Are You Unintentionally Supporting False Organic Brands?

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Fake organic labelling undermines the companies who really care, dilutes the growth of the organic sector and compromises the health of people and planet. As consumers we need to do our best to boycott companies guilty of greenwash.

A recent report published by The Soil Association reveals that Organic is steadily working its way into the mainstream. With the growth of global organic sales up 25% in the past three years and sales of certified organic health and beauty products increasing in 2013 by 5.6% to £31.8 million in the UK, the importance of organic products in the mind of the average consumer is demonstrably on the rise….

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Groovy Globe: Chic and Conscious Clothing

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As a consumer who tries to purchase organic and ethical products, I’ve discovered how difficult it is to find clothing that matches my values.

When I look through my pantry, I see fair-trade coffee, hormone-free poultry, organic fruits and vegetables, and Rainforest Alliance Certified tea bags. All of these products were purchased from within minutes of home at my local supermarket. In the last few years, I’ve noticed how much easier it’s become to purchase environmentally conscious foods without having to go to a specialized store.

But when I look through my closet, I see an expanse of polyester, rayon, nylon, viscose, and, of course, cotton — which, according to groovyglobe.net, is the most toxic crop on the planet as it accounts for a quarter of the world’s insecticides and more than 10 percent of worldwide pesticide sales.

An Easy Choice

Recently, I was introduced to Groovy Globe, which sells 100-percent organic apparel. T-shirts are made from 100 percent organic cotton and totes are made from 100 percent recycled cotton, as well as silicone wristbands. Never has it been so easy to make an eco-friendly fashion statement for less than $30–$40….

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Sustainable Fabrics: Eco-Friendly Clothing

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If you’re interested in finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint with small, daily changes to your lifestyle, there are a lot of options to cut waste and reduce pollution on a personal level. You can recycle, use green cleaning solvents, switch to organic foods, and make many of your own products at home in bulk (5-gallon buckets of homemade laundry detergent, for example) in order to cut back on disposable packaging waste.

But did you know that you can also support sustainable farming by purchasing clothing made from eco-friendly fabrics? Not only are there a wide variety of clothing options out there (with even some big-name designers jumping on the bandwagon), but there are also plenty of reasons to make the change….

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Try This Delicious Anti-Aging Tea from Supple Skin

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For most of the past decade, I’ve been a coffee lover. As a former road warrior, I frequented a lot of city coffee shops and drank my share of airport coffee. But I’ve found something new to quench my thirst and soothe my spirit: La La’s Tea from Supple Skin. It’s filled with “Anti-Aging Antioxidants” that are not only healthy, but also delicious. Fancy that: a beverage that tastes good and does good for your body at the same time….

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Super Natural Home by Beth Greer

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Every once in a while, I’ll read a book so filled with helpful information that I want to remember every single thing it says. Super Natural Home by Beth Greer is that kind of book.

From the introduction, where I learned that the author had been healed of a 5 cm benign tumor in her chest by changing her diet, to the fact-filled chapters jam-packed with tips and suggestions, to the list of resources in the back, this is a book that gives value on every single page….

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9 Months – 11 Buckets of Dirt

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There are many things in life that require patience: the growth of an embryo into a full-term baby, the long slog through a school year, the development of seedlings into luscious tomatoes … and the turning of garbage into rich, healthy soil.

In July of 2009, Joe built a compost bin in our backyard. It was a relatively simple structure that cost less than $100 (it could have been nearly free, if I hadn’t Freecycled the “extra” cinder blocks we thought we wouldn’t need again). We started dumping our food and garden waste — along with contributions from close neighbors — and didn’t give it too much thought.

When the pile grew to the top of the bin, we kept throwing in food. Mysteriously, all summer and into the fall, the pile never grew higher than the lid. We never stopped adding food and leaves and such — even paper towels and toilet paper rolls. We were careful, though, not to add newsprint or any paper with ink on it. Ours is an organic garden.

It wasn’t until winter set in solidly that we had to add more cinder blocks. That’s when the mass froze, and the pile stopped sinking down. (Thank you, Freecycle, for providing more blocks for the extra height.)

Spring finally rolled around, and, as our thoughts turned to gardening, Joe decided to dig out the pile.

Wow! …

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Wembe Soaps – The “Wild Spirit of the Rainforest”

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Get “the wild spirit of the rainforest,” says Wembé about their handmade soaps. Each soap is crafted using plants native to Paraguay. The company sells 15 varieties of the Wembé soaps, ranging in price from $7.00 for the Coconut Exfoliating Blend to $10.85 for the Black Clay Exfoliating Blend.

I tested the Yerba Mate exfoliating blend, Green Blue River exfoliating blend, and White Rose cleansing blend. They all smelled beautiful and instantly softened my hands. Plus, they’re natural and made from organic ingredients. None of the soaps contain silicone, petroleum products, parabens, sulfates, or synthetic fragrances and dyes.

The soaps’ outer packagings were so pretty, I didn’t want to open them at first. When I did, I found one of the most unique products I’ve ever seen. The interesting swirls of color make the soaps look like they came directly from the rainforest. Since they’re natural and handmade, they all vary in shape and size, though the standard weight is 3.75 ounces.

The Yerba Mate soap is vegan and rich in antioxidants. It contains essential oils, exotic weeds, and crushed yerba mate leaves. Plus, its ability to exfoliate the leftover winter dryness from my hands will make it an Iowa essential for the upcoming December and January months. The cost of the Yerba Mate bar is $9.45 for 3.75 ounces….

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Got Organic?

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Walk down any aisle in the grocery store and you are faced with an astonishing choice of items to purchase. You may have apples on your shopping list, but do you want the red ones or the green ones, the big beautiful ones or the little pre-bagged ones, the ones from New Zealand or Washington State? More and more, we are now also being given the choice between conventional and organic food.

Ask people what organic means, and you’ll get words like expensive, natural, healthy, local, safe and no chemicals. Most people are thinking as consumers, but I am a farmer, so I think as a producer. I believe that knowing the more complete story behind the organic labels on the grocery shelves can help us be more aware of what we are choosing and why it matters….

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Shades of Green – Looking at the Food System with a Critical Eye

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Interest in environmentally friendly food products and food production practices is growing. The food and beverage industry has responded to this interest and has created environmentally friendly marketing schemes.

However, as companies “green” their products or extol sustainable business practices, eaters need to be equipped with the tools to decipher the new marketing trends. This extends to nutrition and health claims on food products. According to attorney Michell Simon, “Nutrition advocates who buy into the myth of industry-created solutions do so at their own peril. Praising companies for “doing the right thing” only encourages more food industry-PR (or ‘nutriwashing’).” …

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My 5: David Blume, Executive Director, International Institute for Ecological Agriculture

September 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Agriculture, Biofuels, Blog, Books, Front Page, My 5, Organic

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Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asked David Blume, Founder and Executive Director of the International Institute for Ecological Agriculture, author of Alcohol Can Be A Gas, and a frequent speaker at ecological, sustainability and agricultural conferences throughout the Americas, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?” Here are his responses.

BLUME:
* Stop buying oil. Replace oil with ethanol. Ethanol is a clean burning, high octane fuel that sells for around $1.80 a gallon. You don’t even have to pay more to do the right thing.

* Only buy organic products. Vote with your dollars to send the message that you’re not going to continue doing business as usual…

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Hall Wines St. Helena Earns LEED Gold Certification

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You’re out to dinner with friends, ready to order a glass of wine with your meal. You look over the wine list, considering your options: White or red? Dry or sweet? Domestic or imported? Organically grown or not? And on and on… But it’s a good bet that you never stop to wonder whether the wine you will choose was produced with energy-savings in mind. For most of us, energy savings don’t spring readily to mind when we’re sitting in a restaurant. But starting today, there’s another factor to consider when choosing a wine…

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Community Supported Agriculture – A Win-Win for Farmer and Shareholder

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If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, as we are here in Iowa, you’re coasting through spring on the way to summer. Either you’ve planted a garden, you’re getting ready to plant — or you aren’t intending to plant at all. This post is for the third group, those of you who either don’t want to, or don’t have the space to, plant a garden of your own.

There’s another option: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). A CSA is a mutually beneficial arrangement between a farmer (or farm collective) and members. Members become shareholders in the CSA farm by pledging a certain amount of money for regular deliveries of a season’s worth of vegetables, fruits, and/or meat. The farmer sets the price and the amount of produce/meat to be delivered, how often, and how long in the season…

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Product Review – Bora Bora Organic Almond Sunflower Bars

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You eat snacks, don’t you? Most of us do. And if they’re good snacks — natural, healthy foods that aren’t too high in refined sugars, salt, or the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup — we can even feel good about eating them. At least that’s what I told myself when I set out to review a couple of natural and organic goodies for this website….

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Are Those Personal Care Products Safe to Use?

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Despite Joe’s firm stance on not keeping things we haven’t used in a year or longer, I have a stash of half-used bottles of hair care products and a box full of makeup that qualifies as an archaeological dig site. The items were useful in their day. Then, for whatever reason, I moved on, rejecting each product like a lover fallen out of favor. I can’t very well pass them along through FreeCycle — no one wants someone else’s quarter bottle of shampoo or half-used blush. And I don’t want to send them to a landfill to spend eternity. So, I’ve been doing my best to use them up…

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Project GreenHands – Compensating the Earth

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In 2005, drawing extensively on community involvement and large-scale volunteer participation, Project GreenHands planted more than 25,000 trees in tsunami-devastated coastal areas of Tamil Nadu. In 2006, PGH volunteers planted 856,000 trees in just three days, securing the project a place in the Guinness World Book of Records. By the end of the 2008 planting season, PGH had planted a total of 7.1 million trees and introduced a newly designed model of agro-forestry among the farmer community. The Project’s current aim is to inspire and support the citizens of Tamil Nadu to plant an astonishing total of 114 million trees statewide by the year 2010, adding 30% more to the existing level of green cover in Tamil Nadu.

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Organic Gardening in Your Own Backyard

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Spring in Iowa feels like stepping out of the Ice Age into some of the most appreciated warm weather on the planet. After enduring 20 snow and ice storms from November to March (and more still possible all the way to early May), a person’s patience begins to thin. Mine does, anyway. But a few days of warmer weather, say in the 50s and 60s, changes my whole outlook….

I am ready for spring. I am ready for the rain to wash all those chilly memories away. I am ready for the plants in my garden to return. I am ready to see green buds pushing up through the dead leaves. I long for the feel of dirt under my fingernails. If you live in a cool climate, I’ll bet you’re ready, too.

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Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) Announces Free Workshops

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Are you a farmer who’s been thinking about going organic, but you’re just not sure if it’s for you? Then check out these workshop offerings from Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES). We heard about MOSES from our friends at the Barr Mansion, and just learned about the following events. (Sorry about the late notice on Friday’s workshop, but there’s plenty of time to get registered for the April event.) Find out more details at the MOSES field days/training page of their website.

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Nell Newman: “Late Bloomer” to Organic Ecopreneur

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By anyone’s reckoning, Nell Newman is a successful ecopreneur. She heads Newman’s Own Organics: The Second Generation, her original spinoff from her father’s Newman’s Own brand. In Part 1 of our interview, Newman told about the life experiences that fostered her dedication to environmentalism and sustainability. In Part 2, she speaks about her nontraditional educational path, her work on environmental projects, and the business of organic food production. We invite you to get to know more about this remarkable human ecologist and wonderfully human being.

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Eco-Friendly Fabrics Make Green Fashion Statement

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As consumers become increasingly concerned about the environment, the marketplace responds with new technology to fit the demands of a greener lifestyle: CFLs now provide a more energy-efficient alternative than the fluorescent light bulbs of a few years ago. Hybrid cars use less gas and emit fewer fumes than their gas-only counterparts. Solar installations and wind turbines create off-the-grid energy to power homes and businesses. Even clothing is becoming more eco-friendly.

Eco-fashion, also known as green fashion, features clothes made with respect for the environment. Environmentally friendly fabrics are woven from organic fibers that were grown without pesticides or artificial herbicides. In addition, organic fabrics, such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, and soy silk are not treated with harmful chemical dyes or bleaches.

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Green Cuisine: Understanding Organic and Natural Cooking

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When Chef Matthew J. Goudge says that a green cuisine is as delicious as it is good for you, you’ll be wise to listen. Chef Matthew is widely known and respected as a talented organic chef and an industry leader. Having cooked professionally in St. Lucia, Malaysia, China, Australia, and England, Chef Matthew’s view is that the world is an interconnected place where all should benefit from each other’s knowledge. In his blog, ProChef360, he invites professional chefs from around the world to join in an open forum, sharing their ideas, their tips, their wisdom, their food photos, and their frustrations. We’re pleased to carry on that tradition by sharing Chef Matthew’s thoughts on organic foods and natural cooking.

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