Sunday, December 21, 2008

Green Gifts for Your BFF

With the holidays starting this week, the mad rush to get those last minute presents begins. Making a list and checking it thrice to make sure you have gifts for everyone naughty and nice. Especially those who have loved you all year long regardless of how busy you have been. Those who wait patiently until you come home and then welcome you with loving kisses. Those who don’t care if you have brushed your teeth before they snug you and those who jump to bring you your slippers. Yup, the pup. Your BFF. And here are a few safe, eco-friendly ways to share your joy with your furry best friends this season.

Planet Dog:
Please your pooch with safe, non-toxic chew toys from Planet Dog. Their toys are adorable and festive as well as a great way to save your furniture and ornaments from being nibbled. You can also feel good about supporting this environmentally friendly small company of just 44 employees who are joined at work by their 30 dogs every day. Planet Dog was recently named 2nd Best Employer of its size (under 50 employees) in the country, awarded America's Best Places to Work in 2008 and the founder Alex Fisher recently accepted the 2008 Maine Governor's Award for Business Excellence, which recognized the company's corporate sustainability and community initiatives.

Simply Fido:
This eco-friendly pet toy company makes cotton pet toys like a beautiful cream colored Holiday Moose with red accents and a soft (and removeable) squeaker. Simply Fido’s certified organic cotton pet toys help to provide a safer alternative for your pup to chew. Free from harsh chemicals and harmful pesticides, their fun designs for big and small dogs are sure to please you while they preserve our planet.

And now my friends, I hope you have enjoyed this blog series on Green Holiday Gifts. Please share your own ideas for how you are going green this season. Merry Christmas to you all.

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Green Stocking Stuffers: From Small Green Companies

Whose eyes don’t light up at the sight of a stuffed stocking on Christmas morning? So this year, why not power that delight with green, eco-friendly gifts that are sure to bring smiles of glee. There are many small green items from small eco-business that need our support this holiday season. I’ll play Santa and suggest my Green stocking stuffer list for all ages:

- Pharmacopia: Lavender Hand Cream (all natural and organic) with yummy shea butter. The 1.7 oz size fits perfectly in your purse, desk, backpack or car so you can re-apply throughout the day.

- To-Go Ware: Organic Bamboo Utensil Set, a fork, knife, spoon and chop sticks wrapped in a holder that ties closed, travels easily, and is a genius way to avoid using plastic utensils when eating on the run.

- Ecolips: Tis the season to protect your pucker…Ecolips provides a wide variety of certified organic lip balm. Try their new Pure & Simple line, a 99% organic lip balm that is completely edible in Grape, Coconut and Kiwi-Strawberry. Plus cool accessories such as an Eco Clip (a carabiner clip), an Eco Leash (a neoprene balm holder), an Eco Key Ring (a rubber overcap with key ring) and an Eco Lanyard (a lip balm necklace).

- Josie Maran: Very glam lip kits in fabulous colors housed in a sleek, recyclable compact with a commitment to using non-toxic ingredients such as paraben. Perfect to layer or wear alone.

- The Solution by Envision Beauty: The perfect all-in-one stocking gift for a harried green mom as it replaces her day cream, night cream, eye cream and anti-aging serum. Her face will instantly radiate with this miracle cream. A moisturizer with antioxidants (Goji, Grapeseed, A├žai, Centella Asiatica) plus anti-aging ingredients (DMAE, Alpha Lipoic Acid, NaPCA, and vital nutrients (Vitamin A B5, C, and E). Free of parabens, ethyl alcohols and harsh synthetics.

- Gourmet organic chocolate bars from Shaman Chocolates: More than just a sweet, certified organic treat these chocolate bars also offer a socially responsible alternative. All profits from the sale help support the Huichol Indians, a tribe living in central western Mexico in the Sierra Madre Mountains, who are said to be the last Indigenous Tribe in North America to have maintained their pre-Columbian traditions.

- Personalized refillable water bottles from Get one for everyone on your list. The Sierra Club reports we are discarding over 30 million plastic bottles a day…totaling over 10 billion a year. Take a step towards protecting our planet and a sip towards safer drinking water for your loved ones.

And finally, be sure to fill those stockings with a dash of luck, a sprinkle of joy, a pinch of giggles, a whisper of hope and a pound of patience as we all face the challenging year ahead.

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Green Holiday Gifts for Babies, Kids and Teens: All from Small Eco-Businesses

As a savvy auntie, I feel especially qualified to cover this topic. Never a mom but nine times an aunt and even more times a FONM (friend of a New Mom), I’ve shopped for babies, kids and teens more often than I can remember. I know how hard it is to find just the right thing – not too scratchy, not too babyish, “in-the-know” and trendy but not trying too hard…So I’ve decided that this holiday season, the right thing is the green thing. Bringing kids up to be eco-friendly is a gift they will appreciate forever as you introduce them to the more natural, more sustainable things in life. Here are a few great green gifts to start them on a greener path (all from small eco-companies who need our green during this tough retail season).

Babies and Kids personal care kits:
California Baby: Green moms love these safe, non-toxic, personal care baby soaps, creams, lotions and bubble baths. Baby gift sets can be completely customized and come with a non-toxic bath toy and product samples.

Burt’s Bees kits: Try the Baby Bee Getting Started Kit…all SLS and paraban-free creams and lotions made with soothing buttermilk and coconut oils.

Clothing: A true green treasure full of environmentally-friendly baby and toddler gifts from an organic fleece cape to sustainable nursery cribs to organic cotton baby sun hats, unstained wooden rattles and my favorite…a plush organic monkey toy.

Stewart & Brown: A wide range of fashionable eco-hats, sweaters, dresses and scarves made from yak down, hemp, organic cotton and Mongolian cashmere. You are sure to find something here to please any fashion conscious young lady.

Tees for change: Channel your sage wisdom to a tee shirt for teens. These sustainable, eco-friendly tee-shirts make a statement with words such as “Laugh Often”, “Today Matters”, “Choose Dreams”. Here’s a fashionable way to inspire young minds eager for change.

Toys: Locally made, Vermont Maple Landmark toys are beautifully crafted wooden, sustainable toys bringing us back to basics and sure to become family heirlooms for years and years to come.

Green Toys: Adorable play toys: tea sets, gardening tools, cookware and beach gear…all made locally here in the USA from recycled plastic milk jugs. Safe. Fun. Local. And winning all the parenting awards…

School stuff:
To-Go Ware: So cool and yet functional, the stainless steel Sidekick is the new green lunch box. With separate compartments for cold and hot foods, this is a great daily solution for anyone who carries their lunch every day (and is tired of that same, soggy peanut butter and jelly sandwich).

Ecogear bags: Bags for every age…these organic cotton, hip bags use toxic-free dyes and sustainable wood fastenings. Check out their messenger bags, laptop carriers and backpacks.

Afterglow Cosmetics: Their Glow Kit is a glam gift for a teenage girl just starting to experiment with makeup. This starter kit includes organic mineral foundation, concealer, blush, vegan brushes and powder. All packaged in a fabulous silver makeup bag.

Juice Beauty Any teen will love their gift kits full of eco-chic organic skincare goodies – especially good for those with sensitive skin. They also have special lines for men which are great for teenage boys (who all seem to be learning much earlier about “using product” than the teenage boys I dated.)

Coming next: Green Stocking Stuffers from Small Eco-Businesses

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What She Really Wants: Green Holiday Gifts for Gals from Small Green Businesses

Whether it is already on her wish list or not, what woman doesn’t want a gift that keeps giving back to her family, her community, her planet and herself? This holiday season surprise her with eco-gifts she’ll love and help support economically-challenged green small businesses. In “Buycotting the Holidays”, I explained why these companies need our support to survive this tough holiday retail season…so here are some great green gifts for all the women in your life:

· Luxurious eco-clothing, bath and bedding: DreamSacks is a one-stop, eco-shop for comfortable and natural fiber products made from silk, soy and sustainable bamboo. On their website, you’ll find beautiful sheets, blankets, casual clothing, robes and towels. And for a limited time (Sunday November 23rd – Friday 28th at midnight), DreamSacks is offering a special coupon just for visitors to this blog. Just enter NBCUGREEN at the website when prompted for the coupon code and get 15% off! Quality and value…a dream solution.

· Organic Skin and Personal Care: There are so many great eco-friendly, organic skin care companies in business today…please support them so they will all be here tomorrow. A few of my favorites with special offers this season:

· Gilly’s Organics: “Hey Sugar, Lookin’ Good” – an all organic, natural, extremely gentle, sugar scrub is a wonderful exfoliant that smooths and shines your skin. Perfect for home spa manis and pedis. Plus, readers of this blog can enjoy a free 4oz. scrub (worth $18) FREE when you buy 8oz. of Gilly’s amazing product. Treat her and support Gilly because she then gives 10% to local NJ foodbanks. Buy one for all the women on your list.

· Pharmacopia: These natural and organic skin care products are a treat 365 days a year but during the holidays, Pharmacopia offers a special GO. RELAX. Gift Set of their fabulous organic lavender and chamomile essential oils in a cleanser, body lotion and shea butter cream, all TSA standard travel sizes in an eco-friendly tote.

· Soaptopia: At the top of my wish list, being a member of the Soaptopia Bath of the Month Club…the very best way to enjoy all their great “junk-free” bath products. Or visit their website and build your own gift sets - all wrapped in free, eco-friendly gift wrapping.

· Eminence: Here’s a great idea. Eminence packaged up their best selling handmade organic fruit smoothie bodywash with a natural body loofa in an eco-bag with a festive ornament. But the gift doesn’t stop there…inside the ornament is a chocolate that could be your golden ticket to a world famous spa in Sedona, Arizona. (A trip for two so you could win too!) Buy the gift bag, enter the contest and cross your fingers…

· Natural Purses and Wallets: Raw Bags offers elegant purses and wallets that will be the perfect fit for any women. They design raw material purses from bamboo, raw leather, raw silk and recycled paper. My favorite pick of the season is their Green Bamboo Cube Clutch.

· Jewelry: Of course, what she really, really wants is some bling…so thrill her with eco-luxury and conflict-free jewels from Brilliant Earth. From socially responsible gold to fair trade jewels, their beautiful rings, pendants and gemstones originate from ethical and environmentally responsible sources.

Coming up next: Eco-Friendly Gifts for Babies and Teens

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Eco-Holiday Gifts for Men: Supporting Small Green Businesses

This holiday you have the choice to support economically-challenged green small businesses as you select holiday gifts for the special men in your life. As discussed in “Buycotting the Holidays”, I’d like you to show small green companies your green and buy your holiday gifts here:

Green Gifts for Men:
· Shower Water Timer:’s Blue Star Digital Shower Timer from Ripple Products. They promote water awareness and water conservation thru inventive bath-time products like this easy to use digital shower timer. This is a real clock with a simple, programmable countdown timer. Battery operated, steam proof and water proof.

· Men’s Grooming Products:
o Pangea Organics has many organic personal care products for men (and women) and to celebrate their 7th anniversary their festive holiday gift sets come in plantable boxes to grow a Spruce Tree! Embedded in the gift boxes are spruce seeds which can easily be planted to reforest our planet.

o Burt’s Bees Natural Grooming kit: this small black dopp kit includes a range of natural products to keep him looking great including beeswax lip balm, body wash, aftershave, shave cream and soap. All specially formulated for him with a natural, clean fragrance with sunflower oil.

o Organic Man “Sock-it-to-him” Beauty Bootie: Beautorium has designed a “stocking” made out of certified organic cotton and bamboo and filled with organic, 100% vegetarian, men’s personal care items from Logona Mann. These products are certified natural and don’t contain petrochemicals, paraffin, parabens, silicone, synthetic fragrances or colors, ethoxylated ingredients or GMOs. Includes shampoo, shower gel, face & body lotion, shaving cream and after shave lotion.

· Green Car Wash Kit: Lucky Earth makes an eco-friendly, waterless car wash kit. This gift saves water and money by enabling folks to wash their cars themselves. This exceptional, completely non-toxic, organic soap product cleans, polishes and protects cars without the use of additional water. Just spray the product on a car, wipe it off with a microfiber towel and lightly buff to shine. Traditional car washes can waste between 40 and 120 gallons of water per wash and pollute our local waterways and beaches with toxic run-off. This is a great no chemical suds, no fumes, no water solution.

· Bamboo Grilling and Cooking Accessories: Bambu makes sturdy, sustainable and contemporary designed bamboo cooking tools. I think any man who cooks would appreciate their stainless and bamboo cooking utensils and range of bamboo cutting boards.

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Eco-Holiday Prep: Supporting Small Green Businesses

As discussed in “Buycotting the Holidays”, this holiday you have the choice to support economically-challenged green small businesses as you prepare for the holidays. With predictions of a poor retail season, small companies who have devoted themselves to being environmentally friendly are at great risk. Show them your green and buy your holiday preparations here this season:

Solar Powered Light Emitting Diodes (LED) Holiday String Lights: Light your home this year with self-sustained, energy-conserving, environmentally-friendly Ecolites from Eco Geek Living, Inc. The lights recharge during the daylight hours and automatically turn on at night while using as little as 1/50th the amount of energy traditional light bulbs.

Bamboo Ornaments: Bambu has introduced certified organic bamboo ornaments - all hand shaped from a single piece of highly sustainable bamboo. Tied with recycled twine, these ornaments come in four shapes: Tree, Dove, Star, Person. Available at Whole Foods and Greenfeet.

Plantable Seed Holiday Cards: If you must keep this treasured tradition alive, please consider sending a holiday card that can be re-purposed. Green Field Paper Company (a tree-free paper company) offers Grow a Note cards that can be planted to produce wildflowers.

Bamboo Holiday Invitations: Smock makes fun and elegant holiday invitations with antique, cast-iron letterpresses on sustainable bamboo paper. Smock is an entirely wind-powered facility, uses vegetable-oil based and low-VOC inks and low-VOC and citrus based solvents and is a member of Co-op America Green Business.

Green Hostess Gifts:
Hostess Soaps:

- Luxurious triple milled soaps so fragrant and beautiful you will want to share. Bring a box of Earthworks paraban-free soaps which are wrapped in eco-friendly, pulp from fast growing bamboo and mulberry trees.
- Handmade natural soaps from Soap & Paper Factory makes elegant gifts. This pure, natural collection of products for home and body are handmade from start to finish. Founders Lisa Devo, Shannon Burch and Beth Grubaugh join to make traditional handmade and hand-wrapped home and body products in small batches for gifts as beautiful and unique as their packaging. Lisa and Shannon make the all-natural bath and body products by hand with as natural and organic ingredients as possible and then wrap them in Beth’s gorgeous hand-sketched, locally printed recycled paper and boxes.

Gourmet Baked Goods: Who doesn’t want to be in the Brownie of the Month Club? Especially when the brownies are organic and vegan. Or bring the hostess a basket filled with Allison’s Gourmet organic cookies, candies, teas, cocoas and fair trade coffee.

Soy Candles: Ka Nani Essentials and Soy 4M have partnered to create custom, 100% soy candles hand poured in refillable tin containers. These fragrant candles are chemical-free without dyes or preservatives.

Organic Tea: Numi Tea offers a lovely Velvet Tea Caddy. With a classic mahogany finish, glass top, this elegant tea caddy holds premium organic and Fair Trade Certified teas in style. A great gift for any tea lover.

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Buycotting the Holidays

For many years, I’ve heard the same refrain: “This year, I’m going to cut back on my holiday shopping”. And yet this year, I think people really mean it. Our poor global economy, U.S. recession, high unemployment rates and bleak immediate economic outlook all contribute to increased spending scrutiny.

Not just an expense
But it isn’t likely that most folks will just boycott the holidays altogether. Holiday gift giving is more than just an expense. It encompasses determining the actual gift recipient list and taking the time to find an appropriate gift. It isn’t about how much one spends on the gift. Our time and effort, while valuable, are free. Maybe this is the year to give the gift of time to those on your gift list. Offer to run errands for an elderly person or a night of babysitting to a harried mom.

“Buy-cott”: Buy Green
Now working off the assumption that some holiday gifts will still be bought, wrapped and presented with glee, I propose a “buy-cott”. Let’s make our hard working dollars work even harder by only buying green gifts this year. We know that our holiday dollars are going to go somewhere and we have the choice to use them to support companies who not only provide superior products but also strive to make our environment a better place. If you care about green, now is the time to show it. With many eco-minded small businesses already struggling in today’s economy, these small green companies will not succeed without our support. Remember that 70% of all employed Americans work not for huge multinational corporations, but for small business, like so many of these green companies. They need our help, so in the traditions of our great country, let’s give them our support.

Series of Holiday Green Gift Ideas
So over the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging about more than 20 small businesses where you can find perfect green holiday gifts for everyone on your list. In many cases, there will be special discounts available, and I’ll provide the links so you can buy online to save gas. I invite you to share your own green gift suggestions as well but most importantly, I urge you to put your money where your green is and buy from these companies this holiday season.

- Show them that you appreciate their extraordinary efforts to provide you with sustainable, safe, non-toxic, chemical-free products.
- Show those you love that you care enough about them to give green presents that will enhance their health and well-being.
- Show the world that you care about future generations who will inherit our earth.

In the next Going Green blog - Small Business Green Holiday Preparation Gifts:
- Solar Christmas Tree Lights
- Organic Hostess gifts
- Recycled and E-Holiday Cards

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Day of Detox

Last week I blogged about how last Saturday night I made one poor, toxic meal choice, fell off the organic wagon and my body really suffered. So last Sunday was my Day of Detox where I tried several treatments to get back on track. I needed to address it immediately and erase the damage before my body started craving more junk.

Detox Treatment # 1:
I started with a coffee enema - an immediate and powerful treatment. I know…you are starting to flinch. But TRUST ME…this is the best treatment I’ve ever encountered for flushing your body of toxin waste. Coffee enemas have been used for over 100 years and were in the Merck manual for years until they were removed due to space limitations. They are perfectly safe when done properly. (PLEASE NOTE THAT I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND THIS IS JUST WHAT I DO AND IT WORKS FOR ME.) Coffee enemas stimulate the liver and gallbladder to release stored toxins and wastes, and this enhances liver function. A healthy functioning liver helps your whole body feel better and respond more efficiently…exactly what I needed last Sunday.

My Coffee Enema Recipe:
1. Make coffee in a stainless steel coffee-maker
2. Prepare a quart of caffeinated organic coffee using 2 tablespoons of organic grounds pre quart of filtered water
3. Let the coffee get to room temperature
4. Pour the coffee into a hanging enema bag with a 28 inch French tube
5. Hang the bag from a hanger near the bathroom toilet
6. Place an old towel on the floor and a small bath pillow to support your head
7. Prepare to take the enema by laying on your left side and lubricating the anal area using KY Jelly
8. Insert the 28 inch French tube very slowly, go in about 12 inches and avoid any kinks in the tube
9. Release the stopper and let about a pint of coffee flow in slowly, then reclamp
10. Hold the enema for up to 10 minutes before expelling
It feels a bit odd at first but then you’ll find it relaxing and refreshing. If you feel jittery, then the coffee was too strong. When you expel the enema, you’ll be expelling much of the toxic waste your body has been storing. Again, I’m not a doctor and only a doctor can prescribe treatment. I tried a coffee enema once and like any true coffee addict, I was instantly hooked. And once again, it worked like a charm last Sunday.

Detox Treatment #2: Now that my liver was cleaned out, I needed to refuel my body with healthy, nutritious food. I decided to do a juice fast with organic carrots, celery, beets and apples. I made a 20 oz. batch with my fabulous, fast, easy to clean, Breville juicer and drank it throughout the day.

Detox Treatment #3: With a glass of juice in hand, I settled into warm bath with Masada dead sea mineral bath salts which draws toxics out of your body. Epsom salts are easily available at any drug store and have a similar effect but I like the Lavender and Peppermint/Tea tree varieties from Masada.

By the end of the day, I was feeling normal again and ready for my busy week. And I learned my lesson. So when my husband and I wanted to go out to dinner last night, he chose GustOrganics - a new NYC all-organic restaurant. In fact, GustOrganics is the first USDA Certified Organics restaurant in New York and the first restaurant in the nation using 100% certified organic food. The whole restaurant is set up to be green; for example they use only recycled paper products, rely on wind energy and solar lighting, recycle dinner wastes for composting – all right within the center of New York City. They are to be commended for their efforts, and deserve our strong support. And to make the whole experience a winner, the food is definitely gourmet. Our meal was delicious, the service was delightful and this morning, we didn’t need to detox. Once again, going Green proved to be the best choice. Those of you who live in New York, please go to GustOrganics - for those of you who visit NYC, stop in and have a meal, you won’t regret this choice.

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Sunday, October 19, 2008

One Night Off the Green Path

I regularly blog here about the health benefits of organic food and why it is important to eat clean foods, free of antibiotics or pesticides, and support local farmers who are struggling to provide us these pure foods. Well, last night I fell off the wagon and now I’m truly struggling today.

Best Friends and Bad Choices
One of my best friends came to visit, and we decided to celebrate at one of our favorite NYC restaurants. Now I’ve been eating in a lot recently to save money and with my recently heightened travel schedule I’ve just enjoyed cooking meals at home when I’ve had the chance. So my body has been treated to an unusually consistent and abundant supply of fresh, organic produce and natural grass-fed meat and organic fish. Plus, every dinner has included a large glass of organic juice (carrot, apple, celery & beet is a favorite). And as a result, I’m generally healthy, active, sleep soundly and have high energy throughout the day.

I just chose badly last night while wearing our rose-colored “let’s celebrate” glasses. I won’t name the restaurant because this isn’t about them – in fact they do offer some organic items on their menu. But I ventured off my typical diet and ate heavily seasoned and rich sauces, very few veggies, non-organic meat and horror, some complimentary sugary desserts.

My Aching Body
Today my body is not celebrating. I tossed and turned all night – feeling toxic and achy. I woke up with a puffy face, red eyes and a headache. I should mention that we weren’t drinking alcohol so I cannot attribute this feeling to being over-served.

Who would have guessed that one night could make such an impact? So if one night can do this, imagine what a lifetime of eating toxic, unclean, pesticide food can do? Think about all the people who eat this way every day and don’t even realize how they are making themselves sick. I wonder if these folks even realize that they don’t feel well or if they are just so used to feeling this way that it feels normal.

Getting Back On Track
So today is now Detox Day…not exactly how I planned to spend my Sunday, but I need to erase the damage before my body starts craving more junk. More on my special detoxification procedures and how/if they worked in next week’s blog. This little lethal lesson makes me appreciate even more how lucky we are to have healthy, organic food choices as it also amplifies the power of making just a few simple wrong choices which is good green learning for us all.

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Getting Clean and Natural

We live in a pretty dirty world, and I’m not just talking about political mud slinging. Getting clean is a tricky subject. Many personal care products in the general marketplace use harsh chemicals that can harm you and strip your body of good bacteria.

Most of us take personal care products for granted, perhaps not giving them the same thought, in terms of green that we might give to our food. Soap is designed to keep us clean, right? Well, yes, the commercial cleansers we use (and our parents used) help remove the muck from our polluted environment that settles on our hair and skin. But we often don’t consider that many commercial personal care products may have a natural soap base, but contain synthetic and toxic chemicals used as emulsifiers, stabilizers, and perfumes. Many of these chemicals are fat soluble, meaning they are easily absorbed into the skin with systemic effects. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) for example, used routinely in soap products, has been linked to cancer. So now the very products we use to keep us clean may be making us, in some sense, dirty.

I sought out a wide range of natural personal care products to evaluate how well they could get the job done. My criteria: all organic, all natural, SLS and paraben free. Over 15 products were tested over several weeks in my personal bathroom laboratory. I also confirmed the product claims on Skin Deep where they rate environmental safety on a scale of 1-10 (1 = safest).

Here are my recommendations:
Body Wash:
Pangea Organics: Indian Lemongrass with Rosemary Shower Gel and Malagasy Ylang Ylang with Linden Flower. This wonderfully eco-friendly company makes a few highly concentrated, all organic shower gels smell divine and clean naturally. A little goes a very long way. $14 each for 8oz. Skin Deep score: 2 (They also make pure bar soaps in a wide variety of natural ingredients with healing properties.) Special October offer: 20% off online orders in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Checkout code: PINKRIBBON08

Pharmacopia: Rosemary and Citrus scents. This organic Body Wash is a gentle shower and bath cleanser (that doubles as a great shampoo). It contains organic herbal infusions, certified organic olive oil, vegetable glycerin and aromatherapy-grade essential oils. $15.50 each for 8oz. Skin Deep score: 3; Free shipping for online orders over $50

Dr. Hauschka Body Wash: Rose Floral Body Wash is mild for sensitive skin and feels silky on my skin. It combines a subtle, natural scent from essential oils of rose and jasmine. $16.95 for 5.2oz. Skin Deep score: not rated

EO: All Purpose Soap (made exclusively for Whole Foods): Organic Lavender with all organic ingredients that you can use on anything: your body, your kitchen for washing fruits and veggies, your dog and even your car. One product…so many uses…how much greener can you get? Using products with multiple uses drives down your consumption which limits waste and resources. 32oz. for $12.99. Skin Deep score: 2; October special: 20% off online orders

Hand Sanitizers:
I’m personally wary of the whole hand sanitizer concept and prefer a good hand washing with soap in warm water while singing a full verse of Happy Birthday, but I travel a lot and realize that there are occasions when water isn’t available. My hands waving in the air favorite is EO’s Hand Sanitizer in Lemon. $3.99 for 2oz. Skin Deep score: 2; October special: 20% off online orders

All this talk of trying to get clean is making me sweat. We can work ourselves into quite a lather about being clean. I try to remember that the more I enjoy using my natural cleaning products, the more I’ll use them and then the less I need to be concerned about being clean. How are you getting clean? Tell us what you use and love so we can all get smarter about the green clean.

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Price of Green

We’re facing an economic crisis unlike anything since the Great Depression and understandably people are hunkering down and questioning their purchasing decisions. In the past few months, I’ve heard many consumers and business colleagues say that they just cannot afford to be Green right now. If you define Green as I did last week in this blog, then basically by not being Green, they are putting their personal health, their family’s health and the future health of our planet on hold. As if they will just wait until they have the extra money to get well.

I’m not willing to take those risks, but I am concerned about the financial crisis. So I’m sharpening my pencil and looking differently at my consumption with a Green eye towards Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. By being a little smarter, I can both save money and practice my Green lifestyle.

1. Transportation: when I take the bus or walk to/from work instead of taking a cab I can save money (Savings: $0 or $2 vs. $8 one way so I can save up to $16 a day).
Reduce: Saves my community from additional carbon emissions and conserves fuel.

2. Home cooked meals: when I cook at home with my organic produce I can make a healthier meal than eating out or ordering in and I can make it last for days. For instance, a roast organic chicken can be the main course on Saturday night, and then I’ll cook up the bones and extra meat in a chicken soup that we can eat on Sunday night and freeze the rest for a few other meals. (Savings: one $9 chicken can feed us for up to 5 nights).
Reuse: Saves my family’s health and supports organic farmers.

3. Homemade cleaning supplies: when you start to clean with white vinegar and water, you realize that you don’t need strong cleaning supplies for everyday cleaning. White vinegar disinfects, shines and deodorizes virtually everything. (Savings: just $1.79 for 32 oz. multipurpose white vinegar vs. at least $3.29 each for many 32 oz. regular cleaning products)
Reduce and Recycle: Saves time shopping for multiple cleaning products. Glass bottle is easily recycled.

4. Drink clean water: when I don’t buy bottled water and instead drink clean, filtered water. (Savings: at least $1.50 for each 8 oz. bottle.)
Reuse: Saves me money when I use my reusable water bottle.

5. Line dry clothes: when my apartment building doubled their dryer prices to $1.50 per load, I decided to reduce my dryer load and instead hang as much as I could on a clothing line in my bathroom. (Savings: $4.50 a week based on line drying three $1.50 loads)
Reduce: Saves on energy costs with less dryer use.

These are just a few ideas and I’m sure you have more to share. To live Green, you don’t need to spend more money. In these tough economic times, we need to think about basic economic principles. If people stop buying Green now then the price to be Green will only increase. To bring these costs down, we must continue to increase demand.

We’ve come so far in mainstreaming Green over the past few years, let’s not revert back to the days when being Green was an elite club. When you see organics at Wal-Mart, it is a good thing for our wallets. When you buy Green products, Green companies will continue to grow, innovate and improve their products. Now is not the time to stop being Green, but rather it is time to be a smarter shade of Green. Perhaps this shift requires a new word for our Green movement: Sage Green.

For more Green:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What is Green?

Last week a new friend sheepishly asked me what “Green” really meant.

This question reminded me of how I started my Going Green blog in order to help people everywhere learn how to start going Green. I had thought that being Green had been a bit too exclusive…a club where you needed to know the handshake before you could join. I hoped that this Green blog would start to change that pattern and bring anyone who wanted to join under the Green tent. A place where you can ask questions and expect to get an understandable, practical, expert answer.

Since Green is personal, I thought I’d share what Green means to me and then invite you to do the same.

- Green is taking conscious care of your self, your family, your home and your planet (i.e.; buying organic foods, keeping you home safe from toxic chemicals, driving a hybrid car, taking public transportation)
- Green is about good choices, made everyday in lots of small ways .(i.e.: turning off lights, riding your bike, joining a local farmer’s co-op)
- Green is a consumer lifestyle based on eco-friendly products, using less energy, natural health and wellbeing (i.e.: using safe, natural, non-toxic cleaning products, buying energy star electronics)
- Green is multigenerational and appeals to a broad demographic (i.e.: kids, teenagers, moms, adults and baby boomers)
- Green is transforming business, marketing and consumer purchasing habits (i.e.: demanding new accountability from churches, schools and government run buildings)
- Green is about choosing goods and services that use economic and environmentally sustainable business practices (i.e. supporting local organic farmers, drinking fair trade coffee, buying bamboo products)
- Green is about encouraging like-minded people to share tips and advice on how to live in an eco-friendly world in a non-confrontational way
- Green is about acknowledging the mistakes of our past and being a part of shaping our future. The first step is the hardest…

I then think of Green at three different levels:
1. personal green: the basics of good, wholesome, healthy nutrition and the use of safe non-toxic products
2. local green: the environment in our homes and our community
3. global green: how to protecting oil soils, our forests, our air and our planet

As I stated, this is simply my definition of “Green” and I’d love to hear yours.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Natural Beauty Products Review: Shampoos, Conditioners and Hair Gel

Britney wants more, Paris needs less and everyone wants Jennifer’s. Hair tops the list of what women obsess about the most. A great hair day can give us confidence and a little bounce in our step.

But what price do we pay for gorgeous hair? Does great hair have to be a byproduct of rubbing dangerous chemicals into our scalp that seep through the skin and blood, to circulate to every corner of our bodies? Nature is on the way to save you and your hairdo.

It is simply critical to use natural hair products that don’t use sodium lauryl sulfate or other chemical surfactants. SLS is a manmade substance manufactured from a toxic petroleum derivative, ethylene oxide gas, that believe me is neither ecological nor sustainable. To bring nature back to my hair, I started experimenting and sampling months ago and used 10 different organic and all natural hair products on a random basis, switching brand shampoos/conditioners/hair gels each day. So when I developed a very itchy dry scalp and clogged hair follicles (nasty scalp pimples!) for the first time in my life, I had no idea which product I had reacted adversely to. So it was back to the drawing board with a strict 5 consecutive days of one brand experiment before I switched to another. I learned which ones I must avoid, which ones really worked, and now can say my hair has never looked so shiny and healthy and clean.

After weeks of experiments in my shower laboratory, I have discovered those hair products that are 100% natural and 100% gorgeous. And since I like a good lather, I prefer products that still allow me to make my soapy hair soup without sodium lauryl sulfate or other chemicals. I’ll confess that I am blessed with pretty great hair – dark brown, shiny, slight wave, normal to oily, shoulder length and overall easy to manage. So I don’t have major hair issues except that my hair is sensitive to change. It can lose its shape pretty quickly in a strong wind, after a good head tossing nap or 4 hours in an airplane. So I added these factors to my natural experiment and exposed my hair to the elements and as many naps as possible.

My recommended natural hair products:
- Max Green Alchemy: all pure plant origin products, certified vegan and cruelty-free
o Scalp Rescue Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair gel: shampooed into a great lather, conditioned well to strengthen and shine, gel is alcohol-free without waxy build up; 100% plant derived, chemical-free, paraben-free and this amazing trio cured my itchy dry scalp while proving gentle enough for everyday use
o Skin Deep score: 0.7!
- Dr. Hauschka: this company practices sustainable, eco-friendly business practices from recyclable and biodegradable packaging to organic and naturally derived ingredients, all free of synthetic fragrances
o Nasturtium & Lemon shampoo: for normal to oily hair; $13 for 8.4 oz.
o Apricot & Sea Buckthorn shampoo: for dry to damaged hair; $13 for 8.4 oz.
o Jojoba & Marsh Mallow Conditioner: $14.50 for 8.4 oz.
o Skin Deep score: not rated
- Burt’s Bees: an earth friendly, natural personal care company making a wide range of natural products formulated to help you maximize your well-being and protect your environment – and to make our busy lives easier, these winners are widely available in health food and drug stores.
o More Moisture Raspberry & Brazil Nut Shampoo: uses coconut and sunflower oils to naturally clean, raspberry extract antioxidants to protect hair from sun and pollution and naturally smell “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific!”; $8 for 12 oz.
o More Moisture Raspberry & Brazil Nut Conditioner: marula and brazil nut oils provide a deep conditioning without product build up; $8 for 12 oz.
o Avocado Butter Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment: take the time to do this once a week for at least 5 minutes before shampooing, this treatment of avocado and olive oils soothe your scalp and rosemary, almond oil and nettle provides a glossy shine; $9 for 4.34 oz.
o Skin Deep score: 1-3

While conducting this experiment, my friend supermodel Carol Alt told me how she has washed her long luscious hair with a flower. Yes. Just flower petals and water. I’m sure that there are many other natural ways to clean your hair. Let us know if you have your own homemade solutions. Our chemical-free ears are open.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Green Start...

My Green Start…

originally posted August 2008

How does a “Work Hard, Play Harder” NYC Advertising Sales Executive create a new life with an “Absolutely Green” Alternative Medicine Doctor?

Seven years ago my life consisted of no work/life balance, takeout food and late night entertaining. His life was dedicated to eliminating toxic substances, toxic behavior and unhealthy food consumption to treat cancer and other degenerative diseases. I was literally the embodiment of everything he worked to eliminate. How could this possibly work? I had no idea but his deep blue eyes encouraged me to find out.

Dr. Nick, aka Dr. Blue Eyes, specializes in treating and preventing disease through good nutrition, detoxification and natural enzyme supplements. From our first date, his unique medical program intrigued me. I figured that it must work as here I was having a fabulous organic meal at one of NYC’s best restaurants with a sexy doctor who looked half his age! During dinner a restaurant patron came over to our table and introduced himself to me as the son of a woman who Dr. Nick saved from a horrible cancer. He said Nick was his hero. I was now more than intrigued and very quickly started to fall in love.

Five weeks later we got engaged, and 10 months later, we got married. We had a Green “Pre-nuptial agreement”. For the opportunity to share my life with Dr. Nick, I made significant green adjustments to my lifestyle. While previously surrounded by fast food, partying, convenient/non-healthy “solutions”, I had accepted this lifestyle as the norm. I hadn’t realized how toxic my life had become until I heard about his alternative solution. Once my eyes were open, I began to understand why my past lifestyle wasn’t good for my holistic (or spiritual) health. And with Nick at my side, I saw how a few simple, easy changes could make a greener, healthier life possible for me.

Nothing happened overnight…I took one step at a time with his patient, loving guidance. Feeling better physically encouraged me to continue to taking more steps and pretty soon I looked at myself and I was healthy and happier then I ever had been.

Here are a few simple, greener steps to get yourself started:
Out with the Old In with the New
1. from corner convenience stores to organic health food stores
2. from take out food to cooking clean foods at home
3. from toxic cleaning supplies to non-toxic, natural cleaners
4. from late nights at bars to cozy nights together at home and in bed by 10pm
5. from antibiotics when sick to nutritional supplements every day
6. from cabs to walk/subway/buses
7. from a toxic household to organic mattress, sheets and towels
8. from plugged in cell phone chargers to unplugged chargers whenever not in use

In this green blog, I’ll try to explain the HOWs and the WHYs and the ways I sometimes can “cheat” and still feel good about my choices. I’m now surrounded by Green friends who are living this healthy life and hearing their stories can inspires us all. I’ll draw on their experiences and hope you’ll join in the conversation and share your own ideas for Going Green.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Sustainability


We hear this word more frequently as environmental efforts grow and yet many people are not sure what sustainability actually means. I believe it is some sort of an ideal state for a Green lifestyle. I hear about buying sustainable products like bamboo and living in sustainable housing. I also often hear this word when in discussions involving transportation, energy and food.

Looking for the true definition, I started with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Sustainable: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged

Then during a quick trip to Wikipedia, I found a quote that helped me better understand sustainability in the context of a Green lifestyle:
Lester R. Brown, an environmental analyst, summarizes the situation as "sustaining progress depends on shifting from a fossil fuel-based, automobile-centered, economy to a renewable energy-based, diversified transport, reuse/recycle economy".

So it seems that being sustainable means creating a lifestyle favoring renewable options and not exhausting natural resources. With this in mind, the going Green process is a shifting to this sustainable lifestyle by making smart, everyday choices that will protect natural resources.

I then thought about the personal choices I make every day and whether they were sustainable decisions:
- Should I walk to my corner grocery store to buy produce or drive across town to the nearest farmer’s market for local, organic food?
- Should I buy a regular $2 light bulb or spend an additional $5 on an energy-saving CFL mercury light bulb?
- Should I blast my air-conditioner or open my windows on a hot summer day?
- Should I buy a hybrid car or find ways to drive my gas car less frequently?
- Should I clean my home with the same chemical cleaning products my mom trusted for years or switch to non-toxic natural cleaners?

While going Green has certainly gotten easier in the past 7 years since I adopted this lifestyle, sometimes, I do choose the less-sustainable option. Sometimes when I’m feeling strapped for cash, I choose to close my wallet on Green. Sometimes when Green feels like too much of an effort, I choose Red instead. Red because I do know Green is the better choice, and I get embarrassed and red-in-the-face because I gave in.

How do I know that Green is the better choice and that my Green decisions actually make a difference? I have a hard time wrapping my head around the concept that the everyday choices I make impact the future of our planet. That is pretty serious stuff. But I continue to make these Green decisions because I can see how these choices positively impact my own life. When I make personal Green decisions such as buying organic food because it tastes better and ensures that my body isn’t ingesting pesticides and chemicals, I’ve seen how this decision also benefits my family, my home as well as my planet. Now I’m not a scientist so I truly don’t know what leads to climate change. But I do know that when I shift and make a sustainable, Green choice, my whole body feels like it is a good, healthy decision. It just sits right with me and makes me smile. And those smiles are quite sustainable.