Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday's Green Books series: Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet (and a giveaway of one copy)

After a short break of one week, we're back with Monday's green books series, and today I have the pleasure to review a very interesting book that will show you how you can help solving global warming with few things you probably already have or use at home.

If it sounds kind of McGyver to you (remember this guy who solved all the problems with stuff like masking tape and an empty toothpaste?), you're actually not that wrong.. 'Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet: Everyday Things to Help Solve Global Warming' shows us how ordinary things like a local tomato or a clothesline can have a significant impact on the fight against global warming, once they become commonly used.

Eric Sorensen and the staff of Sightline Institute who wrote the book chose carefully seven items (or wonders as they call them): bicycle, condom, ceiling fan, clothesline, real tomato, library book and microchip. What's the idea behind it? they explain:

"This book is an ode to seven everyday devices you probably already own or use, which are so powerful, elegant, and in most cases simple, that they are and always have been friends of the climate (and also of your pocketbook, neighbors, health, and children). It's a reminder of everything that's right about our lives, not everything that's wrong."

The idea behind these items/wonders is not only to discuss their own advantages, but also the concepts behind them and how we can implement them in other forms in our daily life. Take for example the library book (did you think I'll choose another wonder as an example? :-)

The library book is a symbol of efficiency in many ways - one copy is being used by hundreds and sometime thousands of people - according to the book, the average North American library lends out 100,000 books a year, but buys fewer than 5,000 books. Because less books are needed to be printed, the library is saving a huge amounts of CO2 emissions, or for those who are in favor of figures - 250 tones of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

The concept that is meant to be emphasized here is of reusing - making the most out everything we already have. It doesn't mean you only have to share it in a system similar to libraries, although I see it as the highest possibility in the hierarchy of options. You can also sell old furniture on Craigslist, rent a movie on Netflix, or buy a vintage jeans at a local vintage clothing store.

As the book mentions 'reuse' is a greener strategy than 'recycle' even though it doesn't get the same spotlight. It gives an example that "to produce a book of 100% recycled paper , a paper mill uses about 60% of the energy and generates half the solid wasted and one third the greenhouse gases, and95% of the effluent of a mill producing the average U.S. book. To produce "100% reused" library books, paper mills uses zero energy and generate zero pollution per new reader since reuse bypassed the porduction stage altogether."

I really enjoyed the fresh and unique look the book takes at the fight against global warming and how the answer does not necessarily have to rely on billions of dollars R&D budgets to find alternative fuel, but can also start with the simple stuff we have at home. I have six out of seven at home (sorry, but no clothesline is available where I live, though I used to have it in many of the apartments I lived in and I really liked it), so I feel quite equipped for the fight, although I need to fix my bicycle and the sooner the better!

But this is not a final list and I'm sure other items you have at home can fit this list as well. And this is actually today's challenge with a reward on its side - we'll be giving away the review copy we received from Sierra Club to the best idea for an eighth wonder that matches the description of "an ordinary thing, that, with widespread use, can have an extraordinary impact on the fight against global warming".

All you need to do is to add a comment with your idea. We'll choose from all the comments we'll receive to this post by Saturday (7/5/08), 12 p.m. EST the one we like the most and send the happy winner the review copy of the book.
Author: Eric Sorensen and the staff of Sightline Institute
Publisher: Sierra Club/Counterpoint

Published on: April 2008
Pages: 144
Fact Sheet:
Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet
How it's printed: in the U.S.A on New Leaf Ecobook 50 acid-free paper, which contains minimum of 50% post-consumer waste, processed chlorine free. Of the balance, 25% is FSC certified to contain no old-growth trees to be pulped totally chlorine free.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The green version of YouTube

YouTube is one of these sites where I can spend hours on hours. So much good stuff there...But what about a green YouTube that will be only dedicated to eco-clips? well, finally it is here - Eco-Tube: the place to look for Eco videos about the world.

I joined
Eco-Tube's Facebook group lately and found out that Eco-Tube "is covering every aspect of Eco issues facing the human race the website has over 700 films. I’m trying to inform, entertain and educate using films and also promote relevant products which help reduce your impact on the planet."

The videos are divided on Eco-Tube by topics, such as energy, act, news, gaia and fun. I found many interesting informative videos there, but my favorites are the fun clips. I think it's important to show that even a serious and important issue as the environment can be presented in a way that will make you laugh (and hopefully think..). They have even an
Eco-Porn video on the fun section! Here's another example:


So check it out ( and if you have some green videos of your on, upload them and share them with the world!

Friday, June 27, 2008

BookRabbit: the new generation of online bookstores

Springwise is a great resource for innovative ideas in the book world. Few books ago I read there about WEbook. Last week they brought to my attention an innovative combo of online bookstore and community I didn't know about - BookRabbit.

So what's so special about it? well, firstly that's probably the only one that allows readers to upload photos of their own bookshelves (if you're only interested in bookshelves, check out the great site Your Shelves! -, or of course our series 'my green bookshelf').

But it's more than just the opportunity to check out other people's bookshelves. BookRabbit explain it
on their website : "BookRabbit is an online bookshop that dynamically connects readers, authors and publishers through the books they own. Using BookRabbit, readers can share their passion for books, make recommendations to other readers as well as creating their own personal bookcase and catalogues online – anything from medieval falconry, through bestsellers, to educational publications for schools. BookRabbit has a simple aim – to claim back book selling and book buying, enabling readers to discover the right books for them."

So how you can interact with fellow readers on BookRabbit? well, there are many options. You can join an ongoing discussion like 'books for rainy days?' or 'books by models?' or start a new one. You can take a look a people's bookshelves, see what books are there and if you like what you see, you can send them a friend request. You can review a book, or read others' reviews, create your own categories for books, share recommendations and much more.

BookRabbit (, which was founded by Kieron Smith and went through its public launch last month, is also a bookstore. They have more than 4m books on sale, and even more important they decided to offer the best prices on the top 100,000 titles, so they are cheaper than Amazon for these books. And they also offer free delivery within the UK.

BookRabbit is what I see as the online bookstore 2.0, combining two powerful lit applications of the digital age that so far went on different routes and never met - the online bookstore and online bookish communities/networks.

Book readers love to communicate and interact, whether it's on Facebook, Bookmooch, blogs, or other online platforms. BookRabbit understands that as an online bookstore, it makes sense to provide them with such a platform in-house, giving them useful and innovative tools to interact with each other. This way there's a much better chance that the next purchase of these readers (and it seems that many of them are avid readers) will eventually take place on the website.

I like BookRabbit's concept very much - firstly, they provide innovative interaction tools and not just copy others (kudos on the bookshelf idea!). Second, they have a real bold pledge that it's not easy at all to keep ("every week we check our prices against the top 100,000 books on Amazon UK to make sure we're cheaper"). They understand that with all the competitors out there, it's not enough to provide readers with cool platform and useful interaction tools, and count on their good will, but you also need to provide them with competitive pricing that will be compelling to their pockets.

I don't know if they'll grow to become the next Amazon (or Amazon 2.0), and I am not sure at all if that's their goal. But I am positive that they will become a model for the next generation of online bookstores (not the only one, but an important one) and we're going to see in the near future many that will try to follow them and create their version of BookRabbit.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

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

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A summer of green reading in Chicago

The Chicago Tribune reported earlier this month (and thanks to Treehugger for the update) that Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley announced on a summer reading program with a green focus, named "Read Green, Live Green" program.

The program, which will run until the beginning of August, includes, according to the Tribune, a series of discussion groups aimed at celebrating nature and the threats against it. The program will be offering books, reading tours and performances for adults and children on environmental issues including climate change, energy and farming.

Children and adults will be able to explore the environment with a good read during the summer at any of the 79 Chicago Public Library branches.

Participating children will read, report on books of their choosing and have fun with green programs and projects. Children will receive a sticker for their book log for each book read, win book prizes and earn a Read Green, Live Green t-shirt by reading lots of books!The list of events for children can be found here -

Adults and teens will enjoy a unique combination of great books, author appearances, tours, performances and fun “green” workshops and events designed especially for adults and teens. You can check out the full list of events on this link -

So it looks like this is going to be a (hot) summer of green reading in Chicago, and hopefully many adults and children will go to Lake Michigan with a green-themed book they picked at a nearby library under their arm (or in their reusable bag..). I must say this initiative is really cool and it's great to see the city and its
public library working together for having more Chicagoans reading about nature, the environment and other relevant issues. Kudos to Mayor Daley for this one!

I definitely hope that mayors with green agenda, such as Mayor Newsom of San Francisco and others, to join him and make the summer of 2009 the summer of green reading (ain't sound too catchy like 'the summer of love', but we can work on the name..).

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Green Options - Ecopreneurs: We Must Be the Change

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by Megan Prusynski on June 20 on Ecopreneurist. Today's post is about the role of green business in changing the world.

As going green becomes more and more popular, it seems that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Consumers want more sustainable options for all their needs, and companies are beginning to listen. Or are they?

Maybe I'm just a little paranoid, but I don't tend to trust the megalithic corporations that have so much power and wealth today. So while I see many ad campaigns touting green promises and hear of many large corporations changing their ways, as much as I want to believe them, I have my doubts that many of these companies are truly committed to sustainability. The very nature of our economy leads companies to focus solely on profit and their own growth, at the expense of people and the environment.

Like it or not, we are a society dominated by corporate interests. Of the 100 largest economies,
51 are corporations; the other 49 are countries. Industry (and its lobbies) has an enormous sway on politics, public policy, the economy, our lives, and of course, the earth. As powerful forces in the world, companies are going to have to lead the shift to sustainability. Getting companies to do the right thing no matter what its effect on their bottom line is going to take a major paradigm shift. It's time for change, and we certainly can't count on the government to do anything very quickly, so we need business to lead the way.

As socially conscious business owners and ecopreneurs, we need to listen to Gandhi's famous words and "be the change we wish to see in the world." It's time to take the reigns,
define sustainability for our companies and boldly pursue it. We can set our own standards if we have to, and then go above and beyond them. We can bring ideas like true cost economics and the triple bottom line to the forefront of business thinking and practice. We can share sustainable ideas that have worked for us with other business owners. We can invest in making our businesses more sustainable and ethical, and we can find ways to make a living at the same time. We can support other sustainable businesses we believe in and purchase fair-trade, organic, sustainably made products. We can market our goods and services by telling the truth about being green, instead of greenwashing. We can run our businesses the way that all businesses should be run: with integrity, responsibility, human dignity, and sustainability.

We can change the world if only we believe that we can. And given the influence businesses have, it's up to us to create this change. I'm not just talking about switching to recycled office paper, although that's certainly a good start. The stakes are high and we need massive change to steer us on a path towards sustainability. We'll have to rethink the way we do business, change minds, and transform society's priorities. If anyone can pioneer this change, it's those with entrepreneurial spirit and good hearts.

Calling all conscious ecopreneurs: the time for change is now. It starts with us. Let's be the change.

Read more about sustainable business:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kayona Ebony Brown, author of "Tenth Letter", is collaborating with Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris is proud to collaborate with authors who wants to go green. Author Kayona Ebony Brown is such an author: For every copy sold of her new book 'Tenth Letter', a tree will be planted with Eco-Libris.

We also want to invite you to her signing in Washington DC this week. Every sold book in this event will be be given not only with the author's autograph, but also with our sticker saying "One tree planted for this book" will be given with every sold copy.

Here are details on the book and the book signing event:

Through an intense story of sex, lies, and cheating set in Washington, DC (no, it's not about the presidency),"Tenth Letter" gently offers therapeutic tactics for establishing successful relationships. It's the mark of a new genre: Self-help Urban Fiction and author Kayona Ebony Brown's vivid urban landscape and the characters that color her streets pulls you into the grind that is the contemporary young adult and leaves you with a more polished definition of what it means to love.

Come meet Kayona, pick up an autographed copy of Tenth Letter, and share your stories of falling in and out of love at the DC Bookman Book Signing Thursday, June 26th just outside the L'Enfant Plaza Metro in Washington, DC from 3-6pm.

Until then, catch up with her and her characters at Just as her novel enriches our spiritual community, purchasing the novel enriches our physical community – for every book sold Eco-Libris will plant a tree.

I was curious to know more about Kayona's passion about the environment and sent her few questions about it. Here are her replies:

What's the connection between an author of a novel and the environment?

Some say that you are a product of your environment. As a writer, I think that phrase should be taken literally; the more I consider what's good for the environment (the earth around me), the more I will consider what's good for me personally - from what I eat to how I live. As a product myself, I prefer a non-toxic, pure and clean environment, and as result, the writings I produce will come out the same.

Do you see also your company (Brown'sTone Industries), with its innovative vision, going green? and if so, why it is important to you and to your company to be involved environmental efforts?

Through small efforts everyday, I am personally becoming more considerate of the earth, so as I expand my company, I will also expand the way we do business by eventually converting to green - from the products we use in-house to the products we produce and sell. Part of my company's overall mission is to entertain, inspire, and educate.

We plan to lead in many ways by example, and exercising environmentally conscious practices is a message we want to pass on to our patrons, partners and competitors. It is important to help pioneer these great habits in the entertainment industry, which, I think may often overlook it.

Do you have any environmental message to your readers that you would like to share with us?

My message would be: start small. The thought of 'going green' is an overwhelming lifestyle change for most people, but every little bit helps. I started first by doing a little research to see what things I was comfortable with doing. One was: turning off the water while brushing my teeth or cleaning dishes. Second thing was: thinking about what I wanted before opening the refrigerator, so I wouldn't stand there for five minutes with it open.

One other small thing that I also do is try to patronize companies that are green. For instance, I drink Silk soymilk which uses wind energy to produce the product. By patronizing them, I feel like I'm doing a little something.

Do you see yourself writing on environmental issues in the future?

I've already begun to include environmentally conscious characters into some of my current projects. It's my way of getting a message across without blatantly forcing a message onto my audience.

Thank you, Kayona! And if you're in DC this Thursday, don't miss the opportunity to meet her at the DC Bookman Book Signing just outside the L'Enfant Plaza Metro, from 3-6pm.

The book is available online for sale on the book's website and on

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Galaxy Bookshop in Vermont joins Eco-Libris bookstores program

Eco-Libris is coming to Vermont! I am happy to announce that The Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, VT is joining the Eco-Libris bookstores program.

Customers at The Galaxy Bookshop will have the opportunity to pay $1 to plant a tree to balance each 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 Galaxy Bookshop:

Linda Ramsdell opened The Galaxy Bookshop in the old Firehouse Building (which now houses G.R.A.C.E.) back in 1988, with a starting inventory of about 50 books. After spending time in two different locations on Main Street, Linda enlisted the help of many good friends who, with a number of grocery carts, "Moved The Galaxy in the Year of Hale-Bopp" to its current home on 7 Mill Street in Hardwick.

Now the store is housed in a former bank building, and they still have a large vault in the middle of the store, as well as a drive-through window that people occasionally use for picking up books. Cool!

Galaxy is a general bookstore with a generous selection of books by Vermont authors. Their reading series, which runs April through November, showcases Vermont authors. This summer, They've hosted/will be hosting David Goodman, Leland Kinsey, Jennifer McMahon, Reeve Lindbergh, Madeleine Kunin, Archer Mayor, and others.

You can see our calendar of events here: On Galaxy's website (, you can also find staff recommendations, information about local authors, and more.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Friday, June 20, 2008

Author Michael Kleiner on Mt. Airy Authors Day tomorrow in Philadelpia

Michael Kleiner is the author of the book "Beyond the Cold: An American's Warm Portrait of Norway" and a fellow SBN member. He is going to take part tomorrow (June 21) in Mt. Airy Authors Day at Lovett Memorial Library in Philadelpia.

Michael will discuss his book and also offer copies for sale, each and every one of them with our sticker on, demonstrating the fact that one tree is planted for each copy. We asked Michael to provide us with further details on the event and his book.

On June 21, Michael Kleiner will be among three authors at Mt. Airy Authors Day at Lovett Memorial Library, 6945 Germantown Avenue, Philadelpia, discussing his book Beyond the Cold: An American's Warm Portrait of Norway.

Readers have found Beyond the Cold to be much more than a travel book. Beyond the Cold traces the development of Michael's affinity and passion for Norway, its people and culture although he is not of Norwegian descent. It begins when he spent a year in Norway with my family at age 11 in 1969-70 (attending a Norwegian school) and his return trips as an adult. The book is unusual in that it is told through a child's eyes and memories and an adult perspective.

Among his adult trips was to attend the International Summer School at the University of Oslo with 500 students from 70 countries, returning to speak at the 50th anniversary of the Summer School and his honeymoon. As he has found a second home and family in Norway, Beyond the Cold shows the value of travel and multicultural experience, and a country that is more than cold weather.

The book has received many positive reviews including Fjell og Vidde, Norway?s largest outdoors magazine, The Norseman, and the newsletter of the Sons of Norway on Long Island, NY.

The book may be purchased at Buy Books on the Web (, Infinity Publishing's online bookstore, or call 877.BUY.BOOK or 610.941.9999.

Slides of the country will be shown, including travels above the Arctic Circle.

Event details:

Saturday, June 21st 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Three local authors with a global and historical perspective appearing at the following times:
1:15 Lori L. Tharps: Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love and Spain
2:30 Elizabeth Farmer Jarvis: Mount Airy
3:45 Michale Kleiner: Beyond the Cold: An American's Warm Portrait of Norway
Adreess: Lovett Memorial Library, 6945 Germantown Avenue
Phone: (215) 685-2095

You're all invited!
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Deforestation data is avialable now on Google Earth

Google Earth is pretty cool. I have to admit I don't use it much, but when I do I enjoy it so much - navigating all over the world with my mouse. I can do it for hours.. And now you can not only navigate your way all over the planet with it, but also receive data on deforestation around the world.

Thanks to Treehugger, I learned about this important new feature created by David Tryse. He explains it on his website: "This KML shows deforestation data from a number of sources for different countries, including a live ticker for each country. The world has lost close to half of its forests already today, and the continued high pace of deforestation contributes greatly to climate change and the loss of biodiversity."

I tried it and it's really amazing. Very user-friendly and so informative. I tried to check for example Malawi, where we work with RIPPLE Africa to plant trees, and found out that "Malawi has lost 100% of it's original forests. None of its old forests today remain in an intact frontier-forest state. The total change in forest cover between 1990 and 2005 was -12.7% (-34.5% for primary forests, -15% for all natural forests)."

The problem with deforestation (like with so other environmental problems) is that we don't see it on daily basis, unless we live in an area suffering from it. And unfortunately, we care less about the things we don't see, or tend not to pay attention to them as we should have. I believe that the availability of this data on Google Earth can actually significantly increase the awareness to the problems of deforestation. And hopefully more awareness will be translated to more action and to less and less trees that are cut down. So thank you David for this important service!

So how do you install it? firstly, if you haven't downloaded yet Google Earth, go to and download it. If you did, just click here to download the file and you're all set!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

'My Green Bookshelf' with Sophie Young, founder of g=9.8

Two weeks ago we started with a new series 'My Green Bookshelf', where we're taking a look at the reading habits of interesting people from the green world with special focus on their green reading.

As a small token of appreciation to our guest on the series, Eco-Libris will plant with its planting partners 50 new trees on behalf of each and every participant!

Today we are very excited to have with us a special guest from France: Sophie Young, the founder of g=9.8 (

g=9.8 is an organic lingerie and loungewear brand g=9.8 offers a unique combination of seductive ecology: naturally sensual, combined with the velvety touch of pine fiber. Yes, all the sexy items manufactured by g=9.8 are made from a fiber originating in the branches of white pine (the pine trees used to produce this material are grown specifically for this use and new ones are replanted to replace ones used for production). Production is made locally in France.

Sophie graduated in 1995 from the University of Architecture in Paris. Her work focused on the creation of a recycling site in the center of Paris, visited as a museum. In 2005, after several years working in architecture, she founded g=9.8 in order to create a line of underwear respectful of eco-principles, such as minimizing the water consumption in the industrial production, eco-packaging, waste recycling and eco-marketing.

Sophie, as you can see from her replies to our questionnaire below, is not just an innovative creator of sexy eco-friendly lingerie, but also a passionate reader.

When do you find the time to read? what are your favorite genres?

I read at night, every so often. Usually, I read a book I like in 3 or 4 times.

My choice varies and is eclectic. I like biographies. I gobble up good mangas, some are excellent history books (in particular the Gen series, by Keiji Nakazawa, a Hiroshima survivor who tells his story and agony). I read lots of books on world war II (books by Primo Levi, among others).

Nevertheless, my favourite book is '
84 Charing Cross Road' by Helene Hanff, a work that cannot be classified. I also liked 'Sex and the City' by Candace Bushnell ! I already read it two times.

How many books do you have in your library at home?

I cannot say, but I have a linear shelving of nearly 10 meters with lots of architecture books, and quite a lot of mangas. I lent the other books I like and thus they are no longer in my library.

Photo: A small part of Sophie's home library

What's your favorite green book?

Without hesitation, a book by Pierre Rabhi, 'Parole de Terre', but also 'Conscience et environnement', another book by the same author.

Who is your favorite green author?

Pierre Rabhi, but to be honest every history books are green references to me. They show how daily life was in the past and especially they tell us about the rhythm of life, which is, to me, the cornerstone of sustainable development.

What green books do you have in your library at home?

Pourquoi j’ai mangé mon père' by Roy Lewis, a few architecture books about nomadic settlement or green buildings for instance, such as the book written by the architect Glenn Murcutt.

Many mangas about the rhythm of life in the past, like for instance '
Seton' by Jiro taniguchi or 'La bicyclette rouge' by Kim Dong HWA, a Korean manga writer. Recently I liked 'Into the Wild' by Jon Krakauer.

Do you borrow books from friends? do you lend yours to others after you read them?

I lend the books I liked to others but they never come back to me, except the ones I only lend to my closest relatives. I buy or borrow books.

Are you registered to a library?

I am registered to a library but I only go to the children library near my house. Adult libraries have become impersonal media libraries, and I don’t really like to go there, I prefer a book I have heard about.

If you had to go to a deserted island, what 3 books would you take with you?

1. '84 Charing Cross Road' by Helene Hanff,
·2. a book I have not read yet but that I really want to discover. For example
'80 hommes pour changer le monde' by Mathieu Le roux and Sylvain Darnil.
3. and maybe
the biography of Nelson Mandela which I have not read yet (your previous interviewee really enjoyed it!)

What's your favorite bookstore?
All of them. There are two bookstores I really like, I always go in if I walk past them.

Entre les Lignes - 110 rue St Dominique 75007 PARIS
In the museum of the arts décoratifs ( fashion museum in the LOUVRE) in Paris -107, rue de Rivoli 75001 PARIS
Chantelivre (adults and children’s bookstore) - 13 r Sèvres 75006 PARIS 01 45 48 87 90

E-books - for or against?

E-books are not user-friendly neither in the desert, nor in a garden, and nor in the evening in one’s bed, so for now I do not need them.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

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

* photos of Sophie Young and the g=9.8 lingerie are courtesy of Sophie Young.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Green Options: Seven Eco-friendly Options for Less Junky Junk Food

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by Sharon Troy on June 5 on Eat.Drink.Better. Today's post is not about a green lit topic, but it is about an important issue that bothers many eco-conscious readers who like to bite something while reading: what are the best eco-friendly and tasty alternatives to junk food? (my favorite? definitely the Mojo Bars!)

I confess: as much as I wish I could say every meal I eat is as healthy as my quinoa and kale salad, sometimes I just have a craving for junk food. Ya know?

When I first went vegetarian seven years ago I quickly realized how easy it was to replace meat with junk food. After all, I'd sacrificed so much my giving up chicken that I should reward myself with donuts, right? They're vegetarian! And so are potato chips, and candy bars, and french fries...

But not only are these instant gratification foods loaded with calories, sodium, and often trans fats, but they're not particularly eco-friendly. Consider even "healthy" choices like
Nabisco's 100 Calorie Packs of Oreos, Chips Ahoy, and the like. All come individually wrapped, and I've made it clear how I feel about overpackaging.

So what's an eco-conscious consumer to do when you just want a quick bite? I've done you the favor of sampling some of the finest junk foods my co-op had to offer. (The things you do for research.) Consider some of these alternatives:

Instead of Oreos/Chips Ahoy, etc., Try Annie's Bunny Graham Friends

At only 130 calories per serving, Bunny Grahams rival the aforementioned snack packs, but without the wasteful packaging; the boxes are 100% recycled. They're 75% organic and according to Annie's, contain "no icky additives or pesky preservatives." I can also certify that they are 100% yummy.

Instead of Doritos, Try Rice Chips

I promise this isn't one of those tricks, like when people got all into rice cakes in the 80's and tried to convince you they didn't taste like styrofoam. These Rice Chips from Lundberg Family Farms are the real delicious deal. They come in a variety of flavors, but my favorite, and the most Dorito-esque are the Pico de Gallo chips. (They also offer a Nacho Cheese variety which isn't vegan so I haven't tried it.) The family company uses organic rice and has a long history of sustainable farming.

Instead of Pop Tarts, Try Nature's Path Organic Toaster Pastries

They're about the same in nutritional content as the Kellogg's treat you may remember from your youth, but made from organic ingredients. And while you won't find varieties like "Hot Fudge Sundae" and "Smores," they do offer Cherry Pomegranate and other flavors that are actually found in nature. varieties. Nature's Path also uses "Green Certificates" to produce their products, which according to their website come from "100% new green electricity." Check out their cereals, granola bars, and other products as well.

Instead of Cheddar Crackers, Try Eco-Planet Organic Crackers

When I recently tried this dairy-free cheddar flavored snack cracker I was excited but skeptical. Eco-Planet delivered though, and while it's been years since I've eaten a Goldfish cracker or Cheez-It, I'd say these pass pretty well. They're educational too! The crackers are shaped like suns, earths, wind turbines and electric cars and offer info about alternative energy. The company is 100% wind powered.

Instead of Snickers Bars, Try Mojo Bars

The Clif Bar folks are at it again. Their new Mojo Bars are more oriented towards habitual snackers, like myself than mountain bikers. They've got a variety of sweet, salty, and nutty flavors made with 70% organic ingredients. The company also uses biodiesel for shipping.

Instead of McDonald's Fries, Try Alexia Oven Crinkles

It's no news flash that McDonald's french fries are bad for you. There's more grease in there than potato! The most eco-friendly option of course, is to make some good ol' oven fries yourself. But if you don't have the time, pop some of Alexia's all organic frozen fries in the oven. Their original recipe has only 120 calories per serving. For something a little more sophisticated, try their rosemary oven fries.

Instead of Pre-Packaged Foods, Try the Bulk Foods Aisle

It's not just for grains and beans. You may be surprised to find snack chips, pretzels and candy there. Also stock up on nuts and dried fruit. Try making your own custom trail mix. Find more tips on buying from the bulk aisle here.

Got a guilty pleasure that's not on the list? Let me know, and I'll try to track down a greener version of it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday's Green Books: Oil on the Brain by Lisa Margonelli

Oil? Yes, oil! Some of you must have read or heard about peak oil, and wonder what will happen when the wells run dry. Others may shake your fists instinctively at the oil companies, or roll your eyes in amazement and disgust whenever another piece of news about the industry's long, sad and cruel saga unfolds in yet another third world oil state.

But what does this really mean? How does oil really gets from the oil state to your car's gas tank? And how do all pieces of the puzzle fit together to create this mess we call (U.S American, suburban) automobile culture?

Enter investigative journalist Lisa Margonelli's Oil on the Brain – Petroleum's Long Strange Trip to your Tank. In the spirit of similar recent “natural histories”, such as Michael Pollen's
The Omnivore’s Dilemma or its big screen counterpart King Corn, both telling the complex stories of staple food commodities, Margonelli weaves the complex tale of Oil.

What a fun read! So fun I got the local Seattle environmental book club I recently joined to read it at their next meeting! The quirkiness begins in the title, with its tongue-in-cheek play on the old "war on drugs"
slogan. The subtitle (Petroleum's Long Strange Trip to your Tank) is yet another blatant yet apt California-centric Grateful Dead reference to the famous “what a strange long trip it's been” line from Truckin'. And indeed Margonelli's strange tale begins at the gas pump in her local independent San Francisco gas station, where she spends a couple of shifts as an observer. Did you know that some independent gas stations make more money selling bottled water and snacks than selling gas? Kind of gives a spin to the irritation at the high prices. That is one of the first tidbits of new information that will help us begin to make sense of the mess we call the oil economy.

The next stop is a day with the gas tanker, and then from the dispatcher and all the way to the Los Angeles refinery and the East Texas oil field. The pieces of the puzzle slowly fall into place, and the stories and histories of each segment of the industry are told with an eye for the weird, funny and significant.

The picture that emerges illustrates one aspect of one of Margonelli's key arguments. While the US maintains an active international policy, treating oil as a strategic resource, it domestically treats oil as yet another commodity. To paraphrase Frank Herbert, the policy is that “the oil must flow” and the results are total reliance of a culture on this unregulated commodity. While oil prices have doubled in recent years, consumption dropped only 4%.

And here's another key point– oil has hidden costs, always did. Even when it was 97c a gallon, someone was paying the price. Maybe it was a farmer in Texas, when he had to let an oil speculator put a drill in his back yard for measly compensation, because the law favors the drillers, and mineral rights take precedent over the rights of property owners. Maybe these are the communities that sprawled around the refineries, with their ubiquitous burning gas flares, paying with their health, needing health care that everyone else pays for with their taxes.

Margonelli's travelogue continues internationally, to countries that are producers of oil: Venezuela, Chad, Iran, and Nigeria. Each joined the oil economy as producers at different times and faces different challenges. In each there is a part of the population and economy as a whole that bears the vast “hidden” costs of gas at the pump. The cost of corruption is local poverty, sometimes in the exact places where the oil was found. The community bears the social cost of human rights violations, and the health costs of all sorts of environmental pollution.

But to know all of the above you did not necessarily need to read this book. What makes it unique and different from your run of the mill finger pointing rant are the stories and the people. Like Aresu, a female Iranian journalist who was Margonelli's sly accomplice in Iran, helping her navigate the bureaucracy and get access to key people to meet and interview, and arranged a rare visit as a woman to a Persian gulf oil rig. Another interesting figure is Herb Richards, the man “who created the business of selling self-serve gasoline in Northern California and much of the west”.

So grab this one for a fun environmental read. Get your book club to discuss it, and check out the official flash website with the funky chart.

Title: Oil on the Brain – Petroleum's Long Strange Trip to your Tank.
Author: Lisa Margonelli
Nan A. Talese (original) / Broadway Books (reprint)
Published on: January 2007/ January 2008
Pages: 352
Official Website:
Here is also a more recent Lisa Margnoelli article in The Atlantic on recycled steam.

Eylon @ Eco-Libris

Plant a Tree for every Book you Read!

The podcast Litopia After Dark with Raz Godelnik is now online

Last Friday I had the pleasure to be the special guest on Litopia After Dark, the Litopia Writers' podcast. This is a great lit podcast hosted by Peter Cox, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to take part in it.

The podcast is now available online at, and I invite you all to hear it (to do so, just scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the 'play' sign).

Raz @ Eco-Libris

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

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Volume Two of Torpedo is available now (with our stickers!)

We wrote few months ago on our collaboration with Falcon vs. Monkey, Falcon Wins, a Melbourne-based independent publishing company that is publishing Torpedo, a printed fiction quarterly, available exclusively through their site (that way they can give 50% of the very modest cover price to the contributors, who thus earn royalties for their work every quarter).

We want to update you that Volume Two of Torpedo has now been released and is available for purchase on Like with volume One, also Volume Two of Torpedo will be balanced out with Eco-Libris: for every copy to be purchased, a new tree will be planted and the buyer will also receive Eco-Libris sticker.

The following genii are featured on Volume Two: Rod Hunt on cover duties; Kelly de Meyer & Ricky Butler on illustration detail; Paul O'Connell, Brian Hoang, Tom Larkey & Jeffrey Brown take care of graphic fiction; Aaron Gwyn, Jeff Goldberg, Josephine Rowe, Christian TeBordo, Tony D'Souza, Justin Taylor, Luke May, Jon Bauer, Yannick Murphy, Greg Ames, Holly Tavel & Ryan Crawford thrill you with fiction.

There will be several launches - one in Brooklyn, New York (date and venue tbc) and one in Melbourne on Saturday 5th July at the relaunch of the Federation Square Book Market (more details on
the site shortly).

Volume Two sounds really great, so all of you fiction lovers are welcome to grab a copy and enjoy the fiction and graphic fiction works of all these talents!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The green side of the British Book Awards

I was very happy to read this week that not only the American Booksellers Association is going green, but also the British one.

The Frankfurt Book Fair 2008 reported in its June newsletter on the British Book Industry Awards, the Oscars of the British book business, which took place on May 13. The Awards, reports the newsletter, were first set up 19 years ago by the independent trade newspaper "Publishing News" and are organised today in cooperation with the Booksellers Association (BA), having become a firm fixture for the industry.

And here's the green part of the newsletter that made me happy and I wanted to share with you :

Riding the green wave
The event had been preceded by a two-day conference of the Booksellers Association. Despite the sunshine and the attractions of the nearby beach, the programme was well attended, with around 400 delegates from the world of publishing and bookselling. The dominant topics were digitisation and ecology.

"Going green" was the slogan and experts like Sir David King, one-time scientific adviser to the UK government, asked what sort of contribution the book industry could make. In the discussion featuring Managing Director Gerry Johnson from Waterstones bookshop chain and Ashley Lodge from Harper Collins, it became clear that the industry is serious in its intentions. Even if the industry is not the main cause of climate change, there was still an urgent need to take action, as BA President Graham Rand reminded delegates: "We do not want to sit back, lose the agenda and allow ourselves, perhaps justifiably, to be targeted by any environmental group."

I can't agree more with BA President Graham Rand about the need to take action, and not only because of the fear to become a target of criticism, but because it's just the right thing to do.

We reported last December on some steps that were taken in this direction in the British book industry and were looking to see more bolder steps to follow. It looks like this two-day conference is definitely an important step in the right direction and I hope we'll hear more soon from the BA about further efforts to go green.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Friday, June 13, 2008

Raz Godelnik is on the Litopia Writers' Podcast today

Litopia After Dark, the Litopia Writers' podcast, is a great podcast hosted by Peter Cox, and they invited me to be their be their guest on today's podcast. We'll talk about Eco-Libris and green issues related to the publishing industry.

It's definitely going to be interesting and I invite you all to listen to it. The Podcast will be viewable on Ustream live today from 7.30pm GMT (2:30 p.m. EST), so you can come and watch it being recorded:

And then from late Sunday afternoon it's available on the Podcast website -

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Eco-Libris collaborates with Green Mom Finds in a giveaway of green books

We're always happy to take part in giveaways of green books. This week we're collaborating with the great website 'Green Mom Finds' in a giveaway that is in celebration of the upcoming father's day (June 15).

Green Mom Finds presents their readers with our green books guide for father's day as a source for ideas for green-themed books. We also helped to arrange a giveaway of two great books that are included in the book: The Green Parent and Hey, Mr. Green. In both cases, the publishers (Kedzie Press and Sierra Club respectively) generously donated two copies of each book. We also added another prize of 20 trees/stickers and of course, a tree is planted for each copy given here.

What you need to do to take part in the giveaway? All you need to do is look for the answer to the question: answer to this question: What’s the carbon footprint of the book publishing industry and what’s the biggest contributor to this footprint? the answer can be found on our website! For more details check out the post on Green Mom Finds - Don't forget you can enter the giveaway by 6/18/08.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Interview with author Jae Steele on her new vegan cookbook 'Get It Ripe'

Few weeks ago we presented you with a new vegan cookbook 'Get It Ripe'. I love food and even though I'm not vegan, vegan food always seem to me as a territory I should explore more. So I decided to interview the book's author, Jae Steele, and learn a little bit more about her book and vegan food in general. Jae was also generous enough to share with us one of her favorite recipes, so don't miss it at the end of the interview!

What got you to write Get It Ripe in the first place?

Oh lordy! There were about a hundred things that all contributed to me writing Get It Ripe. We could say it started with my enthusiastic interest in midwifery when I was 14 which, in Canada at least, is very centered around the idea of informed choice. I could see the importance of people having access to information and making choices that they felt were best for them.

So the context was initially childbirth, but it soon expanded to health in general. I took a break from my midwifery studies and decided to explore the country in the way that a number of my friends were - by doing work exchanges on organic farms. It was then that I first started thinking about where my food was coming from and the kind of impact that had (on the environment, my health, the economy, etc). I became vegan and was very excited about the community I tapped into full of food enthusiasts.

A couple of years down the road I assisted a chef, creating recipes that were vegetarian, but the food wasn't particularly healthy (what with refined ingredients and even food colouring and weird powders I couldn't pronounce the names of), and that's when it registered in my mind that my interest couldn't be limited to culinary arts. That's when I decided to go to school to become a holistic nutritionist. And, well, it's always been in my nature to share the information I learn that I hope other people can get excited about too.

How much time did it take you to work on the book? What was the most difficult part of this process?

There are two answers to this question, really. It took seven years or one year, depending on how you look at it. I started collecting and creating recipes for the book when I first became vegan in 2000. Becoming vegan forced me to learn to cook as I wasn't exactly surrounded with lots of other folks who were used to preparing food without the use of dairy and eggs. It wasn't long before I started self-publishing cookzines (small booklets) to share my favourite recipes with others.

Then came my weblog Domestic Affair ( where I also started posting recipes for a wider audience. The content from the zines and blog was like the rough draft for a good portion of the book's content.

What the most difficult part of this process was is hard to pin down. Some days it was just getting my thoughts to translate onto the page the way I wanted to, or making the text succinct and editing the information down. Other days it was just sitting in front of my laptop when I wanted to be doing something more social, like visiting with friends. And sometimes it was communicating with my publisher and designer about what I wanted to the book to look like - as I was self publishing before (with my zines), I was used to getting my own way all the time!

On your publisher's description of the book it says "Get It Ripe is a vegan cookbook for the 21st century". What does that actually mean?

I'm not sure those are words that I would choose to describe the book, but the folks at Arsenal Pulp have always been more succinct than I. I think the suggestion is that there is a mentality that is still budding in the Western world that we need to have a greater consciousness around food. We need to get back to basics - know where our food comes from, and also how it benefits our bodies.

I think we have gotten ourselves into a terrible mess of eating the foods that are the simplest to prepare, or have the flashiest packaging and we're turning up our noses at the basics - like gorgeous fresh produce and delicious dishes that have been made from scratch by us or people we know. There is so much buzz around food in the media these days, and I have tried to offer clear and simple information and suggestions - whether it be on organics, local foods or a balanced eating plan - in Get It Ripe.

What's the target of the book - do you want more people to get familiar with vegan cooking and become vegan?

I have never wanted to convert anyone to veganism. Telling people what will work best for them doesn't honour their personal process and path. What I do want is for us all to eat more vegetables - and I don't mean overcooked flavourless greens; I'm talking tastily-seasoned veggies in a variety of colours and textures - and to improve the quality of the food we eat.

That means using ingredients that are organic, locally grown and produced and/or fairly traded, and avoiding packaged products with names on the ingredients list that you can't pronounce. You choose to eat free-range eggs or/and organically-raised meat a few times a month from a local farmer who loves and cares for her or his animals? Fine. You want to eat a bologna sandwich on white bread from a deli chain every day for lunch and avoid salad? That's something I'd take issue with.

How difficult is it to make sure a vegan dish will be not only nutritious, but also look and taste good?

Easy as pie. In fact - easier than pie! Vegetarian and vegan cooking has long been associated with heavy, flavourless dishes created by people who may be driven by an interest in health or animal rights, but lack culinary skill. I call these creations vegetarian mish-mash, and I avoid them too!

The food enthusiasts I am most drawn to are those who bring health awareness, progressive politics (meaning they are for clean, high quality food and against factory farming and refined foods) and culinary artistry to the table. I like to fancy myself as that kind of foodie, and I've tried to offer information and recipes that cover all those bases in Get It Ripe. And if you're really big on food presentation, I'd look to some of the famous raw foods chefs around these days - they seem to do the most beautiful things with plant-based ingredients.

I guess many people who will be convinced to try vegan cooking will be also concerned about the price of such a move. Is it more expensive to become vegan?

I'm not sure that's a concern I've really heard before, as veggies, fruit, grains and legumes (the staples of a vegan diet) tend to cost less than animal products. A pound of organic tofu costs $2-3, but the same amount of organic meat or cheese would be a few times that price.

There is however a big push in the book to go organic and shop locally more often, and that can often be more costly at first glance, but it really depends on how you look at it. The price tag on organic and local foods is typically representative of the 'true cost' of food - something we don't see as often with conventionally-grown food produced by farms who may get government subsidies, cut corners on pest management by using harmful chemicals (which is sure gonna cost us in health problems and environmental clean-up down the road!) or not pay fair wages to their workers.

There is a shift in mindset that needs to happen for a lot of people. The ingredients for the organic green drink I make myself daily cost $1.50-$2 - about the same as a coffee from my local cafe - but I'm putting vital vitamins and minerals in my body, instead of leeching minerals out of my system (the way coffee does).

We see a growing number of vegan cookbooks being published - what do you think of this trend and how is your book different from the others?

These days you'd have to be living under a rock in order to be unaware of the myriad dietary paths that exist. Heck, veganism has even come up on The Simpsons! (In fact, Lisa Simpson's been vegetarian for at least 8 years now!)

People are drawn to veganism for so many different reasons (compassion for animals, the environment or for health reasons), and lots of people who enjoy vegan cookbooks aren't vegan, they might just have vegan family members or friends, or feel that the more plant-based recipes they eat, the better they feel.

Each cookbook brings something a little different to the table. Get It Ripe has a nutritional and political focus, though when I say political I'm not trying to scare people with horrifying photographs taken in factory farms, I'm saying "vote with your dollars!" I don't know any other cookbook on the market, vegan or not, that follows the path of a carrot and some hummus through the digestive system to help us understand just what's going on after we swallow the stuff that's supposed to nourish our bodies.

This is education I feel as a holistic nutritionist, is important for everyone making food choices to understand. I tried to take a well-rounded approach to food in this book because that's what I would want in a good cookbook.

What's your favorite dish in the book? Are there any with special stories behind them?

There are some recipes that grab people from the moment they hear the titles: Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Soup, Chai Cake with Cardamom Icing... There are some hidden gems in there too, though. The flavour of the filling for Millet Stuffed Bell Peppers makes it a real comfort food for me. Everyone who tries House Dressing goes nuts for it - it's a great combination of flavours.

Almost every recipe has a story - and I often try to fill the reader in at the start of every one (my introductions err on the chattier side of things).

What are your plans for the future? Where are you heading to?

The path of Get It Ripe didn't end when I e-mailed the manuscript off to my editor last fall. It's really only just begun! I am so excited to get this book out into the world - talk to people about it, and hear what they've done with the information and whom they've fed with the recipes.

Along with private nutritional consultations, I am excited to continue to offer cooking classes and workshops in Toronto, and anywhere else that'll have me. Not to mention I've already started creating recipes and collecting information for my second book, though I'm not sure I'm really to reveal much about it just yet. Another project that's currently in the works is creating some short cooking videos to be posted on YouTube. Keep your eyes peeled for those!

And finally, the moment we are all waiting for - can you share with our readers one of your recipes from the book to give us an idea of what it is all about?

There's no way I could find one recipe that represents the book - there are so many different things going on in there what with delicious vegetable, grain and legume dishes and decadent wheat-free desserts. Your best bet is really to hop over to my weblog, Domestic Affair (, and see what's going on over there.

I can, however, share a tasty dip that was a big hit at my book launch: Cilantro Black Bean. DipBlack beans are a great source of fibre and iron, and have more antioxidants than any other legume! Cilantro is good for digestion and said to have anti-anxiety properties.

This dip-with-a-kick is good served with corn chips and veggies, or as a spread for sandwiches or burgers.

2 cups cooked black beans (or 1-19 oz can, rinsed)
2/3 cup packed chopped cilantro (leaves and stems)
2 medium cloves garlic
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. flaxseed or olive oil (optional)
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. cayenne or chipotle pepper powder, or to taste
½ tsp. ground coriander seed
½ tsp. ground cumin seed
¼ cup filtered water (or to desired consistency)
Toss all ingredients in a food processor or blender and give it a whirl.
Stop the food processor, scrape down the sides with a silicone spatula and whirl again. Add more water as necessary (be careful not to let it get too runny though!) and adjust seasonings to taste.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Makes 1 ¾ cups.

Thank you, Jae!


'Get It Ripe' on

Jae Steele's blog - Domestic Affair

Raz @ Eco-Libris

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