Thursday, December 29, 2011

Beyond Skin - Chic Vegan Shoes

I just discovered Beyond Skin, a UK-based online vegan shoe store. They ship worldwide and have the most gorgeous shoes! They're motto is super-cute: "Genuinely Not Leather" and some of their shoes are even made out of recycled suede!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Aubrey Natural Herbal Maintenance Oil Balancing Moisturizer Review

PROS                                                                 CONS        
-vegan                                                                  -contains retinol (which to my surprise is considered a
-some organic ingredients (aloe)                              "high hazard" according to the EWG Skin Deep Database)
-smells good                                                         -rated a 4, "moderate hazard" because of the retinol.
-responsible company
-reasonable price (under $15)

In conclusion, this product is great for oily or acne prone skin, but I will only purchase this product again if I can't find something similar without retinol. Though common among skincare products, retinol can lead to Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), and Biochemical or cellular level changes. Yikes!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Eco Tourism Adventure at Forever Florida

     Over the holiday weekend, I participated in my first "eco tourism" adventure! My relatives live near Orlando and love to visit Forever Florida which is a 4,700 acre eco-ranch and conservation area. Forever Florida incorporates creative activities to help people of all ages and interests enjoy nature. It includes a working ranch with cows, hogs, cats, dogs, and citrus trees, and is also home to a much more dense and wild conservation area with alligators, bald eagles, deer, jaguar and all manner of birds and reptiles. Visitors have the option of camping, hiking, horseback riding, zip lining, canopy cycling, or partaking in guided safari rides. At the park I zip lined (which was quite the adrenaline rush...but I am no longer afraid of heights!) and pedaled on the canopy cycles (which is one of only two in the world!). Its hard to imagine that this wild adventure is so close to typical vacation spots like Disney World.

    I absolutely loved Forever Florida and would definitely go back. My only criticisms are that the "eco" park did not have available recycling bins and didn't highlight green aspects of the park to visitors.

The Zip Course. I still can't believe I did this - but it was a blast!

The Canopy Cycle. Goes up to 25 feet in the air! An incredible way to view nature!

Cattle Ranch

On the Safari Truck

It was definitely orange season!

We may joke...

but the sign is there for a good reason! (This is just one of FOUR gators I saw at FF!)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lazy Chef: Amy's Indian Samosa

Quick, delicious, organic, vegetarian, and under $3! This is a lazy chef's dream (especially when sick of Annie's Mac and veggie stir fry!)

Pair with a spinach walnut salad and a bit of fruit for a less "lazy" feel! (Serving suggestion by The Health Seeker's Kitchen)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ten Thousand Villages, Fair Trade Retail Now in Downtown Boston

Downtown Crossing is now home to more than huge retail chains with mass produced clothing and food. Downtown is trying develop a more upscale appeal with eco-friendly hotspots like Boston Common Coffee Company. And now there is also a Ten Thousand Villages! Ten Thousand Villages sells fairly traded artisan items from around the world. From organic coffee and chocolate, to baskets, jewelry, pillows, and candles, there is quite a variety of ethical and sustainable goods. I highly suggest stopping by while trying to finish up all of your last minute holiday shopping!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Good Week, Bad Week in the Green Economy

It, of course, has been a great week for online retail. Online shopping has increased approximately 15% compared to this time last year. This is good because it cuts down on individual trips to stores and malls.

However, because of the booming shopping season, it has been a bad week for progress towards a post-carbon economy. The holidays this year are just as consumer-driven and materialistic as ever. Maybe next year we will see more non-material giving.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ethical Brew

USDA Certified Organic. Certified Fair Trade. Delicious. The only thing that would make Traditional Medicinals Golden Green Tea more perfect is if the bags weren't each individually wrapped (waste of paper).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lets Hear it for the Boys

I'll admit, I've focused most of my holiday shopping posts on gifts for women. Afterall, its easy to know what to get someone if you want it yourself! But yesterday I was browsing Ecouterre and discovered ties by FIGS. Like Tom's shoes, Figs ties are one-for-one through a program called Threads for Threads. For every item purchased through Figs, a school uniform is donated to a child in need! What a wonderful idea!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Find Gifts at North End Boutiques

Support the local economy this gift-giving season by steering clear of the mall. Area boutiques are a great way to find unique and thoughtful items and support small businesses. Of course, its always a bonus to find a sustainably produced item in a boutique - that would be a  double win!

Here are my top boutique picks for Boston's North End:

5. Sedurre - This recently expanded shop at the corner of Prince St. and Hanover St. is no longer just a lingerie store - they now carry all sorts of women's clothing and accessories.

4. In-jean-ius - The best place to find the perfect fitting high-end jeans! Located on Hanover St.

3. Eclectic - This North St. store is full of fun home goods - including some eco-favorites like Sea Bags.

2. LIT Boutique - Full of sparkly dresses, shoes, jewelry, and bags, it is hard to walk down Hanover St. everyday without stopping in!

1. Shake the Tree - Shake the Tree on Salem St. is my absolute favorite boutique in the North End. It has all sorts of fun things - home goods, clothes, stationary, cookbooks, and more. Plus, I love the international/worldly vibe. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: Burt's Bees Radiance Body Lotion

    I recently purchased Burt's Bees Radiance Body Lotion and incorporated it into my daily routine. The lotion feels nourishing and isn't very thick, so dries quickly. And though I was skeptical about the "natural mica to enhance skin tone," I did notice a soft shimmer that looked quite nice. However, I was shocked when I looked up this product on the EWG Skin Deep Database because it is rated a 5, meaning it is a moderate health concern. Sadly, this is a higher rating than many of the natural moisturizers I've used in the past. The data on EWG explains that this is mostly due to the added artificial fragrances which are concerns because of neurotoxicity and possible allergies. Its too bad because this lotion smells great! I am definitely not allergic to this product (so far) so, my concern is actually probably lower than a 5. I like the product and will continue to use it, but because of its health rating, I probably won't buy it again.

Friday, December 9, 2011

GWBW: Outdoor Activities

It has been a good week for cyclists in Chicago because this week, the city unveiled Chicago's first protected bike lane!

image courtesy of

It has been a bad week for locals that love snowy outdoor activities such as snow shoeing, cross country skiing, and sledding. Temps in Boston were in the 60s this week! What happened to winter???! 

image courtesy of

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Preserve Toothbrushes Make Me Smile!

I first heard about Preserve Toothbrushes on Practically Green and was thrilled when I found them at Whole Foods earlier this week. The toothbrush has an ergonomic design and soft bristles, but more importantly, is made from recycled yogurt containers! Even so, the price was very reasonable - so I immediately grabbed one and threw it into my cart.

 Later that night when I opened the package to use the toothbrush for the first time, I noticed that the packaging doubles as an envelope so that you can send your toothbrush back to the company for recycling when you're done with it (no stamp required!). I love this closed-loop, which is echoed in their motto "nothing wasted, everything gained." Furthermore, the brush is equally as effective as my old toothbrush. Preserve gets two thumbs up from me!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In My Grocery Bag

Above is my loot from last night's trip to Whole Foods. My strategy for green grocery shopping on a budget is to go to Whole Foods only for items that are hard to find at my local (cheaper) market. For example, I know my local store carries organic salad mix, so at Whole Foods, I just get organic versions my fav salad toppers such as walnuts and dried cranberries. And while many grocers carry Annie's products, Whole Foods has the USDA certified organic versions for only 10 cents more! Plus, there is no denying that the body section of Whole Foods as a better selection of natural/organic/local products than other grocery stores or drug stores. I picked up some phosphate-free laundry detergent, all natural shampoo (with Tea Tree, which my scalp needs in this weather), and a toothbrush made from recycled yogurt cartons.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Spotted: Green on the T

There is a new add campaign (I believe it is for AOL, but I could be wrong... it was very subtle) in Boston's T Stations. Loved seeing a green themed poster:

Friday, December 2, 2011

GWBW in Energy News

It has been a good week for LED Christmas lights! Everyone is getting ready for the holidays and I'm excited to see more and more LEDs put up this year. I even saw them on my street at The Florentine Cafe! Using LEDs saves a lot of energy: regular incandescent lights use 40.8 watts per 100 light strand (0.0408 kW). The 100-light strand of LEDs used 8 watts (0.008 kW). 

It has been a bad week for the Chevy Volt. Chevy has launched a rental car program for volt owners while they reassess safety concerns. Some crash testing recently revealed that the volt can cause electrical fires.

pictured above is a private Connecticut garage after a fire believed to be caused by the Chevy Volt.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Carbon Footprint of Holiday Plants

You might love your yearly poinsettia, but do you know where its from? Although they are considered winter plants, poinsettias are actually grown in warm climates and are native to Mexico. Most poinsettias in North America are grown in Mexico and Southern California, and then shipped everywhere else during the holiday season. Poinsettias are perennial, but are very tricky to keep alive all year round in a New England climate. Green thumbs may be able to keep their poinsettias alive past the holiday season and even put them outdoors in the summer, but for those of us who tend to kill plants, we may want to opt for a more hardy holiday plant in order to avoid waste.

One such alternative is a Christmas cactus. These are not native to New England either, but are much easier to keep all year round so there is no need to order a new plant each year. Plus, it blooms right around the holidays each year, making it a festive addition to any room's decor. Theses cacti can adapt to a variety of temperatures and amounts of light (unlike poinsettias), but do need to be regularly watered (and like most plants, does need some sunlight). So cut your longterm holiday footprint by opting for greenery that will last from year to year!