Sunday, August 30, 2009

Musician Seth Glier Gets a Little Green on Tour

Everyday more and more musicians are getting on board with the fact that touring Greener is not as tough as one might think so when I read about Seth Glier making the jump I was totally excited to feature his story.

My mom turned me onto Seth’s music some time ago after seeing him in Marblehead. My mom played his cd Space for me in the car and I was blown away. Not a chance this kid was only about seventeen, his voice was amazing! I became an instant fan and started following him on Facebook right away.

About a week ago I saw his update that he was about to kick off this tour dubbed G3 - Glier Goes Green: Offsetting the Trouble Tour. I was completely intrigued and looked into it. Turns out, not only is Seth doing all he can to create a 100% carbon neutral tour, he is asking his concertgoers to do the same.

Some of the awesome initiatives include:

☼ Using recycled or sustainable papers for marketing materials
☼ Soy/veggie inks and sustainable fabrics (organic cotton, hemp, bamboo) for all tees
☼ Purchasing energy credits (wind power) to offset his carbon emissions
☼ Using email as opposed to paper
☼ Touring in a Hybrid vehicle
☼ Reusing cups/plates/utensils instead of disposable options
☼ Visiting Farmer’s Markets and other local produce vendors at every stop on tour
☼ Guiding concertgoers to a forum where they can discuss carpooling to shows
☼ The Trouble Makers (street team coming soon) meeting with fans to plant trees locally

In addition to these solid efforts Seth and his street team kicked off their Green tour in Athol, Massachusetts by literally getting a down and dirty by planting trees, flowers and shrubs in Fish Park. He invited his fans to bring their own shovel and plant of choice then pitch in to not only beautify the town but to add some oxygen into the air. Hooray!

This tour continues through, well it appears next year on his website! He has tour dates posted all the way up through the 2010 South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in March.

I hope that the Green efforts Seth and all are initiating this month as they hit the road to rock this amazing country will continue on every day. Thanks for being a forward thinking member of the musical community Seth, I greatly look forward to checking out the show this fall at one of your many Massachusetts locations!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Eco Fashion Friday Featured Company Novica

This review of Novica is being completed on an Eco Fashion Friday because the item I acquired from the company is this beautiful hand stamped, hand made, batik dress called “Travel Dreams” (made in Indonesia by Mayda).

I have worn the dress a couple times and it is super comfortable. I have a short stature (5’-2”) and the dress fell right at my knee; the perfect length to not shorten me further! The cap sleeves and empire waist show off what I want and help hide the rest.

The cost was reasonable as well; at approximately $50 with a shipping cost of only $3 I was impressed by the quality for the cost comparison of a hand made piece.

In addition to the clothing line (men, women & kids!), Novica offers many, many, options of items for purchase from their Artisans such as Home Décor, Jewelry, Handbags, Fine Art paintings, Eco-Friendly Gifts and an entire line specifically dedicated to Corporate Gifts.

The Artisan who designed my dress, Mayda, lives in Bali and designs for Bali and Java, but the company helps to employ a wide range of Artisans in a wide range of geographic locations world wide from the Andes to West Africa. This socially conscious method allows the Artisan to sell directly through Novica, who also claims to be a Fair Trade company; each individual Artisan sets their own prices on their items. Cool!

I was concerned that the Eco-Friendly gifts were not better described as far as what their Earth friendly benefits actually were. There are two categories in this heading: Sustainable & Natural and Recycled & Reclaimed. Some were clearly obvious such as belts made from soda pop tops but others in the Recycled & Reclaimed category such as glass pitchers were not as readily describable.

Due to the overall socially conscious nature of this company, their effort to provide such a wide range of hand made products and their unique approach to doing so through Eco and Corporate Gifts, I am awarding Novica a Three Leaf Rating!

I am looking forward to shopping from your talented artisans again in the future, keep up the fantastic work Novica! ♥love♥

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Staples Finds it EcoEasy Being Green

Recently while perusing through the local Super Stop and Shop I remembered that I was in desperate need of Wite-Out (review to follow!) and I headed for the office supplies isle. Being a super Greenie sleuth just about anything Earth tone is generally going to catch my eye. Being a writer when the brown thing is a composition book there is no way I will not pick it up. When I flipped it over Staples won me over and this baby went straight into the cart!

Inside the front cover is a world of information on this innocent looking comp book. Not only is the book made from 80% waste, it is made from sugarcane, a more rapidly renewing resource than trees! Then to top it all off the inks used to print the covers and page lines are water or vegetable based.

Staples EcoEasy line offers over 3000 products including this comp book. They are also available online for purchase** and the prices are fairly competitive with the similar not so eco friendly versions. The cost of my comp book was $2.49 at the grocery store and online it is being offered for the same price. Not too bad!

Ball point pen ink doesn’t bleed through at all so I could write front to back with no fear of illegibility. Of course I do not always use ball point so I tested a few other types of pens from thick Sharpie to fine Sharpie to a Rolling ball style. Both markers did show through some, but less than I had expected, and the liquid rolling ball was somewhat visible but better.

Based on my own writer’s test of this composition notebook, the Staples EcoEasy line as a whole and the company’s solid efforts to save trees and energy, I am granting this baby a Three and a Half Leaf Rating!

For all of my future office supply needs I will be sure to check out Staples EcoEasy line first! Keep up the great ideas folks! ♥love♥

**As a side note, OneCause will donate 1.5% of all purchases made at Staples online store so do not forget to set up a OneCause account and download the toolbar prior to shopping so the school of your choice (such as Adventure School in Tucson) can benefit as well. Being Green is Easy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

You Had Me at Chocolate, Taza Chocolate

Once in a while along comes a product that is so awesome I can not wait to share everything about it and when my Taza Chocolate showed up a few days ago I knew this would be one of those times the moment the stone ground cacao hit my tongue.

Taza is a local company to me, based out of Somerville, Massachusetts, and not too long ago I started noticing their round chocolate discs at the cash wrap of a few of my favorite locations. When my friend and I saw them at the Farmer’s Market shortly after that I knew there must be something to them so I picked up a package of their Nibs to see what the fuss was about.

I used the Nibs in a lemon pie recipe and they were just the right thing to give it some balance. I wanted more. As a self proclaimed chocoholic and a Greenie I am always looking for the perfect pairing so when I find out how wonderful a company is in addition to their chocolate, I sit up and take notice.

Using recycled winnower and roaster, shipping boxes that can be recycled and traditional stone grinding methods is just the beginning of what makes Taza Chocolate cool. Their chocolate bars come in the shape of a disc and a fairly compensated human is involved in every step of the process from the picking of the cacao beans to the packaging of the bar.

Oh yeah, did I mention most of their chocolate is Vegan approved and all of their product is certified 100% organic? Not to mention that founders Alex Whitmore, Larry Slotnick and Kathleen Fulton spent a good number of hours simply sourcing their first beans. They were only interested in purchasing from a sustainable farm where fair treatment practices were standard. Right on!

The company is dedicated to the environment from recycling efforts to direct trade, a reduced carbon footprint in manufacture to energy saving practices in the factory. In addition to these solid efforts Taza Chocolate also will deliver their product to patrons in Somerville and Cambridge by bicycle and they allow for local direct pick up at the factory.

As if all of this wasn’t enough they are currently working with a few Green initiatives locally to do their part to keep the community beautiful! This includes GoGreen Somerville and through this partnership they have begun working toward a zero waste facility via composting, recycling and donation efforts.

I can not find a single thing about this company that is not amazing! Because of this I feel it is my duty to bestow the long strived for, yet infrequently achieved Five Leaf Rating!

Taza Chocolate you are going in my cupboard, tummy and on top of everyone’s gift from now on as a little something extra. Thanks for sharing your love. Here is some right back!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Natural Plasters from American Clay are Beautiful and Earth Friendly

Before I begin discussing the product I am about to review, it might be helpful if everyone gets a little back story on me and why this product is one I am most excited to talk about. For the past few years I have enjoyed a part time career as a decorative wall artist. I have been exposed to a healthy number of different plasters and plaster type materials and am extremely proficient at applying Venetian type. American Clay is very different from anything I have used before but quite a welcome alternative!

The company offers three finish options -- Loma (a suede like feel), Porcelina (super smooth like Venetian) and Marittimo (visually deep due to addition of crushed shells but smooth to the touch) and 43 standard color selections that are created from Earth friendly, natural pigments. On top of that they say they can custom match just about any color and with 43 base colors to start with I can definitely believe it!

What is really cool about this type of plaster is its benefit not only toward beautifying a home but in its inherent environmentally friendly properties. For example there is no VOC (no off gassing like many paints or plaster alternatives), it is 100% natural, resists mold and controls moisture, it is non-toxic and there is never a drop of waste. Even if the plaster is dried out it can be rehydrated to do touch ups and repairs.

The plaster can be applied either with a trowel or through a sprayer designed for drywall compound (generally these are used to spray on things like popcorn ceilings, they have a larger hopper and spray nozzle hole to prevent clogging).

I can not express how much I love the feel of this plaster, it is soft and smooth no matter which option although it can be applied in a rough style if that is the desired effect.

The one slightly daunting thing is that the mixing and measuring might seem a bit overwhelming to a novice or the average homeowner and this might keep them from attempting to apply it as many plasters do come in pre-mixed form these days. In fact the company offers a list of trusted professionals who have worked with their product and they strongly recommend hiring one for the installation.

The environmental benefit as well as the availability of the product throughout the United States (5 locations in Massachusetts alone!) but the definite need for a professional installer have me granting American Clay a Three Leaf Rating!

As a professional finisher with a love for plaster American Clay is a product I will be excited to become a pro at installing, and the Earth will thank me for it! ♥love♥

Friday, August 21, 2009

Eco Fashion Friday Featured Video from Threadbanger

If you have been reading Green Leaf for a while it is no secret I have fallen in love with Threadbanger. They have provided me with tons of inspiration to make simple yet adorable clothing out of recycled, upcycled and unconventional materials. This video is no exception to that rule!

In this video they share the secrets for creating a shirred dress. For those not in the sewing know, shirring is created with that elasticized thread and can frequently be found on the top of dresses (like the photo above taken from the video) or tops for the gals.

Now I have two dresses that must be created as soon as possible! I know just the fabric this one will be created from too, it will drape great and be a perfect little black summer dress!

Get creative with this if you sew -- make it longer, create a halter with wider straps, make spaghetti straps for both shoulders, criss-cross the straps in the back -- the opportunities are endless which means by using the same base pattern, we ladies could create an entire summer wardrobe of super cute dresses. I’m in!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Oxfam Is A Renowned Organization Partnered with Great Music

Recently while attending a concert for one of my favorite performers, Jason Mraz, I came across a gal hanging out at a very small round table with no one around talking to her. The bright lime color sprinkled about the area she was in attracted my attention immediately so I figured why not go and see what she was up to.

That was the moment I met Clara Herrero, an Outreach Training Program Assistant with Oxfam America. Clara is a volunteer based out of the Boston branch of Oxfam and she was totally excited to chat with my Mom and me about exactly what they were doing there and why.

Turns out this organization has been around since the first European activists took action against Famine back in 1942. The organization grew, expanded, began a United States branch in 1970 in Washington DC which relocated to Boston in 1973. Fast for a World Harvest is a campaign that began in 1974 and to this day is still one of the largest anti hunger campaigns in the United States and it helped to spawn Oxfam America; a separate entity from the originating organization in Great Brittan.

The focus of the mission of the organization as a whole is to battle against poverty and injustice toward all humans and they have grown to house locations in over 100 countries worldwide.

Oxfam has partnered with a slew of musicians such as Crowded House, O.A.R., Mraz, Coldplay and R.E.M. (among many others) to promote the campaign Rock the World. The organization volunteers reach out to concert goers to spread the word and I for one was so excited to have been able to chat with Clara! She provided me with information on what they are doing to help women specifically as well as how the poorest countries are the most at risk from climate change.

In addition to their official website these folks are all over social media:

They have a blog
Facebook page
MySpace account
Follow them on Twitter
Watch their videos on YouTube
Check out photos on Flickr

For those of you who will be heading out to a concert this summer please look for the Oxfam table and chat with the very friendly volunteers about their mission and goals. Then when you get back home, I strongly encourage everyone to check them out in one or all of the above locations. Why not consider donating time or money to this worthwhile organization today?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The One Bag At A Time Reusable Shopping Bag

Using a reusable shopping bag is not exactly a new concept; people have been taking advantage of cloth or canvas bags for decades. Prior to the recent surge of renewed interest in these bags, we of course had the two choices coined in the ever recognizable question “paper or plastic”. So what suddenly became wrong with paper and plastic that has everyone scrambling to spend the approximate $.99 on each reusable bag? A lot.

A few months ago I made a fairly large purchase for a client in a local hardware store called Tags. The store was offering one free reusable bag for every $50 spent in the store. By the time all was said and done I had enough Tags imprinted bags to accommodate for the entire purchase and when I got them home I noticed a tag hanging from the strap indicating these bags were created by a company called 1 Bag At A Time.

I flipped the tag over to read the information the company wanted to share regarding paper and plastic bag usage and was blown away by the statistics provided; and I write about this stuff all the time!

Based on the tag, 1 Bag At A Time indicates:

Making a paper bag emits 70% more global warming gas than making a plastic bag.

380 billion plastic bags or wraps are thrown away in America each year.

14 plastic bags contain enough petroleum to drive a car a mile.

There were a couple more statistics but my brain already began spinning figures. If we divide the 380 billion bags by the 14 bags, Americans alone could be driving approximately 27,142,857,143 more miles without touching another single drop of petroleum. That’s one heck of a road trip huh?

I held off on completing this article for a few months because I truly wanted to see how these bags held up under the wear and tear of not only weekly grocery shopping but toting anything I intended to shop for or travel with. The answer? Phenomenal.

We are tough on our stuff, especially when it comes to something like a bag so it would need to hold up to be worth it (read: so this bag doesn’t just end up as disposable in a landfill somewhere instead). So here are my estimated stats:

I shop for groceries weekly and formerly acquired an average of 15 plastic bags per trip.

I have used these reusable bags each week for 12 weeks.

Have you done the math yet? No? Well let me help you out -- that is approximately 180 bags saved so far and roughly translates into being able to drive 13 miles, which pretty much completely negates my trips to and from the grocery store (and then some!).

Other good things about these bags are that the straps are long enough that I can sling them over my shoulder, the capacity is large enough that I can hold much more in far fewer bags, they have a removable bottom stiffener (these are made from plastic) to provide extra bottom support and they can be machine washed on cold so even if my stuff leaks I can salvage the bag.

These bags are available for purchase in hundreds of stores throughout 43 of the 50 states and Washington DC (not available in Alaska, Mississippi, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota or Wyoming but they are looking for suggestions of where to provide them in these areas so if you are local please check out the website contact information and give them a suggestion or two!). There are 65 locations in California alone.

Or order bags directly from their website! The company offers a variety of bags for purchase online -- jute, standard, wine bottle bags, small size, “Clean Air” design, a sampler pack and cooler bags (insulated) not to mention bottom stiffener replacements. They provide for the average consumer looking for a few good bags as well as to the wholesale market like companies who with to order in bulk with a logo.

At just under $.99 per bag the cost could not be better and considering the overall benefit to the environment I feel the definite need to award the 1 Bag At A Time reusable shopping bag a Four and A Half Leaf Rating!

I will now consider ordering a whole slew of your bags when I plan to sell at craft fairs or otherwise and hope you continue to provide custom sizes and styles as one or more of these might just get stuffed in everyone’s stocking for the holidays this year!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Reduce Mold with Aspen Environmental

Mold is a creepy little substance, it can be the root cause of serious health issues and create complications for the respiratory systems of all humans but most especially children. It breeds in moist environments and is a living bacteria. Bleh.

So recently when I was visiting my Step Mother at her place of employment, a Real Estate office, I happened to notice a pamphlet for Aspen Environmental on their shelf and being the Greenie I am, I was intrigued. It turns out this company will not just clean mold spores but guarantees the complete removal of mold.

Aspen adheres to the stringent standards of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI) as well as the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). What this means is the professionals are adhering to a stricter code of ethical customer treatment and that they are trained in remediation.

What I found very cool about Aspen in particular is their indication of being a Green Aware Company. This means they use only natural biowashes and environmentally safe fungicides to protect the area from future mold outbreaks. In addition to these fantastic efforts their pamphlet also indicates that they donate a portion of their proceeds to various charities.

The company is located in Methuen, MA and from what I can surmise only operates in the general local northeast region of the United States. However if there is a company here in Massachusetts that will eliminate mold in an environmentally responsible manner I can only imagine others exist as well.

If this is an issue in your life please consider looking into an environmentally conscious company like Aspen before hiring a company who might use chemicals to treat this bacterial issue; that might rid the mold but can potentially release toxic chemicals into the home further reducing overall air quality!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

On the Move with NorthStar Moving Corporation

Almost all of us have done it, Matt and I personally joke we are professionals now, college kids are about to do this en mass - moving. Most of us think of moving as a hassle or a headache and many of us also understand the environmental impact this activity can have on the planet due to emissions alone, never mind the lifecycle of boxes or the trucks, and even Greenies may not be thinking of the impact the facility itself will have. So who do we turn to in this stressful time to ensure not only that we remain calm and cared for, but that our planetary impact is low? Well NorthStar Moving Corporation may drive bright red trucks but look closer and all you will see is Green!

Based out of Los Angeles, California, NorthStar Moving is in a prime location but do not let the Southern California address fool you! Although their primary geographic focus is moving folks from the Los Angeles area, they are looking to expand their service in order to move anyone, anywhere. Oh, and they are doing it all in trucks that run on biodiesel.

After the conversion, and once it became clear that the old trucks were harmful to the planet, yet impossible to convert because of their current age and wear, NorthStar Moving hooked up with E-Cycle Environmental to break down and recycle the oldest trucks. E-Cycle also assists by offering a more eco friendly option for folks who are moving and getting rid of bulky, potentially harmful items (such as televisions, computers, etc).

Additionally all the new trucks were outfitted with lift gates that run on battery power as opposed to the engine. Emissions can be further reduced as the truck does not need to be running constantly during a move, the lift will operate while the truck is off. This is a very cool innovation and one I believe is exclusive to NorthStar as I can not find another company that indicates they do this yet.

Of course the awesomeness does not stop at the trucks and their fuel source.

All of the boxes the company sells are created from recycled materials but get this, they will also grant a 25% discount if you bring your boxes back to be recycled. Then the next person can re-purchase those boxes also at a 25% discount. Taking advantage of both moving boxes are sold at a 50% of rate, sweet!

The storage facilities utilize wooden storage compartments (made from recycled materials!) that are stacked in order to save on need for space as well as materials and the warehouses take advantage of natural light (through use of skylights) which helps to save on electricity as well.

All this is well and good but without strong customer service and attention to the client’s needs even the most eco-friendly company will not last very long. NorthStar has been in business for about 15 years and they not only offer a basic door to door moving service but also literal Red Carpet, luxury moving service. These folks have moved everyone from budget conscious college students to Hollywood heavy hitters like Angelina Jolie, Chuck Norris and Eva Longoria.

Not to mention their work with Hollywood Green Team, Sustainable LA** and the pre Oscar Green Carpet party this year. These services truly set them way apart from any other Green moving company out there never mind the fact that they treat everyone the same no matter what their moving budget is.

I spoke with a company representative to see what types of offerings they have at this time and for those in need of a storage solution now is an excellent time to take advantage of NorthStar’s services because in addition to their deal of $49.00 per month for a 5' x 7' x 8' high unit, you are also going to get the first month free. Yippie!

I am completely impressed with the company model that NorthStar is structuring here and like I said, since Matt and I move more often than the average family it is pretty safe to say I will be utilizing these services at some point in the not too distant future myself.

With such an innovative approach and strong planetary focus NorthStar is well deserving of a Four Leaf Rating!

Keep up the amazing work!

** The Downtown Film Festival runs from August 12 - 22 primarily located at the corner of 7th & Figueroa. Sustainable LA is a full day of Green awesomeness that includes speakers, films, parties and advice (all free!) and it takes place on Thursday August 20 from 10AM - 11PM at the Ernst & Young Plaza. If you’re in the area I highly recommend checking it out!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Eco Fashion Friday Featured Designer Enuwbe

As a member of Team Eco Etsy it pleases me to locate and feature other team members who showcase their amazing work, so when I came across Enuwbe’s shop I was immediately impressed. Using only organic, sustainable and recycled or reused items throughout the shop, Jen states that she is attempting to toss absolutely nothing into a landfill. Nice!

Personally, I am a nut for comfy clothing - cotton, bamboo, any fabric that is soft and will move with my body - so to see that organic cotton is the number one material of choice here definitely draws me right in. Normally I need to touch an item but for some reason I can just tell how comfortable these clothes will be simply from a photo. It makes me want to curl up and drink some Yerba maté tea on a cool fall morning, come home from the beach all cozy and comfy, or cover up after a relaxing yoga class. Simple comfort.

Enuwbe has the right idea with shipping by utilizing recycled materials of all kinds from business cards to shipping boxes. When selecting the fabrics she uses, Jen does not simply see that it is organic cotton and grab a bolt, she researches the company for their own sustainability and consciousness prior to purchasing. Then she utilizes every last scrap of material she purchases by creating the item, using scraps for appliqués and the teeny pieces unusable for clothing she turns into stuffing for pet beds. Very cool.

My one and only concern is the cost of her items. Not to say that for the time and effort Jen puts into this shop and each hand made piece that the prices are not reasonable, they are, just for the average gal they are a touch high. Most tops hover in the $40 - $69 range, dresses and skirts from $65 - $95, pants $47 - $69 and her cuffs are $14 (they have a pocket too, sweet). There are also maternity clothes, shorts, accessories and one formal dress available in the shop.

With such a strong focus on the planet and sustainability I am awarding Enuwbe a Four Leaf Rating!

Keep up the amazing work Jen, I can not wait to test drive that hoodie pictured above!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Zen Habits Always has Something Inspiring to Read

I have been subscribed to the blog Zen Habits for a few months now and enjoy receiving updates in my email every day because there is generally something uplifting, inspiring or just awesome involved in every single post. Today of course was no different.

Here is an excerpt from the blog:

This is the addition to “Omit needless things” that is necessary: not that you have as little as humanly possible, but that every thing you do have counts… In anything you do, see if you can apply these principles. There’s no need to get obsessive about it, of course, but it’s always useful to examine what we do, how we do it, and whether we really need to do it.

The post discussed our need to omit superfluous stuff be it physical things in our homes or offices, foods we ingest or even the goals we set out for ourselves. This minimalist lifestyle is one I attempt to live in most areas of life but reading someone else’s take on the subject really got me thinking about what is needless in my life and exactly what I do about it.

I am the worst offender of two things -- committing to way too many plans and allowing food to spoil in the refrigerator.

As you have all been reading I have been quite busy with Green Leaf reviews of late but that is just one area of my business. I am also a painter (as in wall treatments, not on canvas) and a writer. I have been working on all of these things simultaneously in addition to spending time with family and friends and keeping up with everyone and everything (paying bills on time, reading blogs, grocery shopping, etc). After a while the pace takes a toll and it is vital for me to find a way to blow off steam.

Matt and I take a walk almost every night which really helps my mind decompress. True that in essence it is another plan but we spend the time talking about our day and releasing any of the stresses we had allowed to sneak in. In the midst of go-go-go we both really look forward to that twenty minute span of time that is reserved for no one but us.

Not only does this allow us to purge the chaos from our minds by laughing about it but the endorphins from the exercise are a double benefit!

We now plan weekly meals to reduce the over spending on, and needless waste of, extra foods we never eat and go bad in the fridge. I write out a list of meals we will have for dinner and all of the ingredients used to make them. Things we can not make right away are frozen and as I make the meal it is checked off. Meals that leave a lot of leftovers are put in small containers and one or the other of us has it for lunch the following day. I guess one might say we reduce, reuse or recycle our food.

Not only has this cut down greatly on the food that goes bad, it has helped us save a lot of cash and fat by not eating in restaurants for lunch or dinner all the time!

These two things are small steps but steps none the less toward a simpler life.

Other things I do to cut out needlessness:

- Turn off the television (the over stimulation causes brain chaos!)
- Unplug things not currently in use (why drain the planet too?)
- Continuously remain aware of every action I take
- Smile and laugh, a LOT (happiness is lighter than negativity trust me!)
- Sell, donate, trade and / or share

I have a long way to go before my home will look as simple as the photo on the Zen Habits blog post but I am working on it by starting with the two areas where have the greatest issues and it truly feels great!

I hope all of you will read the rest of today’s post over at Zen Habits.

In case this post wasn’t enough to convince everyone how much extra there really is out there I strongly encourage everyone to check out the Story of Stuff again. If you’ve never seen it believe me it is a total eye opener.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In the Mood for a Little Rain?

This morning my mom sent me this really cool video in email. In the message it said to not watch the first time & just listen. I figured why not give it a try and oh man this is so cool it felt only right to share it with everyone.

While you enjoy this storm, don't forget the Perseid meteor shower is on for watching this evening in North America from about midnight through 5:00 AM. It is said to shower us with upwards of 200 streaking meteors an hour so grab a sweatshirt (if need be) and head out to catch the other show!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tap Water Just Got Tastier with PUR Flavor Options Water Filtration Systems

We all know that plastic bottles created from petroleum are harmful to the environment as they take centuries to break down (if at all), can end up leeching into the Earth or become stuck spinning in the middle of the ocean in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, so tap water in a reusable bottle is certainly the responsible way to go.

Tap water alone can become boring and although flavored water is tasty, most water enhancements such as packets or already flavored waters add calories, sugar or both to the water we drink. Not to mention how much money can be spent on all those individual bits. So then what is a thirsty Greenie to do? Why they run right out and pick up a PUR Flavor Options Water Filtration System of course!

Filtering tap water with a PUR filter can reduce pharmaceuticals in the water supply by 96% (if they are present), not to mention various agricultural or industrial pollutants, chlorine, lead, rust and microbial cysts. Who knew there was that much floating around in our public water supply? Um, yikes! Not to mention that using a PUR pitcher instead of bottles means that up to 2,000 individual bottles are removed from the landfill per person every year.

Of course the coolest part of this little baby is the flavor cartridge. Instead of a small individual packet that is used and tossed each time, the PUR cartridge inserts into the lid of the pitcher. If flavoring is desired just click a button on the top of the handle while pouring and a squirt is added. But without clicking there will be no flavoring, leaving the option open for plain water as well. The cartridges are said to last up to about 75 eight ounce glasses so there is far less waste associated than with packets or bottles.

And oh yeah, it’s super yummy without adding any sugar or calories! The pitcher I got came with a raspberry cartridge, I also got lemon, but there are strawberry, peach and grape options available as well. I tried the raspberry right away (mine and Matt’s favorite so far) but wanted to try lemon too so I just popped out the cartridge, tossed it in the fridge (tip up) and poured a glass of lemon water. E-Z!

My only concern is that the items we must throw away are in fact petroleum based plastic -- the filter and cartridges. Additionally, sometimes the squirt of flavoring ends up stuck in the little reservoir at the end so when switching to a different flavor it needs to be cleaned out. In comparison to individual bottles or packets however the waste associated with this PUR Flavor Options System is minimal so I am awarding it a Four and a Half Green Leaf rating!

I am uber impressed with this entire system and our little family is happy to be drinking healthy water as well as helping to keep tons of plastic out of landfills. Nice work PUR!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Going Back to the Beginning

A lot of you have probably noticed that there have been a whole slew of new reviews here at Green Leaf Reviewer. After an extended hiatus from the original purpose of this website -- to find, review and grant Leaf Ratings to as many purported ‘environmentally responsible’ items as I could find -- I have decided to get back into the swing of it again.

The desire to do this has both waxed and waned in recent months but I am greatly looking forward to this new wave of opportunity in the realm of Leaf Rating reviews for many cool products and services that I have had the pleasure of having sent to me of late.

Many companies have been very cool about sending products and all subsequent information so I can properly review the item and I have been so blessed to have this opportunity; to use their phenomenal products and truly give non-biased personal opinions as to their ecological impact. Thank you so very much, I have enjoyed working with all of you and can not wait to see who is up next!

As the one year anniversary of Green Leaf Reviewer approaches this fall I am reminded of all the people, companies, causes, services, etc. I have featured over the past year. The blog has sure come a long way from where it began but it is also more on track than ever as I have this amazing opportunity to write full time and I thoroughly enjoy dedicating oodles of that time to the research necessary to bring my most awesome and loyal readers interesting little Green gems on an almost daily basis.

The blog as of the past few months has become a Sunday through Friday endeavor and has been kind of nice to take off a weekend day that I can spend with Matt, family or friends. In addition it gives an extra day of top post exposure to the Eco Fashion Friday featured designer. With that recurring theme my eyes have been opened to many designers and I wholeheartedly look forward to continuing that series.

Melissa, my sister in law and guest blogger, has been a wonderful resource and although she has not posted a whole lot her own Green fire has been lit and she is blazing her own trail on a more eco path by joining up with lots of local community organizations and even jumping on the board of one! Way to go Melissa!

In addition to her great contributions so many of you have emailed me links, stories, photos, information and even your own stories and I am really grateful you all think of me when you come across something environmental. If it hasn’t been featured yet never fear, there is no doubt it will be soon!

I just wanted to give a quick hey to everyone and keep you up to date on the behind the scenes action as well as to say thank you for all that you do to make Green Leaf Reviewer the cool little spot on the web that it is. Please feel free to share this site with your friends and spread the Green love and if you have a product or service you would like me to review do not hesitate to get in touch with me so we can chat about it!

And now…back to the reviews!


Friday, August 7, 2009

Eco Fashion Friday Featured Designer Billabong

As a staple provider of a slew of athletic gear, Billabong is a company most surfers, snow and skateboarders are intimately familiar with. Well surfers can now feel even better about their impact on the planet as Billabong is now offering a recycled wet suit!

Created from 90% recycled polyester the material used to create these B9Platinum suits is sourced from old fishing nets (available in full style, men’s). The remaining 10% is textile created from flax which is said to provide an exceptional softness on the skin.

The suit comes standard with cool features like a hidden key pocket, a watertight neckline and seams placed specifically to ensure the surfer has total comfort and flexibly to glide on the water, not to mention a triple enhanced knee pad area (PFRE).

The cost for this item might seem a bit steep as they retail for $650 - $699 depending on the model purchased. The next full suit in Billabong’s line, the Platinum-X (also with the PFRE knee technology, comfort seam placement and hidden key pocket) also sells for $649 but is created using all new materials.

After completing an additional cost comparison at $389.99 for a similar style (men’s full suit) and a direct Eco competitor, Body Glove’s Eco2 (non petroleum based but not created from recycled materials), I was a little concerned with the cost of the Billabong suit at first.

The general information I seemed to receive through further research is that the old adage “you get what you pay for” happens to ring completely true. The general rule is that with additional cash outlay comes more flexibility in the suit. Very important for any surfer.

Due to all factors -- use of recycled materials, lack of a women’s version, added comfort, high upfront cost -- I am granting the B9Platinum a Three and a Half Leaf Rating!

As a leader in the world of comfort gear for surfers who find their waves in chillier waters I am fully impressed by this eye on the planet, keep up the innovation Billabong!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Whatchu Talkin’ ‘Bout Part II - Bio-plastic And Other New Eco Terms

Over the past couple reviews I have used the word ‘bio-plastic’ and it suddenly hit me that it has been quite a long while since I put out the first Green Terms post. In an effort to keep everyone up on the latest and greatest terminology, so you can shop and explore like the savvy Greenies I know you all are, here is part II in no particular order.

Bio-plastic: Where most common plastic (such as polyester or water bottles) is created from fossil fuel, known as petroleum, and turned into PET (polyethylene terephthalate), bio-plastic is different. Commonly created from plant based resources (such as corn starch) bio-plastic is as durable as its PET counterpart however it is less harmful to the environment as it can be composted in commercial facilities and will break down there in about 90 days. It produces far less emission to create as well as in its breakdown so the overall lifecycle impact is far less than petroleum.

Lifecycle: Sometimes referred to as ‘cradle to grave’ a life cycle assessment measures environmental impact of an item or service for its entire life (upcycling, recycling and reusing all help extend the lifecycle of an item ensuring less new is created).

Greenwashing: Greening up our lives has moved into the forefront of most people’s minds as more and more people are becoming aware of the very real impact we as humans are having on the planet and its resources. Many companies and organizations have decided to use this as a way to cleverly market their products regardless of the actual environmental impact. When a company touts their products as Green (or eludes to an illusion of such), yet the overall environmental impact is negative, Greenwashing has occurred. Diligence in research and review will make us savvy consumers in the realm of Green products and services!

Organic: Commonly confused with the word natural, organic methods and practices can be applied to all manner of items from food to clothing. Organic food is free of all chemical based products (pesticides, growth hormones, additives, etc). Organic clothing is created from natural fibers grown using organic methods (cotton, bamboo, hemp, soy, wool). Additional items such as baby supplies (lotions, toys) and cosmetics are offered in organic versions as well.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): From Wikipedia - “is a socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. CSA’s focus is usually on a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit in a vegetable box scheme, sometimes dairy products and meat”. Plans in my area can run from $300 - $1200 depending on the items acquired and length of membership (many are seasonal) and the items are chosen by the farm for current availability in the crop.

Socially Conscious: A basic awareness and open eye to the conditions of the entire human race. Many people will define it differently but I believe it is both a global as well as local consciousness to provide as much as possible to all people. This can be achieved through monetary means, volunteering, product, service or trade.

Bio-diesel: Fuel for a vehicle (or other motorized machine), as well as home heating units, as sourced from resources other than petroleum but typically vegetable based (such as corn based ethanol).

Carbon offset: A literal counterbalance to the greenhouse gasses (CO2) emitted by any individual. Each carbon offset “credit” is allegedly equivalent to one metric ton of CO2 being removed from the atmosphere. For example, planting a tree or investing in a wind farm are considered an offset. The term and practice is controversial as some feel it encourages a lack of awareness to current practice as the bad behaviors can simply be “bought off”.

Part I of Whatchu Talkin’ ‘Bout includes these eco terms:

earth day
passive solar
photovoltaic panels
wind turbine
renewable resource
global warming
climate change
carbon footprint

What are some of the terms you would like to see defined? Let me know in the comments section!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Going Green with Solo Brand - Bare

I know what you are all thinking - ‘how can a company that makes disposable products possibly be considered Green?’ and if you saw my leaf rating tag at the top of the post you might be even more curious. Well read on to learn about the entirely new, environmentally responsible side called Solo Bare™!

We have likely all had experiences with the Solo brand; their plastic cups have practically become synonymous with the word ‘party’ in the past 73 years since the company’s inception. Their cups are instantly recognizable for their shape and color. They can be rinsed and reused, or even recycled, but more often than not they are simply tossed into a garbage bag and thrown away. The centuries it will take for this plastic to degrade times the number of parties Americans throw every year equals a huge landfill problem.

But most party goers want something convenient and easy, something they can simply be done with at the end of a night full of laughter and fun.

Enter Solo Bare™ (Bringing Alternative Resources for the Environment).

With plates made from sugar cane and bamboo in the Bare dinnerware line, and cups created from either plant based materials or 25% post-consumer recycled content in the Bare drinkware line, Solo just put a new twist on the old stand by!

The compostable** sugar cane plates come in three sizes for all party needs and are square with high edges so food will not spill out. They are free of chlorine, ink and dye and are cut resistant as well as microwave safe.

The renewable plates created from bamboo fiber are a khaki color, round, and also have a deep well for food. They are also microwave safe and take advantage of a fiber sourced from a rapidly renewable resource which can sustain a new crop in approximately 5 years as opposed to tree based paper which can take upwards of 40 to fully mature.

Solo Bare, 14 oz cups are created from plant based materials, (likely corn starch in the US) and are either compostable or recyclable. The larger 18 oz clear drink cups are made utilizing 25% post consumer recycled content and are also recyclable.

Now it would be imperative to recycle the 18 oz cups as they are PET based plastic and without a commercial composting facility available it would also be difficult to ensure suggested disposal of the sugar cane plates or 14oz cups, so this is my only reservation. Party goers and hosts would need to be diligent in practicing proper recycling disposal of these items.

But with such a progressive concept, especially where the bamboo plates are concerned, I am impressed with this giant leap forward from such a well known company as Solo and am granting a Four Leaf Rating to the entire line!

Keep the innovation for new and eco-forward™ concepts flowing Solo and you will remain the number one purveyor of party products for a long time to come!

Visit the Bare by Solo website for coupons and to find a retailer who carries the product in your area as well as to read about the Keep America Beautiful campaign which Solo is a big part of sponsoring and taking action with. Hooray!

** all composting of materials must be done in commercial facilities. Bio-plastics will degrade in approximately 90 days in this type of environment as opposed to upwards of 500 years for petroleum based plastics sitting in a landfill.

Monday, August 3, 2009

GreenSol Offers up its Water in a Plant Based Bio Plastic Water Bottle

Oh yes, you read that correctly! There is a brand new movement in the plastics industry and its initials are PLA -- plant based, poly lactic acid, plastics. GreenSol is leading the charge in producing a more ecologically responsible choice for their water bottles and I was lucky enough to get my hands on one.

Bottled by Nature’s Bottles in Pacifica, CA and filled with natural spring water from Private Spring Water, GreenSol is certainly attempting to live up to their tag line: “Saving the Earth One Bottle At A Time”.

The bottle is made from 100% renewable and sustainable resources (PLA is created from corn starch), consists of no petroleum, is said to biodegrade in a maximum of 90 days when placed in a commercial composting facility, only utilizes 35% of the average fossil fuels and emits approximately 75% less greenhouse gas during manufacture. If composting is not an option the bottles can always be recycled the old fashioned way.

When this bottle of water was shipped to me it was done so in minimal corrugated cardboard packaging (which it was requested I reuse of course!) and protected by corn based packing peanuts. I was informed that the product is made available for larger events and recycling bins are also provided to expedite the renewal of the material.

Major named companies are getting on board with GreenSol from Quaker to Microsoft, REI to Walmart. I can see why. I opened up the water and immediately noticed…well…nothing. There was no after taste like I sometimes experience with standard plastic bottles, it felt just as sturdy and .

One concern is that the cap is not PLA but a PET based. Nature’s Bottles does address this on their website and indicates they are looking into various solutions for a safe and stable alternative. The label however is PLA but another concern is that the glue used to affix it is not mentioned online as being plant based.

With such a focus on turning the table on the “disposable” mindset through use of natural products that will quickly biodegrade to house their water I am granting GreenSol a Four and a Half Leaf Rating!

Very, very impressive! I will feel comfortable re-using this water bottle to fill with my tap water for as long as it lasts.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fuji EnviroMAX Batteries Green Alternative to the Old Standard

Recently I was contacted by to check out these new ecologically responsible batteries, review them and provide my honest Leaf Rating. I was excited to receive these AA’s and put them to the test!

The Fuji EnviroMAX battery line was just released for sale in Target stores nationwide on July 26, 2009 and they are really looking to spread the Green word through their efforts to provide a product that is environmentally forward.

At first glance I see that the packaging is 100% recycled material, and it can be recycled as it is a simple cardboard and thin PET plastic (as opposed to PVC as most packaging is which can not be conventionally recycled). What really grabs my attention on the package is the fact they are cadmium and mercury free, because of this fact the batteries are touted as landfill-safe.

Flipping the package over I read the shelf life is up to seven years, although non-rechargeable they can be used in a variety of devices, they are safe in all temperatures and the ozone was unaffected during the manufacturing process. So far I am impressed but needed to do further research, including using them.

I am happy to see that the price for the Super Alkaline version is suggested at $3.99 and hop on over to Target to do a cost comparison. Most of the Green versions available there are rechargeable and 4-packs can run upwards of $16. For standard batteries the price is approximately $4.50 so regardless this environmental option is good on the wallet.

To give a full report on the lifespan of these batteries I have tossed a couple each into various controllers around the house. I will let you know in a future post.

The only thing that nerves me is that they are purported to be created from “the basic elements of the Earth” according to the website and packaging but I can not locate anywhere what those basic elements are**. Without this knowledge I would still be hesitant to toss them into my everyday garbage can. Additionally, the theory is good but the item is disposable so even if it does not harm the landfill via leeching, it will still be a part of it.

With all of this said I am awarding the Fuji EnviroMAX batteries a Three and a Half Leaf Rating!

Your efforts to ensure that even disposable options are kept as Green as possible are commendable, keep it up Fuji!

**EDITOR'S NOTE: Upon speaking with a representative of the company I have learned that “the chemicals that are in an EnviroMAX battery are: Iron, nickel, zinc, electrolyte, manganese dioxide, bronze, and paper, all of which are non toxic elements and substances which can be safely discarded in the landfill.”

This is fantastic news and I strongly encourage Fuji to place this information on their packaging of the EnviroMAX batteries so consumers will be aware of the elements included. Regardless, it is great to read they are one of the safest disposable options on the market.