Vermont Fresh

Freshen up any space with the new collection Vermont Naturals from Way Out Wax. The delightful Clean Air Soy Candle ($9) burns for up to 50 hours and the Clean Air Spray (four ounces, $9.50) can be dispensed into the air or onto fabrics, furniture, clothing and even pets. Plant extracts and botanical oils neutralize smoke and unpleasant smells by absorbing them and accelerating the natural breakdown process. Also available from the Clean Air line are pillar and decorative candles, pet shampoos and sprays, laundry concentrate and Flameless Fresheners. Way Out Wax donates one percent of Vermont Naturals" profits to conservation and renewable energy development. —Jennifer Lucich

CONTACT: Vermont Naturals, (888)727-1903, www.vermont-naturals.com.

WRITE ON THIS

Boku Books offers a beautiful line of journals, notebooks and blank books, and none are made from trees! The stylish books ($1 to $10, depending on size) are lightweight, designed to fit in your pocket or bag, and are offered in a variety of attractive shades and designs with lined, graphed or blank pages in flat or ringed binding. California-based Boku sources its high quality, cream-colored pages from post-consumer waste and kenaf grown in the southeastern U.S. Kenaf is a fast growing, 4,000-year-old African crop that produces three to five times more dry fiber per acre than Southern pine trees. No chlorine or dioxins are involved in Boku’s papermaking process. Boku Books are great for gifts and for everyday writing needs and can be found at bookstores, art supply and gift shops. —Jennifer Veilleux

CONTACT: Boku Books, (888)924-2658, www.bokubooks.com.

GREAT GREEN CHOICES

Readers of Consumer Reports who have noted the glowing reviews of hybrid cars, low-VOC paint, natural foods and other Earth-friendly products might have suspected that the staff harbored more than a few closet environmentalists. Now the magazine is coming clean with the website GreenerChoices.org, designed to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. A survey commissioned by the popular magazine (with a paid circulation of five million) revealed that only five percent of consumers consider themselves to be Earth activists, but nine out of 10 consider environmental and health factors as part of purchasing decisions. According to the website’s director, Dr. Urvashi Rangan, "Forty three percent said they would be willing to pay more for electricity generated from environmentally sound sources like solar and wind power." You"ll learn on the site, for instance, that compact fluorescent bulbs last six to 10 times longer than standard bulbs, reduce lighting costs by 67 percent and, when installed around your home, can cut power-plant carbon dioxide emissions by 100 pounds a year. The site’s hands-on guides to green rebates and recycling options are also useful. —Jim Motavalli

SMART MONEY ON TV

A great new way to learn about the growing sustainability movement and how to strike a balance between your dividends and the environment is by watching the new weekly half-hour television show Ethical Marketplace. Each episode spotlights executives and companies that produce healthy profits while adhering to green values. Market data show that socially responsible investing can earn a "triple bottom line"—meaning it is not only profitable for your bank account, but for people and the environment as well. All companies featured on the program have their ethical and environmental standards vetted by Ethical Marketplace‘s management team, which includes the visionary economist Hazel Henderson. Henderson’s writing appears in 27 languages and in more than 400 newspapers, and she serves on E‘s advisory board. Check out the website to see where the show broadcasts in your area (includes select PBS stations). —J.L.

CONTACT: Ethical Marketplace, (215)844-2292, www.ethicalmarketplace.com.

ORGANIC PASTABILITIES

Hodgson Mill‘s Certified Organic Gourmet Pasta (12 ounces for $2.15) is made with only two ingredients: organic durum whole-wheat flour and milled flax seed. Since 1882 Hodgson has used only whole grains, unlike most conventional foods, which are made from refined or heavily processed flours. The company’s USDA-certified, stone-milled organic pastas are available in spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, penne and spiral shapes. They are free of artificial preservatives, additives and colorings and taste great. Flax seed is rich in omega-3 oils and natural fiber, which is known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Hodgson Mill also produces organic bread and pancake mixes, couscous, cereal, flour, corn meal and wheat-free and gluten-free products.

American supermarkets that once completely ignored organic products are now lining the shelves with them. To meet the growing demand, food giant Unilever has recently introduced a line of organic sauces for its Ragu label ($2.80). The sauces are available in traditional, garden veggie and cheese flavors and are guaranteed to have no artificial content and at least 95 percent organic ingredients, according to the USDA certification. The jars contain 25 percent recycled glass. —Stephanie White

CONTACT: Hodgson Mill, (800)525-0177, www.Hodgsonmill.com; Ragu, (800) 328-7248, www.ragu.com.

GOT IT IN THE BAG

Move over Prada, there’s a new bag in town. The Zipsack by Wrapsacks ($11.95) is small enough to fit in your pocket and large enough to carry all of your groceries. Made of hand-dyed cotton in a range of bright colors, these bags zip up neatly into small pouches that would fit easily into a purse or glove compartment. When unzipped, they are approximately the size of a grocery bag with a small pocket sewn into the top for valuables. Aside from their convenience, durability and good looks, these bags can also help reduce the number of flimsy plastic sacks that end up clogging your closets and piling up in landfills. Wrapsacks also offers reusable fabric gift bags in many colors and styles.

Bags from Annon Fashion are designed for girls and young women ages 13 to 22, and are perfect for anyone craving some 80s revival denim. The two-person, father and daughter company hand makes all of its bags from recycled blue jeans. The five fun styles currently available (more are forthcoming) include backpacks ($24 to $26), a smaller handbag ($20), a drawstring bag ($28) and a messenger bag ($28). No two items are exactly alike. Designer and founder Roderick Annon Warfield explains that by using recycled material, his company is "doing our part not to waste, or take for granted what we have in this country." —Rebecca Sanborn and Brian C. Howard

CONTACT: Annon Fashion, (765)653-0540, www.fashionbyannon.com; Wrapsacks, (800)505-3365, www.wrapsacks.com.

BOOKS

THE GHOST HUNTER

Tim Gallagher got his Eur

eka moment in the swamps of Arkansas on February 27, 2004. In his book The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (Houghton Mifflin, $25) this lifetime birder and magazine editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology writes about fulfilling a long-held dream: "And then it happened. Less than 80 feet away, a large black-and-white bird that had been flying toward us from a side channel of the bayou to the right came out into the sunshine and flew across the open stretch of water directly in front of us. It started to bank, giving us a superb view of its back and both wings
We both cried out simultaneously, "Ivory-bill."" The rest, you might say, is history. A few months later, another Cornell researcher shot a fuzzy video of an ivory-bill, and the distinguished journal Science made it official. The grail bird, last reliably seen in 1944, was back. Gallagher’s book makes exciting reading, capturing the hard work that led to a rediscovery that electrified the world. One hopes, after the news sinks in, we"ll have the good sense to preserve the southern swamp forest habitat that this elusive bird needs for survival. If we had been smarter, we’d still have the passenger pigeon and the Carolina parakeet. —J.M.

FINGER FOODS

Vegetarian Appetizers: Simply Delicious Recipes for Easy Entertaining (Chronicle Books, $18.95) by nine-time cookbook author Paulette Mitchell makes it easy to prepare delicious appetizers and snacks. The book has 70 recipes with step-by-step instructions and tips on how to create colorful vegetarian hors d"oeuvres. Especially if you are a vegetarian (or just need to entertain one) you will appreciate the large color photos and easy directions to make any party unique. The book also includes a listing on which recipes can be prepared for dairy-eschewing vegans. The book’s 144 pages are separated into sections for basic appetizers, light bites, mezzo bites, sizable bites and sweet bites. Roasted red pepper hummus, tomato-basil bruschetta, fruit kabobs and chocolate-glazed strawberries are just a few of the dishes featured. —S.W.

KIDS NEED NATURE

Dr. Donald Shifrin, a Bellevue, Washington pediatrician, told the New York Times that he rarely sees kids with the broken arms that come from falling out of trees. Instead, they arrive at his office toting video games, cellphones and hand-held computers. Eight-year-olds can identify Pokemon cards more readily than native species in their own communities. "We have mobile couch potatoes," Shifrin says. This reviewer’s own daughters, when asked to observe a flock of Canada geese on a downtown lawn, looked past the birds and proclaimed, "McDonalds!" Richard Louv addresses this alienation from the natural world in his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (Algonquin Books, $24.95). Louv says well-meaning environmental curricula and the occasional visit to the mill pond aren’t enough. Indeed, he reports that society, even when it intends otherwise, teaches young people to fear and avoid nature. Like most Americans, kids spend 90 percent of their time indoors, where air quality is two to 10 times worse than outside air. Louv also documents the spiritual, societal and intellectual rewards of reintroducing children to the place where the wild things are. —J.M.

BICYCLE BASICS

David V. Herlihy, author of the definitive, colorful history Bicycle (Yale University Press, $35), lives in the seaside town of Hull, Massachusetts, where he can bike past the East Coast’s first community-owned wind turbine. It’s not surprising, then, that this former member of the Harvard Cycling Club appreciates the benefits of human-powered sustainable transportation. But Bicycle is no academic history; it’s a richly told and deeply human story, abundantly illustrated with fascinating photos and engravings. Herlihy describes the whimsical velocipede, a bicycle precursor pushed along by the foot, and introduces Pierre Lallement, the humble inventor who (arguably) built and patented the first bicycle in 1866. A Frenchman, he immigrated to the U.S., where a journalist described his "curious frame sustained by two wheels
driven by foot cranks." Lallement died in obscurity, but his invention lived on and Bicycle chronicles its adventures right up to the present time. Herlihy, by the way, is the founder of the Lallement Memorial Committee, which seeks to preserve the great man’s deeds.—J.M.

YOUR FOOD AND YOU

Rampant misconceptions and a barrage of fads surrounding "healthful" foods have left many confused about their diets. The Little Food Book: You Are What You Eat (The Disinformation Company, $9.95) offers up the bare-bones facts about food, its production, and its effects on our lives in a fun, easy-to-digest format. The book backs up its claims with thought-provoking statistics and lists sources at the end of each chapter for further research. This hand-sized guide covers the spectrum from fast foods to organics. Author Craig Sams became involved with organic food production and started the Whole Earth organic grocery brand after, he says, being cured of hepatitis through eating a macrobiotic diet. —J.L.

STEINBECK’S GREEN MENTOR

In the 1930s self-taught marine biologist Ed Ricketts led pioneering investigations of the Pacific coastline. Now, journalist Eric Enno Tamm uses pictures and letters to uncover the story of the great field ecologist in Beyond The Outer Shores: The Untold Odyssey of Ed Ricketts, the Pioneering Ecologist Who Inspired John Steinbeck and Joseph Campbell (Four Walls Eight Windows, $26). Naturalist Ed Ricketts, rendered immortal as the character "Doc" in Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row, traveled the Pacific coast collecting samples and studying tide pools. These journeys were the basis of an ecological trilogy coauthored with Steinbeck, the last of which, The Outer Shores, was not completed because of the scientist’s death in 1948. As you read this book you will understand why Steinbeck admired Ricketts so greatly that the naturalist’s ecological themes run through almost all of his novels. —S.W.

COLORFUL KITES

Susan Cerulean takes her readers on an adventure tracking swallow-tailed kites as she teams up with field biologists to observe, tag and count the nesting populations of this bird. Cerulean describes the elusive species in great detail while, in autobiographical, soul-searching style, trying to reconcile the fact that she is part of the human race, whose actions have altered the landscape and inevitably threaten the survival of this species. Tracking Desire: A Journey after Swallow-Tailed Kites (University of Georgia Press, $24.95) tells the familiar tale of human impacts on our environment through the eyes of a migratory bird and the people dedicated to saving it. —J.V.