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Farm Sanctuary

I'm off to Farm Sanctuary next week for a 2 day vacation (thanks mama & papa!) and I can't wait to get back to nature, play with some rescued farm animals and see what I've been reading about for the past few years. I just received a letter from Gene Baur, the founder of Farm Sanctuary that I thought I should share. (it wasn't a letter just to me ha ha, it was to all of the email subscribers)


We live in a country where 95 percent of eggs on the market come from birds kept in cages so small they can barely move, where mother pigs are treated like piglet-breeding machines and made to live in crates barely larger than their own bodies, where chickens raised for meat are kept in crowded barns where the air is almost unbreathable, and where castrations, tail dockings, toe clippings, brandings and other mutilations are done routinely and without regard to the pain they cause. Kept out of the public eye, these cruelties and others constitute the daily experience of hundreds of millions of farm animals.

As more consumers have learned about the horrors of factory farms, they have increasingly demanded that farm animals be given better treatment. They have also shown that they are willing to pay a premium for meat, milk and eggs from so-called “humane” farms. This growing demand has led to the creation of more than a dozen animal welfare assurance schemes sponsored by industry groups, food retailers and third-party organic and humane certification organizations. Government-regulated animal welfare labels and marketing claims have also emerged and expanded.

And yet, we must ask ourselves, what do these labels and assurances really mean? What does it mean to be “humane?” Is it humane to keep an animal in a barren, crowded barn for her entire life so that she rarely, if ever, sets foot outside? Is it humane to take a baby from her mother mere hours after she is born? Is it humane to suffocate newly hatched roosters just because they hold no value for egg producers? Is it humane to transport an animal hundreds of miles by truck so that she can be hung upside down and have her throat cut while still conscious?

In Farm Sanctuary’s new report, The Truth Behind the Labels: Farm Animal Welfare Standards and Labeling Practices, we keep these and other questions firmly in mind as we critically examine the claims used to market so-called “humane” animal agriculture. The information presented in this report may surprise you. As you read, I hope you will think about how well the practices that are being sold as “humane” coincide with your own values.

Read the report summary now, or download the full report, then share it with your friends and family.


Gene Baur, President
Farm Sanctuary


Perfect Organics {review}

Anyone who knows me knows my bathroom is always stocked with bottles and tubes of lotions, bubble bath and soaps. I love discovering new scents and concoctions. Over the past few years I've geared my desires towards more natural and organic while never wanting to compromise the fun I get from a deliciously scented new product.

I was happily surprised to fall in love with Perfect Organics Citrus 3-in-1 body wash/soak/shave gel. I usually don't love citrus but this has a sweetness and the texture is so creamy I couldn't help it! Jam packed with softening botanical extracts and vitamin-rich plant oils this 3-in-1 is all you need for your daily shower requirements. Due to its nourishing quality you can soak in the tub with it and shave as well. Get clean, get the legs shaved and get out! In addition to all that, there's no added artificial fragrances, artificial colors or sodium lauryl sulfates or parabens. I've been using it for about a week, and my skin is noticeably softer and smooth. Ahhhhh...

They've also got shea butter balms, lip balms, body scrubs and lipsticks!

Click here for more information and to stock up yourself.


Eco-Find: For Your Pooch

So you've starting eco-fying your life, that's great! Now it's time to eco-fy your pooch too. Here are some ways to start:

Something to Chew On

Pick up a 100% gum rubber chew toy for no more than $18 bucks for the large one. They come in some great colors too...much better than animal bones I say!

Stock up at The Honest Kitchen for your dog (and cats) edible needs. Only the best hormone free meats are used and all ingredients are 100% natural. Not to shabby.

Check out BlissTree's page on eco dog care, great tips, ideas and products for you or the dog lover in your life.


Kiehl's Loves You & Recycling!

I have a list of Kiehl's products I love, from their body scrub to hair care I just adore them. They are no stranger to good deeds, they have created lines to benefit everything from AIDS to Environmental Awareness. I just got word that they have a new recycling project. Get this, if you bring in your empties you get products for free in return! What could be better. Here's the empty to product breakdown

3 empties = 1 lip balm
5 empties = 1 travel size product
10 empties = 1 full size product ($25 value)

So start stocking up, ask you friends to hand over their empties to you and get to the store! Only available at Kiehl's locations, not at the department stores.


Homemade Bath Scrub

Bathtub Scrub
5 minutes; makes 2 cups (about 8 uses)

What You need:

* 1 cup eco dish soap (we used Seventh Generation's Lavender Floral & Mint Natural Dish Liquid)
* 1 cup baking soda
* 2 Tb water
* Wet cloth
* Container for the scrub (an old pasta sauce jar'll work)
* Scrub brush

1. Pour eco-friendly dish soap, baking soda, and water into container and mix.

2. Using the scrub brush work the mixture onto the tub and tiles in a circular motion to remove grime.

3. Once you finish the whole area, wipe it clean with a wet cloth - a quick shower rinse should remove any excess solution.

4. Store it under the sink. If it dries out just add water and stir.

Thanks Ideal Bite for this great tip & recipe! I'll be making a batch as soon as I finish my ecover scrub!


Earth Day Bella!

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While doing my morning reading, I came across a online retailer doing a great thing. The online retailer Tobi is now reusing all the boxes they receive every day to send our their goods to the waiting public. I reuse boxes all of the to ship things, I turn them inside out and voila, free & available! I don't think I've bought a box to ship anything in years.

Click here for link


Stewart + Brown 30% off!

Earth Day Deal Time:

Stewart + Brown, known for their super soft and lovely organic cotton tops, skirts, dresses and sweaters is offering 30% off, I found out via Daily Candy. Get it while it lasts. Enter DAILYCANDY in the promo code box.

Ohhh, if only I could still fit into regular clothing I might need to stock up myself, too bad they don't make baby or maternity! :)

Click here to shop


Essential Oils

As we all continue to purify our lives and homes I thought what better time to introduce my readers to the wonders of essential oils and some tips on how to get started transforming from chemicals to pure essential oils

Shopping List:

Tea Tree Oil
Lavender Oil
Lemon Oil

Scuffed Floors: 2-4 drops of tea-tree oil to the scuffed spots. Wipe up with a cloth and rub with distilled vinegar.

Shower Doors: 2-4 drops of lemon oil, wipe directly onto shower door. Will protect from grime buildup.

Windows: Mix 2 ounces of water with 10 drops of lavender oil or lemongrass oil, this will wipe grime off windows.

Toilets: Use an old spray bottle and mix 2 teaspoons tea-tree oil with 2 cups of water. Shake first, then spray along the rim of the toilet. Leave for 30 minutes, then scrub.


Happy Earth Day!!!

Some background:

From Wikipedia: Earth Day, celebrated April 22, is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It is held annually during both spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year.

The United Nations celebrates an Earth Day each year on the March equinox, a tradition which was founded by peace activist John McConnell in 1969.

Now that you know the history here are some ways to celebrate today:

- Take a long walk as close to nature as possible, if you're in a city, spend some time in your local park. Enjoy nature's bounty!

- Plan a vegetarian meal for dinner, or hit up your local vegetarian cafe to indulge in some delicious earth friendly bites.

- Turn of your lights and dine by candlelight tonight

- Take the step to help your office recycle better, make sure the bins are being emptied by the right person. Trust me, I've lived through this, a blue recycle bin doesn't always end up where you think!

- Bring your own bag lunch to work today, and make sure you're using reusable containers and bringing your own cutlery. Oh,and obviously you own reusable water container!

- When you pick up your morning coffee make sure you're ordering the fair trade beans and ask for the organic milk. If they don't have it, take yourself to the next cafe!

- Unplug anything you're not using, no literally do it right now! Could be your phone charger (while it's not charging), a light on you don't need or the printer that can be turned on throughout the day when needed.

- Wish someone Happy Earth Day and ask what they are doing to help the environment and honor Mother Nature.

- Rent An Inconvenient Truth, Planet Earth, Earthlings or another eco-minding flick tonight.

- Schedule an organic/local pot luck dinner for friends this coming weekend. Make it a rule that all ingredients must be organic and locally sourced.

- Avoid processed food today, eat only pure ingredients, that means fruits, veggies and whole grains. You'll feel healthier and maybe start a trend.


Do Some Good This Earth Day

Doing good for the planet has a ripple effect no doubt. The health of all of us depends on the air quality, the purity of our water and the abundance of natural resources. Why not tackle another aspect of doing good this Earth Day by donating instead of tossing your gently used wares. By doing this you are giving new life to something that took fuel to deliver, energy to make, packaging to store etc. Here are some tips on where to get rid and feel good at the same time,

Donating Clothing & Housewares:

Goodwill: Most branches will actually pick up furniture or large donations of clothing. Click here to find a local branch.

The Salvation Army: Click here to find a local branch and donate away!

Dress For Success: All you ladies out there, got an old suit you just don't wear anymore, donate to Dress For Success, who then gives them to women trying to get into the work place. Great idea! Click here to find out how.

Donating Children's Items:

Got old baby items you no longer need? This great organization can help, Newborns In Need. You can donate gently used items including small toys, blankets and clothing. Click here for information.

Donating Books:

Fill schools in need with library books. There's nothing as important as education. click here to find out ow at

Donating Food:

Do a sweep of your cabinets and donate unexpired food to your local food bank, and hey next time you're at the market, toss a few extra cans of food in your basket. Click here to find your local branch by zip code.


No Garden? Don't Fret!

This Earth Day you may be lamenting like me about not having a backyard or garden to spend the day working in. Never fear, the world is made for all of us. And while we all knew we could grow small planters, did you also know you can grow tomatoes in our tiny little apartment?

I've found a few great options for those of us who are looking to grow our own, reduce the toxins in the house and have something pretty to look at.

Looking to grow a ton of fresh herbs? Well instead of using tons of small little pots that you've got to move around one by one to follow the sunshine, splurge and pick up this recycled planter on wheels by Food Map Design. In addition to being on wheels, the planter is contoured to allow better water drainage so you won't end up killing the little guys before they've had a chance to grace your latest kitchen creations.

Sur La Table
has a beautiful bucket full of tomatoes for only $35 bucks! this baby provides mini tomatoes all year round, there's nothing mini about that.

Organic Baby

As you may know I am having a baby this summer, and as my husband and I embark on all things baby we are applying our green sensibilities to this pregnancy & this baby's future.

The importance of organic produce, meats and breads has never been more apparent. Everything I eat or apply to my body is going straight to my baby, any toxin, chemical or pesticide too. That being said, I've indulged in organic and homemade goodies, stayed away from processed foods as much as possible and allowed myself to spend a few extra when it comes to my babies needs.

That brings me to buying for baby. We've been stocking up and researching all the baby gear we'll need come August. I've realized that unless you have money to spare you've got to choose your battles and make some decisions early on about what issues you are going to stand strong on and which you can "afford" to let slide. For example, I would just love to surround my baby with organic toys (all made of wood and organic fair traded fabrics of course), eco-friendly diapers & wipes, pure and natural skin care products and only the best planet approved fabrics (organic cotton, bamboo and hemp). But....well, it's not going to happen unfortunatly and I am sure many of my readers can relate to having to make those choices when it comes to where to spend your hard earned dollars. So my husband and I have been weighing the lists, the pros and cons and we've come up with a system that I think will work for us. Here's a rough version:

(In order of importance)

1. All natural & organic skincare products (diaper rash cream, soaps, creams etc)
2. Mommy eating whole food, natural ingredients and of course organic so breast milk is a pure as possible
3. Organic newborn attire
4. Organic crib sheets & blankets
5. BPA free pacifier/bottles
6. No VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint for nursery
7. Natural chemical free diaper wipes
8. Natural material toys
9. Eco-friendly diapers

So, that's pretty much our mental pecking order of where to spend our money. We've been springing for organic baby clothes and other eco-friendly choices, but as we get closer to the birth we'll be stocking up on natural and pure baby gear. I thought I'd bring some of my favorite baby clothes brands, whether or not you have a child of your own, a gift to give or someone in your life to pass this information on to.

Kate Quinn Organics- So many beautiful colors, all in soft hues, perfect to surround your little one all year round. We've picked up some infant sacs and I'm already eyeing their crib sheets & receiving blankets.

Speesees- Tons of beautiful and organic baby apparel! Kevin and I snagged an adorable red onsie with a giraffe on the front last weekend! I am loving their bibs and kimonos.

Kee-Ka- Kee-Ka couldn't be cutier! What a great gift, they've got the sweetest images from a cupcake, monkey to a little peanut adorning their scrumptious organic cotton apparel, blankets, towels and bedding...oh I just love the monkey. Kevin and I scored a 'Honeybunny' onesie for just a few bucks at Still Hip, a used baby store in Brooklyn.

Fig Kids- Fig Kids has such great stuff, great colors and all organic of course! I'm madly in love with their baby blankets and the baby board shorts.

There are tons more brands, so stay tuned as I continue to stock up!


Take Me To The Movies...

I just got caught up on my daily emails, and had a wonderful Ideal Bite I had to share. Their daily email today focused on all of the eco-movies coming out soon. They included links to their sites where you can watch trailers. I am so excited about all that is to come. Top on my list are Earth, The Cove, Food Inc. and The Age of Stupid.

I've included a cut & paste below complete with links, enjoy and go see!

* The Cove - part whodunit, part eco-educational movie about a team of activists who set out to save fish and dolphins off the coast of Japan. Opens Jul. 31.
* Battle for Terra - stars like Danny Glover, Luke Wilson, and Evan Rachel Wood lend their voices to this animated adventure movie; plays in 3D in some areas. Opens May 1.
* Earth - the cinematographers behind the Planet Earth series bring you a beautifully shot, feature-length film about three animal families - elephants, polar bears, and humpback whales. Opens Apr. 22.
* Food Inc. – unveils the sometimes dirty politics of the food industry; features experts like Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Eric Schloseer (Fast Food Nation). Now in limited release.
* Fuel - slick docu on new energy sources, featuring interviews with eco-thinkers like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and eco-celebs like Julia Roberts. Now in limited release.
* The Age of Stupid - faux documentary-style drama about a less-than-cheery dude who in the year 2055 looks back over the past few decades of climate change. Premieres in May.

And I urge you to sign up for Ideal Bite daily emails, here.


As Earth Day Approaches

As Earth Day approaches we MUST look at how what we do effects the planet we live on. One way I think is crucial both in a planetary sense and in an ethical one is the choices of what food we eat. We can choose organic, less packaging and fair trade for sure, but one way I think we need to shine more light on is choosing to eat less meat. And if we do choose to eat meat, that meat needs to be sourced from smaller farms that focus on humane animal care and ethically sound slaughter methods. So if you do one thing this year to celebrate Earth Day, let it be changing how you approach the meat you eat.

Factory Farming has long been a Urban Branches issue. I've explained my obvious disdain for the industry and expressed that I do all I can to avoid purchasing meat from any farm I can't look up online and learn all about myself. It's been years since I've bought meat in the regular grocery store and I limit my meat while eating out to spots I know source locally raised and humanly treated animals. Yes, this is hard, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Some ask if I spend more? Well yes, but no as well. I have cut my red meat to once a week (only that often because I am keeping my iron intake extra high during pregnancy) and have chicken maybe twice. Those are the only 2 meat/poultry I eat anyway. I've long since cut bacon out and never had a taste for the gamier animals anyway. No cold cuts for me either, I like my sandwiches all veggie, packed with buttery avocado and delicious sprouts. So to those who eat meat much more than this per week I beg of you, rethink this, choose meatless meals more often, it's been proven it will be better for your health and your wallet.

We are entering Spring, vegetables are becoming more and more abundant. Pick up a vegetarian cookbook and add some new dishes to your repertoire. Oh, and splurge at the eateries where your favorite dishes are veggie based!

I just watched a documentary on HBO called Death on a Factory Farm, and it was well worth watching. I've done a lot of reading, but there is nothing like seeing something played out visually that puts reality right in your face. It's an undercover look at what working at a factory farm consists of. It's eye opening, especially to those of us who may not know much about this. For more information click the link and check it out.

For more reading pick up a copy of Slaughterhouse by Gail A. Eisnitz, The Ethics of What We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason, Mad Cowboy by Howard F. Lyman or Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Also, check out Farm Sanctuary for more information. They've got material on everything from egg farming to the economy.

Another great source is the Animal Welfare Institute!


Feeling Under The Weather?

There's an increasing amount of research being done linking diet to allergies. Allergy symptoms appear to be worse in those whose diets lack certain nutrients. If you're experiencing allergies this time of year, instead of reaching for the allergy meds alone, maybe it's time to bolster your nutritional intake with these easy additions:

Probiotics: Can be found in yogurt and fermented foods. Probiotics replenish the beneficial bacterial in your intestines. There are lots of brands out there now that boast their "live culture count" so it should be easy to stock up no this one

Quercetin & Bromelain: Can be found in onions, pineapples, apples, green tea, red wine and leafy greens. They are said to support a healthy histamine response. Enough said!

Vitamin C: Can be found in peppers, citrus, watermelon and dark leafy greens. Obviously eating those are better than taking a supplement, so get to the farmer's market and fill your bag! Vitamin C is said to help regulate the release of histamine.

Vitamin E: Can be found in whole grains, nuts & seeds, dark leafy greens, eggs, expeller-pressed vegetable oils and sweet potatoes. Vitamin E has been said to reduce the risk of hay fever.

In addition to that laundry list of nutrients, load up on products that contain olive leaf, black currant seed and grape seed.


I just love when a huge store like Target takes on a green line, it means the masses will have the chance to sample the eco-wares I sometimes take for granted. Target has teamed up with MIO to create a line of garden ready products to ease you into Spring. MIO has a passion for sustainability, mix that with their love of design and you've got a line to drool over.

The line includes:

*Gardening Tools $7.99 each
*Solar Garden Lights (2 pack) $29.99
*Portable Hammock (my personal favorite) $59.99
*Watering Can $24.99
*Herbs (and container) $12.99
*Composter $99.99

As we head into Spring, I say you pick up a few gardening tools, a bright colored watering can and the portable hammock of course! You've gotta sit back and enjoy your garden don't you?? The line launches April 12th, so check out the Target website or hit up your local spot this Sunday!


Go Green in 7 Days

In my 7 day Go Green series, I've been wanting to add a tip about growing your own food, while I've mentioned growing herbs before I really do want to find a way to go fruits and vegetables while maintaining the city life we all love. Well my prayers were answered with my morning Daily Candy email. I had to share it with all you city dwellers out there desperate for home grown goods.

Regalia Raised Garden Box

It is specially designed for us city folk who don't have our own soil to till. This kit can change your life! You've gotta get your own wood and use their instructions to make your own box (using the provided brackets and screws), this way you can make it whatever size you want. At first I was unsure about the idea of gathering my own wood, but now that I understand how important it is to be able to custom size your box it makes so much more sense.

Once you've done that, toss in some soil (organic OF COURSE), seeds and sit back and plan your next meal...

Check out their site for more details



I just signed up for the seasonal coupon book, the focus is on green living so I am hopeful the coupons will be for products I will actually use instead of the endless supply of chemial laden meals & condiment coupons I see in the Sunday paper. Sign up and save some dough on your favorite eco-friendly, natral and organic products. See, I'm looking out for you.

You can download printable coupons or sign up and receive coupons in the mail each season (and it's FREE!). Click here


Go Green in 7 Days

Take a few moments to clean out your old makeup cases, drawer and any old place you stash your goodies. While it's great to start fresh with natural and organic cosmetics, it's also important to remember to recycle your old properly. This weekend you can take your makeup to Origins shops (and select department store locations) and they'll do the dirty work for you! They'll take any brand, so don't stress. Click here for more details and to check out their line, cause hey, it's time to start anew!