BABY ON BOARD
You're never too young to enjoy the outdoors. With Tough Traveler backpacks, even babies and small children can get in on the action. Its baby carrier backpack has easy-to-use adjustment straps, trampoline-mounted hip belts, and a large zippered storage pocket under the child's seat, providing both comfort and convenience. The packs can be further customized with diaper bag additions, stirrups for larger children, rain or sun hoods, and a whole range of other features. The packs come in several sizes and styles and are designed to support children up to 60 pounds. Prices for the carriers start at $90.
Tel: (800) GO-TOUGH
DISHING IT OUT
There is perhaps no stronger test of environmental ethics than the family gathering—even the best of intentions can pale in the shadow of Aunt Ruby armed with a looming pile of styrofoam. This year, slip Enviro-Ware into the stack. These attractive, unbleached plates and dishes are not only disposable, but compostable—biodegrading in only 100 days. Petroleum-derived foam and plastic and tree-consuming paper are the unsustainable choice compared to the tropical plant matter base of Enviro-Ware (bamboo and sugar cane stalks that quickly regenerate). The long fibers create a material that can be microwaved, won't soak through, and is strong enough to support even a heaping portion of that secret-recipe lasagna.
Tel: (714) 895-7772
BEAUTIFYING THE BATH
Clearly Natural soaps are exactly that—clear and natural. In fact, the soap is so translucent that the company can, and does, put objects visibly inside your bar—from loofahs for ladies to rubber ducks for kids ($6.69). And if you prefer your soap to be just that, the company offers object-free bars as well (starting at 74 cents) that are beautifully tinted with pulsating waves of color.
These hypoallergenic soaps are made from 100 percent natural ingredients, including pure vegetable glycerine, aloe vera and vitamin E. They're not animal tested and don't use animal products.
Tel: (707) 762-5815
It's time to kiss those landfill-clogging sandwich baggies goodbye and move into the waste not, want not 21st century. Thanks to Bonnie Stromme, an enterprising mother of four, you can make the move with style. She's designed and patented reusable sandwich wrappers from her home in Loveland, Colorado. Each Wrap N' Mat comes in one of 15 fabric designs lined with plastic and closed with a Velcro strip. They're machine washable and incredibly durable, with uses ranging from veggie sandwiches to doggie treats. So give up the baggies because blue and yellow definitely doesn't make “green.” Each mat is $5, plus $3 shipping and handling, for an order of up to four.
Wrap N' Mat
PO Box 2664
Loveland, CO 80539
Tel: (970) 669-3620
YOUR OWN KIND
As a reminder that the childhood lesson “be kind to others” applies to animals and the environment as well, the National Association for Humane and Environmental Education (NAHEE) publishes the classroom newspaper KIND. Articles, activities and celebrity interviews in this colorful resource are intended to foster compassion and respect, and are tailored to three reading levels for students in grades kindergarten through sixth. A magazine with reproducible worksheets, student ID cards and a classroom poster come with the $25 subscription, which includes 32 copies of the newspaper and a teacher's guide delivered every month of the school year. If you'd like to subscribe directly, or give KIND as a gift through the Humane Society's “Adopt-A-Teacher” program,
Tel: (860) 434-8666
AND THE WINNER IS…
Although the E staff has doggedly reviewed many products over the years, it endorses none quite so enthusiastically as the mysteriously titled “Veat.” There's no end to innovative meals concocted with this soy-based chicken substitute, which gives delicious new life to the much-maligned vegetarian “meat” category. High in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but low in fat and cholesterol-free, Veat comes in both nuggets ($4.39) and breasts ($3.69). Now we're delighted to try our hands at its (mercury-free!) version of salmon, too ($4.39). Available in the freezer section of your natural foods store. If Veat ever needs a cookbook collaborator, they should definitely look us up.
Tel: (888) 321-VEAT.
GENIE IN A BOTTLE
If this issue's cover story has left you wondering what in the world a genome even is, let alone how it could be mapped and what that has to do with you, consider picking up Enrico Coen's The Art of Genes: How Organisms Make Themselves (Oxford University Press, $16.95). Coen somehow tackles a subject as vast and overwhelming as a tiny molecule of DNA, and makes it comprehendible, using such tools as the Mona Lisa, a football stadium and a pancake-making machine as metaphors for the cellular creation of life. Coen leaves nothing out, walking the reader through Mendel's early revelations on heredity to modern understanding of development as a state highly responsive to environmental influence.
IN PRAISE OF POLLUTERS
Believe it or not, the art of public relations “spin” is less than 100 years old, having been pioneered by the egomaniacal Edward Bernays (a nephew of Sigmund Freud, amazingly enough) in the 1920s. In Trust Us, We're Experts! (Tarcher Putnam, $24.95), a follow-up to their celebrated book Toxic Sludge Is Good For You, Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber point to the price tags attached to scientific “authorities” who endorse dubious products and praise polluters. The whole sordid history of industry-sponsored global warming opposition is here, as is the scientifically questionable campaign on behalf of biotech foods.
For a close-up look at how one particular group of spin doctors worke
d, there is Secrets and Lies: The Anatomy of an Anti-Environmental PR Campaign by Nicky Hager and Bob Burton (Common Courage Press, $17.95). Working with leaked documents, the authors reveal how a government-owned timber company enlisted the powerful American public relations agency Shandwick to “position” its unpopular attempt to log New Zealand's temperate rain forest. The plan ultimately backfired and helped bring the anti-logging Labor Party to power. In this case at least, the spinning spiraled out of control.
Long capturing the attention of nature enthusiasts, two of the United States' most impressive ecosystems have recently come under more public scrutiny as well. In November, Congress passed a bill including 68 individual projects intended to restore the proper flow and quality of water in the Florida Everglades. David McCally lays the case for just such action in The Everglades: An Environmental History (University Press of Florida, $19.95). The book traces the metamorphosis of this endangered ecosystem from rich wetlands to prosperous agricultural area, from saw grass and sloughs to sugar cane, winter vegetables and cattle. As McCally so clearly illustrates, the need for large-scale restoration is now, “while some remnant of the original environment remains.”
And in the wake of the Presidential election, environmentalists feel a renewed sense of urgency for legislation to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Debbie Miller has explored the coastal plains, river basins and glaciated peaks of this 19-million-acre region with her husband and daughter, and each chapter of Midnight Wilderness (Alaska Northwest Books, $14.95) is a leg of this unforgettable journey. Miller seamlessly weaves history with nature and culture throughout, eloquently arguing the importance of protecting the refuge for the eternal possibilities of its wildness, not plundering it for the temporary supply of its oil.