This Mother’s Day, get Mom a gift that’s a perfect fit. Pluggz shoes use a cutting-edge technology that reconnects people with the natural energy source of the earth. Each pair of shoes contains a black plug made of carbon and rubber compound that is positioned under the weight-bearing part of our feet, ensuring electrical contact between the earth and our bodies. They are designed to offer comfort, but the metallic and neutral colors are also fun and stylish. $39 (flip flops) to $129 (flats) Pluggz.com
Go Go Natural
DinkleDooz Diaper is the simple and sensible cloth diapering system for a progressive generation of parents. With the desire to take modern cloth diapering mainstream, the company focused on the most requested features (pocket diaper, snap closure, and adjustable size), married the best materials for baby, and lowered the price for Mom and Dad. $15.95 GoGoNatural.com
This long-lasting perfume oil has a unique mixture of notes that smells slightly different on everyone who wears it. Essence is a gluten-free fragrance with the intention to make everything seem more positive. $50 maddieandsophie.com
Wine Bottle Cheese Tray
This 12-inch slumped glass tray is made from reclaimed wine bottles. It is fitted with clear rubber bumpers to grip any surface and wire-wrapped with a loop at its neck, designed to be hung for storage or as a décor piece for any room. $20 practical-art.com
For a happy smile
These mineral-based lipsticks are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, allergen-free and paraben-free. Their light and creamy formula uses all-natural ingredients. Enriched from a gluten-free source of Vitamin E, moisturizing Red Apple Lipsticks come in a variety of long-lasting colors. $17.50 redapplelipstick.com
For Pits Sake
A natural deodorant designed with you and the environment in mind. For Pits Sake deodorants come in four different mild scents that will leave you feeling fresh. Free of parabens, propylene glycol and aluminum, this 100 percent all-natural deodorant uses only non-toxic, natural skin ingredients with a blend of essential oils to keep odor-causing bacteria away. $8 shoptobegreen.com
Haile Thomas’ adventures in the kitchen have taken her on a journey across North America with a message for her peers—eat healthy.
The 12-year-old Tucson chef, who has been in the kitchen with her mother since she was 5, has dazzled people around the country with a culinary prowess normally reserved for those with years of education and experience. Her passion for healthy, creative and delicious meals goes beyond her You Tube videos, where she and her 8-year-old sister, Nia, first encouraged kids to learn how to cook. Since gaining the attention of just about everyone—from local media, to celebrity chefs, to the First Lady herself—Haile has stepped center stage as a guest speaker, panelist and consultant to share her message about stopping childhood obesity.
“She calls herself a youth health advocate,” says her mother, Charmaine Thomas. “It got started with Kids Can Cook videos, but she’s evolved into an advocate and a speaker, and she does a lot of community events to empower and engage her peers. It is so much more than cooking at this point.”
Haile is one of 21 children across the nation to be on the Youth Advisory Board for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. She has met President Obama and represented First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign at the 2013 State of the Union address.
“I’m really grateful to have met all of those amazing people,” Haile says. ”This has been a great three years and I am enjoying every step of it.”
There she was the only child sitting among a panel of experts including some of her idols—personal trainer Jillian Michaels and world-renowned healing pioneer Deepak Chopra. Haile brings a youthful perspective to the challenges children face, and suggests part of the solution is to make healthy choices fun.
“I’ve been exposed to the terrible things that are going inside of our food and terrible statistics about childhood obesity and seeing my friends making bad choices. I want to inform my peers about eating healthy and staying active. It’s a habit that should stay with you forever.”
Her list of accomplishments rivals many adult entrepreneurs. Her latest endeavors include a partnership with Hyatt Hotels as a junior chef consultant to create a “by kids for kids” menu; a new cooking show called Mix It Up with Haile; and her own non-profit called the HAPPY organization.
Mix it Up with Haile is a cooking show that will empower children to get in the kitchen while teaching them about ingredients, nutrition, and ways to stay healthy.
The HAPPY organization—an acronym for Healthy, Active, Positive and Purposeful Youth—has partnered with the YWCA to host healthy lifestyle and nutrition classes for underprivileged youth in the Tucson area.
Haile offered some easy changes that can be made to improve your health: limit the amount of salt in your diet, add more fruits and vegetables, grow your own garden, eat organic, limit sugary and processed foods, and get moving.
“I not only want myself to live a healthy life. I think everyone deserves to have a healthy life. and nourishing our bodies is a good thing to do to make sure our generation lives long and healthy lives.”
What’s next for Haile?
“I think that I should get a degree in culinary arts and public speaking and continue to motivate my peers. Hopefully by the time I’m an adult, this problem will be over. I’ll always be an advocate for health whether it’s adults or kids.”
Photos courtesy of Charmaine Thomas
By Katie Peige
If you’re looking for some green inspiration or want to get involved with some cool sustainability projects, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is the place for you. Arizona’s USGBC chapter hosts events throughout the year to fulfill their sustainable building education and advocacy mission. Last month, the Arizona chapter’s annual conference, dubbed “50 Shades of Green,” shed light on more than 50 statewide sustainability initiatives and offered a bright green vision of the future for our Arizona cities, schools, and communities.
The USGBC is dedicated to creating a sustainable and prosperous future through implementing environmental and energy-efficient designs into the construction of new buildings and renovations of older buildings. The USGBC’s main program, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED, allows the organization to rank a building according to certain criteria. Only LEED accredited professionals can designate a project as LEED certified. The accreditation process for professionals involves taking sustainable-building classes, passing a test and working on a LEED project.
By Michelle Talsma Everson
Like most material items, many of our favorite pieces of jewelry have a shelf life. Clasps break, stones fall out of their settings, a pair of earrings separates from one another, and some pieces just experience the wear and tear of time. Yet, each of the pieces is still unique; each still tells a story; each is still valuable in its own way. To some jewelry artists, this is where upcycling comes in.
Upcycling is “taking something that you would otherwise throw out and finding a way to make it into something else,” according to upcyclethat.com. To three Valley jewelry makers, it means taking vintage jewelry pieces and using them to create new ones.
Trish Burnett, The Trinket Emporium
For nearly a decade, Trish Burnett has breathed new life into broken jewelry and other “awesome finds.” What started as a casual passion for browsing antique and thrift shops has since morphed into an impressive collection of necklaces, earrings, and more on her Etsy and Facebook pages. Some of her one-of-a-kind items include her dainty bulb necklaces and movement pieces. To Burnett, it’s all about giving each piece a second chance.
“We’re living in a day where you get less and pay more for it. Things aren’t made like they used to be,” she says. “Being able to take something that was an important part of someone’s life at one time and let it live on in something beautiful that can be appreciated every day is why I do this.”
Looking toward the future, she hopes to eventually expand her passion even further, reaching even more people.
“I hope to one day have a physical store location for The Emporium that will house not only my handmade and upcycled bits, but also handmade and original pieces from other local and international artists, as well as vintage clothing and other finds that deserve to be loved and used today.”
Photos by Jessica Frieling
An unending checkerboard of vivid greens, reds and purples highlighted by the morning sun captured our attention recently at the Salanova® test garden in Goodyear, Arizona. We were among growers, buyers, agricultural experts and enthusiasts who gathered at Duncan Family Farms to learn about the new varieties of lettuce developed by Rijk Zwaan, a vegetable breeding company based in the Netherlands.
The farm, that grows specialty crops on more than 2,500 acres, including organic baby lettuce that is found in bagged salads, was chosen as a test site for Salanova. Wearing hairnets and new shoes to protect the integrity of the organic gardens, we left our straw bale perches, descended from tractor-drawn wagons and stepped gingerly between immaculately manicured rows. Read more
By Cheryl Hurd
Babies always attract attention, and it’s no different for the four-legged and furry ones at the Phoenix Zoo. The zoo has had several new additions in recent months.
Bakari, a Grevy’s zebra, with his long legs and large ears, can be seen playing in the African Trail enclosure. He weighed 100 pounds when he was born January 19. Zookeepers let his mother decide his name by attaching three name choices to three separate bags of treats. The mother chose the treats with the name Bakari, which in Swahili means “one who will succeed.”
Success is important to the Grevy’s zebras, which are on the endangered species list, meaning that they are at a very high rate of extinction in the wild. There are less than 2,500 Grevy’s zebras left in the wild, due to loss of habitat, poaching, and competition with livestock, according to the Phoenix Zoo.
They still can be found grazing in their native habitat in northern Kenya and southeastern Ethiopia in an arid and semi-arid region with grass and shrubs. Land degradation is making it increasingly difficult for the zebras to find water. While they can survive without water for five days, the mothers that are still producing milk to feed their young need water every other day. The need to travel longer distances to find water is taking its toll with an increased mortality rate for the foals, further threatening the species’ survival, according to the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, an organization dedicated to the species’ conservation.
The Phoenix Zoo is also dedicated to conserving the Grevy’s zebras, which are easily recognizable by their long legs, narrow stripes, white bellies, brown muzzles and large round ears. The zoo works with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan to map out a breeding plan that ensures a healthy, genetically diverse population for the long-term survival of the species.
For just a moment, the 4-month-old Andean cub tested his independence, long enough for zookeepers to snap a quick photograph. The zoo has been carefully monitoring this furry addition that is also part of a breeding plan for the Andean bears. The bears are more commonly known as spectacled bears because of their distinctive white face markings that make them appear as if they are wearing glasses. Since the baby was born in early January, mom and baby have been left undisturbed in a maternity ward away from zoo spectators. The mother, named Rio, is one of two bears in North American zoos that is reproducing. The second, named Billie Jean, is housed at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Billie Jean has had two sets of twins since 2010. The bears are considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s first and largest global environmental organization. This designation means the animals face a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Natural habitats for these bears are in the Andean jungles of South America. Fragmentation and destruction of habitat threaten the animals, according to National Geographic, as do poachers and farmers who consider them agricultural pests. There are an estimated 2,000 to 2,400 Andean bears left in the wild. You can learn about these babies and others who have been added to the Phoenix Zoo’s family by visiting the zoo at 455 N. Galvin Pkwy., in Phoenix. Since it is Mother’s Day this month, let’s celebrate the moms who brought these precious treasures into the world.
Sources: phoenixzoo.org, animals.nationalgeographic.com, iucn.org
Photos courtesy of the Phoenix Zoo.
By Sarah Ley
With impending summer temperatures that soon will be creeping into the 100s around the Valley, many families will head to Northern Arizona for a respite from the intense desert heat. Flagstaff is commonly referred to as “the gateway to the Grand Canyon,” but there is much more to this college town than meets the eye. It’s also an outdoor haven offering year-round opportunities to become one with nature, including many hikes of all levels of difficulty for adventurous families. So, bring the children- because there is no shortage of great trails, and you’ll find endless hiking without the crowds or the high costs associated with the Grand Canyon. Here are several simple hikes for families with children in tow. Read more