Category Archives: Uncategorized

Don’t Panic – 1GreenProduct.com May Be Temporarily Offline

the 2 macs / panic by kairin

Dear 1 Green Product friends,

As you know, I am in the process of transitioning this blog away from WordPress and to Blogger.

To accomplish this, I had to change registrars and that process is still inching its way toward completion. (For reasons I don’t fully understand, the change apparently requires 5-8 days to take effect.)

Unfortunately, the domain mapping upgrade I purchased a year ago from WordPress is about to expire. As a result, you may not be able to access this site at http://1GreenProduct.com for a short while.

But have no fear, the site should shortly reappear at http://1GreenProduct.com.

In the meantime, you should be able to access the 1GreenProduct.com archives at https://1greenproduct.wordpress.com.

Also, just to give you advance notice, I was not able to import blog comments into the Blogger format. So even after the move, I plan on keeping the archived posts (with their comments) at https://1greenproduct.wordpress.com.

Thanks for your patience and support during this transition phase.

Sincerely,

Aaron Dalton, Editor, 1 Green Product

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Important Notice — 1GreenProduct.com is moving!

4/7 update – I will not be posting any new content until 1GreenProduct moves to its new home. I hope this will happen in early May or early June. Sorry for the delay in posting new content, but please enjoy the existing content until that time. If anything goes wrong in the transfer process, you should be able to get information by visiting https://1greenproduct.wordpress.com.

Dear Readers,

After a couple of years publishing 1GreenProduct.com on the WordPress.com blogging platform, I’m moving back over to Blogger.

The new-and-improved Blogger seems much nicer than WordPress in terms of usability and design.

The move won’t actually take place for a few weeks, but I wanted to give you advance now in case there are any hiccups along the way.

(I did in fact transfer all the old posts over to the Blogger platform today and there were plenty of hiccups, believe me.)

Thanks in advance for your patience and support. I hope you’ll enjoy 1GreenProduct.com even more in its new home.

Where have all the Green products gone?

Well, I thought it would never happen.

After more than 200 posts in all sorts of consumer categories, I’m having trouble finding any truly innovative, amazing, special Green products out there that are affordable and widely available to U.S. consumers.

I’m a bit amazed, to be honest, because I originally thought I’d have no problem finding ~250 eco-friendly products a year to review and now I’m struggling to find just 50 a year that are truly worthy of extensive review and attention.

Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of great Green products out there – eco-friendly home decor products, fashion products, food products. But I’m not a fashion, design or food blogger, per se. I don’t have anything special to write (most of the time) about a new set of bamboo cotton sheets, a new organic cotton pair of pants or a new all-natural snack.

If the design/functionality/taste is truly amazing, I’ll write about it, but I’ll leave it to the dedicated decor/fashion/food bloggers to cover those beats.

My interest has always been in talking about products that change the game. LED light bulbs. Electric bikes. Recycled aluminum foil. Dual-flush toilets. Extraordinarily efficient (and thus energy-saving) home electronics. Wind turbines. Solar panels. Hybrid cars. You get the picture.

So…please don’t get alarmed if I don’t publish a post every week. I’ll publish as often as I can find quality products that are worthy of your time and attention.

And if you find any of extraordinary Green products that you think deserve a review at 1GreenProduct.com, please let me know.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep looking too.

Thanks,

Aaron Dalton, Editor, 1GreenProduct.com

Help a Friend @ GreenYourDecor

Jennae's 4-year old daughter

Jennae's 4-year old daughter

Almost two years ago, around the time I was starting 1GreenProduct.com, I came across another new eco-blog called GreenYourDecor run by a talented designer named Jennae Petersen.

Jennae has achieved great success with her blog and has created a real community of readers who eagerly follow her pronouncements on eco-friendly decor.

Recently, Jennae shared some devastating news on her blog – her four-year old daughter had been diagnosed with A.L.L., a type of childhood leukemia.

The good news is that A.L.L. has a 85-90% cure rate.

The even better news (via update from Jennae) is that her daughter’s disease has officially gone into remission!! 🙂

The not-so-good news is that her daughter will still need treatment for 2-years and that neither Jennae (self-employed) nor her husband (recently laid off) have health insurance.

But there is more good news: Jennae’s daughter has been approved for Peachcare, Georgia’s state-run insurance program for children.  While it’s not yet clear how much Peachcare will cover, Jennae is relieved to know that her family’s limited financial resources won’t affect her daughter’s access to care.

For anyone who would like to help Jennae and her family get through this difficult period, one of Jennae’s friends has set up a ChipIn site to accept donations.

Toyota Camry Hybrid

2010 Camry Hybrid (photo via Toyota.com)

2010 Camry Hybrid - stylish but subtle hybrid (photo via Toyota.com)

In the last few months, I’ve had a chance to test drive both a Toyota Camry Hybrid and a 2nd generation Prius.

I liked both cars, but from an eco-friendly standpoint it seems to me that the Prius is the clear winner. In Colorado, I averaged approximately 50 mpg in mountainous terrain on the 2nd gen Prius. By contrast, in admittedly horrible traffic in and around the New York metro area, I averaged only around 30 mpg in a 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Now I presume that the 3rd generation Prius (i.e. the 2010 model year currently for sale in dealerships and advertised on Toyota’s website) gets even better mileage and delivers even better performance than the Prius I tested, but I’ll restrict my comparison to the older Prius that I actually test drove.

So how does the Camry Hybrid match up against a (last generation) Prius?

For me, the Prius wins by a knockout, offering better manueverability, better forward visibility and much better electric-only performance at low speeds. Indeed, one of the selling points of many hybrid cars is that they are supposed to be able to use electric power only to save gas and propel the car at low speeds. The Prius lived up to this billing, but while the Camry shut down its gas engine at stop lights to conserve gas, it seemed impossible to drive the Camry at more than about 5 mph without having the gas engine kick back in.

In terms of performance, neither car will win any drag races. Both perform admirably when cruising at high speeds, but you’ll need to leave plenty of time for accelerating, merging and passing.

Another view of the 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid with optional moonroof and fog lamps (photo via Toyota.com)

Another view of the 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid with optional moonroof and fog lamps (photo via Toyota.com)

So why would a buyer putting eco-friendliness high on her list of purchase criteria choose the Camry Hybrid over the Prius? I can think of only a couple of reasons:

1. Anonymity. Prius drivers advertise their eco-minded attitudes to the world. Remove a couple of subtle little badges and the Camry Hybrid looks just like any of the other countless Camrys on the road. Some people like standing out. Others perfer to fly under the radar – the Camry Hybrid accommodates that desire.

2. Sedan v. Hatchback. I quite like hatchbacks both for their style and their versatility, but some people just want to drive a sedan. Since the Prius is only available as a hatchback, that pretty much disqualifies it from contention. I will say however that the Camry’s battery pack reduces its trunk space considerably (a point emphasized in this review at eHow.com). One big suitcase will completely fill the trunk space. Fortunately, the Camry Hybrid comes with standard 60/40 split fold-down rear seats, providing some much-needed extra cargo space (as long as you aren’t carrying any passengers in the back seat).

The comfortable, predictable interior of the Toyota Camry Hybrid (photo via Toyota.com)

The comfortable, predictable interior of the Toyota Camry Hybrid (photo via Toyota.com)

3. Comfort. Both cars are comfortable from a driving standpoint. In fact, I think I found the Prius even more comfortable than the Camry Hybrid, but the Camry definitely has a bit of a more plush feeling, more of an intangible cushiness factor. For example, dual-zone climate control comes standard and you can upgrade to an options package with heated front seats.

4. Size. The Camry Hybrid is slightly bigger than the Prius. Both are mid-size cars, but the Camry is a few inches wider and more than one foot longer. The Camry Hybrid also weighs about 600 lbs. more than the Prius. For people who equate size with safety and weight, the Camry Hybrid may feel like the safer choice. Also, because of its bigger exterior dimensions, it has a few more inches of interior space, which may make it more comfortable for some people. (These perceptions may have some basis in reality. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Camry Hybrid its highest 5-star rating for frontal crashes, whereas the 2009 Prius received only 4 stars. The 2010 Prius had not yet been rated at the time of this review.)

Bottom Line – It’s great to see lots of hybrid cars coming to the market for buyers of all tastes. The Camry Hybrid could be the perfect car for someone who wants a solid, comfortable mid-size sedan with good gas mileage (rated 33 city / 34 highway) at a decent price.

IMHO, the Prius is clearly the more eco-friendly car and also a much better value. The Camry Hybrid carries a MSRP of over $26,000 (my tester was $28,138 nicely equipped and including delivery processing and handling fee). For comparison, the base version 2010 Prius carries a MSRP of $22,000 — although the top-line version does go up over $27,000.

Incidentally, although the Camry Hybrid is clearly the more eco-friendly choice, it’s probably very hard to justify the Hybrid version of the Camry on an economic basis. The non-hybrid base Camry (MSRP $19,395) has a nearly identical highway mpg rating (33 mpg vs 34 mpg for the hybrid) and gets 11 fewer mpg in city driving (22 mpg vs 33 mpg for the hybrid).

To the casual observer, it's just a stylish sedan. But we know this 2010 Toyota Camry is a hybrid. (photo via Toyota.com)

To the casual observer, it's just a stylish sedan. But we know this 2010 Toyota Camry is a hybrid. (photo via Toyota.com)

Using oversimplified calculations that assume an average mpg half way between the highway and city numbers, we’d get an average mpg of 33.5 for the Camry Hybrid and 27.5 for the regular base Camry. In other words, over 100,000 hypothetical miles of driving, the Camry Hybrid should require 2,985 gallons of gas, while the regular Camry should require 3,636 gallons of gas. Assuming a gas price of $3 per gallon, the regular Camry would require approximately $2,000 more gas over 100,000 miles, which means you would need to drive more than 300,000 miles before you could make up the extra cost of the hybrid purchase.

(Of course, you would make the hybrid premium more quickly if gas prices rose to $4 per gallon or higher as they did in 2008…)

It will be very interesting to keep an eye on innovation in the hybrid sedan segment over the next year or two. With plenty of competition among the Camry Hybrid, the Nissan Altima Hybrid ( 35/33 mpg), the Ford Fusion Hybrid (an impressive 41/36 mpg) and the Mercury Milan (also 41/36 mpg), hopefully we’ll soon see some breakthroughs on price, battery performance and/or mileage.

Where to Buy –

Use Toyota’s website to find a Toyota dealership near you.

Bike Gear – REI OXT Circuit Top, ZYM Electrolyte Drink Tabs

REI's recycled polyester OXT Circuit Half-Zip Top (photo via REI website)

REI's recycled polyester OXT Circuit Half-Zip Top (photo via REI website)

I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing bikes – especially e-bikes – over the past few weeks, but not much time talking about useful bike-related gear.

I don’t go wild with fluorescent spandex, but I do see the virtue of wearing bike clothing that has strips of reflective material. And if the bike jersey is made out of recycled polyester like the OXT Circuit Half-Zip Top from REI, so much the better. In addition to its eco-credentials, the OXT shirt also wicks sweat, dries fast, contains a zipper-protected ‘music pocket’ to hold an MP3 player and features a sun-blocking UPF 50+ rating.

In fact, REI has begun introducing a whole range of clothing made using what it calls ecoSensitive (TM) materials including bamboo, organic cotton, hemp and even PLA, a biodegradable polymer derived from starches like corn.

In my usage test, the OXT Circuit Top shirt performed like a champ. I didn’t get sunburned, I felt comfortable biking and I liked knowing that the shirt was made from recycled materials.

ZYM Endurance formula electrolyte drink tabs (photo via ZYM website)

ZYM Endurance formula electrolyte drink tabs (photo via ZYM website)

Meanwhile, I did get a little sweaty biking around Manhattan, so it was nice to rehydrate with a ZYM sports drink. At first glance, ZYM might seem like an odd product to include on an eco-products site like 1GreenProduct.com. ZYM doesn’t claim to be organic or all natural, but if you think about it, ZYM is eco-friendly in the same way as the Arm & Hammer Essentials product line I reviewed back in April.

What I liked about Arm & Hammer Essentials was the way that the company had reduced packaging and shipment weights by selling a concentrate and letting buyers add water themselves at home?

ZYM Electrolyte Drink Tabs use the same concept. Drop a ZYM tablet into water, watch it dissolve and get fizzy (thanks to the mixture of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate – two of the main ingredients in Alka-Seltzer). The difference is that while Alka-Seltzer is supposed to cure upset stomach or a headache, ZYM is designed to speedily deliver a high dose of vitamins and electrolytes that your body might need after a workout.

Now I’m not a doctor, a nutritionist or a personal trainer, but if you are going to drink some sort of energy/vitamin drink after a workout, it seems that it makes sense ecologically to make it yourself at home (or in a refillable bottle to take on the road) with tap water rather than paying for the plastic packaging and water in the bottled energy drinks found in the supermarket.

Where to Buy:

You can order the OXT Circuit Top directly from REI.com (on sale for $24.83 at the moment) or shop in REI stores nationwide.

Order ZYM tablets online ($23.97 for 30 tabs, $14.99 for 20 individually packaged tabs, $7.99 for a reusable, biodegradable sports bottle), or use the Dealer Locator page to find a dealer/distributor near you.

Tidbits — The North Face, Big Agnes, Bookins, Groom Mate Platinum XL, ATTITUDE and more!

Here are some Tidbits of information on a variety of interesting eco-friendly products…

1) The North Face has introduced two new sleeping bags made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials – Re Meow (available for around $200 through Backcountry.comicon) and the Green Kazooicon, available for $279-289 direct from The North Faceicon.

2) More eco-friendly camping gear courtesy of Big Agnes, which won a Green gear of the year award from Backpacker Magazine for the Salt Creek 2, its 100% recycled polyester tent.

3) There’s a lot of waste and inefficiency in the world. Bookins tries to reduce the waste by matching people who have stuff (books, DVDS) they don’t want with folks who happen to want that exact same stuff. Pay a flat rate ($4.49) for shipping, keep the items you get or swap them onward. There’s a points system involved, so presumably you have to be willing to give (i.e. get rid of the things you don’t want) in order to get something you do want. Remember that “reuse” is a big part of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” triumverate.

4) Much of modern culture is literally disposable. It’s designed to break quickly so you’ll buy another one. Good for sales maybe, but not good for the planet. In the old days, items were made to last years, decades, a lifetime, maybe even generations. (This level of craftsmanship is reportedly being resuscitated in the UK by a brand called Howies’…) Here in the USA, you can find the same durable and sensible design in an unlikely product – a nose-hair clipper. Before you scoff, consider the fact that grooming is a basic animal instinct. The Groom Mate Platinum XL (a top-seller at Amazon.com) is not in fact made of platinum, but rather stainless steel, a nicely recyclable material. Unlike some nose hair trimmers, the Groom Mate is human-powered and requires no batteries. It’s simple, yet elegant design slices nose hairs safely and comfortably. Should the product ever fail, Groom Mate provides a lifetime warranty. Good design sometimes goes a long way toward making a product Green.

5) You know, lots of people have a bad attitude. (They should learn from Hobbes who when pressed to adopt an attitude by Calvin suggested that “courteously deferential” might be a good attitude to have.) Another good attitude is respect for the planet and the creatures that live here, as embodied by ATTITUDE(R) cleaning products from the Canadian company Bio-Spectra. ATTITUDE’s hand soap, laundry detergent, surface cleaners and dish soap are all labeled biodegradable, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly. There’s lots to like about ATTITUDE, including the packaging (which includes charming photos of penguins, koalas and other cute critters). But more importantly, the packages carry the Canadian Ecologo. The laundry detergent also happens to be formulated for cold-water — another feature that’s good for the planet and for your energy bill. Oh and the essential oils like tangerine and ylang-yland used to scent the products smell great (although you can generally opt for fragrance-free formulations too). Look for ATTITUDE cleaners online at Amazon.com or offline at Whole Foods.