Road Trip

D.C.'s Nod to Organic Harvest Month

Sunday, September 2, 2007

WHERE: Northwest Washington.

WHY: No-more-chemical-tears shampoo, vegan groceries and an eco-bed.

HOW FAR: About 10 miles, accessible by hybrid, Metro, bus or bike.

This Labor Day weekend, start changing your non-green ways: Toss an organic burger on the grill at your holiday barbecue, plant a garden and pick up all-natural threads during your back-to-school shopping trip. The environment, and Organic Harvest Month, will appreciate it.

Organic Harvest Month was started in 1992 by the Massachusetts-based Organic Trade Association, which represents all of the North American organic industry. The event aims to celebrate eco-friendly living and encourage Americans to buy organic foods and goods. For Washingtonians, the comforting news is that you don't have to waste many fossil fuels to go all natural.

"Washington is really learning to ask for organic food and retail, and that's what it takes," says Caren Wilcox, the trade group's executive director. "Availability's really growing." To wit, within the District, you can stock your kitchen -- including your pet drawer -- with organic sundries, suds up without chemicals and even dress the whole family, including the littlest member, in pure fibers.

How to know if you are truly going green? Look for the "USDA Organic" seal, which guarantees that the product is at least 95 percent organic and is made in a way that emphasizes renewable resources and avoids synthetics, antibiotics, bioengineering and sewage sludge. It's a serious set of standards but one that more businesses are following. Wilcox estimates that in recent years, the organic sector has grown 18 to 20 percent annually.

Organic Harvest Month, however, is more than just 30 days of drinking organic coffee and wearing organic cotton underwear; it is also a reason for sales. Indeed, many chemical-free outlets and retailers across the country are offering special events and discounts. For example, Hoopla Traders, an eco-friendly shop that recently moved to Adams Morgan, will slash prices on its clothes and toiletries.

Of course, when the calendar flips to October, don't toss your new products or lifestyle. Like Twinkies, green habits have a very long shelf life.

NEXT: See and Print the Map

-- Ben Chapman

© 2007 The Washington Post Company