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Are e-Readers Really Green?

By Leah Kaminsky

On the surface, it would seem that using an e-reader would be a sure-fire way to up your green factor. After all, they’re pretty much the Superman of the tree world, saving innocent victims from the paper mill. But as an electronic device, e-readers aren’t without their footprint. There are the carbon emissions that result from powering the device, and the consumer electronics industry is infamous for using toxic materials.

So given these considerations, are e-readers actually greener than paper books?

The answer is a resounding yes. Between the paper consumption and the carbon emissions associated with production, printing, shipping and disposal of paper books, there is no doubting the environmental impact of traditional publishing. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at this powerful infographic, which explores the full impact of the two billion printed books produced every year. A few key facts:

  1. Printed books require 3 times more raw materials to produce books than e-readers and 7 times more water
  2. The 125 million trees cut down every year for the newspaper and book industries result in the emission of 44 million tons of CO2 each year versus just 7.3 million from cars.

In fact, the research this infographic cites estimates that e-readers will prevent the emission of 10 million tons of CO2 between 2009 and the end of 2012, which is the equivalent of the yearly emissions from roughly 800,000 cars. What’s more, when we leave more trees standing to absorb more CO2, our e-reading habit can help offset emissions from other high footprint technologies.

When considering the eco-credentials of e-readers, it’s important to take a look at the full supply chain as well as the raw materials. Fortunately for us book lovers, e-readers allow us to feed our book addiction while also doing something good for the environment. Though (sorry, I have to say it!) there’s nothing quite like the weight and smell of a good old-fashioned book…

A Journey with Breast Cancer, Part 2: Chemo Hair Scare

By Jeanne Romano

When I heard I was going to have chemo, I have to be honest… one of the first things I thought about was my hair.  We all have something about ourselves that we flaunt. Our eyes, our teeth and smile, our ass… maybe it’s all of those. With me it was my naturally thick, shiny, red hair.  My whole life I was asked if it was natural. I loved that.  In fact my mom told me that when I was a kid, strangers would stop us and go on about my hair.

I am sure you don’t need me to go over all the scientific reasons why we lose our hair.  And, if you’re anything like me the last thing you want is more info from the “experts”. I have been where you are and although this is your cancer, your chemo and your hair (or lack thereof) I am hoping my experiences with what seemed to work (and what clearly didn’t) will help out during this rough time.

You probably know this drill however it really is key; exercise and eat a well-balanced diet. I know, I know it seems like eating a “well-balanced” is the answer to everything. There’s good reason for that; it is the answer to everything. Remember, just because you are taking a great multivitamin (which you should anyway, not just for your hair, but for your cancer recovery) doesn’t mean you don’t need to get all the good stuff from your food.

Fruits and vegetables are great ways to get all of the vitamins your body and needs.  And once you have these vitamins, the hair can hitch a ride making it more likely to grow.  Personally, I ate lots of beans, which are high in both iron and protein. It’s important to eat foods that contain protein and iron, because they are both essential for the hair, nails and teeth.  We’ll talk more specifically about the last two in future blogs.

Apparently prenatal vitamins are believed to work wonders for both hair and nail growth.  However, this one can be tricky because depending on other medications that you may be taking, it’s possible that you may be prohibited from taking prenatal vitamins. My doctor did not want to blend my meds.  Since everything situation is different, it won’t hurt to ask.

As for exercise, it cracked me up when I was told I needed to exercise to decrease the stress in my life – really? Ya think? We all know stress is bad for your health.  What I didn’t know it that stress might prevent hair from growing back faster after chemo. So I tried to relax.  I was tired.  The thought of exercise (no matter how beneficial it was to relive stress) sounded like torture. I needed something simple and relaxing.  Like so many, I discovered yoga.  You might also check out a community center with a pool. I swam as often as I could.

  • I used T Plus Tar Gel Dandruff Shampoo Original dandruff-shampoo. It’s thought that zinc (found in dandruff shampoo) increases hair growth. Who knew? I never had dandruff, however I still use it … I’m sorta scared to quit.

    Walgreens T Plus Tar Gel Dandruff Shampoo Original

  • Horsetail.  I used both the lotion and the supplements. My oncologists suggested this herb. It was supposed to prevent my hair from growing back brittle and dry. I had good luck with it. My hair was neither. Of course with the all the other things I was doing, it was hard to tell what was working and what was a myth.  Horsetail is pretty easy to find, it’s real easy to take and easy on the wallet. So, why not.

    Zia Skin Basics Herbal Moisture Gel with Horsetail Extract

  • I massaged virgin-olive-oil-moisturizer into my scalp every day.  It made me hungry for crusty bread.  It also made my scalp very soft.  Like the Horsetail I’m not sure if it actually helped promote quicker hair growth — it didn’t hurt either.

    Olivella All Natural Virgin Olive Oil Moisturizer For All Skin Types

  • If you want to color your hair after chemotherapy – personally – I made this mistake. I should have waited the recommended six months to a year… Let’s just say “purple” was not a good look on me.

You will probably agree that once you’ve had chemo, there is no such thing as a bad hair day.  It did grow back. It’s a bit different. Not better or worse, just different. With a few easy adjustments and readily available and holistic ingredients I learned what I could do to give my hair follicles a fighting chance and so can you!

The True Benefits of Organic Produce

By Leah Kaminsky

Earlier this week, I stumbled on a blog post in Scientific American supposedly busting top myths about organic produce. Then I fell into a wormhole reading all the articles calling the myth buster wrong (see references), until my brain was no better than a scrambled egg. An organic one, of course.

All of this got me thinking: what are the differences between organic and non-organic produce anyway?

If your first answer is, “Pesticides, of course!” you’re right. And wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, organic farmers do use pesticides. There’s no way to feed the entire world if we don’t keep the pests away. The difference, however, is that organic pesticides are derived from natural sources, not made synthetically in the lab. Though they don’t appear to be quite as toxic as their synthetic counterparts which count endocrine-disruption and birth defects among their lovely side effects, they’re still not great to consume.

But whether or not this is problematic depends largely on the grower. What if an organic farm sprays its crops three times a week while a factory farm sprays with synthetics once a year? It’s very likely that the produce raised with synthetic pesticides would, in the end, contain less pesticide

Still, this could seem like a case of lax or confused guidelines and a lone farmer looking to capitalize on the organic trend rather than a problem with organic produce itself. Synthetic pesticides take much longer to break down both in our bodies and in the environment than natural ones, causing damage during those elapsed years.

These arguments also seem to ignore the social aspect. Organic farmers, after all, tend to be movers and shakers – at the cutting edge of the newest farming technology. They’re far more likely to diversify and rotate their crops to prevent monoculture and promote rich soil, both essential elements in creating sustainable agriculture.

So, the question remains: is organic produce still worth the expense for you as a consumer? Yes. Just make sure you know what kind of farmer you’re buying from.

Natural Makeup: Why and How

By Leah Kaminsky

We are what we eat…and put on our faces. With the potential side effects of the chemicals in makeup including things like cancer, reproductive and hormonal problems, birth defects or brain damage, the more educated we are as consumers the better.

The first step is learning which chemicals to avoid. Check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics or the Environmental Working Group for up to date information on new studies. EWG’s Skin Deep database is also a great resource where you can enter the name of a product you use and search for both ingredients and associated health effects.

Looking for labels that explicitly state, paraben-, phthalate- or PCB-free are a good place to start. For products that contain food ingredients like avocado, honey or cinnamon, search for the USDA-organic certified label. Know your organic terms before you go. “100% organic” means the ingredients must be (you guessed it!) 100% organic, while a product with “organic ingredients” must only contain an organic ingredient here and there.

As with all advertising, watch phrasing carefully. Don’t be fooled by the words “green!” or “natural!” which, in some products has as much validity as saying a drink has “natural flavors!” when in fact chemicals outnumber them ten to one.

Your best bet for finding great natural products is to break up with your normal routine. If you can’t find any good products in the store, try a new one. A Facebook post is especially useful for this kind of project, and you’ll connect with other like-minded folks who are concerned with similar issues 

And of course, the world is open to you online. Search one of many sites for great deals on hair care, makeup, personal and skin care products.

The chemicals that make cameos in our beauty regimens are scary, but there are plenty of other great options if you know where to look!

Blog Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to James Lindstrom, the winner of our blog giveaway! Please email us at with your name and address so we can send you your prize!











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The Who, What & Why of EARTH DAY

By Jeanne Romano

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss (The Lorax)

The first Earth Day, April 22, 1970 was wildly successful. For the first time, a diverse group of modern environmentalists gathered together: youthful idealists, liberal Democrats, middle-class women, scientists, professionals, and representatives of conservation groups, labor unions and churches.

Over 40 years of protecting health and the environment. A proud anniversary. However, with longevity unfortunately often comes complacency. Earth Day, every April 22, yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay so on that one day we all make sure not to litter, turn off the TV when we leave the room and, of course, we absolutely, positively remember to recycle.

Activists John McConnell and U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (Al Gore was just a smidge over 20 at the time) have been credited with creating Earth Day. McConnell brought the idea of a global holiday to the United Nations in 1969. Environmental activist Senator Nelson is responsible for inspiring celebrations at thousands of colleges, universities, schools and communities all across the United States as well as the widespread grassroots legislation. Ultimately Nelson woke up Washington and forced the issue onto the national agenda.

Regardless who “invented” Earth Day we the American people finally had a public forum in which to voice our concerns over what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air – and we did so with spectacular exuberance. Our unwavering demand for cleaner water, air and land, led Richard Nixon (one of our more infamous presidents) and Congress to sign into law The Clean Air (and Water) Act which ultimately led to establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Before 1970, a factory could spew black clouds of toxic into the air or dump tons of toxic waste into a nearby stream and it was perfectly legal. The newly formed EPA was tasked with the challenging goal of repairing the damage already done to the environment and to establish guidelines to help Americans make a cleaner and safer environment a reality.

Through our daily decisions and lifestyle choices to make our homes and communities more environmentally friendly, every person on Earth can do plenty to preserve our planet’s finite natural resources today and for future generations. Here are a few ways to renew our commitment or to start in the way you live your life.

Barring any colonization of the moon, which I doubt will happen before this blog is posted, Mother Earth is still the one and only common denominator in the life of every human being. After 40 years of Earth Day celebrations it’s as important as ever (if not more important) to remember what Earth Day is all about. And how it’s something we can all do to leave a clean, healthy, thriving planet for the generations to follow.

AHPA & FDA encourage best practices for supplement manufacturers

We love news about the natural industry making strides toward self-improvement.  In this case, the natural supplements industry. Read on…

The AHPA (American Herbal Products Association) recently launched a new program designed to inform and educate its members about good manufacturing practices (cGMP) and dietary practices in order to help provide consumers with better quality supplements, and to help protect them from false claims.

The educational program, called “Did You Know”, is a weekly Q&A email sent to AHPA members with links to resources relevant to the manufacturing of dietary supplements.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has implemented this program in the hope of encouraging members to stay informed. By having access to targeted, up-to-date information, program participants will create a closer community and have the ability to produce effective, high-quality products by complying with good manufacturing practices for dietary supplements. Members will also have the ability to submit questions tailored to their area of operation.

With this launch, the American Herbal Products Association is confirming its place as a leader in the industry, and with AHPA members on board, their manufacturing processes will be streamlined and improved. Thus, consumers will directly benefit from the end result: the availability of better herbal supplements on the market.

That’s good news!