Ingredient Spotlight: Buriti Oil


Buriti Oil is a palm oil that we use in Elemental Herbs’ sunsticks and, which will soon be in our entire line of sunscreens. We purchase buriti oil that has been sustainably harvested and organic to maintain the purity of our products.

Buriti oil is an orange-reddish oil extracted from the fruit of the Moriche palm. The oil contains high concentrations of oleic acid, tocopherols and carotenoids, especially betacarotene. Recently it has been found to filter and absorb cancer-causing UV rays from the sun, making it a perfect ingredient for our sunscreens. Also high in vitamin A, the oil is extracted from the pulp of the tree’s fruit. It is also used to treat burns because of its soothing qualities.

Buriti oil comes from the Moriche Palm, is a palm tree that grows in and near swamps and other wet areas in tropical South America. The trees can reach over 100 feet in height and have large leaves that form a rounded crown, and yellow flowers. The fruit, which grows from December to June, is brown and is covered with shiny scales. Inside, yellow flesh covers a hard, oval, nut. Once they drop from the tree, the nuts float, which is how the palm tree propagates.

The Moriche Palm fruit is edible, has a high vitamin C content, and used to make juice, jam, ice cream, and other items.

News from Around the Web: Fracking – Friend or Foe?


While most people concerned with the environment agree that that we should wean ourselves off our dependence on fossil fuels and switch instead to natural gas, which is plentiful and cleaner than coal, there are some concerns with the methods used to collect this resource.

Fracking, or induced hydraulic fracturing, the drilling technique used to collect natural gas has been blamed for polluting water supplies and air quality. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently proposed new rules to govern drilling on more than 700 million acres of federal and Indian lands that his department oversees.

Check out this interesting editorial in the New York Times and let us know what you think? Is fracking the Achilles’ heel of natural gas? How can this problem be solved?

The Full Circle Project


Athlete Taylor Felton recently shared three videos on the Elemental Herbs Facebook page. We, in turn, wanted to share them with you.

Taylor is participating in The Full Circle Project, a philanthropic group whose goal is to raise enough money to plant 1,000 trees in Peru, install enough irrigation to keep the trees healthy, and offset the group’s room and board.

Last Summer I had the opportunity to travel down to the Bio Bio region of Chile for a community service and ski experience called The Full Circle Project.
Taylor write on the group’s website. “Mainly organized by Matt Philippi, I was very grateful when asked if I would take part in giving back to those displaced and affected by an 8.8 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami. It was like no other trip I have ever been on and one that I will never forget. It gave me a new perspective.

“This year Matt has asked me to accompany him and The FullCircle crew down to Peru,” he continued. “We are working to help the locals of the pan-Andean region become more self sufficient and I am very excited to be apart of that. Having been an arborist and landscaper for the past nine summers, I feel I can be a valuable asset to the project and local culture. I look forward to sharing my knowledge and what it was like helping and giving back to you and those within the ski community.”

Click here to watch the videos and to learn how to donate.

News from Around the Web: Letters to the Editor

We love to see people taking a stand for the environment. Whether you are creating an eco-friendly product, spearheading a charity event for an Earth-friendly organization or simply composting your kitchen waste, actions matter. A recent batch of letters to the editor in the New York Times reminded us of another way people can make a difference: through the power of the pen. Next time you read an article that moves you, or see a documentary that makes you think, sitting down and writing a good old-fashioned letter (or email, as the case may be) is a great way to get involved and have your opinions be heard.

When is the last time you were inspired to write a letter? We’d love to hear about it.

News from Around the Web: An Ode to Mud


This recent piece in the New York Times is strike a chord with all you gardening- and farming-types out there. It pays homage to mud, a field and garden bed companion that the author, Verlyn Klinkenborg, is missing this year.

Mud-Less Season

There are clear advantages to a spring without mud. I have not lost a boot to the suction of the barnyard swamp. I haven’t had to cut drainage channels through the corral. Nor have I had to tractor through primeval ooze while hauling a round bale to the run-in shed.

Still, something is missing in a season in which the forsythia came and went without mud. In a well-drained garden, mud season makes it easy to do your spading, whether you plant potatoes on Good Friday, as my uncle does, or merely prepare the earth for tomatoes to come.

What we have this year, dry earth, is intractable stuff — hard, powdery and too light in color. What rain has fallen has barely laid the dust, and even a good storm now wouldn’t raise the kind of mud I’ve come to expect over the years. Mud season is more complex than that. It needs frozen ground, good snowpack and a sudden thaw. The mud of mud season isn’t merely waterlogged dirt. It is upheaval, the amphibian earth changing shape before your eyes. It is the seed of spring in the corpse of winter.

To read the rest of this piece on, click here.

Spring Plant Sale & Farm Festival is Tomorrow!


Don’t forget: tomorrow, April 28th, is the 2nd Annual Four Elements Farm Spring Plant Sale & Farm Festival. From 11 am to 10 pm, Elemental Herbs, in partnership with Four Elements Organics, will have thousands of organic plant starts for sale, including numerous varieties of fruits, veggies, herbs, flowers, and heirloom grains, all of which have been grown in our beautiful straw-bale greenhouse.

In addition to the sale, the Farm Festival will feature activities for the entire family including:

  • Farm tours
  • Watershed ecology walks
  • Permaculture workshops
  • Information on sustainable living, organic gardening and cooking
  • Yoga
  • Children’s activities

There will also be tons of fabulous food and live music from The Earthtones, Burning Bush and BoomBala!

For more information and directions, visit

Elemental Herbs: News from the Web


This is an interesting piece that appeared in the New York Time recently about Wal-Mart’s allegiance with a a major environmental group. What do you think of these two as bedmates? And what, if anything, do you think will come out of such a partnership? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Unexpected Ally Helps Wal-Mart Cut Waste

by Stephanie Clifford

Michelle Harvey, an employee of the Environmental Defense Fund, has a security badge to a site that used to be considered enemy territory: the headquarters of Wal-Mart Stores in Bentonville, Ark.

An environmentalist in Bentonville sounds like the premise for a low-budget reality show, but Wal-Mart has been courting environmental groups and seeking their input on its policies in the seven years since it first announced a sustainability program.

The company, the nation’s biggest retailer, has met some environmental goals and missed others. On Monday, it plans to announce that it now reuses or recycles more than 80 percent of the waste produced in its domestic stores and in its other United States operations. That is up from 64 percent as of 2009, but it is short of the zero-waste goal the company hopes to get to.

Wal-Mart’s environmental push has helped transform public opinion of the company, easing the way for it to open stores in urban areas like Chicago and Los Angeles. About a quarter of Americans now have a favorable impression of Wal-Mart, about double the percentage that did in 2007 (the earliest available figure for Wal-Mart), according to the YouGov BrandIndex, which measures consumers’ impressions of companies and products.

Before Wal-Mart announced the environmental initiative in 2005, H. Lee Scott, the chief executive, reviewed the legal and public relations problems the company was having. It had paid millions of dollars in fines for violating local pollution laws, and was facing a lawsuit claiming that Wal-Mart discriminated against women. Mr. Scott wondered if behaving differently could enhance the company’s reputation, he told Fortune. That year, Mr. Scott announced a wide-ranging plan to lessen the retailer’s environmental impact. Wal-Mart has issued regular updates on its progress since then.

Click here to read the rest of this article on

EH Earth Day Contest: We Have a Winner! Plus More Prizes!


Congratulations to Lorrin Salchli for winning last week’s Elemental Herbs Earth Day Contest! A healthy product will be shipped to you directly!

Just as a reminder, throughout the month of April, we are going to be celebrating Earth Day in a big way. Every Monday, until April 23rd, look for our Earth Day Question of the Week here or on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. Answer the question here on the blog in the comments section and you’ll be entered to win an Elemental Herbs goodie. We’ll choose a winner at random and send the lucky person his or her eco swag in the mail.

The question will be posted on the Elemental Herbs Facebook page and on Twitter, but don’t forget to leave your answers here on the blog.

This week’s question: If you had $1 million to donate to an Earth-friendly charity or cause, which one would you choose and why?

Go. go. go! We can’t wait to see your responses!

April Earth Day Contest: We Have Winners!!


We have not one but two winners of our Earth Day Contest this week! Denise and Stephanie, please email your addresses to

To win prizes and share your knowledge throughout the month of April, look for our Earth Day Question of the Week every Monday until April 23rd. Answer the question here on the blog in the comments section and you’ll be entered to win a different Elemental Herbs goodie each week. We’ll choose a winner at random and send the lucky person his or her eco swag in the mail.

The question will be posted on the Elemental Herbs Facebook page and on Twitter, but don’t forget to visit the blog to leave your answers.

This week’s question: Which Earth-friendly celebrity do you most admire and why?

Go. go. go! We can’t wait to see your responses!

Enter Our April Earth Day Contest… No Foolin’!

April is a month of rebirth: the beginning of spring, longer periods of sunlight and a pervasive feeling of gratitude that winter is finally over!

April also plays host to Earth Day. This year the 42nd Earth Day will be celebrated on April 22nd but, here at Elemental Herbs, we plan to party starting right now, with prizes all month long.

To participate, look for our Earth Day Question of the Week every Monday until April 23rd. Answer the question here on the blog in the comments section and you’ll be entered to win a different Elemental Herbs goodie each week. We’ll choose a winner at random and send the lucky person his or her eco swag in the mail.

The question will be posted on the Elemental Herbs Facebook page and on Twitter, but don’t forget to visit the blog to leave your answers.

This week’s question: What changes have you made to make your lifestyle more green?

Go. go. go! We can’t wait to see your responses!

Treehugger’s Best of Green 2011


Have your voice heard in Treehuggers’ annual Best of Green Awards. Vote for your favorite Earth-friendly car, green cookbook, eco home decor and more!

Nominees will be announced daily. Voting is open through March 30th at 11:59 p.m. Awards will be announced the week of April 2 – 6.

Click here to start voting!

News from the Web: The pH and the Sea



Poor, poor ocean. How we abuse thee.

New research suggests that we are changing the pH of seawater — a measurement of how acid or alkaline it is — at an alarming rate. While history indicates that there have been many episodes of acidification over the history of the Earth, some scientists say that the current changes in the oceans’ pH level is cause for great concern. Please read this recent New York Times
short editorial and tell us what you think.

Changing the Chemistry of Earth’s Oceans

Ingredient Spotlight: Plantago


Elemental Herbs’ products are full of great stuff picked fresh on organic farms all over the Bay Area. In this series, we take a peek inside our jars and tubes to explore the healing properties of some of our ingredients. This week we investigate the magic of plantago!

Plantago is a genus of about 200 species of small, inconspicuous plants, which is commonly called plantains, even though they are in no way related to the banana of the same name. Plantains are found all over the world, and many species grow wild as weeds.

Different species of Plantago have been used since prehistoric times as herbal remedies, with some ancient folklore even claiming that the plant could pull the venom from a snakebite. It was sometimes also ingested as a tea or tincture to cure coughs and colds. The broad-leafed varieties can also be eaten as a salad.

At Elemental Herbs we use plantain externally in our All Good Goop for its antibacterial, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, when ground, the leaves create a mucilage, which helps stimulate mucous membranes. This is essential for keeping the surface of a scrape, sting or burn soft for healing.

Elemental Herbs: News of the Week


After a year of debate, the Iowa legislature has passed a bill that makes taking undercover footage and photography at factory farms illegal. It is one more hurdle for animal rights activists whose mission it is to expose those farms who don’t treat their animals humanely. Montana, North Dakota, and Kansas have already enacted similar laws and Illinois, Missouri, Utah, New York, Nebraska, Indiana, and Minnesota are considering such bills.

Do you think that these videos should be illegal, or do you believe activists have the right to expose factory farms that mistreat animals. Read the article on Treehugger and let us know what you think.

Elemental Herbs: News of the Week

This weekend, the New York Times posted an interesting op-ed piece written by Thomas L. Friedman. Something in his email inbox recently reopened the debate over who is responsible for higher oil prices. What do you think?

A Good Question


AN e-mail came in the other day with a subject line that I couldn’t ignore. It was from the oil economist Phil Verleger, and it read: “Should the United States join OPEC?” That I had to open.

Verleger’s basic message was that the knee-jerk debate we’re again having over who is responsible for higher oil prices fundamentally misses huge changes that have taken place in America’s energy output, making us again a major oil and gas producer — and potential exporter — with an interest in reasonably high but stable oil prices.

From one direction, he says, we’re seeing the impact of the ethanol mandate put in place by President George W. Bush, which established fixed quantities of biofuels to be used in gasoline. When this is combined with improved vehicle fuel economy — in July, the auto industry agreed to achieve fleet averages of more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025 — it will inevitably drive down demand for gasoline and create more surplus crude to export. Add to that, says Verleger, “the increase in oil production from offshore fields and unconventional sources in America,” and that exportable U.S. surplus could grow even bigger.

Then, add the recent discoveries of natural gas deposits all over America, which will allow us to substitute gas for coal at power plants and become a natural gas exporter as well. Put it all together, says Verleger, and you can see why America “will want to consider joining with other energy-exporting countries, like those in OPEC, to sustain high oil prices. Such an effort would support domestic oil and gas production and give the U.S. a real competitive advantage over countries forced to pay high prices for imported energy — nations such as China, European Union members, and Japan.”

To read the rest of this article, click here.

San Francisco Green Film Festival: March 1-7

Next week, March 1-7, the San Francisco Green Film Festival kicks off its second season with a new crop of eco-friendly entertainment. The lineup promises to be a mix of amusing, thought provoking and inspiring events, appropriate for the die-hard green warrior and the casual kitchen composter alike.

As the Bay Area’s only green festival dedicated to films and new forms of media, the San Francisco Green Film Festival is a week long exploration of green issues and sustainable living.

This year’s films include local premieres of 40 films from around the globe, with 50 visiting filmmakers and guest speakers. The festival will also feature special events, parties, panels and educational programs, inviting festival attendees to get involved and take action with environmental causes important to them. This year’s festival will take place at the San Francisco Film Society Cinema, located at 1746 Post Street in San Francisco.

On opening night, attendees can enjoy the “The Island President,” a new film by Bay Area resident Jon Shenk. Shenk chronicles the year he spent with President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives as he confronted a problem no other world leader has ever faced: the literal survival of his country and everyone in it, due to the devastating impacts of climate change. Witness the first chapter of his global environmental fight, a fight that, following his forced resignation on February 7th, has clearly only just begun.

After the film, attend an opening night reception with food and beverages and live entertainment.

Highlights of the 2nd Annual San Francisco Green Film Festival include:

  • San Francisco Premieres of Bay Area filmmaker Jon Shenk’s “The Island President”
  • Anthony Baxter’s “You’ve Been Trumped”
  • San Francisco premiere of a short film by Summer Rayne Oakes, who is billed as the world’s top eco-model.
  • World Premiere of Mary Liz Thomson & Darryl Cherney’s “Who Bombed Judi Bari?”
  • Sneak Preview of Emily James’s “Just Do It: A Tale of Modern-Day Outlaws”
  • Launch of “Lights! Camera! Action Steps!” which links festival attendees who’d like to get involved with leaders in local environmental causes

For more information on the San Francisco Green Film Festival, click here. To buy tickets, click here.



Elemental Herbs: News of the Week


The San Francisco Bay Area is home to some 7.5 million inhabitants, with many paying an exorbitant price for real estate that offers even a slivered view of those namesake waters — but it turns out that behind the Golden Gate lies much more than meets the eye. According to the results of the first comprehensive assessment of pollution in that famous bay, a mind-boggling 1.36 million gallons of trash are being dumped in it every year. All that waste, say experts, is be enough to fill 100 thousand kitchen-sized garbage bags! Oh, and it’s 100 percent avoidable.

To read the rest of this article on

Activist Athletes: Where the Colorado Runs Dry


Elemental Herbs Activist Athlete Jon Waterman, author of Running Dry: A Journey From Source to Sea Down the Colorado River, this week published a thought-provoking Op-Ed piece in the New York Times on the desiccation of the Colorado River. Take a look at his important piece and, if so moved, head to his website where you can make a donation through to help.

MOST visitors to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon probably don’t realize that the mighty Colorado River, America’s most legendary white-water river, rarely reaches the sea.

Until 1998 the Colorado regularly flowed south along the Arizona-California border into a Mexican delta, irrigating farmlands and enriching a wealth of wildlife and flora before emptying into the Gulf of California.

But decades of population growth, climate change and damming in the American Southwest have now desiccated the river in its lowest reaches, turning a once-lush Mexican delta into a desert. The river’s demise began with the 1922 Colorado River Compact, a deal by seven western states to divide up its water. Eventually, Mexico was allotted just 10 percent of the flow.

Officials from Mexico and the United States are now talking about ways to increase the flow into the delta. With luck, someday it may reach the sea again.

It is paradoxical that the Colorado stopped running consistently through the delta at the end of the 20th century, which — according to tree-ring records — was one of the basin’s wettest centuries in 1,200 years. Now dozens of animal species are endangered; the culture of the native Cocopah (the People of the River) has been devastated; the fishing industry, once sustained by shrimp and other creatures that depend on a mixture of seawater and freshwater, has withered. In place of delta tourism, the economy of the upper Gulf of California hinges on drug smuggling operations that run opposite to the dying river.

Click here to read the rest of Jon Waterman’s article on

Should Green Non-Profits Accept Corporate Donations?


“Runners shouldn’t smoke, priests shouldn’t touch the kids, and environmentalists should never take money from polluters,” John Passacantando, a former director of Greenpeace who is now an environmental consultant, said in an interview with the New York Times.

Passacantando was reacting to the recent disclosure that the Sierra Club’s secretly accepted $26 million in donations from people associated with Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas company, has revived a debate among environmental groups:  Are corporate donations OK and, if so, what kind of transparency should be required of non-profits accepting the donations? What do you think?

To read more about the Sierra Club’s acceptance of this donation and its aftermath in the New York Times, click here.

Pondering Plastic Bags… Again

The plastic bag debate has been going on for a long time. At first, the big decision was paper versus plastic. But with countries like China and Ireland adopting fees for plastic bags, and, officials in San Francisco voting not only to expand its existing  ban on plastic bags but to require shoppers to pay 10 cents each for paper bags, it seems like one question remains: Are plastic bags headed towards extinction?

An article in yesterday’s New York Times, “Should Plastic Bags Be Banned” explores the possibility and raises some interesting questions. What do you think? Should customers be charged for each bag? Should plastic be banned altogether? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Elemental Herbs: News of the Week


In this interesting article, Jean-François Mouhot, visiting researcher at Georgetown University, makes a correlation between slavery and the overuse of fossil fuels. Whether you agree or disagree with his points, it is certainly an interesting argument.

Pointing out the similarities (and differences) between slavery and the use of fossil fuels can help us engage with climate change in a new way, says Jean-François Mouhot, visiting researcher at Georgetown University, USA.

In 2005, while teaching history at a French university, I was struck by the general disbelief among students that rational and sensitive human beings could ever hold others in bondage. Slavery was so obviously evil that slave-holders could only have been barbarians. My students could not entertain the idea that some slave-owners could have been genuinely blind to the harm they were doing. At the same time, I was reading a book on climate change which noted how today’s machinery — almost exclusively powered by fossil fuels like coal and oil — does the same work that used to be done by slaves and servants. “Energy slaves” now do our laundry, cook our food, transport us, entertain us, and do most of the hard work needed for our survival. Intriguing similarities between slavery and our current dependence on fossil-fuel-powered machines struck me: both perform roughly the same functions in society (doing the hard and dirty work that no one wants to do), both were considered for a long time to be acceptable by the majority and both came to be increasingly challenged as the harm they caused became more visible.

To read the rest of this article on, click here.

Lessons from the Dalai Lama

It’s hard to argue with the Dalai Lama so when we stumbled across his list of 20 Instructions for Life, we had to share. To read the Dalai Lamas’ entire list, click here.

At Elemental Herbs, we take #15 very very seriously: Be gentle with the earth.

As a nature-based healing company, we at Elemental Herbs are forever grateful for the earth’s abundant resources. We see it as our duty to care for them in the same way we care for our own bodies. That’s why we are dedicated to using restorative and responsible business practices.

Here are just a few of the ideals to which Elemental Herbs is committed:

  • Our production facility runs on solar power. That’s right – we make All Good Goop in the Morro Bay Community Center’s kitchen, which gets its electricity from photovoltaic panels on the building’s rooftop.
  •  Company headquarters are an organic farm and education center. Just up the road, inland from Morro Bay, Four Elements Farm is where our offices reside. The farm is a 55-acre parcel with orchards, gardens, composting toilets and a straw-bale greenhouse. We do residential Permaculture Design Courses once a year, and we host WWOOF’rs (willing workers on organic farms) and farm interns year round.
  •  Our team is our family. We are a small company, and as we grow, we want our team to grow with us. We create a fun and healthy environment for employees, and we encourage them to care for themselves and their families first. We support them in their own nourishing pursuits.

That’s not all. To read the rest of our pledge to planet earth, visit the Elemental Herbs site here. To shop for products that reflect our commitment, click here to visit our online store.