BestBloc Organic Sunscreen

I went to a marketing convention a while back and met the owner of Best On Earth Products and he gave me a sample of BestBloc Organic sunscreen to test out. Quite frankly, when I first heard that it was organic I was a little dumbfounded, so I did a little research to learn about sunscreens and what exactly they are made of.

Come to find out there are quite a few “questionable” ingredients in typical sunscreen, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, “97% of Americans are contaminated with a widely-used sunscreen ingredient called oxybenzone that has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage”. Wost of all, we are not just talking about a few sunscreens, we are talking about nearly 600 different products sold in the U.S. all containing this oxybenzone. Other questionable chemicals in many sunscreens are Avobenzone, Benzophenone, Methoxycinnamate and PABA.

So, with all of this being said, I was happy to see that some people already knew about these chemicals and were creating products that are free of them.

Upon first inspection the bottle is made primarily of aluminum with a small plastic pump nozzle and cap, which of course is much better than the average bottle of sunblock which is made entirely of plastic. If you do not already know, we are not big fans of plastic here at Neutral Existence, simply because of the facts about plastic recycling.

The actual sunblock is an off white color with a rather pleasant smell and rubs in quite easily. After testing the product for a few days, I found that it worked just as good if not better than any other sunscreen that we have purchased in the past. Of course our tests were not scientifically sound, I did not put one product on one are and another product on my other arm and sit perfectly still in the sun to compare the results. I simply used the product and played in the sun all day and had good results.

Due to our product testing and investigating, the BestBloc Organic sunscreen from Best On Earth Products will receive our Neutral Existence Stamp Of Approval!

Environmentally Conscious Print-House

We usually do reviews on specific products, but today I wanted to take a stab at a specific industry and focus on one particular business who is doing their part to make this industry a little greener.

We were asked recently to provide physical brochures, fliers and catalogs to help out our affiliates and partners, at which point we began researching designers as well as printing houses to create these products. While many of the larger, well known print houses kept showing up in the search engine results for catalog printing and brochure printing, we began thinking about how we could minimize our footprint while still providing the needed products.

What we found was a great little website which had a whole section dedicated to green printing. This environmentally conscious print-house prints pretty much anything you need, from business cards and stickers to posters and full catalogs. But, what really caught my eye, was the fact that PSPrint actively recycle their paper waste and only uses soy based ink throughout there facilities. While other companies would charge a premium for “green(soy) ink”, PsPrint just does it because its better for the environment, as soy inks release fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds) than traditional petroleum based inks.

PSPrint also has two facilities on both the West and East coast, and the print jobs are automatically routed to the print-house closest to the client to reduce shipping distances and subsequently the fuels and emissions associated with the delivery method. And last but not least, they do offer 100% recycled paper stocks for most their printed products.

While we have not yet completed our brochure and catalog designs, we will definitely be giving our print business to Considering the positive steps they are taking to help the environment, PSPrint will receive our Neutral Existence Stamp Of Approval.

Online Learning Reduces Environmental Impact of Offline School Facilities

Online learning environments are definitely environmentally friendly, and for many good reasons. While traditional school facilities do enable face-to-face interaction between teachers and students, school facilities do impact the environment in a number of important ways.

First, consider the sheer amount of space that school campuses take up. School campuses require years and years to build, and they usually require the bulldozing of large areas of land previously inhabited by trees and nature. Granted, environmental impact surveys are required for virtually all new building nowadays, but the fact remains that when you build a school facility meant to service thousands of students, the environment will be negatively impacted in some way.

Surrounding areas see an increase in traffic and possibly pollution, for example. Light pollution is even something that must be considered with a large school campus. Additionally, there is the issue of the amount of energy school facilities use. Energy is used to heat and cool school facilities as well as to provide electricity for computers and lights.

In fact, one study conducted by Open University found that producing and providing distance learning courses consumes an average of 90% less energy and produces 85% fewer CO2 emissions per student than conventional face-to-face courses. Those are huge amounts!

All of this is not to even mention the amount of paper products that a traditional school facility uses each and every day. Paper is used for all sorts of photocopies (many of which are lost or thrown away), books, notebooks and a myriad of other uses. And it’s not just the use of paper which impacts the environment by reducing the number of trees we have in the world – it’s also important to consider the resources which are used to make paper, such as water, electricity, fuel, bleach and a host of other chemicals.

Speaking of water, brick and mortar school facilities use a ton of it, and even if they participate in water recycling and reclamation programs, the amount of water used is still much, much higher than it would be if the school operated solely online. Online learning is not perfect, but it is very “green” and environmentally friendly. Online learning is not perfect, but now you don’t have to be environmentally unfriendly.



June 13, 2008—SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Blue Planet Run, a photo essay by renowned photographers Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt that provides an extraordinary look at the global water problem, was awarded the Outstanding Book of the Year IPPY Gold Award (Independent Publisher Book Award) in the category of “Most Likely to Save the Planet.”  With the Independent Publishers Awards attracting a total of 3,175 entries, Earth Aware Editions and the Blue Planet Run Foundation are proud to accept this honor.

The “Most Likely to Save the Planet” award comes from books entered in the Environment, Current Events and Science categories. The IPPY judging criteria consists of content, originality, design and production quality, with emphasis on innovation and social relevance. For the Outstanding Books of the Year, Blue Planet Run is a “work that exhibits the courage and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground and bring about change, not only to the world of publishing, but to our society, our environment, and our collective spirit,” said Jim Barnes, Managing Editor and Awards Director, Independent Publisher Online.

Blue Planet Run provides an extraordinary look at the water problems facing humanity and some of the hopeful solutions being pursued by individuals and organizations around the world. The Blue Planet Run is designed to be a wake-up call to the world, sounding both a warning and a note of hope, letting mankind know that there is still time to solve this problem if we act now, before it is too late.

Blue Planet Run is two books in one: It is a showcase of powerful, inspiring, disturbing and hopeful images. For one month, 40 talented photojournalists crossed the globe taking photographs to show the extent of the problem. At the same time, a team of researchers contacted photographers on every continent to identify existing bodies of work focused on this crucial issue. The book also documents the epic 2007 Blue Planet Run® – an inspiring 15,000-mile relay race, the longest in human history, in which 20 athletes spent 95 days running around the globe to spread awareness of the global water crisis.

In addition to the world class photographs, Blue Planet Run includes essays from a passionate group of writers, environmentalists, inventors and journalists including Robert Redford, Diane Ackerman, Fred Pearce, Bill McKibben, Jeffrey Rothfeder, Michael Specter, Dean Kamen, Michael Malone, Paul Hawken and Mike Cerre.

Blue Planet Run is available for $45.00.  All proceeds go directly to clean drinking water projects around the world.  Select images from Blue Planet Run are currently available on and a free, downloadable .pdf file of the book is available on

For more information or to order a copy of Blue Planet Run, please visit

About Blue Planet Run Foundation

The Blue Planet Run Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to raising global awareness about the need for safe drinking water and funding working solutions today for the billion people living without water. 

The U.S.-based foundation connects nongovernmental organizations worldwide with funding and promotes operational sustainability. In 2007, the foundation conducted the Blue Planet Run – a first-ever around-the-world relay race to raise funds and awareness for drinking water projects.  The Blue Planet Run mission is extended within the Blue Planet Run 24 series.

For more information about Blue Planet Run Foundation, or to make a donation, please visit 

Blue Planet Run is a registered trademark of Blue Planet Run Foundation.

Solar Battery Charger Review

I have a 10 month old son and if you are at all familiar with children, you end up with a collection of toys, vibrating seats, singing walkers and many other gadgets all requiring batteries. After a few months of buying and replacing batteries, I decided to follow one of my own “green tips” and buy a bunch of rechargeable batteries to help the environment and save some money in the long run. Now all of these toys take different size batteries such as AA’s, AAA’s, D’s and C’s, so when shopping for a battery charger, I knew I needed one that could handle all of the major battery sizes.

During my search I ran across this solar battery charger which fit all of the major sizes, so I decided to try it out and see if it really worked as advertised. I was also searching for good products to sell on the Neutral Existence Eco Store and definitely wanted to test it before recommending it to anyone.

The package arrived in a small box with directions and approximate charging times for each size battery. The product was as advertised, however I had somehow gotten it in my head that it would hold 4 AA batteries at once, and that is not the case. Unfortunately, this charger will only recharge two batteries at a time, but considering that the recharge time for AAA’s and AA’s is under 4 hours, I can recharge 4 in one day. The C and D size batteries take a little longer to recharge due to their size and capacity, so they take 6-8 hours for C’s and 9-12 hours for D’s.

This solar battery charger is well made, very durable and able to keep water out. The hinged top piece is made of a very durable clear plastic with the solar panel actually molded inside of the plastic. The top of the plastic top actually has concentrator cones molded into the plastic which helps to concentrate the suns rays into the photovoltaic cells. It is this ingenuity which allows such a small solar panel to generate enough energy to recharge these batteries in such a short time.

The bottom of the recharger box is made of a durable black plastic and has different gaps and holder to fit all of the major battery sizes (AA, AAA, C and D) and a small switch to choose between the type of battery you are charging. The bottom part of the charger box has a little “kick stand” of sorts which can be folded out from the bottom. This allows you to tilt the box in such a way to get a perfect angle towards the sun for a quicker recharge time. The hinged top also opens to allow you to have even more flexibility when angling the box toward the sun.

The most notable characteristic of this box is the fact that it keeps water out when it is closed. This wasn’t an advertised feature either, this was something I learned first hand after leaving this charger outside one day while it poured down raining. While at work, I was worried all day that the batteries would get wet and begin to rust and degrade. As soon as I got home, I checked the charger to see what type of damage had occurred, and to my disbelief, the box had not let in a single droplet of water. I must stress that this was no ordinary downfall, we are talking 6 inches in one hour and the streets were flooded all over town, so I was very surprised and impressed that this box kept all that water out.

To conclude this review, I was very impressed with this solar battery charger so much so that I decided to carry it in our Eco Store. I know you can get a regular plug in recharger for about the same price, but the flexibility of this solar charger allows it to be used anywhere. How else would you recharge your batteries while camping?
Also, how much does it cost to generate the solar electricity to recharge the batteries? So, in my opinion the combination of rechargeable batteries and a solar charger will save money in more ways than one.

New Carbon Capture Breakthrough Makes Baking Soda

As mentioned in a recent article from Michael Kanellos on Cnet News, there is a new revolutionary carbon scrubbing technique which is turning the pollution from smoke stacks into food grade baking soda. A company called Skyonic is responsible for this new process referred to as Skymining, in which sodium hydroxide is added to the carbon dioxide emissions from the smoke stacks to form sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda.

This baking soda is cleaner than food grade backing soda, according to Skyonic’s owner and considering that baking soda is currently mined, this new process can virtually eliminate all mining related to backing soda because we have enough smoke stacks in the US alone to produce the world’s supply of baking soda. Not only that, but this process also removes 97% of other heavy metals, sulfur and nitrogen compounds.

The Skymine process does create a few other byproducts such as hydrogen and chlorine which can be resold with the backing soda to bring in additional profits to the company. The entire process is also energy negative because it uses the excess heat from the smoke stacks to run the entire process.

This process in my opinion is one of the most significant breakthroughs which could ultimately make the most significant difference in the fight to curb toxic emissions. The fact is big industry is all about profits and unless it is profitable, you can bet that big industry will not use carbon sequestration technologies unless required to do so by law.Skyonic has addressed this issue by making their process of carbon sequestration a profitable green addition to a dirty industrial process. Everybody wins, big industry profits, the environment benefits and environmentalists are happy.

Please see the original article for more detailed information.

The Future of Compact Florescent Lights

I think everyone knows by now that compact florescent bulbs are the future of main stream lighting (until LED’s come down in price) because they are more cost efficient, energy efficient and longer lasting (less waste) than traditional incandescent light bulbs. However, up until now there has been a real lack of any type of diversity in design of these compact fluorescent lights (CFL).

With CFL bulbs quickly becoming the norm for home lighting, there are many different manufacturers, but only three basic designs. As you can see from the image above, these three basic designs have not been elaborated on since the conception of CFL bulbs.

Until now…

A company called Hulger has recently begun designing a new line of CFL’s under the name Plumen.  These new designs challenge everything we think we know about light bulbs and have actually brought the light bulb into an entire new category. Before, the light fixture was the ornament of design that would hold and hide the light bulb, but now, the light bulb is not only the light giving element, but it is the design element as well.

Sustainable Biodegradable Cutlery and Tableware

Vegware, a new environmentally sustainable company has come out with a line of products that is tackling a major area of pollution and waste in a very creative an innovative way. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this company and their products.

As we all know, humans are getting lazier and lazier and one of the worst inventions of the twentieth century has been the disposable cutlery and tableware. Basically, people are too lazy to wash allot of dishes after a party (I’m even guilty of it myself… Yes I admit it) or small get together, so they go out and buy a bunch of disposable plates, cups, forks, knives and napkins. This really does make it easier for the host, especially after a long night of eating and drinking.

Unfortunately almost all of those disposable products were made from petroleum with a few added poisonous chemicals and a very dirty production process. Not only that, but when they get thrown away, they either fill up a landfill somewhere or get incinerated thereby releasing all of those nasty chemicals back into air we breath.

Until now, there were no clean, biodegradable, sustainable options other than washing a lot of dishes. This is where Vegware have come to our rescue, now we can still be lazy hosts but not hurt the environment in the process. Vegware makes a variety of tableware and cutlery products all made from sustainable eco-friendly substances. For instance, their forks, knives and spoons are made from corn and potato starch, while their plates, bowls and cups are made from cassava starch. They have a whole slew of other eco-friendly products, but you will just have to go see for yourself, but over all this company has a very innovative and supper creative idea and I really hope it catches on here in the states.

Two thumbs up for Vegware’s eco-friendly, sustainable tableware!

Scotts Green, Manual Reel Lawnmower Review

After moving into a new home, and realizing that I now had to cut a lawn again, I decided to test out a green alternative to a typical gasoline lawn mower. I researched a few different types of lawnmowers, electric and reel push mowers and I decided that I didn’t want a chord to run over, so I went with a reel manual push mower.

Now I know what many of you are thinking, because I heard it a lot from anyone and everyone who had ever mowed with an “old school” push mower. Everyone said “those things are terrible, they are really hard to push… yada yada yada…” but I had heard nothing but good things about these new push mowers in the product reviews.

Needless to say I decided to make the purchase and use this opportunity to really test out the product and give my readers the inside scoop on the new push reel mowers. I went over to Clean Air Gardening and got their Scotts Classic Reel Lawnmower package, complete with a rear clipping catcher and sharpening kit. Unfortunately the order got delayed for a few weeks because they ran out of stock, so when the mower finally came in my grass was really long (1 month overgrown).

Out of the box, the mower was relatively easy to assemble, however the pictures in the directions for the clipping catcher assembly were rough hand drawings making them pretty hard to read. After assembling it, I took it outside for a small test run on some short grass and it was really easy to use, but the real test would be the next day when I would attempt to tackle the overgrown yard.

The next day I went out and tried mowing my overgrown yard with the push mower and it was a colossal failure. The grass was entirely too high and the mower would simply bend the grass over and not cut it. Of course after a few minutes the tall grass would stand back up making it appear as if I hadn’t done anything even though the shorter grass blades were getting cut. Considering that my push mower wasn’t working, I went down the street to the local lawn cutting guy and hired him to do the initial cut on my law.

Even though my first try was a failure, I didn’t give up, I decided to give the mower a second chance and waited about a week and tried again. This time the grass was at a very manageable height and to be honest the mowing went very smoothly and quickly. I did not find that the mower was that difficult to push (like everyone said), although I did make a mistake of swimming laps before mowing that time and my shoulders got a little fatigued.

Now I didn’t want to write a review before using the mower a few more times to see how I really felt about it. That being said, I am now writing this review after three more successful mowing attempts with two weeks worth of growth in between each. I am convinced that these push mowers are very effective and easy to use and the sound that the mower makes is really cool and quite soothing. Also, because I know it’s better for the environment, it is very gratifying on many levels and I now actually enjoy mowing the lawn.

My final rating is 4 out of 5 stars. The reason for the one star loss is mostly because of the limitations due to grass height. This limitation only really affects people who let their lawn go without being cut for over 3 weeks. However, if you have some fast growing weeds living amongst your St. Augustine grass, you may have to pluck them up every now and then if they grow too high between cuts, because the mower will lay them down and miss the cut. I also found that the actual cutting edge is a little further in from the wheels than a power mower so you can’t cut as close to objects and fences, forcing you to come back and use a weed eater in the corners. Considering that no matter what type of mower you use, you generally have to come back with a weed eater anyway, so this didn’t weigh as heavily on my rating as the height limitations.

This mower is not for everyone, especially a lazy person because it is not easier than a powered gasoline or electric mower. I do recommend this product for anyone who appreciates the environment and will make small sacrifices for the betterment of it. With a battery operated weed eater/edger and a trusty Scotts reel mower, you can now maintain a yard without using any gasoline and only tiny amounts of electricity.

Are LED Light Bulbs The Future?

After hearing about LED light bulbs and their development, I decided that I wanted to do a little research on my own to see what these lights are all about. I took a look around at different places checking prices, colors and wattage and created the following chart to show the potential money and emission savings generated by one regular 120v LED light bulb for home use. The results are listed below:

Comparison chart between LEDs, CFLs and Incandescents over one LED's life span of 50,000 hours:





Life in Hours (hrs)
50,000 hrs.
10,000 hrs.
1,500 hrs.

Number of Bulbs

Cost in US dollars ($)
$67.95 (white)
5 x $4.00 = $20.00
33.5 x 32� = $11.22

Input in Watts (W)
9.5 W
13 W
60 W

Electricity Used in Kilowatt hours (kwh)
475 kwh
650 kwh
3000 kwh

Electricity Cost at 8¢ per kwh

Total Cost

Total Savings Over a Compact Florescent Light: $105.95 – $72.00 = -$33.95 -No Savings

Total Savings Over an Incandescent Light: $251.22 – $28.00 = $145.27

As you can see from the results, looking only at costs, it is still more cost effective to use CFL's over LED's. However, both CFL's and LED's are much more cost effective than using regular incandescent light bulbs.

Even though LED's are more expensive, one of the biggest selling points is their lack of Mercury, officially making them the “greenest” of all lighting technologies (except natural lighting of course). I should also mention that because of the way LED's or Light-emitting diodes work, they produce far less heat than incandescent and compact florescent lights. This reduction in heat is great for individuals in hot climates where the cost of conditioning air is over 50% of their utility cost.

LED's work by using different semi-conducting materials to make electrons jump from one material to the other. This “electron jump” makes the electrons emit photons in the form of visible light, and the color of the light is dependent on the different materials used in the diode. This process uses much less electricity to create the light, however the intensity (lumens) are less than other forms of light. However, with more research and more people buying these household LED's, you can bet that the cost per lumen will continue to drop and we will soon have a superior product at very competitive prices.