Armed and dangerous while shopping

I’d like to purchase products from the most environmentally friendly companies. How do I know which ones to select?

Thanks to local UC Davis sociology professor Ellis Jones, shopping responsibly is a piece of cake with his postcard-sized The Better World Shopping Guide. Open up any page and you’ll find an easy to read report card for numerous companies that produce the same product. Did you know that Brown Cow dairy products get an A, while Knudsen, Jell-O and Kraft get an F? Find out which companies are the Corporate Heroes and the Corporate Villains for the common products you buy every day, such as fruits and vegetables, frozen dinners, eggs, desserts, dental products, computers, coffee, chewing gum and tons more. Jones tells you how he grades them and where he gets his information and lists additional resources for you. It’s a must-have guide for every conscientious shopper, available from for $9.95.

Got any creative ideas on how to reuse old linens and towels?

The magazine Real Simple has a great article online highlighting 10 innovative projects for old linens and towels. Visit to jump-start your creativity. Also, you can donate your gently used towels, blankets and linens to local pet shelters—they’re a regular item on shelters’ wish lists to help keep animals comfortable and warm. Visit Sacramento’s SPCA at or call them at (916) 383-PETS.

My nephew’s 15th birthday is coming up. Any ideas on sustainable gifts for teens?

Check out the latest solar powered backpacks. Waterproof, durable solar panels built into the backpack generate more than enough energy to charge all a teen’s gadgets: iPods, cell phones, cameras and more. A lithium-ion battery pack is included, too, to store the excess energy for use when the sun’s not out. Visit to get started.