News, Reviews & Reports
Supporting Sustainable Initiatives

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Product Reviews
Zebra Eco Pens




Zebra Pen Corp. has introduced a line of high quality, eco-friendly writing instruments with its “Care For Nature” campaign. Zebra Pen’s “Care for Nature” campaign focuses on spreading the word about conserving resources in an effort to show consumers for generations to come that they truly can make a difference. The Zebra Pen Eco Line offers quality products that are not only friendly to the environment, but retain the same level of dependability, style and prestige that come with every Zebra Pen product.

“Right now, consumers are more conscious of the environment than ever before,” said Director of Marketing Chris Farley. “Most people are doing their part to be eco-friendly and Zebra Pen is making it easier for them by offering environmentally-friendly alternatives to products they use everyday.”

The Zebra Pen Eco Line was created as part of the company’s efforts to be proactive in protecting the earth, explained Farley. The Eco Pen mission is to create products that are friendly to the environment by re-using resources that are limited and using existing energy as efficiently as possible. With this in mind, the Zebra Pen Eco Line utilizes everything from discarded cell phones and battery cases to headlights, CD cases and more. All Eco products consist of at least 70 percent post-consumer waste materials and Zebra Pen has even implemented post-consumer waste materials in product packaging. .

For more information: www.zebrapen.com

Go Glee This Earth Day


This Earth Day, go all-natural with Glee! Glee Gum offers a delectable and fun way to decrease negative impacts on the environment. With a burst of all-natural, mouthwatering flavors including Tangerine, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Spearmint, Bubblegum, and Triple Berry, Glee Gum is a yummy treat that everyone can enjoy. Glee Gum provides a delicious and healthy alternative to mass-produced, artificially sweetened, name-brand chewing gum. With no synthetic ingredients, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, Glee Gum is all-natural and safely sweetened with rice syrup and pure cane sugar.

Every pack of Glee Gum actively helps to conserve the rainforest as it is made with chicle, a tree sap harvested sustainably from the rainforests of Central America. While chicle provides Glee Gum with long-lasting chewing texture, harvesting it helps to preserve rainforest regions and provide jobs to local communities. Additionally, for each pack purchased and registered online, a tree is planted! Glee Gum is even packaged with 100% biodegradable, recycled cardboard, making it green inside and out.

Glee Gum is proud to provide a sustainable source of income for chicle-producing communities while simultaneously offering fun, natural, eco-friendly and socially responsible products. As part of a continued commitment to socially and environmentally responsible business practices, Glee Gum is dedicated to linking world communities and is a member of Green America and 1 percent for the planet.

Pledge to truly help the planet this Earth Day! It's easy and fun to support social and environmental responsibility- just by chewing Glee Gum! Please visit www.gleegum.com


Saving the World in One Swell Foop


Review by Victoria Witchey

                                    

Independent clothing company Swell Foop sells a 100 percent organic cotton clothing line that promotes a positive, environmentally aware lifestyle. With their eco-friendly style, the company has found a way to minimize consumer guilt while capitalizing on the potential for making a literal fashion statement.

 

The founder, Otto Pohl, is an optimistic, environmentally minded former journalist who started Swell Foop in 2007. He views the environmental challenges as “opportunities in disguise”. 

Free of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and chemical fertilizers, the shirts are safe for adults and babies alike. While the company began selling a few shirts on a table at a Farmer’s Market in Montana, it now ships apparel all over the country. The shirts include baby onsies, toddler tees and both men’s and women’s designs and feature animals such as frogs, bison, and penguins. Below each adorable endangered animal is a corresponding tagline such as “Live gently” and “Live Well”. The frog shirt cheekily bears the line “Be green” while the penguin shirt urges “Be Cool”.

 

The witty and optimistic taglines are sure to inspire and delight. With a playful name and designs that feature rare animals and taglines that encourage positive environmental awareness, Swell Foop has created a force for positive thinking about global warming that has resonated with Americans frustrated by the politicized, negative spin surrounding the issue.

 

Swell Foop donates 10 percent of proceeds to non-profits to support environmental causes such as the Environmental Island Institute and American WIldlands. Using only organic cotton, all shirts are made in the USA. On its website, the independently run company lists a number of “swell foops,” which are small, positive steps that will make their lifestyle more sustainable.

 

Their inspiring philosophy: “We live on a wonderful, resilient planet, and by adopting renewable energy technologies and adapting our lifestyles then we can lead a global green revolution (and with our shirts, be stylish too!)”.

Available online and in retail stores in eight states, Swell Foop is quickly expanding their customer base daily. With quirky, colorful designs, an inspiring philosophy and a sustainable mission, they’re truly saving the world, one swell foop at a time. 

 

For more on Swell Foop, visit www.swellfoop.com

Surf’s Up: Sustainable and Ocean Inspired Accessories

Photo courtesy of Davidpuu.com

Review by Victoria Witchey

Surfer Donna von Hoesslin has managed to combine her love of the ocean and passion for the environment into a viable business model. In 2003, she founded Betty Belts and Betty B Accessories, two lines of ethically produced, fair trade, ocean inspired products that utilize sustainable and recycled materials. The company supports Balinese artisans and young women stateside, not to mention contributing overwhelmingly to the local community.

Whenever possible, they use sustainable, reused, recycled and organic materials while keeping waste to a bare minimum. The California Sea Glass necklaces are made from found sea glass on our beaches in California and recycled sterling silver. Constructed from sustainably harvested woods, the Zuri belt’s beads are coconut and the buckle is sono wood. The Tongaroa Tiki is hand carved from driftwood found on the beach in California and organic hemp cord.

The jewelry and belts are whimsical, hip, earthy and playful. The unique, handmade pieces are designed by Donna and her creative team, and then produced by a mostly female group of artisans in Bali. Some pieces incorporate stunning shells into the design while others include intricate beadwork. Specific pieces of jewelry speak directly to the ocean-inspired aesthetic, such as the wave wire earrings and the fishhook pendant necklace. Others have a distinctly eastern feel, incorporating lotuses, bamboo and Om signs. The eclectic collection even boasts simple, understated jewelry for men. The diverse range of earrings, bracelets, belts and necklaces all integrate a fun, hippie aesthetic and a beachy bohemian vibe.

Ms. von Hoesslin, who lives in the beach community of Ventura, California, supports a mind-boggling array of causes. She’s heavily involved in the local surf community, sponsoring everything from surf camps for girls to professional surf competitions. She also sponsors such events as Earth day celebrations, SurfAid events, film festivals and environmental fundraisers. The community-minded Von Hoesslin is a member of Coop America and the Sustainable Style Foundation, as well as One Percent For The Planet. One Percent For The Planet is a global network of businesses and non- profit organizations committed to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. Members contribute one percent of sales to a wide range of environmental causes, aiming to ensure the sustainability of our planet.

Donna cites her designs inspiration as her love of the ocean, surfing and the beach lifestyle.  With a passion for sustainability and the surf community, she’s parlayed her interests into a profitable and sound business venture. In a veritable ocean of mass-produced, machine made accessories, these pieces stand out for their simplicity, timeless design and carefully constructed elegance.

To learn more about Betty Belts or Betty B. Products, please visit http://www.bettybelts.com

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October 13, 2008

Hey Baby: Bamboo Products for Little Ones

Review by Victoria Witchey

For parents with both a social consciousness and a squirming bundle of joy, Satsuma Designs baby gear is a sure win. Satsuma baby products are made with all-natural, bamboo-spun and eco-friendly materials. Most of the adorable yet tastefully elegant items, such as the swaddling blankets and hats, are made from 100 percent bamboo. Other pieces, like the onsies and velour throws, are composed of 80 percent bamboo and 20 percent organic cotton. The clothing boasts quirky, baby-centric designs and witty slogans such as “Small Carbon Footprint” emblazoned across the chest. The company recently debuted the Baby Booty Bamboo Barrier, a naturally antibacterial changing table pad cover made from bamboo fabric designed to keep the dirtiest part of any nursery clean.

Bamboo is a sustainable resource that grows to maturity in two to three years. It also contains naturally antibacterial properties as it grows in the wild. Once harvested and spun into thread and woven into soft fabric, bamboo is odor fighting, soft and three times as absorbent as cotton. Spurring conventional wisdom, bamboo spun materials are surprisingly silky, luxurious and soft to the touch. With these naturally hypoallergenic and machine washable materials, no harsh dyes or chemicals are used.

The Seattle-based Satsuma Designs is the brainchild of co-founder and president, Jennifer Porter. As a mom, she wanted to purchase practical items for her children that were environmentally friendly. Porter realized an opportunity to connect her evolving philosophies with products that are good for her own kids and for all children.

Satsuma only sources eco-friendly and sustainable resources. They choose partners who meet international criteria for earth friendly manufacturing. They work with raw bamboo suppliers who only use sustainable harvesting practices and fabric mills that ensure environmentally friendly production processes that don’t pollute the environment.

Being a parent and a responsible consumer can go hand in hand, noted Porter. With Satsuma’s diverse assortment of infant accessories, outfitting your favorite tyke in sustainable gear is as easy as stealing organic candy from a baby.

For more information on Satsuma Designs, visit www.satsumadesigns.com

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October 6, 2008  

Essence of Vali: All-Natural Remedies That Make Scents



Review by Victoria Witchey

Trouble sleeping at night? Its time to step away from the Ambien and put the Nyquil down. Whether you’re lying awake at night pondering the principles of advanced physics or simply having a mild bout of insomnia, there is hope for regaining those coveted Z’s.

The Essence of Vali line consists of massage and bath oils, balms, concentrates and mists. All products are plant derived, ethically made, not tested on animals and created on the premises at the New York shop. Her products aim to rectify a range of wellness issues, from pain to stress, with promising names like Calm, Refresh and Uplift.

The most popular product is Sleep, which comes in several forms. The formula contains essential oils of lavender flowers, cedar wood, marjoram leaves and ylang-ylang petals. It’s available in a 2-ounce spray, perfect for stashing in the nightstand drawer. A few spritzes on your pillowcase promises to lull you to sleep with the calming and floral scent. It also comes in a massage and bath oil, which is a carefully blended combination of plant essences and 100% pure golden Jojoba. Jojoba absorbs easily into the skin because it contains an organic ingredient similar to our skin's restorative fluid.

More than twenty years ago, founder Valerie Bennis developed an interest in natural products for health and well being. She studied herbs, nutrition, and cleansing, but took a particular interest in essential oils. For the past decade, she has focused on essential oils and the ways that they could be uses for beauty, health and wellness. She began making essential oils for friends and local stores, but soon demand increased. So in 2000, she jumped ship at her corporate job at a large advertising firm. She founded Essence of Vali, a line of healing blends created with plant essences for health and well being.

With sound principles of all-natural production and a passion for therapeutic aromatherapy, Ms. Bennis has created a flourishing business. The products have gained loyal followers and a solid reputation in the all-natural personal care industry. Whether you want to naturally ease discomfort, boost mood or rejuvenate your body, Essence of Vali products are sure to deliver as well as give you the peace of mind that accompanies adhering to your ethics and standards. You’ll sleep soundly at night, in more ways than one.



H2go: Batteries Not Required


Review by Victoria Witchey                 

With more and more consumers setting their sites on responsible and sustainable automobiles, it’s not a surprise that the toy industry would soon follow. H2go is the world’s first remote control toy car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. The H2go received the Toy Innovation Award at the 2008 Nurenberg Toy Fair. It’s a perfect way to introduce alternative energy sources into the lives of little ones.

An on-board hydrogen fuel cell delivers the H2go power, where sun and water supply renewable, clean energy for unlimited play.  This radical innovation doesn’t require batteries, which often contain toxic materials such as cadmium, lead and sulphuric acid, and are harmful to the environment. The H2go’s packaging includes recycled materials to further reduce the carbon footprint. In addition, the car boasts an eye-catching aerodynamic design, sure to please any discerning tyke.

Designed by PopCo Entertainment, the compact toy kit features a refueling station, a solar power plant, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered radio control car and a remote control. Users simply add water to the refueling station to provide power for the car with solar energy. Due to launch later this month, this ecologically friendly toy is sure to be a hit with kids and their sustainably minded parents as well.

For more on the H2go remote control toy car, www.h2-go.net


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Xerox Solid Ink


Solid ink is a proven color printing technology only offered by Xerox. A solid ink printer or multifunction printer uses solid sticks (or blocks) of no-mess, non-toxic ink instead of toner or inkjet cartridges. Solid ink is easy to use, produces incredible color print quality, is cost-effective, and is very good for the environment.

The History

  • Introduced in 1991, the first solid ink printer won awards from PC Magazine, MacUser, and MacWorld
  • Numerous awards and reviews have been received by solid ink printers and multifunction printers
  • Xerox is committed to solid ink technology for one simple reason: it delivers color printing benefits like no other

The Ink

  • Non-toxic ink is resin-based, similar to a crayon, so the sticks are safe to handle by anyone
  • No-mess ink won’t stain your clothes or your skin
  • Capacities of ink sticks can be up to 1,000 or 2,300 pages depending on the device
  • Load up to 5 sticks at a time (depending on device) of each color in a solid ink device for long, uninterrupted printing
  • Stringent manufacturing of the ink ensures colors will be consistent – 100% of all ink is inspected, not a statistical sampling, which is commonly used

 

The Mechanics

  • Simple design consists of only three major assemblies: the print head (transfers ink to print drum), the print drum (transfers image to paper), and the controller (the brain that tells everything what to do)
  • Short paper path means solid ink printers are fast and reliable
  • Ink is instantly fused onto the paper using heat and pressure, which is why solid ink produces such great image quality on any kind of media. Toner and inkjet ink soak into the paper, so the image is dependent upon the type of paper used
  • Constant evolution of solid ink technology has resulted in solid ink printers and multifunction printers that are reliable, fast, and economical

Solid Ink Compared to Laser and Inkjet

  • More consistent print quality page after page and on any media
  • Easier to use with no cartridges to load and unload, and no mess
  • Less waste with no cartridges to dispose of, and far less packaging
  • No paper curling or wrinkling that often plagues inkjet and color laser printers
  • Fewer parts so there’s less that can go wrong
  • Faster than inkjet technology
  • No special paper needed, unlike some inkjet printers
  • A wider range of colors are printed by solid ink than most color laser devices

Information: Xerox:

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Safe-T-Weed



Product Review by Graham McGhee

Corn gluten meal or (CGM), creation of researcher, lecturer, author Dr. Nick Christians at Iowa State University is a product fast being adopted within the agriculture and landscaping industry as a weed pre-emergent for lawns and beds.

Corn gluten meal has the appearance of ground corn, its yellow flakes dissolve with water. The yellow meal was a byproduct of the wet milling of corn and was actually discovered by accident. Research test fields at Iowa State tried the yellow substance to determine its properties and found it to prevent the germination of certain weed seeds such as broadleafs and common grass weeds including Crabgrass.

Purina has looked favorably at this product, selling CGM under the Bradfield Organics line. The price of corn gluten meal is reasonably high, and must be part of a cost-effective strategy for weed reduction.


I know I must put out something, I feel better knowing this product is basically “corn,” I know it’s safe, and I feel good putting it down. When you weigh the price, on a small area, of corn gluten meal or a chemical alternative, the price difference doesn’t seem too much, so using this product makes sense to me. One of my favorite’s sources for CGM is Orland’s Safe-T-Weed by ProPac. I talked with long time corn farmer Orland Fara in Manning, Iowa. The farmer explained it was a good product noting that the public parks in Madison, WI were using his CGM with success.

There are a number of companies that make and market CGM, there are several things to keep in mind when buying:

1) Make sure it’s the ISU licensed CGM. CGM should come in a professional bag, from a reputable source. Corn gluten meal that’s used as pet or livestock food is totally different and this does not work for this purpose!

 

2) Ask for literature on this product, as there are only several marketers currently carrying this product. Check with your local nursery manager to see if they carry or will order this product.

3) Not recommended for use by people with a corn allergy. If you need more information on CGM and list of licensed companies Google CGM Licensees, for a complete run down on this natural pre-emergent look at the Iowa State University’s website, or research Dr. Nick Christians.


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Compostable Utensils

These biocompostable utensils are made from 100 percent non-GMO corn starch PLA resin and will completely compost in a commercial composting facility within 90-180 days. Home composting is not advised for this compostable cutlery, as they do require a higher heat to break down, which may not occur in most home composting systems.

For more information,
www.worldcentric.org

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An excellent company with an excellent mission. If you have considered switching everything from household cleaners to toilet paper and paper towels, this company has the answers.

Take for instance:




For more information, visit www.seventhgeneration.com.

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Eight out of every 10 plastic water bottles never make it to the recycling center. A moment on your lips is a lifetime on the earth’s hips.

Alternative: “Reusable” NALGENE Bottles