Here are some things I really like that I don’t think I’ve mentioned before (I’m not affiliated with nor paid off by any of these companies):
1. Maggie’s Organics cotton crew socks. At first I bought a few pairs because organic cotton is better for the environment, but then I found them so comfortable that I was hardly willing to wear other socks! Maggie’s hold their shape really well, don’t get grimy-looking soles as easily as most socks, don’t smell as bad when they get sweaty, and don’t do that annoying thing of semi-separating into ridges that position themselves at the most sensitive spots on my feet during a long walk.
2. Jeanology jeans. These are sold in the Newport News catalog, which has a lot of silly high-fashion clothing, but it also has a very thorough department of jeans: many styles and many colors, including purple!!! These are my first purple jeans since about 1981, and they are making me so happy! I also have three other colors–since I work in academia, I can wear jeans to the office every day, and in the winter I do. These are high-quality jeans, made of nice thick denim. The first two pairs I bought are more than two years old now and are nicely broken-in but not fraying whatsoever, and the colors have faded only a little. Although these jeans are not manufactured in an especially environmentally or socially conscious way, at least they are made in Mexico rather than China . . . and durability makes a big difference to the environment. Oh, and the price is great, and the return policy is excellent! Be sure to measure yourself before ordering from this catalog as their sizes are “traditional” rather than “updated for an embiggened America.”
3. L.L. Bean Waterhog doormat. It’s made with recycled materials and is good at cleaning shoes and looks nice and requires little maintenance as it appears relatively clean for months at a stretch!
4. Coffee percolator. The specific model we bought a couple months ago is the Farberware Superfast, but I haven’t made enough comparisons to know if it’s the best one–I just know I’m very happy with it! We wanted a coffee-making method that (a) doesn’t involve throwing away anything except the grounds, (b) doesn’t pass hot water over plastic, leaching out unknown chemicals, (c) actually makes good coffee, and ideally (d) doesn’t take a whole lot of work. We went through a French-press phase, but I never was happy with the grittiness of the coffee, and eventually we managed to break the glass part. Then Daniel’s parents gave us a Chemex and my parents gave us a Melitta one-cup maker, but both of these involved a choice of throwaway filter, partly-plastic filter, or cloth filter that we didn’t bother trying because I’d heard hygiene horror stories. Also, both those methods require pouring boiling water at just the right angles, waiting a moment, then doing it again . . . Daniel said at one point, “Isn’t there a machine that can do this?” So we bought the percolator. All parts are reusable. Only stainless steel touches our coffee. It quickly makes very tasty, strong (for the amount of grounds), almost grit-free coffee that’s nice and hot when you pour it (no need to preheat cups) and stays hot if you leave it plugged in. It isn’t fragile. It’s easy to clean. Learning to use it took a little while, given our lack of adeptness at performing multiple steps in the correct order before having coffee, but now that we’ve learned its ways, we love it!
5. Schick Slim Twin disposable razors. What?! EnviroBecca is promoting a disposable product?! Well, you see, back in 1990 I switched from disposable razors to a razor with replaceable blade cartridges, to help the environment. Over the years, I grumbled about the high price of those cartridges (though I did get more shaves out of each one than a disposable razor) and the elaborate packaging that made me wonder if I really was saving any resources. Also, each of the three razors I bought was rendered obsolete when the manufacturer stopped making the blades that fit it. Last time this happened, as I stood in the drugstore contemplating the razors and cartridges they sell, feeling that all of them were encumberingly elaborate and overpackaged and too expensive, my gaze fell on a simple plastic packet of disposable razors with an interesting claim: They have only two blades, and they have a simple little gadget you can push to remove hairs that get stuck between the blades! As a thick-haired person, I’ve always struggled with the “hair jammed under and between blades” problem, and the zillion-bladed razors that are so common these days just gum up even worse. The Schick Slim Twin is exactly what I need! The gadget is very simple, but it gets nearly all the hair out, allowing the razor to keep working much longer than it otherwise would.
6. Keen Sydney shoes. Since buying my first pair of these two-and-a-half years ago, I’ve had almost no use for other shoes! They’re as good for walking as sneakers, but they look good with skirts. [UPDATE: Keen apparently doesn’t make the Sydney style anymore, but they do make similar leather ankle-strap shoes.] They don’t press on the tops of my high arches, and the elastic under the buckle allows them to accommodate small changes in foot puffiness during the day without adjustment. Each pair lasts more than a year, even though I wear them every single day except in the snow. Keen says it is an environmentally responsible company, though I find its information kind of vague and, even after looking online, don’t understand why my shoes come in a box that says, “100% HYBRID” in huge letters with no further information. But speaking of hybrids . . .
7. Toyota Prius. We love our car! We’ve had it 18 months now and are still exclaiming over how sensible it is: It has both gas and electric motors and automatically switches between them for maximum efficiency. When you use the brakes, it collects energy from them and feeds it into the battery. When you stop for a while, such as at a red light, it simply shuts itself off to save power–yet it starts up again the moment you press the accelerator. It has a special braking gear for driving down hills, fabulous in our mountain habitat which wore out several sets of brake pads on our previous car. It has a tiny camera on the back that gives you a great view when backing up–important in our neighborhood, where we routinely have to parallel-park in tight spots. It’s comfortable to ride in. The cargo space is pretty big for a small car, is easy to use because the door opens so wide, and has a handy net to keep stuff from falling out. We don’t even get the advertised mileage, because we live in such a convenient place that we rarely make trips long enough for the engine to reach peak efficiency, yet we’re still getting about 36mpg which is better than most cars. On long highway trips in relatively flat terrain, we can get 50mpg! (UPDATE: We tracked our miles per gallon all year in 2010.) The dashboard display shows our fuel consumption at the moment, so by glancing at it while driving we can see which actions waste gas and which ones feed the battery; both Daniel and I are getting to be better drivers because of it.
Check out 7 Quick Takes from Jennifer F., who is seeking nomination for the Most Humble award and collecting evidence on the link between breakfast casserole and scorpions.