Thursday, July 31, 2008

Crunchy Greenolas: Organic and Natural Personal Care Products

Crunchy Greenolas is my own personal review of new green stuff I’ve found- I’ve tried everything and these are the goods!

Kimberly Sayer of London - Kimberly Sayer is the daughter of organic farmer in England. Her family used fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs to create their own skin, body and home care items.  Using this knowledge, she went on to study aesthetics, aromatherapy and chemistry and then launched her own organic product line.  All Kimberly Sayer products are USDA certified organic.  I have been using the Hydrating Antioxidant Facial Mask, Gentle Almond and Lavender Face Scrub, Restore Anti-Aging Cream and Cellular Extract Eye Lift Gel for the past month and my skin has never felt better. In addition, my family and I have been using the Organic Family Sunblock SPF 25 and it appears to work great.  My 5-year-old says it stings his skin but he has severe excema.  It has been great for my 2 year old. Kimberly Sayer's products can be purchased at select Whole Foods Markets and via her website

• suki  - suki produces two lines of products, suki pure skin and sukicolor.   suki pure skin is a 100% pure and 90% organic skin and body line (lotions, moisturizers, cleansers, toners, and hair products) and sukicolor is a pure and organic makeup line. The company sources all of their ingredients from fair trade, organic, biodynamic processing and local suppliers whenever possible. The company takes into consideration fuel emissions, as well as certification, and transport when making its purchasing decisions. The ingredients are 100% natural, food grade (not cosmetic grade) ingredients so that the products are non-toxic and edible (not that you want to eat it!). In addition, suki uses only biodegradable ingredients that do not hurt animals or damage the ecosystem and no toxic ingredients such as petrochemicals, chemical fragrances and preservatives. All suki products are packaged in eco-friendly materials like recycled stock, printed with vegetable ink and b0ttled in glass containers. The company's website not only explains all the ingredients but also lists ingredients to avoid. Now I have not tried everything in the both product lines but what I did try I really liked. Products can be purchase directly from the suki website or search on the site for a retail location in your area. Products are pretty price but are worth it.

Artisan Naturals -- Started by Stephanie Barron, the mother of a child with allergies to synthetic fragrance and colorants, Artisan Naturals, is free of mineral oils, parabens and synthetic ingredients.  The product line includes cleaners, toners, moisturizers, mask and various skin treatments. In addition the company makes massage oils, candles and handcrafted soaps. The products are not certified organic but are made with organic ingredients and are all at least 99% natural. Artisan Naturals line can be purchase at a few speciality stories in the US and Europe in addition to the web via the company's site. Green Luvin' readers can receive 20% off the entire product line for the month of August by using the promotion code GRN08.

Rare2b  - All vegan, all natural, organic, 100% botanical, vegetal, marine ingredients from non-gmo sources, Rare2b products do not contain parabens, alcohol, peg & tea, synthetic chemicals, petroleum by-products, formaldehyde or formaldehyde donors and no animal by-products. All the ingredients come from sustainable fair trade sources in the Amazon Rain Forest to the South Australian Rain Forest, which the USDA permits in certified organic food. The products are certified organic by Eco-Cert, the Forest Stewardship Council with USDA Organic Certification, and Kosher by the Federation of Synagogues and approved by the Fair Trade Foundation. The line includes day and night cream, facial mask and body lotion and can be purchased on the Rare2b website.

• The Grapeseed Company -- Based in the Santa Barbara, California wine region, The Grapeseed Company produces eco-friendly bath & body products using expeller-pressed grape seed oil, a natural byproduct of the wine making process. According to the company, grape seed oil is rich in antioxidants and vitamins and helps fight free radical damage and signs of aging. The grape seed oils are naturally expeller-pressed instead of solvent extracted. All colors come from the natural ingredients; there are no artificial additives or filler ingredients and ingredients are sourced from local sources whenever possible. The entire ingredient list can be found on the website and all ingredients are between 70% to 90%+ organic. My husband has been using the organic shave and skin care line for men line called Mojito Man and loves it! I keep having him try out different organic shaving products and this is the first one that he has liked and plans on only using this product line from now on. The company also makes body scrubs, bath & massage oils, lotions, lip balms and candles. All products can be purchase via The Grapeseed Company's website.  Green Luvin' readers can receive 10% off the total order by using the code 10AGAIN at checkout. 

If you know of any Crunchy Greenolas that you would like me to review or just think are great, please let me know.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

ENDoutdoor: New sustainable trail shoes for the green outdoor enthusiast

Many people think that when you live in the suburbs you are only surrounded by tiny plots of land with mowed lawns and white picket fences. Well that is not so. I am very fortunate to live within a half mile of a forest reserve of more than 2,000 acres of undeveloped land. Twice a week my friend and I take an 1-1.5 hour hike -- no matter the weather, no matter the season, we hike. We take her dog and we go.

So I was really excited when I was offered the opportunity to test out a new brand of high-performance eco-friendly trail shoes.  Now I've seen ec0-friendly clothing and everyday footwear. Never before have I seen green footwear for athletic and fitness needs -- think Nau for the outdoor fitness enthusiast. 

Launching August 1st, ENDoutdoor (END) is a new sustainability company that is focused on designing outdoor gear that performs well without all the "bells & whistles"- no pumps or air cushions that don't really do anything.  By keeping it simple, END reduces components, material and manufacturing waste. END's stated goal is to reduce waste up to 59% in the first season compared to the top rate trail running shoes.  

Their trail shoes are made from renewable, sustainable or recycled (RSR) materials wherever possible. The company's goal is to reach 100% use of RSR in the next 3-5 yrs.  END shoes are being manufactured in China. China, I know what you are thinking, however, the company made a conscious decision by going to China. They believe that China was the best choice because they want to be part of the solution by working closely with its manufacturer to make the process as eco-friendly as possible.  END is teaching Chinese manufacturers how to produce environmentally, not just low-cost.  The company hopes this focus spreads beyond just the producing of END's shoes.

One of the most interesting features of END' manufacturing process is that all materials used to make the shoes are sourced within 1 hour of the production factory cutting down on transportation pollution. Additionally, all wastes are recycled back into the shoes, and the shoes are shipped in lightweight containers, cutting down on use of fuel for shipping. Importantly, END shoeboxes are made of recycled and recyclable material. 

So how do they actually perform in the field? I love them. I have been hiking in the END Stumptown 12 oz running shoes (pictured above) that I am told are 35-59% reduction of material, rubber, foam, resins and glues when compared to the top five trail shoe by Outside Magazine in 2007. From the feel, they sure seem like it. They are comfortable, light and stable. No fancy colors or logos. I even went hiking the other day with my husband and we took a new route. We had to cross a river that we both fell in. My END sneaks dried out in the the sun in about an hour and my husbands Adidas Sambas (not the best hiking shoes) were still wet that night!

END believes that they are taking a look at the entire lifecycle of the shoes, making each step as eco-friendly as possible. I asked if the company will have a recycling program for spent shoes. What they told me is they hope to implement one at some point, but there is no timeline in place yet.

ENDoutdoor's first product line includes seven lightweight trail-inspired running-training shoes for both men and women ranging in price from $60 -$90. The shoes are available online at both and in addition to more than 70 specialty footwear retailers nationwide and in Canada starting August 1.

If you are in the market for a new pair of trail/running shoes, I recommend checking them out. I plan on getting another pair for myself and think I may even get a pair for my husband so he does not have to hike in his Sambas!  

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gardening in the Suburbs: Keeping it Local

My family and I are strong believers in eating locally and organically.  In the late fall, winter and early spring, we get food deliveries from a services called Door-to-Door Organics and in the late spring, summer and fall we are members of a local CSA called Asbury Village Farm.  

However, the most local you can get is to grow in your own yard. One of the things my husband and I were excited about when we moved to the suburbs 5 years ago was to have our own vegetable garden.  However, as it happened, the house we bought has a backyard that is totally wooded -- almost 85% shade. Not very promising for tomatos and other veggies that need full sun. We could grow them in our front yard but these fruits and vegetables would be great eats for the plentiful deer, rabbits and groundhogs that inhabit our neighborhood (makes two liberals want to go out and get a gun!)

So after living in our town for about a year, we were going to the local playground with our son. We parked right in front of a community garden. The gate was opened and we walked in to see approximately 70 or so -- 10 feet x 15 foot plots--  filled with gorgeous vegetables, berries and flowers.  Wow, so cool -- we had find out how we could get a plot of our own. A small sign at the gate gave the address of the garden club that ran this community garden. My husband wrote a letter telling our story and requesting a plot to tend. While we waited to hear back we talked to everyone and anyone to find out who we could call t0 speed and influence the decision making process. I tracked down the woman who ran the club and we called her. We were told that there was a long waitlist for the garden and that someone had to give up their plot to for us to get one -- but once you get one you can keep it for life!  So,  disappointed, we waited.

Then one spring the phone call came. There was a plot opening up and it was ours if we wanted it. The garden organizer warned us that it was next to a tree and was shaded, but the last person who tended it had pretty good success growing tomatoes and other veggies. We jumped at the chance to grow our own food. That was three years ago and this summer we were given a second plot, this one in full sun.  

Our growing season this year has been awesome and our gardens include tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, peppers (a few variety), bok choy, broccoli, raspberries, beans, eggplant, asparagus, pumpkin, herbs, grapes and sunflowers.

What I think we like best about the entire experience, besides getting great tasting food, is how our children love it. They come to the garden and delight in how things are growing and graze on tomatoes, beans, raspberries and more. We believe that it is very important that our kids learn where their food comes from and how it gets to the table. We even took our 5 -year-old to our CSA farm to help weed, and he had a ball. He got meet the farmer and see the animals and taste the first heirloom tomato of the season. Bigger then a baseball, he ate the entire tomato like an apple (see photo above). Our kids will grow up knowing that food does not just come from the supermarket. They will understand from "farm to plate" not "store to plate." Hopefully this will encourage them to be both better eaters, and more adventurous ones too.

There was an article in the New York Times on July 22nd entitled "A Locally Grown Diet With Fuss but No Muss." It talked about how people are paying someone to come to their house to plant, take care of and harvest an organic garden or they have their personal chefs buy local. Now that is great that they are eating this way but isn't that just keeping them removed from their food? They are "locavores" in action but not emotion.  

We grow it ourselves, and hopefully you'll find a small plot to try this out yourself.  Our next step is to try and store what we grow to enjoy the "fruit of our labor" throughout the winter.  I have been reading How to Store Your Garden Produce by Piers Warren to learn all about it. 

What's your experience with growing your own food?  Any good suggestions for storing for the winter?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Crunchy Greenolas: Organic and Sustainable Clothing

Tees For Change - "Sustainable tee on a mission, " this fun and inspiring t-shirt line is made from organic cotton and bamboo. Shirts are adorned with positive messages and affirmations such as "Today Matters" and "Live Mindfuly." The bamboo tees are so soft you will not want to take them off. The organic shirts are made in the USA and sustainable bamboo tees are made in Turkey without pesticides and are 100% biodegradable.  Tees for Change has partnered with American Forests' Global Releaf to plant a tree for every shirt purchase. Tees are $32.00 for men and women and tanks for women are $28.00 and can be purchased both online and in retail stores.

Greenici by Gramicci -- Gramicci, the outdoor lifestyle apparel manufacturer based in California, has an environmentally friendly clothing line called Greenici. The sustainable products are made from hemp, certified organic cotton or recycled materials – or blends of each – and includes items for men and women such as polos, shorts, t-shirts, skirts and pants. The clothes are casual and fun. (See image on right of a Greenici short sleeve button down organic shirt.)  Gramicci believes (and so should all of us) that we need to "Start Somewhere" meaning taking that first step to becoming more aware of our impact on the earth and another step towards making change. The Greenici line is the company's step towards making a change in providing consumers with a choice for purchase sustainable clothing. Prices range from $22.50 to $80 and can be purchased on their website, other online outlets including The Hempest and via retail locations.   

Oxygen Required  -- Oxygen Required is an eco-friendly lifestyle line for women.  The collections boast pieces made from bamboo and cotton. Bamboo fibers contain an agent that keeps bacteria from cultivating resulting in odor free clothing. The fabric is thermal regulating - keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer. The fibers are porous in nature - bamboo absorbs, evaporates, and wicks away moisture. Derived from tropical grass grown on family owned farms, none of the fiber comes from forests, and the resulting material is biodegradable.  Of equal importance, the clothes feel great and look great. To purchase check out their site for retail and online stores.  

If you know of any Crunchy Greenolas that you would like me to review or just think are great, please let me know.