They almost sound like something Grizzly Adams might have slept on. The eucalyptus-based Living Fresh sheets from Valley Forge Fabrics, however, live up to the company's claim for feeling similar to Egyptian cotton. My wife and I have tried a set for a month and are quite pleased. They hold up to repeated washings and feel as good as any sheets we've owned.
"They are really soft and you don't sweat as much," my wife adds. "It's not like sleeping next to a goat."
Long reviled as a fire hazard, eucalyptus could become a staple of green products. Biofuel makers like Zeachem have begun to examine the possibility of producing fuels from eucalyptus because of its extraordinary rapid growth and low water requirements.
"Eucalyptus trees grow 120 feet in eight years," said Diana Dobin, senior vice president of design and sales at the company.
Green fabrics, though, aren't an easy sell. Most consumers have become quite accustomed to cotton and often can detect the difference between full cotton socks or sheets and blends. I've tried a bunch of different bamboo fabric towels. They tend to have a slick, almost slimy feel, as if you're being dried off with gold lame. Hemp fabrics can sometimes tend toward burlap.
As an added plus, eucalyptus also has an antimicrobial effect. Microbiology laboratory Institut Francais du Textile et de l'Habillement put 300 dust mites on a regular cotton sheet and 300 on the Tencell+Lyocell eucalyptus sheets and let both bake for 42 days. The eucalyptus sheets had 184 dust mites. The cotton ones had 5,880.
Like Interface Global, the billion-plus industrial carpet maker that has championed corporate green initiatives, Valley Forge has made the development of sustainable fabrics --eliminating petroleum-based products in favor of natural fibers-- part of its mission. Since 2006, Valley Forge's greenhouse gas emissions have declined by 35 percent. At the same time, 60 percent of employees now cite these sustainability initiatives as one of the top reasons for staying at the company.
The eucalyptus sheets came out of a collaboration with an Austrian company called Lenzing.
The sheets cost around $100. More here.
Earthcare Products' Odor Remover Bag and Pet Odor Eliminator
"It is ideal for removing dead rodent odor and even works if the dead carcass is not removed," says the package. With a description like that, you know you've got the perfect gift for some of your in-laws.
Organic deodorizers are another one of those categories whose past product offerings have not lived up to expectations. An ozone-based carpet cleaner I tested a few years ago removed some, but not all of the stains I wanted gone.
But in this case, both the odor eliminator and the bag lived up to the challenge. The odor eliminator is a powder that you sprinkle over a soiled area and vacuum up after six hours. The bag is essentially a sack filled with materials that you hang where pets spend most of their time. The bag kills scents in a 100-square-foot area and lasts three to four months.
Sprinkling a generous amount of the odor eliminator over a staircase carpet that recently 1) had a dish of salt cod dropped on it and 2) got sprayed by the cat did eliminate the cat smell and drove most of the cod scent underground. The odor remover bag has since been placed on top of the cat box and so far, no complaints.
The only problem with the odor eliminator is that it is a powder. You must sprinkle it liberally on the impacted area and wait. If you need to walk through the area, you will spread parmesan cheese-like powder all over the house. (The active ingredients are silicon oxide, aluminum oxide, calcium, magnesium, sodium and calcium.)
Still, it works, it's green, and you can get a nine-pound tub of the odor eliminator for $44 bucks or a 14-oz. tube for $8. How can you go wrong?
Lemnis Lighting's Pharox LED Light 60
We noticed the difference as soon as we replaced a compact fluorescent with a Pharox 6 watt-40/60 watt equivalent LED bulb from Lemnis Lighting: it wasn't as bright. You could read by it, but the slight dimming was perceptible.
The first test wasn't with an optimal lamp. Lemnis calls the bulb a 40/60 watt equivalent because the amount of light reflected into a room will vary with the light fixture. With desk lamps and other lamps that direct light in one direction, the bulb behaves more like a 40-watt model. In our case, that's what we put it in. Granted, it seemed to put out more light than a 40-watt bulb would, but it clearly wasn't up to a 60-watt level.
With a lamp that will emit light in two directions, the bulb is supposed to act like a 60 watt. In a second test with this sort of lamp, the bulb did put out more light, but it still seemed slightly dimmer, like a CFL that was midway through its life.
On the plus side, the tone of light was rather remarkable. The bulb emanates a rather soft, white light: it is not that harsh, clinical type of light often associated with LED flashlights. And it only costs $40. While that's much more than an average bulb, it will save $280 in electricity costs over its lifetime, which is around 35,000 hours. If you get this bulb, you won't have to buy another for years.
And, as LED advocates like to point out, brightness will likely increase as costs go down, so stay tuned.