Young Eco-Heroes Tackle Environmental Problems

Green Home Decorating Ideas

Guayaki Introduces First-Ever Fair Trade Certified Yerba Mate

When Nature Calls

The Green Crafter

groovy mind

nature conserve

friendship bag

Young Eco-Heroes Tackle Environmental Problems

AFN Announces Its

If you think kids only care about computer gaming and the latest mobile phones, think again. The extraordinary winners of Action For Nature’s 2009 International Young Eco-Hero Award from ages 8 to 16 have conducted groundbreaking science experiments, changed legislation, written books, hobnobbed with leaders of the slow food movement, and more.

The First Place honorees in the 13- to 16-year-old category are:

Otana Jakpor of Riverside, Calif. Age 15: Devised tests for air purifiers that changed California legislation.

In the seventh grade, Otana Jakpor read an article in Consumer Reports about potentially harmful levels of ozone, or smog, emitted by common air purifiers.Over the next two years, Otana designed, coordinated, and implemented eight experiments to test the impact of these machines on human health. Her results were alarming. Some purifiers, she found, emitted levels equal to Stage 3 smog alerts.

When Otana shared her findings with CARB (California Air Resources Board), they invited her to testify at a hearing that included lawyers from ozone generating manufacturers. When she finished her presentation, some of the people with opposing testimony withdrew. Regulations were put into place and California is now the first state to regulate ozone generators.

Otana went on to be awarded the President’s Environmental Youth Award and has met with senators and the head of the EPA. She is now a volunteer spokesperson for the American Lung Association and will have her study published in the journal of the American Thoracic Society.

Adarsha Shivakumar and Apoorva Rangan of Pleasant Hill, Calif. Ages 14 and 15: Helping farmers in India move from growing tobacco to raising plants for biofuel.

Adarsha Shivakumar and Apoorva Rangan are San Francisco Bay Area siblings and often go to visit their grandparents who live on a farm near Hunsur in southern India. Most villagers in the area grow tobacco and in order to cure the leaves, they must burn large quantities of wood to fire their kilns. Having little firewood, they turn to the agents who illegally sell them firewood by cutting down trees from the local national park, a large and pristine wildlife sanctuary which is also a home to a large variety of wildlife, including Asian elephant and tiger.

Adarsha and Apoorva realized that if the farmers continued to farm tobacco, the forest and its biodiversity would disappear, but they also understood that the farmers couldn't abandon the crop, their only means of survival.

The two young people learned about an NGO called Parivarthana that was working with the rural poor to teach them sustainable agriculture. They also discovered a plant biotechnology company in the region called Labland Biotech that was cultivating species like Jatropha curcas. This drought resistant plant, native to Central America, can grow in an arid environment, and produces seeds that are about 34% oil and that can be processed to create high grade fuel.

Adarsha and Apoorva convinced the two organizations to collaborate on a pilot project, called Project Jatropha, to help the farmers convert to biofuel crops. The brother and sister now have farmers in two villages growing Jatropha and selling the seeds to Labland Biotech to be converted into biofuel.

Sam Levin of new Marlborough, Mass. Age 15: Created Project Sprout, an organic school garden that produces food for school lunches and feeds needy families.

As a high school freshman, Sam and his friends prevailed with school officials and raised the money to transform 3,500 square feet into an open-air garden classroom. In its first year, it produced 1,000 pounds of organic produce, which was used in five trial school lunch programs and also distributed to needy families in the region. His long-term goal for what he calls Project Sprout is to provide all the vegetables for all of the school cafeterias in the district.

When Sam spoke in San Francisco at the closing ceremonies of Slow Food Nation, a gathering of the world’s foremost advocates for marrying the pleasures of food with a commitment to community and the environment, he was an instant sensation. Alice Waters told one reporter that Sam was the highlight of the gathering. In Italy, Sam took up that banner of youth leadership in Terra Madre when he addressed a crowd of 8,000, saying, “We will be the generation that will reconcile people and the land.”

A love of animals motivated two of the winners in the 8-12 year old category:

Erik Uebelacker of Bel Air, Md. (Age 8):

When Erik Ueblacker’s second grade teacher told him that butterflies taste with their feet, he decided to write a book about it. “Butterflies sense through their feet,” he says, “so I wondered what would happen if they wore shoes—then maybe they couldn't taste anything.”

With the encouragement and help of his mother, Erik wrote the story and drew the illustrations over the course of a month for Butterflies Shouldn’t Wear Shoes. They printed it themselves, and Erik gave copies to his teachers, but soon started receiving requests for more. He decided he would start selling them and donate all of the money to help animals, one of his greatest passions. Erik sold more than 450 copies and raised $2,000 that he decided to donate to the World Wildlife Fund in 2008.

Cameron Oliver of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Age 12):

Cameron Oliver was astounded when he learned that many camels died every year because they ate plastic bags that had been discarded in the desert by people. As a result, Cameron created a public awareness campaign to educate the public about the effects of littering in the desert.

He made school presentations, started a Web site, and distributed shirts, caps and car stickers for free. Soon he was doing interviews on radio and TV.

“He touched a lot of people in the community, because no one that young has ever done something similar in the U.A.E. and reached that many people,” says Khaled Ahmed Al Felasi of the Abu Dhabi Awards that honors people who have contributed selflessly to the community there.


Ages 8 to 13

Erik Uebelacker, First Place, Age 8, Bel Air, Maryland , U.S.A. - A Book for Butterflis

Cameron Oliver, First Place, Age 12, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Save the Camel Campaign

Adeline Tiffanie Suwana, First Place, Age 12, Kelapa Gading Permai, Indonesia - Saving Indonesia

Max Kesselman, Honorable Mention, Age 10, Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.- Birthday Cleanup Bash

Kevin Huo, Honorable Mention, Age 10, Foster City, California, U.S.A. - Bus Art for Nature

Samantha Muscarella
, Honorable Mention, Age 10, Farmingdale, New York, U.S.A. - Clean Up and Recycling Programs

Ages 14 to 16

Otana Jakpor, First Place, Age 15, Riverside, California, U.S.A. - Air Purifiers and Pollution

Sam Levin, First Place, Age 15, New Marlborough, Massachusetts, U.S.A. - High School Food Garden

Adarsha Shivakumar, Age 15 & Apoorva Rangan, Age 14, Pleasant Hill, California, U.S.A., First Place - Biofuel for India

Clay McMullen, Second Place, Age 14, Chesterland, Ohio, U.S.A. - Wetlands Education Team (WET)

Dakota Palacio, Second Place, Age 15, Kannapolis, North Carolina, U.S.A. - Youth-driven Conservation and Community Service

Chitranshu Tewari, Second Place, Age 15, Bihar, India - Student Eco-clubs

Matthew Erickson, Honorable Mention, Age 16, Red Bank, New Jersey, U.S.A. - Energy-saving Light Bulb Project

Brenda Mejane
, Honorable Mention, Age 14, Buea, Cameroon - Keep Buea Clean

Ryan Morgan
, Honorable Mention, Age 16, Moscow, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. - Project Greenlight

Max Ozimek
, Honorable Mention, Age 14, Strongsville, Ohio, U.S.A. - Solar Ovens for Uganda

Sean Russell
, Honorable Mention, Age 16, Sarasota, Florida, U.S.A. - Saving Marine Life from Fishing Lines

Reza Tjahjono
, Honorable Mention, Age 16, Baten, Indonesia - Organic Waste and Compost Project

Applications and guidelines for the 2010 award are available from August 2009 through January 2010. At

Youth must be at least 8 years old and no more than 16 years old as of February 28, 2010. Projects must concern environmental advocacy, environmental health, research or protection of the natural world. Projects must be current in the last year. Ongoing efforts that include an outreach or education component are more likely to be recognized. For more information or to obtain a 2010 application, parents, teachers and young people should visit or email

Action For Nature is an environmental, education and advocacy non-profit that encourages young people to take personal action to nurture and protect a healthy environment on which all life depends. Based in San Francisco, California, Action For Nature believes that the long-term health of our planet requires that young people learn the importance of understanding and protecting it.


Green Home Decorating Ideas

Eco-Friendly Wallpaper
Sustainable Style

The beauty of nature is united with sophisticated design in two new eco-friendly wallpaper collections manufactured by Wallquest. Rimini by Printers Guild Productions and Eco Chic by Sandpiper Studios, are environmentally friendly and offer an array of patterns and colors.

“We have responded to the growing demand for green home products by consumers and interior decorators” said John Collins, Wallquest CEO. “Rimini and Eco Chic are manufactured in an earth-friendly manner, printed on paper from sustainable forests—forests managed to maintain their regeneration capacity and not cause damage to other ecosystems,” he added.

The patterns are printed with water-based, non-toxic inks that ensure a healthy indoor living environment, as well as a biodegradable future that leaves no footprint. In addition, Rimini is made with non-woven substrates that come from natural, renewable, recycled materials. These elements make Rimini not only eco-friendly, but also allow for effortless application and easy removal. The manufacturing process allows the paper to ‘breathe’ – keeping it mold and mildew free.

Rimini, inspired by the successes of the previous Printers Guild Italian-influenced collections, features semi and high-sheen metallic and opaque combinations, with contemporary motifs including exotic zebra stripes, feathery scrolls, flowing vines, flowers mixed with modern scrolls, damasks and dramatic harlequin patterns. It is large in scale and portrayed in a stimulating palette of modern color combinations, sophisticated neutrals and metallics. The collection is available in 18 unique patterns and 92 colorways.

The Eco Chic Collection by Sandpiper Studios captures a sense of serenity and the boldness of urban design in their new eco-friendly collections. Eco Chic’s unique and innovative interpretation of earth’s grandest elements -- grass, vines, leaves, trees, branches, wood grains, birds and butterflies -- is available in 22 patterns in a palette of 97 colorways. The motifs can be tailored to achieve a variety of decorating styles to delight the metropolitan dweller as well as the suburban naturalist.

The Eco Chic collection can be viewed at It is available at retail stores and direct from Seabrook Wall Coverings at MSRP: $56 - $62 for a single roll (27” X 324”); murals range from $216 - $220 (54”or 72” X 108”).

The Rimini collection can be viewed online at For a list of select retailers visit MSRP: $84.99 - $87.99 for a single roll (9 yards long and 27 inches wide).

Eco-Friendly Paint
Improve Your Mood, Save the Planet

Founded in 2005 by professional artists and custom paint designers Virginia Young and Janie Lowe, YOLO Colorhouse is an expression of their passion for color and concern about the environment. As self-described “color nerds,” Young and Lowe set out to create a cleaner paint that is easy on the earth and people. The privately held company is the first paint company in the United States to introduce poster-size paint sampling, ending the cycle of wasted paint and disposal problems associated with selecting paint.

YOLO Colorhouse, the independent paint company focused exclusively on zero-VOC, Green Seal approved finishes, last month released a preview of its new Color of Hope interior palette. Each hue in the Color of Hope palette exudes the spirit of optimism. Young and Lowe, recognized the need to create colors that convey positive energy and comfort during a time when uncertainty prevails.

“A home is a haven, where you nest and escape for comfort, a place to dream about change and moving forward,” says Lowe. “This new collection incorporates bold, clean colors and has been designed to fit all styles architecture, and provide a positive response to what we are facing today in our world.”

Lowe and Young studied how colors create a positive and hopeful environment in homes and public spaces, and built a collection that provides a respite from the worries of everyday life.

The Color of Hopehues is now available in eco-home improvement stores nationwide, in Kelly Moore paint stores, and online at

YOLO Colorhouse believes that color has an amazing and powerful impact on mood, inspiration and energy - how people live, work and feel. With that in mind, Color of Hope features six color families with their own unique characteristics:

Aspire – An uplifting family of yellows encourages positive thoughts and actions

Thrive – A collection of six green hues that call to mind the health and vigor of spring, and create a fresh, relaxing environment

Dream – A calming and relaxing blue-based group that reflects our collective reach for the sky

Create – Vibrant reds and oranges to encourage the vitality of a creative mind and establish an energetic mood

Imagine – A palette of crisp, pure whites, reflecting the endless possibilities of our imagination and a blankcanvas on which we can write our own stories

Nourish – Updated neutrals that are the fundamental to a well-designed space

As with all YOLO Colorhouse coatings, the new palette is formulated as a zero VOC (no volatile organic compounds) interior paint, completely free of carcinogens, toxic solvents, formaldehyde, phthalates, odor masking chemicals, hazardous air pollutants and ozone depleting compounds.

In June 2009, YOLO Colorhouse interior and exterior paints were the first to earn the new, more stringent “GS11-2008” certification from Green Seal, a national organization that endorses only the highest performing products that are also environmentally responsible and non-toxic to humans.

The Color of Hope palette joins two other color families that have been developed by YOLO Colorhouse – the original Earth’s Color Collection (which includes interior and exterior palettes) as well as the little YOLO Sprout Collection, a selection of colors created for children’s spaces.

All color palettes are on display, and color family cards are available, at, or at Kelly Moore paint dealers and other home improvement stores nationwide.

Organic Cotton Slipcovers
Save Money, Save the Planet

If your summer redecorating project calls for new furniture, think again. Most of the time, the frame of the couch is fine, it is really just the cushions or fabric that needs to be preplaced. Sure Fit, the leading supplier of slipcovers ( now offers an eco-friendly line is called Riverstone—made from 100% organic cotton. Available in two colors, brown and blue Indian shadow stripe designs, the slipcovers are an eco-friendly way to decorate your home while keeping furniture out of the landfills. Revitalize and refurbish instead of destroying and discarding your couch.

Sure Fit’s variety of fitted and tailored slip covers make it easy to switch looks for seasons, freshen up old furniture or spruce up vintage pieces bought on consignment. All of Sure Fit’s slipcovers are machine washable and an easy way to breathe new life into a living space without completely replacing furniture.

Sure Fit’s organic cotton collection (Riverstone) retails for under $80 at both Target and


Guayaki Introduces First-Ever Fair Trade Certified Yerba Mate

Guayakí, a leading creator of organic yerba mate beverages, just recently became the first company in the world to offer fair trade certified yerba mate through the Institute for Marketecology’s (IMO) Fair for Life certification program. Through its efforts, Guayakí has become pioneers in the yerba mate industry by establishing fair trade certification of its producers.

“When people purchase Guayakí Yerba Mate, they are buying a product that adheres to the highest environmental and sustainable business practices,” said Chris Mann, chief executive officer for Guayakí. “Being the first to establish fair trade certification for our yerba mate reflects our dedication to the quality of our product, our environment and the yerba mate farmers and artisans in South America.”

Since its founding in 1996, Guayakí has been paying more than double the commodity price directly to small-scale farmers and responsible growers for its yerba mate. By paying a premium price and now through fair trade certification, Guayakí drinkers can be assured their purchases are a driving force for conservation, community development and reforestation. Like coffee and cocoa, yerba mate is now a fair trade certified global commodity.

“It is a testament to Guayakí’s devotion to its mission that it has succeeded in becoming the first Fair for Life social and fair trade certified yerba mate company,” said Wolfgang Kathe, IMO. “Guayakí will be the catalyst to drive the principals of fair trade for the entire yerba mate industry.”

For more information on yerba mate, Guayakí’s fair trade certification, its products, or on Market Driven Restoration, visit www.Guayakí.com.


When Nature Calls
Nature’s Call by Poo-Pourri

You wipe your bathroom surfaces with organic cleaner, you stock your bathroom with organic soap, you use organic toilet paper, but something else is not in sync: the aerosol spray you use after you go to the bathroom. Introducing “Nature’s Call,” an all new organic bathroom spray by Poo-Pourri. Nature’s Call is sprayed directly into the toilet bowl before you go to trap and eradicate embarrassing odors at the source.

Poo-Pourri Nature’s Call is a natural blend of Organic essential oils that create a film on the surface of toilet water, trapping odor at its source and eliminating it, instead of masking it. A few sprays in the water before you go, and the essential oils in Nature’s Call will create a physical barrier around odor to neutralize it before it reaches the air. This means no odor while using the bathroom or after. Nature’s Call also does more than just improve air quality – it is environmentally friendly, safe for your septic tank and the planet. Inconvenient Truth.”

Nature’s Call is a fresh citrus blend of Organic essential oils, including lemongrass, orange and grapefruit to leave the bathroom smelling clean and fresh. It is available in a 2 oz. size (up to 100 uses) and a 4 oz. size (up to 200 uses).

Each Poo-Pourri product includes a 30-day unconditional money-back guarantee. For more information, to find a retailer near you or to make an online purchase, interested readers should visit


The Green Crafter
52 Eco-Friendly Projects for Every Week of the Year

By Richela Fabian Morgan

In her book ,The Green Crafter, Richela Fabian Morgan gives us 52 weeks of eco-friendly craft projects. Some of the projects are great for kids, others are perfect for adults (or kids with adult supervision). The generous amount of black-and-white photos support the clear step-by-step instructions provided for each project. The multi-page color insert offers color photos of the best crafts for each month of the year.

Some of the projects are quite elementary and appropriate for young kids, and others are a bit more complicated but extremely accessible. Teachers may find this book particularly inspiring for classroom ideas—teaching about the environment and developing the artistic talents of their students.

Among the 52 Projects:

  • Rolled Bead Bracelet
  • Keepsake Box
  • Window Planter
  • Picture Mobile
  • Paper Flowers
  • Toy Dump Truck
  • ShellPicture Frame
  • Pencil Case
  • Bat Mobile
  • Thanksgiving Wreath
  • Photo Ornament

Get inspired to turn your trash into treasures. The author reminds us all to reduce, reuse, recycle and reinvent! In her introduction, she encourages us to be creative: “Before you toss something in the trash can, give it another look. Maybe that milk carton can be a doll’s bed or the latest issue of Vogue could supply ample sheets of origami paper.”

About Richela Morgan:
Ms. Morgan is a contributing Home & Food writer for, a web magazine aimed at real women. She has published Baby by the Numbers, a no-nonsense “facts only” book about child care from birth to 3 years old. She lives in New York, NY.

Published by Kensington Books. May 2009. Paperback. 144 pages. $14.95. More information or to purchase, visit,,, or visit your local bookstore.