Saturday, August 30, 2008

Can wheat straw replace trees as a source of paper?

Today I read a very interesting article at WorldChanging by Rod Edwards ("Paper from Wheat, not Wood"), who reports from Canada about exciting developments in what seems as a very eco-friendly alternative to trees as the source of paper: Wheat.

No, it's not the case of corn here where a food crop is transferred into (what some think is) a product's green alternative crop. We're talking here about pure agricultural waste - wheat straw.

The issue comes up following the printing of the Canadian National Geographic magazine's June issue, which was printed using 20% wheat straw. The rest of the paper was made of 40% post-consumer recycled paper and 40% virgin paper.

Well, the wheat straw pulp was imported from China (because straw-pulping facilities have yet to be retrofitted in Canada), and that's not that eco-friendly, but the point was definitely made in terms of feasibility and quality of this alternative. And the potential is huge, as we can learn from the Canadian printer Dollco, which was part of this effort and explains in its news release what could be the impact of using wheat straw for printing paper in Canada:

The majority of Canada's paper is currently made from Boreal forests and Temperate rainforests. Straw from Canada's wheat harvest could produce 8 millions of tonnes of pulp—equivalent to the paper volume used by the North American newspaper industry every year. That could result in a saving of 100 million trees each year—without impacting food production or increasing energy inputs, while providing a new source of income for grain growers.

Sounds good to me. Kind of the win-win deal we always look for in our search for green alternatives to virgin paper made of trees. I always thought that agricultural waste or crops such as hemp (which personally is my favorite of all these options) can become eventually a significant part of the basket of green alternatives to the virgin made paper. The main obstacle I guess it the cost.

I couldn't find anything about it in Edwards' article, but I my guesstimation is that the main obstacle in spreading this alternative is cost - wheat straw is probably more expensive than virgin paper. I guess this reality won't significantly change until carbon dioxide will be taxed and then the pricing of wheat strew will be more competitive (if not even cheaper). This is the only way to make sure the June issue won't remain a one-time green demonstration, and many publications will follow suit.

The wheat revolution can definitely start in Canada. This point was also emphasized by Nicole Rycroft, executive director at Markets Initiative, which was also part in this initiative, who said: "Canada is well positioned to become a leader in a brand new resource industry that is also an environmental solution for the twenty first century. Our world needs environmental solutions. Here's one at the farm gate and we've identified hundreds of commercial paper consumers ready to buy it."

Kudos to all the parties behind this initiative - Canadian Geographic magazine, Ottawa printer Dollco, the Alberta Research Council, and the environmental advocacy group Markets Initiative! We will keep following to learn how the wheat alternative will be further developed.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Kansas, here we come!

We're very excited to have a new bookstore from Kansas joining our bookstores program - The Raven Book Store.

This independent bookstore is located on 6 East 7th Street in Lawrence, Kansas. It was just recently reopened under new management and you're invited to give them a visit if you're in the neighbourhood.

Now customers at the Raven Book Store 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'.

Store Hours:
Monday - Wednesday: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday-Friday: 1:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday: 1 PM - 5 PM

The store's website:

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Visit Eco-Libris website at

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Signing event of 'Sleep is for the Weak' at a book festival in Georgia (with our stickers!)

Few weeks ago we wrote about our collaboration with BlogHer's first book "Sleep is for the Weak," edited by Rita Arens ( and starring 23 bloggers. This weekend we're celebrating the book's first signing event, where a tree will be planted for every book sold there! And it all happens in a great book festival in Georgia.

Just to remind you, 'Sleep is for the Weak' (Chicago Review Press, September 2008) brings together the best parenting essays written by the most talented mommybloggers in the blogosphere. The anthology provides clever, humorously true stories every parent can relate to, and tackles issues that many mothers and fathers face but are reluctant to discuss.

Here are the details of the event:

On Saturday, August 30, Kristen Chase ( and Mir Kamin (, contributors of 'Sleep is for the Weak' will promote their book in reading and signing at the Deactur Book Festival in Decatur, GA. The event will take place from 11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church - 205 Sycamore St., Decatur, GA 30030 (that's the smaller of two spaces the church building has, not the main sanctuary).

Kristen and Mir will talk, read, and take questions for 45 minutes. Immediately following, they'll do a book sale & signing, provided by Charis Books & More ( just outside the chapel. . This event is free and open to the public.

As I mentioned, a tree will be planted with Eco-Libris for every copy sold at the event, and buyers will also receive with their signed copy our sticker (made of recycled paper) saying "One tree planted for this book".

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical is the largest independent book festival in the country and one of the 10 largest overall. Each year, more than 250 authors and 50,000 festival goers crowd the historic downtown Decatur square to enjoy book signings, author readings, panel discussions, an interactive children’s area, live music, parades, cooking demonstrations, poetry slams, writing workshops, and more.

You can also find much more information on the website (, particularly here:

So don't miss this event on this great festival, enjoy the book and get some sleep :-)
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Visit Eco-Libris website at

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Green Options - Book Review: Serve God Save the Planet

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by Robin Shreeves on August 22 on Sustainablog. Today's post is a book review of a very interesting and unique green book.

I've read a lot of books in the past year about going, being, living, embracing... green. I haven't felt I've wasted my time reading any of them, but every so often one of them will stand out above the rest. I just finished reading J. Matthew Sleeth's book Serve God Save the Planet, and it is one of those books.

For much of the later half of the 20th century, there was a divide between American Christians and environmentalists. There were individual Christians who were involved in environmentalism, but the mainstream church in America ignored the subject. Over the past decade that has been changing, and mainstream Christians are beginning to wake up and smell the shade grown, organic coffee. Books like Sleeth's are much needed in explaining the hows and whys of it all to Christians who are trying to figure out their place in what to many of them is a new green world.

I found Sleeth's book so engaging because he's attempting to live the life that I am attempting to live, too. He and his family have considerably downshifted. They continually purge their lives of stuff, live more simply, grow their own food, and seek new ways to help the planet all while realizing that they have a responsibility to the people on the planet, too.

Early on in the book, Sleeth refutes many of the reasons he hears Christians and others using to not care for the planet - reasons from "God gave us dominion over everything." (which some use to abuse the earth instead of care for it) to "I bought my SUV because its bigger, weighs more, sits up higher, and is safer in a crash. If I'm going to be in a wreck, I want my family to be safe." to "Tree huggers worship nature. I don't want to be involved with them."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday's green books series: 'Plan C' by Pat Murphy

Think for a minute about our energy problems. What do you do when Plan A (business as usual - using dirty fossil fuels) is destructive and the implementation of Plan B (maintaining consumption levels while switching to renewable energy sources) is questionable. How about Plan C? That's the offer of our book today on our blog's green books series.

Our book for today is:

Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change

Author: Pat Murphy

Pat Murphy is the executive director of The Community Solution. He co-wrote and co-produced the award-winning documentary The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, has initiated four major Peak Oil conferences and has given numerous presentations and workshops on the subject. He has extensive construction experience and developed low energy buildings during the nation's first oil crisis.

New Society Publishers

Published on: June 1, 2008

What it is about (from the
publisher's website):
Concerns over climate change and energy depletion are increasing exponentially. Mainstream solutions still assume a panacea that will cure our climate ills without requiring any serious modification to our way of life.

Plan C explores the risks inherent in trying to continue our energy-intensive lifestyle. Using dirtier fossil fuels (Plan A) or switching to renewable energy sources (Plan B) allows people to remain complacent in the face of potential global catastrophe. Dramatic lifestyle change is the only way to begin to create a sustainable, equitable world.

The converging crises of Peak Oil, climate change, and increasing inequity are presented in a clear, concise manner, as are the twin solutions of community (where cooperation replaces competition) and curtailment (deliberately reducing consumption of consumer goods). Plan C shows how each person's individual choices can dramatically reduce CO2 emissions. It offers specific strategies in the areas of food, transportation, and housing. One chapter analyzes the decimation of the Cuban economy when the USSR stopped oil exports in 1990 and provides an inspiring vision for a low-energy way of living.

Plan C is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in living a lower-energy, saner, and more sustainable lifestyle.

Why you should get it:
1. Even if you don't agree with Murpy's analysis or recommendations for actions, it's always beneficial to hear another opinion that doubt Plan B, which so many believe that is the (only) cure to our energy problems. Murphy also might be wrong about his estimate the plans A & B will lead us directly to plan D (Dieoff), but he might be right.. so it's definitely worthwhile to listen and consider the plan he's presenting.

2. What if technology is not the solution? Murphy talks about the strong belief in technology which is like a religious faith. He points out that both two major plans – A & B count on technology. But at the same time energy related developments are not as impressive as technological developments in other areas, so maybe we shouldn't put all the eggs in one basket of technology?

3. Plan C makes sense in many ways (small is beautiful, conserving, sharing, community solutions, etc.), and even though some people might find it extreme and intimidating because of the changes it requires in their lifestyle, it shouldn't be taken lightly. The idea eventually is to get the human race back sustainably on the track and any plan that has a good chance to do it should be taken into consideration, including Plan C.

What others say about the book:
"Here's a powerful and persuasive glimpse of the future. You may not agree with every detail and recommendation, but the overriding message is incredibly important: Cheap fossil fuel has made us the first humans with no practical need of neighbors. That has to change, for reasons ecological but also psychological. The world on the other side of cheap oil may be a little less comfortable than the one we grew up in, but it may also be much sweeter" Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy; co-founder

"In Plan C, Pat Murphy has not only shown us the life we should lead - he has shown us the life we must lead - if we are to survive on this planet" Adam Corson-Finnerty, author of World Citizen: Action for Global Justice.

Want to learn more on Pat Murphy's ideas? check out this talk he gave on the subject of 'Beyond Sustainability: Surviving Oil Peak". The video here is the first part and below you will find links to the other parts.

Part 2 -

Part 3 -

Part 4 -

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.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

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

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Of Parrots and People", a new book of author Mira Tweti, endorses Eco-Libris

Finally in bookstores! The new book of author Mira Tweti, "Of Parrots and People: The Sometimes Funny, Always Fascinating, and Often Catastrophic Collision of Two Intelligent Species" is now available for sale.

The collaboration of Eco-Libris with the author, Mira Tweti, that started in her last book "Here, There and Everywhere", continues here as well! The book endorses Eco-Libris there is an entire page (page 304) devoted to Eco-Libris and how readers can balance out their copy of the book on Eco-Libris website.

The option to green up the book by planting tree with Eco-Libris and to receive our "One tree planted for this book" stickers, will be offered on some of the upcoming signing events as well! You can find the full list of the singing events at the new Parrot Press website:

So what's the book all about? Here's a description from its Amazon page:

There are an estimated 50 million parrots kept as pets the U.S. alone, their numbers surpassed only by dogs and cats, yet these complex creatures are not your typical domesticated animal, and they remain a mystery to many. Most people don’t know that parrots score at the level of 3-to-5 year olds on human intelligence tests. Nor that they can live to 100 years or more. Nor that pound for pound parrots are worth more on the black market than cocaine. Their startling beauty, social sophistication, and uncanny ability to bond with humans have made parrots sought-after pets, but few people realize how fragile and endangered many parrot species have become.

In Of Parrots and People, award-winning journalist and parrot expert, Mira Tweti, reveals the world of a family of birds that is far more complex and advanced than we’ve acknowledged. Tweti relates stunning scientific findings on the intelligence, personality, and rich lives of parrots that challenge our most widespread and flawed assumptions about non-primates. And she explores the intense and often humorous emotional connections these birds form not just with their flockmates, but with the “parronts” (as some “parrot parents” call themselves) who keep them as pets, often pampering them as they do children.

Of Parrots and People also takes on the much larger, serious issues of animal welfare that are the unfortunate consequences of the “bird boom” of the last few decades. Despite the high demand for them, many parrot species are endangered in the wild from rampant trapping and habitat destruction, while those in captivity are quickly becoming the fastest growing category of unwanted pets, living lives of neglect or abuse.

Avian rescuers can’t handle the number of birds that need help, and the Humane Society of the U.S. is advocating euthanasia rather than warehousing birds that will outlive their caretakers. Yet unregulated bird breeders continue to put over a million young birds on the market each year from parrot mills across the country. It’s an untenable situation of cruelty, especially for such an evolved and intelligent species, and it’s just one of the many newsworthy topics that make Of Parrots and People just as hard-hitting as it is soft-hearted.

Tweti tirelessly follows the parrot trail around the globe, from the living rooms and pet stores of America, to hotbeds of illegal trade in Mexico. She examines threats of avian flu, and takes a first hand look at encouraging progress in eco-tourism that may be our only way to protect these stunning species from being hunted to extinction.

Comprehensive in scope and passionately written, Of Parrots and People is a unique and vivid addition to popular works on animals and their behavior, and an important new voice in the burgeoning environmental and conservation movement.

The book's advance press reviews are really great. Here's one from Sabra Brea at Sabra's Parrot Rescue in Miami: "Having been involved with parrots for over 30 years and having now having my own Parrot rescue Sanctuary, I can say with conviction that this is one of the most amazing, well researched, delightful books I have ever read! The author covers alot of territory re: all aspects of captivity, abuse, behavior etc. it is a fascinating read and should be a keeper for all involved with parrots in any way or those contemplating acquiring a parrot. I congratulate Mira Tweti on a job well done!I am purchasing several copies for parrot friends. I could not put it down. A truly important and fantastic book!"

What a great book. Enjoy it!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Book-themed gift baskets are going green with Eco-Libris

Books always make a great gift, and today we have the pleasure to announce on collaboration with a company that makes it even better: book-themed gift baskets!

Bookworm Baskets sell great gift baskets, which some you can see on these photos. Each of their baskets have been carefully designed to enhance the readers enjoyment of a specific showcased book. The baskets contain items that complement the "theme" of the wonderful book chosen.

And now Bookworm Baskets are going green with Eco-Libris: they will balance out every book they sell by planting a tree with us! And all of their books will have our "One tree planted for this book" stickers on them.

Bookworm Baskets already took steps to green up their baskets, using BIOFOAM (100% biodegradable packing "peanuts"), as well as, recycled corrugated cardboard boxes and recycled newsprint paper for shipping.

Currently, Bookworm Baskets have baby and children's books on the website but in the next few weeks they will be adding more options for adults - birthday, special occasion, etc. So if you're looking for a book gift basket for any kind of occasion, don't forget to check their website -

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Friday, August 22, 2008

Open source and free online textbooks - is this the future of textbooks?

Last week we wrote here about our partner Chegg and their renting textbooks' model. This is a great model and it's an example of the innovative thinking that tries to find an alternative to the current expensive (average of USD 1,000 per year in the US), not environmental friendly and irritating textbook system.

And this search has generated another great idea which has a good chance to influence the future of the textbook industry: open source free online textbooks.

This innovative concept comes from
Flat World Knowledge (thanks to Springwise for the update!)

How does it work exactly? Flat World Knowledge explain on
their website:

Our books might feel like your current book – for a minute. They are written by leading experts, and are peer- reviewed, edited, and highly developed. They are supported by test banks, .ppt notes, instructor manuals, print desk copies, and knowledgeable service representatives. There the similarity ends. Instead of $100 plus, our books are FREE online. We don't even require registration! Students just enter the URL they're given by their instructor and start reading. It's that easy. No tricks. No popup ads. No "a premium subscription is needed for that".

In fact, our free books go beyond what standard print editions provide with integrated audio, video, and interactive features, powerful search capabilities, and more.. Even better – read our books where you are! If you are a student in Facebook, then read our book using our Facebook app. Still free. If you are an instructor using an LMS like Blackboard, you can integrate our book into your LMS. Yep. Still free. It is what it is. Just great books, by great authors, at a great price – zero. Don't want to read online? Don't. Read on to learn about our other convenient and affordable choices. Nice segue.

And there are also editing options for faculty (they can change the content of the textbook and adjust it for their class) and social learning applications for students. Sounds great? wait, there's one more benefit: "no more being forced to switch to new editions. Ever. Whether you make changes or use our book as is, with Flat World Knowledge, you move to new editions when you have time and when you see merit. Not when we do."

It definitely sounds too good to be truth and brings up the unavoidable question: where's the catch? how they do money? well, there's actually no catch and money is made from non-online versions of these textbooks (print, audio, PDF) and study aids sold to the students. Still, pricing is very affordable - printed textbooks for around $30 and audio books for around $25. What I like even more is that the free online content is ad-free which is quite rare these days when it comes to free online content.

What are the benefits of this new offer terms of the environment? it will definitely save trees and that's great. Is it environmentally superior to paper-made textbooks? we'll need to have a life-cycle analysis to determine that. My guestimation is that since no production of e-book reader is necessarily involved in the process, there's a good chance that
Flat World Knowledge's online textbooks are much better to the environment (more on this issue can be found on our e-books vs. paper books resource page).

Springwise reports that Flat World Knowledge is conducting a beta test in which it is offering four different textbooks online for free to hundreds of students at 15 colleges and universities across the U.S. Let's hope this beta test will succeed and the Flat Work Knowledge's open source textbook concept will keep expanding!

You're welcome to check out Flat World Knowledge's
development so far and their plans to 2008-2009 and watch one of their video clip to learn more (videos can be found on their homepage -

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Plant a tree for every book you read!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Minneapolis, here we come!

We're happy to announce on a new bookstore that joins our bookstore program: Eye of Horus. This bookstore of Minneapolis is not just a regular bookstore, it's a metaphysical one!

Eye of Horus is the 25th bookstore in
our bookstore program. Taking part in the program means that customers at the store can plant a tree for every book they buy there and receive our sticker at the counter!

And what does a metaphysical store mean exactly? here's a little bit about the store (thank you to Jane Hansen, creative director at the store for the info):

Eye of Horus is the metaphysical store,
Mythic Art Gallery and Labyrinth nested between the Wedge and Uptown areas of South Minneapolis. We provide books, music, tools and services to support creativity, spiritual awakening (or deepening) and centered living. At the Eye, all paths are welcome.

At Eye of Horus, we believe Myth and Ritual are transformative, not outdated, and that spirituality can be expressed both in action and contemplation.
Our labyrinth is a perfect example of our active approach in providing a space where individuals and the community come together through events, workshops, and discussions which enhance their practice and inform their journey.

Our mission is to provide the books and sacred items for all alternative religious studies, Asatru, Buddhist, Christian Mystic, Druid, Hindu, Muslim, Pagan, Shinto, Taoism, Voudon, Wicca, etc. We honor all sources of wisdom and respect all Paths to Spirit; rooted, as we are, in Earth-Based Spirituality, with staff reflecting a variety of paths and traditions. Although we specialize in the tools and supplies for Earth-based and Mystery Paths such as Wicca, Druidry, Shamanic studies, New Age, etc., we believe in the value of diversity in belief and practice, and strive to support all alternative paths.

Eye of Horus is a store of open doors, with deep roots in community. We strive to be a resource for the local community by providing meeting space and classes at our store, and online via our
Yahoo Group, and MySpace Page, not to mention our online store, which makes items and books accessible in otherwise isolated areas.

We are dedicated to creating a sustainable business which, while serving our customers, also helps sustain not only community, staff and artisan partners, but the environment as well.
We believe that, through connection with the Sacred, every being has the ability to awaken their spirits and transform themselves, and, through that awakening, transform and heal the planet.

Isn't that a great bookstore or what? Here are the the store's details:

Address: 2717 Lyndale Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55408
Phone: 612-872-1292
Hours: 10am to 9pm Mon-Sat, 11am to 6pm -Sun

So you're welcome to check it out whether in the location in Minneapolis or online and enjoy a great metaphysical experience.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's August and it's all about birthdays!

August is the birthday month at Eco-Libris. Oren and I, who is responsible on our online makreting operations, were born this month 37 years ago only 3 days apart!

We'll be celebrating all next week (with green gifts of course..we love them), and we also wanted to remind you of the option to celebrate a birthday of friends, family members, colleagues and anyone you care about with Eco-Libris!

Eco-Libris is offering you now to plant trees to balance out the books of your loved ones who celebrate their birthday. Not only that new trees will be planted to balance out their books, but they will also receive our stickers with a beautiful birthday card made of recycled paper. And we also try to keep it affordable - the added charge for the birthday card is only $1.5.

All you need to do is to choose how many of the birthday person's books you want to balance out on our
special birthday gift page, change the shipping address on the payment page to the address of the gift receiver and we will take care of the rest!

This is also a great green add-on if you're buying a book as a gift for the birthday person, especially if you're buying her or him a green book.

The birthday cards we send are made by
Doodle Greetings (see picture above of one of their cards). Not only these cards come with a beautiful design, but they are also eco-friendly - printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper and are made chlorine-free and acid free. Sounds like a good fit with Eco-Libris stickers!

And of course, if it's your birthday and you want to give yourself a green present - get yourself a nice green book and plant a tree for it with us!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Green Options - Is Wal-Mart Trying to Undermine Carbon Offset Guidelines?

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg on August 18 on The Inspired Economist. Today's post is about an interesting debate that is going on lately about Wal-Mart and whether they do or do not try to block an effort to have clearer guidelines of carbon offsets.

Though much of my time over the past couple of weeks has been devoted to the behind-the-scenes work of bringing
The Inspired Economist into the Green Options Media blog network, I've also made sure to follow the discussion regarding Wal-Mart's comments to the FTC regarding carbon offsets and renewable energy credits. In a post titled "Wal-Mart Lobbies Against Carbon Offset Guidelines," Tony Calero at Wal-Mart Watch got this discussion started by pointing to the company's comments filed in response to an FTC request:

Herein lays the scandal: Despite the company’s “green” initiatives, Wal-Mart is actively lobbying against the clarification of offset guidelines. The company’s hypocritical stance on the issue came to light last week in a hearing of the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is attempting to modernize the “Green Guides,” guidelines issued for corporations defining acceptable marketing claims regarding environmental products and initiatives. In response to the FTC’s solicitation of retailer comment to guide the process, Wal-Mart’s Director of Energy Regulation, Angela Beehler, expressed Wal-Mart’s firm opposition towards the clarified scope and definition of carbon offsets...

As you might imagine, other media outlets picked up on this pretty quickly: Grist, for instance, noted that Consumers Union and other groups have "been advocating for clear, specific definitions to avoid misleading green claims, " and that "the FTC's definition of carbon offsets could most affect the retailer's ultra-ambitious goal to someday run on 100 percent renewable energy -- a huge amount of which would likely have to come from offsets or renewable-energy certificates." US News and World Report's "Fresh Greens" blog asked "Is Wal-Mart being hypocritical, or are its green efforts in good faith?" Eoin O'Carroll of the Christian Science Monitor's "Bright Green Blog" not only expressed a reaction similar to my own (essentially head-scratching), but also took a step further than the rest of us: he gave Wal-Mart a call. Much of the response he received followed the typical MO of a corporate communications department: the company restated its broad sustainability goals, and offered some more specific ones related to greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency. It addressed offsets and renewable energy credits in the last paragraph:

Green Books Reviews - 'A Spring without Bees' by Michael Schacker

"Only 26 years” said the beekeeper, “this is how long we have. After that, you will be eating only corn, wheat and rice.”

We were enjoying a sunny afternoon at the Port Townsend farmer's market on the north eastern end of the Olympic peninsula. I just had a yummy raw pizza and the xylophone band were in the middle of their second exhilarating set. People from all walks of life were taking the time to stop when meeting and have long conversations before heading home with bountiful fresh produce in their tote bags. We stopped at the beekeeper's honey booth for a chat. “Yes, you see all these farmers?” he continued, pointing at other stallholders selling fresh vegetables and herbs, “Some of them are starting to ask me what is going on with the bees. They begin to realize something is wrong. But by the time farmers will join us beekeepers in calling for action, it will be too late.”

Driving back to Seattle, I had bees on my mind. I decided it was time to finish reading and review Michael Schacker's '
A Spring without Bees'.

The reason beekeepers all around the world are worried is that for the past years whole hives of honey bees are disappearing at alarming rates as part of what is now called “Colony Collapse Disorder” or CCD for short. The reason we should all be worried is that a significance portion of all the food in the world requires a healthy population of honey bees to be grown. How come? Schacker explains it in the beginning of the book. Sometime around 130 million years ago one of nature's most amazing synergies was negotiated. Flowers evolved to attract insects that will lubricate the intricate business of plant sex, and a certain specie of wasps answered the intoxicating seductive call of nectar to evolve into the tiny bee, a highly efficient pollinating machine. As I recently re-learned by watching the summer squash and tomatoes in the garden, most food crops rely on flowers for their reproduction, and therefore on insect life. And as the Port Townsend farmers are now discovering, no bees equals no crops.

In today's world of agricultural business and mega production it means that commercial pollinators regularly rent their bee hives to sit in crop fields and make sure pollination happens at the right season. But now as bees go AWOL the pollinators go out of business, as record percentages of their hives, as high as 80% per season, disappear. The worker bees simply go to work in the morning and never come back.

All of this may not be new to some of you, and probably you have read a version of it as part of the media's coverage of the “mystery” of the bee's disease, maybe in a novelty piece about how cellphone radiation or power lines may be the culprit, and how American scientists and beekeepers are supposedly baffled. Nothing like a good mystery to keep the work enthralled, right? Not always. According to Schacker what we're dealing with here is a series of industry red herrings designed to distract the US from the most likely cause, toxic chemical pesticides. He shows that the real mystery is how did the EPA and FDA, the federal government bodies that are supposed to regulate pesticides, become the legal loophole clearinghouse that they are, systematically allowing the chemical companies to bring to market toxic materials without proper environmental reviews, using certain clauses that allow them to waive important safety requirements for economic reasons.

So is the bottom line that big business once again bought the research and politicians with everyone else paying the price? It certainly seems that way, and Schackers level headed analysis and step by step explanations of the regulations, how they are circumvented, and how credible information from France is systematically ignored, makes a good case of it. In France an important study showed how minuscule quantities of certain chemicals would cause severe harm to the bees. When these chemicals were banned there, the result was a marked comeback of the bee population.

What are the solutions? The last chapter of the book, named “Plan Bee”, outlines these plans Immediate ban on these pesticides in the short term is a no-brainer. With a world food crisis in progress it only makes sense to take this precaution, which in nothing but following the real intent of the existing regulations, while plugging the loop holes used to fast track poisons into the market.

But in the long haul, a government sponsored move to organic farming will be required. At home, he encourages people to avoid certain lawn pesticide products, and suggests campaigning for “green golf”, as golf courses are a major user those similar products as well.

Colony Collapse Disorder and the dangers it poses to the world's food supply is one of the most important issues that are hardly acted upon in green activism these days. 'A Spring without Bees' is no doubt an important book that will hopefully pave the way for more literature on the subject, and will galvanize a movement to maybe do something about it. Hell, where do I sign up?

Book: A Spring without Bees

Author: Michael Schacker

Publisher: The Lyons Press

Publication Date: June, 2008



Bee picture via flickr under creative commons license by MrClean1982 , pollen picture by TonyVC


Eylon @ Eco-Libris

Plant a Tree for Every Book you Read!

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's time to rent some textbooks - Chegg's 'Textbook Tuesday' is tomorrow!

Living nearby a university (UD in my case) has pros and cons. But one fact is that you know exactly when the academic year is about to begin (hint: flocks of students can be seen again on Main Street). And if you're also getting ready to go back or for the first time to college, it's the time to remind you about our partners Chegg, especially when tomorrow is "Textbbook Tuesday"!

Chegg is the number one textbook rental company, which just lately celebrated its first anniversary (Happy birthday!). Chegg helps college students save hundreds of dollars on textbooks each semester by offering them the option to rent textbooks instead of buying them. Chegg offers millions of textbooks for rent with savings of up to 80%. The process is very easy, delivery is fast, and return shipping is free. Can you ask for more? well, actually you get more - Chegg are planting a tree for every book they rent!

Eco-Libris is one of the environmental partners of Chegg in their tree planting program and we're very proud of it! Chegg is committed to the environment and their very essence is green - we wrote many times in the past how by renting books you maximize the usage of already printed books, just like you do when you get a book from your library. In the photos above and below you can see some of the results of our partnership with Chegg - new trees in Guatemala (photos at nurseries in El Tejar (the Dept. of Chimaltenango) and Hierba Buena, Guatemala - courtesy of AIR, our planting partner in Guatemala).

So tomorrow, August 21, is "Textbook Tuesday" and Chegg is is stocked-up and primed for the day. This year's Textbook Tuesday is expected to be the biggest day ever for online textbook rentals! Well, all you got to do now is check them out and see how much you can save on your textbooks, and don't forget that not only that you will save moeny and trees by renting textbooks with Chegg, you will also be responsible for planting new ones as well! Chegg's website is


Raz @ Eco-Libris

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Eco-Libris is available now at One Earth One Design store in Seattle!

We're very excited to have our West Coast office in Seattle. This is a great city and now it also has a first representative on our bookstores program - One Earth One Design.

One Earth One Design, founded and owned by Sandy Campbell, is a Seattle-based company that specializes in sustainable interior design services for both commercial and residential projects, with a sustainable lifestyle store on 14300 Greenwood Ave. N. (Suite A).

Customers 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'.

We're very happy that our first collaboration in Seattle is with such a sustainable store, and we invite everyone to visit the store and 1Earth 1Design's website to learn more about their unique and green offers.

This week, there's a very good reason to visit at the store: Artist reception and book signing event on Thursday, August 21, 6 - 9:00PM, with great green authors that will attend the event. Here are the details from the store's events page:

Join us in celebrating local artists, authors and designers of eco-friendly products from the Seattle-area community. An Artist Reception and Book Signing will highlight seven Northwest artists and authors. Locally made wine and delicious, seasonal appetizers will be served. Who will be featured:

Scott Anderson, artist and creator of Hatched Egg'rs children's art and toy boxes, made from non-toxic materials and re-claimed wood.

Juli Adams, well known, contemporary painter of imaginative and whimsical characters and scenes.

Dinah Coops, designer of nature inspired, eco-friendly and modern silk screened patterns on PaperStone.

Darren Guyaz, photographer of natural environments, capturing ephemeral moments of vivid color, form and pattern.

Kathleen O'Brien, co-author of the Northwest Green Home Primer, a green building guide.

Michelle Salazar, figurative painter of emotionally charged and abstract symbolic pieces.

Becky Selengut, private chef and co-author of the Washington Local and Seasonal Cookbook. fd.

This event is FREE. RSVP requested but not required.

Store's address and phone:
14300 Greenwood Ave. N., Suite A, Seattle, WA 98133
(206) 418-8120

Store Hours:
Monday - Saturday: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM. Open late Thursdays for film nights and cooking classes. Check schedule of events. Free Parking on Street.

For the full list of stores on our bookstores program, please check

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Plant a tree for every book you read!

An interview with Madeline Kaplan, author of 'Planet Earth Gets Well' (and the winner in the book's giveaway)

Today we have the pleasure to interview Madeline Kaplan, author of 'Planet Earth Gets Well'. But before we're getting into it, I'd like to announce on the winner of the giveaway of the book that we reviewed last Monday.

We got great ideas for ways children can act to make Planet Earth feel better and what would be the best way for them to convince their parents to join them. And the winner is Sharon, who suggested the following:

The best thing is for them not to waste anything..and the 3 R...reduce, reuse, recycle...and the best way to do to do it with adults...go to the recycling center together, make crafts out of 'old' items, go shopping together...each with their own canvas bag...THANKS

Congratulations Sharon! You have won a copy of 'Planet Earth Gets Better' and a tree will be planted with Eco-Libris for this book. You will also receive our sticker saying "
One tree planted for this book" which you can proudly put on the book! Also, thank you to all the other participants for the great ideas and advice.

This book is Madeline Kaplan's first children's book, and as we collaborate with her to plant trees for copies sold at the book signing events and at other promotional sales, I wanted to learn more about the book and what led her to publish a green-themed book for children.

Firstly, here's a little bit background (and a photo): 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.

And now to the interview:

What brought you to write 'Planet Earth Gets Well'?

Becoming a grandparent was a transitional moment for me. When I realized that I would be leaving the planet to my precious grandchildren I thought that I must do something that would hopefully have a lasting effect beyond my own lifetime. My grandchildren love me to read stories to them and it occurred to me that the overwhelming problem of global warming would not be solved in my generation. For that reason, I decided to write a children's book that would introduce the topic in a child-friendly concept and make my personal concern a more public one.

Can you tell us a little bit about the writing process?

The writing process was easy because it was a subject that I was passionate about. I pretended that I was talking to my young grandson and used words that I knew he would be able to connect with. The character of "Planet Earth" evolved easily. I wanted him to be my grandson's playmate and by definition other children's playmate so I was readily able to imagine his "being" and "personality". Once that was accomplished, the actually writing process went quite smoothly.

Your story is very optimistic, with a positive message and a belief in the possibility to change things and make them better - are you also optimistic when it comes to fighting climate change?

I wanted the story to be optimistic because I certainly did not want to scare my young audience! Children learn that if they get sick or injured they will get better and that was the message I wanted to convey with "Planet Earth". I simply could not fathom being pessimistic. Earth's "Mother" had to be as all knowing as the readers' mothers! A child's belief requires nothing but a happy ending! I am encouraged by the growing number of web sites that encourage children to be eco-warriers and eco-aware. I wanted "Planet Earth Gets Well" to add to this growing awareness that it is never too soon for parents to begin asking their kids to preserve their natural environment.

As most of us see and call Planet Earth' Mother', I found it very interesting that you make it a baby in the story that has its own mother. How does this idea go with children? do they find it easy to imagine Earth as a baby?

Actually, Planet Earth is not a baby -- rather he is the age of the reader -- between 4 and 8. That is because he is starting to be aware of the word around him, he is interacting with children his own age, he is learning right from wrong yet he must still obey his parents. He wants to be healthy so that he can play with his friends and he is smart enough to understand that there are certain things he must do (and tell his friends to do) to allow this to happen. Planet Earth's age is one that resonates with readers of the story. It is also an age when kids begin to learn about their natural environment. So the story dovetails nicely with what they are learning in school.

What the responses you get already from children? do they get the message behind this tale?

Children become exacted with Planet Earth's plight and immediately engage in a dialogue about ways in which they might be able to help. They offer instant suggestions in readings and I am delighted with their enthusiasm. They draw pictures of Planet Earth, the Sun, the Trees, the Oceans and have presented me with those pictures as a gift. Their illustrations tell a story and lead me to believe that I've struck a chord.

I've been offered tissues, allergy medicine and a host of other things to help planet earth get well and it has warmed my heart. I have been asked to read the story repeatedly which tells me that although this may be a new concept for kids, they are interested enough to want to understand it more deeply. Their concern for Planet Earth is real.

Do you think the story can impact parents as well?

When parents see how their kids respond and how much it inspires them to care about the earth, how can parents not respond? And when they continue the dialogue with their kids after they have finished the story they become even more engaged in the thought process about the implications for not taking care of the environment. The book gives kids ideas about what they can do to protect the earth and their activism is contagious.

What other educational measures should be taken in your opinion to educate children on the importance of living green and conserving our resources?

The best way to educate is by example - everyone should try to " walk the green walk " in whatever way they can. As in other behavioral areas, parents who model for their children encourage them and habits become second nature (no pun intended!). If we want our children to live green lives, then we must lead by example.

Thomas Friedman wrote
in the NYT lately that "Our kids are going to be so angry with us one day. We've charged their future on our Visa cards. We've added so many greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, for our generation's growth, that our kids are likely going to spend a good part of their adulthood, maybe all of it, just dealing with the climate implications of our profligacy. " What's your comment on that? is their any way we can convince the parents' and the grandparents' generation that Planet Earth is sick?

The fact that is starting to hit so close to home and people of our generation are feeling the effects of our actions right in our own backyards. That is precisely why I wanted to target a younger audience. New habits must become ingrained at an early age. Our generation is late to the party. Thankfully, green awareness is in the news more and more, companies are beginning to go green and so working parents are hearing more about environmental issues and they want to pass it on to their children.

Do you have plans for writing more children's books? will they be with environmental messages as well?

My key focus right now is to create more awareness for the book so that more kids and their parents can benefit from the learning. Since there is so little on the market for kids from age 4-8 , I want them to be able to receive this very important message in a concept targeted specifically to them. I am also looking at partnering with various environmental organizations by donating books so that they can use the story as part of their educational curriculums. I want to do all I can to help these organizations get this big message out to the little ones.

Anything else you would like to share with Eco-Libris blog readers?

I am honored to be able to team with Eco-Libris. I believe strongly in its mission and welcome our collaboration. "Planet Earth Gets Well" is currently being sold on
The book has received some great endorsements from major green sites like, which compared the book to Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax". This was very gratifying indeed.

Planet Earth Gets Well's website -

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Plant a tree for every book you read!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Eco-Libris medalists at the Garden Gate Shop

I just saw Michael Phelps winning gold medal no. 8. What a performance! This is so exciting and I was so happy for him. So kudos to Phelps, and now it's time to brag with our own medalists -Sheena Petty, Heather Osborn, and Megan Harper (from left to right in the photo).

Sheena, Heather and Megan didn't receive these medals in Beijing, but in St. Louis, Missouri, or if I'll be more specific at the Garden Gate Shop in the Missouri Botanical Garden. The Garden Gate Shop is taking part in our bookstores program, offering visitors to plant a tree with us for every book they buy at the store and receive our "One tree planted for this book" sticker at the counter.

The store has a great success with the customers and this is also due an Eco Libris sales contest they initiated. The contest was between the sales associates and the prizes for the winners were really cool - an hour lunch, a free lunch in the Garden’s café, 5 Eco Libris stickers and 50% off any shop item.

So Sheena, Heather and Megan (along with Lucy Herleth) are the Eco-Libris medalists and we're very proud in it!! Thank you to all of them, as well as all the other wonderful people of the Garden's shop who are taking part in making reading more sustainable. And of course many thanks to the Garden Shop's Book, Media, and Toy Buyer, Christine Kennedy, for contacting us originally and making all of this happen!

Below you can see another photo of the medalists, this time with the oldest tree in the Garden in the background (a ginkgo).

The Missouri Botanical Garden is conveniently located off I-44, and is easily accessible from the major highways in the area.4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110. Automated events hotline: (314) 577-9400, 1-800-642-8842.

And if you visit this beautiful place, don't forget to check out the Missouri Botanical Garden’s café, Sassafras, that has just been designated as the first Certified Green Restaurant in the state of Missouri by the Green Restaurant Association. This is another outstanding example of the Garden’s ongoing pledge to care for the planet and preserve its resources!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Are we out of time? Author Bill Roth is answering in a new book and collaborating with Eco-Libris!

Eco-Libris is happy to announce a new collaboration with Bill Roth, author of 'On Empty (Out of Time)'.

Bill Roth is working with Eco-Libris to green up this new green-themed book. A tree will be planted for every copy sold of the book. Buyers will also receive our sticker with their book, saying "One tree planted for this book".

We're very excited to work on this important book, which readers have described as "America's final "wake-up call"" and "A must read if you want freedom from high pump prices!". As it looks like we are running out of time with regards to the current energy sources we use and the prompt need in high , it's definitely an important book.

So what is this book all about? Here is the description of it:

On Empty (out of Time) graphically details the threat of economic and environmental disaster tied to our unsustainable addiction to fossil fuels. It proposes fresh ideas for implementing a Man on the Moon national commitment for deploying American-owned sustainable technologies that will achieve lower pump/meter prices, solve Global Warming and eliminate the need for Boots on the Ground protecting other people's oil fields. And it outlines how the American consumer, a $10 trillion a year buying force, can be empowered to vote with their pocket books for changes that their political votes have yet to achieve.

About the author: Bill Roth is’s Green Business Coach with a regular column and he is President of NCCT (

The book is already available (though the first edition was sold out!) and can be purchased at,,, and on Lafayette Book Store.

If you're curious to learn more, you can read a chapter in the book right here on this link - We will also review the book very soon, so stay tuned.

Raz @ Eco-Libris