Tools for Green Living

SUN SPOTS

Most of us think nothing of slathering on the sunscreen or donning a pair of shades to protect our eyes when we venture outdoors. But we don’t often realize that the windows in our homes are doing nothing to stop ultraviolet (UV) rays from harming our skin when we’re inside. Vista UVShield window films prevent 99.9 percent of all UV rays from penetrating the glass, protecting not only you, but your furniture, artwork, wallpaper and carpets, too. They can also save energy by reflecting heat back into your house. Average cost of installation is $4 to $10 per square foot.

CONTACT

Vista Window Films
Tel: (800) 345-6088

—Sherry Barnes


TRICK OR TREAT

“Go ahead, honey, dunk that bread in the oil…that’s good fat.” No, it’s not another fad diet. It’s organic pumpkinseed oil from Austria’s Finest Naturally, which offers the healthiest form of dietary fat (poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated) along with protein, carbohydrates and lots of vitamins, particularly iron and vitamin E. Farmers in Styria, Austria discovered the higher nutritional value of their pumpkins hundreds of years ago, and the uniquely nutty-flavored seeds are still pressed into premium oil, authenticated by the Austrian government. Available in regular (starting at $15.99 for a quarter-liter) and organic ($22.50). According to the company, even the uncertified product is close to meeting organic standards of California.

CONTACT

HELCO, LTD
Tel: (703) 360-5766
E-mail: austriasfinest@worldnet.att.net.

—S.B.


THE GREEN GRILL

Who doesn’t love the flavor of an afternoon cookout? Well, now you can get the same results without releasing all that carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or emissions from natural gas. You only have to look as far as your nearest feed or garden stores to power the SnowFlame Outdoor Grill ($995, or $1,595 for stainless steel), which runs on the renewable plant source of whole kernel corn! One gallon of corn will power the grill for seven hours. There’s no need to even flip your food, and the results are moister as well as cleaner. Hot dog!

CONTACT

SnowFlame, Inc.
Tel: (828) 684-4444

—S.B.


RUBBING THE RIGHT WAY

Earthstone is proud of its abrasive personality. The company makes its ordinary-looking line of heavy-duty cleaning blocks from 98 percent recycled ground glass, an environmentally safe alternative to the strip mining that gives us pumice for use in many of our household products. These lightweight foam glass bricks remove paint, varnish, wax, rust and mineral stains just as effectively, and without the chemicals and odors, of harsher alternatives. Each stone is tailored to tackle whatever project may be lurking. QuickSand, RustAway, GrillStone, PoolStone, and SuperScours for the kitchen or bath are sold for $4.99. CONTACT: Earthstone International, (877)ECO-BLOCK, www.earthstoneintl.com.

—J.B.


THE SUGAR BLUES

Put down that Prozac! The era of refined white sugar has finally come to an end, or at least it might if more people knew about GloryBee Foods. The Oregon-based company has developed a full line of dry natural and organic, sweeteners, a healthier alternative for you and the planet. So shelve that sugar and stir honey crystals into your brownie batter instead. And while you’re at it, look for Aunt Patty’s organic molasses crystals, date, maple and cane sugars, and non-organic barley malt and fructose. They can be bought in 6- to 15-ounce containers ($3.25 to $8.95) from natural food stores.

CONTACT

GloryBee Foods, Inc.
Tel: (800) GloryBe

—J.B.


TIE ONE ON

Depressed by the concrete jungle outside your office window? Lighten up your spirits, and your attire, with the rich beauty of global habitats captured on Preservation Collection neckwear. Environmental artist Karen Bierce has traveled the world over to collect the aesthetic fodder for these handmade silk-screen neckties: Golden frogs in Madagascar, arrow crabs in the Caribbean and dolphins in the Bahamas are a few of the designs your $35 can buy in major department stores. A far more priceless purchase, however, five square feet of rainforest is preserved through The Nature Conservancy’s Adopt An Acre program with each sale.

CONTACT

Mulberry Neckwear
Tel: (800) 284-8424

—J.B.


BYPASSING BLOCKBUSTER

Watching the live birth of a clutch of peregrine falcons this past May didn’t require scaling the sides of the Rachel Carson Building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, thanks to www.GreenWorksChannel.org. All you had to do was tune in to the drama on your home computer. Those with less patience can just as easily view a video on incorporating environmentally friendly technology in the home, or interviews with people who have turned their eco-interests into rewarding careers. This interactive web community stems from the monthly Green Works for Pennsylvania television program, and offers the largest collection of environmental programming on the net, as well as live chats, webcasts and events.

—J.B.


BOOKS

PREPARED FOR FUN

“There is more danger that a man take too much than too little into the wilderness,” begins Linda Fredrick Yaffe’s The Well-Organized Camper (Chicago Review Press, $12.95). The author revamps her 40 years of camping experience to offer us torrents of practical advice on backpacking, car camping, international travel, taking along children and living on the river, including many a well-practiced campfire recipe. She also shows us ways to minimize our impacts on the local wildlife and scenery. Yaffe demonstrates that the well-organized camper is the one who's kicking back with nature at the campsite, not racing off to the store.

—S.B.


BORN TO FEAR

From the stinging pain of horse fly encounters to our distaste for centipedes, cowbirds and sandburs, Janet Lembke explores the nature and myth of species we love to hate. In humorous and historic detail, Despicable Species: On Cowbirds, Kudzu, Hornworms, and Other Scourges (The Lyons Press, $25.00) reveals surprises about all these deplorable creatures. The offspring of those rude horseflies, for instance, have an amazing capacity to heal human tissue. Lembke wonders, “Are there lives the world can do without?” and then questions the motivations behind our fears and hate, ultimately asking: What kind of species are Homo sapiens to the rest of the

world?

—S.B.


RISE TO UNCERTAINTY

As things heat up in your region of the world, it may be the perfect time to contemplate the global warming dilemma. Two down-to-earth books offer different angles to help you do just that.

Is the Temperature Rising?: The Uncertain Science of Global Warming (Princeton University Press, $16.95) by S. George Philander illustrates the dynamic phenomenon of wind and clouds, light and air, land and sea and how they interact. Readers will come to understand why inherent uncertainties exist in this research, sorting out the certainties for themselves. They are also called on to consider how political bias may manipulate the results.

The editing team of Ralph Schmidt, Joyce K. Berry and John C. Gordon tackles global warming from the deforestation end. With one and a half billion people living in marginal agricultural/forest areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America, there’s reason to be alarmed by both the rate of disappearance and the cycle of poverty it feeds on. Forests to Fight Poverty (Yale University Press, $15.00) focuses on sustainable solutions determined by the unique biology and culture of each region.

—S.B.


TAKING ON GOLIATH

Perhaps like Terri and John Moore you’ve found your new dream home 100 feet from a proposed landfill. Or like Joan Robinett are suspicious of your local water quality. Let The Center for Public Integrity guide you through the intimidating process of gathering information and using it to fight back against environmental injustices, with its recently released Citizen Muckraking: How to Investigate and Right Wrongs in Your Community (Common Courage Press, $15.95). As the book points out, “Citizen Muckraking provides a road map for reaching a goal that is often elusive, but is every citizen's right: holding officials and institutions accountable for their actions.”

—J.B.


TROUBLED WATERS

Colin Woodward spanned the globe from the Black Sea to the Antarctic, and he takes readers along on the year-and-a-half journey that formed Ocean's End: Travels Through Endangered Seas (Basic Books, $26). In the process, he has deftly captured a portrait of our oceans in crisis. The perspectives of the fishers, scientists, sailors and officials he met along the way enrich the book, and Woodward ultimately attempts to reconcile their stories, and offers remedies for preserving this precious resource.

Theresa Maggio, on the other hand, describes—very vividly—just one place—an island off the coast of Sicily—and the human lives that intertwine with the bluefin tuna caught by these fisherfolk. In Mattanza: Love and Death in the Sea of Sicily (Perseus Books, $25), you'll travel with Maggio to the island of Favignana, where for 13 years she witnesses the harvesting of the tuna, a ritual which may soon fall victim, like the fish themselves, to the pressures of a modern industry.

—J.B.