Archive for the ‘eco living’ Category


I don’t often get excited about cars, but our house has been in a state of uber-excitement for the past week over our big Diwali purchase:  the 100% electric Nissan Leaf.

Suddenly driving is less of a chore – and we have lots to share with random, curious strangers.  The kids have even composed their very one “electric car song.”

What I love most (apart from never having to go to a gas station – we plug it into an outlet in our garage) is the programmable climate control – so the car is just the right temperature when we load the kids in the car at 7:45 am.

Of course, we took it to the temple last Friday and almost ran out of charge…we pulled into the driveway with 4 miles to spare.  Learning curve noted.  Good thing we have a good number of EV charging stations around us…

The Elastic Forest
Author: Aruna

The rubber industry is a key sector of the Indian economy – it’s one of the top 5 rubber producing countries in the world.  Native to South America (the Indians there called it the Crying Tree), the rubber plant was brought to India during British rule.  If you’ve ever visited Kerala, you may have been lucky enough to get a demonstration of how rubber is made.

Here is a terrific educational video for kids which shows how rubber is harvested, pressed and dried into sheets.  Have them spot all the things in the house that are made of rubber for an afternoon of fun!


If you read the Indian newspapers, you’ve probably seen the ads for the Lotta-Bidet systems that supposedly function with Western toilets (see here and here).

Which is more eco-friendly?  Toilet Paper vs. Water?

Shoes Off!
Author: Aruna

The person who can solve the front door shoe storage issue will have my heart forever.  As in when guests arrive at your front door and you politely ask them to remove their shoes, only to have them awkwardly lean against walls and doorframes to do the deed and then try to find a place to put them neatly away.  And worse still if you’re having a party – when all the shoes end up in a random mess on your front porch.

Sure you may have a mudroom or garage for your family or a coat closet (which, if you’re like me, is probably already filled to capacity).  But I’m talking about a clever, clean, modern solution to having front door guests remove their shoes before they set foot in your home.  Why haven’t houses or front porches been designed with this purpose in mind?  Like maybe a built-in stone bench with shoe storage underneath?

A couple years ago, EPA came out with a Doormat Study – basically confirming what most Eastern cultures already practiced – that removing your shoes at the door was the healthy thing to do.  Specifically, EPA concluded that 30-40% of all contaminants inside the home (including lead from lead-contaminated soil, lawn and garden pesticides, industrial toxins, mutagens, dust mites and allergens, etc.) were brought in from the outdoors.  (Did they really need a study to confirm this commense sense?)

So the hunt continues…in the meantime, here are some interesting ideas:

Pictured at the top of this post: super-cute Kids Shoe Rack from Japan.
Below, Shoe Wheel by Rakku:

Rolling shoe bin (image via here):

Outdoor shoe cupboard (image via here):

Rustic (image via here):

A portable/moveable option via Quirky:


“Ha” was what I’d be thinking when my mother would ask me if I was continuing to give oil baths to my kids.  When they were babies I’d do it once in awhile – I thought it a nice  way to massage and moisturize before their baths.  But as they got older – when I could declare victory just for getting them in the tub, and when the flossing, brushing, tongue-cleaning, mouthwashing and toilet training got added to our nightly routine, the oil bath was the first to go.

Until last winter.  Their skin was getting dry and my son even had patches of sandpaper-like skin.  So I brought out the oil again and took the extra few minutes to use it on their skin and hair before their baths.  And really, it worked better than any moisturizer I tried.  Then as summer rolled around, with all the time spent in the ocean and the pool, I continued it.

In reading about the traditional Indian oil bath, it seems to be an Ayurvedic tradtion – with the purpose of relieving the body of excess internal heat.  It’s recommended that you use castor oil or almond oil and take this oil bath at least once a week.  I use the Burt’s Bees Body Oil pictured above – it has almond and lemon oils.  (Read more about Ayurvedic oil baths and process here).

Maybe I should start taking them?

A note of caution about using oils on babies/kids – a few years ago Maharashtra’s FDA commenced an investigation into baby oils – including the popular Dabur Baby Olive Oil that is sold in Indian grocery stores in the United States.  It is unclear what the outcome of this investigation was. 

A Diwali Tree?
Author: Aruna


I saw this last year on Modernica‘s website:  the Superstar Holiday Tree.  It’s been called a “Christmukkah Tree” – supposedly suitable for families who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah (note the Star of David shapes).

Would you use this as a Diwali Tree?  A place to hang ornaments – and a place to gather Diwali gifts?  Would we be copycats or just assimilating a new tradition?

Made of natural baltic birch wood, the tree is designed to be reused year after year.  It comes in 2 sizes – large ($240) and small ($125).  But hold your horses – the tree is not available for another few weeks (yes, after Diwali).

Too bad Modernica didn’t think to market it as a Diwali Tree too.


100% Pure Cosmetics
Author: Gnaana

Blackberry Mascara?  Shimmery White Peach Lip Gloss?  Sound yummy?  What if these cosmetics are made with fruit pigments from actual blackberries and organic peaches?  Even better – ya?  Oh, AND what if you knew these items are made with 100% all natural ingredients – as in NO synthetic chemicals, preservatives or fragrances – only food grade ingredients teeming with antioxidants?

Today we introduce to you the second of our Navratri Giveaway Sponsors:  100% Pure – developers of 100% natural, 100% vegetarian skin care, hair care and cosmetics.  Developed based on research that up to 60% of topical skincare products are absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream, their aim was to eliminate the toxic chemicals in mainstream cosmetic products – that have been proven to cause cancer, tumors, irritation and skin disorders.  They carry the first and only cosmetics colored with antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetable pigments (patent pending).

After sifting through the products on their website – and reading the list of ingredients for each product – you will most likely want to trash your current skincare inventory.  In case you do, we list below 9 of our favorite 100% Pure picks. 

100% Pure is giving away a package of 2 products from their Fruit Pigmented Line:  Blackberry Mascara and Tahiti Satin Eye Shadow.  So ENTER for your chance to win.

1. Fruit Pigmented Blackberry Mascara (WIN this product: ENTER our Navratri Giveaway)!

How often do you get excited about what’s in a mascara tube?  This one contains Organic Green Tea, Honey Beeswax, Wheat Protein, Seaweed Powder, Rice Powdr and of course pigments of Blackberry.  Water and smudge resistant.

2. Fruit Pigmented Tahiti Satin Eye Shadow (WIN this product: ENTER our Navratri Giveaway)!

An island-inspired creamy shadow to make your eyes sparkle – leaves your eyelids soft, moistured and nourished with vitamins and antioxidants.  Made with Avocado Butter, Pigments of Peach, Apricot, and extracts of Goji Berry, Acai Berry, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Lavender, Tahitian Noni,  and Japanese Honeysuckle.

3. Kids Yummy Ice Cream Strawberry Gift Set

Bath-Time combined with Dessert-Time!  Certified organic 2-in-1 Body Wash and Shampoo, Bubble Bath and Body Cream.  100% yummy!

4. Honey Almond Milk Shower Gel


More than a pretty bottle – packed with skin nourishing honey, vitamins, antioxidants and skin brightening fruits.  Contains Organic Almond Milk, and Organic White Tea, Calendula and Jasmine.

5. Organic Pomegranate Nourishing Body Cream


Something you leave on your skin all day SHOULD be 100% natural.  Contains Organic Aloe Juice, Organic Avocado Butter, Organic Shea Butter, Organic White Tea and Organic Lavender, Pomegranate Seed Oil and Japanese Honeysuckle Extract.

6. Skin Brightening Facial Cleanser

This 100% Pure formula gets its brightening effect from all natural, gentle ingredients like Bearberry, Kojic Acid, Sake, Fruit Acids, Licorice, Vitamin C, Lemon Juice and Strawberries.  Washes away makeup, hydrates and soothes.

7. Super Fruits Reparative Cream

Think about all those vitamins for your skin!  This is a highly nourishing facial cream with high doses of vitamins,  antioxidants and skin beneficial nutrients that reduce fine lines and wrinkles and increase skin firmness and glow.

8. Shimmery White Peach Lip Gloss

Lip gloss you can actually eat!  100% natural, vegetarian and gluten-free – this gloss is made with 83% Vitamin E from organic rice bran and fruit pigments that moisten and deeply soften.

9. Tinted Moisturizer

Who couldn’t use a good tinted moisturizer?  This one is made with pigments of Peach, Apricot, Cocoa Bean and Goji Berry and also contains Oregano, Thyme and Japanese Honeysuckle.  Comes in 7 shades and the SPF 20 protects your skin against UVA and UVB rays.

AND make sure to join their Facebook Page.
(or if you don’t have a Facebook account, Email us at blog{at}gnaana{dot}com and tell us: Who is your female role model?)

WINNER for this prize will be announced at midnight EST on Wednesday, September 28th – so make sure to enter before then!


I hope these fun and beautiful leaf dishes will be available for our next July 4th cookout.  I would love to have guests use them as plates.  Reminds me of the huge banquets in my grandmother’s village – where diners would eat in “batches” on fresh banana leaves. 

Designed by Nao Tamura, these organic form flexible plates are made of silica sand and are microwave and oven safe.  And, might I add, look very kid-safe as well.


There’s been a lot of press lately about Forks Over Knives – the new food movie claiming that a vegetarian/vegan diet is the answer to better health.  As expected, it’s being lauded by vegan camps and dismissed by others as propoganda.

I’m happy that there is more education and awareness about vegetarianism these days – although I still meet plenty of people my age who hold their nose at the mention of veggie burgers.  Really, there’s no need to attack the food I eat.

I’m old enough now to defend myself – but what about my kids?  Although my son has company in a handful of other vegetarians in his preschool class, I’m sure he will encounter veg-ignorance at some point (if he hasn’t already).  To arm him with defenses, I naturally turned to books.  It was actually very difficult to find a quality book on the topic – most were either too gruesome or too preachy, with a message that killing animals is wrong and no one should eat them – NOT what I teach my kids.  I want them to know that different people believe different things, just like religions, and that people who eat meat are not “wrong.”

The best I found was Benny Brontosaurus Goes to a Party! – a story about Benny (an herbivore dino) who gets invited to a T-Rex birthday party.  The text is very simple, but the message really hits home:  there are all kinds of dinosaurs (herbivores, carnivores and omnivores) and all of their food is delicious just the same.  Ty the T-Rex even joins Benny in eating a nut burger.

Slightly utopian, yes, but a good starting point.


It’s called the Khamba – stackable terracota compost bins marketed by Hyderabad Goes Green – a group of “Hardcore Hyderabadis” with a mission to educate about eco living and encourage green entrepreneurs.

Their sister site Daily Dump gives a great tutorial on how to compost (which, if you’ve ever tried, is a science unto itself).

At 1,600 Rupees, they’re not cheap – but I’d have these front and center in my garden.

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