The Alternative Consumer

This blog focuses on environmental issues, and healthy lifestyle choices -- new products and service options for your self, your friends, family and home. It's all about making smart choices, and living well!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Foldable Bicycles


If your living environment is space-challenged, or you just can't travel without your bike -- check out these easy-to-store, easy to carry, 2-wheelers from bikefold. The Chameleon can be wrapped up in 3 minutes, just before you check-in for that last-minute flight, or check into your office.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Big Foot Disease


You can figure your own carbon footprint with a few easy steps. SafeClimate helps you determine your impact of carbon emissions -- whether you're at home, in a car or on a plane. Definitely a step in the right direction. For the best explanation of carbon footprint, be sure to click on the icon next to what is a carbon footprint? You'll also discover the definition of your ecological footprint.

Spin for Fresh Air


"TIME'S UP!" is a non-profit environmental organization in NYC. Check out this week's events on their site to promote cycling and encourage sustainable infrastructure for cycling. "Still We Ride" is a recently made, 37 minute doc that highlights some of the struggles NYC bikers face. If you're interested in showcasing the film, contact the Executive Director via their site.

Curb Your Fear



Too Hot Not to Handle
is a well produced doc on global warming which aired Saturday on HBO...if you missed it, look for it on HBO on Demand. Laurie David, the filmmaker, (yes, Larry's real-life, wife) has a bite with the NY Times, here's an appetizer.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Earth Day, East and West-Coast Style


April 21-23 The Green Apple Music & Arts Festival. There’ll be a whole lotta shakin goin on... The whole event is being organized by former Wetlands club owner Peter Shapiro, in association with Relix Magazine.

April 26-28
LOHAS 10 in Los Angeles...Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability annual forum, a gathering of over 700 companies who talk the green talk and walk the green walk. If you can't attend, be sure to sign up for their weekly newsletter when you visit their site.

Earth Day Evolves into Earth Week

The 36th Annual Celebration of Earth Day is April 22...for a green-wash free experience -- take a hike, ride a bike, go for a swim, kayak, get back to nature.
For trail tips
LINK


See what all the stink is about

renewable energy
LINK
sick of or from fast food...
LINK
rock your world...
LINK
natural foods tips...
LINK
industrial pollution, a personal fave...
LINK
or get the big picture at earthday.com
LINK

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Check out our new renter...

Take a peak at our new renter's blog, Texas RV Travel : USAer Blog, it's got some fun info on travel, nature and America.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Back to Nature Packs for Kids


Now you can tell your kids to take a hike, and do it guilt-free. Here's how to make sure they're equipped with quality materials (like binoculars & an Audubon Bird Guide) to make that hike educational.

"Through hands-on discovery and experimentation, children develop their critical thinking skills and better understand and retain information in a fun way," according to Frank Schaner, President of Home Science Tools...this online catalog offers Young Naturalist, Botanist, Rock Hound, Bird Watcher and Insect Collector backpacks, intended for children 7-14 years old. $59.95 - $89.95

Kids Obesity - a Weighty Issue


Kids today should not be overweight. Food manufacturers increasingly offer more health-conscious alternatives, so preparing and eating nutritious meals and snacks is simpler than ever.
Merilee Kern, CEO of Healthy Kids Catalog, a brand spanking new, online source to help kids of all sizes and shapes lead a healthy lifestyle, has written:
"It's Not Your Fault That You're Overweight..." For the skinny on keeping our youth fit and trim, more.

See-Thru Skirts



No, these Japanese women are not flaunting their underalls, they are sporting a new fashion look. The panties are actually prints on the skirts to make it look as if the panties are visible. I thought it was...very revealing. LINK

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Natural Storage


For storing fairly small items, this England-based company, eco home has stylish baskets, bowls and trays made from natural, sustainable and recycled sources. This beehive basket is from Cambodia, produced under Fair Trade terms. Eco home also offers a selection of contemporary cushions, throw rugs, toys, stationery and furniture.

High on Hemp






Hempster offers hip, hemp-based products...Hemphoria's so good it should be illegal Better Body Butter is $14.95 and Massage Oil is $13.95. Hop on over for body treats of all kinds -- lemonade lip balm, bath gel and sunscreen.

Their organic clothing line has got you covered from head to toe...don't miss the shoe collection & undeez, hoodies & alpaca sweaters.

I'm likin' their organic wool Eco-jacket for the guy in my life. Available in either black or coffee, S-XL, priced at $109.

organic bottoms


If you're ready for a quick change...try these stylish, organic jeans from
of the earth for guys and dolls.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Afraid of the Dark?


In the right environment, these Bloom Pots are a wow. Available from Design Within Reach, they're not inexpensive. But who knows, for possibly a better deal, try Ebay or Amazon.

Plug In, Turn On and Around


Get charged in-the-round with here. Sign up to see when you can turn on.

Memory Stick Sticks


Memory Sticks, a nice SMALL, handy, storage device. Now you can get your own one-of-a-kind...more ...not one of life's necessities, but cool nonetheless.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Ward Off Aches and Pains




To stay healthy: get your rest, drink lots of distilled water, exercise, do not smoke cigarettes, eat lots of organic fruits and vegetables (in as wide a color range as possible: the more intense the pigment, the better), and get your balanced doses of Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids.

Recent studies indicate that allergies, arthritis, and chronic joint pain can be attributed to inflammation and triggered in part by eating certain foods.

Cold-water fish are among the best sources for omega-3 fatty acids. Health experts like Dr. Andrew Weil continue to advocate for eating fish. In his book, "Healthy Aging" Weil says he eats wild Alaskan salmon, Alaskan black cod and sardines. Many experts recommend Pacific-caught fish over Atlantic.

Here's a partial list of what I call "the GOOD STUFF" from "The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan" (McGraw-Hill, $24.95), by Monica Reinagel and Julius Torelli.
Fruits:
Acerola (West Indian) cherries
Guavas
Kumquats
Lemons, limes
Mulberries
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Strawberries
Vegetables:
Chilies
Garlic
Kale, collards, chard, turnip greens, etc.
Onions (also green onions and leeks)
Spinach
Sweet potatoes
Fish:
Arctic char
Herring
Oysters
Rainbow trout
Salmon (not farmed)
Sardines
Striped bass
Tuna, bluefin and white (canned)
Whitefish
Date: April 11, 2006
Credit for this info goes to: alternativemedicine.com and
© 2006, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

Tires, Hemp & Bicycle Parts


Flip flop in style with Splaff Flopps. The founding fathers are 2 surfer boys who are genuinely committed to the earth, ocean and their customers.

Cliff Drill and Craig Wallace are hands-on...they collect, sort, cut and clean the recycled raw materials themselves. The layer of hemp fabric provides extra comfort, and these babies are hand-crafted in California, and built to last.
The black recycled rubber footbed is waterproof, slip resistant, and odorless.
3 styles in black and natural, for men & women $38-$42
Perfect with all your casual wear.
Link to Splaff to order, allow 2-3 weeks

Taming the Aquatic Weed


Alternative designers of environments and modern lifestyle furnishings -- PIE (Project Import Export) -- creates a clever, ecology-friendly, Round Stool. This practical construction is a frame of rattan wrapped in a highly renewable, natural fiber, water hyacinth.

Link to vivavi to order.
$360.
Dimensions: 20" round x 20" tall

IZZE Pop


For a naturally refreshing, fruit juice sparkler, you've gotta try IZZE...
no refined sugar, no caffeine, no artificial anything...just fruit juice and sparkling water.

Two fun-loving, health-conscious, good-hearted guys from beautiful Boulder, Colorado know how to make people happy. They make a delicious array of 100% natural sparkling juice, support farm workers and their families in the communities where they buy their fruit, and happily support live music events.

Visit IZZE to learn more, and see where you can load up.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

May You Rest in Green Peace


We plan our green lives...for a peaceful, satisfying existence. And now we can plan our green deaths. Screeeech. What? Plan my death, I can't even get my head around the idea that....I'm gonna die. I won't live forever? OMG. PANIC. Red Alert.
OK I'm still breathing and thinking, and all I can say at the moment is -- here are some folks with lots of eco-friendly ideas about how to have a final green resting place.

Some of these names just kill me.
Compakta
Ecopod
Forest of Memories
Green Endings
Glendale Nature Preserve
Green Burial Council

Most Ramsey Creek burials, which involve non-embalmed bodies in biodegradable cardboard or wooden caskets, cost around $2,500, with 25% of the cost going to maintaining the natural habitat.

I guess the upside is...we may not have had a say in how we were born into this world, but we can have a say in our final farewell.

Next Generation Cookie


My galpal, mother of 2 toddlers, is one smart cookie. She mentioned how her rugrats don't know from Oreos...they only know from Newman-O's...this gave me pause... as I have to confess, one of my favorite indulgences as a kid was running home from school and having Oreos and milk...not a handful, but an entire bag of Oreos. I know, you're probably thinking I was overweight and lonely but that wasn't the case. When you're one of six kids, you're never lonely, and you're never sure of seeing another whole bag of cookies just sitting at the kitchen table waiting to be devoured....which also makes me realize why I ran home, as opposed to sauntered...had to get their before the other five siblings.

Since I'm still a bit of a cookie monster, I had to try these alternative Oreos. I scooped up Newman's chocolate creme filled chocolate cookies and I'm happy to say, I think that they're quite good. Don't forget the non-fat, organic milk.

My next bag will be either the Mint or Ginger-O's, as I love both of those flavors...check the packages for full details, but the chocolate numbers are made with organic flour, organic sugar, organic cocoa, organic unsweetened chocolate...and do not contain trans-fatty acids or hydrogenated oil. For the sticklers -- it does contain organic palm fruit oil -- which is 50% saturated, while palm kernel oil is 86%, and Coconut Oil is 92% saturated. For ingredient details click.

Knowing that Paul Newman donates all of the royalty he receives (after taxes) to educational and charitable purposes -- makes my cookie-dunking feel somehow more justifiable.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tee for 2?


Summer sizzles.
Stay cool in this lace up organic number from Ecoganik.
Found on the green loop shopping site.

Spring Fashion Forward




Bono's wife has made a name for herself helping underdeveloped areas -- especially Africa, India and South America -- by establishing local manufacturing as well as fair trade opportunities. Ali Hewson has teamed up with NY designer Rogan Gregory (of boutique jeans fame) to promote conscious consumerism.

Edun Apparel makes sure that their workers receive fair wages and that they're treated humanely. Hewson and Gregory have created a successful, for-profit business model and are hoping others will want to replicate their efforts, to encourage re-investment in the work force of the developing world. Edun's fair trade merch is sold in the US in places like Barneys and Saks. Their mens and women's collections can also be found on the Emerald Isle at Brown Thomas.

As the House Spins


The fact that this home actually rotates 360 degrees is really awesome. Not the greenest home ever built, but heated very efficiently due to the light and spin factor. I do wonder how much electricity is consumed by the rotation...at any rate, thought you might want to give it a whirl. The Everingham Rotating House story.

Save the Earth Dates



April 12-13
Green Construction 2006 in San Jose, CA...sustainable building education, demos and exhibits brought to you by the Northern California building community.

Monday, April 17
Deep Sustainability: Building Communities that Actually Work
a lecture by Bill McKibben
6:30 pm
Tishman Auditorium
66 West 12th Street, New York City
For more information on Bill McKibben, please see www.billmckibben.com

Admission is free for Architectural League members, and $10 for non-members and guests. Members may make reservations for themselves and one guest by calling 212.980.3767 or emailing info@archleague.org. Reservations will be held until 6:25 pm. After 6:25 pm, non-members and members without reservations will be admitted on a first-come, first served basis.

April 20-23
For music, organic beverages and lots of fun, there's The Green Apple Music & Arts Festival. There’ll be a whole lotta shakin goin on... The whole event is being organised by former Wetlands club owner Peter Shapiro, in association with Relix Magazine.

April 21
Vacation for free from the International Ecotourism Society's annual Eco-holiday Auction.

April 22
A Global celebration of Earth Day, both today and all month long. check out earthday.org for the big picture.

April 26-28
LOHAS 10 in Los Angeles...Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability annual forum, a gathering of over 700 companies who talk the green talk and walk the green walk. If you can't attend, be sure to sign up for their weekly newsletter when you visit their site.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Angel Wears Organic



Do we need to care about Fair Trade labor practices and environmentally-friendly manufacturing when making our purchasing decisions? Of course. So in our quest to support those companies that help both people and our planet, here are a couple of SCR (socially conscious retailers) you might like to try.

For casual wear made from organic hemp (a fast-growing, ultra-sustainable fiber), organic pima cotton, and cashmere (from Mongolia with a fair-trade partnership),
Stewart + Brown...This husband-wife team of eco-textile developers are currently researching bamboo and soy for their future fashion mix.
Their current collections and retail locations can be found at
Stewart + Brown

For casual/yoga wear that's made partially from hemp, there's aptly named, NaturalHighLifestyle.com

If you'd like to recommend companies (who use bamboo, soy, hemp, alternative fabric constructions and have Fair business practices), drop a line. Don't forget -- if you can't smoke it, you may as well wear it.

Converse Gets Hempified


I'm a Converse All Star lover from way back. And not because I play hoops, natch. They're just so comfortable and go with all my summer threads.

Happy to say that Converse is turning up the green a bit this season and using hemp in a style or 2. These Chuck Taylor All-Star Vintages go for $60.00 on the Converse website. And I also found both the high and Lo Tops on Amazon’s site.

You can even design your own signature pair of canvas slips, here on their site, allow 3-4 weeks for delivery, so step on it.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Positively Fourth Street












Curious about Roderick Romero's "deck"/treehouse creation on East 4th Street (between Avenues C & D), I sauntered over there this glorious Sunday afternoon. Camera in hand, I took a few snaps of this work in progress park,
El Jardin del Parais. After seeing photos of his celebrity constructions, this creation (left) was a bit of a let-down. But it's a nice addition to the area nonetheless.

This mid-block park is in its infancy, and needs alot of tlc. Fortunately, there was a small group of community-minded gardeners tilling the land, taking advanatage of the spring weather.

To my delight, I discovered a handful of very small, public parks along this very unassuming Village street. Directly across from the Willow tree deck park is a gem of a spot called Tranquility Park. This (photo right) sweet, little bird house is its treehouse. Call me a traditionalist, but treehouses are for the birds, literally.

On the northwest corner of 4th St and Avenue C is a tiny park with water bubbling into a terra cotta planter, and a stone's throw from here is Generation X Park, which features a tiny teepee in the middle of it. (photo top)

Anyway, just couldn't get Dylan's Poisitively Fourth Street out of my head. This scornful tune was one of his most popular ditties, and dates back to 1967. I guess this was a positively classic NY day.

The Treehouse Effect


Lifestyle choices...now that they can afford their own private planes, islands, trips to the moon...are these trendsetting celebs treehuggers or tree trashers? Does anyone really think that the tree would thank the tree trashers for this or perhaps need rape counselling? Unless used as one's primary residence, I'm afraid that I'm anti "tree house as frivolous accessory." Donna Karan, Sting and Trudie, Julianne Moore are probably looking to get back to nature, but is this the proper expression of such a desire? Let me know what you think.

On the other hand, as an adventure, or to get kids to experience something "wild and wonderful" I can get behind this treehouse concept.

To try it as a Lark, go on a treehouse vacation.
This first site was hit by Cyclone Larry on March 20, 2006 rainforesttreehouses.com.au
This is not a typo pezulu.co.za
Try Oregon treehouses.com
Or visit Mt Rianier cedarcreektreehouse.com

Yoga Keeps Me Sane and Happy


My first yoga class was when I had to fulfill a gym class requirement in college...hmmm tough choice -- sign up for tennis or golf? Or lay down for an hour and breathe deeply. These 90-minute sessions were like dying and going to heaven twice a week...I just floated out of there. Turns out, signing up was one of the best decisions I've ever made. What's really great about yoga is that you can do it forever, meaning 'til you cease breathing.

If you're looking for a new yoga mat, or fun fitness & lifestyle stuff, try Gaiam's quality online catalogs www.gaiam.com
SALE is one of my favorite four-letter words, you can sign up for their exclusive email offers here www.gaiam.com/signup
Now take a deep breath and relax. oh om.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Your Very Own Earthship


Talk about self-sufficient. These autonomous buildings use the sun's energy and thermal mass of their walls for healing and cooling. They generate their own electricity from the sun. (sorry, Seattle, you're out of luck.) They harvest water from rain, deal directly with their own waste, use discarded tires or beer cans for wall construction, and are designed so that you or I could build one, at a relatively low cost. They're even available to us on a nightly rental basis...Taos, New Mexico; Fife, Scotland; and Brighton, England. You can't keep a good idea down. Beam me up for more.

Garden of Eden


Anyone heading to Cornwall, England this spring should definitely check out the Eden Project. Voted tops for modern architecture, this 5-year old garden will have an Eggstravaganza for Easter, and a million flowering bulbs blooming until the end of May. If you're serious about preserving earth's natural goodness, the Eden Foundation could use your support.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Herbal Delights Refresh and Relax


For a breath of fresh air, try herbs around your home instead of toxic air fresheners. The fragrance from herbs affects the nerves in our nose, to trigger various parts of our brain -- affecting emotion, intuition and creativity. For a dose of relaxation -- add thyme, lavender or chamomile to warm water and watch your mind float from your body. As their natural oils are released, so are your tensions.

Here's how to make your own Herbal Room Spray
1. Place 2 large handfuls of fresh lavender in a saucepan, add 2 or 3 cups water, cover and bring to boil.
2. Lower heat, simmer for 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat.
3. Let cool and then strain the liquid to remove the impurities.
4. Pour the clear liquid into a spray bottle and add a sprig of lavender.
You could also try this with 2 large handfuls of fresh sage.

Now kiss those synthetic "air fresheners" goodbye.

Tea from a Kundalini Yogi


Yogi Tea. Ever tried it? If not, you can get free samples from yogi tea.
They have not only absolutely delicious organic herbal, black, green and chai teas, but also a tasty site...you can pick their petals, but make sure to check out their lifestyle section. A trip worth taking, let me know what you think.

Pimp My Hybrid


Just in time for the spring rush of new 2007 cars -- Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Saturn and Lexus are adding some frills to their new hybrid entries. Surprisingly, less than 2% of all US cars today are hybrids

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Green Vodka - on the Rocks, with a Twist

Finally, green tilling creates something worthwhile, organic vodka. Sip & spin green tales at this hip convergence of tasty liquids and solids on Thursday, April 6 from 6-9p at Turf 180 Varick St, NYC. for more details
LINK

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Sensual Home meets Spring Cleaning


Ilse Crawford has written the best book about how to care for your home. This is a real find, a beautifully laid out book, filled with useful information. I picked up this treasure about six years ago, and it's one of the few books that I consider a keeper, not a pass-along. Too much good info in it, I use it as a reference all the time. Top of mind right now is that annual rite of spring, yes, that horror of all horrors, spring cleaning. Sorry to say, I was raised on Ajax, Comet, Mr Clean...you get the picture. But fortunately for me and my home, Ilse cleaned up my act, and turned me on to a really simple but effective way to get things sparkling. The magic cleaning cocktail? A heady mix of distilled white vinegar, water, baking soda, salt and sometimes when I really want to go wild, lemon. Yes, I've seen this approach touted elsewhere as The Green solution to cleaning, and if you haven't already converted, I'm here to tell you that it really works.

Try your library, or pick up Sensual Home online. Once you have this beautiful baby, kick back and treat yourself to a relaxing read. With the right mindset, you may be inspired to clean those cobwebs out of the corners of your room and soul. Don't be surprised if you follow her advice -- find an old pair of clean, white cotton sox, stir up the non-toxic concoction she recommends, and go for it. Yeah, spring cleaning can be Zen-like. Almost like going on spring break.

Monday, April 03, 2006

ORGANIC FOOD - HOW DO YOU KNOW?


A fellow blogger asked, how do I know that something at the market labeled "organic" is actually organically grown?
Great question. I guess you have to have faith in our Department of Agriculture, since the feds set the organic standards that the farmers need to meet. Across the country there are certified farms -- you can start with California Certified Organic Farmers. They can provide a directory of farms either by purchasing a Directory from their online store, or you can join the organization and receive one for free.
LINK
Today, the labels that read Certified Organic or USDA Organic signify the same thing.

For those just getting up to speed - here's a quick overview...
Organic refers to methods of growing and processing foods that rely on the earth's natural resources. Pests and weeds are managed using earth-friendly methods -- such as beneficial insects and mechanical controls. Organic farmers work to build natural nutrients in soil, which help fertilize plants without the need for synthetic fertilizers. Organic processors and handlers package food that is natural from beginning and end.

The "Certified Organic" label...basically, it means that a third party has certified that the product is organic...CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers)
is an organization that provides certification services throughout North and South America to processors, farms, private labelers, retailers, restaurants, brokers, and others. As a matter of fact, since October 2002, nation-wide, organic farmers and producers require that all foods labeled "organic" must be certified by a third-party certifier, such as CCOF.

Last year there was a court battle over whether "USDA Organic" products could contain synthetic ingredients, (according to Body+Soul, May 2006):
Packaged food and personal care products sold as "USDA Organic" must contain 95% organic ingredients -- substances produced without conventional fertilizers or synthetic pesticides, using methods that support the environment.
The other 5 percent may include either synthetic or natural ingredients -- but only if they're not readily available in organic form (such as vitamin C and boding soda) and they appear on a USDA-approved list.
Some organic-standards activitists feel the USDA-approved list is too loosely maintained. For updates eco-labels.org
Or check out the USDA's National Organic Program standards for a lot more detail
LINK

While we're on this label-thing:
GMO's -- Genetically Modified Organisms:
The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit the use of GMO's at any stage of organic poduction. Since GMO labeling is not in place, choosing organic is the only way for us to ensure that their food was produced without GMOs.

"No Spray" "Pesticide Free" and "Residue Free"
These labels do not ensure that food is organic. "Pesticide Free" usually means the edible parts of a crop have not been sprayed with harmful chemicals. However, the bad stuff -- synthetic fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides may have been used to grow the food.

The bottom line -- go organic. Food tastes soooo much better, and it's so much better for you and the environment. If you want to join a co-op for a discount on produce, check out localharvest.org for one near you. Be well, and enjoy!