Sustainability

Avoid VOCs

Avoid VOCs

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are widely used as ingredients in household products. Products release VOCs into the environment, where they can damage soil and groundwater. Vapors of VOCs escaping into the air contribute to air pollution, are potentially carcinogenic and lead to stratospheric ozone depletion, i.e. the Greenhouse Effect. Luckily, “zero VOC” products are […]

Buy Better Candy

Buy Better Candy

Conventional Halloween candy is a serious trick. Chock full of food dyes linked to allergic reactions and behavioral problems in children, the chocolate is typically cultivated in Africa by children who are virtually enslaved. But with a little effort, you can get good treats to give away.  First off, make sure your Halloween candy is food […]

Reimagine Fashion

Reimagine Fashion

Designers are re-thinking the way we create and consume fashion, which is currently the world’s second most polluting industry and our second largest user of water—as well as one of the most exploitative of its workers. But imagine if you could drop last season’s jacket into a machine that would reconstruct its fibers into hipster […]


Pour Some Sugar On Me

Pour Some Sugar On Me

If you’ve ever visited a supermarket, you’re familiar with the vast quantity of drinks and foods labeled “sugar-free.” However, just because a food registers lower in calories doesn’t mean it will help you lose weight: Researchers at the University of Texas found people who drink diet soda were 70% more likely to be overweight. Drinking […]

No More Non-Stick

No More Non-Stick

When a pan is heated to high temperatures—like to make those post-surf huevos rancheros you might be craving right about now—non-stick coatings such as Teflon can break apart into potentially carcinogenic substances that you definitely don’t want in your eggs. How do you know if your pans are non-stick? If the food slides right off […]

Cradle It

Cradle It

Want a new way to look at sustainability? Consider the “cradle to cradle” philosophy, which challenges us to reimagine products in a way that they can perpetually be reused or repurposed, therefore creating new “cradles” each time we find a new use. This is an extremely poor paraphrasing of the seminal 2002 book by William […]


Save Water Where It Matters

Save Water Where It Matters

Did you ever stop to ponder the ridiculousness of self-flushing toilets? Conventional toilets use two gallons of water every time they flush—think about how much is wasted when those automated versions malfunction. But you can do your part to conserve water at home by installing low-flush toilets whenever possible. And when you’re faced with an […]

Just Say No to HFCS

Just Say No to HFCS

Nutritionists contend that consuming high-fructose corn syrup causes weight gain by interfering with the body’s natural ability to suppress feelings of hunger. Of course, the high fructose corn syrup lobby contends that the substance is completely safe, but you can’t argue the evidence: Most Americans drink between one and six HFCS-filled sodas each week. HFCS […]

Buy Local

Buy Local

Many companies that position themselves as using sustainable materials obtain them from locations outside the U.S., ship them to another location to process, and then back to the U.S. for sale, contributing to carbon pollution in the process. A good example is wood from South America that’s shipped to Asia for production and then back […]


Get A Better Bag

Get A Better Bag

Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade, which means they break into tiny toxic bits that pollute our oceans. Meanwhile, the average American tosses more than 300 plastic bags each year, which has resulted in a plastic bag cemetery the size of two Texases floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Want to make a […]

Rethink Your Trash

Rethink Your Trash

You may be an old pro at recycling bottles and cans in the kitchen, but many of us forget to recycle in other rooms of the house. In fact, the EPA estimates that nearly 75% of our trash if recyclable and/or compostable, but we send nearly 70% of it to the landfill. So what can […]

Pass on Petrolatum

Pass on Petrolatum

Considered a “possible human carcinogen” by the EPA, petroleum is found in American-made personal care products under the name “liquid paraffin,” and is banned in Europe for use in these products. Petroleum—and its derivatives petrolatum, mineral oil and paraffin—is the old-school go-to for an ingredient that softens skin; unfortunately, it’s also derived from fossil fuels. […]


Deter Skeeters, Naturally

Deter Skeeters, Naturally

Summer is bug season, but that doesn’t mean you have to DEET up—unless you’re in areas where Lyme disease and West Nile Virus are a problem. To guard against pesky mosquitoes, some natural remedies employ citronella, which deters bugs—but can also keep away humans who don’t like the scent, either. Many swear by tried-and-true natural […]

All Hail Hemp

All Hail Hemp

Think hemp’s for smoking? Think again. Hemp is a naturally insect-resistant, anti-microbial crop that requires no herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers to produce. Unfortunately, it’s been tainted by the relationship to its THC-laced cousin marijuana, and has been effectively prohibited in the U.S. since the 1950s—with the recent exception (huzzah!) of Colorado. But did you […]

Be Nano Wary

Be Nano Wary

Nano is a big buzzword in beauty, especially in sunscreens where this emerging technology has allowed scientists to break down ingredients—like zinc or titanium dioxide—into tiny particles. Problem is, these nanoparticles are so small that they can penetrate cell walls, including organ tissues. Researchers found that inhalation of carbon nanotubes led to mesothelioma—the same kind […]


Board Envy

Board Envy

Take a look at these boards designed by Ammunition—the firm launched by Robert Brunner, ex-Apple industrial designer and the founding designer of Beats—in collaboration with Jason Tilley, a surfboard builder from Oregon. Made for the travel brand Octovo, the series features five individual board shapes, each made from Port Orford cedar sourced locally near Tilley’s […]

Spot Treat

Spot Treat

Love the beach? Prolonged sun exposure—as well as hormonal changes, especially in women—can lead to hyperpigmentation, in which some patches of skin are darker than others. Many dermatologists will prescribe products that contain the ingredient hydroquinone to address this condition. However, you should know that the EPA considers hydroquinone a “skin irritant”, and scientists have […]

Outer Seed Shadow #01

Outer Seed Shadow #01

This past January I had the opportunity to speak with artist Juanli Carrión about his recent project, Outer Seed Shadow #01. (Check out our interview here.) He described to me that Outer Seed Shadow #01 was to be a Manhattan-shaped  community garden, where native plants from various countries could represent the rich diversity of the New […]


Nix Pesticides

Nix Pesticides

Eliminating pesticides probably easier than you think—try these three simple tactics. First, since 80% of our exposure comes from pest-killing chemicals, according to the EPA, get all skull-and-crossbones labeled poisons for ants, flies, roaches or weeds out of your cupboards. Try pesticide-free natural remedies like red pepper for ants, white wine and dish soap for […]

Mind Your Mercury

Mind Your Mercury

Where can you find the most toxic non-radioactive element on Earth? In your sushi. Here’s why: Coal-powered electricity plants release mercury into our rivers and oceans where fish live; then we eat the fish. During the two-to-three month period that mercury stays in our bodies it can affect sensory perception, memory and motor skills. High […]

Eat Less American

Eat Less American

Meat might be fine in moderation, but the all-American diet of meat once—or even three times—a day is probably not the best thing for anyone. A full 37% of human-induced methane emissions come from livestock! And unfortunately, even organic, free-range can’t protect you from some problematic industrial chemicals found in meat, which accumulate in animal […]


Clarify Organic

Clarify Organic

Newsflash: The words “organic,” “eco” and “natural” are totally unregulated: They can mean that a product contains plant-derived ingredients and is cruelty- and preservative-free, but because they’re simply descriptives, they could also mean the manufacturer just threw these words on the label to make a sale. Get products that walk the talk, by looking for […]

Fly Less

Fly Less

Everyone knows that air travel is bad for the environment. But according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, aviation is responsible for a mere 10% percent of global carbon emissions—as opposed to 61% from cars. Seems reassuring, doesn’t it? Kinda makes you want to hop the next flight to anywhere, right? But think about this: […]

Agua4Change, Recycle Water Bottles into Roof Tiles

Agua4Change, Recycle Water Bottles into Roof Tiles

Donald Thomson, a Canadian designer and entrepreneur who has been living in Costa Rica since 1990, has created a company that recycles its water bottles into housing materials for low-income families. Having lived in Costa Rica since 1990, he and his wife were so struck by the amount of plastic waste rolling up onto the […]