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!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Search for Health in Decadence

Could also be titled, 'The Tao of Will". Our new renter, has created a blog reflecting his thoughts and philosophy conveyed by his writing, poetry and music. Click on his blog's thumbnail in our sidebar to experience a taste of his refreshing, alternative, perspective.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth - NYC screenings

Just a quick note to let anyone in NYC know that Al Gore's global warming documentary is playing this week as part of the Thalia's Current Film Season. Try to catch it, if you haven't already done could change your life.
Tickets $10; Members $6
Venue: Leonard Nimoy Thalia
Oct 29, 2006, 3:00pm
Oct 29, 2006, 7:00pm

Oct 31, 2006, 7:00pm

Nov 5, 2006, 3:00pm
Nov 5, 2006, 7:00pm

Nov 7, 2006, 7:00pm

For the address, or to purchase tix, click here.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Throw Out Perfectionism

A good friend gave me a copy of a not-yet-released book that I'd like to recommend to you: Mariel Hemingway's Healthy Living from the Inside Out. Her guidebook will be available as of January, 2007. Or you can pre-order from Amazon, right now.

Mariel offers many useful tips on how she has achieved control over the "Four Cornerstones" of her life: Food, Exercise, Home and Silence; and she proposes a 30-day program that's practical and easy to follow.

She had me at:
"Throw out perfection!...The not-perfect approach is moderate, yet still very powerful. When you approach exercise with deep, focused intention, a twenty-minute workout will be as effective as 40 minutes done with less attention. ...And you definitely don't need to do thirty minutes of sitting in silence to feel a change. Try sitting for three."

She encourages examining one's bad habits --
"The beauty of observation and self-inquiry is that when we understand the trigger, we can disarm it, and eventually forget it ever existed....Emotions, bad habits, and old patterns don't have glue; they're not taped to you, nor are they nailed to you. They're just ideas....we can decide to simply, let them go." Such wisdom comes in handy as she instructs on how to "cut the crap out" of our diets, and "clear the clutter" in our homes.

I was very impressed by Mariel's ideas and highly recommend that you give her program a try, if you're exploring new ways to alter your life. The book's January release is a mere few weeks away. /m

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Gift for Giving

Fresh Unlimited showcases unique and elegant giftware items -- handcrafted, fair traded and/or made in a way that is considerate of the environment, and also offers gourmet food items -- made with the finest organic ingredients and free of genetically modified organisms (gmo) and harmful chemicals.

Besides baby threads like this sweet outfit here, their gift baskets include sumptuous selections, like: Decadent Chocolate Truffles and Sweet Confections, High Grade Coffee and Teas, Savoury Delicacies, Aromatic Cigars, Luxurious Organic Skin Care and Organic Cotton Products, Elegant and Contemporary Home Accents, Executive Gifts, Fine Stationery and Functional Art...

Their shipping case/packaging options are thoughtful and eco-friendly. You can select a stylish container which the recipient can then use as a decorative accent: round and square lidded boxes made of natural materials -- pandan, seagrass, and rattan as well as black oxidized steel and ceramic containers. More traditional baskets are also available upon request. Depending on the items selected, it may also be possible to package without a container by wrapping items in cellophane with a notecard and textured ribbon.

All packages come with a beautiful notecard describing each item and how it contributes to environmental preservation and/or the socio-economic welfare of artisans. To get a jump on Thanksgiving and December Holiday shopping, click here.

The Art of Tea (Towels)

My globe-trotting mother-in-law collects tea towels from all the places she visits, so I’m surprised she hasn’t landed at the Third Drawer Down which makes truly inspired artist-designed linens that would hang perfectly on any wall in my house. The Australian company recently launched new looks in tea towels featuring designs by emerging artists. The collection includes artprons, artkerchiefs, lapkins and bubkins. Their promise? To help answer the question: what is art and where do you find it? And the philosophy? To place art in the most domestic of circumstances. And if you’re not sure how to do that, offers a whimsical list of “things to do” with your tea towel, including my favorite: get someone else to dry your dishes with it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tired of that Old Handbag?

Created from recycled truck and tire inner tubes, fashionable Passchal bags are hand made in the USA. In order to make each bag more lightweight, the designers decided to trim each one with hand dyed leather. The most brilliant aspect to these new hotties is that Passchal handbags have a light system that illuminates the interior when the bag is opened: making finding those keys, wallet, lipstick or cell phone, a cinch.

Passchals have gotten around since the biz was launched in May of 2004 -- appearing in the 2004 Billboard Music Awards goody bag, the Call2Recyle event at Olympus Fashion Week NY in 2005, & the 2006 Extra TV Awards Lounge gift bag for The Oscar's. The collections also appeared on the Today Show and Entrepreneur Magazine in March of 2006.

Visit for a look inside. Or click here for an overview of the collection. /m

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Clean Up Your Act

In an effort to be environmentally conscious, I’ve spent some time this morning cleaning up my desk. Ok, it took more time than I care to admit, but here’s the thing…I uncovered a little mantra that I’d been saving for awhile. And digging a little further, I found another. There must be a message in the mess, no? So here they are:

Go for long walks,
Indulge in hot baths,
Question your assumptions,
Be kind to yourself,
Live for the moment,
Loosen up, scream,
Curse the world,
Count your blessings,
Just let go,
Just be.
---From a novel by Carol Shields, a wonderful writer who passed too young

Live with intention.
Listen hard.
Walk to the edge.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
Choose with no regret.
Appreciate your friends.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.
--from Maryanne Radmacher-Hershey

Welcome "A Green Earth"

Please click on our kindred spirit, Winsome Gunning's, thumbnail for her blog, "A Green Earth", in our sidebar. Winsome is a wonderful artist possessing a warm, loving, green perspective on our world. Do yourself a favor and visit her site.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Daybook for Inspiration

Written originally as a daily journal to herself, Julie Fisher-McGarry has published her thoughts in the form of a small book, "Be the Change You Want to See in the World." As each month approaches, a new theme unfolds. October's "harmonious balance" is followed by November's "appreciation" and December's "peace and reflection." Filled with women's health & household tips, vegetarian recipes, verses of poetry and green facts -- her daybook is a breezy read, filled with uplifting thoughts to help us all lead a compassionate, conscious life. As the title of her work is directly lifted from Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, (1869 - 1948), I was a little surprised to see that she does not acknowledge this anywhere. Available in bookstores, or via Amazon. /m

Monday, October 23, 2006

Harvest Soup

With autumn's chill in the air, it's time to prepare the perfect antidote...
Jamie’s Butternut Squash Soup
(adapted from Martha, of course!)
Serves 6

Olive Oil for drizzling
2 butternut squash
2 medium leeks, white and pale green parts, cut into ½ inch thick slices, well washed**
Grated zest of 1 orange (or lemon, if you don’t have an orange)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground clove
1 ½ quarts low sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat (or homemade stock)
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
Pine nuts for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400o . Peel and cut the squash into ½ inch slices. Drizzle with olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper, then roast for 25-30 minutes, until soft but still holding its shape.

2. Drizzle pine nuts with olive oil, then toast in the oven for 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside.

3. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the leeks in 2 tablespoons of water until they soften, about 10 minutes. Add the squash, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove; cook for 2 minutes. Add 5 cups of the chicken broth, the salt, and pepper; stir to combine, and cook until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes. The squash tenderizes mostly in the roasting, so cooking time is variable here. Cook as long as needed to blend all the flavors and to heat it through.

4. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree, adding milk and cream until you get the desired consistency. Return the soup to the pot; reheat, and add more chicken stock to thin if desired. Serve hot with a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts in each bowl, along with a salad and crusty bread.

** Cleaning Leeks:
Cut leeks first into the size called for in the recipe. Transfer the pieces to a large bowl of cold water, stir and let stand for 5 minutes to let dirt and sand settle to the bottom. Lift leeks out of water with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Enjoy! /jb

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Nurture Nature Redux

My daughter thinks she’s a fairy…or at least she wishes it so. She is not alone in this pursuit, as many of her friends believe the same. They are often seen fluttering about in the yard, spinning imaginative fairy yarns as they fly by. To indulge her fancy, we recently visited a local gardening center which hosted a reading of fairy stories by renowned author/illustrator Tracy Kane who has created a delightful collection of books and videos. Best of all the children were encouraged to bring along materials to use in building fairy houses so that wandering fairies might have a place to rest. As Kane pointed out, there are only 2 rules in fairy house architecture: use nothing man made, and use nothing living. Her goal is to remind children of the often forgotten essence of Nature. She wishes “to connect children to nature in a gentle way that inspires rather than instructs.”

With a large tree trunk for support, my daughter constructed a 3-story fairy house, complete with a swing made from a bittersweet branch, 2 bedrooms with corn stalk beds, and a lovely pathway lined with sea shells she’d collected on Cape Cod this summer. Not to be outdone, I built a thatched cottage style house, where my proper English fairies would surely be encouraged to drop in for tea. Ms. Kane stopped by every new house in the fairy community to provide food for the imminent arrival of the fairies. Since then, I’ve found several fairy houses in our garden, and grandma has spied at least one in hers. Seems the lesson has taken hold. Find out more at /jb

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hot Stuff

Ahhh, a nice waffle right out of the toaster...or a warm sandwich right out of the cage. This unique Combi 2+1 toaster from Dualit is for those who don't mind monitoring their toasting. Dualit is a resource for caterers and serious foodies. Earth-friendly for allowing users to heat just one area at a time, saving electricity. Depending on color (amazing variety), sells for approx. $120. Available through or Dualit. fire it up! /m

Monday, October 16, 2006

Green Cleaning with Innovative Technology

This month EM America released Earth Shine All-Purpose Cleaner, manufactured with Effective Microorganisms technology. Promoting sustainable technologies, Earth Shine is made with 5 all-natural ingredients, contains no preservatives or colorants, and is sold in fully recyclable packaging.

It really is "all-purpose" -- it can be used on all food preparation surfaces as well as floors, walls, countertops, chrome, windows, and any other surface. Their customer testimonials include: "I used it to clean grease out of grout that had not been sealed and it took it right out;" and "It takes soap films off of windows and mirrors that you wouldn’t have known were there before using it." Earth Shine comes in 3 sizes: a 16-ounce ready to use spray bottle for $6.99, a 1-quart refill for $8.99, and a 1-gallon concentrate for commercial uses for $24.99. So go out and get your shine on. /m

Friday, October 13, 2006

Welcome, Pictures of My World

Click on my new renter's site (left side bar) for an amazing array of nature snaps, coupled with lots of good info about each subject. Pictures of My World (like the Chinese Lantern pic here) is brought to us by Bozette - thanks for enlightening our day.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Alec Baldwin, the Oven King

Did anyone catch the debut of 30 Rock last night? The series stars, among others, Alec Baldwin & Tina Fey, of Saturday Night Live fame. Fey wrote the funny, sharp script; and Baldwin did a bang-up job of acting.

When Baldwin's character, Jack, is introduced -- he boasts of how his rise up the corporate ladder as the new Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming is due to his ultra-effective hyping of the Trivection Oven that can cook a 22 pound turkey in only 2 hours. Funny stuff.

Cut to tv commercial. Commercial hypes a real Trivection Oven by GE -- that cooks a 22 pound bird in only 2 hours.

GE owns NBC, which produces the new series, 30 Rock. So I'm thinking -- wow, Baldwin's Jack delivers real big hype for GE's new oven right in the context of the show, and then it's followed by a real, full-blown tv commercial for it...although it was beyond plain old, blatant product placement, which is usually so offensive -- I was struck by how it seemed so well done -- very clever, funny and effective.

So I was curious about the "back story" of the script development -- was this placement of the Trivection Oven a contrived, corporate move on GE's part, or the result of Tina Fey's organic, creative writing process? Tina serves up the dish here. /m

E. Coli and the "Smoking Cow"

Authorities may have tracked the source of the deadly E.coli bacteria that has killed 3 people and sickened over 200, to a cattle farm in California's Salinas Valley. STORY
Further investigation is on-going. /m

Keeping You On Your Toes

For some of the most comfortable yoga wear & gear, check out
You'll find killer Bootcut stretch pants in chocolate or black (86% organic cotton/14% spandex) on sale for $42. Eco yoga mats in wheat, tangerine or olive ($40); Cotton Towel Straps ($28) and Ballet barres ($199) to help keep you flexible, and Hinoki Bath Tea ($16) for a soothing soak, post-workout.

Featured here -- offering a seamless, non-slip sole for balance and control, these form-fitting, cotton Toe Sox are designed to wrap around each of your individual toes, ($25 for 2 pairs). No more cold feet on cold floors. /m

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Double Your Digital Pleasure

Go mad with Gomadic devices for the nomadic part of your life. The Dual Charger lets you divide and conquer. Plugged into your cigarette lighter, Gomadic's TipExchange Technology allows you to charge 2 devices simultaneously. You leave the charger intact and rotate the tech as needed by plugging and unplugging the removable tips that are custom-made for almost any hand held device. Now you can multi-use your cell phone, iPod, Bluetooth, video game, GPS-enabled PDA...just pick any 2 to power-on while you kick back and cruise. The dual power is all yours to enjoy.

Also available in a standard wall model to streamline counter space and minimize the messy wires that can pollute any home or work environment, the Dual Charger transmits four times the power of cheaper, single-purpose units. This means powering double the devices in half the time, rendering traditional, device-specific cables virtually obsolete. Quite the energy boost.

Visit for more info and more devices. It's a cool power play. /m

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Not Just for Nerds

Finding the best price for an item online just got a whole lot easier. Although there are others out there, this search engine for comparison shopping seems the most user-friendly. Unlike Yahoo and Google, Master Nerd only contains listings from online merchants, and it has a lot of useful features, like...

Once you find the product you're looking for you can get more details about the product and look at a range of merchants that carry the product. The links to the merchants are all on one page and you can easily see the price history of that particular item over the last six months, as well as the consumer rating for each merchant.

The ratings for the merchants are provided by, and they are based on feedback from satisfied and dissatisfied consumers. And the merchant ratings let you know who is the most secure, who has the fastest shipping and who has the best customer service...nice.

Further savings are also possible through coupons and rebates that are offered on the their website.

...this baby taps into over a million products...and there's a zip-code-based shipping when you wanna compare apples to apples or costumes to costumes, don't be scared, visit /m

Friday, October 06, 2006

Natural Cycles, Natural Food

Having recently visited the Hawthorne Valley Farm and experienced biodynamic farming for the first time, I figured I'd read up on this unusual approach to agriculture. Here's what I've dug up so far..."Based on a series of lectures given by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in 1924, Biodynamics is a method of agriculture which seeks to actively work with the health-giving forces of nature. It is the oldest non-chemical agricultural movement, pre-dating the organic agriculture movement by some twenty years and has now spread throughout the world."

Steiner's approach is really quite fascinating -- it seems part medieval alchemy, part new-age science...for more on this unconventional method, start exploring... /m

Green Apple Cycling Tours

Tour sustainability and historical sites in the East Village and Lower East Side with Green Apple Map -- explore the Garden District, greenways and riversides, composting, solar power and green buildings with special guest speakers.
Sunday, October 8
10 am for families or 2 pm for adults.
25 people maximum per tour. Each ride is 2.5 hours long. Starts & Ends at the Temperance Monument in Tompkins Square Park, near Avenue A and 9th Street.
14 and under must wear a helmet. It's a free, easy ride but it'll be cancelled if it's pouring rain. You need to RSVP -- or call 212 674 1631
For more info hop over to their site, GreenAppleMap /m

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Solar Power Blitz

Beginning this Saturday, October 7th, in many states the American Solar Energy Society is sponsoring a National Solar Tour. If the US had less dependence on oil from foreign countries and more renewable energy sources, we'd be alot better off. Whether it's solar, wind, fuel cells or's in our best interest to shift gears. For more info click here.

If you haven't switched to at least one conpact fluorescent light in your home or office yet, try to do it this weekend. Visit for more. You've got the power, just don't abuse it. /m

Hot Deals on Meals

Dining Out or Ordering In doesn't need to cost an arm and a's how to save a limb. offers deals on meals at a wide array of NYC restaurants. The site is free, easy-to-use, and dynamic -- the choice of restaurants changes almost as often as a menu's special of the day. Each restaurant offers a unique discount, and restrictions apply...but if you're flexible, you'll save some nice cash. It's hot, let's eat. /m

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Lobster, Anyone?

Dolling-up your Adorables for Halloween can be one of the most fun things you do all year. A hip boutique for babies & moms offers costumes like Dragonfly, Ladybug, Turtle, Grape, Poodle and Lobster (pictured at left) starting at $25.99.

Photo Bug Baby Boutique is a great resource for gifts, and the gift wrap is as cool as the gift selection (blue polka dot, court jester & cow) are just a few of their funky styles.

Click here for a rewarding shopping experience. /m

Body Sweets & Treats

Looking to spice things up this fall?
Perhaps a nice Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake with a Pumpkin Spice Latte on the side or maybe a Pool Boy with a Bikini Martini chaser.
These are just a few of many irresistible new scents available for perfume, lip treats, candles, body lotions and scrubs from Body Indulgences.

Or visit The Body Bakery where you can either concoct your very own scent or choose from already-existing skin-loving confections like Key Lime Pie, Lavender Cream Puff, or White Chocolate Mousse -- moisturizer, cleanser, scrub and fragrance. Polish off the fun with The Body Bakery's utensils -- How /m

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Real Deal on Raw Milk

Just in from the land of milk and honey...check out the real deal on raw milk. I'm reading that we humans can derive extremely healthy benefits from drinking raw milk. The topic is controversial. Do your due diligence before deciding if this more natural path from pasture to body is for you.

Personally, I'm on my second half-gallon of fresh, raw milk and I haven't gotten sick or dropped dead...yet. I can just feel those enzymes, vitamins and nutrients in my system doing a better job than organic pasteurized milk used to do. Raw milk really is refreshing. For more milk news, visit or I've also recently tried some tasty cheese that was made from raw if only I could whip up some butter that's from raw milk...any suggestions? /m

Rock Creek & Chaco Reach New Heights

Long recognized as major contributors to environmental and outdoor causes, Chaco and Rock Creek Outfitters announce today that they will offer custom Chaco Performance Sandals for purchase during the 2006 Triple Crown Bouldering Series in effort to raise funds to help secure access to one of the prime bouldering areas in the Southeast. A portion of the custom sandal proceeds will be donated to the Southeastern Climbers’ Coalition to help gain permanent access to and ownership of Boat Rock, a woodland area inside the metro of Atlanta with more than a half mile of unique egg shaped granite boulders.

For every pair of custom Chacos sold, Rock Creek and Chaco will donate $20 toward the purchase of Boat Rock. The custom Chaco Sandals will be available for purchase through Rock Creek Outfitters’ website,, and displayed at each venue of the Triple Crown Bouldering Series. The three-part series kicks off October 7 at Hound Ears in Boone, NC, moves on to Horse Pens-40 in Steele, AL, and concludes at The Stone Fort in Chattanooga, TN.

About Rock Creek Outfitters:
Rock/Creek Outfitters is a specialty outdoor retailer with over two decades of experience in the Southeast. Along with its online shops, and, Rock/Creek Outfitters provides quality outdoor clothing and gear for a host of activities including kayaking, rock climbing, camping, hiking, trail running, and adventure racing. Rock/Creek is committed to making a positive impact on the environment. For this reason, it uses outdoor retail as a platform to encourage outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship and to improve access to the backcountry.

About Chaco:
While many businesses focus solely on profits, Chaco seeks to follow the three steppingstones to sustainability: profits, people and the planet. They strive to minimize their environmental impact, better the lives of the people with whom they work and maintain healthy profitability so they can keep their initiatives moving forward. To further support their sustainability initiatives, Chaco donates three percent of after-tax profits to organizations dedicated to caring for people and the planet. They currently support the Conservation Alliance, the Sierra Club, American Whitewater, Leave No Trace, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and many others.
Content source: company press release. It's good to see smart companies partnering on green initiatives. /m