Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CVS Joins the Growing Trend with Earth Essentials Sugarcane Dishware

These CVS Earth Essentials plates and bowls are not the first I have seen created from sugarcane and because it is such a lowered impact on the planet to use this type of disposable dishware, as opposed to paper or plastic, I hope they are not the last.

With cookouts and parties, as I have said before, comes the disposable dishware option. Most people use these due to the sheer convenience of knowing they do not have to wash dishes at the end of the party. The good news about these disposables is that they are created from the rapidly renewing resources of sugarcane.

At only about $2.50 per pack (15 nine inch plates or 20 seven inch bowls) the cost is reasonable and right in line with other brands that may or may not be eco-conscious. They are sturdy too, with a fairly deep well on the plate and a nice wide double ridge rim on the bowls these plates will stand up to just about anything put on them.

I did not see these items available for purchase online, only in store, so their availability may vary from area to area. They are water and oil resistant but can not be washed and reused as the underside is not coated. As I have said before, the items are still disposable so it is not the best choice for day to day use, but if a commercial composting facility is available in your area they will break down quickly and with less of an overall impact. Otherwise they must be tossed in the trash like a standard paper plate.

Overall even though the availability of types and sizes is a bit limited I am happy to know that when shopping for this type of convenience item there is a more beneficial option out there so I am granting the CVS Earth Essentials dishware line a Three Leaf Rating!

Day two of being impressed by this exclusive line CVS! ♥love♥

Coming up tomorrow, the final installment: CVS Earth Essentials line bathroom tissue and paper towels

CVS Earth Essentials Paper Products from Recycled Content

CVS Earth Essentials paper towels and bathroom tissue (4 pack available online) are the final products I had the pleasure of testing out in this new and exclusive line. What I discovered is that I am really pretty impressed with CVS as a brand now!

I will start with the paper towels because this item is one that we had previously deemed extraneous in our household. Over the course of the last year or more we completely eliminated our use of paper towels and napkins in lieu of cloth versions. I was curious to test out the Earth Essentials towels however as I know there are many families who do still use them, so if this was a better choice I wanted to know about it.

At only about $0.80 per roll (online) the paper towels are a solid bargain considering they are two ply. The new trend in paper towels with the choose your own size means there will be less waste as a smaller piece can be used to take care of the same job. Best of all they are created from 100%, non-bleached recycled content (a minimum 60% of which is post consumer). In a final flourish, the quilting on the towels is in the shape of a heart; as if to say love the Earth.

The exact same post consumer recycled content and overall percentages holds true in the bathroom tissue as well. This truly impressed me but I was nervous to try it as it was only one ply and not puffy and quilted like my standard brand. What I discovered is that although it is not the softest brand I have ever used, it was absorbent and not completely reminiscent of sandpaper. Very important as a girl!

I am not sure if the packaging these items come in is recycled as well (paper towels are plastic wrapped, tissue is a tissue paper) and I wish there was a little more information available online as to the environmentally friendly manufacturing process.

Overall this product impressed me and if paper products have to be used at least they are created from a lengthened lifecycle of something else. With that said I am granting these paper products a Three and a Half Leaf Rating!

Overall I am very excited to know that my local CVS Pharmacy is concerned with doing something positive for our planet in creating this exclusive line of Earth Essentials. I hope to see the line expanded in the future with an even greater focus on the benefits of being eco-friendly! ♥love♥

Monday, September 28, 2009

CVS Hits the Jackpot with Earth Essentials Room Mist

When I find a product that has a low impact on the planet and functions in a surprisingly better manner than I had originally thought it would, you can be sure it is one I will stick with. I may have just been won over with the exclusive line of products, CVS Earth Essentials. Over the next few days I will be showcasing a few of these items and today I had to start with my very favorite -- the aromatic room mist.

In our current apartment we have been asked not to use candles so we have been looking for alternate ways to liven up the space through yummy aromas without having to bake all the time.

The moment I sprayed the Apple and Cinnamon in my living room I smiled and said “mmm, fall”. The smell really lasted too. A couple hours after originally spraying, I left the room and still smelled it when I came back in.

I used Lavender and Citrus in the bathroom and although it is a lighter scent that does not mean it faded quickly. Also, the smell stayed put, the two did not permeate the house to intermingle. (Also available is Sweet Rain)

Through use of essential oils and a double concentrated formula one spray across the room was enough. They do not test on animals and there is no propellant or aerosol used in this spray. The first ingredient is purified water and the tag line indicates it is “Eco Friendly and People Friendly”. At a suggested $2.39 the price is very competitive.

My main concern is how to dispose of the canister once it is empty as it does not appear to be recyclable. Luckily it is metal which is better than plastic, but it still ends up in a landfill after only one use. The cap is a hard PET plastic which may be recyclable in some communities although it does not include a symbol so be sure to check first.

All things considered I am enjoying the product and granting a Four Leaf Rating to the Earth Essentials aromatic room mist!

CVS I am thoroughly enjoying this exclusive line of products that provide less impact environmentally speaking, keep it up! ♥love♥

Up tomorrow: CVS Earth Essentials sugarcane dishes

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Vocabulary Words with Sturdy EconoGreen Trash Bags

I am always on the lookout for ways to supplement the everyday items I can not seem to get away from, like petroleum based trash bags, with a more environmentally responsible option. EconoGreen Trash Bags deliver on function, environmental benefit and learning as they are tough enough to do the job and also taught me all about a new Green vocabulary word -- oxodegradable.

The box states “Built Tough” and they truly mean it. Sometimes flexible plastics created from 100% recycled material can become flimsy, but these bags passed my fingernail test and more! I held the black bag up to the light through my kitchen window and it looked no different than that of my normal black trash bags.

Jig-A-Loo, the parent company to EconoGreen, has figured out the ultimate secret when it comes to plastics and their decomposition. They claim that through a process called oxodegration the plastic will completely break down in about 2 years, and based on the box I believe it; inside the top is stamped a packing date.

They place a “unique agent” in the mix which causes the plastic to break down into smaller and smaller pieces once exposed to oxygen until it finally becomes a nutrient for microbes. All that is left behind is CO2, water and reusable biomass, no toxic residues.

The box of bags was shipped to me using very minimal packaging and the box which holds the bags is not only recyclable but it is created from 100% recycled materials and printed using veggie based inks. And the cost is reasonable for the type of bags; the large trash bags have an MSRP of about $6.00 which is well within normal range for 20 large trash bags.

My main concern is the unique agent additive. Nowhere could I find a description of exactly what the additive is. Similarly, there is no real information available on how it breaks down or what type of nutrient it becomes. I feel that these are vital facts to share as this is a completely new way of looking at Green plastics.

With all these things in mind I am granting a Three Leaf Rating to EconoGreen!

By enhancing your transparency on certain information about the ways your product breaks down, your leaf rating will skyrocket right up to a five due to the function and unique concept you have going Jig-A-Loo! ♥love♥

Friday, September 25, 2009

Eco Fashion Friday Featured Designer Bamboo Couture

Pink ruffles, skin hugging fabric, dresses and undies. These articles rarely conjure up visions of the bamboo plant but the ultra mod company Bamboo Couture, based out of Los Angeles, California and run by Tanya Marie, is making their mark on the fashion industry by changing all of that!

These folks carry dresses, Capri pants, gloves, bloomers, bra tops and tank tops in their line. The current offerings could not be more feminine as the latest collection includes a flirty ruffle on every piece they sell.

In addition to organic bamboo, some of the other materials utilized in creating their funky fashions are organic cotton and low percentages of spandex. Embellishments tend to be sourced from recycled materials and they even claim to use as minimal (or recycled) packaging as possible for shipping. Speaking of, they will ship anywhere in the world!

As far as price is concerned they are surprisingly moderate for an eco-couture collection line but it is still a bit out of range for the everyday gal. Their most expensive item is the Dreamcatcher dress at $198 and prices go down to $32 for the gloves.

The available items are somewhat limited as most collection couture tends to be but each piece does come in a variety of sizes and colors which helps to somewhat expand the options.

With all of this in mind I am granting a Four Leaf Rating to Bamboo Couture!

Thanks for keeping an eye on the planet while still providing some seriously funky fashions Bamboo Couture! ♥love♥

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How Much Do YOU Spend on Each Load of Laundry?

Perhaps this is a strange seeming question; most people would not track their budget down to this level, but with the current market conditions and a renewed desire to provide in a meaningful way for our families, laundry detergent is one place where uber savings can easily be achieved. We just have to be willing to get our hands a little dirty for cleanliness.

The last few bottles of detergent I have purchased have been to test drive some of the more popular shelf brands which claim to be Green. In essence they have worked well -- my clothing is clean, smells nice and the impact I am washing down the drain has been lowered -- but the cost has definitely hit a little too tight on the old wallet.

A couple of nights ago while at our monthly Bennetts Brook Green Group meeting, one of the meeting organizers, Julie, shared her discovery of a recipe to create homemade laundry detergent from four simple ingredients. When she shared the cost to create it I vowed to pick up some rubber gloves and become a chemist as soon as this bottle of detergent runs out!

Straight from Julie:

We've been using this detergent for about a week and I'm really happy with it. The laundry seems to be getting clean and the cloth diapers don't have any stink issues. For less than $10 we now have two gallon jugs of detergent plus enough ingredients to make at least 9 more batches. That's 20-30 gallons, or 640 to 960 loads of laundry, which works out to about 1 to 2 cents a load. It did take a bit of time to make and it was a little scary heating the baking soda and handling the Borax (use gloves!), but well worth it.

The main reason she started doing research was because her family uses cloth diapers and she was beginning to find that there was build up from other detergents that began causing absorption issues. After looking into this and doing a ton of research Julie discovered the following recipe for homemade detergent.

Laundry Detergent

1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
1/2 cup Washing Soda
1 bar Ivory soap
Water (as indicated)

(up powdered ingredients to 2/3 cup if you have hard water)

- Shave the soap into a medium sauce pan with 6 cups water. Heat until soap is melted.
- Add powder ingredients, stir.
- Have a large container with a lid (or plastic wrap) waiting with 4 cups cool water. Add soap mixture, stir.
- Add 1 gallon + 6 cups cool water to bucket, stir.
- Cover and let sit for 1-2 days.
- Mixture will have gelled. I use my hands to "squish" the gel into tiny pieces and stir.
- Pour into milk jugs or something similar.- Makes about 2 1/2 gallons. Use 1/2 cup per load.


Bear in mind that borax is the naturally occurring sodium borate which is a mineral (typically mined after seasonal lakes evaporate) so just like any other compound one should take caution when using it.

Additionally, Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate) is added primarily as a water softener but is a mineral as well. The good news here is that the mineral is naturally occurring and 100% regenerative so it can never be mined out.

Not sure where to find Washing Soda? The product is sometimes referred to as Soda Ash and the top producer of it is Arm & Hammer. Most supermarkets will carry it in their cleaning supply aisle near the laundry detergents (I have been told Stop & Shop carries a generic version but have not yet confirmed this). In addition, because it is sometimes used to regulate pH levels many pool supply companies will carry it as well.

Additionally, it can be created by placing Baking Soda in a 500 degree oven for 30-60 minutes but again, exercise caution while doing this! (As a side note, this is how Julie created her Washing Soda and it does appear to be working for her which is fantastic!)

When our current bottle of eco-detergent runs out this is a science experiment I am ready to tackle. I may even add a few drops of an essential oil like lavender or eucalyptus to give my clothes a nice scent.

Have you made your own detergent? What was your recipe and how did it work for you?

Photo courtesy MarketingShop

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Positioning Oneself for Green Collar Jobs

Everyone knows that the best way to a solid job is a solid education but what many people may not be aware of is that more and more schools are taking the word sustainable to heart and offering comprehensive degrees in various Green fields of study! Berea College in Kentucky, Unity College in Maine and University of Wisconsin in River Falls are just three such schools focused on not only an environmental program of study but pursuing Green initiatives on campus as well.

Berea College offers a Sustainability and Environmental Studies Program which emphasizes sustainable based communities through the application of ecological design concepts. Although the program is only offered as a minor at this time, the efforts of the campus as a whole toward Greener practices make it a fantastic place to learn. On campus, the college houses the Ecovillage building where students take part in advancing the environmental benefits of sustainable campus living.

In addition to their program of study Berea has completed some pretty cool Green initiatives. Boone Tavern, the College run hotel, recently completed a $10 million renovation making them the first LEED certified hotel in Kentucky and their Lincoln Building was certified LEED as well, pretty impressive for a building constructed in 1886! Locally grown, organic foods are served in the Tavern and dining halls and they have installed a central plant which allows for optimal heating and cooling of the campus buildings while maintaining a much reduced energy consumption level.

Unity College is so dedicated to a Greener way of life the President of the facility currently lives in a LEED Platinum certified residence (the only one who does in the United States!) and the school only gets better from there. They are a small school (only about 500 students) that was founded in 1965 to specifically train in all areas of environmental focus. The campus is touted as being the entire 225 acres of land the college resides on.

Of their 24 Bachelor majors, twenty one are targeted specifically toward the environment. From Marine Biology or Forestry to Environmental Writing or Conservation Law Enforcement, it is likely Unity will have a degree program for those people interested in a little adventure with their environmental degree. They are even receptive to those who have been home schooled.

The River Falls Campus of the University of Wisconsin has partnered with three other campus locations (Parkside, Stout and Superior, as well as the Extension school) to provide a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Management degree. The program is an exclusive online program and is a 63 credit Bachelor program, certified and accredited. Direct from the website, the program prepares a student “to help businesses develop sustainable practices for a global marketplace, while still helping to preserve natural resources and strengthen community”.

The list of general competencies a student walks away with at the end of their studies is staggering. All students will be trained in the areas of energy, water consumption, world geography, carbon offsets and a slew of others too vast to mention. Their program is ideal for students who are interested in pursuing a career in a corporate environment but who still have a strong mindset on the planet we all live and work on, and their desire to help protect it.

These three very different schools, with widely varying approaches to learning about the world we live in, will help to provide the students of tomorrow the skills required to fill the Green Collar jobs which will be so desperately needed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Clear2O Water Bottle Is a Great Concept

As an active gal I am constantly drinking water. Last month I discussed the effort we are putting forth here at home to ensure the tap water we consume is as healthy as possible** but I have been considering joining a gym recently and knew I would need to bring some kind of water with me. Desiring a bottle that was BPA free and reusable I came across this Clear2O bottle.

The unique element in this 24 ounce Clear2Go water bottle is that it houses a filter right inside the lid so any tap water can fill it and it will be filtered for chlorine taste / odor as well as 99% of microbial cysts. Cool!

The company claims that each bottle will replace up to about 757 disposable water bottles (16.9 ounce size).

The Clear2Go water bottle is available to purchase right on the website and retails for only $16.99. The refill filters I found a bit pricey considering the base price of the bottle itself, they retail for $11.99 per two pack, but each will filter 100 gallons of water so it is unlikely they will need replacing very often.

Unfortunately the bottle I received is defective as the cap was not screwing onto the base correctly (with or without the filter installed) so water spilled out the side and soaked my leg. Not exactly something that would be welcomed at the gym on a treadmill. When I pushed the cap down with one hand and gently squeezed with the other water did not leak out but I will not always have two hands free to use to drink.

With all of this taken into consideration I am granting a Three and a Half Leaf Rating to the Clear2Go bottle!

A little tweak on the fit of the cap and possibly lowering the cost of filter refills will have me uber impressed with this product because I am already very excited by the effort Clear2O! ♥love♥

** As a side note: Both Matt and I each consume up to 4 ten ounce glasses of water a day at home and the filter on our pitcher just started flashing yellow within the past week. The first filter went into use on August 10th which means that is one filter approximately every six weeks. Nice!

Monday, September 21, 2009

An Environmentally Responsible Vacation to Martha’s Vineyard

Last week Matt, our friends, their twin one year old boys and myself all headed out for seven days of off season fun on Martha’s Vineyard. We have vacationed there multiple times over the years but I had not paid as close attention to the eco efforts of the island residents prior to this year. What I discovered is that the island has a committed approach to being a more ecological vacation destination.

The entire island is committed to recycling and the blue bins are picked up weekly. This impressed me as I live just outside of Boston, a fairly sizeable metropolis, and my bin is only picked up twice a month!

As we traveled between our vacation rental house and the beach I could not help but notice the abundance of public transit busses island wide. The busses are available to all through the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority. There are thirteen routes which provide rides from both ferry docks (Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs) as well as the airport.

Each trip is only $1 or full day unlimited passes are only $7, 3 days for $15, 7 days for $25 or 31 days for $40. Children under six are free and those over 65 are half price. There is accessibility for the disabled (half price), as well as those riding bikes or who have pets or luggage with them. The coolest thing is that in addition to designated stops busses can be hailed anywhere along their route and will stop if it is safe to do so.

One of the most exciting things about MV is the protected areas on, around or near the many island beaches. Matt and I took a random drive one afternoon and stumbled upon the Cedar Tree Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in West Tisbury maintained by the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. The Sanctuary is 216 protected acres of wooded land and pristine beach residing on the Vineyard Sound.

The trails are no more than a half mile each way but once we hit the beach it was like we discovered an entirely new world! Sunbathing, swimming and picnicking are not permitted on the beach so almost nothing is disturbed. The first day of our trip there we discovered a few plastic bottles that had washed ashore which of course we carried out. On our second day we went a different direction on the beach only to discover a large bin placed by the caretaker meant to collect these items.

One of the main reasons so much land on Martha’s Vineyard is so well protected and cared for is due to The Trustees of Reservations organization. A not for profit group they are committed to historic and land use preservation of over 100 properties across Massachusetts, at least six of which are on MV.

After spending the past few years enjoying the beaches at Long Point Wildlife Refuge and then experiencing the beauty of Wasque, Mytoi and Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge this year Matt and I have decided to take full advantage of all the Trustees offer by joining the organization this fall.

Access to the island is limited to passenger ferries which run on somewhat limited schedules, private boat and airplane shuttles which originate from only 5 airports in southeastern Massachusetts. Limiting access also helps to keep environmental impact low.

Next year I would love to give public transportation a try and with a Trustees membership in hand, get back out to take advantage of exploring the very thing I am working every day to try to help protect; the vast natural landscape of this amazing island get away!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Eco Fashion Friday In Keeping with Bicycles

Last week we talked about Peter Mulvey and his music tour, which he is completing by cycling 1100 miles. It got me thinking about the many accessories that come with a bicycle and how we can possibly create them ourselves.

Belts made from bike inner tubes have been featured here and I have even shared a video of an extreme biker, Danny MacAskill, who uses the urban jungle as his challenging obstacle course. To keep up the bike trend for Eco Fashion Friday, I turned once again to a favorite, Threadbanger, and discovered they have a killer tutorial video for how to make a cycle cap.

When the helmet comes off sometimes hair can be messy so what to do? Create a one of a kind cap that’s what! For those who like to keep the wind off their hair it is a nice item that can be created over and over making as many unique hats as you like. But be warned, this is not a beginner project.

Now go find your fabric and get started!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Organic Agave Nectar at the Liquor Store?

While shopping recently for a bottle of tequila for our vacation, the sales person at Sav Mor Liquors in Medford said he knew there must be Milagro tequila because they have the organic stuff. I was not at all sure what he meant at first but after locating my bottle of liquor he was walking up to the register with me when he pointed at a display he said:

“This is why I knew we must have the Milagro tequila.”

My jaw almost hit the floor as he pointed out organic agave nectar in a glass bottle, corked and 12.7 ounces. What really impressed me was the fact that the bottle was only $4.99!

I tried to recall what I had spent the last time I bought agave (blue) at Whole Foods and I want to say it was in the neighborhood of $8 for 11.75 ounces in a plastic bottle.

Agave is a sweetener I was introduced to by a slew of different people but most notably my friend Ginger who uses it in a large array of her recipes. It is a wonderful substitute for honey or sugar and I have found it is so yummy on pancakes with a little sprinkle of cinnamon instead of maple syrup. The calorie content is lower than all of the above; agave is also created from a plant.

For anyone having trouble locating basic agave nectar (like I was) sometimes these things can be found in the most unconventional of places so don’t discount a liquor store next time you are shopping for this yummy sweetener.

I fully intend to give this a real an honest review but I do not want to open it until it is going to be used and I still have some of the other bottle left. Keep an eye out though because Milagro is high on the list of favorite tequila brands so I imagine the nectar is going to be simply delicious!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What Exactly Is In that Fish Sandwich?

Companies like McDonalds, Dennys and Long John Silvers are likely to be forced to locate an alternate fish source in the near future as the hoki fish in New Zealand takes a nose dive in population.

As reported in the New York Times last Thursday the fish, found primarily about a half mile below the surface off the costs of New Zealand, is declining in population rebirth. This fact has many environmental agencies, most notably the Blue Ocean Institute (BOI) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), on edge because the fishery was considered sustainable.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) even granted the fishery a prestigious certification back in March of 2001 noting it as being well managed as well as sustainable. When this new news surfaced the WWF attempted to block recertification but the MSC granted it regardless in 2007.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

The world’s insatiable appetite for fish, with its disastrous effects on populations of favorites like red snapper, monkfish and tuna, has driven commercial fleets to deeper waters in search of creatures unlikely to star on the Food Network.

One of the most popular is the hoki, or whiptail, a bug-eyed specimen found far down in the waters around New Zealand and transformed into a major export. McDonald’s alone at one time used roughly 15 million pounds of it each year.

Wow. That sure is a lot of fish. And that is just for one restaurant. No wonder the population decreased, it appears this particular species has been over fished. In fact the tons per year that New Zealand allows to be fished decreased from 275,000 in 2000 to just 100,000 in 2008. That is a decrease of almost 22,000 tons per year.

Not only has there been a rapid reduction in the number of available fish to capture, there has also been evidence found of ecosystem damage and the unintentional killing of other air and marine life such as sharks, albatross, petrels, fur seals and skates.

Because so much attention was raised in regard to this issue, restaurants like McDonalds, Dennys and Long John Silvers have drastically cut back on their consumption of hoki fish.

It is more important than ever to ensure our food comes from reliable, sustainable sources. When it comes to fish the BOI is a wonderful resource as they rate a large array of fish on this very scale (among other factors).

Before it is consumed we should all know where and how it is sourced.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

LUSH Cosmetics is Taking a Stand against Palm Oil

About a week ago I received two bars of soap from LUSH Cosmetics. The name is Jungle Soap and even before I opened the box I could smell the familiar scent of patchouli. Not only does the soap smell nice, the reason for its creation certainly is nice.

In an effort to reduce expansion of palm oil plantations in the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia, which can be devastating to the indigenous tribes and animals who currently inhabit these lands, LUSH Cosmetics donated 100% of the profits from their limited edition Jungle Soaps (which retailed for only $5.95) to the Rainforest Foundation. Cool!

The Jungle Soap was created using a palm-free base, now introduced into all the other soaps in the LUSH line, and in doing this the company estimates to have reduced their consumption of the oil by 133,000 pounds; equal to 36.3 acres of rainforest saved. The soap is attractive too, it came in a deep forest green color and in the shape of a tree. Neither of which, I imagine, were a coincidence.

Although the company has indicated they strive to create a 100% palm oil free soap they admit it is difficult as the oil is rampant in just about everything including two of the main ingredients used to create soap - Sodium Stearate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

I was impressed to learn that the company’s focus is on using natural ingredients (organic fruit and veggies) as well as essential oils, that they are always 100% vegetarian and they do carry a Vegan line. It probably also doesn’t hurt that as a girl who loves her bath products I could spend days perusing their catalog LUSH Times.

What I was a bit baffled by however was the packaging my soaps were shipped in. The company boasts their products are generally sold “naked” (60% of all products are free of any packaging) and that the company participates in public awareness campaigns with regard to over-packaging. Unfortunately when I received my two 3” x 2-1/2” x ½” soaps they were wrapped up in a 13” x 10” x 4” box stuffed with paper based packing material. Eek. I can understand the desire to protect something a bit delicate but this was way over the top.

All told LUSH Cosmetics’ attention on the rainforests of southeast Asia and the steps they are taking to ensure the survival of the native people and animals in the region by providing an ecologically responsible product that gives back, really impressed me and I am granting LUSH Cosmetics a Three Leaf Rating!

I am excited to try more of your lovely products LUSH so please get cracking on lessening that packaging and your Leaf Rating will skyrocket! ♥love♥

Monday, September 14, 2009

VioClean is the Responsible Way to Clean Carpets

Recently a family member happened to notice a VioClean van in their neighborhood and sent me the name so I could do a little research; apparently the vehicle indicated they were an environmentally responsible carpet cleaning company. I was intrigued.

Turns out that VioClean is not only a carpet cleaner but they also provide rug, upholstery, tile and grout cleaning and they do it all in a manner that is safe for children, adults and pets right here in the Boston area**.

The process used is called hot water extraction and they perform it in ten steps which include a pre and post cleaning inspection, a thorough vacuuming of the area with a hepa filter machine and a spot cleaning of stubborn areas. Not to mention that moving small furniture is included and they will groom and speed dry the carpet upon completing the cleaning process to ensure a faster dry time.

All of the products used in the cleaning process are purported to be non-toxic and natural; they indicate no soaps, detergents, petrochemicals or solvents are used. In fact the cleaning products are also odor free, do not emit any VOC, they are organic, colorless and non-allergenic (tend to reduce allergens in the air!) and they do not leave a residue on the carpet fibers.

These folks are an ideal solution for busy landlords as not only will they get down to the heart of the grime in a carpet and remove it but they will also (for a varying fee) remove and recycle appliances, furniture items, electronic equipment and other assorted items that may have to go (pianos, exercise equipment, etc.). Cool!

On top of all these environmentally responsible efforts, the website indicates this is a family run business and that they support such charitable causes as Know Breast Cancer (provides education on the disease and its prevention).

Overall I am not only impressed with the services they offer but that they do it all with an eye on being Earth friendly. With all this in mind I am granting VioClean a Three and a Half Leaf Rating!

With an eco-edge on other cleaners in this area VioClean I encourage you to branch out and start offering your services nationwide! ♥love♥

**If VioClean is not available in your area I strongly encourage everyone considering this type of service to look into the most environmentally responsible company in geographic proximity.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Car that Runs on Nothing but Air?

What are the logistics of a lightweight car running on nothing more than compressed air? Are we as humans ready to embrace the idea of our emissions being nothing more than the air we already breathe? Is it safe, secure, probable? Can we refill the canisters as they are now or will they be tossed in a landfill? Will the big oil companies making millions ever understand the need and desire to run on zero?

The creator, Guy Negre of MDI*, claims the car will go up to 100 miles on a single charge, it can go at about 60 miles per hour and they are currently working on installing the generator (which runs on compressed air) into the car so the compressed air that runs the vehicle will cycle back through to run the generator which will cycle back through to provide air fuel to the vehicle; a perfect loop of self sustained refueling with zero waste, zero emissions.

Why not check out this short three and a half minute video and then please leave a comment letting me know what you think about this. Personally I say bring it on America, let’s not be last in line for such a cool concept with an even cooler price tag!

* please note the website is in French but the visuals and videos are well worth it even for those who can not read the language.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eco Fashion Friday Featured Organization Bosom Buddy Bra Recycling

Alright girls, let us all be honest. In our lifetimes, since that tender age when we first put on our very first bra, how many of these necessary undergarments have we purchased and wore once but found them so uncomfortable we could never wear them again, outgrew the style or size, or worse, flat out simply never wore? Ten? More? What did we do with all of these rejects?

Well now thanks to Bosom Buddy Bra Recycling program, those of us who have freed ourselves from the constraints of the uncomfortable-for-us bra can now donate those garments to women in need!

The company was founded by Elaine Birks-Mitchell and her husband Johnny and is based out of Queen Creek, Arizona, a small town in Maricopa County located in the southwest area of the state. These amazing people receive bras from people all over the world and they redistribute them to deserving women in desperate situations.

Many of their articles go to shelters (many local) where the women are most concerned with accommodating for their own safety and security but a little thing as simple as a bra can help these women to feel more comfortable and confident again.

They only have four rules -- 1. wash it, 2. fill out a recycled bra form (found on the homepage), 3. box it up in something sturdy and 4. ship it to their facility. They will take any style, any size (a strong need for larger sizes is indicated on the website) and are interested in specialty bras as well (post surgery, etc). All the parts must be in good working order.

If you are a gal, or know a gal, who has one or two unused bras hanging around they can be sent on out to:

Bosom Buddy Bra Recycling
Attention: Elaine Birks-Mitchell
23844 S. Power Rd, Ste 102-433
Queen Creek, AZ 85142

Or if you are in the state of Arizona please review the drop off locations available for collection of the garments.

For such a wonderfully humanitarian organization I am granting Bosom Buddy Bra Recycling a Four Leaf Rating!

This is exactly what the Green movement is all about, doing all we can to help where and when we can. Keep up the great work Bosom Buddy and expect to see donations from a whole slew of Green Leaf Reviewer’s readers! ♥love♥

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Peter Mulvey is One Musician Dedicated to All

I have written about a slew of talented musicians, had the distinct pleasure of interviewing a few of them and have even had the pleasure of chatting with a couple over the phone as they jet off to far distant lands on their quest for the perfect rhythmic vibe. In all of these stories however, none has hit me as so profoundly Earth friendly as what Peter Mulvey is doing right now.

Peter has begun a tour which will include ten stops and seventeen days worth of music as he traverses about 1100 miles of the United States.

What is that you say? That doesn’t sound all that impressive?

Well what if I told you he was doing the entire thing on a bicycle?

Peter is calling it The Long Haul Tour 2009 and it is the third year in a row he is putting his feet to the pedals to bring his grooves to the ears of music lovers. The past two tours have primarily focused on riding throughout Wisconsin but this time around he has opened it up and will be playing a bunch of locations from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Cambridge, Massachusetts from September 9 through the 26th.

All told his tour will include just ten appearances. This is understandable considering he will be completing rides ranging from about 40-100 miles per day. Wowza!

Equally impressive is the fact that his opening act, Brianna Lane, will be accompanying him in the bike lane for the entire tour.

By far it will benefit both of them to have each other for company on the longest mile leg of this tour -- they leave Ann Arbor, Michigan after their show on Saturday September, 12 and head east 305 miles to play in Buffalo, New York just three nights later.

They shift into a lower gear and bring their act right here to Massachusetts where they play two dates in Cambridge (Lizard Lounge and Club Passim) and then the tour wraps up at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton (101 miles away) on September 26.

Check out Peter’s tour details for more information, to hear some of his lovely tunes stop on over to Peter’s Myspace page or add him as a friend on Facebook.

To help support Peter’s awesome efforts please consider seeing him on tour as well as also pledging to go by bike as many places as possible!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Miwa Koizumi Creates Aquatic Life from Plastic Bottles

By now many of us are fully aware that there is a place in the Pacific Ocean called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific Gyre. This area, about 1,000 miles off the coastline of California is a swirling mass of non-biodegradable plastic debris that outnumbers marine life by a 1000:1 ratio in some areas. Because much of this plastic has traveled to this area from land (wind carried bags, bottles washed out to sea, etc) it is more important than ever to ensure we find the most functional uses for our PET plastics and artist Miwa Koizumi has done just that in stunning form with her PET Project.

Her plastic marine animals and creatures are created primarily from items she has harvested from the trash and include all manner of plastics from colored soda bottles to five gallon water cooler bottles. She creates everything from dramatic jellyfish with seemingly weightless tails to the urchin and anemone type life forms that reside on the ocean floor.

The artist lives and works in New York and her art takes shape by all manner of cutting or soldering tools to create something truly unique and special.

In addition to her actual sculpture Miwa is also working on a photography project which captures the beauty and grace of her designs through use of black backgrounds, white backgrounds and directional lighting. She truly took the ‘trash to treasure’ adage to new heights with this project!

These works of art are just the tip of her creative talents however! Other projects include her plastic bag kites, a plaster and LCD installation art display, sound installations and performance arts.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Universal World House Made From Paper

Many readers may be thinking I am talking about a decorative house made from a deck of cards or perhaps a doll house or kid’s club house constructed from corrugated cardboard but no, the house I am talking about has eight foot ceilings, a kitchen and a bathroom -- it is the Universal World House from German company The Wall AG.

Created by marrying cellulose and a hardening resin product, the house is purported to weigh only 800 kg (approximately 1764 pounds). According to the website it is lighter than a Volkswagen Golf! Woah! The coolest feature of all is that when the foundation is not included, the structure only weighs only about half that.

The paper used in the home’s construction is Swisscell which is drawn from recycling the cellulose from cardboard or newspaper. Because the price tag is only in the range of $5000, as well as it’s easy to assemble and light weight attributes, this house is being considered as a fantastic solution for those in natural devastation areas, as an alternative for the homeless or to provide suitable shelter to those in ravaged third world countries.

In addition to its light weight on the wallet this house is an environmentally responsible solution (using recycled paper means no additional trees were harmed to create it). The company also claims the home is earthquake proof meaning it could be utilized in such areas.

Thinking outside the literal wooden box has really proved to be a big winner with this cool little house idea! Nice work The Wall AG!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Success and Determination Go Hand in Hand

While ramping up a new crop of tasty reviews for everyone, I am taking a step back for a bit to talk about some of my own home projects or other things I think might be of interest. It has been a while since a good motivational video has moved me here at GLR but this one shared by a friend in Facebook really made me sit up and take notice.

As we all persevere through our lives it is important to remember that there is no such thing as failure, only experiences toward new opportunities. The people featured in this video were and are amazing individuals, but just like they rest of us they had their share of life’s ups and downs along their way to glory.

Enjoy life knowing that every day is an adventure and never give up on living out what you dream!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Eco Fashion Friday Featured Company the Andean Collection

The Andean Collection is a collaborative effort of jewelry designer Amanda Judge and the artisans who utilize sustainable materials from the jungles of South America to create one of a kind items that are simply, out of this world, cool.

This socially conscious company not only fairly compensates its artists for their work, but allows them to take part in a profit sharing program where they become part owners of the organization as well. Right on!

When my Classic Tagua bracelet in the color grape arrived in the mail my jaw literally hit the ground. Created from the harvested tagua nut (a renewable resource growing on the outside of the ivory-nut palm tree, not harvested until after it has fallen), I was immediately impressed with the durability of the beads. Because of the inherent strength of this material it can be carved and polished to achieve a beautiful sheen.

It takes dye remarkably well and comes in 13 colors (three are currently sold out). All dyes used are designed for use on textiles and are non-toxic as well as environmentally safe. In addition to this every last drop of material is utilized either as jewelry, feed for animals, as fertilizer or even as fuel in kiln style ovens.

These bracelets do double duty, not only does their sale provide income to the artists who create them but because they reside within the rainforest, selling these beads is a way to stop further razing of this precious resource as well.

In addition to the tagua, there are five other sustainable materials utilized in the Andean Collection - coconut, Açaí berries, huayruro seeds, jaboncillo seeds and Pambil seeds.

The best part of all? The bulk of the collection is well under $50. The tagua is only $18; well worth the cost! Similar synthetic versions would likely be more expensive and would not come close to the unique appearance of this naturally occurring material.

In addition to the materials, the company as a whole is striving to lower their carbon footprint by recycling, using recycled paper for marketing materials and tags, using energy efficient lighting and they will also continue Fair Trade practices.

With such a strong eye on providing not only a beautiful product, but an environmentally and socially conscious one as well, I am granting Andean Collection a Four Leaf Rating!

It is great to see a local company persevering in such a human friendly way, keep up the trend! ♥love♥

Thursday, September 3, 2009

3M Command Hooks Get a Facelift

Recently while shopping for some home improvement items to help liven up our new-ish apartment we picked up some curtains. I had intended to make curtains from material I already have but as I was going through my stash it turns out that much of the large bulk fabric I had I already used for various other projects so in this instance it was essential to buy new.

As a side note, luckily I was able to reuse the curtains we had in our prior bedroom in our current bath as well as our living room panels in the living room here. The main issues of concern now were the bedroom and closets.

Our apartment is a modified railroad style, meaning it is in one long rectangle and the common length of hallway houses doors to each space. Here is the basic floor plan I drew up while acquiring items for the move:

The bedroom resides in a little nook just big enough for our bed and a couple of small tables but the doorway is a wide open archway measuring about 84” across. When we first moved in I had this idea to create a movie theater-esque design using heavy red velvet panels, a matching scalloped valance with gold trim and tie backs in the same gold with huge tassels. It seemed fitting for us.

So while shopping, when I came across some heavy, deep maroon, velvet curtains with already attached 2” wide nickel grommets I was in heaven! It looked as if the dream for a theater theme was coming to fruition. I knew it would be relatively simple to locate the cording, tassels and trim at my local craft shop but what to use for tie back hooks?

We checked out the home improvement section but nothing seemed right. We headed for the décor aisle and there they were; 3M Command Timeless removable hooks in brushed nickel.

I was impressed right away. I have long been a lover of these hooks because Matt and I move so much and they: 1. leave no holes in the wall and 2. always come with us to the next place. I have only ever used the white plastic version however as they tend to reside mostly in our kitchen for things like potholders and hand towels. I had no idea they came in metal!

I picked up two, one for each tieback, and fully intend to hit the craft store later this week to acquire the trim and tassels. Once I have created the final look and attached the hooks to do their thing for a while I will come back and post a proper review of their true usefulness. I am looking forward to completing this project this weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

When Extraneous Items are Parodied

As Greenies we all attempt to do our very best to use as few ‘one and done’ disposable products as possible right? Well recently I began seeing commercials for a new item that strikes me as convenient yet ultimately another in a long line of one use land fillers, the Colgate Wisp.

Wisp is a compact tooth freshener and toothpick in one, no water is required to brush teeth and it is so tiny it will fit in just about any purse or pocket (although with that sharp point I might suggest that the guys toss it into a wallet or other protective case), Colgate suggests it is good for brushing on the go.

The brushes are sold in a four pack and are suggested to retail for about $2.40, which to me seems awfully steep considering I can pick up a regular sized cheapy brush and travel sized toothpaste for about the same or less. The only difference is, to use a brush and paste, water is required.

Colgate recommends using each brush in the pack no more than once. Yikes! Since the entire piece (including the packaging, sans the cardboard insert) is created from PET plastic this product is going to hang around the landfill a whole lot longer than the fresh breath achieved through its use.

This is not a product I can even feel comfortable granting a Half Leaf Rating to because it is so clearly detrimental to the planet. I am so sorry Colgate but in times where the entire world is thinking in the manner of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, this product simply misses the mark.

I came across a video while doing some research for the item and it made me chuckle for its outlandish parody of the Wisp. I will let you be the judge if I was incorrect in too quickly judging the limited use of this item.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bic Ecolutions Wite-Out

Despite my best efforts to remain positive and offer killer high Leaf Rating reviews, there are times when a product simply bums me out, sadly Bic’s ecolutions Wite-Out was one of those products. I want to be very clear here -- the concept is good and I certainly applaud their efforts to attempt to do anything that is better for the planet -- but I do not believe this is the best way to go about marketing it.

As I had indicated the other day I was specifically shopping for a correction tape Wite-Out while grocery shopping. Because I am savvy with my cash I comparison shop even if the first package I pick up is green and has the word ‘eco’ on it. Part of this environment is my own so if I can spend a little less on these type of items then I will certainly do so.

There were two types of correction tape available, this ecolutions version by Bic and a generic Staples offering. The prices were within a couple pennies of each other and this one had a little bit more length so since it was also touted to be Green I tossed a couple in the cart and came home to dive into the research.

Some of the positives of this product include the fact that the cardboard packaging is made from 100% recycled fiber and that 51% of the plastic in the product is recycled. Sounds great right?

Sadly the plastic is pre-consumer which is to say that it existed somewhere in the factory already, likely as a cutoff from another product’s creation, and it was tossed back into the melting pot to be turned into this Wite-Out or other ecolutions products. As a Greenie I have a hard time calling this process recycling but rather lifecycling; as the scrap has never gotten into the hands of a consumer and come back around, these leftovers are simply able to bring life to a different product.

This product was definitely smaller than the Staples version which is nice that they designed to save on materials, but then Bic went and mucked that up by creating a separate protective cap. An extraneous piece not at all required for such an item.

Now I am not saying the product does not work, on the contrary the correction tape part of this item is possibly the best I have ever used, I am simply disappointed with the way these items are being marketed (there are about ten products in the line so far). Because of all of these factors I am saddened to grant only a Two Leaf Rating to the Bic ecolutions Wite-Out.

You are thinking in the right direction Bic but I highly encourage you to take a cue from your bioplastic shaver and start using that corn based material for these plastic office supplies then watch your Leaf Rating soar!