New Different

GREEN GREETINGS

California-based NaturCard has devised a greener way of saying “Happy Holidays.” The company has developed greeting cards handcrafted from tree bark, leaves, dried flowers and 100 percent recycled paper. Offering eight designs encased in biodegradable cellophane, the cards can be ordered blank, with ready-made greetings, quotes from eloquent environmentalists, or verses of your own creation. The cost is $2.50 per card, including the matching envelope, and a minimum order of 10 is required. Proceeds benefit EcoCorps, a nonprofit organization focusing on environmental education and community activism.

CONTACT

NaturCard, c/o Green Options
2262 Palou Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94124
Tel. (888) 473-3667

—Nathan Hill


CELEBRATE THE YEAR OF THE TIGER

In Land of the Tiger, Valmik Thapar shares with us the rich natural variety of the increasingly endangered Asian tiger’s domain. Thapar’s personal anecdotes and reflections on the exotic land where snow leopards, black bears and elephants roam, accompanied by brilliant photographs, make the book a captivating read on the conservation of the Indian subcontinent. Available at bookstores for $29.95, or $33.70 postpaid from: University of California Press, 2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94720, tel. (800) 822-6657.

—Sharon Loh


HERBAL AID

Have you ever needed to carry a first aid kit but felt uncomfortable with the medical assumptions of conventional first aid? Well, Adventure Medical Kits has come up with a kit that takes natural medicine seriously. The Herbal Medicine Kit is a combination of traditional and alternative medicine, containing herbal remedies (aloe vera, ginger, arnica and echinacea/golden seal.) along with bandages, aspirin, medical instruments and a guide to treat traveling ailments. It comes in a zippered canvas bag ($44.75 postpaid) or a plastic box ($29.50).

CONTACT

Adventure Medical Kits
PO Box 43309
Oakland, CA 94624
Tel. (800) 324-3517

—S.L.


STRINGS ATTACHED

C.F. Martin Guitar Company is selling, for the first time, a guitar manufactured from certified wood, crafted from forests that have been evaluated by the Rainforest Alliance to ensure they meet environmental and social standards.

“Traditionally, acoustic guitars have been built from rare, exotic timbers, and those timbers are getting rarer,” says C.F. Martin head Chris Martin. “We’re hoping to be able to convince our customers that other woods are appropriate.” The Martin Certified Wood model is constructed from a mixture of certified cherry, basswood, hard maple and katalox (pronounced “cat-ah-losh”), and sells for $1,399.

CONTACT

C.F. Martin & Company
PO Box 329
Nazareth, PA 18064
Tel. (800) 633-2060

—N.H.


PHOTO; National Arbor Day Foundation

A GIFT THAT GROWS

A recycled fruitcake isn’t the only Earth-friendly gift this holiday season. Make family and friends members of The National Arbor Day Foundation and 10 live native trees will be delivered to their door in time for spring planting. Membership also includes a bimonthly newsletter, Arbor Day, and The Tree Book, which highlights care and handling. Your $10 donation gives again through projects ranging from international reforestation to habitat preservation and landowner stewardship programs. In a season in which 31.7 million trees are cut down in the U.S., why not give a gift that grows?

CONTACT

The National Arbor Day Foundation
211 North 12th Street
Lincoln, NE 68508
Tel. (402) 474-5655

—Jennifer L. Bogo


READING, WRITING, RECONNECTING

For those who want to bridge the gap between admiring nature and connecting with it, naturalists Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth have collaborated to write Nature Journaling. Designed for the novice explorer or fledgling diarist, the book tells how to begin a nature journal, what to put in it, where to look and what you’ll find there. It offers tips on “journaling” through the seasons, guides to improving your drawings, even instructions for classroom teaching. It’s no philosophical book—it simply provides a healthy excuse to go mess about in nature. Available for $26.95 at bookstores or $30.95 postpaid from Storey Books, School House Road, Pownal, VT 05261, tel. (802) 823-5200.

—N.H.


Blu Planet

A BLUER PLANET

Plastic bottles can be tossed into landfills, or they can be saved as raw material for an increasingly diverse range of consumer goods. Chicago-based Blu Planet has been chipping up detergent bottles and other high-content, post-consumer recycled materials and remolding them into colorful clocks, chairs, even clipboards. Because products are hand-casted, individual pieces vary in color and texture. Clocks are $24.99 each; clipboards are $9.99. Bluplanet also offers a line of houseware products. Check the company’s website at http://www.bluplanet.com.

CONTACT

Blu Planet
2025 South Ruble
Chicago, IL 60616
Tel. (312) 666-8107

—S.L.


EARTHEN JEWELS

Colorful jewelry from Dakota Spirit allows you to support native crafts and take a stand on the legalization of hemp fiber, with looking good part of the bargain. Dakota Spirit offers jewelry—necklaces, chokers, earrings and bracelets—crafted with bone and glass beads, and woven hemp. You can also custom order your hemp jewelry. These accessories are hand-crafted by Native Americans throughout reservations in North Dakota. Five percent of profits will help support a community of elderly Native Americans in Standing Rock Reservation.

CONTACT

Dakota Spirit
2900 East Broadway, Suite 4
Bismarck, ND 58501
Tel. (800) 304-6886
URL: http://www.dakotaspirit.com

—S.L.


NO FAUX FASHIONS

In search for clothing that’s fit to shape you, rather than someone else? Wildrose Farm has combined organic cotton with recycled fabrics to create an affordable line of women’s clothes and custom designs from pullovers to skirts to coats. “Instead of offering a limited selection like most companies, we customize clothing so people get exactly what they want,” says co-owner Karen Knierim. Available in a wide range of earth tones, neons and pastels, these “green,” yet stylish, fashions start at $50.

CONTACT

Wildrose Farm
HCR 2 Box 33
Breezy Point, MN 56472
Tel. (218) 562-4864

—Nicole M. DiDomenico


FOREST-FRIENDLY

FURNITURE

Finally, furniture with style and a conscience! Tamalpais TimberWorks presents Arts and Culture, an innovative line of tables, bedframes and benches produced from sustainable, certified forests. The furniture’s unique ArtUnion Assembly metal plates and connecting bolts allow for a distinctive, modular design that can be customized. “This line will be especially attractive to people who want their furniture to be a reflection of the things they love and value—particularly art, nature and the environment,” says Tamalpais TimberWorks designer, Bill Callahan.

CONTACT

Tamalpais
PO Box 3353
San Rafael, CA 94912
Tel. (415) 454-9948

—N.M.D.


CALORIES THAT COUNT

If only saving the rain forest were as easy as buying a chocolate bar. According to Conservation International (CI), it just may be. Purchasing a gift basket full of natural products benefits CI, an organization creating economic alternatives for communities living near some of the world’s most-threatened ecosystems. Packed with items such as scented brazil nut shell candles from Peru, organic blends of shade-grown coffee, and Guatemalan potpourri, each collection contains sustainably harvested products and ingredients. Ready-made or custom baskets, ranging from $15 to $100, can be ordered from Elite Occasions at (800) 868-6613 or by visiting The Rain Forest Marketplace, http://www.conservation.org.

—J.L.B.


FULL BASKET

How about a gift with a little of everything? The Green Turtle Basket Company offers seasonal and custom-made, Earth-friendly gift baskets, and themed baskets such as “Coffee Break” and “New Mommy.” The baskets, wrapped in reusable plastic bags instead of shrink-wrap, contain natural and organic products such as food, teas and skin care items depending on the theme, and include instructions for recycling the shipping material. Cost varies, based on the size and content of the basket, but range between $35 and $100. An on-line catalogue is available from http://www.greenturtle.com, or contact The Green Turtle Basket Company, 21621 SW 98 Place, Miami, FL 33190, tel. (800) 314-1868.

—E.L.


LUBE JOB

What would you do with “Elephant Lube?” Gabrielle Melchionda, president and founder of Mad Gab’s, which makes Lip Lube and Elephant Lube, has many suggestions, including using on dry elbows and windburned faces. The flavored lubes, made out of natural ingredients like shea butter and beeswax, are packaged in recyclable aluminum tins. Melchionda believes in “making jobs for people who need them, since there’s always room for folks to help,” so the tins are labeled and wrapped by challenged adults from shelters near her Portland, Maine studio. The lubes are available ($2.95 for lip and $6.50 for elephant) by calling 800-LIP-LUBE or by visiting selected stores nationally.

—E.L.


CULTURE WITH CONSCIENCE

The pulse of Southeast Asian culture can beat in homes everywhere with Tribal Fibers’ collection of handcrafted products. On items from table runners to picture frames, vibrant mauves, greens, browns and blues provide a background for hand-painted batik patterns. Each piece is made from only sustainably grown and harvested hemp and is naturally dyed, woven, and sewn by local artisans. In a world of mass production, Tribal Fibers strives to create a global marketplace for village-based cooperatives and, according to owner Darren Stepanik, “develop a socially and environmentally responsible business.” A wholesale catalog can be requested from tribalfiber@earthlink.net or by calling (888) 712-8585.

—J.L.B.


ESSENTIAL READING

Hardly your average dictionary, Aromatherapy, A-Z is an alphabetical guide to illnesses and their corresponding natural treatments. Explore humankind’s first medicine with Connie and Alan Higley and Pat Leatham, natural healing enthusiasts. Through this colorful reference volume, the authors provide basic facts about essential oils, their application, and detailed advice on how to use them. So if you find the local pharmacy confuses you, slip a few drops of rosemary in your bath and flip through this step-by-step handbook to holistic medicine. Available in bookstores for $17.95 or $22.95 postpaid from Hay House P.O. Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100, tel. (800) 654-5126.

—J.L.B.