Tools for Green Living

GREENER GIFT WRAP

Once you have the perfect environmentally friendly gift, why cover it in traditional throwaway wrapping? Instead, try reusable wrapping from Wrapsacks. These fun cotton gift bags are available in six sizes, including candle and wine shapes. All you have to do is slip your gift in and tie on a card. Prices are comparable to paper gift bags ($2.95 to $6.95). The bags come in 12 batik designs, including snowflakes, flowers and fish. Each bag is given a tracking number, which can be used on the Wrapsacks website to see how far it has traveled.

CONTACT

Wrapsacks
Tel: (800) 505-3365

—Freya Sachs

EGYPTIAN COTTON GOES ORGANIC

Using organically cultivated cotton, metal-free dyes and fair trade principles, Under the Nile is a great place to find gifts for children this holiday season. Prices range from $10 to $34 for the cuddly organic plush toys, while the adorable clothing for children aged newborn to 12 ranges from $8 to $34. A wide variety of home products from organic blankets and bedding to play mats are available for $30 to $195. Under the Nile’s dolls are soft and present no choking hazards or toxic chemical dangers.

CONTACT

Under the Nile
Tel: (800) 883-4402

—Sarah Loehndorf

COVE CRUSADER (WITH ACCESSORIES)

For parents tired of carbon copy cut "n" style dolls, Kailey, the newest American Girl Today, will be a breath of fresh air. Kailey is a boogie boarder from California who stars in the colorful accompanying book of the same name, by Amy Goldman Koss (Pleasant Company Publications, $6.95; doll and book together, $84). Like any pre-teen, Kailey is excited about getting a new movie theater and mall in town, but she is bummed to discover the development will destroy the tide pools in her pristine rocky cove. The fictional 10-year-old successfully convinces the developer to back off (with the help of some delicious lemon squares). For its target audience, Kailey is good medicine, offering optimism, hope and motivation for kids to stand up against an environmental wrong.

—Becca Manning

DOn’t FORGET THE CARD

Looking for holiday gifts and greeting cards? Eco Africa USA is a great place to start. Based in the Republic of Zimbabwe, Eco Africa sells hand-made paper products and all-natural soaps. The paper is created by village people out of fiber from local plants, including cotton and sun hemp, river reed and elephant grass. It comes in a variety of natural hues and designs, as well as in beautiful journals, albums and photo frames (prices vary). Eco Africa’s delightful herbal and botanical soaps also come wrapped in their signature paper.

CONTACT

Eco Africa

—F.S.

SOFTEN YOUR SKIN

With its new products, Aubrey Organics has something to soften nearly everyone’s skin. The new youth-oriented Ultimate Moist hand and body lotions ($9.95) come in four scents. All of the lotions, from unscented to passionflower, are light and smooth, 100 percent natural and vegan friendly. If you are in the mood for something more indulgent, try the new Natural Spa Sea Wonders. Both the Relaxing and Invigorating lines include bath salts, massage oil and body polish ($14.95 to $17.95). The products are certified organic and leave skin smooth for hours.

CONTACT

Aubrey Organics
Tel: (800) 237-4270

—F.S. Books

UNSUNG HEROES

How many spiritual activists (beyond Deepak Chopra) are recognized and respected by the general public? Anita Roddick, author, activist and founder of the Body Shop, seeks to change this sad state of spiritual under-nourishment. In collaboration with author Brooke Shelby Riggs, Roddick showcases faith- and spirit-based activists whose work is often missed by the public. Each chapter of Brave Hearts, Rebel Spirits: A Spiritual Activists Handbook (Anita Roddick Books, $18.95) is devoted to a different activist, including Cesar Chavez, Satish Kumar and Neta Golan. The attractive book is filled with powerful photos, graphics and quotations, making it enjoyable for acolytes or the casual reader.

—K.L.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

If you’re concerned about shrinking natural areas and the loss of biodiversity, Wilderness: Earth’s Last Wild Places (University of Chicago Press, $75) delivers a message of hope. This stunning large-format book, packed with full-page images, is the companion to a recent study by the environmental nonprofit Conservation International (CI). With the help of a cadre of international scientists, including the book’s editor, Patricio Robles Gil of the Mexican environmental organization Agrupaciñn Sierra Madre, CI set out to define, inventory and document what is left of wilderness. The good news: wilderness areas, by CI standards, comprise 47 percent of the Earth’s surface. The bad news: only seven percent of these areas are officially protected. However, the reports and stirring photographs of indigenous people, flora and fauna provide a powerful incentive for new and continued conservation efforts.

—Tasha Eichenseher

THAT’S DISGUSTING… BUT COOL

Kids" unsqueamish interest in all things dirty, dead and disgusting may give parents a headache, but it also is a great tool to use in teaching tots about the world around them. In the colorful new book, Nature’s Yucky! (Mountain Press Publishing, $10), by Lee Ann Landstrom and Karen I. Shragg, kids can learn about the grossest of the gross—including vomit, pee and poop—and how wild animals use these processes to thrive and survive. Even more modest adults will learn something, such as the fact that sea stars put their stomachs outside their bodies to eat and western painted turtles breathe through their butts. Balanced with bright, detailed illustrations and fun facts, the book turns kids" "yucky" fascinations into a cool course on the coarse. And as an added bonus, kids can use a recipe in the back of the book to make their own edible animal scat in various, um, lifelike shapes.

—B.M.

ONE MAN’S QUEST

Never doubt the ability of one person to make a difference; author David Kidd is living proof. In his new book Growing America (Lantern Books, $17), Kidd tells of his struggle to find direction in his life, from serving in Vietnam to the discovery of his purpose as an environmental activist. What began in his hometown of Canton, Ohio, his br

ainchild project named the Free Tree Program, has blossomed into a nationwide movement. Thousands of citizens have planted millions of trees. Kidd tells of speaking to groups everywhere about environmental activism as well as promoting his interests of transcendental meditation and vegetarianism. His book, at once a call to action and an inspiration, reminds the reader that small steps taken today will ensure that the planet survives tomorrow.

—K.L.

SURVIVAL OF THE SEA TURTLES

While sea turtles have long outlived the dinosaurs, their fate is now in serious jeopardy. Osha Gray Davidson explores the current plight of these magnificent reptiles in Fire In The Turtle House: The Green Sea Turtle and The Fate Of The Ocean (Public Affairs Books, $15). Worldwide, sea turtles have been struck by a deadly tumor-causing epidemic, fibropapillomatosis, FP (See Ask E, May/June 2002). The rise of factory farms, growing human populations along the coast, and discharge of garbage into the oceans are some of the other threats to sea turtles. Davidson skillfully takes the reader on a tour of the oceans, exploring the history and future of sea turtles along the way.

To learn even more about sea turtles, check out the beautiful photographs and engaging narrative in Sea Turtles of the World (Voyageur Press, $29.95) by Doug Perrine. He looks at the lifecycles of these endangered creatures, and explores their long history. Examining the green sea turtle, loggerhead, hawksbill, olive ridley, Kemp’s ridley, Australian flatback and the leatherback, Perrine also explains the conservation attempts to protect these specific species.

—F.S.