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The Pristine Planet Newsletter
1 December 2009 — Issue #62
Editor: Michael J. Ross
Member Profiles
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Green Beginnings Gift Basket Company

Gifts, gift baskets, and gift sets can be a wonderful way to express your heartfelt feelings to family members, friends, and treasured colleagues. But despite the growing environmental awareness and concerns in our culture, most gifts are still manufactured in the conventional manner, using nonrenewable resources, with little to no regard for the ecological impact of the manufacturing, distribution, and later disposal of those items. Fortunately, an increasing number of companies are making it easier to find socially and environmentally sensitive gifts. An excellent example of this is the Green Beginnings Gift Basket Company, located in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The enterprise was founded in 2009 by Amy Toth, a wife, mother, sales consultant, and entrepreneur. She was inspired by the birth of her son, Elijah, when she and her husband felt an overwhelming desire to offer him the safest and healthiest world possible — by minimizing his exposure to the harmful chemicals and other pollutants in conventional food, clothing, and home materials, as well as doing the same for Mother Earth, in order to help preserve our environment for Elijah, his generation, and all those to follow. Amy also wanted to make it easier for ecologically-minded people to find beautiful, crafted, organic and green gifts and gift baskets for all stages and phases of life. Amy and her husband have spent countless hours researching organic and eco-friendly product lines to locate some of the most creative and practical gift baskets available. As a result, the company's website is like a one-stop eco-gifting destination, featuring a wide variety of possibilities for holidays, babies, children, teens, men, women, and pets, including organic foods. Stop by their site today and see how fun it can be to give in harmony with Mother Nature!

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Green Tackle

Fishing is typically not thought of as an especially green activity, because it can cause ecological problems, including the untold quantities of non-biodegradable fishing line tangled among the other garbage found in our waterways. In addition, fishing equipment such as weights and sinkers can contain lead and other toxic materials, which oftentimes leach into water habitats. Micah Carrick, a recreational angler and conservation-minded citizen, became concerned with the impact of discarded tackle, and asked himself, "If these weights are being thrown into our local waters by the millions, why are they all made using toxic lead?" He then began searching for environmentally-friendly alternatives, and happily discovered that some are available — including biodegradable fishing line. However, they were not easy to find by everyday shoppers — especially people with little time or interest in conducting such patient research. Having worked as a Web developer for many years, Micah realized that he had the technical skills to make these innovative products easily available on the Internet, in a single location, where they would not get lost among the conventional gear, which is more heavily marketed. Thus was born his company, Green Tackle, in 2008 — making it one of the first e-commerce websites devoted to ecologically responsible fishing tackle and supplies. Other fishing enthusiasts throughout the United States and Canada are equally excited about his new venture, and oftentimes ask him for pamphlets, decals, stickers, and samples that they can distribute to fellow anglers, in order to help educate them about the benefits of conservation and the detrimental impact of using conventional gear. This kind of grassroots support is essential, because Green Tackle is a small company competing against a multi-billion-dollar status quo. Micah notes, "As our friends at the non-profit Recycled Fish say, we must be stewards on and off the water, because our lifestyle runs downstream."

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People of all ages can be justifiably saddened by the ongoing degradation of our environment, and at the same time feel powerless to make a difference by themselves. They may feel that their individual efforts won't count for much compared to the onslaught of resource depletion, cumulative pollution, and enormous landfills. This is especially true of Americans, who consume and waste more than any other country. For instance, every three days, we throw away more than enough water bottles to circle the entire planet! Like so many other concerned citizens, Lynn Hasselberger, a wife and mother, had for the longest time felt overwhelmed by the mounting reports of toxins being found in everyday products, including the bare essentials, such as water and food. In turn, she became quite concerned about the environmental safety of her son, Ethan, and husband, Craig — especially when her son began attending grade school, and she saw firsthand the shocking levels of overconsumption, including cases of water bottles, as well as a school system insisting that children bring bottles of water to school every day. After recruiting her family to help raise people's awareness of the dangers of disposable water bottles, Lynn developed some custom-designed reusable water bottles that displayed her new mantra, "I Count for My Earth", as well as wildlife images, such as polar bears. She then developed a new interactive school program, "I Count for myEARTH", that promotes to children the benefits of living an eco-friendly lifestyle. She then created an online business, myEARTH360.com, which not only aims to raise environmental awareness among children and adults, but makes available a terrific variety of green products, including the reusable water bottles that started it all, as well as BPA-free baby bottles and sippy cups, reusable totes and shopping bags, water-purification systems, eco-friendly clothing and accessories, green books, supplies for home and office, candles, cards, gift ideas, and more. All of these items are better for the planet than conventional products, and can help all of us realize that everything we do counts.

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A Wild Soap Bar

Many people give no thought to soap, considering one bar (or brand) to be not much different than any other. That may be because few people have ever experienced quality handmade soap. Throughout their lives, most people settle for the same cheap soaps offered to them in homes, schools, and hotels — never realizing that top-notch natural soaps are a world apart, made with essential oils, wild herbs, and other natural ingredients that are far safer than the eco-unfriendly chemicals found in conventional soaps. Bringing these natural ingredients together, to make something wonderful, can be a real art form, and demonstrates how synergy can produce a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The same is true of people's lives and businesses, composed of different kinds of threads, woven into new tapestries. For instance, Maggie Hanus has enjoyed a lifelong interest in herbalism and native plants. In 1995, while living in a log cabin, she taught herself, from a book, how to make natural soaps. This led to a small family business, A Wild Soap Bar, located near Austin, Texas. (Maggie has the clever title of "Soap Bartender"!) The company offers superior cold process soap, made by hand using only safe, natural ingredients, such as certified organic palm oil, pure essential oils, and wild and organic herbs. The resulting soaps look and smell so much better than the mainstream corporate stuff. This passion for sustainable living is reflected in the business's operations: Their products are biodegradable, cruelty-free, minimally packaged, and do not contain preservatives, petroleum products, FD&C colorants or dyes, parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl or laureth sulfates, antibacterial triclosan, TEA, synthetic fragrance oils, or other harmful chemicals. They strive to support fair trade, organic, and sustainable businesses whenever possible, and reuse all boxes and other packaging materials, recycle all paper and plastic, and use cloth rags for soap production clean up rather than disposable paper towels. The company maintains a thriving bird sanctuary outside their shop, landscape with native plants, and all of the employees walk to work. Maggie's products contain wild native plants, and thus it is only fitting that the company donates a portion of their profits each year to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and United Plant Savers, two worthy organizations. So mosey on down to A Wild Soap Bar, and see how easy it is to stay clean and green!

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