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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BrightNest iPhone App Makes It Easy to Green Your Home

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Good news for green homeowners everywhere: BrightNest, a free online service that makes it easy to keep your home in great shape, has announced the release of a free iPhone app! Last fall, I reviewed the ways that BrightNest can help you live a greener life, so I was excited to share that the same […]

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Why Cloud Computing Is Good for Green Businesses

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Much has been written about the cloud computing revolution, particularly about the many ways it may be an inherently sustainable move for humanity at large. And yet data centers require massive amounts of energy to run, enough to account for 1.5 percent of US electricity needs by 2020, according to the EPA. And, even as it is now, a Greenpeace study shows that much of that energy is gleaned from fossil fuels, with huge data centers run by Amazon, Apple and Microsoft sourcing only about 15% of the energy they need from renewables.

Still, there’s much about cloud computing that is green, and, with basic reforms, it has the potential to be far more sustainable than our current working model, fitting in entirely with the green business mentality….

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Oh, My Aching Back! (Before Topricin)

January 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Health, Reviews, Slideshow

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Though I definitely don’t like pain (what sane person does?), I’m not a fan of taking anything but absolutely necessary prescription medicines, chemical-laden ointments, or drug-store pills and potions. So I have to be pretty desperate to resort to a new pain reliever. And when I do, I want it to work pronto! That’s rarely the case in reality. But Topricin Pain Relief and Healing Cream has been a very pleasant surprise.

As Draco raged around us in December, Joe and I worked to maintain a clear path for pedestrians so their snow-packed footprints wouldn’t make our sidewalk even more treacherous. This meant we were in and out of the house a few times during the blizzard.

Joe, Wearer of Sensible Shoes (with actual tread), had no trouble remaining upright. I, Wearer of Ancient, Comfortable Shoes (with worn soles), wasn’t so lucky (or so smart, I suppose). Coming in from outside, I slipped in our kitchen and fell. My bruised hip complained a bit for a few days, but the worst damage was a dislocated rib….

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A Laptop Sleeve to Love from GreenSmart

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Like you (I’m making an assumption here, but it’s a fair one since you’re reading this website), I hate the idea of billions of single-use plastic water and soda bottles going to waste, littering our waterways and landscape. It’s about time someone figured out a way to put those discarded bottles to good use. GreenSmart has done just that with a rugged and cool-looking laptop sleeve.

I was intrigued, though frankly a bit skeptical, when I received an offer of a laptop sleeve made from recycled water bottles. But I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived — and I remain delighted. I’ve been using my GreenSmart laptop sleeve daily since July, and it’s been amazingly durable.

When I say durable, I mean it’s withstood several plane trips and lengthy road trips, and traveled back and forth to the office each day in an overloaded computer bag for more than six months. Frankly, I’m hard on both my laptop and my computer bag. It’s not that I’m careless, just that I tend to carry way too much on every trip — including my daily commute….

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4 Ways to Green Your Life with BrightNest

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If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for new ways to be eco-friendly and healthy without breaking your bank, especially around the home. It’s not always easy being green, but it is worth the extra effort.

I’ve recently become even more attuned to just how much of a positive impact going green around the house can have on your budget and your life. Why? I started working at BrightNest. If you haven’t heard of BrightNest, it’s a free web service that provides people with the tools, tips, and motivation they need to keep their home in great shape and save money.

The best part? There is a mountain of information on green living – everything from greening your bathroom to making pet-friendly floor cleaner….

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Aromatic Infusions – Luxurious Gifts for Mom (or Yourself)

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If you’re heading to the Des Moines Farmers Market tomorrow, be sure to stop by Candi Karsjens’ booth: #N208 2nd Ave. and Court. You’ll find her selling items that we’re quite smitten with here at Blue Planet Green Living. Your mom, grandma, or aunt will likely be, too. (It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, if you didn’t get my hint.)

In my last post, I wrote about UpCycled Style, glasses, vases, and more that Karsjens makes from repurposed wine and liquor bottles. But that’s only one of her product lines. She also sells pleasantly fragrant, hand-crafted soap and candle items that even this scent-free-workplace advocate can love….

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Repurposing Goes Classy in UpCycled Style

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Candi Karsjens is an ecopreneur in every sense of the word. She is an environmentalist, who repurposes and upcycles other people’s cast-off bottles into gorgeous glasses, bowls, vases, and more, giving each one an entirely new for years to come. She also creates candles and creams free of toxic chemicals and even pours candles into her upcycled glass holders. Karsjens has two built-from-the-ground-up small businesses she’s now combining into one: Aromatic Infusions/Upcycled Style.

Next weekend, Candi’s products will make their first appearance at the Des Moines Farmers’ Market. If you’re in the area, I encourage you to meet the designer and see her full range of cool products….

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Baby Gourmet Organic Baby Food – Recommended by Carter

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We really enjoyed the Baby Gourmet Organic Baby Food. Kyle and I tried a little of each kind of the food, and we were happily surprised with the great taste. Each variety had lots of flavor and a nice consistency, with a little more chunkiness than other brands we’ve tried.

Baby Gourmet also has so much more taste than the generic, non-organic foods we usually feed Carter. I also really liked that we could see and taste actual chunks of food. The chunks were very small, so they were baby-safe.

Carter LOVED the baby apple crisp food the best (although he ate all the other flavors just as well). He would smile with each bite of the apple crisp. We could smell and taste the apples and cinnamon in that flavor—it was like real apple crisp! …

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Consumed: Inside the Belly of the Beast – A Slackjaw Film

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How many brand names are within your arms’ reach? How new is the computer on which you’re reading this? Are you wearing clothing that bears a popular name? Are you carrying a cell phone, iPod, or Blackberry? How much stuff surrounds you? And how much do you buy into the need to have even more?

I just finished watching Consumed: Inside the Belly of the Beast, a Slackjaw Film. It’s an extremely thoughtful video that put my own participation in consumerism into perspective — and into question….
Perhaps you’re caught in the consumerism web, too. If you’re in the U.S., it’s hard to avoid today: it’s the mother of all consumer days here: Black Friday….

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My 5: Louis Hayner, CSO, Alteva

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Louis Hayner, Chief Sales Officer for Alteva, responded to our favorite question for the folks we interview. Alteva provides hosted unified communications to businesses. Following is Hayner’s response.

BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to protect the planet?

* Implement Hosted Technologies.

When a customer chooses a hosted vs. premise-based phone solution for its communications, they contribute to an overall reduction in resources and costs of power and cooling by up to 84 percent. By reducing energy consumption, they reduce the carbon dioxide gas emissions produced as a byproduct of generating electricity.

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Unified Communications – A Green Solution for Business

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As a small business owner, I’m well aware of the many expenses involved in meeting my company’s technology needs: an Internet connection, a telephone network, mobile phones, smart phones, voicemail, and probably a lot of other time-saving devices coming in the future. It all costs money. And that’s a critical factor for a small business, especially one that’s just getting started.

When I learned about Alteva’s approach to Unified Communications, I was struck not only by the lower cost, but also by the lower impact on the environment. I spoke with Louis Hayner, Alteva’s Chief Sales Officer, by phone from his Philadelphia office. I wanted to learn why his company’s services might be a good idea for small — and large — businesses to consider.

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Atlas of Mud: A Cautionary Tale

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A young girl emerges from the darkness on stage. She is awakening, deep in the belly of a vast, wooden ship, reminiscent of Noah’s Ark. I listen intently as she vividly recounts a dream:

“I was in the sky…

“I was flying…

“And there were people – so many people. They were all moving towards the water. They didn’t notice me so I swooped low over them looking for you. There were boats – just like this one but hundreds and hundreds of them. And around every boat were soldiers. People were crowded onto the decks of the boat and all of them had suitcases and boxes. There was no room to move and still more people kept climbing on.”

Her dream is frightening and the event confusing. Who is this child? What prompted her nightmare? Who is she talking to?

This is the Working Group Theatre’s production of Atlas of Mud in Iowa City’s Riverside Theatre. The audience is in rapt attention as the scene the young girl describes gets worse, horrifyingly so. The images are chilling…

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Natural Soaps

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Soap: Laundry soap, dish soap, hand soap, body soap, shampoo. Until I thought about it, I never realized how much soap I bought and used on a regular basis.

What if I started making all these different types of soap at home? With The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Natural Soaps by Sally W. Trew and Zonella B. Gould, I not only learned how to make the household product, but how to do it in an environmentally conscious way.

Homemade natural soaps have tons of benefits compared to commercial soaps….

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Software to Hold “Greenwashers” Accountable

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It’s no secret that “going green” has become the next big thing in the corporate world. Riding the wave of consumers’ growing interest in environmental sustainability, companies are launching major ad campaigns to tout their green credentials. But many of their claims are misleading or downright false. The ads are compelling, but how are we to know who’s telling the truth? “Greenwashing” is eroding the credibility of well-intentioned green businesses and turning would-be green consumers into skeptics. …

The development of Enterprise Carbon Accounting (ECA) software is well underway, with roughly 60 vendors bringing solutions to market. ECA software enables companies to track their carbon footprint and the footprint of their suppliers as well as the impact of customer use of their products. It’s a promising innovation that can help us manage corporate America’s environmental footprint, but it’s still at the early stages of adoption. We need a number of things to happen for the ECA market to mature and develop environmental accounting to the same level as financial accounting….

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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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Naturally Fresh Deodorants – Odor Protection without Health Risks

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When you work at a busy Mexican restaurant with a broken air conditioning system in the middle of summer, you worry about sweat and body odor.

So I was really nervous when I tested Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal in Tropical Breeze before a hectic weekend shift. I normally return from work covered in my own blood, sweat, and tears, and other people’s chili con queso. I need a deodorant that works.

I had my doubts about the product because, though I’ve eco-tized most of my toiletries, I haven’t been able to give up my tough Sure brand deodorant/antiperspirant that I buy from the drugstore. I’m so paranoid about sweat and bad odor that I ignore the warnings about aluminum, the active ingredient in traditional deodorant/antiperspirant.

But I was really surprised by Naturally Fresh….

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Find Bargains Fast with GarageSalesTracker.com

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Been to a garage sale yet this summer? It’s not too late to catch bargains in your own neighborhood or even at a distance, if you know where to look. Drive around your town most any weekend, and you’re likely to see garage sale signs posted on several residential corners. But there’s an easier way (and one that takes less gas) than cruising the neighborhood to look for bargains: GarageSalesTracker.com.

Blue Planet Green Living spoke today with GarageSalesTracker.com’s head of marketing, Rich Ruddie, who assists founder Franz Longsworth with everything from “answering emails to contacting people about working together, to taking phone calls like this, to customer support, and everything in between.” — Julia Wasson, Publisher

BPGL: How did the site get started?

RUDDIE: It came about when Franz was driving around and saw a garage sale sign. He wondered if anyone had ever thought to advertise their garage sales on line instead of always just putting out signs. He looked into it, and didn’t find much of use. He decided to make a site that was easy to use, specifically with the bargain hunter in mind for garage sales, flea markets, and estate sales. He added the Google map feature, which allows the user, when you sign up, to get turn-by-turn directions from your home address to the garage sale. That way, people don’t have to waste money on gas trying to find the address….

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Take the Itch Away with Motherlove Green Salve

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Last week, I was sitting at my computer alternately scratching my first mosquito bite of the season and trying to page through my emails. No stranger to itching, I had remnants of poison ivy dotting my left knee. My second case of poison ivy so far this summer, darn it all.

And even though symptoms of my annual battle with the toxic vine are lessening each year thanks to a concoction my pharmacist sells, the itching is enough to drive me somewhat mad.

So, when the following email came up on my screen, it immediately caught my attention:

“I’m writing on behalf of summer and all things itchy and scratchy. Figuring Iowa is full of mosquitoes after all the 4th of July rain, I’m reaching out to see if you’d be interested in reviewing the Green Salve from Motherlove Herbal Company. It’s saving our skin over in Wisconsin. Thanks!

Julie — the new Blog Review Mother for Motherlove Herbal Company”

No way I’d turn down that offer. I immediately wrote back….

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Surf Sweets All-Natural Treats Get Thumbs Up

July 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Food, Front Page, Nutrition, Organic, Reviews, Slideshow

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If you have young kids, you’re no doubt careful about what snacks and treats they eat at home. But everywhere else they go, their diet is pretty much out of your control. If you want to allow your kids occasional treats but still protect them from artificial dyes and sweeteners, Surf Sweets candies may be a good choice.

Gummy Worms nutrition facts. Courtesy: Surf Sweets

Too much sugar in anyone’s diet is a bad idea. And it’s a really bad idea for children with a developing weight problem. My best recommendation is to give your kids healthy foods, including lots of raw fruits and vegetables for snacks. But let’s face it, most of us want a little snack from time to time. And if your child is going to have a sweet snack, it’s way better to give them a healthier alternative than most of the candies on the market….

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