UMBRA Eco-Friendly Designs

Umbra, the creators of fine, funky household products, have recently released an Eco-Friendly line. These products, made from more environmentally friendly materials such as corn-based plastic, bamboo and sustainable wood, allow you to select stylish alternatives for your home that won’t be hanging around ’til the sun goes nova (props to anyone who gets that literary reference!)

While the best alternative for green living is to first – consume less and second – to reuse, repurpose, re-source or recycle what you already have, it’s still great to see manufacturers coming up with alternatives that aren’t made out of petroleum-based plastics that are tough to recycle, for those times when you do need to buy something new. Kudos to Umbra!

You can find Umbra products at most department and home stores across the country.

Toronto Life: Where To Find The Freshest Food In The City

Torontonians alert: Are you wondering where to find great local food? Wondering which farmer is which? Wondering what the difference is between local meat and supermarket meat? Rejoice: The July issue of Toronto Life magazine tells you Where to find the Freshest Food in the city.

There’s a full 2008 guide to Farmers’ Markets, letting you know where and when the markets take place, as well as how many vendors will be there. There are interviews with several local food producers who’ve been doing things differently for years, and that will give you some fresh insight into the connection between how our food is produced and how it ends up on our table. There’s information on several native, local foods that are only available briefly over the course of the summer, foods that we rarely see in a big-box grocery store and that we’ve been missing out on for years. Blurbs on great local meats, wonderful Ontario wines, cheeses and fish round out the feature. If you’re in the GTA, you should pick this issue up – or borrow one from a friend.

Has a local publication featured something similar in your city? Let ecochick know@ecochick.ca>.

Osprey ReSource Series – cool recycled backpacks

Interested in outdoor pursuits, but your backpack has bitten the dust? Check out the ReSource Series of backpacks from Osprey. These durable, lightweight packs are made from ground up water and pop bottles. Check out the breakdown:
- 100% recycled PET fabric
- 70% total recycled materials by content
- 100% Recycled mesh pockets
- 60% recycled content spacer mesh
- 55% recycled stretch woven pockets
- 100% recycled binding tape
- 100% recycled webbing
- Recycled buckles – reground from buckle scrap
- 100% recycled fabric zipper pulls

(Non recycled foams, threads, zippers, piping and hypalon)

They’re also totally cute – in six different styles and a range of colours to suit everyone’s taste. Osprey packs are available at retailers across Canada.

Soleado Casa Cleaning Caddy Giveaway!

And the lucky recipient of the Soleado Casa Cleaning Caddy Giveaway: chickadee who said “I’d be very interested in the Natural Spray & Wipe with Tea Tree Oil. With a one-year-old and a 2 1/2 year old at home, I could probably use gallons of it!” Please email me at talk at ecochick dot ca so that I can get your caddy sent to you.. and do let us know if you like it!

Remember the great Soleado Casa products featured on ecochick a few weeks back? Well, the wonderful Chief Mama at Soleado loves you ecochick readers too – so much so that she’s giving away a Cleaning Caddy to one crazylucky ecochick! The Cleaning Caddy contains Natural Spray and Wipe with Tea Tree Oil, All-Purpose Cleaner Spray, Tub Scrub, cleaning cloths, Soleado Cleaning Concentrate and an empty spray bottle with a recipe for vinegar solution to clean windows and glass. Everything you need to keep your home clean and tidy – naturally.

How to get your name in the giveaway? Simply post in the comments about the Soleado product you’re most interested in trying out. It doesn’t have to be a product in the caddy (although trust me – once you do try these products you will love them.) Comment by Friday, July 4 – and don’t forget to check back in on this post after that date to see if you’re getting the caddy.

Good luck!

Inhabitat Summer Contest: Green Gadget Giveaway!

One of my favourite eco-blogs, Inhabitat, is giving away a PILE of swag on their blog this summer.

Up for grabs: A Voltaic Solar Powered Backpack containing an Inhabitat T-shirt and tote bag; a Freeplay hand-crank LED Lantern inside a cool Inhabitat Tote bag, and a bunch of awesome Inhabitat T-shirt or tote bags.

You just need to be signed up for their newsletter to be eligible for the giveaways. More info and how to claim your prizes are posted here. Even if you aren’t looking for swag, though, it’s worth it to sign up for their e-mail or RSS feed – it’s a great eco-blog with tons upon tons of news from all over. Check it out.

Solar Lights Galore From Rittenhouse

After posting Friday’s Soji Solar Chinese Lanterns, I poked around on the Rittenhouse website and found loads more beautiful solar lights for your garden. It’s the time of year to be spending long, warm nights outside, so I decided to feature them right away so that you can get them into your garden ASAP. Far from being your basic stainless steel bulb on a post, these beauties are unique and gorgeous.

There’s the Firefly as shown at right, a hand blown cracked glass orb on a steel stake that is pretty on its own as a garden accent during the day. The separate solar panel charges in the sun, and at night the Firefly glows with a warm amber light. Imagine how pretty these would be scattered through your garden at a range of heights, or even in a eerie planetary cluster!

Are you maybe thinking about hanging lights from your patio or perhaps a tree? These Aurora Glow Solar String Lights are what you’re looking for. Each string has six hand-blown glass orbs hung on bright copper hooks, with a solar-powered LED inside. (There’s also a solar panel to plant nearby). The Aurora String Lights come in three colours: Clear with a white LED, Clear with a yellow LED and Blue/Green sea glass with a white LED.

Orbs not your thing? Then maybe you’re interested in these exquisite Flower Shaped Hand-Blown Glass Lights. There’s a range of flowers and colours, from the pretty Blue Poppy Firefly shown here, to a Yellow or Plum coloured Calla Lilly, and several more. These will cast a very pretty glow, sending the light in several different directions as they shine.

Finally, there’s the Finial Garden Lights, in Blue or Fuschia, with a unique hand-blown glass bulb atop a steel pole with separate solar panel. These pretty orbs have exquisite detail in the swirly glass and will look lovely both lit and in the bright sunshine.

The Firefly goes for $37.99 each; the Aurora Glow String Solar Lights are $54.99 per string, the Flower lights are $42.99 each and the Finials are $37.99 each – all at Rittenhouse. Volume discounts are most definitely available (Save 5% when you buy 3-5, save 10% for 6 or more).

If you get these, send me some photos – I’d love to see what they look like in a garden!

Soji: Outdoor Solar Chic

Spotted in Green Living Magazine: these beautiful Solar Chinese Lanterns from Soji. These pretty lanterns have a rechargeable battery and solar panel to charge it during the day, then they glow their soft, pretty colours into the evening. They are made from sturdy nylon, not paper, no worries about getting them caught in the rain. You can hang them or simply place them orb-like on your tabletop, watching your friends bask in their lovely green/blue/red/etc. glow. They’re available in six bright colours (all the ones pictured plus a new pink one) that cast beautiful soft glowing light across your evening.

They’re $17.99 each at Rittenhouse.ca.

Recycle your plant pots at Loblaws stores

Have you been feverishly gardening, planting your perennials, annuals, baskets, bins, veggie gardens? And do you have a pile of leftover plant pots and flats to show for it?

Don’t pitch them – take them to a Loblaws chain store (so Loblaws, Independents, Great Canadian Superstore, etc.). Make sure it’s one that has a a garden center, because those ones have a recycling bin where you can drop off the pots. They’ll use them for next year’s plants. Which is awesome, because much of the plastic used in these pots isn’t easily recyclable, so if you put them in the streetside bins they might end up in the landfill. Booo! So bring ‘em back and get them reused. Your garden will thank you for it.

Tashodi: Fair Trade and Totally Stylish Body Products

If you never want to go to a department store again to buy makeup or skin care products, it’s getting to the point where that wish can be granted. Natural shops are cropping up everywhere, with products ranging from body washes to soaps to lip balms to everything in between. Shops like Tashodi.

Tashodi’s creator, Natascha Rey, used her background in Fair Trade practices, Chinese and Homeopathic medicines, Aromatherapy and Reflexology to create a line of products from natural, fair trade ingredients. There’s a range of Pure and Certified Fair Trade Lip & Cheek Tints, pretty Body Bars, SLS-free Foam Washes, Fair Trade Body Scrubs and Pure Bath Soaks in a range of funky scents like “Tea & Lemon” and “Green Coffee” (imagine how good that smells!). You can also get nice gift sets like the one pictured above, which has a whole bunch of sample size Tashodi products all in a portable clutch made from native Canadian Birch (how cool is that?).

Tashodi also creates a Tashodi Bebe line with a Tip To Toe Wash or Bar and a Bebe Organic Massage Bar (neat!) which means you can shop for both you and your kidlet in one spot.

You can see all the products at their website and you can buy everything you want at their Online Store.

Sweetpea Baby Food: This is no jarred food, baby!

Every mom starts out with big ambitions: you’re going to hand-blend your baby food, you’re going to use all healthy, local, fresh organics, and you’re going to freeze it in batches, all ready for when baby starts eating solids. Then the reality of having an infant sets in and you’re lucky if you get your teeth brushed in the morning, let along creating hand-blended organic frozen cubes of baby food.

That’s why Sweetpea Baby Food does the job for you. Another baby business born out of need, as one of the founding moms was experimenting with healthy food blends for her own child and voila! a business was born. Sweetpea foods use all organic, natural ingredients, and everything is wheat and soy free with no artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives. They have foods suitable for 6+ month and 8+month babies, ranging from yummy Banana Blueberry to Sweet Potato, Veggies and Chicken, and more. They come in individual cubes to suit babies with all appetites, and the website even has great ideas to mix and match the flavours in plenty of different recipes to expand your baby’s food repertoire.

Sweetpea Baby Food is available across Canada as listed on their website.

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