This month's EcoCentric Mom box is chock full of exactly what I need in dry winter months: soothing organic skin lotions and cremes to moisturize my hands and face, gentle soaps, and cleansers and laundry "berry drops" that put the "clean" back in cleaning.
But first, the food.
I've said before that, as much as I enjoy the new non-toxic products from EcoCentric Mom that I get to try every month, I particularly like sampling the different taste treats that come in each box. This month, those treats included:
Simply 7 Snacks Lentil Chips - These flavorful snacks are made with gluten-free, non-GMO ingredients, have no preservatives, and contain nothing artificial.
PROBAR Meal Bar - A lot of energy bars disappoint - they seem too sweet, too airy, and way too full of processed ingredients. The PROBAR Meal Bar was surprisingly the opposite: very dense and chewy, tasty without being cloying, and so "natural" you could see some of the raw ingredients with every bite. I've got to say, I really liked it.
“When I started
my petition on Change.org, I knew that Procter & Gamble listened to
consumer feedback, and I was hopeful we could get this dangerous chemical out
of our laundry,” said Alper. “I can’t wait to see what we can do
What do you hope President Obama will do to protect you, your family and the environment during his second term?
At tonight's Green Inaugural Ball, environmentalists, celebrities, elected officials and "green" citizens will make their wishes known as they celebrate not only Barack Obama's re-election but their hopes for the planet during his next four years.
To be held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., the Ball will offer a perfect example of how to throw an eco-friendly party. Guests -- who are being encouraged to arrive via mass transportation, of course -- will dine on organic, locally grown food, including vegetable sushi rolls, butternut squash shooters, and a variety of other vegan and vegetarian offerings. Personally, I'm looking forward to sipping the "OM-bama" cocktail that's been created for the evening (the OM stands for Organic Mixology -- whatever that is.). There'll be plenty of entertainment, too, from the likes of Grammy award winners will.i.am and Paul Winter, New Orleans master trombonist Trombone Shorty, Rock & Roll cover band Camp Freddy, and many more.
Wish you could be at the ball but can't? You can follow it all on Twitter, at #GreenBall2013. And don't forget to tweet your wish, using #greenwish. National Wildlife Federation, whose guest I will be at the ball, will be showcasing the green wishes all around the Newseum. Make one wish, or a dozen. There's no limit on what you can wish for!
Here's how I celebrated Pres. Obama's first inauguration...
What kind of car do you need? Coupe? Sedan? Sports car? Mini van? Something you can zip the kids to school in before you head to work? A small truck to help you cart around your merchandise when you make a sales call or delivery? Whatever your needs, you can probably find what you're looking for not just in style, but in gas-sipping substance, too.
That's the good news at the North American International Auto Show, currently under way in Detroit and soon to be visiting a city perhaps near you. Almost every car manufacturer seems to have gotten energy-saving religion. Big or small, snazzy or sedate, if you're buying a new car, you will have lots of gas-sippers to choose from.
I went to the show as a guest of the Ford Motor Company, but I spent as much time looking at everyone else's cars as I did at Ford's. Overall, I came away encouraged. If people are going to drive (and they are, an average of 14,000 miles per year), they may as well get as many miles to a gallon of gasoline as they can. I've written here, here and here about the impact burning gas has on the environment and human health. The less fuel we use to get where we're going, the better.
Plus, increasing your miles-per-gallon average can save you a ton of money. In the ten years I've owned my Prius, a car that on a bad day averages 37 or 38 mpg and more frequently gets in the mid to high 40s, I calculated recently that I've saved over $6,000 on gasoline. Even after replacing the car's tires and batteries, I came out several thousand dollars ahead.
Here are a few gas-sippers I saw at NAIAS that I particularly liked:
Ford C-MAX Hybrids - There are actually three models of the new C-Max to choose from. The standard C-MAX Hybrid, pictured above, is projected to operate electrically up to 62 mph, with the gasoline engine kicking in when extra power is needed. At maximum fuel efficiency, the car could attain an average of 47 mpg in the city or the highway, or over 570 miles per tank. The C-MAX Energi is a plug-in
hybrid, or what Ford calls a "hybrid plus." The plug-in capability allows drivers to charge fully in less than three hours using a 240-volt charging station, or overnight using a standard 120-volt oulet. The driver can choose to drive electric only, gasoline only, or a combination of gas and electric. Both the Hybrid and the Energi come with a "Smart Gauge with EcoGuide" (pictured at right) to help drivers maximize fuel efficiency. Third C-MAX, the SE, is also for sale. You can compare features of all three here. Note that prices range from $25,200 for the SE to $32,950 for the Energi, though that doesn't include the $7,500 federal tax credit available when you purchase a hybrid or any related state tax credits.
Prius Hatchback -The Prius Hatchback, left, is a roomy hybrid option that is comparably priced to the Fusion or C-MAX. Like the Ford hybrid models it seats five; the hatchback gives it some nice storage space that could accommodate a family vacation, camping trip, or even the dog. Toyota claims the car will get as much as 53 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway, for a combined average fuel efficiency rating of 50 mpg. Toyota also offers a Prius Plug-in with an estimated 95 miles on a charge, plus hybrids in its other popular models, including Camrys, Avalons, the RAV4, and the Highlander SUV.
Tesla Electric Vehicle - I have to say, I suffered a bit of car envy over the beautiful Tesla S (right), an all electric vehicle that is this year's MotorTrend Car of the Year. The car can travel anywhere from 160 miles to 300 miles on electricity only, depending on the size of the battery that's been installed in the car.
I loved the big, clear computer screen sitting right next to the steering wheel on the front dashboard, which would be great for looking at a map. And it seems particularly clean, given that the battery pack is under the floor and there's absolutely no engine front or back.
At $50k+, the car is waaaayyy out of my price range. But a girl can dream, right?
BOTTOM LINE: Almost any type of vehicle you'd need is now available in a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric option. Have fun the next time you go car shopping!
The December EcoCentric Mom box arrived right in the middle of the holiday season, so I decided to open it in the new year instead. What better way to start off 2013 than by sampling some new organic taste treats and healthy products for my skin and hair?
Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews - There was lots of food in this month's box, but my favorite by far were these candy-like "energy chews." Made with USDA certified organic ingredients that are gluten- and dairy-free, they're wonderfully flavorful but not too sweet. I had intended to eat "just one," but gobbled them all right up once I tasted them.
Tisano Organic Chocolate Tea - I drink at least six cups of tea a day, and chocolate is one of my favorite foods, so you can imagine how much I liked trying out this new combo. One added benefit: though the tea is made from pure cacao beans, it's calorie-free.
Organic Nectars Chocolate Bars - Yes, more chocolate! These bars are certified organic, vegan and completely free of dairy, peanuts, soy, gluten, GMOs and refined sugar. I especially liked the one flavored witht raspberry.
I learned a long time ago not to make New Year's resolutions per se. They could be so general and vague, they could also be frustratingly easy to abandon. Without accountability to anyone but myself, it didn't really seem to matter if what I resolved to do oozed away after a month or two (if I even made it that long!). And the "pay back" or reward for keeping my resolutions seemed hard to measure. Sure, I might have resolved to save more energy or use less water, but without actually measuring what I used or what I saved, there wasn't much incentive to use less or save more.
This year is going to be different. I'm not making resolutions, I'm setting goals - specific goals that will have real environmental benefits and that I can measure with real "before" and "after" statistics.
Though I hope I'll reduce my environmental footprint in all sorts of ways this year, I'm only setting three specific goals in the hopes that a narrower focus will lead to broader achievements.
GOAL #1 - MAKE MY OWN YOGURT
I eat two cups of yogurt every single day - plain, non-fat, usually Greek-style yogurt that serves as the delicious base for whatever fresh fruit happens to be in season. It's a healthy and mostly eco-friendly breakfast - marred only by the fact that I buy the yogurt in big plastic throwaway tubs. When I was in college, I had an electric yogurt maker and made my own yogurt every week. I also made yogurt by mixing milk and yogurt starter in a bowl, then keeping it in a warm oven for several hours until the whole mixture became yogurt-like. Over the years as I was busy raising kids, running a business and writing books, I've gotten away from making my own yogurt. But I'm appalled at how many plastic yogurt tubs I throw away every week. If I made my own yogurt using milk I can buy in glass bottles from my local food coop, I would go from three or four plastic tubs a week to zero. So one goal for 2013 is to start making my own yogurt.
Do you make your own yogurt? If you have a recipe you love, please share it!
GOAL #2 - USE NO MORE THAN THREE PRODUCTS BOTTLED IN PLASTIC IN MY BATHROOM