Adding new products to our shelves is a big responsibility, one we don’t take lightly. It is always fun to see what’s new and exciting, but since our space is so limited there are important factors to take into consideration such as which products are no longer favored by our membership and how to replace them with products that can better fulfill our seven guiding co-op principles or have just plain environmental integrity. We’d like to highlight a few that fit these considerations.

Alaffia

One of the seven co-op principles is to encourage cooperation among cooperatives not only locally but internationally as well. That is the first reason I was so taken by Alaffia which is part of the Alaffia-Agbanga Shea Butter Cooperative. Fair Trade and economic, societal, and environmental sustainability practices are its foundation. This organization is dedicated to educating and empowering Africans in their communities.

One part of this important work is to reestablish the indigenous culture and traditional products. For example, while working at their centuries-old craft, the workers are not required to speak French, which is a prerequisite for most other companies in Togo. The cooperative also donates ten percent of its sales to a number of community enhancement projects in West Africa. There is a lot more information on their website at www.alaffia.com which also has short bios of some of the worker members.

The second reason I was impressed with this company is the remarkable quality of their products. I am a pretty picky person when it comes to lotions and fragrances and these products pass my ridiculously high standards. Unrefined shea butter is a prominent ingredient in many of Alaffia’s formulas including their Rooibos and Shea Butter Antioxidant Face Cream, Blissful Baby Balm, African Black Soap and the three moisturizing lotions we currently carry: Tangerine Ginger, Savanna Spice, and Unscented. While Africans have favored shea butter’s emollient properties for centuries, many people might not know that it had also been used as an anti-inflammatory for strained muscles, as a decongestant and also as a cooking oil. The process of extracting the shea oil by hand is a long, tedious process but one that yields a higher quality product free of hexane (a chemical most often used for refining shea butter). While the company finishes their products in Olympia, WA, all of the indigenous African ingredients are harvested, extracted and processed by hand in Togo, West Africa.

Suncoat

About six months ago we started losing a few products from Burt’s Bees. Eventually we got a long list of discontinued items from the company that included the much-loved toothpastes and lipsticks, as well as most of their makeup line. I searched for a replacement line of makeup for a few weeks until I found what I was looking for right under my nose—so to speak.

Lotus Light, a local distributor based in Silver Lake, WI, carries Suncoat, an award winning, Canadian-based company that researches and manufacturers “ecofriendly alternatives to toxic, environmentally unconscious products.”

In 2002 they introduced their water-based nail polish as an alternative to chemically based polishes. Not only are they toluene- and formaldehyde-free, but also phthalate-free, alcohol-free and acetone/acetate-free. The 22 colors we have are also vegan, meaning they don’t contain carmine (Wikipedia definition: “a pigment of a bright red color obtained from the carminic acid produced by some scale insects”). The nail polish remover is vegan and a petroleum-free product and is 100 percent corn- and soy-based. (One important thing to consider—removing the nail polish differs from the standard method. Briefly, these water-based polishes need to be removed weekly for easiest removal. They recommend the use of their nail polish remover and to only dab once then wait two minutes for the remover to soften the polish. Wipe off with a cotton ball then wash your hands of the residue. If you choose not to use their polish remover, you can soak your nails in water, then scrape off the polish–but this is not recommended for damaged nails. Please visit their website for specific information on this: www.suncoatproducts.com.

Suncoat also has roll-on, natural mineral eye shadow. All 10 colors are talc-free and contain certified organic cornstarch and mineral pigments. Their three mascaras and two hairsprays are made of sugar biopolymer, and, finally, the liquid foundations come in four shades and are free of parabens, synthetic colors, mineral oils, and animal products. I can hardly wait to try them myself... and I don’t even wear makeup!

gDiapers

gDiapers are not really new on the scene. They arrived in the U.S. about a year ago, around the same time we brought in Tushies, the disposable diaper that doesn’t contain the silica gel. While gDiapers do contain sodium polyacrylate, much research has shown that it is safe for kids and for flushing. I have gotten numerous requests for these diapers/liners with good reason. A brief statement from their very informative website www.gdiapers.com states, “gDiapers have no elemental chlorine, no perfumes, no smell, no garbage and no guilt. In fact, flushables are so gentle on the Earth you can even garden compost the wet ones in one compost cycle, approximately 50 to 150 days. Just think of the standing ovation you’ll get from the planet.”

So gDiapers will grace our shelves and take the space that is now occupied by Tushies and Tendercare. As members, you can still special order these brands of diapers through us if you’d like. We can only order them in cases of four.

New Chapter

We’ve recently added three new products from New Chapter Organics to our offerings. The immune-enhancing mushroom supplement Host Defense is now available in a liquid extract for immediate, maximum absorption. Take it daily for dramatic immune enhancement. According to New Chapter, it has been shown to “increase Natural Killer Cell activity by up to 300%.” Also new to the New Chapter selection is Blood Pressure—protection for men and women to help maintain “healthy blood pressure levels through multiple pathways.” Finally, the long-awaited vegan version of Zyflamend has arrived, encapsulated in cellulose instead of gelatin. Zyflamend is a combination of herbal extracts that has been clinically tested and has even gained the respect of the medical community for its ability to promote a healthy inflammation response.

Bambu Kitchenware

We’ve been expanding our selection of bamboo kitchen products by Bambu. The Bambu company has a long history of providing earth-friendly kitchen products. Not only is bamboo a renewable resource, the company is one of the first to use certified organic bamboo. They are also members of One Percent for the Planet, which means they pledge at least one percent of their net sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. Bambu was also awarded the Co-op America Seal of Approval in recognition of the commitments they have made towards fair treatment of workers, promoting healthy communities, preserving the environment and providing quality products. So, the next time you are strolling the aisles of the store, check out our selection of Bambu kitchen products.

Just a few more things...

  • Avalon is definitely our most popular facial care line, and they are the leader when it comes to a pure, clean line of products. We’ve had their CoQ10 facial care and baby care line for several weeks now. There have been requests for flushable baby wipes and we found biodegradable ones with Avalon.
  • Hylands Cell Salts and Historical Remedies homeopathics should be on our shelves by the time you read this.
  • Several folks wanted multivitamins in capsules and we’ve added some from Solaray.
  • We’ve reduced the Nature’s Plus single vitamins to provide a better value by offering the same items by Source Naturals.
  • Barlean’s introduced cinnamon- and lemonade-flavored flax oil, and we carry their orange-flavored fish oil.