Meet the Authors (and enjoy wine, cheese and savings)!

Every purchase decision we make has an impact on the earth.  Consuming less is eco-friendly.  But when you need to make a purchase, choosing green helps to save the planet.  This is our belief at The Green Life, and that’s why we’re so happy to welcome Elizabeth Courtney, former director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council to The Green Life to talk about her wonderful new book, Greening Vermont: The Search for a Sustainable State co-authored by Courtney and Eric Zencey. I think it’s a book that belongs on every Vermonter’s coffee table because, like the best literature, it helps us understand who we are as Vermonters.

The book looks back over five decades of Vermont environmental activism in order to move us forward into ecological sustainability.  It is a story about people, politics, money and the environment.  Vermont Life’s Tom Slayton said, “It is a tale of environmental victories, defeats and perhaps most significantly, collaborations and compromises that have put Vermont at the forefront of the environmental movement”.  Greening Vermont includes revealing in depth interviews with Vermont movers and shakers from over the years, as well as stunning illustrations of the Vermont countryside.

The authors tell it plainly:  “Our ecosystems are out of balance, and if we don’t address this issue now, there is no certain sustainable future.”  But in the pages of this book there is great hope.  That’s what I like about it most—hope starts with one person taking one action.  Even though we’re a tiny state, Vermont has become a national environmental leader because of lots of individual acts of hope. And if we can make real change, so can the world.

So, please, come join us in for this book-signing/ celebration.  It’s this Saturday from 4:00 to 6:00 (and don’t forget, we’ll also have free wine and cheese!).

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A Greener Home IS Possible!

Come see green interior designer Susan Bacot-Davis this Sunday and get the answers to your questions, such as:

What are volatile organic compounds, how do they form, and what are their health consequences?

What are some of the signs that children might be suffering from the ill effects of polluted indoor air?

Who regulates and tests consumer home products for their safety?

What are the worst offenders to high levels of VOC’s, and how does one avoid them without breaking a budget (or having to read up regularly on environmental reports!)?

What are the best health-friendly home products for children leading the green industry, and where can you get them?

You’ll also learn how to read labels to distinguish between healthy materials and hidden hazards. There are infinite fun, easy and affordable ways to protect the health of your child by removing unhealthy offenders and incorporating natural, attractive products into their sleep and play environments.

Best of all, you have the power!  You can eliminate indoor air pollution and make healthy choices that will shape the future of the next generation. Join us at The Green Life this Sunday, February 10 at 2:00 p.m. to listen, learn, discuss, and ask questions about this compelling topic—and enjoy free babysitting, wholesome food and refreshments, too!

Our friends at Envirosax have generously donated several of their special-edition Sesame Street reusable, earth-friendly bags, which we’re giving to some lucky little visitors during our Green Nursery event this Sunday.  Envirosax makes chic, stylish, reusable multipurpose bags—great for carrying everything from your office work to your yoga mat.  And their exclusive Sesame Street Series (featuring all your favorite characters) is bright, bold, colorful, and sure to bring a smile to your face no matter how old or young you are!

One of our favorite causes is Special Olympics.  If you’ve ever watched, participated, volunteered or coached in a Special Olympics event, you know what we mean!  The Green Life was proud to participate in the recent Ice Breaker Button promotion which benefited both the Vermont Special Olympics and Green Life shoppers.  And congratulations to all the hardy folks who jumped into Lake Champlain during the Penguin Plunge!

Speaking of recent chilly events, here’s our ice sculpture which we sponsored as part of Burlington’s Winter Festival.

What is it?  Well, if you look closely, you’ll see a kid’s bed at the bottom, The Green Life logo as the head board, and picture frames for people to stick their heads in.

The Green Life is excited to carry eco-friendly toys from Manny and Simon, makers of toys that are the perfect combination of classic, contemporary and of course, earth-and-child friendly!

We just love the products that come from this environmentally-conscious little California company, and we think you will, too.

Our favorite new great green gift under $40 is the Organic Vermont Love Pink bodysuit.  It’s 100% certified organic with a water-based eco-friendly screen print for a super-soft feel. It even features nickel-free snaps!


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Protecting Your Kids From Household Dangers.

Most of us assume that our homes our healthy because, after all, we spend so much of our time and resources on them–and in them. Most parents these days kid-proof their homes to protect their children from common household dangers, yet they often overlook hazards in their homes that can’t be seen, such as volatile organic compounds (or VOC’s) that pollute indoor air.

Furniture, fabrics, carpet, wall and window treatments, mattresses, bedding and toys can all contain hazardous ingredients that contribute to dangerous levels of VOC’s in your child’s living spaces.

The EPA lists indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to human health yet largely fails to regulate it. While we have less control over outdoor air pollution, we have great power to reduce the environmental burdens of indoor air pollution, especially in our own homes.

American children, on average, spend 90% of their time indoors and half of their life in bed. Nurseries and child bedrooms are the first places to begin creating healthy air because children are acutely vulnerable to the toxicity of chemicals and because sleep is the time when their bodies regenerate and grow.

As parents of youngsters, Shannon and I feel a special obligation to seeking out the best, healthiest products that surround your young ones.  We’re proud of the many affordable, fun, colorful—and most importantly—truly green products we carry at The Green Life.

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Fire Retardants laws backdraft

Fire-retardant law’s back draft 
 The same warning label used since 1975 is visible on the bottom of a desk chair at the home Judy Levin, in Oakland, Ca., on Friday June 22, 2012. California has the opportunity to set the tone for a new national furniture fire-safety standard to replace the state's decades-old requirement that had led to the use of toxic flame retardants in couches, chairs and baby product sold throughout North America. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle / SF
The same warning label used since 1975 is visible on the bottom of a desk chair at the home Judy Levin, in Oakland, Ca., on Friday June 22, 2012. California has the opportunity to set the tone for a new national furniture fire-safety standard to replace the state’s decades-old requirement that had led to the use of toxic flame retardants in couches, chairs and baby product sold throughout North America. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle / SF


Talk about unintended consequences: A 1975 law that was designed to keep Californians safe from furniture fires is exposing us to potentially dangerous levels of toxic chemicals.

One study by UC Berkeley and Duke researchers released this week adds to the growing body of evidence that toxic or untested fire retardants have become commonplace in American couches – most likely a response to a California law that requires furniture foam to endure an open flame for 12 seconds without catching fire. It’s the only such law in the nation, but the size of the state’s market – and the cost and complication of altering a product for a single state – effectively make it a national standard.

Another study found significant amounts of potentially hazardous chemicals in 13 of the 16 Northern California homes it tested. The substances identified in the two studies have been linked to cancer, DNA changes, lowered IQ, hormone disruption, decreased fertility and hyperactivity.

Worse yet, even the most diligent consumers might not be able to determine which chemicals are in the furniture they buy, and at what level. That information generally is kept sealed as a trade secret.

These studies should add a sense of urgency to Gov. Jerry Brown’s order for a revision of the 37-year-old standard. For years, the California Legislature had wrestled with a bill to outlaw certain fire retardants of concern, but the chemical industry always prevailed, even though some firefighters were among the most vigorous advocates of change. Their concern: The benefits of flame-resistant foam were more than offset by the elevated hazards of toxic smoke from a house fire.

A revision of the 1975 regulation, expected to take effect next year, could not come soon enough. It must include not only new restrictions on toxic chemicals, but clear disclosure for consumers.

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“What Are Those Mice Up To?!” story contest winners.

For the second year, The Green Life partnered with the Lake Champlain Land Trust to present our window display featuring some very cute mice in different winter scenes. For kids 14 and under, our “What Are Those Mice Up To?!” story contest challenged young writers to use their imaginations and tell us what they think the mice are doing, and three young story writers won gift certificates.

The winners for this year are Hawa Adan,  Jordyn O’Brien and John Crist.

Congratulations, winners, and thanks to all who entered—we loved your stories!

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Since we’re featuring a children’s writing contest this holiday season, it seems only fitting that we feature a great children’s organization as well.  King Street Youth Center is our neighbor here in the south end. They do amazing work with the incredibly diverse population of kids in our area, connecting them to learning, physical activities, arts and crafts, and much, much more. Some King Street kids have already entered our window display story contest (we’re calling it, “What Are Those Mice Up To?!”) and we look forward to sharing their stories.  To learn more about how King Street Youth Center is making our area better every day, go to

Come into the Green Life and check out Leslie Janson’s whimsical repurposed goods, particularly her holiday ornaments.  There’s something classic and timeless about her creations, yet modern and chic at the same time. The Green Life also carries Leslie’s necklaces and cuff bracelets—wonderful pieces that with that same familiar-yet-novel look she does so well.

We proudly carry products from Muichic (moo.e.sheek)

The Green Life wants to share a wonderful story with you about jewelry and elephants.

We proudly carry products from Muichic (moo.e.sheek), makers of sustainable and organic jewelry designed in Vermont and ethically handmade in Colombia. Muichic jewelry is made from tagua seeds, also known as vegetable ivory.  Beautiful?  You bet.  Durable?  Well, let’s just say that Patagonia Clothing uses tagua seeds for buttons.

Tagua is grown in a rainforest environment, not a plantation, and the seeds are harvested naturally as they fall to the ground. This allows the tagua trees to provide valuable habitat to animals and also assists with rain forest preservation by preventing the cutting of trees for farming or cattle. Renewed trade in tagua nuts protects endangered rain forests in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.

Perhaps best of all, these seeds can do everything ivory can and more.  And a single female tagua palm may produce up to 50 pounds of nuts in a year; that’s roughly the amount of ivory in an average African elephant tusk.

Told you it was a great story!

This is our second year of partnering with the Lake Champlain Land Trust on our window display, and we invite your kids to enter our story contest, “What Are Those Mice Up To?!”.  Here’s how it works:  All kids 14 and under are invited to hand-write (no electronic or printer-generated submissions please) a story about what they think the mice are up to this year.  It’s that simple!  On December 13 at 3:00, we’ll award gift certificates to the top three winners, but you must be present to win.


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Find the Perfect Gift You Didn’t Even Know You Were Looking For!

Know what’s in for this holiday season?  Quality over quantity!  Remember when you were a kid and you got that one gift that caused you to leave all the other ones in the corner?  That’s what giving something from the Green Life is all about.  When it’s local, handcrafted, unique, artistic, earth-friendly and ever-so-functional, it’s all they need!

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After a very busy Thanksgiving weekend, we were left to reflect on how many things we are thankful for as being owners of The Green Life. We love our career of being small business owners. Sure it has its challenges, but there is nothing we’ve done that has been quite so rewarding. Sales were way up from last year over the Holiday weekend, especially on small business Saturday! We would like to take this opportunity to thank our customers. We’ve had a great year and our store seems to be turning the corner.

I’m so happy that consumers are choosing gifts from our store that are made in an environmentally friendly way, often times hand crafted, locally or US made, organic or made of natural materials.  We are looking forward to placing new orders from Laura Macchia who makes paper goods out of Montpelier. Carrie Root who makes the cutest girls hair bands and owl pillows from Addison VT. Barbara Langevin who makes our silverware jewelry from Highgate Center. Baby clothes from Morado Designs in Cambridge Vermont is a new line for us. We can’t keep some of their onesies in stock! Just got in a large order from Maple Landmark of kids toys from Middlebury. We sold a bunch of Keep Vermont Weird Tees over the weekend. Heart of Vermont out of Barre, they make our futons and pillows. Speaking of mattresses we will also be placing a large order for mattresses with White Lotus who was shut down for a week and half by Hurricane Sandy. We love supporting local small businesses and artisans.

I’m hoping that other locally owned  stores in the Burlington area also found sales to be brisk over the weekend. It is nice to see storefronts in the city almost full on Church Street. Storefronts on the side streets appear to be full as well.  I heard a comment the other day saying who would shop at the stores on Black Friday, fighting for parking, dealing with the crowds. I’m just shopping online. What would happen to our local downtowns if we all decided to shop online for Christmas? Unless they were planning to do their online shopping at local stores but I tend to doubt it. Our wonderful local restaurants would suffer, if people weren’t coming downtown to shop. When you purchase local it keeps the money here in Vermont, which makes our local economy stronger, our downtowns unique. It also helps preserve the environment. Locally owned businesses make, as we talked about above more local purchases, requiring less transportation, and usually set up in existing town centers. We look forward to shopping local this year. I can’t wait to check out what clothes they have at Patagonia, Ski Rack and my wife is excited to shop at Stella, Jess and Salaam.

About a week before Thanksgiving we did a Living Social Coupon Deal. We were very happy to sell lots of coupons. What I like about living social is it allows our customers to share comments about what they thought about their shopping experience. The only negative comment we have received about our store is we are a little expensive. I also got this comment from a shopper when looking at some of our organic cotton napkins. We understand that times are tough and try our best to have items in our store in all different price ranges. We know that we could never compete with a larger store such as Home Goods for instance.  However, we feel there is a difference in cloth napkins that they may be offering. Most likely they are not organic cotton. Regular cotton uses more chemicals in its production than any other human grown plant. Growing cotton organically is more expensive. Their napkins are machine made not handmade.  Their napkins will not be made in the USA and would not be fair trade. You don’t know what kind of working conditions the people who made them are enduring. All these things will add to the price of the item you are purchasing at our store but we feel it is worth it for sure.  Yes shopping green can be more expensive but there are reasons why. . After the presidential campaigns where the focus was some much on small business and keeping jobs in America, if consumers in the USA started to change their purchasing habits this could start to happen. Quality gifts being more important than quantity.  Giving fewer but nicer gifts.

Thank you again for being customers of our store. I appreciate how many of you have asked how are holiday season is going so far. Keep the complements of how nice it looks or how you like our window display coming J

Happy Holidays!

Mike & Shannon

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Throughout the holiday season, The Green Life and Love and Tea are pleased to invite you in for a free cup of tea any time!  Warm up while you browse, or just say hello!
Love and Tea is Montpelier’s own 100% natural tea company.  They grow their own herbs as well as buy from other small family farms.  Then Love and Tea handcrafts natural, health-promoting herbal tea blends.  Their Woman’s Teas are blended to nourish women through the stages of pregnancy and beyond. And, Love and Tea features a creative collection of teas for anyone to enjoy anytime.  Love and Tea’s green and black teas are sourced from an exclusive organic tea importer committed to protecting the environment.

Enter Our Window Story Contest!

We just love the work of the Lake Champlain Land Trust.  Our lake and watershed are so critical to every one of us, and these folks work tirelessly to protect lands and provide access to everyone from kids to kayakers to hikers to fishermen and hunters.  This is our second year of partnering with LCLT on our window display, and we invite your kids to enter our contest.  Here’s how it works:  All kids 14 and under are invited to hand-write (no electronic or printer-generated submissions please) a story about what they think the mice are up to this year.  We’ll award gift certificates to the top three winners!

About the Lake Champlain Land Trust:

The mission of the Lake Champlain Land Trust is to save the scenic beauty, natural communities, and recreational amenities of Lake Champlain by permanently preserving significant islands, shoreline areas, and natural communities in the Champlain Region.  Since its founding in 1978, LCLT has preserved thousands of acres of publicly-accessible lands, helping to improve water quality and flood control, conserve areas of architectural and geological significance, aid endangered species, and preserve open space.  Learn more at:

Barb Langevin of Highgate Center fashions amazing jewelry from classic and vintage silverware.  Check out her fabulous and fanciful barrettes and rings made from spoons, dragonfly necklaces, bracelets, even fabulous earrings from refashioned forks!  Local, oh-so-hip, and best of all, it’s jewelry re-purposed with a purpose!     Check out dozens of other gifts for her by clicking here!

Remember being a kid on Christmas Eve, when time seemed to stand still?  If so, then The Green Life has an ornament just for you!  Leslie Janson of New York City creates fanciful tree ornaments from vintage pocket watches.  These ornaments are fashioned with burlap and grosgrain ribbons, and dusted with German glass glitter.  Step back in time, and let the precious holiday time slow down for you this season!

Here are some great Green Life gift ideas for guys:  How about a classic money clip or set of cufflinks?

The Green Life also carries “airmail” wallets—you carry them, but their international design carries you, too!

Plus, we have solar charger backpacks; messenger bags and laptop bags made out of recycled material; solar chargers for handhelds, and the coolest desk clock you’ll ever lay eyes on:  the bike chain desk clock!

We have organic cotton and bamboo clothing; locally crafted stuffed animals made out of felt and bamboo; bamboo bowls and spoons; natural body products from Little Twig like shampoos, conditioners and body milk; onesies, baby blankets, snuggle sacks and mittens and more …

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The 12 Ways of Christmas

The recent election pointed out something we’re all too aware of—that it’s a polarized world.  At The Green Life, we think the way to change the world isn’t to shout about whose set of facts are better, but rather to simply live responsibly.   And that starts with each of us, at this very moment, because you can’t change something a year from now; you can only change the next thing you do.  So, here are our 12 Ways of Christmas—some ways our family plans to create a planet-friendly holiday:

1. Take one less car trip during this holiday shopping season.
2. Use the opportunity to take a long walk, or use the bus, or combine shopping trips with a friend you don’t see often enough.
3. Consider parking once and walking all day.  Downtown Burlington has everything you’d ever want for a fabulous day of shopping and socializing (and of course, eating and drinking!).
4. Put a local turkey or ham on your table for your holiday gathering.
5. While you’re at it, see how local you can make the meal (trust us, it’s delicious!).
6. Resist the onslaught of commercials telling you to buy everything under the sun.  The secret that friends and family aren’t telling you is that they feel just like you—they want personal gifts of high quality, not more stuff they have to find room for.
7. Shop locally.  This saves gas (the more gas we use, the more money leaves the state), plus we guarantee you’ll discover a new corner shop or two that’ll blow your socks off.
8. People love homemade.  Sure, the holidays are busy, but nothing’s better than a kitchen alive with holiday odors.  So, make something fun that your grandmother made, then give it to friends and family.  They will tell you there’s nothing better.
9. People love homemade, part 2.  A handwritten note or even a simple illustration says so much that a pre-printed holiday card can’t.  This is the one time to really let people know you care about them.
10. At the holidays, the most precious commodity is time, and it’s a safe bet someone will really appreciate a few minutes of yours.
11. Look for connections between the maker of the gift and the receiver of the gift.  Our area is so full of talented artisans who put their heart into their creations.  If you’ve ever given just the right present to a person, you know what we mean.
12. Breathe deep and reflect that it’s a season to be savored, not endured.  Repeat as needed, and if need be, drop by The Green Life for a free hot cup of Vermont-made tea and we’ll do it together!

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