SAVED BY THE SHIRT
For years, Ripple Junction has provided retailers with T-shirts that hit a cultural nerve—appealing to everyone from Deadheads to comic collectors to Full House fanatics. With their Tee Hugger line, they’re promoting a line of T-shirts ($25) with an eco-conscience without giving up the humor. The shirts are made from 100% organic, chemical-free cotton, and bear messages like "Solar Power Turns Me On" and "Save Water: Shower with a Friend." Inside, each shirt features 10 easy ways to green up your life. —Astrid M. Krogstad
CONTACT: Tee Hugger Apparel
Save Your World, an Oregon-based personal-care product company, makes a conservation claim as bold and refreshing as its lime/peppermint/sandalwood-scented shower gel: For every hair or body care product one purchases, an acre of rainforest is saved for one year. The company—whose products include Save Your Hair shampoo and conditioner (12-ounce bottle, $18) , Save Your Skin shower gel (4-ounce bottle, $10) and moisturizer (8-ounce bottle, $14), and a Save Your Body line available exclusively at Whole Foods—has partnered with Conservation International, which leases 200,000 acres of rainforest in Guyana. The organization pays the Government of Guyana Forestry Mission what it would have earned had the land been used for mining or logging. The entire product line features all-natural, organic ingredients such as yerba mate and aloe vera, and comes in three essential-oil-blend fragrances—Oasis Fruit, Regal Blossom and, of course, Rainforest. —Jessica Rae Patton
CONTACT: Save Your World
WHO DO YOU HEART?
Time to get your Valentine’s Day flowers and chocolates—but not without checking those labels. The Rainforest Alliance (RA), which works to protect biodiversity and human rights worldwide, has certified specific flowers and chocolates made without causing undo harm to the planet or laborers. Certified spray roses, gerber daisies and alstromeria are available at Whole Foods. ShopRite and Sam’s Clubs sell the flowers, and all of Costco’s flowers are RA-certified. The chocolates, called Vintage Plantations Chocolates, include Valentine’s Day truffles and are available at www.eChocolates.com. The group has certified over 115 million acres of forests and farms worldwide. —Brita Belli
CONTACT: Rainforest Alliance, (212)677-1900
INNER TUBE HIGH LIFE
The idea of crafting handbags from recycled inner tubes isn’t new; eco-conscious companies have been doing so for nearly 25 years. But until now the look was decidedly utilitarian—swathes of rubber with inner-tube imprints and lots of tough hardware on display. The bags were also a bit heavy, even before being loaded with all the personal detritus people feel compelled to lug around. Passchal has taken these tubes to the ecoluxury level with lighter-weight leather details, sleeker shapes and, yes, high-fashion price tags. The playful "Scrunch" purse retails for $395; the perfect power-suit accessory, the "Downtown," is $525. A neat feature of all Passchal bags is an interior LED light. All leathers used are vegetable-tanned and chrome-free. —J.R.P.
CONTACT: Passchal Bags
NO BATTERIES REQUIRED
Here’s a good rule: Whenever you’re interested in testing a toy, give it to a kid. My two-year-old tester loved the Discover Rig from Sprig Toys. Here’s why: The light-up hats on the characters (which look a little like miners) are genius. The more she pushes, the brighter the light gets, through kinetic energy, not batteries. And when she takes the character out, the hat stays lit! The world music and voices that change with each character in the driver’s seat are cool, too, and improve in quality with use. I’m particularly fond of the Australian’s cheery "G"day, mate!" The long handle makes sense for toddler speed-racing and the recycled wood and reclaimed plastic body of the rugged-looking truck is the cherry on top of this planet-friendly toy. —B.B.
CONTACT: Sprig Toys, (970)472-0321
TIES TO GET YOU TALKING
Designer Nicole Miller has introduced a line of Carbon Neutral neckties ($95). The line hearkens back to the mid-"80s, when Miller put a permanent twist on the menswear staple by coining the concept of "conversational ties"—those with bold, culture-referencing graphics. The Absolut bottles and candy wrappers have been replaced with wind turbines, electric bikes and beneficial insects. On the back of each tie is a related fact. On the Trees Tie it"s: "Planting trees can offset your carbon dioxide output. Trees consume CO2, provide shade, food and stabilize soil." The ties themselves are not claiming carbon-neutrality; they are made in China of only 30% recycled silk. The company says their intention with the neckwear is "primarily intellectual"—meaning, they are intended to inspire discussions about conservation efforts. Miller is a longtime supporter of environmental causes and organizations including Riverkeeper and the Rocky Mountain Institute. —J.R.P.
CONTACT: Nicole Miller
FINDING YOUR GREEN PATH
"Sustainability" is a common concern in the environmental movement, whether regarding agriculture, energy or development. But is the environmental movement itself, with its ubiquitous quick-fix tips and green guides du jour, sustainable in its present phase? This is the question contemplated by author Stephanie Kaza in Mindfully Green: A Personal and Spiritual Guide to Whole Earth Thinking (Shambhala Publications, Inc., $14). "Green zeal," writes Kaza, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Vermont and a practicing Zen Buddhist, is "an almost fervent sense of engagement with environmental concerns." She applauds this zeal but cautions that in order to sustain it beyond the amount of time it takes to switch out one’s lightbulbs, people need to find their deeper "green practice path." Informed by her Buddhist teachings, she puts forth in this book several ideas for moving "from personal sacrifice to real consideration of the nature of our connection with the earth." Kaza expands the idea of a green lifestyle beyond just that—a style—to an endurable and dynamic green way of life, or "lifeway." This is one green guide as sustainable as its message. —Jessica Rae Patton
THE REAL MAVERICK
It’s easy to get lost in the drama of The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet’s Largest Mammals (Free Press, $15) by adventure writer and NPR contributor Peter Heller. Even before the ship full of ragtag international conservationists, animal activists and reporters makes it to Antarctica to find and confront Japanese whaling ships, the book presents an amazing alternate universe. Captain Paul Watson, one of the foun-ders of Greenpeace who formed the Sea Shepherd Society, is truly deserving of the "maverick" title—a wild-white-haired burly man prone to raunchy jokes and comic book quizzes who Heller dubs "the anti-Ahab" in reference to the infamous whaleship captain in Moby Dick. Heller writes of Watson: "More bearish, more charming, but just as terrifying in his fearlessness, and in his willingness to sacrifice everything, including our lives—to save the whale." Watson may register as an "extreme" environmentalist by the standards of most, but the descriptions in Whale Warriors of just how whales are executed via high-voltage torture, or how gently they respond to those who save them from entanglement or death, would give anyone pause. The mix of far-flung characters, wild weather, environmental lessons and outrageous adventures all leads to a head-on clash with the Japanese whaling fleet—on Christmas Day, no less. It’s an exhilarating ride. —Brita Belli
WHO OWNS THE WATER?
Strong graphics, charts and pages that resemble frames from a PowerPoint presentation dominate the book Water Consciousness: How We All Have to Change to Protect Our Most Critical Resource (Alternet Books, $19.95), edited by Tara Lohan. For a relatively slim volume, it covers a lot of territory, with essays by leading clean-water experts and advocates including Canadian activist Maude Barlow, the new senior advisor on water to the U.N., and Wenonah Hauter, the director of Food and Water Watch. There is plenty of alarm-sounding in the essays. Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman warn that private water companies are after our water reserves. They use the city of Stockton, California, as an example, where a pro-industry mayor sought to hand over local water rights, but was met with a tenacious Concerned Citizen’s Coalition that won back control over their water after a protracted battle. And Barlow’s essay is about taking decisive action, too. She writes that the U.N. has finally recognized water as a basic human right, but that several countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia and China, have stood in opposition, despite the global need. We must, says the essay, reclaim "water as a commons for the earth and all people that must be wisely and sustainably shared and managed if we are to survive." In order to protect the world’s water resources, the essays agree, we first must make sure we haven’t given them away. —B.B.
THE GOOD BOOK’S GONE GREEN
The Good Book has been given the green treatment, with the release of The Green Bible: Understanding the Bible’s Powerful Message for the Earth (New Revised Standard Version) (HarperOne, $29.95). To begin with, The Green Bible is bound in a cotton-linen cover and printed in the U.S. with soy-based ink on recycled paper. Fashioned after the red-letter Bible, in which direct quotes attributed to Jesus are highlighted in the color crimson, over 1,000 verses of this edition are cast in a deep-green hue. These passages, as is stated in the book’s publicity materials, speak to God’s love for creation and the scriptural mandate for humans to care for, protect and heal the earth." Features include a green topical index and essays by scholars and leaders including the late Pope John Paul II, Jewish environmentalist Ellen Bernstein and author Brian McLaren. In the foreword, Archbishop Desmond Tutu puts forth a passionate call to stewardship for the earth and responsibility for one another: "Once we start living in a way that is people-friendly to all of God’s family, we will also be environment-friendly." Whether one believes the Bible is the word of God or a work of fiction, this is a timely take on one of the world’s most influential books. —J.R.P.
FROM CORPORATION TO CONSERVATION
The very title Eco Barons (HarperCollins, $24.99) seems to suggest a dichotomy. We like to think of our environmental leaders as quirky, living-out-in-the-woods types, modern-day Thoreaus quick with an organic recipe, a do-it-yourself wind turbine plan or a handy recycling tip. What Edward Humes" book uncovers are folks who have taken their profitable businesses and turned them into seriously beneficial enterprises. People like Doug Tompkins, the founder of North Face and Esprit, who began actively seeking more sustainable business practices in the 1980s, and even launched a catalog campaign that told consumers to "Buy Only What You Need." By the 1990s, Tompkins had been bought out for $200 million—more than enough to put his green dreams to work. He began in Chile’s Patagonia region, buying up swaths of land that would eventually total 1,000 square miles known as Pumalin Park. In his relentless effort to preserve land, writes Humes, the Chilean people saw his focus as ""radical," a term equivalent to "subversive" in Chile." Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby is in here, too, who sold her business to the Clorox Company and used the $182 million she received for her 20% remaining control in 2007 to start buying up (and saving) the privately owned "in-holdings" within Maine’s Acadia National Park and other national parks around the country. These profiles are lessons in the lasting power of conservation, which, even more than corporate profits, remains an essential part of the great American identity. —B.B.
The introduction to The Essential Green You: Easy Ways to Detox Your Diet, Your Body, and Your Life (Simon & Schuster, $15.95) can seem daunting, as author Deirdre Imus discusses the countless toxins and synthetic chemicals that are present in the "stuff" of our daily lives. Many of the millions of pollutants found in our environment are inescapable, she writes, and can have detrimental effects on the body—causing disease, birth defects and health risks to children. Imus implores us to use the "precautionary principle" of environmentalism to find alternatives to our habits as both consumers and global citizens.
The book is the third volume from Imus" best-selling "Green This!" series. In it, she encourages us to reflect on our daily choices in the supermarket, at the pharmacy and at the mall. She urges readers to consider "everything you put on or in your body
to reduce your overall intake of toxins, whether they come in a jar of face cream or a bottle of salad dressing." Each section covers a different health topic, from "Eating Green 101" to personal-care products and fashion. And the book is chock-full of handy reference lists: safe seafood, low-pesticide produce, cosmetics to avoid, sustainable garments and safer dietary supplements. Vegan recipes and a web resource guide
enable readers to become proactive in finding their own paths to wellbeing. Imus confirms that the notion of consuming with a conscience (it is possible, after all) holds the promise of rejuvenation—of oneself and, in time, the planet. —Astrid M. Krogstad