Tag Archives: Product Reviews

Product Review: Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt

One of the great perks of blogging is that occasionally people want to send you free stuff! Sweet! Even better when it’s a product you’re really excited about. I’ve been a fan of Stonyfield Farms for a long time, especially because of their partnership with Preserve, their emphasis on organic products, their use of milk from family farms, and their environmental practices. So when Kristina from Stonyfield offered to send me some coupons, I was psyched.

And when the package came, I felt like one very lucky blogger!
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Check out that bounty of coupons and the cool reusable bag! Thanks, Kristina!

I was especially excited to try Oikos, as I’m a big fan of Greek yogurt, and don’t often see organic brands. While I tend to generally purchase locally-made organic plain yogurts like Wallaby and Straus, neither of these brands make Greek yogurt. And I must say, Oikos is some of the best Greek yogurt I have ever tried. It’s rich, creamy, delcious and packs 23 grams of protein and NO fat per serving. Amazing. This stuff definitely does not taste fat-free! My favorite way to enjoy it is with Stahlbush Farms Marion blackberries – I pack a little container of yogurt and frozen berries in the morning, and by lunch the berries have defrosted and perfectly sweetened the yogurt. Yum! While I usually buy plain Oikos and add my own fruit to it, the vanilla is absolutely amazing as an occasional treat – it’s better than most desserts! The plain is so thick and rich that it’s a great substitute for sour cream, and also works as a great way to cut back on oil in muffin recipes and other baked goods.

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I will say that I prefer to buy the 16oz, as opposed to the smaller, single-serving size, because the container is a great size for reusing (it perfectly holds a sandwich on an English muffin, for example!). Stonyfield seems to have given a lot of thought to their packaging, most of which is admittedly over my head, but I’d love to see a larger, 32-oz size, and a lid added to the indivudual-serving size to make the container reusable.

Oikos might not be the cheapest yogurt on the market (the 16oz generally runs around $5 or so at my local Whole Foods – I think everything’s more expensive in SF, though), but for me, it’s well worth the price!

What do you like to add to your yogurt? Anything unusual besides fruit or honey?

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Green Skin

No, I’m not talking about this look:

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but it is pretty wicked, as my friends in New England might say. 🙂

Awhile back, my sister told me about this cool website, Cosmetics Database, where you can look up beauty products and see their score in terms of safety and environmental impact. You can search via keyword for a particular product you’re interested in, or search a topic like “Makeup” or “Skincare” and sort by score.

I have been trying a lot of different products lately, searching for the right balance of eco-friendliness and effectiveness. I just realized I’ve been stuck in the A’s – most of the products I’ve been using are by Alba, Avalon, Auromere Ayurvedic, Almay and Aveda. Heh. Many of these fall in the mid range, with a score of about 4-6. I’m not crazy about this, but I haven’t found anything I love with a lower score… yet. Avalon Organics is a great line my sister likes, but I’m not crazy about the smell of lavender, which is in the shampoo best suited for my hair. I swear, I’m the only person who feels this way – everyone I know loves the smell! I adore violet, but lavender, not so much. I would like to try some of their other shampoos, though. I’ve been using their Vitamin C Moisture Plus Lotion SPF 15 which I like, but rates a 6 out of 10 on the hazard scale. I was using Giovanni shampoo for awhile, which you can buy in bulk at my local co-op. I liked it, but it wasn’t perfect for my hair, which tends to be kind of coarse. If I’m not careful, I lose the battle of the Jew-fro. 🙂 Aveda has a reputation for being “natural” and “plant-based” but many of their products still contain fragrance and less than natural ingredients.

Right now, I’m using Alba Coconut Milk Extra-Rich Hair Wash and Mango Moisturizing Conditioner, which smell great but rate a 5 on the hazard scale. Not bad in the scheme of things, but not great. I also hate the amount of plastic I go through with these products! Buying in bulk is a great option, as I mentioned, but that’s not an option for everyone, and sometimes they don’t have the right products that work for specific hair needs.

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For soap, I really like Dr. Bronner’s. I’ve got a bar of the Citrus and of the Almond right now and they’re great – and only rate a 2! I used to be a Dove addict, but this has been an easy switch. They smell delish! Looks like Dr. B also makes a full-line of other products, so I’m going to keep my eyes open for those. Their Magic Liquid is great, too, for a variety of purposes, but it definitely doesn’t cut it as a shampoo for my hair!

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There are so many products labeled eco-friendly out there right now, but it’s hard to know which are real and which are greenwashed. Hopefully Cosmetics Database can help us sort through and find what we’re looking for!

What eco-friendly beauty products do you like? How do they rate on the hazard scale? Have any to recommend to me?

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Toothpaste Follow-Up

A little while back, I posted about my trouble finding a natural toothpaste that didn’t taste terrible. I think Tom’s of Maine is gross, and I wasn’t ready to go as far as brushing with castile soap, yikes! The problem is, most of the natural toothpastes I’ve found at health food stores are not ADA-approved, I think because they don’t have fluoride. Since I have braces, I need to be extra careful with my teeth, so I kept looking at all the options and going home empty-handed.

I finally picked up a tube of The Natural Dentist in Peppermint Twist at Whole Foods, and am liking it so far! Things I like: it’s made in the USA, it doesn’t come in a box (check out the stats – toothpaste in boxes contributes more than 28 million pounds of packaging to the waste stream, yikes!), they print with soy ink and their products are cruelty-free. The company also believes in sustainable agriculture. They use no alcohol, petroleum byproducts, or artificial dyes, sweeteners or flavors. Check out their site for a description of What is Natural and their FAQS about specific ingredients. They even have a kids sparkle toothpaste with naturally-occurring mica! Per the company website, Fluoride is the only cavity-prevention ingredient recognized by both the American Dental Association and the FDA. So for now, especially with my braces, I’m sticking with it.

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My only complaint would be that it isn’t super, super minty, which I am used to after years of using artificially-sweetened (blech) toothpaste. But I think I’ll get used to it, and it has a pleasant taste, nothing like other ones I’ve tried!

You can find out where to buy their products here and get a $2 off coupon on their site!

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Mmm, Cookies

I don’t often buy packaged cookies, but occasionally a treat is in order. I picked these Eco-Planet cinnamon animal cracker-style cookies up at Whole Foods the other day to crumble over my soy frozen yogurt (Whole Soy & Co Chocolate Hazelnut is the bomb) and was so pleasantly surprised. These cookies are super delicious, and how freaking cute are they? They come in the cutest shapes – a hybrid car, a windmill, the sun and the Earth.

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Cute, huh?

According to the company website,
Our cookies are baked in our own organic certified bakery, where, with the support of Renewable Choice Energy, we support wind energy by off-setting all fossil fuel usage with non- polluting wind power. And, we donate a portion of our proceeds to non-profit organizations committed to protecting our fragile ecosystem, including 1% For The Planet

They are also organic and kosher and are vegan and low fat with no trans fats, hydrogenated oils or HFCS. The website says they are sold in local Whole Foods Markets and in other fine natural foods groceries and specialty food stores across the USA.

Love ’em! Whenever I need a little cookie fix, I’ll definitely pick these up!

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Product Review: Wallaby Yogurt

As I’ve mentioned before, I have kind of a guilt complex when I buy individual yogurts, and have been on kick of a making it myself. However, sometimes the temptation of an individual flavor gets me (at which times I call myself a hippiecrit!). Wallaby Yogurt, a brand I recently discovered, is definitely one of my biggest temptations. Now, I try to buy their larger sizes – I bought a tub of their Plain Yogurt last week when I didn’t have time to make my own, and saw on their website that it comes in vanilla as well, so I’m on the lookout! But check out those individual flavors – the call of Bartlett Pear and Vanilla Bean have certainly gotten to me! And the new Down Unders – I can’t even tell you how good the Dark Chocolate Down Under is. It’s probably one of the best yogurts I’ve ever had (hello, it has chocolate in it!). I also tried the Berries & Cream Down Under last week and thought it was outstanding – I look forward to trying their other flavors. And honestly, maybe I’ll find a way to repurpose the yogurt cups myself. 🙂 Ideas, anyone?

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Check out that CSA produce in the background!

Wallaby yogurt is wonderful – it’s Australian style (as you might have guessed from the name!), meaning it’s creamy, smooth and thin, almost drinkable. The coolest thing, for me, is that Wallaby is made in nearby Napa with milk from organic local farms – check out the farms and their happy cows!

The Dark Chocolate Down Under is so good, in fact, that it prompted me to write an email to Wallaby. I wanted to compliment them, see if they’d consider selling the “down under chocolate” itself as a pudding – it’s that good – and see what kinds of plastic recycling programs they had (like Stonyfield’s Recycling program) and if they’d consider greener packaging, like compostable “plastic.” Here’s what I said.

I really enjoy your yogurt and just wanted to let you know! I especially enjoyed the Dark Chocolate Down Under I just had. I plan on writing about it on my blog prettygreengirl.com. I like that you are organic and use milk from local farms!

One thing I was wondering is if you would consider using post-consumer plastic or even compostable containers? Or a program with a company like Recycline, who uses Stonyfield yogurt containers to make toothbrushes, razors and other products. I love your yogurt but feel guilty every time I buy an individually packaged one. I would encourage you to make more of your flavors available in the large tubs, too! I have the plain at home and will be on the lookout for vanilla.

Thank you again for a great product!

I also mentioned I just tried the Dark Chocolate Down Under – and it is fantastic! Really delicious! I was wondering if you would considering making a pudding just made out of the chocolate layer on the bottom – it is so good!

This morning, I got a very nice response from Tammy at Wallaby, which said, among other things:

At this time we don’t have plans to change our packaging, but we are
always keeping our eyes and minds open to greener packaging. Currently,
our cups are made of #5 plastic which is recylable in many areas, or used
clean cups can be sent to us for recycling.

Awesome! I appreciate her responsiveness. My sister always tells me if you want to see change, ask! Even if you asked before if your wine shop carries organic or biodynamic wines, ask again! Ask the produce guy if you have anything local, ask the store manager if they will consider carrying certain organic or local products in your stores, etc! Companies and stores want to please their customers, so if they know customers are asking for something, they’ll be more likely to do it.

While I really recommend you make your own yogurt, or seek out locally-made ones, if there are any in your area (I know I’m spoiled here), I highly recommend you try a great yogurt from this great company! What flavors look best to you? Which would you love to see come in a bigger tub? Any ideas for repurposing the occasional individual container of yogurt?

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Product Review: BioBag

If you’re like me, you can’t bear to use plastic bags, even to line your garbage cans. Enter BioBag! These little green bags, made of “GMO free starch, biodegradable polymer and other renewable resources” are a great alternative to your standard plastic Hefty. They are 100% biodegradable and compostable (compost them if you can! post on that topic coming soon). They are flimsier than regular trash bags, for sure, but they definitely still do the job!

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I buy two sizes – one for my trash can and one for compost, which I keep in the freezer to avoid fruit flies, and then bring over to my Dad’s house to put in the bin. I’m very lucky that San Francisco picks up compost in addition to recycling and trash! Though I would like to start doing my own real composting and plan to post about that soon. It looks like they also make dog waste bags, which is awesome! I know a lot of people who save their plastic bags from the grocery store for this task (though not here – they’ve been banned at major chains, yay!). So now you can bring your own super-cute reusable bag (like an Envirosax!) and save plastic all over the place.

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According to their website, “BioBag retail products are available at most natural food stores across the country.” Yay! And yes, they are more expensive than regular trash bags, but I find it worth it. It’s all about priorities!

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Product Review: Recycline

I tend to avoid buying plastic products whenever I can, but there are some things that can’t be avoided – like toothbrushes and razors (even reusable ones are made of plastic). I figured there had to be a more environmentally friendly option, so I did some research and found Preserve’s Recycline Products. Their products are made from 100% recycled plastics and 100% post-consumer paper – they actually use plastic from Stonyfield Farms Yogurt for their toothbrushes, tongue scrapers and razors! Additionally, you can return the toothbrushes and razors after you’re done with them, and Preserve will use them for “plastic lumber for park benches, decks and more!” I just checked out their site and it looks like they are also making tableware, food storage and other kitchen items. Awesome! If you have to use plastic, this is a great way to go.

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