Towl off

No matter how you slice it, paper towels are bad news. In fact, if every American family used one fewer 70-sheet roll, we could save half a million trees. But sponges and reusable towels can quickly turn moldy and gross, so what to do? Next time you hit the cleaning supplies aisle, look for EcoSponge and EcoTowl from Pacific Dry Goods. The sponge and towel are made of biodegradable, all-natural viscose—a material that takes practically no toll on the planet (it’s sustainably sourced), absorbs ten times its weight in liquid, wrings out easily, and is extremely durable. And best of all, when your towels or sponges get really dirty, you can throw them right in the washing machine with your laundry. Easy peasy. Sold everywhere from Acme, to Piggly Wiggly, to Safeway, to Whole Foods. EcoTowl (2 per pack): About $5 for a two-pack of towels, and $3 for a two-pack of sponges.

Story by Tobin Hack. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in May 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008

Stroke of Genius

Painting is an art form. Regardless of whether you're creating a Cubist masterpiece or doing patchwork on an old wall, the best materials should always be used. And, thankfully, nowadays you don't have to choose between high quality and environmentally friendly paints. The Arizona company, Green Planet Paints, produces paints from natural, soy-, and mineral-based ingredients, and the stunning selection of shades, from Curry (a nutty brown) to Regret (a splashy pink), have minimal additives and a policy of full disclosure of all elements used in the paints. So, once you're finished putting on the finishing touches, you can take a breath of relief, and not a mouthful of fumes.

Story by Nicole Zerillo. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in May 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008

Totally dish

Whether you’re baking for birthdays, concocting your latest and greatest pie for this year’s family picnic, or cooking up some delectable cuisine for a certain special lady in your life (ahem!), sometimes it is just so unbelievably tempting to heat everything through in one of those tin foil containers. With a simple toss into the trashcan, your mess has miraculously disappeared, and you can even leave your leftovers behind without even batting an eyelash! Oh, the freedom!...and, well, the garbage. Now you can keep your food practically trash-free with Lorena Barrezueta’s Gourmet collection of porcelain trays and carryout dishes. They still have the nostalgia you feel when you look at those good ole’ foil containers, a family-party staple, but they’re made from durable porcelain with a food-safe glaze so you can eat to your heart’s eco-content. Plus, Barrezueta uses sustainable practices when crafting her gorgeous pieces, like re-using porcelain scraps and only heating up the kiln when it is completely full of her colorful creations. Our compliments to the chef.

Story by Alison Sherbach. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in May 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008