Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Eco-Libris' Bookstores Series: interview with Erin Thompson of Black Bear Books

Eco-Libris' bookstores program keeps growing and currently includes 24 bookstores in the U.S., Ireland and Canada. On our bookstores' series we present you with the bookstores that are taking part in the program and the people behind them.

Today we have the pleasure to present you with Black Bear Books of Boone, NC and Erin Thompson, the store's owner, whom we interviewed here.

When Black Bear Books was established? Where’s the name coming from?

Black Bear Books has been around since 2004, when we moved to our current location. Prior to that the store was called The Book Warehouse, a name given to it by a previous owner. Moving to our present location really gave us the opportunity to make the store into what we wanted it to be, and we thought it deserved a new name. The name Black Bear Books came from all of the Black Bears that live in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and in particular from the bear that lives on the mountain where my parents live.

What's the most special characteristic of Black Bear Books?

Definitely our customers! We get a really great mix of locals, people who live here in the spring and summer months, and visitors to the area. There’s nothing better that having a job where you get to talk about books and authors all day to all sorts of different people. Outside of our customers, I would say that a really great feature of our store is how eclectic it is. We’ve got sections dedicated to regional literature, a re-vamped kids section, and of course our green living section, which is always a big hit!

How long you are with the store?

I’ve been with the store for just over a year, when I moved to the area to pursue a master’s degree. Moving from a big city to Boone was a big change, but definitely a positive one. The High Country is so eco-conscious and they do a great job of making local living a priority, which for small stores like ours, is really important. The great outdoor activities and amazing views don’t hurt either!

Your store is a family business and I'm sure it has seen and went through changes over the years - can you mention the ones you find most interesting?

My dad is the head-honcho at the store, and I’ve loved being able to work with him and learn from him – he’s a pretty smart guy, despite what I thought when I was a teenager! There have been a lot of changes at the store; probably one of the biggest has been adding the espresso bar and the wireless café. We get quite a few people to stop by to check their e-mail or study and have a cup of coffee. Owning an independent bookstore is a tough business to be in – even though people love to comment on how having a bookstore in the mountains is their dream job (it’s definitely mine!), so we try to change things often to draw people back into the store.

What do people like most about the store?

I think people really enjoy the hunt for the perfect book. We carry a lot of remainders and our booksellers have great taste, so you never know what you’re going to find. We’ve got a staff that has superhero powers when it comes to finding the next book you want to read, even if you’re not sure what that is.

Can you tell me a bit about the events in the store?

We host a lot of local and regional authors, although attendance is always disappointingly low, so I try not to schedule people unless I know they’ll be a big draw. We have an exciting event coming up though! Diana Gabaldon, the author of the NYT best-selling “Outlander” series is visiting the store during the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, so we’re having an evening reception and also a booth out at the Games.

Are there any relationship between the store and the local library/ies?

Somewhat. We give people directions to the library a lot! We work pretty closely with a local writing group, who is based out of the library, so we support them indirectly through that. We also work with them on prizes that they give to their different contest winners.

What is the best selling book right now? What is the all times best-selling book?

Actually, our best-selling book right now (outside of the High School’s summer reading) is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I was so excited when I looked it up and it was a green book! Kingsolver is a regional author as well, and has a restaurant based on the book’s principles about an hour away in Abingdon, VA. This book has been on my Staff Rec’s shelf for about two months now, and I guess it shows! The all-time best selling book is a children’s book by another regional author, Jan Karon, called “Miss Fannie’s Hat”.

What would be your favorite book in the store?

That’s a tough question – I don’t think I can answer that one! Probably the book I recommend most (and my copy is certainly well-read) is “March” by Geraldine Brooks, about John March from “Little Women”. Brooks does a fantastic job of taking some of literature’s most beloved characters and telling the rest of their story.

Any special message you want to send to book lovers in Boone, NC?

I want to thank them! I know it’s always easier to jump online to order a book, but by staying loyal they’ve taken advantage of our special-ordering discounts, reduced their carbon footprint, and kept us in business!


So if you're anywhere near Boone, NC you're invited to visit the store. You won't regret it! And of course, if you're purchasing a book from the 25,000 quality hand picked new and discount books at the store, don't forget to check at the counter the opportunity to balance it out by planting a tree with Eco-Libris and you'll also receive our sticker on spot.

Black Bear Books
Address: 2146 Blowing Rock Rd., Boone, NC 28607
Tel.: 828.264.4636

Past guests on our series:


Yours,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Green Options: Want Your Family to go Green? Read Eco-Friendly Families

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by Jennifer Lace on July 24 on Eco Child's Play. Today's post is a review of a new guide for families that want to go green.

Many of our readers come to our website looking for ways to start their families down the green path to eco-friendliness. Help is on the way for these families in a complete guide for families. Eco-Friendly Families, written by Helen Coronato, is designed to "guide your family to greener living with activities that will engage and inspire...from toddlers to teens." This new guide will be released on August 5, 2008.

Eco-Friendly Families is filled with many simple tips, such as watering your houseplants with rainwater and hosting a neighborhood toy swap, as well as explains the bigger issues and how our actions affect them. By targeting families, this guide helps families raise the next generation with green values. Saving the planet is a family affair!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday's green books series: Templeton Turtle Goes Exploring (+ free book giveaway)

Today our hero is a young turtle named Templeton. He's young, curious and looking for adventures. He is also the main character in the new children book 'Templeton Turtle Goes Exploring' by Ron Pridmore and Michele-lee Phelan.

I always liked turtles. I didn't have one as a child, but I always admired them when I accidentally found one in the fields, hiding in their shells from the outside world. Our guy, Templeton, is the total opposite: he was just born and is already looking to explore the neighbourhood, which is the big pond in his case.

Templeton is interested in getting to know better the big pond and in making new friends. The story follows his journey around the pond and his encounters with other animals there. I don't want to talk much about the journey, not to ruin it for those who want to read the story. Nevertheless, I can assure you that the journey is full with excitement, joy, disappointment, friendship, fun and all the other great stuff adventures are made of.

The book has an interesting story behind it. Author Ron Pridmore, who grew up in the countryside of California where his love for the outdoors was developed, had one night a dream about a newly-hatched turtle. The next morning, as he recounted the events in his dream, Pridmore grabbed a cup of coffee and quickly wrote down the vivid image and story that filled his head and the story was born.

One part that makes it a great book for children (it's for 4-8 year old kids) is the beautiful illustrations made by the Australian artist Michele-lee Phelan, who has painted the covers of several fantasy novels and is working on her first art book. She did a beautiful job here with the wild animals and especially with our friend Templeton!

If you're asking what's green about this book, my answer would be that this is a story that encourages children to go outdoors, connect with nature, explore it, be curious about their surroundings and leave their computer and room once in a while to see what's going on outside. I believe the connection with nature and the appreciation of wildlife and outdoors are very important for children and have a significant part in their early green/environmental education.

This book also adds the part about the importance of community, which is great and above all it's a fun story, so I'm sure kids would love Templeton and will look forward to have exciting adventures at least like the one he has on the book.

Title: 'Templeton Turtle Goes Exploring'

Author: Ron Pridmore

Illustrator: Michele-lee Phelan

Publisher:
Bridgeway Books

Published: July 2008

Pages: 32

GIVEAWAY GIVEAWAY GIVEAWAY

As usual, we will give away our review copy. And of course we'll also plant a tree for this copy and send it to the lucky winner with our "
One tree planted for this book" sticker.

How to win? Simply – write a comment below, suggesting another good idea how to connect children to nature and make them excited about the outdoors at least as Templeton is. Good luck :)

Submissions are accepted until Saturday, August 2nd, 12PM EST. The winner will be announced the following day.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Paranoia is going green with Eco-Libris

I'm happy to announce on another collaboration of Eco-Libris with an author. John author of the new book 'Paranoia' will plant a tree with us for every book sold at his upcoming book signing at The Book Bin, 725 Arnold Ave., Point Pleasant Beach, NJ on 8/9 at Noon.

All buyers of the book at the event will also receive with the book our sticker saying "One tree planted for this book". Also, 10% of Profit from sales of the book will be donated to the Twin Towers Orphan Fund (
http://www.ttof.org/)

It's definitely a unique story, as you can see from its description:

Jim went to work on September 11, 2001, thinking that it was going to be another boring day. But then the towers came crashing down, and he, like many of us, lost his ability to live without fear and prejudice. Now, years later, Jim is still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He’s haunted by the death of his mother, who was buried in the rubble of 9/11, and the departure of his wife and son, who could no longer deal with his inability to move on.

Living on his aunt’s farm in Colorado, Jim tries to find peace, but he keeps remembering the evil deeds of the past. And it’s not just the terrorists who are culpable. After the attacks, Jim became so paranoid that he joined an anti-Muslim group, and he participated in unspeakable acts of violence. Jim sees a psychiatrist in his effort to fend off the demons from his past. He does his best to remember what once made life so beautiful: his wife, his son, and the ability to live without fear.

In Paranoia, one man struggles to cope in a new world defined by terrorism in hopes of recovering what made his life worth living in the first place.

An excerpt can be found at
http://allthesebooks.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=468
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc
Publishing date: January 30, 2008

About the author:
J. E. Braun graduated from Trenton State College with a degree in literature. Along with countless others, he was devastated by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and he felt compelled to write about how life changes after such an event. A happily married father of two, he is a lifelong resident of New Jersey. This is his first novel.

More links:
A detailed
profile of John Braun
An interview with John at
BookHuntersBlog.com
John's blog:
http://jebraun.blogspot.com/
John's Myspace page:
www.myspace.com/jebraun

Where you can find the book?

Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble

So don't miss the signing event at
The Book Bin, 725 Arnold Ave., Point Pleasant Beach, NJ on August 9 at Noon.

And finally, this book even has a trailer! You're welcome to watch it right here:



Yours,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Businesses saving paper, trees and money

Saving paper = Saving trees = Saving money. This equation is maybe one of the clearest examples of how going green will benefit not only the environment, but also your bottom line. More and more businesses understand this equation and try to act accordingly. This week I was happy to read about two more examples:

1. Environmental Leader reported earlier this week that the leading UK food retailer
Sainsbury’s has won the European Retail Solutions Best Green IT Initiative Award 2008 for using simultaneous two-sided thermal receipt printers from NCR Corporation in its store checkouts.

Here are more details from
NCR news release:

Last year Sainsbury’s became the first European retailer to start using the new printers, which use over 40 percent less paper.
Printing on both sides of the receipt simultaneously not only saves paper, but also the energy associated with producing and transporting it. Fewer stoppages are required for paper roll changes. Further, because receipts are shorter, they take less time to print, which means consumers get through checkouts even faster and leave with a more manageable receipt.

Sainsbury’s has received such a positive response from customers and staff that it has more than doubled its order for the new printers from NCR. By the end of 2008, consumers will be receiving the two-sided receipts from 7,000 checkouts in approximately half of Sainsbury’s 823 stores nationwide. This will result in a savings of 502,000 paper rolls per year – cutting receipt paper usage at the retailer by around two-fifths.

The NCR two-sided printer consumes less power than other well known, single-sided receipt printer brands. Sainsbury’s plans to install the printers in the rest of its stores over the next two years. This will play a role in helping the retailer achieve its new target to reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2012.


Kudos to Sainsbury’s for this initiative. I think that receipts are pretty wasteful - you receive a piece of paper, which many times you don't really need and you don't keep. This is especially true in supermarkets, where you may only look for few seconds in the receipt after completing your purchase and then you'll probably throw it away (hopefully to a recycling bin..).

Maybe the next step can be to provide people with incentive not to print a receipt at all, by giving them 5 cents or 10 cents discount, just like many supermarkets do to encourage the usage of reusable bags. I'm sure such an incentive will save A LOT of paper rolls. I hope someone at Sainsbury's or any other big retailer will give it a shot.

2. Our friend, author Michael Kleiner, updated us with the ongoing effort of Citibank to encourage customers switch to paperless electronic statements. The bank provide its customers with a great incentive: "enroll in Paperless Statements today and Citi will plant a tree on your behalf."

And it works. Citi reports that it has planted 1 million trees with the Arbor Day Foundation so far! In this case it's a win-win-win deal as I'm sure most customers find it less annoying to view their statement online than receiving it by mail (at least I do..). It's true that this way you use the computer and consume more energy to read your statement, but still my guestimation is that it's more eco-friendly to read the statement online.

Citi is not the only bank encouraging its customers to go paperless. Washington Mutual, for example, has a similar initiative. More banks realize that paperless statements are good for business, and not only because they save costs, but also because customers appreciate such initiatives and it also generates value to the bank's reputation. So it's definitely a natural step to any bank that wants to enjoy both reduction in costs and happy customers, not to mention the many happy trees it helps to keep alive :-)

Hope to hear more good news like these ones every week!

Yours,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Thursday, July 24, 2008

'Planet Earth Gets Well' is going green with Eco-Libris!

We are always happy to collaborate with authors and especially with an author of a book with such an optimistic title: 'Planet Earth Gets Well'.

The author of the book, Madeline Kaplan, is working now with Eco-Libris to green up this wonderful green children's book. A tree will be planted for every copy sold at the book signing events and at other promotional sales. Readers who will buy the book on these events will also receive our sticker with their book, saying "One tree planted for this book".

So what is this book all about? well, here a short description from the publisher's website (next week you're promised to have a full review and a give away of one copy!):

Readers of all ages will delight in this earthy and wildly fun children's tale that has a big message on the importance of environmental awareness. Moving, vast, and refreshingly candid, Planet Earth Gets Well by new author Madeline Kaplan helps young readers think proactively about their environment and pinpoints how to initiate meaningful change in order to make Planet Earth a healthier place.

When Planet Earth gets the sniffles, Mother Nature challenges each of us to retract our gluttonous ways. She instructs the Planet Earth to take better care of himself which means all humans must make big changes about key issues like global warming, the melting of polar ice caps, deforestation and energy depletion. Once Planet Earth sneezes, Mother Nature listens and helps each and every one of us learn how to be good to our dear, old friend.

This educational reader is wholly unique in the ways that matter-think globally, think green, and act accordingly!

Book details:

Author: Madeline Kaplan

Madeline Kaplan holds a B.A. in English literature and an M.B.A from Baruch College. She has published various business articles, but her three grandchildren inspired the writing of Planet Earth Gets Well, her first children's book. She lives with her husband in New York and Connecticut.

Illustrator:
Taillefer Long
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing
Publication Date: April 20, 2008

We are very happy to work with Madeline Kaplan on a book that promotes responsibility and have a positive message that parents can pass onto their children. I hope that the book will inspire both parents and children to go green, especially now when it work with Eco-Libris to green it up! You can find the book on Amazon.com.

Yours,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Who's on Plenty Magazine's state-by-state guide to green hotspots?

I always look for a good green guide whenever I am going somewhere so to learn what green hotspots I can visit. Actually, I'm still waiting for the guide that we'll give me updated info on the green places in Chicago, Miami or any other of the major big cities. In the meantime, Plenty Magazine offers its version of state-by-state guide to green hotspots.

Kimberly Fusaro and Madhu Puri brings you several dozen of our favorite spots around the United States, showing you that you don't have to venture far from home to find eco-friendly places to eat, shop, and play.

I was happy to find new recommendations on places I didn't know about. I also found two bookstores on the guide, including our friends at Doylestown Bookshop in Pennsylvania that are taking part in our bookstores program, which also got a mention! (the other one is the Lower East Side Girls Club Fair Trade Gift Shop and Book Store) Here's what's written about Doylestown Bookshop:

Big, bad independent bookstore. Partner with Eco-Libris, which plants trees for books. 16 S. Main St., Doylestown, PA. 215-230-7610; doylestownbookshop.com

So you're welcome to check this guide, add your own recommendations at the end and of course visit and enjoy these great green hotspots. And if you know of any other good green local guides, please feel free to share it with us!

Yours,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Green Options: Is It Green?

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by Jake Kulju on July 16 on EcoLocalizer. Today's post is about a great new green website that provides a unique local service.

Rather, IzzitGreen.com, the new Boston-based web site is asking that question all over the city. Regular columns, reviews and business spotlights give information about how green the places Bostonians frequent really are.

Users can search for businesses by name, or they can search neighborhoods for businesses that are on IzzitGreen's green list. One of the web site's most helpful aspects is its
"Guides" page. From pizza places to used bookstores, IzzitGreen posts information about the percentage of green businesses there are in each category, where you can find the ones that are green, and they go for the dirty details...or clean in this case.

For example, if you own a business in
Boston, chances are that IzzitGreen has found out what kind of lightbulbs you use, whether or not you recycle any of the materials your business or your employers use and will have a comment on what working conditions are like. And that's just the beginning of the list.

A lively discussion forum will soon be debuting on the site. For now, all registered users are listed under the People section with varying levels of contact information.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday's green books series: Paper Trails: From Trees to Trash - The True Cost of Paper

Our book this week on Monday's green books will take you on a trail that we find one of the most interesting and significant ones in our life: the paper trail.

Our book for today is:


Author: Mandy Haggith

Mandy Haggith is a freelance writer, researcher and activist. She has spent the past decade campaigning for the world’s forests, including lobbying at the United Nations, working as a consultant for Greenpeace and WWF and writing articles for Pulp and Paper International and Resurgence magazine.

Publisher: Virgin Books

Published on: July 3, 2008

What it is about (from the publisher's website): Paper charts the course of our lives, from the medical sheets in maternity wards to our death certificates. We write on it, package things in it, use it as currency and blow our noses on it. Yet our dependence on this seemingly ‘green’ product is damaging our planet and creating mountains of unnecessary waste.

Join Mandy Haggith on a journey to the heart of the global paper industry, travelling from the pristine forests and managed plantations of Canada, Russia and Indonesia to the pulp mills and paper factories of China and Britain, and the end users in businesses, governments, schools and homes throughout the world.

Pursuing the paper trail from forest to landfill, she uncovers the origins, multiple uses and disposal of this everyday product and gives a fascinating new perspective on the paper industry’s dirtiest secrets, from environmental devastation to human rights abuses. You’ll discover the truth about the paper we use every day and the simple, practical steps you can take to minimise your own paper trail.

Why you should get it:
Mandy Haggith took on herself a very important quest: connecting the dots. She wants to get people to better understand the connection between the paper we use and its origins - forests, many of them ancient and endangered ones.

In a way, our perception of paper today is very similar to the perception of cigarettes 30-40 years ago, when people didn't know the consequences of smoking and saw it as a habit and natural part of their life. Hence, I see Hagith like the people who made the connection between cigarettes and cancer publicly known.

It's not that we don't know that paper come from trees. That's not the problem. The problem is that many don't have the full picture in front of them and that's where Haggith's book tries to fill in the void, providing readers with ALL the information about the way the paper do before it gets to your printer or the copy machine at the office.

I believe the importance of the book stems from three main factors:
1. Her research is not based only on reading books at the library and sitting in front of the computer, but mainly on the journeys to forests all over the world, from China and Russia to Canada and Indonesia. I think that her research and activism capabilities create the perfect match for such a mission.

2. It brings many facts and helps to clarify misconceptions and false perceptions people and businesses have which influence the way they think and act. She explained one example to the Independent lately: "No one likes to think of trees being felled, but many of us have a cosy image in our heads that it all comes from recycling or "sustainable" woodlands growing in neat rows, perhaps somewhere in Sweden. It's a myth. Globally, 70 per cent of the 335 million tons of paper the world uses each year comes from natural, un-farmed sources. In Canada, the UK's biggest source of pulp, 90 per cent of its output comes directly from its ancient forests."

3. Haggith not only present the problem, but also solutions, from reducing the usage of paper as whole to increasing the usage of recycled paper. And the bottom line is optimistic - we can change our habits and get over the long addiction to virgin paper.

In Eco-Libris we deal with these issues on daily basis in our fight to make reading more sustainable, and therefore I think it's great to have a book such as this one that can become an important tool in the long fight to reduce impacts of paper production and make sure that we can enjoy the advantages of paper without destroying our forests.

If you're looking for other interesting green books, you are invited to check out our green books page on our website's green resources section.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Did you check Eco-Libris' website lately?

Did you have the chance to check lately our website, read about our operations and balance out some of your books by planting trees? I hope you did and if you didn't you're welcome to check it now.

Eco-Libris website is now not only a place where you can balance out books, but also a great source of information on issues related to green reading. Here are some of the materials you can find in our website:

- Environmental Trends and Climate Impacts: Findings from the U.S. Book Industry - 3-part coverage of the the new report on the book industry's environmental footprint.

- E-books vs. paper books - a collection of links to articles, researchers and other information sources that relate to the ongoing debate about the environmental advantages of e-books.

- The Holiday Green Gift Guide for Book Lovers

- Green books reviewed and covered on Eco-Libris blog

- Green Articles - a collection of links to articles that cover issues related to sustainable reading.

And of course, don't forget to help us spreading the word on Eco-Libris by telling your friends about us. Thanks!

Have a great week,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

And the winner is..

Thank you for all the participants in our giveaway of the new book 'Ready, Set, Green: Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-Living' we reviewed last Monday. We got great ideas, and I must say it was also a good opportunity to check out what women think that motivates men (hint: 'no sex' threat or 'more sex' incentive will do the work :-).

The winning offer is the one of the reader Alice H. who suggested the following: I think the best way is to make it simple and easy - like have a recycling tub clearly labelled right next to the garbage. And to compliment a lot when they do something green." Simple with positive compliments? I buy it!

Congratulations, Alice and thank you to all the other participants for the great advice. I hope your partners will follow suit no matter what strategy you choose.

And don't forget to keep following our giveaways. We have many more green books to review and give away so stay tuned.
Yours,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Friday, July 18, 2008

How about a Chocolate Tour in Belize with SHI?

Love chocolate? interested in a sustainable tour in Belize that is focusing on the ecology, history and culture of chocolate and will also give you the opportunity to plant Cacao trees? Well, we've got some info for you - our planting partner Sustainable Harvest International has few more spots left in its upcoming Sustainable Chocolate Tour to Belize in what promises to be an amazing (and delicious!) adventure!

This trip is part of the Smaller World Program, which was launched by SHI to increase cultural understanding and empower the global community to create a more equitable and sustainable world. The dates for the trip are September 4 - 11, 2008 and Florence Reed, SHI's founder and president, will lead it alongside SHI local Belizean staff and families.

This trip will be both fun and educational, with opportunities to work side-by-side with SHI participant families who are growing cacao (the plant that produces chocolate) in sustainable multi-story forest plots. Participants will tour family farms and take part in traditional Mayan chocolate production, from tree planting to roasting cacao beans on wood-conserving stoves.


Organic Chocolate Belize

Families working with Sustainable Harvest International's programs in Central America are growing Cacao (what chocolate is made from) in multi-story shade forests. These forests protect soils and provide a home for wildlife. In fact, we find that aprox. 85% of the birds that have left deforested areas are returning to these "forest gardens."

Cacao is a valuable cash crop that enables the families working with SHI's programs to increase their incomes while protecting the environment. SHI's local extensionists provide families with materials and training in techniques like pruning which can increase cacao production by as much as 70%.


Not convinced yet? here is the daily schedule of the trip (from
SHI website):

Day 1: Arrival: Fly into Punta Gorda, travel by boat up the lush Moho River to
Cotton Tree Lodge, an eco-lodge partnering with SHI to host demonstration plots and training workshops. Get settled in one of their beautiful thatched roofed cabanas before joining the group for dinner in the main lodge.

Day 2: The History, Culture and Creation of Chocolate: Organic Farm Tour and Chocolate Workshop with local SHI participant families.

Day 3: Planting Hope:Plant cacao and other forest trees. Take part in
agroforestry and reforestation projects on family farms that will restore watersheds, provide animal habitat, protect soil and produce food and income for families.

Day 4: Rocket Stove Workshop:Work side-by-side with local staff and families to construct
wood-conserving rocket stoves. These stoves can be used to roast small batches of cacao and to cook family meals. They use 1/4 of the amount of firewood as an open fireplace and greatly reduce toxic smoke in the home. In the afternoon, return to the lodge for some free time to explore the site, swim and relax.

Day 5: Family Gardens and Tree Nurseries: Tour family and school gardens and tree nurseries. Learn about the importance of sustainable planting techniques, compost, grafting, natural pest control and seed-saving.

Day 6: Work projects and sightseeing:In the morning we'll finish up work projects with local families before taking an afternoon waterfall excursion.

Day 7: Cooperatives and Marketing: Visit with representatives from the
Toledo Cacao Growers Association and Greens and Black's Organic Chocolate Company. You'll see how fair trade and organic cacao make it from the small farm to you.

Day 8: Departure: Return home or continue traveling on your own.

If you wonders how much this delightful trip costs, it's $2,500, which includes a $500 donation to the local program, all in-country travel expenses, meals, double occupancy accommodations at Cotton Tree Lodge, sight-seeing tours, translation, staff support and materials.

Space is limited. So if you're interested to reserve your spot or looking for further information, please call SHI office at 207-669-8254.

Yours,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

* photos are courtesy of Sustainable Harvest International (SHI)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The UConn co-op joins Eco-Libris bookstores program

Eco-Libris is coming to the University of Connecticut! I am happy to announce that UConn Co-op, the official bookstore for the University of Connecticut and one of the largest university bookstores in the U.S., is joining the Eco-Libris bookstores program.

Students and other customers at the UConn Co-op will have the opportunity to pay $1 to plant a tree to balance out every book they purchase in the store. They will also receive an Eco-Libris sticker (made of recycled paper) at the counter for each book they balance out, saying 'One tree planted for this book'.

Here's a little bit about the UConn Co-op:


The UConn Co-op is a member-owned independent bookstore serving the University of Connecticut and the surrounding communities. They have a strong commitment to the environment and have hosted a Sustainable Living Book Fair and Conference for the past three years. They also have a robust Sustainable Living section both in the store and online.

The UConn Co-op work closely with students who are studying to make their life-work making the world a better place. They also host many literary events, have a lively children’s department, and of course, many scholarly and academic titles.

If you're wondering what Co-op means, here the explanation from the store's website: The UConn Co-op is a not-for-profit, cooperative business, separate from the University. We are owned by our members, the students, faculty, staff and alumni of the University of Connecticut. The Co-op is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the members. And while our mission is to serve our University customers, we welcome anyone to shop at any of the Co-op stores. Details on membership in the co-op can be found here - http://www.bookstore.uconn.edu/members.htm.

You can learn more about the UConn Co-op on their website - http://www.bookstore.uconn.edu (don't miss their webcam).

Yours,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wal-Mart joins WWF's initiative to eliminate illegal logging

Forests need strong allies to win their survival battles. This week it seems they have a new powerful friend that might help. His name is Wal-Mart.

Environmental Leader reports that the world's largest retailer has become a member of the Global Forest & Trade Network (GTFN), a WWF initiative to eliminate illegal logging and improve the management of valuable and threatened forests. By becoming a member, Wal-Mart pledges to help save endangered forests by using more wood from sustainable and certified sources.

WWF published a press release about the new member of GTFN this Monday, reporting that by joining the GFTN, Wal-Mart has committed to phasing out illegal and unwanted wood sources from its supply chain and increasing its proportion of wood products originating from credibly certified sources – for Wal-Mart stores and Sam’s Clubs in the United States.

“With nearly half of the world’s forests already gone, action is urgently needed,” Suzanne Apple, WWF’s VP for Business & Industry says in the news release. “Wal-Mart’s commitment to support responsible forestry answers that call to action. WWF welcomes the company to a global community committed to healthy business and healthy forests.”

I couldn't agree more with her. Although Wal-Mart have a lot of work to do on their end to become more environmental and social friendly, this step is definitely the right one in this direction.
In any case, if you're a forest, you want Wal-Mart on your side. With more than 176 million customers weekly in 14 markets, Wal-Mart have the power to make a difference in an extent that only few other retailers have.

So what's going to happen? according to the WWF news release, within one year, Wal-Mart will complete an assessment of where its wood furniture is coming from and whether the wood is legal and well-managed. Once the assessment is completed, Wal-Mart has committed to eliminating wood from illegal and unknown sources within five years. The company will also eliminate wood from forests that are of critical importance due to their environmental, socio-economic, biodiversity or landscape values and that aren’t well-managed.

Again, Kudos to Wal-Mart on this step and I hope to see many other retailers and companies follow suit and join this initiative.

Yours,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Green Options: Ecopreneurist Disgusted By Trash, Ecopreneur Takes Action

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by MC Milker on July 10 on Ecopreneuirst. Today's post is about two of my favorite green issues: green business and reusable bags.

Reusable bag entrepreneur Andy Keller has a lot to say about being well, an entrepreneur. Andy was a software guy back in 2005 when he happen to visit a landfill during a home improvement project and was shocked to discover just how many plastic bags were swirling in the wind…

…on fences, on trash heaps, with birds picking on them….


He told me that this was the moment that got him started on his entrepreneurial adventure. “Note to self,” he said, “I need to start using reusable bags.”

Of, course, back in 2005, the reusable bag trend was just starting. And, people were then, as they are now, carefully purchasing them and carelessly leaving them in the car instead of carrying them into the store with them.

So, Andy set out to create a reusable bag that was easy to carry and harder to leave in the car. ChicoBag, his growing company, manufactures light, washable and easy to carry bags in a variety of fun colors. The bags roll up into a handy carrying pouch and come with a belt or purse clip for added convenience.

So far, business is booming, but slowly… by design. When asked about advice he would give to other ecopreneurs Andy stressed slow growth was key. He also encouraged would be entrepreneurs to be passionate about their business….not to look at it purely as a business venture, but rather as a lifestyle.

Part of that passion for him is helping to rid the world of plastic bags so a key part of his business plan is the recycling program he has set up.

ChicoBag doesn’t want ANY reusable bag to be left in a dark closet or sent to a landfill.

Send us all of your tired masses of reusable bags, functional or not. We will distribute them to fixed and low income families ready to start a reusable bag habit or recycle them into new useful products.


Like many an entrepreneur, distressed by a situation, Andy set out to fix it. Well Done. Andy has a little side business going on here...producing these little Bag Monster videos. I'm going to follow up on this example of viral marketing and how it has worked for him.

Read More Posts About Ecopreneurs:

Naturally Successful: Inspiring Videos for Green Entrepreneurs

Ecopreneurs: We Must Be the Change

California Based Ecopreneur Aims to Bring Electric Cars to the Masses

Green Book Reviews - Ready, Set, Green by Graham Hill & Meaghan O'Neill (+ Free Book Giveaway)


In it's own way, 'Ready, Set, Green: Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-Living' can become an important book. It is a well written introduction to green living, that covers the basics, answers the most common questions and busts some myths while at it. It also gives very specific action items to tick off over a well structured period of eight weeks.

Written by Graham Hill and Meaghan O'Neill of TreeHugger.com, one of the most popular on-line green Meccas, it gets credibility and potential audience among the site's wired following. Add to that the fact that about a year ago TreeHugger was acquired by Discovery Communications, owners of the Discovery Channel, and here's a chance for bona fide green mass media exposure.

That is why I was surprised to realize that I really need to look relatively hard in order to find mentions of the book on TreeHugger.com (small link in the navigation bar to the book's Amazon page, of all places) or Discovery's Planet Green website (it is featured only at the Discovery shop), and that's only two months since the publication date.

Approaching the book, I was reminded of the introduction to 'The Omnivore's Dilemma'. There, Michael Pollen was illustrating how convoluted our food culture has become, so that the answer to the most trivial of questions, “What should we have for dinner?” becomes a complex endeavor, with the answer changing from fad diet to the other:

Somehow this most elemental of activities—figuring out what

to eat—has come to require a remarkable amount of expert help. How

did we ever get to a point where we need investigative journalists to tell

us where our food comes from and nutritionists to determine the dinner

menu?” (The Omnivore's Dilemma, Page 1)

The current influx of green living how-to books is coming to answer an even more basic question, that of “How should we live?” Hill & O'Neill are not afraid to give an answer and chunk it down to a bite-sized “Eight Week to Modern Eco-Living” program, echoing the famous Eight Weeks to Optimum Health diet by alternative medicine's poster doctor, Andrew Weil.

Marketing and packaging aside, do they deliver? I think they do. Each of the eight weeks in this lifestyle diet is dedicated to another aspect of life, represented in one chapter each:

Week one: How to think like a TreeHugger – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Week Two: Food & Drink

Week Three: Cleaning and Interior Décor

Week Four: Transportation

Week Five: Greening Your Home – Energy Consumption, Water, and Building

Week Six: Clothing and Personal Care

Week Seven: At the Office

Week Eight: R&R (Travel, Sport, Entertainment), Volunteering, and Activism.

Each chapter has the look & feel of a mini school textbook on the topic, only much more enjoyable to read. True to the “more hip than hippy” TreeHugger.com style, the writing is clear, with added tables, lists, illustrations and Q&A expert sections, that are actually on topic help divide the information into digestible bits.

The action items are at the end of each chapter and are divided to two types.

Save the Planet in Thirty Minutes or Less” action items are what Ed Begley Jr. likes to call 'the low hanging fruits'. These are fairly easy and immediate ways to make a different, like starting to use a reusable coffee cup that week, or switching to at least one Earth-friendly house cleaning product.

The second type of action items are “So you Want to Do More” and are relatively deeper or more difficult commitments. Choosing apparel made of hemp or bamboo doesn't sound so difficult and life-changing, but becoming a Client Project ambassador certainly is.

All in all these actions can add up. Every reader that follows this eight week program, and adopts only the 30 minute fix-its, would be making a significant positive change in their life, and will be doing a thousand times more than most people to help reverse climate change.

But like changing your diet according to a set regime, the outline is useful only as far as there are strong personal motivations and commitments to take the plunge. I believe that these kind of lifestyle eco-diets are going to be successful in making a difference on a large scale only if there is enough support for the individual who pledged to go for it. I am talking about the likes of support groups a-la “weight watchers” and specialized 8-week eco-coaches to those who can afford it. Heck, why not a relaxation tape with subliminal messages reminding you not to leave the travel mug at home while at it? One thing is certain, we need all the help we can get.


Title: Ready, Set, Green: Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-Living

Authors: Graham Hill and Meaghan O'Neill

Publisher: Villard (a Random House imprint)

Published: May, 2008

Pages: 240


GIVEAWAY GIVEAWAY GIVEAWAY

One lucky reader can receive a free copy of the book directly from yours truly. This review copy has been with me the last few weeks in bus stops, the beach and the kitchen table, so expect reasonable wear and tear and an Eco-Libris sticker. Yep, we'll plant a tree to balance out the paper used in making this copy.

How to win? Simply – write a comment below, suggesting ingenious ways of convincing a reluctant domestic partner to join and support you in the eight weeks commitment. Good luck :)

[submissions accepted until Saturday, 12PM PST. The winner will be announced the following day]

Eylon @ Eco-Libris

Plant a Tree for every Book you Read!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Subscription option is available on Eco-Libris website

We would like to remind you with an option that we added to Eco-Libris' website - subscription.

If you have a big library at home and you want to green it up one bookshelf or bookcase at a time, balancing out 5 or 10 books every month on regular basis, can be a good fit for you.

The process is very easy and similar to one-time purchase: On
the subscription page you choose how many books you want to balance out each month. Then just click on the 'Buy' bottom and complete the payment process on the PayPal page. That's it.

Then, every month we'll balance out for you the amount of books you chose by planting trees in developing countries with our planting partners. You will receive a confirmation email from PayPal following the monthly payment, and of course you will also receive our stickers on monthly basis.

If and when you'll decide that you want to suspend your subscription, you will be able to do it easily and quickly on PayPal website.

We are very happy to offer this option to all the eco-conscious readers out there who want to balance out many books, but want to do it step after step and not all in once.
If you have any questions about the subscription option, please feel free to email me at: raz [at] ecolibris [dot] net.

Yours,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Plant a tree for every book you read!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Thoughts on the future of independent bookstores following the closing of Cody's Books

About 3 weeks ago, Cody's books, the Berkeley bookstore was closed. Cody's was not only an independent bookstore, but also became over its 52 years of operation a Berkeley institution and as author Cory Doctrow wrote on Boing Boing " a beacon to readers and writers throughout the nation and across the world. "

I got to know Cody's Books only lately when they joined our bookstores program, and I quickly fell in love with this unique bookstore. I was very sad of course when I got the news from the store, and I couldn't stop wondering - if Cody's goes down, what does it indicate on the future of independent bookstores? and what can we done to prevent the next independent bookstore to shut its doors or even maybe to bring Cody's back to life?

Well, the 'Why' question is very obvious. Cody's was closed because it didn't generate enough income to stay in business. The owner, Hiroshi Kagawa of the Japanese firm IBC Publishing, said in a statement, according to the SFGate: "unfortunately, my current business is not strong enough or rich enough to support Cody's."

Although Cody's cut in expenses (smaller inventory, downsized staff), sales ad the general manager Mindy Galoob explains in the SFGate article "were not anywhere near what was needed." You don't have to be an economist to understand that when sales cannot cover costs, not to speak on generating profit, going out of business is unavoidable.

So what can be done? is that it? will market conditions win over independent bookstores and close them one by one? I think that the answer can be 'NO', but that's up to the local communities of book lovers. Yes, I think that it's time for local communities to raise up and support their local independent bookstores.

And I think it should be more that just a call for book lovers to come and buy books on local independent bookstores. There should be more than that. There should be a commitment. How come for example we have Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to support local farmers and we don't have Community Supported Bookstores (CSB) to support local booksellers?

Just think if similar to the support in local farmers, local readers will commit to buy 12 books (one every month) from their local bookstore and will pay in advance for that, or even every month, but the commitment will be there, and so the stable cash flow that the bookstore know it can count on. Bookstores can even give incentive to pay in advance by giving one extra book for free. In any case, it can be easily become a win-win deal where book readers enjoy new books in good prices and bookstores will have more sales.

This kind of program can also be offered online for busy book readers who buy only in Amazon because they don't have time to visit the store, and to fans all over the world as well.
But independent bookstores also need to make an effort here. If they want communities to act like communities, they should do whatever they can to give them a feeling of community.

And it means to look for more creative ideas how to make the bookstore a place where book lovers can meet, both offline and online, exchange ideas and recommendations, interact, talk with authors, etc. It's especially true when it comes to a good online platform that can make all the difference, like the one we presented here two weeks ago of
BookRabbit.

Back to Cody's. I think that even if we can't bring back Cody's to life (but I still hope it can happen), it's time to make sure we learn our lesson here and do our best independent bookstores will stay alive and continue to be a significant part of their communities' cultural life. Now it's definitely the time for action, before it gets too late for other independent bookstores as well.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Do the Green Thing on July: turn off those sucking machines

Welcome to The Machine. Every month we update you on the monthly green recommendation of our friends at 'Do The Green Thing'. This month they ask you to turn off those sucking machines.

What does it mean and what machines exactly we're talking about? The Green Thing team
explain:

"This month we’re wrestling back the power. You see, we’ve slowly let machines take over – and not even big, scary machines like The Terminator or the Daleks. No, the ones that sit in the corner of our rooms looking all fun and innocent and labour-saving whilst secretly guzzling electricity like there’s no tomorrow.

Because unless you turn them off once you’re finished, they carry on sucking on the teat of your household power supply like needy greedy babies.So this month, let’s regain control of our electricity bills by terminating our X-boxes, tellies and hair straighteners when we’re done with them.And once you’ve spent one day shutting down every Sucking Machine you’re not using and snuffing out every light you don’t need, come back and click DONE IT so we can count up all the CO2 you’ve saved. Machines Suck. Don’t let them."

And if you want to see how you can suck them back, check this video clip, called
'The Riddle of the Noodle':




Yours,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Le Mailing Vert - the French green version of direct marketing

We wrote few times in the past about direct marketing and its environmental impacts (check here and here). This is definitely an issue where an innovative approach combining creativity, green basics and visionary thinking is required to make things better and greener. And we're happy to update you that someone is actually doing it!

Springwise reports that Paris-based direct marketing agency TBWA\Excel launched its Mailing Vert service (Le Mailing Vert) in partnership with envelope maker Manuparis, Vincent Printers, Groupe Moselle Vieillemard printers and direct marketing/sales logistics firm Diffusion Plus.

Excel is an agency of TBWA group that specializes in fundraising and commitment to social service associations, foundations and corporate citizens. I believe the idea behind the Mailing Vert service is to provide Excel's customers, many of whom are non-profits, with a greener offer that will enable them to have direct marketing campaigns, promoting their causes with as little environmental impact as possible.

According to Springwise, partners in Mailing Vert adhere to a charter including four principles:

1. To protect the environment, such as by purifying all waste water and using vegetable-based inks, solvents and cleaning agents.

2. To preserve raw materials and protect natural resources through the use of paper that's either recycled or derived from sustainably managed forests.

3. To track waste and minimize energy consumption, such as by optimizing transportation networks.

4. To measure and offset the ecological impact of each phase of the direct-mailing process.

All in all this is great news and I hope many advertising agencies will follow the example that Excel sets here. I know that in a perfect world we might be able to avoid direct marketing at all, but as it doesn't look that it's going to be vanished anytime soon, I guess we need to look for realistic solutions that will make sure that these campaigns will be made responsibly and will reduce their impact as much as possible. Excel definitely gives an example how it can be done.

And they're also doing it in a fun way (not less important!), as you can see from the video clip below.




Yours,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Green Options: 90% of Israeli Homes Solar Hot Water Equipped

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by Joshua S Hill on July 7 on CleanTechnica. Today's post is about the good example Israel is giving with its vast usage of solar water heaters!


392232273_aebdccd321 Last week I reported on a story that saw a new bill passed in Hawaii making it mandatory for every new home to have their hot water powered by solar panels. Signed in to law by Governor Linda Lingle, the bill will require all single-family homes built starting 2010 to have a solar panel powering the hot water system.

However Hawaii isn’t the trend setters we may have first thought them to be.

Over at
MetaEfficient.com, they have an article pointing to the fact that 90% of Israeli homes already have solar water heaters. It began in the early 1950’s when the Israeli government encountered a fuel supply shortage, and restricted the times when water could be heated. In response, the people decided that they would start heating their own water using solar panels.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday's Green Books - The Urban Homestead


Urban Homesteading is about having your dream house in the country right here and now, in the middle of the city. Any city. Indulge in `guerrilla gardening' and enjoy a prodigious crop of tater tires. No waiting, no procrastinating, no excuses, no pain. Because, really, there is no reason not to.

Granted, terms like “Urban Homesteading”, “Tater Tires” and “Guerrilla Gardening” are just some example of the great copy sprouting from the green movement these days. Attractive, subversive, playful and just plain irresistible to some. Yep, I'm an easy convert, and so can you be.

The dream of many to get out of the city, settle down on acreage and start living off the land is not new. It reminds me of Gustave Flaubert'sBouvard and Pécuchet” (1881). In this classic unfinished novel by Flaubert, published a year after his death, two middle-aged copy clerks meet on a bench in Paris, fall in love, and end up inheriting property and moving together to the country.

The novel then follows Bouvard and Pécuchet trying to make it in the countryside by learning various essential disciplines, while colossally, funnily and consistently, failing in all their endeavors. Many believe that the main theme of the book is of knowledge. It is in many ways a criticism of learning by copying, book knowledge in general, and the reluctance to learn from the local farmers and their old fashioned ways.

But it seems like today nearly everyone is a Bouvard or a Pécuchet when it comes to self sustainability, especially in urban settings.

Whereas in Flaubert's days most of the population were living on farms, most contemporary Americans have never even seen one. Book knowledge has been replaced by blogs, wikis, and on-line forum advice, and Xerox made copy-clerks obsolete long ago.,

Fast forward 127 years to a bungalow in Echo Park, Los Angeles, and to Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen's urban homestead. In their little house and property they garden, compost, pickle, bake, can, brew, create their own cleaning products, and everything else that is in the book's table of contents. All of this while having a life that includes a job, blogging, and writing a book. It seems that rather than a chronicle of failures, urban homesteading can be a journey of discovery.

The book is a well written fun guide that explains the hows and whys of urban sustainability without being too preachy about it. You get a sense of the authors' philosophy, but you certainly don't feel that you need to wholly subscribe to it, in order to adopt and adapt any or part of their methods and techniques.

Having just moved to a new place I am going to treat this as a handbook, so no free book giveaway this week folks. My homework: start a compost pile (duh), create a raised bed over part of the existing backyard lawn for planting some local edibles (I am thinking greens). I already started using garden clippings as mulch, and definitely going to brush up on my pickling techniques and ask my mom and aunts for some tips. The cleaning cabinet is going to downgrade to baking soda and vinegar, once the household is sold on it. And it may not be an easy sell. And then, like they suggest, I am going to take it slow. No need for a sudden metamorphosis. I am not going to start pooping in a bucket just yet.

NOTE: Process, the book's publishers, are planting a tree with Eco-Libris for every single book bought from their website. So check out their amazingly eclectic collection of wonderful books, and take advantage of their offer by buying directly from them right here.

Title: The Urban Homestead - Your guide to self-sufficient living in the heart of the city

Authors: Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen

Publisher: Process (self-reliance series, vol. 3)

Published: June 2008

Pages: 308