BEAUTY BY DESIGN
With Origins, you can select pre-packaged beauty sets or design your own gift pack and have it wrapped free of charge. Origins uses 100% recycled boxes and festive carbon- and acid-free, 15% recycled paper. Gift products include: Extremely Green ($90), certified-organic skin, hair and body care products; and Peace of Mind ($10), a mixture of essential oils (peppermint, basil and eucalyptus) that when dabbed onto the neck, temples and earlobes helps to reduce feelings of tension and stress. —Jennifer Santisi
Aveda has partnered with communities in Northwestern Nepal to release nine limited-edition gift sets packaged in Lokta paper. The paper is handcrafted by men and women in the Himalayas and every purchase helps to sustain Nepali families and forests. Sets include: Himalayan Glow ($32), Aveda’s signature soy-wax aromatherapy candle infused with certified-organic essential oils of cinnamon, clove and vanilla, resting in a 95% post-consumer recycled glass container; Ritual of Relief ($40), a handcrafted gift box that includes invigorating hand and foot creams made of plant-derived ingredients; and Ultimate Sanctuary ($129), a gift set that includes a Shampure soy-wax candle, Soothing Aqua Therapy, Beautifying Composition, Intensive Hydrating Masque, Nourish-Mint Renewing Lip Treatment and a 100% organic cotton kimono-style robe. —J.S.
CONTACT: Aveda, (800)644-4831.
MAD ABOUT MAGNETS
Kate Grenier Designs LLC sells handmade, cleverly designed magnets made from recycled bottle caps as singles or in themed sets of up to six, from $3 to $18. Pick up the “planet earth” set to remind everyone on your holiday list to “hug a tree” already. —Amanda Peterka
CONTACT: Kate Grenier Designs LLC, (503)841-5949.
TOP TOY PICKS
For those who prefer catalog and online shopping, there have never been more earth-friendly options, especially for your littlest gift recipients. Oompa Toys features quality kid stuff from the whimsical to the educational. We especially like the Under the Nile basket of fruit fashioned from cuddle-worthy organic Egyptian cotton ($25.99), and the Eco-Friendly Cookware and Dining Set by Green Toys, which is made in the U.S. of recycled plastic in spunky colors like lavender, pistachio green and banana yellow ($39.99). Earthentree wooden toys are handcrafted in India from sustainable wood and colored with natural vegetable dyes. The rich earth tones are a welcome departure from primary-colored plastic fare. The selection of pull toys, rattles and stackers includes the adorable Cubby Color Stacker ($22).
(EDITOR’S NOTE: In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Earthentree issued a voluntary recall on some of its toys earlier this year. According to Earthentree founder Deepti Shankar, the company has completely resolved the issues and has corrected almost 70% of the effected toys, “which is unheard of in the toy industry.” Please visit their website for more information: www.earthentree.com/recall.asp
Hazelnut Kids carries only natural toys and products. The Kallisto organic cotton bunny is stuffed with wool and hand-sewn in Germany. At $60.90, it’s a little pricey at the outset but is destined to be a favorite naptime companion. The wooden camera from North Star Toys will provide lots of fun for your toddler shutterbug-to-be ($22.90). They even offer a gift-wrapping service using recycled and recyclable paper. And take a sneak peek at what’s to come from the new I Love My Planet Toys. First out of the (100% recycled cardboard) box are Planet Pixies—three different 13-inch plush dolls, each with her own environmentally themed biography (and sassy organic cotton outfit and wings), that will be available at both retailers and e-tailers in time for the holidays ($24.99). —Jessica Rae Patton
SCENTED STOCKING STUFFERS
Slip these Pacifica Solid Perfumes into a stocking for instant points. Along with the holiday aromas of fresh pine, baked cookies and gingerbread, the company offers a batch of nature-inspired fragrances. Five new perfumes, in varieties like Avalon Juniper, Tibetan Mountain Temple and Mexican Cocoa come in small recyclable tins and brightly colored post-consumer packaging. The perfume itself resembles a small candle and is made from a base of vegan soy and coconut wax. Enticing combinations of clove, sweet orange and black pepper make for a spicy winter escape. —A.P.
CONTACT: Pacifica Perfumes, (503) 221-2466.
GET YOUR RESIN ON
Reusable water bottles and recycled bags aren’t the only ways to get plastic out of landfills—now you can un-plastic your jewelry, too. everybodygreen.com offers charm bracelets made with corn starch-based resin, natural herbal tea dye and recycled brass. Already spotted on the wrists of celebrities like Zach Braff, the pastel No Plastic bracelet for $10 and accompanying Crystal Long Trio Necklace for $18 are perfect quick gift ideas, and the website donates proceeds to environmental groups. —A.P.
CONTACT: everybodygreen.com, (212)792-8360.
THE WINE LIST
Organic wines are now available in every variety and style for comparable cost to their chemically produced counterparts. Boisset Family Estates breaks all the barriers with its Yellow Jersey wine. It’s a warm, light Pinot Noir from France in a recyclable plastic bottle. The 100% recycled PET bottle (polyethylene terephthalate, the same material in fleece) has half the carbon footprint of regular bottles and blocks both oxygen and UV light for better-tasting wine. From Bodegas Iranzo comes a selection of organic Spanish wines that are affordable and distinctive. The Vertvs Tempranillo has a robust, old-world flavor while the Tarantas Tempranillo-Cabernet is flavorful and sweeter, a perfect complement to a holiday meal. —Brita Belli
MORE PERFECT PAPER
The founders of paper company annie l catherine, Annie Darling and Catherine Breer, design stationary, note card sets, calendars and wrapping paper with the beauty of nature in mind. They work with the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure the paper they use has been har
vested in a sustainable manner, and use a facility run on wind power. Their offerings include a Catherine Breer poster calendar (desk, $16, poster, $17), full of boldly colored paintings of locations from the Bahamas to Muscoot Farm in Katonah, New York, holiday tags ($2.95), including snowmen, snowflakes, Christmas trees and poinsettias, and a holiday card set ($15), from retro prints, to hip snowmen, to traditional winter scenes. —J.S.
CONTACT: annie | catherine, (207) 591-4871.
SOURCING THE STUFF
British journalist Fred Pearce retraces his ecological steps in Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff (Beacon Press, $24.95). Pearce embarks on a fascinating journey to find out where the contents of his pantry, the clothes in his wardrobe and the electronics he uses come from, and to meet the people involved in the various stages of production. Some of the far-flung places he visits are a gold mine in South Africa, a prawn farm in Bangladesh, a cotton field in Australia and a computer “recycling center” (an acrid, miles-long, open-air ditch where 10-year-old children dunk circuit boards in vats of acid to remove their copper) in India. His commitment to his quest is admirable and eye-opening: Who knew it takes 5.5 tons of water, more than 30 tons of air pumped into a mine-cooling system and 10 hours of treacherous labor to extract enough gold to create a simple wedding band? Pearce’s findings raise complex questions—can sweatshop labor be considered liberating? Is there such a thing as “fair trade” coffee?—for which there are no simple answers. But his discoveries can help all of us make more informed decisions about our own purchases. —Jessica Rae Patton
There are a lot of energy books on the market, but few of them are as level-headed, to the point and engagingly detailed as Green: Your Place in the New Energy Revolution by Jane and Michael Hoffman (Palgrave Macmillan, $15.95). Jane Hoffman is a policy expert and the chairman of the Presidential Forum on Renewable Energy, and Michael Hoffman is managing director of Riverstone Holding, LLC, where he manages the world’s largest renewable energy fund. Together, they lay out a basic formula that will take the world from wasteful consumption to a renewable energy future, a formula that includes conservation, investment and security. While that may sound like material worthy of a lecture hall, the book is a surprisingly breezy read. They talk about the vibrant jazz clubs and civil rights protests of Washington D.C.’s U Street, now a model for using wind power through an ingenious group purchase among the merchants. They patiently explain the difference between watts, kilowatts and megawatts, before discussing the computer game SimCity as a model for the consequences of using coal instead of clean energy. In fact, the idea of imagining yourself mayor of a town, looking at your available resources, and deciding the best energy plan, is a theme that plays throughout the book. It’s a way of seeing our own power and influence in the big energy picture, and how short- term decisions have toxic long-term consequences. —Brita Belli
NINE BILLION AND COUNTING?
Someone had to write Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, $27.95), and I’m glad it was Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times’ resident globalization sage. The book is about the perfect storm the world faces, with global warming, peak oil and a runaway global population that (despite the red herring known as the “birth dearth”) will spiral to more than nine billion before it levels off around 2050. So, he writes, we’re increasingly straining the earth’s resources at the same time we’re also preparing to add 2.5 billion more world citizens.
Friedman’s prescription is for sustainability and a green energy revolution, and to drive home his points he circumnavigates the globe, talking to CEOs and presidents. His consistently colorful examples are gathered from Darfur to Abu Dhabi. (Someone should measure this man’s carbon footprint, but it’s for a good cause.) If this engaging book has a flaw, it’s in never quite spelling out how we ramp up alternative technologies to take over from oil. Yes, we need an international consensus and global investment, but in which technologies? Solar? Wind? Hydrogen? Geo-thermal? Or is it all of the above? —Jim Motavalli
FIXING THE PROBLEMS
In The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems (HarperOne, $25.95), author Van Jones defines green-collar jobs as “family supporting, career-track job[s] that directly contribute to preserving or enhancing environmental quality.” Jones, the founder and president of the Oakland, California-based advocacy group Green For All, emphasizes that a green economy is an achievable goal by using the resources we already have in our homes and businesses. But it requires transforming those places. He warns, “The worthwhile green economy cannot be built with solar sweatshops.” The longtime environmental-jobs advocate outlines the two crises that plague us today: radical socioeconomic inequality and the rapid destruction of our environment. He believes that we can address both issues simultaneously and successfully by tapping into the “green part” of our economy. The current green wave of investment, he says, has the power to change the world. The Green Collar Economy outlines in detail what we need to do to achieve eco-equity, equal opportunities for all and equal protection for all, while including the environment in the equation. —Jennifer Santisi
True Green Kids: 100 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet (National Geographic, $15.95) is the latest in the True Green book series by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin. This offering is aimed at the youngest environmentalists, and uses to good effect something akin to what marketing and advertising pros call “the nag factor”—targeting children, who then hound their parents into particular purchases. Many of the book’s suggestions are toward kids leading their family in an eco-overhaul, from holding a shortest-shower contest to creating a compost pile. “Drive your parents crazy by reminding them to turn off the TV for a change!” it cheerfully suggests. The book is arranged by spheres of a child’s life in which they can implement the four Rs (“rethink” is added to the traditional three): in their bedroom, while hanging out with friends, at school, when shopping, playing outdoors or on vacation. Additional resources include a quiz, list of websites and a glossary. —J.R.P.