It’s hard to find travel-size, environmentally friendly shampoo and shaving gel, and when you finally do, what becomes of the almost-empty plastic bottles you bring back from your backpacking adventure in Ecuador or business trip in France? Nova Scotia-based Backpackers Bliss addresses both concerns by offering all-natural toiletry products in several sizes that you can refill at participating retailers, including hostels, B&Bs and natural food stores. The company’s two-week travel pack contains shampoo and conditioner, aluminum-free deodorant, body wash, hair gel, lotion (in the women"s) and shaving gel (in the men"s), and comes in a durable, naturally dyed canvas bag. The biodegradable items are made with aloe vera and refreshing botanical scents, including citrus and eucalyptus. You can even purchase the products in bulk.
CONTACT: Backpackers Bliss(902) 422-4147www.backpackersbliss.com.
HEALING FOR BADGERED BODIES
Originally formulated by a carpenter to heal his dry, chapped hands, Badger Healing Balm gave rise to a whole line of all-natural balms and oils by the W.S. Badger Company. Organic and sustainably harvested ingredients ensure the New Hampshire-based company is promoting a healthy environment as well as a healthy body. Made from organic extra virgin olive oil, castor oil, unrefined beeswax and various herbal extracts and essential oils, Badger’s signature balms ($3.99) provide comforting relief to a variety of ailments, from sore muscles to tired feet. Bali Balm contains the sunburn-soothing anti-inflammatory ingredients lavender and blue tansy (Tanacetum annum) while Winter Wonder Balm is an effective chest rub and steam inhalant fragranced with eucalyptus, mint and tangerine. Gift sets ($14.95) are also available.
CONTACT: W.S. Badger Company (800)603-6100 www.badgerbalm.com
TEA TIME IN THE TUB
Next time you take your tea, take it to the tub, literally. Inspired by Japanese bathing traditions discovered while they were in Tokyo, Annie Walker and Renay Arbour founded Deep Steep to offer a range of delightful natural products, including giant tea bags filled with salts and herbs for your tub. Working along with the old-fashioned remedy of a good soak, the tea bags add special blends of soothing herbs and essential oils to stimulate relaxation. Other products include soaps, lotions, body polish and sugar scrubs. Products range from $5.00 per tea bag to $34.00 for a sugar scrub.
CONTACT: Deep Steep(845)297-8953www.deepsteep.com
GROOVY GROOMING FOR PETS
Horses, dogs, cats and other furry pets everywhere are nuzzling up to a unique new grooming tool called the Groomer’s Stone. Although it may look rough and intimidating with its dark gray color and deep pores, the product gently removes shedding hair, caked-on dirt, dander and burrs while drawing out your pets" natural oils, leaving coats shiny and healthy. The pumice-like Groomer’s Stone ($4.95) is manufactured from recycled glass jars and bottles. But don’t worry, there are no sharp edges to cut you or your pet.
CONTACT: Groomer’s Stone(877)483-4547www.groomersstone.com
NEITHER PAPER NOR PLASTIC
Paper or plastic? That age-old environmental debate is made obsolete by the rising popularity of reusable bags (especially in Europe). But where do you go to find a durable bag that suits your unique needs? Vincent Cobbs, a Chicago-based entrepreneur, recently launched ReusableBags.com, a website devoted to educating people about plastic and paper bags and offering convenient alternatives. The user-friendly website not only allows browsers to search for the perfect bag by function, fabric or price, but it is also packed with great information.
CONTACT: ReusableBags .com(888) 707-3873www.ReusableBags.com
While tofu is a great source of protein and nutrition, it can be intimidating to cook with. That’s why natural foods company Pulmuone has introduced Soga Gourmet Tofu, which is pre-seasoned, pre-grilled, pre-diced and ready to eat. Each nine-ounce package ($2.49) has three servings that provide 10 grams of soy protein. They come in four enticing flavors, including Santa Fe Chili and Lime, Sicilian Tomato Basil, Korean Barbeque and Ginza Ginger Miso. Soga will soon be available in natural food stores and major supermarket chains nationwide.
CONTACT: Pulmuone(714) 578-2800www.sogasoyfood.com.
EATING HEALTHY ON THE ROAD
Being on the road typically mandates dining at fast-food joints and snacking on gas station fare—not very appealing to the health-conscious stomach. But fueling up doesn’t have to consist of fatty, high-calorie food if you’re equipped with the new book Healthy Highways: The Road Guide to Healthy Eating (Ceres Press, $18.95). Authors Nikki and David Goldbeck have compiled more than 1,900 places to grab a more healthful meal or snack. Listings are organized by state and come with local directions from the nearest highway, making this a must-have travel companion for vegetarians, vegans and the health conscious. The authors serve up their book with a side of quirky roadside attractions and entertainment and travel tips.
In his latest release, Earth From Above: 366 Days (Harry N. Abrams, $29.95), aerial photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand continues his epic photographic chronicle of the Earth began in earlier works. With breathtaking pictures of our planet from the sky, Bertrand documents humankind’s indelible footprint on the biosphere and how that imprint is affecting our future and that of generations to come. The striking photographs illuminate extremely diverse terrains and cultures, and are accompanied by essays from professors, lords of industry and scientists who discuss such heady topics as sustainability, climate change, biodiversity and agriculture. The beautiful images range from a photograph of the epicenter of the 1945 atomic strike in Japan to a placid scene of a small-scale fisherman waving from his boat in Tunisia.
ADVENTURES IN ECO-JOURNALISM
Ed Flattau is a nationally syndicated environmental columnist who has made his mark appearing regularly in American newspapers since the 1970s. His new memoir Evolution of a Columnist (self-p
ublished by Xlibris Books, $24.99) details his development as a writer and gives an intimate look into his thoughts on the environment, journalism and politics. His insight into the challenges of working toward a better quality of life for all provoke the reader to question and analyze how the world works. The book smoothly flows from detailed vignettes to brief thoughts that require pause for contemplation.
THE COST OF BIODIVERSITY
Putting a face to each name of an endangered species isn’t difficult anymore thanks to Bradley Trevor Greive"s new book Priceless: The Vanishing Beauty of a Fragile Planet (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $18.95 paperback). This book is a testament to the species disappearing due to human activities. Priceless features candid, emotionally evocative wildlife images by award-winning photographer Mitsuaki Iwago. Greive’s poetic prose appeals to our compassionate nature, and includes fascinating facts about fading species such as Japanese cranes, black lemurs, green sea turtles and gorillas. The book is educational and inspiring, and 100 percent of Greive’s profits are donated to the Taronga Foundation, a wildlife conservation charity.
RADICAL IDEAS, SIMPLE SOLUTIONS
Do you ever wish you could decrease your impact on the environment but aren’t sure where to begin? If so, Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth (New Society Publishers, $17.95 paperback) is for you. This inspiring book by Jim Merkel will give you the tools you need to tread more softly on the planet and increase your quality of life. Radical Simplicity traces Merkel’s own journey from unsatisfied weapons engineer to fulfilled advocate for social and environmental sustainability. It is full of practical tips, useful advice, light-hearted commentaries, quizzes and interesting, often surprising, statistics. Combat consumerism and discover that less truly is more!
Thought much about nanotechnology lately? Most people imagine the world ending with a mushroom cloud, not because of a bunch of microscopic robots. But Bill McKibben‘s alarming Enough (New York Times Books/Henry Holt, $25) raises the specter of tiny lab-hatched nanobots destroying civilization with a force that makes "even the nuclear and chemical weapons of the 20th century seem tame by comparison." Enough is about letting genies out of the bottle, and nanotechnology is just one of them. Want a designer baby? Michael West of Advanced Cell Technology says that biologists are dreaming of editing the sequence of DNA "the way you can a document on a word processor." Other scientists are exulting about merging the human race with machines, creating a form of immortality. "We stand on the edge of disappearing even as individuals," McKibben warns.
Enough is an important and deeply human book. McKibben is the voice of reason, a welcome antidote to the futurists who command our attention with compelling fantasies.