Conserving resources, eating organic, using non-toxic cleaning products and recycling everything humanly possible – it’s 2010 and it seems like every household has gone green. The next step? Taking the eco-friendly lifestyle on the road – literally. From stylish bags, outerwear and outdoor dining accoutrements, to sun care, portable toys and transportation devices, this holiday season there’s something truly useful to please all the busy environmentalists on your list. Get ready to take green into the next decade.
Help your favorite guy, gal or techie teen go green and get fit with a folding bicycle. Perfect for commuters, these ultra-flexible peddlers have all the economical, ecological and health benefits of a standard bike and they’re easier to store or transport via car, train or plane. New this summer, the full-size Dahon Ios XL ($1,499 at bike shops) has 24-inch wheels, an eight-speed Shimano Alfine hub, hydraulic disc brakes and puncture-resistant tires. The Ios weighs about 33 pounds and takes just 15 seconds to fold down to less than half its original dimension. A dynamo in the front hub uses pedal-generated energy to juice up a battery that powers an LED headlamp and can even charge a phone, iPod or GPS.
Bike Friday, based in bicycle-obsessed Eugene, Ore., also produces high-end folding bikes, including a wide range of built-to-order models (from $898 at bike shops) If your gift-ee isn’t a serious gear head, Kent, Schwinn, Polaris and F-160 make simpler folding bicycles with smaller wheels and fewer speeds (from $150 at retailers).
And what if your list also includes a little squirt who yearns for their own two-wheeler? Made from sustainable birch wood and non-toxic varnish, the award-winning pedal-free Skuut ($90 at sporting goods and toy stores) is perfect for tykes between two and five years old. Riders kick off the ground as if running, thus gliding or “skuuting” themselves forward and learning balance and coordination. There’s a new metal version available, with adjustable handlebars, hand brake and a bell.
Your loved ones can always dine alfresco with a picnic basket made from sustainable materials like bamboo or rattan wicker. Opt for a classic hand-woven willow Picnic Plus eco picnic basket for two and you’ll also get recycled glass wine glasses, natural cotton napkins, and bamboo plates, flatware, cutting board and cheese knife, all packed in a chemical-free cotton insulated lining ($109.99 at sporting goods stores).
If you’re more inclined toward eco-chic, it’s tough to beat the all-new cardboard (yes, cardboard!) Boxsal Picnic Boxes. The three graphic styles were inspired by a boom box, a briefcase and color-by-numbers paintings ($35 at specialty stores and boxsal.com). Each reusable and recyclable box comes with a compostable trash bag and four sets of compostable cornstarch cups, trays, bowls and utensils. Even with a cardboard handle it can carry more than 20 pounds. Consider pairing a picnic box gift with a luscious bottle of Amity Vineyards’ 2007 Eco-Wine Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. No synthetic sulfites are added during processing, making it one of the few truly organic wines to be produced in the U.S. ($20 at wine shops).
To-Go Ware RePEat bamboo utensils will reduce your fork print. The reusable place setting (bamboo fork, knife, spoon and chopstick), rolled in a handy utensil holder made from plastic bags ($11.95, upscale gourmet stores and groceries, outdoor retailers), would make a perfect stocking stuffer.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone on your list who couldn’t use one of the latest green bags.
Active women will love the Sherpani carryall collections, which feature clean silhouettes and fresh feminine designs, and are made with 67-percent recycled nylon, aluminum hardware and non-toxic dyes. Depending on her needs, consider the new Tupelo cycling backpack with hydration ($55.95), the uni-sex Rumba child backpack carrier ($229.95), or the Meridian expandable upright wheeled carry-on luggage, which is small enough to use as a carry-on when zippered, but expands to offer more room for long car trips ($199.95, see sherpani.com for a list of retailers nationwide).
Modern men might like the decidedly un-lunch-box-looking GreenSmart Sifaka dual-compartment insulated lunch bag made of Neogreene, an eco-friendly and non-toxic water-based alternative to neoprene ($29.95 at mass merchants). Or maybe he’d prefer REI’s new Quantum laptop messenger bag ($74.50), part of the outdoor chain’s ecoSensitive line (see rei.com for locations). Made from recycled PET, each durable, multipurpose satchel liberates 34 16-ounce plastic bottles from the trash. And, of course, it has a plethora of pockets for transporting all his adventure-friendly gizmos – perhaps an Eton Solarlink FR600 American Red Cross Digital AM/FM/shortwave/NOAA and S.A.M.E. Weather Radio ($80, outdoor stores) with flashlight, siren, alarm clock, cell phone charger and four different power sources, including hand crank and solar power!
Long car and plane trips are far more fun if the kids are entertained. Why not let them read up about eco-friendly practices? Released in April to coincide with Earth Month, “The Greenzys” (Zeus Media Publishing, 2010) introduces a gaggle of animals that learn the importance of being green when they help save Orinda, the world’s oldest tree ($17.99). The Greenzys characters – such as Willow the Elephant, who collects rainwater for her plants and uses her trunk as the hose – are also available as cuddly plush toys ($29.99) made from soy fibers and non-toxic dyes in socially responsible factories. Bonus: Each critter comes with a personalized certificate acknowledging that the Arbor Day Foundation has planted a tree in the new owner’s honor.
Alfresco beauty and style
Burt’s Bees is known for its all-natural, paraben-, sulfate- and phthalate-free lotions, cleansers and lip balms, but did you know that they also make an herbal insect repellent? Rosemary, lemongrass and citronella oils ensure bugs buzz off, and are safe for children and pets ($8 at drugstores). For campers, package this sweet-smelling pest-rejecter with the Badger no-mess SPF 30 zinc oxide sunscreen face stick. One of the top-rated products in the Environmental Working Group’s 2010 Sunscreen Guide, it provides chemical-free protection and fits nicely in a beach bag or carry-on ($8.50 at natural foods stores).
As for the latest cozy cover-ups, REI’s ecoSensitive line has something for everyone. The sweet recycled PET polyester down jacket for toddler girls comes in eggplant purple and punch pink ($49.50). The newest incarnation of the men’s Muir Woods fleece jacket is made with 50 percent recycled Polartec Thermal Pro fabric ($79.50).
’Tis the season for giving. With every pair of TOMS canvas shoes you purchase, the company gives a pair to a child in need. A fashionable woman would jump at the chance to receive a pair of shoes from TOMS new fall collection, especially the hip pink plaid Murray organic cotton vegan classics with faded toe or the sexy gray canvas wedges ($54, $69; see toms.com for retailers).