You’re shopping for ingredients to take to a potluck a neighbor is hosting, and want to choose the most Earth-friendly options. Which of the following labels has strict definitions attached to it, and is certified by a third party?

The USDA has established relatively tight definitions for the use of the term “organic” (but for food only… not for cosmetics or personal care products). The other terms on this list (and many others) do not have definitions established by a government regulatory body, or other organization with authority over food producers.

A friend suggests that the two of you chip in and purchase a CSA (community-supported agriculture) membership for the coming year. You think hard, and try to remember what a CSA is. Is it:

According to Local Harvest, "A CSA, (for Community Supported Agriculture) is a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm, people become 'members' (or 'shareholders,' or 'subscribers') of the CSA." Though you may have trouble purchasing a CSA membership this year (as they’re generally sold before the growing season), Local Harvest can help you find one for next year.

The weather warms up, and, one morning, you discover your puppy is covered in fleas after playing outside. What’s the most potentially harmful way (to the environment, and your puppy) to handle this problem?

According to veterinarian Shawn Messonnier (author of The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats), chemical flea products often aren't necessary, and can accumulate in your pet's body.

You've got a sizzling hot weekend of romance planned. Among your plans: introducing some new toys to your relationship (yeah, those kinds of toys). To ensure a safe, healthy experience for your partner and yourself, you want to make sure the sex toys you purchase are free of ____.

While no one can say with certainty that phthalates, a compound used to soften PVC-based plastics, are harmful to humans, we do know they're toxic in animals.

Work, family, and friends have kept you hopping lately, and now the house is well past its deadline for cleaning. What's the one quality you should look for in a "green" cleaning product?


Your energy bills have been through the roof lately. What's the most important step you can take to lower your use of energy (and, in the process, lower those bills!)?

While all of the choices above will help you save energy and money, home heating and cooling represent the biggest chunk of our energy use.

Keeping healthy and fit requires a regular exercise routine, but much of the "stuff" associated with working out these days consumes resources unnecessarily, and creates waste and pollution. What's the most important step you can take to minimize the environmental impact of your exercise regimen?


From excess packaging to the potential presence of parabens (say that three times fast!), the morning beauty routine can take its toll on the environment, and even present health threats. Which of the choices for changing beauty and personal care habits listed below will most likely make multiple positive impacts on your health and your environmental footprint?

While the last one may be the truly correct answer, most of us probably don't have that kind of time or inclination. As beauty and style blog Feelgood Style notes, "Believe it or not you can get too much of a good thing and we may be overdoing it without even realizing it. Most of us use too many beauty products. Not only that, but we tend to use too much of each product at one time." Still unsure about the products you are buying? Check the Environmental Working Group's "Skin Deep" cosmetics safety database. And remember: ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products are not regulated (so "organic" or "natural" labels could mean little or nothing).

You're cooking for a group of friends, several of whom are vegan. The recipe you want to make lists eggs as an ingredient. What should you do?

While mashed bananas can be used to substitute for eggs in certain circumstances, you need to make sure that any egg replacement you use (and there are many of them) performs the same function as the eggs did in the original recipe. The Vegan Society has a great list of vegan egg alternatives.

A friend's birthday is approaching, and you'd like to give her a gift that she'll not only love, but that also respects both of your environmental values. What's the best choice out of the list below?

As Kermit the Frog said, "It ain't easy being green." Technically, all of these gifts are "green." But a case of lightbulbs for a birthday gift?? Gift certificates certainly cut back on immediate resource use, but a steak dinner (that can't be traced to its source) likely has a pretty high environmental footprint. The last two options are also good, but if your friend's not into yoga, or has already planted her tomatoes (or, god forbid, doesn't like tomatoes), these gifts could be a bust, no matter how green. Look for the balance between a low environmental footprint, and expressing how much your relationship with this friend means to you.
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