2. Laundry detergent by Sun & Earth. Take a whiff of most conventional laundry detergents and you'll be overwhelmed by chemical fragrances that are unhealthy as well as unpleasant. Sun & Earth, based in King of Prussia, PA, has been producing safer cleaning products for 20 years, and now offers a new unscented version of its nontoxic, biodegradable laundry detergent. Unlike most detergents you'll find at the store, this one is plant-based, and free of dyes and harsh perfumes linked to allergies and indoor air pollution. A bottle runs about $10 and is available in some stores or at sunandearth.com. Or visit their King of Prussia warehouse and buy in bulk to save money and packaging!
3. Radius Source Toothbrush. The new Source Toothbrush from Radius is made of 93 percent recycled material, including recycled U.S. dollar bills. Other models are made from recycled flax or wood. You only have to replace the head of the toothbrush when it wears out, reducing waste by about 90 percent! They are about $7 each, with replacement heads running about $2.50.
4. Seventh Generation natural disinfecting wipes. To kill germs, it's always best to wash your hands with warm water and plain soap. But sometimes you're not near a sink. This new product from Seventh Generation will be in select grocery stores in January 2010, just in time for the peak of cold and flu season. It's the only U.S. EPA-registered disinfectant approved to kill germs, including H1N1, the swine flu virus. The main ingredient is food-grade, plant-based thyme oil (same plant as the spice that's in your kitchen, or in that Simon and Garfunkel song). The product is so safe, you won't see one of those first aid statement on the label. It'll cost about $3 for 25 wipes, and $3 for a multipurpose spray.
5. Gro-Pac Grocery System. If you're willing to spend a few extra bucks in the name of using fewer plastic bags, consider the Gro-Pac from Blue Avocado. For less than $50, you'll get a large multi-use bag, an insulated tote to keep foods hot or cold, another bag that will haul 20-pounds of groceries, and two reusable produce bags. The bags are made of recycled material, and it's estimated that using them will save 200 plastic bags a year.
And two we weren't as fond of:
6. Packaged Water. Although the company One Natural Experience, or O.N.E., donates the profits of its packaged water to charity, it's important to remember that shipping bottled water all over the country is a usually a waste of energy. And often it's not necessary. Studies have shown that tap water is just as safe to drink as bottled water. Plus, you don't have to pay $1.50 a pop! Invest in a Klean Kanteen if you have to take your water with you.
7. Upgraded treats. The natural and organic markets are hot, so companies are trying to capitalize. But remember that although organic ingredients take less of a toll on the environment and come without chemical baggage, junk food is still junk food, whether it's organic or not. Focus on eating as many whole grains and fruits and vegetables as you can—organic whenever possible. Limit your consumption of processed, packaged treats, organic or otherwise. They're treats, so enjoy them, but don't let them substitute for healthy food.