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Down to Earth



Published: Tue, November 18, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Dana Carman | CTW Features

Everybody’s doing it. Going green, that is. The environment, thankfully, is in and this holiday season, you don’t have to be an eco-nut to enjoy gifts that are both thoughtfully produced and refreshingly practical. More, they’re cute, to boot. Long gone is the mentality that it has to look bad to be good. Attractive bags, apparel, toys and accessories are easy to find and won’t break the budget. Check out some of this year’s eco-friendly offerings and get giving.

The Big Give

Your kids will think you’re the coolest parents around when you give them the Powerwing ($129.99, Razor). It’s an easy-to-maneuver, three-wheeled scooter that uses the power of side-to-side motion (not gas) to move forward. For those not so scooter-savvy, that means it allows turning, drifting and acceleration without ever having to push. It also can do 360 degree spins. The Powerwing is available for kids age 5 and up.

Scooters aren’t just for kids, though this one is just for adults. The Vespa LX 50 is a sweet, affordable ride. Mileage may vary, but a gallon of gas will get you roughly 70 to 80 miles. Yes, that’s per gallon. With an ergonomically designed seat that makes riding comfortable, it’s perfect for commuting and running those weekend errands. You can cruise up to 39 miles per hour. For speed demons, the LX 150 edition clocks in at about 59 miles per hour. MSRP is $3,299 for the LX 50 and $4,399 for the LX 150.

For the Ladies

Handbags are usually a safe bet for a special lady in your life. Raw Bags’ eco-friendly, funky and fetching clutches and handbags ($40-$60) are made from bamboo, a sustainable material often associated with green building. The company also recently launched a newspaper clutch and tote made from 100-percent Chinese newspaper ($70 and $100, respectively).

Nothing says, “I love you and the environment,” like eco-friendly cosmetics. Package a few of the following together for a spa experience for the socially conscious. LotionGlow pure soy body candles, ($8 for a 1 oz. candle, LG Exotics) melt into a soothing, fragrant lotion. The PlantLove line features an array of natural beauty products, including lipstick housed in a 100-percent compostable tube made entirely from corn ($20, Cargo Cosmetics). The outer carton is made with biodegradable flower paper containing wildflower seeds that can be planted. John Masters Organics offers skincare and hair-care products, such as Blood Orange and Vanilla Body Milk ($18) or Rosemary and Peppermint Detangler ($16) without chemicals, animal cruelty or destructive collection practices. Answering the prayers of those who despise using nail-polish remover, the water-based WaterColors Peel-Off Polish is odor-free, nontoxic and, best of all, peels right off ($5.99, Honeybee Gardens).

One cannot underestimate the importance of the blow dryer in a woman’s life. While it is a personal choice, if you know someone in the market for a new one, there’s an eco-conscious version, the Eco 8000 Professional Eco-Friendly Blow Dryer ($150, Barbar). The dryer delivers 1,000 watts using a ceramic heating element as opposed to the standard heating coil, which lowers electricity use and reduces harmful effects of radiation. The company claims the technology helps cut drying time in half – now that’s a reason to ditch the old one.

Gotta-Get Gear

Patagonia is a company that has long been equated with environmentalism and sporty apparel that’s as functional as it is attractive. Men and women can both keep the chill out and the good will in with the Free Box Jacket ($108). This lightweight jacket is made from a 100 percent recycled shell and 90 percent recycled insulation, perfect for a night of caroling. Speaking of the great outdoors, the Women’s Print Zip-T, (Hot Chillys, $65) is a three-season top made from 50-percent recycled material and, in the high-moisture areas, Bio Del Mar Antimicrobial polyester, which is derived from crushed crustacean shells. No matter the outdoor activity – hiking, camping, boating – the K-Light will come in handy. No batteries needed here. This lantern combines a solar-powered battery with energy-efficient LEDs for a bright light in the size and weight of a soda can. The K-Light is waterproof, floats, and should last roughly 100,000 hours, which is a really long time ($59.99, Pisat Solar).

If indoor sports are more your recipient’s style, stretch out on the eKO mat. These yoga mats are made with non-Amazon natural tree rubber, do not contain toxic chemicals and are 100-percent biodegradable ($64.99, Manduka).

Eco-Tech

The MicroServer OpenBlockS 266 is a low-electricity-using, palm-sized server for home offices. It’s free of lead, mercury, cadmium and other damaging materials ($499, Plat’Home).

Reusable rainwater may not be the sexiest of gifts, but for those looking to outfit their homes with some simple green technology, RainReserve Diverter Kits ($89.95 to $97.95) are easy-to-install on your downspout. The device diverts rainwater to a rain barrel while filtering out leaves and debris. Use collected rainwater to water a lawn and flowers or wash the car. Rain barrels must be purchased locally, as the company doesn’t ship those for sustainability reasons, but it features a locator on its Web site to direct you to a supplier in your neck of the woods: www.rainreserve.com.

Eco-Ed for Sprouts

When learning is fun, parents and kids are happy. Number Hunt and Word Chase!, for kids 4 and up, entertain while working on reading and math skills. The games are environmentally friendly, printed with soy-based ink, water-based varnish and phthalate-free lamination on recycled paper. The games are made with formaldehyde-free glues, chemical-free wood and bamboo ($19.95, Beyond Learning).

Idbids are plush characters that show children the “iddy biddy” steps they can take to improve the planet’s health. There’s Scout, the fluffy white cloud; Lola, the pink flower; and Waverly, the bright blue water drop. Each character is made with 100-percent organically grown Egyptian cotton. The Idbids Eco-friendly Starter Kit ($39.99) comes with one of the characters, an organic fabric cinch sack, a storybook and field guide printed on recycled paper with eco-friendly inks.

On the Table

Whether you’re into green or not, you’ll like giving, and would probably prefer getting, this beautiful dinnerware and giftware. Fire and Light’s collections use crushed, recycled glass to create hand-made plates, bowls, glasses and the like. The company also incorporates recycling into its production processes. Check www.fireandlight.com, for retailers nationwide.

© CTW Features


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