Blog Talk Radio – Vapur, Radley London, Anvil Eco, YogaFit, ECOS, Skoy, GlacialLight and Sylvania

Tune in Wednesday March 17th at 8 p.m. Central Time (9 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Pacific) to the 1GreenProduct.com show on Blog Talk Radio for reviews of these eco-friendly products.

(If you’re unable to listen to the show live, you can always download it later and listen to it at your convenience.)

Have questions or comments about other products we’ve reviewed in the past? Call in to the show (347-945-6594) and share your thoughts!

Vapur 16-ounce Reusable Water Bottle ($8.95 via Amazon)

YoGen Mobile Charger ($49.99 via YoGen website)

Radley London Umbrellas and Totes made from post-consumer PET plastic bottles and other recycled materials.  ($50 for umbrellas, $35 for totes). Note that only the Nostalgia and Beside the Seaside styles within the Umbrella collection are made using recycled materials.

Sylvania Ultra LED high performance series 8-watt bulb ($29.98 via Lowes.com)

Floodlight-style LED GlacialLight (GL-BR30, $44.95 via C. Crane Company)

ECOS Laundry Detergent ($46 for 4-pack of 100-ounce bottles via Amazon.com)

YogaFit jacket made from 70% bamboo ($25.99 via YogaFit website) Correct link and image posted on 3/24.

Skoy Cloth 100% biodegradable cleaning cloth ($5.99 for a 4-pack)

Anvil Knitwear Eco (available for direct purchase here) collection including AnvilRecycled T-shirt ($10) made from 69% recycled cotton…

….AnvilSustainable T-shirt ($12) made from recycled PET plastic bottles and transitional cotton (grown on farms that are striving to obtain organic certification)…

….AnvilSustainable fleece sweatshirts ($37) made from a blend of organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles…

…and AnvilOrganic T-shirts ($12) made from 100% certified organic cotton

To hear reviews of all these products, discuss any past reviews on 1GreenProduct.com or talk about whatever eco-friendly products you’ve got on your mind, remember to tune in Wednesday March 17th at 8 p.m. Central Time (9 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Pacific) to the1GreenProduct.com show on Blog Talk Radio.

Disclaimer – All of the companies mentioned above sent me free samples of their products for testing purposes.

Update – Did you miss the live Blog Talk Radio broadcast? You can still hear the show at your convenience by clicking the button below…

Listen to Aaron Dalton on Blog Talk Radio

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Green Travel in Palm Beach and Boca Raton, Florida

Getting fit at The Breakers (image courtesy of Palm Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Getting fit at The Breakers (image courtesy of Palm Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau)

The town of Palm Beach, Florida may be one of the richest communities in the United States (#26 per capita, if you believe Wikipedia), but money isn’t the only thing that’s Green down there.

Your intrepid correspondent spent a long weekend braving the sun and surf (not to mention the crazies on I-95) to seek out some of the eco-friendly travel highlights in Palm Beach and its surrounding County.

– The famous Breakers resort in Palm Beach not only maintains an organic herb & vegetable garden to supply its restaurants, it also runs a weekly Green Market (November to May) that gives employees access to fresh produce from local farms. Not content with just making a difference at the resort itself, two members of The Breakers’ executive purchasing team (Geoffrey Sagrans and Rick Hawkins) founded an independent, non-profit organization called Localeopia to match local Florida farmers and organic food producers with nearby chefs and restaurants. This locavore initiative not only gives customers fresher food, it also helps preserve farmland while cutting out the greenhouse gas pollution associated with transporting food cross country.

The oceanfront pool at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach (photo via Four Seasons website)

The oceanfront pool at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach (photo via Four Seasons website)

Palm Beach County contains numerous natural and wild areas. Some of the highlights include the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (221 square miles of Everglades), a portion of the 110-mile LOST trail around Lake Okeechobee, the 90-acre Okeeheelee Nature Center in West Palm Beach and the 325-acre MacArthur Beach State Park where you can go kayaking among the mangroves.

– Yes, it sometimes seem like everyone is driving either a Bentley or a Ferrari (neither of which are known for their MPGs), but you’ll also see plenty of joggers and bicyclists taking advantage of Palm Beach’s flat terrain and well-developed trail system.

– You can get a little tipsy in style while still maintaining your eco-cred at the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach thanks to organic cocktails like the Herb Garden Mojito served in The Restaurant.

The very beautiful, very pink Boca Raton Resort & Club (photo via resort website)

The very beautiful, very pink Boca Raton Resort & Club (photo via resort website)

– The Boca Raton Resort & Club gained admission to Florida’s Green Lodging Program last year. In addition to expected eco-friendly programs (recycling, fluorescent light bulbs, use of Green cleaning products), the resort installed an electricity-saving energy management system and reclaims enough water to support 90% of all exterior landscaping!

– Enjoy some peaceful contemplation at the Morikami Museum & Park in Delray Beach. The museum tells about the Japanese settlers who created a Floridian colony called Yamato in the early 20th Century.  Paths lead visitors through 200-acres of gardens representing various eras in Japanese landscape design.

– Pick up fresh and local fruits, vegetables, breads, pastries, plants and more at the West Palm Beach Greenmarket, open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (October – April) at 2nd Street and Narcissus Avenue in Downtown West Palm Beach.

Disclosure – The Palm Beach County CVB facilitated my trip to Florida. The Four Seasons and the Boca Raton Resort & Club each hosted me for two nights.

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.

2010 Honda Insight

2010 Honda Insight (photo via Honda website)

2010 Honda Insight (photo via Honda website)

They say, “Variety is the spice of life.

(Personally, I’d choose Garlic as the spice of life, but hey, Variety tastes good too.)

Which is why after more than 200 written reviews of green products, I’ve decided to branch out a bit and try my first audio review of the 2010 Honda Insight.

To create this audio podcast, I used a service called BlogTalkRadio. As the name suggests, BlogTalkRadio is really intended to be use less as a 1-way podcast and more as a 2-way (or 3-way or more-way) conversation.

But since this was my first time trying BlogTalkRadio, I just went ahead and recorded it as a typical podcast. In the future, I will give advance notice of my BlogTalkRadio shows here on this blog and also on some of my other social media sites (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) so that anyone who wants to can call in and participate.

Of course, if you miss the show live you can also listen anytime using the BlogTalkRadio widget.

Listen to 1GreenProduct.com on Blog Talk Radi

What do you think? Do you like the audio approach? Do you have ideas or requests for future shows?

Thanks for reading – and listening! Hope you enjoy my radio review of the 2010 Honda Insight.

HP Photosmart A646 Compact Printer

HP Photosmart A640 Compact=In the old days of film cameras, you’d go on vacation, come home, dither for a while, then take your film to a developer (or mail it off) and end up with a handsome set of blurry 4×6 prints of family members with the tops of their heads cut off.

The good news is that nowadays with digital cameras we can perfectly compose works of art using the screens on the back of the cameras and store hundreds or even thousands of photos on a single memory card.

But somehow – most of the time – nobody actually has time to sort through all those images and print out the best ones.

I know that we’ve got years of photos sitting on hard drives and stored on photo-sharing websites, but only a handful of prints.

That’s why I was so eager to test the HP Photosmart A646 Compact Printer. As HP says, the printer lets customers view, edit, create and personalize photos using the TouchSmart control panel.

What makes it eco-friendly? First of all, it’s small. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the whole package isn’t much bigger than a small toaster. Making something small generally means using fewer raw materials.

Second, it’s Energy Star-rated as energy efficient.

In addition, nearly 1/3 of the printer’s body is made from recycled plastic. You’d never know this just by looking at the printer, as it looks and feels as solid and sleek as any other piece of electronics these days. I continue to be impressed at the way that recycled plastic can look just as good as ‘virgin’ plastic.

And the printer itself is so small and compact that it can easily be carried from one place to another using the included reusable tote made from recycled plastics. (By shipping the printer within this tote, HP has really managed to cut out a lot of unnecessary packaging waste.)

How did the printer work in action? Initially, I thought the quality was a little below photo lab standards. Looking closely at certain parts of the picture, I could see a linear pattern where the printer had put down ink. As the printer got warmed up, the quality seemed to improve, although I still feel like you’ll get somewhat better quality from a lab.

What HP does give you is convenience and ease-of-use. We printed photos both by connecting the printer to a desktop computer with a standard (not-included) printer USB cable, and also by plugging a memory card directly into the printer. Both worked just fine, although the computer option seemed to work better since I had trouble locating specific images on my memory card using the printer’s touch-screen display.

We also had some issues where printed photos were cropped a bit differently than they displayed on the computer. The issue seemed to occur a bit randomly and did not necessarily seem to be linked to the size or shape of the image as displayed on the computer screen. To be honest, I didn’t delive into the instruction manual to see if there was some way of getting around this cropping problem.

Also note that you’ll need to take both paper and ink costs into account when determining if the printer is right for you. We typically managed about 40 photos per cartridge. HP did include a handy, eco-friendly postage-paid envelope (folded nicely into a tiny package) for returning spent ink cartridges for recycling.

What’s the final verdict? Between its recycled plastic content, its energy efficiency and its small size, the printer seems like a fairly Green product. I may not be smitten with the print quality, but for procrastinators like myself an HP Photosmart A646 Compact Printer could be just the ticket for getting some of your photos off the screen and into the real world on paper that can be handed around, put in a wallet or in a frame and hung on the wall.

Finally being surrounded by physical, tangible reminders of happy moments from the last few years? That’s pretty sweet.

Where to buy:

Buy directly from HP for $149.99 or from Amazon.com for $99.99.

Disclosure – HP loaned me an A646 printer for testing. I sent it back when the test was complete.

2010 Toyota Prius V

The 3rd Generation Toyota Prius - Greenest car on the road

The 3rd Generation Toyota Prius - Greenest car on the road (image via Toyota website)

No need for waffling here. The verdict is simple. The Toyota Prius gets top honors for the most eco-friendly car I’ve driven thus far.

Over 10 days of driving and nearly 2000 miles, the 3rd generation version of this iconic hybrid champ delivered fuel efficiency (mostly on highways with 70 mph speed limits) in the 45 mpg range.

I had a chance to test the 2nd generation Prius back on last summer’s Colorado trip and I have to say that this new generation takes a dramatic step forward in comfort and driving performance.

The 2010 car comes with both EV mode and Power mode buttons. Press the EV mode and the car will operate off electric power only provided the battery has enough juice and you’re moving slowly enough. Press the Power button and you get a potent boost of acceleration that lets you rocket onto the highway or scoot past other cars in the parking lane. (I’ll admit it, I got a thrill from passing both a BMW and a Porsche on the highway in the Prius.)

The top-of-the-line V version of the Prius came loaded with luxurious extras including heated side mirrors, heated front seats, a voice-activated touch screen DVD navigation system, satellite radio, integrated backup camera and so forth. I’ll admit that I never figured out how to work out some of the options (like Intelligent Parking Assist).

The Radar Cruise Control is a nifty feature that takes us one step closer to the notion of self-driving cars. Basically, a radar device in the nose of the car can sense if you’re getting too close to the car in front of you and try to adjust accordingly. If you’re already a fan of cruise control, the Radar version will probably make you even happier, but personally I’ve found that I usually can get better mileage and feel safer with cruise control off on all but the most empty roadways.

My favorite geeky tool on the Prius V was the Lane Keeper Assist (LKA) device that actually keeps track of the lanes and not only beeps to warn you if you’re veering outside the lines, but actually gives you a nudge back toward the center of the lane. (Putting on the turn signal supersedes the LKA so you don’t need to worry about fighting the car when it comes time to exit the highway or switch lanes.) I think LKA could literally be a lifesaver on dark roads or in cases where the driver is a little bit tired. I wouldn’t say it eliminates the need to pay attention or to get enough rest, but LKA definitely seems like the best active safety device I’ve seen since inventions like Anti-Lock Brakes and Vehicle Stability Control.

From a design standpoint, the new Prius has better lines on the outside and more comfort on the inside. Focusing on the sharp lines of the exterior, I think the Prius has truly entered the ‘beautiful car’ category.

Meanwhile on the inside, with the rear seats folded down, the cargo capacity seemed voluminous. I liked the high clearance on the hatchback door. The seats were supportive and reasonably comfortable even after 9+ hours on the road. The view through the rear window is still somewhat obstructed by a horizontal solid panel, but Toyota has definitely improved visibility over the previous generation Prius.

Really, I have only two complaints about the Prius. One is mileage. Yes, the Prius gets great mileage, but for the price (more on this later), I would have liked even better mileage. Call me demanding, but since I somehow managed to achieve 50+ mpg in a 2nd generation Prius, I would have hoped to get at least 50 mpg in the next generation Prius.
The second issue is price. Highway mileage of 45 mpg is great, but these days lots of conventional gasoline-engine cars are knocking on the mid-30s in terms of highway mpg. My wife and I will be doing some car shopping ourselves in the near future, and despite being an eco-conscious shopper, I’m having some trouble justifying the Prius premium.

After all, the 2010 Toyota Corolla is rated at 35 mpg on the highway and I’ve seen promotions for Corolla leases for around $160/month. By contrast, I haven’t seen the Prius offered with any lease specials at all. (I called one dealer and was told that a Prius lease would probably cost me $300-500/month.) For folks who prefer leasing, this makes the Prius relatively unattainable. (From a straight purchase standpoint, you’ll pay around a $7,000 premium for a Prius over a Corolla.)

So ultimately, the Prius is a fun car and a fantastic choice for any eco-friendly driver. But I keep hoping that Toyota will push the envelope more in terms of both mpg and affordability. Perhaps we’ll see some new developments next year in terms of a hybrid Yaris that will check both those boxes?

Perpetually unsatisfied. I suppose so. But that’s what makes me excited about all the eco-friendly advancements I think we’ll see this year and beyond. We’ve made great strides in terms of Green gadgets and tools, but there is still a long way to go to get to the point where we can enjoy comfortable high-tech lives without placing too much of a burden on the planet.

PS – Interested observers have inquired as to the relative environmental costs of producing a Prius compared to a typical gasoline-only (i.e. non-hybrid automobile). I asked Toyota about this and received a response from Wade Hoyt, Northeast PR manager that ” the Prius’s manufacturing carbon footprint is slightly higher [than the footprint of a non-hybrid mid-size sedan]. However, when looking at its total lifecycle assessment, including manufacturing, plus the in-use life of the car, as well as its end-of-life recyclability, Prius’s carbon footprint is significantly smaller.” I tried to get some hard data to quantify the Prius’s carbon footprint advantage, but was told that such data has not been released outside the company.

Where to Buy:

At your local Toyota dealer, of course! The 2010 Prius starts at $22,400, but prices can climb steeply from there. With delivery and processing fees added in, my tester car had a total MSRP of $32,771. Ouch.

Disclosure: Toyota generously allowed me to test drive the Prius for more than a week.