Tools for Green Living

TRIX ARE FOR STUDENTS?

Cereal is not just for breakfast anymore. At the University of Michigan campus, Cheerios boxes are showing up in backpacks, biology labs and classes everywhere. The student group EnAct (Environmental Action at U-M) has innovatively sandwiched 100 pages of one-sided paper between the cardboard faces of cereal boxes to create a truly recycled notebook. Discarded paper from campus offices and empty cereal boxes from dining halls are bound professionally to withstand the test of college time, then sold for $2 each plus shipping.

CONTACT

EnAct Recycled Notebook Project
4168 Michigan Union
530 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1349
Tel. (734) 647-9189

—Jennifer Bogo


TOMAYTO? TOMAHTO?

Muir Glen Organic

No matter how you say it, Muir Glen is pronouncing its tomatoes a sweet success—with their flavor attributed to organic soils and the company’s “Field to Can” practice of rushing freshly harvested fruit and vegetables straight from the farm to the cannery. Praised for high lycopene content (a powerful antioxidant), tomatoes also provide about half the RDA for vitamin C and about 20 percent for beta carotene. But it’s likely to be taste, not nutritional value that makes you reach for that jar of Portabello Mushroom sauce ($2.49) or Black Bean and Corn salsa ($2.29 to $3.19). Check out your nearest grocery store, or…

CONTACT

Muir Glen
1250 North McDowell Boulevard
Petaluma, CA 94954
Tel. (707) 778-7801
URL: http://www.muirglen.com/

—J.B.


SINGING THE WORLD

It’s a big world out there, and the vast array of musical traditions can be confusing to the novice. A new three-CD collection called Global Voices, dedicated to music from 33 countries (Bali to Zimbabwe), is a good place to start. The CDs are organized into traditional, sacred and contemporary volumes, with an informative booklet and truly inspired track selection. A soulful piece from the Congo is juxtaposed with Don Walser’s country swing “Rolling Stone From Texas.” If we’re ever to achieve any kind of cross-border cooperation, music makes an effective international passport.

CONTACT

Global Voices is $43.45 postpaid from…
Music of the World
PO Box 3620
Chapel Hill, NC 27515-3620
Tel. (888) 264-6689

—Jim Motavalli


PURE GARBAGE

Thinking of burning that yard waste? Bag it! Send those lawn clippings back to nature with Eco-Bags, a completely compostable solution. Made of vegetable starches degraded quickly by microorganisms in the soil, the transparent bags will weather curbside elements like rain, snow and ice. And being eco-friendly does not add cost: these sacks retail competitively with other plastic bags, and are 50 to 80 percent cheaper than paper compost bags. Available in 13-, 30- and 39-gallon sizes, Eco-Bags prove a hefty alternative to name brands.

CONTACT

Comprehensive Environmental Solutions
317 Meadow Street
Chicopee, MA 01013
Tel. (413) 533-0001

—J.B.


A PARTY IN YOUR GARDEN

Where would you want to put 900 billion microorganisms? In every pound of healthy soil, of course! Earth Force, an all-natural biological activator from Morganics, is just the aphrodisiac to keep the little guys happy and multiplying. Made of glacial and fossilized rock powders, Earth Force restores the mineral content of the soil, increasing microorganism growth as much as 100 percent. The process makes more nutrients available to plants, which in turn makes the plants healthier. Also great for compost bins and seedlings, a 2.75-pound bag of Earth Force can be purchased for $24.95.

CONTACT

Morganics, Inc.
7430 East Butherus Drive, Suite F
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Tel. (800) 820-9235

—J.B.


NEWS YOU CAN STOMACH

The phrase “All You Can Eat” takes on new meaning with the Environmental Working Group’s recently launched website. Using the same data as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and pesticide industry, All You Can Eat (http://www.foodnews.org) puts pesticide information at the fingertips of consumers. Visitors may select foods from an extensive menu, which are then matched in a database of over 90,000 government test results for food contaminants. The result: An approximation of the number and type of pesticides people eat every day and potential health effects. Armed with this information, visitors may then link directly to supermarket chains, the EPA and the American Crop Protection Association.

—J.B.


Books

WILDERNESS WALKABOUT

Master tracker Paul Rezendes has been, at various times in his colorful career, the leader of two outlaw motorcycle gangs and a yoga teacher with his own ashram. But it’s as a wilderness guide and nature writer that Rezendes will have the most impact. Rezendes’ first book was a how-to about finding wildlife in the woods, but The Wild Within: Adventures in Nature and Animal Teachings (Tarcher/Putnam), his second, is a beautifully-written philosophical autobiography, full of meaningful natural encounters. Rezendes, who made his first forays into the woods as soon as he could walk, tracks a bobcat into its lair, wrestles a bear, and eats lunch as a moose sleeps nearby. He provides remarkable insights into animal behavior, bringing to vivid life the creatures we can still see fleetingly in our last wild places. Many books purport to offer insights into the natural world, but this one really does.

—Jim Motavalli


PAVE PARADISE, PUT UP SPRAWL

Do America’s cities and towns have to keep growing until they’ve lost the individual identity that led people to move there in the first place? In his new book Better Not Bigger: How to Take Control of Urban Growth and Improve Our Community (New Society), Eben Fodor says no, but argues that it takes concerted grassroots effort to slow or stop the growth “autopilot.” Based in Oregon, probably the leader among the states in controlling exploding growth, Fodor outlines a step-by-step procedure for curtailing the malignant influence of what he calls “the growth machine.” Through the use of urban growth boundaries (as seen in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington), community land trusts, conservation tax incentives, open space requirements and other innovations, Fodor shows in this action guide how towns and cities can take control back from the developers.

—J.M.


GLOBAL EYE-OPENER

“Back in [Beijing], I stepped off the bus into a grimy dusk. Beneath my feet, whorls of coal dust spiraled across the sidewalk like black snow flurries,” writes Mark Hertsgaard during his six-year global excursion in Earth Odysse

y. From Zhenbing, a Chinese guide who thinks pollution is a fair trade-off for more food and a warmer shack, to Chelyabinsk, the “cancer capital” of the former Soviet Union, Hertsgaard paints a vivid portrait of the Earth in crisis, and attempts to answer the ultimate questions of human survival, using the rough-hewn paints of indigenous tribes, “corporatist screeds” and impoverished realists. Available in bookstores for $26 (hardback) from Broadway Books.

—Tracey C. Rembert


BACKYARD LASAGNA

Love to garden, but hate the messy work that comes with it? Then take some hints from Patricia Lanza’s Lasagna Gardening, a helpful how-to of layered mulch planting, a technique that recycles kitchen scraps, lawn trimmings and newspaper to do a gardener’s dirty work. By layering various mulches, lasagna-style, Mother Nature can trap moisture near seedlings and growing plants, says Lanza, while eliminating the hassle of compost piles, and adding nutrients to future crops and flowers. With additional tips on attracting birds, beneficial insects, butterfly gardens, and materials for mulches, Lanza’s recipes leave pesticides on the shelf. Available in bookstores for $15.95 (softback) from Rodale Books.

—T.C.R.


BABY STEPS

Wondering how you can possibly bring a new baby into a world of environmental havoc? Mothers and Others tells you in its Guide to Natural Baby Care (John Wiley & Sons, $16.95). Prospective parents are taught the most potent toxins and contaminants to avoid and how to do so from the nursery to the car to the front yard. The pages, packed with statistics and anecdotes, offer well-researched advice for childcare that is both green and affordable. And in Natural Baby Care (Storey Books, $15.95), Colleen Dodt guides mothers from pregnancy to preschool, sharing homeopathic techniques and remedies for along the way. Dodt emphasizes the role of aromatherapy and herbs, and fills the book with recipes, from massage oils to baby foods to balms. In case you’re tempted to do some research of your own, both books include a thorough list of resources from product companies, to professional organizations and help lines.

—J.B.