Tools for Green Living

CYCLING FOR SOAP

Tired of harsh and chemical-laden soaps that are rough on your hands as well as the environment? Try eco-friendly and cruelty-free handmade soaps by Just Soap. Interested in "bicycles, alternative energy and human-scale production," founder Frederick Breeden uses bicycle power to manufacture his 11 deliciously scented 3.5-ounce soaps ($2.60) and large soap balls ($4). With his unique 50-gallon soap-blending vat, Breeden is able to produce soap "people can afford to use everyday." Also available are rosemary shampoo bars ($3.50) and salves ($5.50). Richly lather your cares away with the benefits of Just Soap’s essential oils and organic herbs and spices.

CONTACT

Just Soap
Tel: (877) 969-SOAP

—Raena Blumenthal


GREEN-BAG LUNCHES

As kids head back to school, they can now ditch their traditional paper, plastic and metal lunch carriers for a natural cotton canvas sack. The Think Green Lunch Sack Set ($22.95 each) is the latest innovation from Eco-Bags, which has given us practical yet stylish alternatives to disposable shopping bags for the past 12 years, including its flagship product, the String Market Bag ($7 each or $26 for four). The lunch sacks are machine-washable and are perfect for personalization, since each set contains two plain sacks and four Marvy fabric markers for kids to unleash their creativity! Watch out for Think Green Lunch Sacks to become the hottest accessories on the playground this fall.

CONTACT

Eco-Bags
Tel: (800) 720-BAGS

—Jane Pek


CAT CARES

Your cat wants you to protect the planet; she wants you to think about Pet Care Systems" Swheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter (seven pounds for $6.80). In the U.S., 34 million households have feline companions, and two million tons of non-biodegradable litter is dumped into landfills every year. Because Swheat Scoop is made from naturally processed wheat, the pellets biodegrade. It’s safe for the compost pile and other final destinations, such as your sewer system or Fro-Fro’s digestive track. The wheat’s natural starches allow the granules to clump when exposed to moisture, and they soak up odor too. The litter can also be used in ferret, bird and rabbit cages. Sounds purrr-fect.

CONTACT

Pet Care Systems
Tel: (800) 794-3287

—Karen Madsen


COFFEE WITH A CAUSE

To taste the difference and make a difference, start your morning with a cup of rich triple-certified coffee. Café Canopy gives its customers access to excellent green and roasted coffee from eight countries, including Peru, Costa Rica and Colombia. Organic, shade-tree and bird-friendly coffee is healthy for the environment, the coffee grower and the consumer. Because no chemicals are used to grow or process the bean, the full smoky flavor shines through. In its effort to support "equitable partnerships between consumers, farmers and the environment," Café Canopy donates 25 cents to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center for every pound of coffee sold (14 ounces, $12), and also returns a share of the profits to the coffee-growing community.

CONTACT

Café Canopy
Tel: (866) 368-4708

—Diana J. Benton


SWEET AND SALTY SHOWERS

After a summer in the sun, wind and saltwater, your skin could probably use some pampering. Turn your home into a spa with a lavish, completely organic sugar rub from Wild Earth’s Inara line. The rubs harness the soothing properties of babassu oil (harvested from the Amazonian babassu palm) and essential oils. The Enliven blend also contains geranium and grapefruit oils. Ignite includes frankincense, orange and palmarosa, and Quiet boasts chamomile and sandalwood oils. Inara’s ingredients are crafted by Brazilian women’s cooperatives, and the rubs come in 4.5-ounce jars ($18) or 15.5-ounce handmade clay pots ($45.50).

Trillium Herbal’s exfoliating sea salt polish is steeped in wonderful organic essential oils including sesame, jojoba, olive and sunflower. The rub cleanses and moisturizes, and it leaves a fine layer of protective, soy lecithin-derived phospholipid on the skin’s surface, which feels fabulously silky! Trillium’s therapeutic products are based on the Indian system of Ayurveda. Calming, Warming and Clearing formulations are available in a variety of stylish containers, including wide-mouthed 16-ounce jars ($27.96) and portable 2.5-ounce pouches (three for $14.88).

CONTACTS

Inara
Tel: (888) 688-7565

Trillium Herbal
Tel: (800) 734-7253

—Starre Vartan


GREENER RIVERS

Despite water’s vital role in personal and ecosystem health, human and industrial activities have significantly diminished the quality of our waterways. In the U.S., it is estimated that 210 million people live within 10 miles of a polluted river, lake, stream or coastal area. Now, natural products company Tom’s of Maine has introduced a five-year National Rivers Awareness Program with River Network, The Nature Conservancy, the National Park Service and participating retailers to involve people in saving this precious resource. Free River Awareness Kits include a River Stories video, the booklet 50 Ways to Love Your River and advocacy group information.

CONTACT

Tom’s of Maine
Tel: (800) FOR-TOMS

—R.B. Books


SAVE OUR RIVER

To Save A River (Aperture, in association with the Coastal Mountains Land Trust, $50), tells an extraordinary story about the conservation of Maine’s Ducktrap River, home of one of the last remaining salmon runs in the eastern United States. An informative narrative by Scott Dickerson animates the dazzling 80 platinum photographs. He explains why conservation efforts have yielded preservation for many species, including the Atlantic salmon. Traveling through seasonal changes, environmental photographer Dennis C. Schultz takes the reader through a journey through the Ducktrap River watershed, offering stunning images of waterfalls, ponds and conifers blanketed with softly fallen snow. To Save A River captures the rare beauty of this precious Maine treasure.

—R.B.


FUN VEGAN VITTLES

With its fabulous "50s flare, How it all Vegan! Irresistible Recipes For An Animal-Free Diet (Arsenal Pulp Press, $15.95) will tempt vegans and non-vegans alike. Appetizing and nutritious recipes are not the only topics in this colorful and easy-to-follow book. The basic elements of veganism are cleverly discussed by

youthful authors Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer in a chapter called "Veganism 101." With great tips on having fun in the kitchen with your kids, and for those who are kids at heart, this book appeals to all ages. Alternative, eco-friendly recipes for cleaning and beauty products are also offered. So, stop depriving yourself. Get the recipe for some chocolate cheese-less cake now!

—R.B.


GOT MILK?

Milk has long commanded a central importance in the American diet, culture and imagination. E. Melanie DuPuis tackles this absorbing topic in Nature’s Perfect Food: How Milk Became America’s Drink (New York University Press, $17.95). Linking our society’s love affair with this product of contented cows to its continual quest for perfection, she examines sociological, political and economic trends that led America in the 1800s to start drinking milk in ever-increasing quantities. Taking the stand that milk has its problems—people who are genetically lactose-intolerant, the bovine growth hormone rBGH, the cruelty of factory farming—but is hardly poison either, DuPuis is able to dive beneath the controversy that milk engenders today. Instead, she presents an informative, balanced history of milk production and consumption—how we get our milk and why we drink so much of it.

—J.P.


MONEY MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND

E readers know, of course, that the environment is vital, life-sustaining—and very much at risk. But financially profitable? That is the premise of The New Economy of Nature by Gretchen Daily and Katherine Ellison (Island Press/ Shearwater Books, $25). Arguing that enlightened self-interest is the best path for conservation, the authors look to a "new economy" that appraises the "services" properly-functioning ecosystems provide—flood control and climate stabilization, for instance—as economic assets which yield profits. Daily and Ellison provide eminently readable examples where this is already happening, such as the New York City government’s decision to preserve the Catskills/Delaware watershed as an alternative to building a water filtration plant.

—J.P.


ORCA ODYSSEY

Orcas have fascinated human beings long before the likes of Shamu or Free Willy. In Listening to Whales (Ballantine Books, $26.95), Alexandra Morton recounts her life with whales and dolphins. From her years of research with these majestic creatures, Morton makes observations of, among other things, cetacean invention of synchronized movements. The story of Morton’s research of whale sounds and mannerisms is evenly and smoothly interspersed with the story of her life. With occasional anecdotes like her experience with Peter Benchley attempting to swim with Orcas, Morton manages to convey the meaning and significance of her research in a narrative form, reflecting on how her relationship with whales has influenced her understanding of human life.

—Abbi Leman