Gabrielle Melchionda (known as "Gab") founded Mad Gab’s as a student in college. Now, the tiny Maine company offers a growing lineup of handmade personal care products packaged in 100-percent recyclable metal containers. The delightful Lip Lube ($3) and Elephant Lube ($3-$6)—"salve for fingers, toes and elbows"—are made from pure, natural flavors and oils like olive oil, beeswax and shea butter. The wonderfully versatile, soothing remedies are available in concoctions like rosemary lime, peppermint sage, lavendar and citrus, as well as seasonal holiday treats like biscotti and gingerbread. The new, nut-free Liquid Lube ($10.50) is a silky-smooth body oil perfect for massage.
Tel: (800) 547-5823
NEW FROM NUMI
Oakland, California-based Numi has expanded its line of all natural, full leaf teas to include Earl Grey with Natural Bergamot, Chamomile Lemon Myrtle, Ginger Oolong and Golden Chai as part of a new series called Timeless Classics. Like all Numi products, the new teas come in boxes made from recyclable materials and decorated with water-based inks. There is no cellophane wrapper to throw away. With timeless flavor and timely packaging, these rich teas could become an addiction. Expect to pay $5.50 for a box of 20 bags.
Tel: (510) 658-2857
If you’re trying to keep abreast of farm animal issues, it’s no longer necessary to subscribe to Beef Magazine or Meat and Poultry News. A new weekly electronic newsletter, Farmed Animal Watch, is available free to e-mail subscribers. Made up of paragraph-long news items from around the world, Farmed Animal Watch tracks the latest developments in mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease, rBGH hormone use, animal genetic engineering, humane treatment activism and slaughterhouse legislation. The stories are culled from a wide variety of academic, media and industry sources. The publication is a project of Animal Place, a nonprofit sanctuary in Vacaville, California for abused and discarded farm animals. To subscribe, e-mail FarmedAnimalWatch@AnimalPlace.org with "subscribe" in the subject line.
PARTY FOR YOUR PIPES
We rarely think about the invisible water pipes that make possible such essential activities as cooking or showering, though they are hardly maintenance-free. Luckily, a new product called Aqatotal from Best Water Technology ($1,400 to $2,900) gives pipes, heaters and hot water tanks the care and protection they deserve. Under normal circumstances, lime and other minerals in tap water can cause buildup in pipes that may result in clogging, increased maintenance and higher energy fees. Aqatotal, however, uses an electrical current to keep the minerals in solution and prevent build-up. While other products often use salt to solve clogging problems, Aqatotal’s salt-free method ensures that natural water environments are not disrupted.
Best Water Technology
Tel: (760) 727-6950
EASING THE WHEEZING
With an increasing number of children developing asthma globally, the need for accurate, effective information is greater than ever. Catherine McVay Hughes recognized this need when she founded Asthmamoms.com, a comprehensive database, message center and interactive website. Families can find an array of resources, recent developments, legislation, a calendar of events, research and news articles on the subject, much of which is available in Spanish. A Life Quality test at the site asks specific questions to help fine-tune your asthma treatment. Asthmamoms.com also offers two online videos.
If your children prefer more traditional media, a 32-page booklet called Relieve the Squeeze (Viking, $6.99) takes them through step-by-step information about controlling asthma. The fun, dynamic companion video ($4.99) is done in a hip-hop style with celebrities Danny DeVito and Nia Long. Both the booklet and video are suited for children in grades K-6 and young teenagers. The video includes a mini science lesson about how asthma affects the lungs and its passageways. The booklet is available through major booksellers, and the video can be ordered from Health Connection at (877) 543-7726
Natural materials can add beauty and tranquility to home, corporate and institutional interiors. Durable, attractive Unicork flooring, distributed by To Market, is responsibly produced from the renewable bark of cork trees. The hypoallergenic, mold-resistant material provides excellent acoustical and thermal insulation. Its natural resilience makes it a cushioning, almost therapeutic surface for walking, and it’s quite easy to clean. The innovative tiles (sold with adhesives and brushes for $6 to $7 per foot) are available in 12 color patterns.
Tel: (877) 843-8184
Undeterred by the meat and dairy industries, John Robbins—onetime heir apparent of the Baskin-Robbins chain—guides us on a sustainable path in The Food Revolution: How Diet Can Help Save Your Life and the World (Conari Press, $17.95). With alarming statistics concerning the decadence of America’s relationship with food, Robbins exposes the irresponsible practices of agricultural industries and our own eating habits. The book leaves the reader without even a vestige of faith in the humanity of modern animal husbandry. Debunking the myths of fad diets, Robbins lends credulity to vegetarianism, offering choices where obstacles stood before.
ACTIVISM WITH AN ATTITUDE
The independent press is a haven for voices routinely ignored in the mainstream media. Now, Hodgepodge ($4.50 per issue, $9 per year), a new zine coming out of Buffalo, New York, joins the iconoclastic tradition. Published three times a year, Hodgepodge features political and environmental criticism with a hardcore edge. Its latest issue confronts topics such as sweatshops, labor unions, the relocation of Native Americans to make room for a coal company, and the state of punk rock. Its music, book and zine reviews, as well as sincere, opinionated columns, give Hodgepodge a voice that is somewhat angry, definitely honest and optimistic in spite of itself.
Tel: (716) 884-8179
If you want to immerse yourself in organic everything, here is the book for you. Living Organic: Easy Steps to an Organic Lifestyle (Sourcebooks, $24.95) takes you from buying, eating and growing organic foods to raising a family in a nontoxic house. Peppered with little-known facts, did-you-knows, myths and tips, the book teaches you how to care for your clothes and clean and furnish your house with eco-friendly products and furniture. You"ll even learn how to paint organically! Authors Adrienne Clarke, Helen Porter, Helen Quested and Pat Thomas include a vital list of resources at the end of each chapter, so you aren’t left with too much knowledge and nowhere to go.
LAYING OFF THE PANIC BUTTON
Author Debra Smiley Holtzman says of The Panic-Proof Parent: Creating a Safe Lifestyle for Your Family (Contemporary Books, $12.95), "My prayer is this: that it will be used to save a child." Her book is packed with important information for parents on creating a safe environment for their children. It is set up for easy reference, with clearly labeled sections and checklists covering topics ranging from assessing drinking water quality to safety in the sun. Holtzman presents current information in a time of rapid change, and she provides a plethora of sources and contacts that can lead to even more up-to-date guidance.
ADVENTURES IN EVOLUTION
In Reading the Earth: A Story of Wildness (Berkeley Hills Books, $16), a delightful children’s picture book, the late David R. Brower—co-author and acclaimed environmentalist—journeys back through time with his young companions to the world’s genesis. With Brower acting as guide, elder and sage, the children witness the miraculous parade of evolution. Their six-day adventure commences with volcanic activity, water and microscopic creatures continues through the age of dinosaurs and closes with human activity and a planet in danger. Aleks Petrovitch’s clever illustrations emphasize a reverence for the wildness of the generous planet that is our home.
KIDS FIGHT RUBBISH
When Jo ignores her mother’s demands and neglects the garbage for the umpteenth time, she is startled when the junk comes to life and drags her out. But Jo remains undaunted as she confronts the gruesome trash character that threatens to soil her town with debris. She disassembles the fearsome garbage ghoul, finding a resourceful way to recycle the resulting mess. Through Joni Sensel’s The Garbage Monster (Dream Factory Books, $14.95), with illustrations by Chris Bivins, children are inspired by Jo’s courageous example to make recycling a necessary part of everyday life.