Archive for September, 2010

SustainableTrip.org

Sustainable Trip For Savvy Travelers

A bit of news from our friends at The Rainforest Alliance. A portal for sustainable travel! Now travelers looking for sustainable vacations in Latin America and the Caribbean can find them at SustainableTrip.org.

A database of hotels, tour operators, and restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean, have been certified by a third-party sustainable tourism certification program, verified by the Rainforest Alliance, or recommended as being sustainable by a reputable organization.

The site, available in three languages – in English as SustainableTrip.org; in Spanish as ViajeSostenible.org; and in French as VoyageResponsable.org. Initially launched in 2005 as the Eco-Index of Sustainable Tourism, SustainableTrip.org features a robust search engine and an in-depth profile for each business that includes information about amenities and rates, a description of the area and activities, a Google map of the business’ location, photos, videos, and actions that the business is taking to demonstrate sustainability. Interested parties can subscribe to a monthly email newsletter that includes links to new or updated hotel profiles. The site also features “News for the Savvy Traveler” and detailed info rmation about sustainable tourism.

The launch also coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the Rainforest Alliance’s sustainable tourism program which helps tourism professionals improve the sustainability of their businesses based on the principles of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.  Initiatives include adopting ecosystem and water conservation measures, reducing energy use, supporting local economies, hiring from within the community and reducing costs. The Alliance also works with people whose livelihoods depend on the land, helping them transform the way they grow food, harvest wood and host travelers. From large multinational corporations to small, community-based cooperatives, businesses and consumers worldwide are involved in the Rainforest Alliance’s efforts to bring responsibly produced goods and services to a global marketplace where the demand for sustainability is growing steadily.

www.rainforest-alliance.org

www.sustainabletrip.org

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Organic Soap and Air Fresheners

Vermont Soaps

Scrub a dub dub, no toxins in the tub!

Here’s a nice little story about a soap company that could. Larry Plesent started Vermont Soap in 1992 after experiencing severe skin problems from the cleaning chemicals used by his window washing company.  He began researching healthy alternatives for people like him, sensitive to detergents and other synthetic ingredients.  Now, Vermont Soap has grown from a two-person operation in 1992 to become the largest manufacturer of handmade organic bar soap in North America.

Offering health-conscious and eco-friendly consumers all-natural soaps, shea nut butters, and air fresheners that are healthier for them and the environment, they’ve abandoned the chemically toxic over-the-counter sprays for sprays with natural essential oils. The brand new Aromatherapy Air Fresheners from Vermont Soap are safe, non-toxic, and can be sprayed directly into the air, on skin, fine linens, fabrics and all water safe surfaces to freshen and revitalize personal space at home, school, work, in cars, and any other environment that could use a pleasant and uplifting scent.

Vermont Soap's Organic Air Fresheners

Like all of the products from Vermont Soap, the new Aromatherapy Air Fresheners are free of artificial colors and fragrances, chemical preservatives, and animal by-products. We all know (and it’s proven) that artificial fragrances in some deodorizing products can cause nausea, headaches, irritated skin, respiratory reactions and other allergic conditions. The natural air fresheners from Vermont Soap contain only pure essential oil aromas that provide aromatherapy benefits for the mind, but don’t irritate the skin or nose.

In fact, an investigation of common air fresheners by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in 2007 found hormone-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates in numerous air freshener products.  The vast majority of the air fresheners tested contained at least trace levels of phthalates, and a Walgreen’s product tested the highest with a whopping 7,300 parts per million of the phthalate DEP.  None of the air fresheners tested listed the chemicals on the label. The State of California notes that five types of phthalates, including one detected in air fresheners, are “known to cause birth defects or reproductive harm.”  “The NRDC report prompted acknowledgement of the problem and corrective action by some of the manufacturers, but what about the others, are they really safe?” asks Plesent.  After the study, the NRDC and a coalition filed a petition requesting that federal agencies start testing all air fresheners for safety.

The Aromatherapy Air Fresheners are offered in: Country Lavender, Lemongrass Zen and Peppermint Magic and sold in an 8-ounce re-usable spray bottle for a suggested retail price of $8.75.  For a limited time, Vermont Soap is also offering a special introductory price of just $7.00, a 20% discount through their online store. A 16-ounce refill size is also sold for a suggested retail price of $9.89.

We think Plesent is on the right track and should probably change his last name’s spelling to go along with his pleasant message of purity. Vermont Soap also operates a Discount Factory Outlet Store and Antique Soap Museum that offers factory tours and demonstrations for those with kiddies. Products can be purchased at thousands of health food, gourmet and specialty stores.

www.vermontsoap.com

The Greenest Hotel in America

The Proximity Hotel - Greensboro, NC

And can you believe… it’s in Greensboro, North Carolina?

Yup.

A Platinum LEED certification ain’t easy to come by, but The Proximity Hotel in North Carolina is doing it and doing it and doing it again.

To earn LEED certification, a building project must meet certain prerequisites and performance benchmarks (“credits”) within each category. Projects are awarded Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum depending on the number of credits they achieve. This comprehensive approach is the reason LEED-certified buildings have reduced operating costs, healthier and more productive occupants, and conserve our natural resources.

This is what a Platinum LEED Hotel Looks Like

This building right here… well, it uses 41% less energy than a conventional hotel/restaurant by using ultra efficient materials and the latest construction technology. The sun’s energy heats hot water with 100 solar panels covering the 4,000 square feet of rooftop (enough hot water for a hundred homes). This heats around 60% of the water for both the hotel and restaurant.

700 linear feet of stream was restored by reducing erosion, planting local, adaptable plant species and rebuilding the buffers and banks. And 376 tons of boulders and 18 logs were used to maintain grade control and assist in the creation of riffles and pools. The bistro bar is made of salvaged, solid walnut trees that came down through sickness or storm and room service trays made of Plyboo (bamboo plywood).

You still with me?

One of The Greenest Hotels in America

Newly-engineered variable speed hoods in the restaurant use a series of sensors to set the power according to the kitchen’s needs and adjusts to a lower level of operation.

Geothermal energy is used for the restaurant’s refrigeration equipment, instead of a standard water-cooled system, saving significant amounts of water.

Oh, this isn’t greenwashing. Hallelujah! No, no, no. It’s Platinum LEED hotel certification, baby, Platinum, baby. And how cool is this next part? North America’s first Regenerative Drive model of the Otis’ Gen2 elevator reduces net energy usage by capturing the system’s energy and feeds it back into the building’s internal electrical grid!

Flowers!

Water usage has been reduced by 33% by installing high-efficiency Kohler plumbing fixtures, saving two million gallons of water the first year. We heart Kohler.

And… regional vendors and artists were used for materials to reduce transportation and packaging. Oh, and low-emitting volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, adhesives, carpets, etc reduces indoor air contamination.

Abundant natural lighting, including large energy-efficient “operable” windows, connect guests to the outdoors by achieving a direct line of sight for more than 97% of all regularly occupied spaces. Building materials with recycled content include: reinforced steel with 90% post consumer recycled content, National Gypsum Wallboard 100%, asphalt 25% and staircase steel 50%. 87% of construction waste was also recycled, diverting 1,535 tons of debris from landfills.

Is the Platinum part still not sinking in??

The Proximity Pool

A green, vegetated rooftop is also going to be planted on the restaurant to reduce the “urban heat island effect.”

In other words, the green roof reflects the heat, thus reducing the amount of energy needed for refrigeration and/or air conditioning. It also slows the rain runoff and insulates the rooftop, keeping the building cooler overall. Currently, they’re trying out various plants on the roof in a test are and… bicycles are available for guests to ride on the nearby five-mile greenway.

THIS is what we’re talking about… what’s taking the rest of these deadbeats so long?

www.proximityhotel.com

Cacao Lips

Navitas Naturals Organic Cacao Lip Balm

We’re suckers for anything sweet, so when superfoods company, Navitas Naturals, best known for their line of premium organic cacao culinary treats, introduced it’s new Cacao Lip Balm we were licking our lips and ready to take a bite. Skin loves dark chocolate just as much as taste buds.

Here’s the skinny. Navitas Naturals Cacao Lip Balm is a buttery antioxidant-rich lip moisturizer made from the pure, cold-pressed oil of the cacao bean.  All of the ingredients are organic, and include: sunflower oil, beeswax, raw cacao butter, jojoba oil, rosemary extract, calendula and vitamin E.  The rich dark chocolate aroma and mild flavor… those are just a delicious plus.

Cacao butter has long been used as a traditional healing medicine for the skin by indigenous cultures in South America and Africa for centuries.  In fact, according to a feature health report on dark chocolate by news leader CNN, research has shown that cacao is good for the skin.  The report states that “German researchers gave 24 women a half-cup of special extra-flavonoid-enriched cocoa every day. After three months, the women’s skin was moister, smoother, and less scaly and red when exposed to ultraviolet light.”  The researchers think the flavonoids reduce skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation, increase blood flow to skin, and improve skin texture by increasing its density, thickness, and hydration.

Since 2003, Navitas Naturals’ mission has been to provide premium organic superfoods that increase energy and enhance health.  Through direct purchasing agreements, Navitas Naturals provides and expands fair trade economic opportunities in developing regions around the world. The cacao beans used in the Organic Cacao Lip Balm are sustainably sourced from small family farms in Peru. “Our products come from the wisdom of ancient cultures and their traditional use of plants for both culinary and medicinal purposes,” says Zach Adelman, President and founder. In addition to cacao, Navitas Naturals also offers a wide variety of organic superfoods including stevia, raw cacao, virgin coconut oil, mesquite, nori seaweed, wakame seaweed, lucuma, acai, yacon, mulberries, maca, camu, goldenberries, pomegranate, chia, flax, goji berries, hemp seeds and raw cashews.

Retails for a mere $3.99.  Navitas Naturals cacao products are widely available at stores such as Whole Foods and on the web at http://www.amazon.com, http://www.navitasnaturals.com – the ‘online superfoods superstore.’

Ecover’s 30 under 30

Ecover's 30 Under 30 Contest

Ecover is Looking for 30 Under 30

Do you know someone who deserves to be recognized for working to improve the world and they’re under 30?

Yes, we wish this was us because then we’d be eligible to apply, but we’re (ehem) just a little bit over 30 (mini-gasp). No really, it’s okay.  We’re happy where we are and well… we’re still pretty young (when you look at those old dudes).

So check this awesome and practical contest: Ecover is seeking 30 people under the age of 30 who are protecting our planet. The best part? The winner will receive furniture from Environment— either a new bedroom or new dining set—and the top 30 entrants will receive Ecover Products for a year.

A year! That’s right. Good stuff.

This is to celebrate Ecover’s 30th anniversary. I can’t believe they’ve been around that long, can you? They were so ahead of the rest. So, with that in mind, wrangle up the people you know that are ahead of the rest too. That could even be you.

Submit your nomination here:

http://ecoverusblog.com/30-under-30-contest/

www.facebook.com/ecoverus

Seven Days From Darwin

Seven Days From Darwin by John Buckland

From fishing in the highlands of northern Mongolia and island hopping in Thailand to 4-wheeling in the Australian outback, John Buckland draws upon his extensive travel experience to weave a tale of mystery and intrigue with Seven Days from Darwin, hot off the press.

An avid, expert deep-sea SCUBA diver and knowledgeable historian, it’s from these experiences that he draws his creativity and character development.

“Traveling creates a restless kind of energy in me and writing helps me understand and express my experiences,” states Buckland.

As he tells us, Seven Days from Darwin explores several themes, including: hope and the compelling reasons to believe in it, Evolution Theory and reasons to reflect on its validity, The Great Depression, along with greed, lust and “survival of the fittest.”  Sounds pretty good to us. The story is a work of fiction, but is based on a multiplicity of real life travel adventures.  Set in the 1930’s Dutch East Indies, Buckland captures a time before the arrival of rampant development and the advent of the “exclusive resort”.

A time well worth jumping into.

To purchase: $19.95 with free shipping on www.amazon.com or visit www.7daysfromdarwin.com where the book is $12.95 + $4.00 shipping.

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