOTS
Do the Earth Day crowds have you running late? That protest in Seattle made you fall behind schedule? Thanks to TTI COMM, that apologetic call home won't be at the expense of Mother Earth. The Florida-based telecommunications service has just introduced anytime green, a chlorine-free, acid-free, tree-free paper phone card. For 24-hour flat rates and no connection fee, you can now spend 30, 90 or 180 minutes explaining why you'll be late to the beach clean-up. The “anytime green” cards run from $3 to $18, and TTI also offers versions made from 100 percent recycled paper and, yes, even pure U.S. corn.
Tel: (888) 296-4884
THE PRODIGAL TOOTHBRUSH
Imagine the life of a toothbrush: imprisoned in a cup, waiting entire days only to be wrenched and thrust repeatedly against forgotten food, stashed in the crevices of your teeth. Eventually the toothbrush, exhausted and weak, is dropped into the nearby waste bin to spend eternity in a landfill. If such a fate seems grim, perhaps you can give your next toothbrush a better future. Each recycled plastic Preserve toothbrush made by Recycline Inc. includes a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope. Once returned, the toothbrush will be converted and reborn into “plastic lumber” for use in a multitude of building projects. Preserve is an option for people who don't want to contribute to the estimated 50 million pounds of waste generated annually by discarded toothbrushes. It's also ergonomically designed to improve the effectiveness of your brushing.
Tel: (207) 563-7695
—Benjamin B. Chadwick
Did you know that most of the commercially grown cotton used to make your mattress and bedding relies heavily on the use of chemicals that leave toxins in the soil, air and individual cotton fibers? If this widespread pollution is enough to disturb your sleep, you might consider a bedding set from Sleeptek. Sleeptek's Oasis Collection is a complete line of custom-made, organic bedding sets—everything from boxsprings to comforters—that are hand-made in Ottawa, Canada using the finest materials nature can provide. When you lay down on Sleeptek you can rest easy knowing that your bed is helping to make the world a less toxic place. Distributed by Furnature, 319 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02145, tel: (617) 783-4343.
GOOD NIGHT, SWEET HOUND
Is your poor pet tossing and turning on an uncomfortable mat, his dreams polluted with chemicals, while the rest of your family slumbers peacefully on natural, organic bedding? If you're worried that Fido isn't getting the same nighttime health precautions as the rest of the family, then look into an Eco-Pet Bed from Lifekind Naturally Safer Products. Lifekind manufactures a bed for dogs without using any synthetic petrochemical materials or toxic dyes, and the construction allows each pet to customize its bed to its own special shape, while ensuring years of comfort and chemical-free sleep. With prices ranging from $115 to $165, it's the humane choice for your family's best friend.
Lifekind Naturally Safer Products
Tel: (530) 477-5395
MOVE OVER KRAFT…
…Because good old mac 'n cheese just got a whole new look. No matter what your reason for swearing off the real thing, Road End Organics is telling you to curl back up with this ultimate in comfort food. The company has put a twist on the American classic with Dairy-Free Whole Wheat Macaroni and Chreese, Dairy-Free Semolina Shells and Chreese and Dairy Free Wheat-free Brown Rice Penne and Chreese. And Road End's product lives up to its name (pronounced “Trees”): All packaging is made from 100 percent recycled paper and printed with vegetable-based inks. Look for it in natural foods stores, grocery chains or at www.chreese.com for around $1.69.
Road End Organics
Tel: (802) 888-4130
EASING HUNGER PAINS
Preventing famine has never been so easy. A single mouse-click at The Hunger Site (www.thehungersite.com) sends several cups of food to needy communities throughout the globe. The visitor buys nothing and mails nothing; all he or she has to do is view a brief list of sponsors. The sponsors pay for the food, funding a quarter-cup of such staples as corn or rice, for each user's once-a-day click. The food is then purchased and distributed by the United Nations World Food Program. The web site has made daily contributions that have exceeded a million cups of food. In a world where hunger kills a human every 3.6 seconds, your mouse-click at the Hunger Site performs a minor miracle.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS COMMUTE
Scrutinized by the intent eye of a vigilant green heron, biologist Peter Friederici follows coyote tracks beneath darting flocks of swallows. While this may sound like a scene from deep within the wilderness, it actually occurs amid the densely populated suburbs of Chicago—the setting of Friederici's book, The Suburban Wild ($22.95, The University of Georgia Press). Celebrating the wildness that pervades the patches between roads, buildings and parking lots in urban America, The Suburban Wild addresses a question that gains increasing importance as more and more of the world converts to concrete jungle: How does wildness adapt to survive and thrive in a human-dominated world?
THE MODERN POLTERGEIST
Remember Stephen Spielberg's Poltergeist, in which a family moves into a developer-touted 'dream house' only to discover it's haunted by unseen supernatural forces? Toxic Deception (Common Courage Press, $17.95) opens with a real-life parallel: A family is made violently ill by formaldehyde, seeping through the government-approved carpeting of their new home. Through industrial sleight-of-hand, Americans are led to believe in product safety, then are gradually poisoned by a cornucopia of unpronounceable chemicals. Toxic Deception is practically an encyclopedia of such regulatory evasions by our chemical companies. Muckrakers Dan Fagin and Marianne Lavelle originally compiled this extensive, highly-readable work in 1997. The 1999 second edition adds discussion of, among other things, vote-grabbing chicanery by Presidential candidate Al Gore. The nightmarish truth and its fanciful spin, as examined here, will leave you, literally, gasping for breath.
Afraid your child will grow
up thinking cooking is setting the popcorn button on the microwave? Dianne Pratt gives kids the opportunity to feel flour between their fingers—while learning about food, ecology and animals—in Hey Kids! You're Cookin' Now! A Global Awareness Cooking Adventure ($19.95, Harvest Hill Press). This colorful hardback cookbook is filled with more than 80 easy-to-prepare kitchen recipes that kids can make alone or with parents (unmistakable icons identify which is which) plus 25 more craft and ecology projects. Boxes highlighting fun environmental factoids and cooking tips, and kid-oriented glossaries and guides to health and safety, round out the award-winning book. In this era of rapid globalization, give your child the gift of not only appreciating food, but understanding how intimately it's connected to the Earth.
LIVING IN HARMONY
“Music can make things happen,” says editor Julie Middleton, who believes the more than 400 songs, chants, rounds and hymns compiled in Songs for Earthlings: A Green Spirituality Songbook are the key not only to entertaining evenings of music, but also a path to understanding the Earth. From Pete Seeger's classic “Turn! Turn! Turn!” to the not-quite-so-classic “You Can't Clearcut Your Way to Heaven,” this book is truly a diverse collection with a universal theme—planetary kinship. It begins with a brief lesson on reading music, ends with short biographies of the contributors, and is peppered with inspirational quotes throughout. “Take it to the piano,” Middleton says, “Sing [the songs] with your kids. Sing them to the trees in the yard. And just see if the world doesn't look a bit brighter.” Available for $27 from Emerald Earth Publishing.