Tools for Green Living


Give a holiday hint this year to those friends who are always asking what time it is. Zoobee watches—chic new timepieces that showcase the acclaimed photos of internationally renowned wildlife photographer Art Wolfe—will have them happily consulting their wrists. The watches come in 24 safari and American animal styles and include wristbands that feature distinctive animal markings. Seiko quartz movement and a lifetime warranty ensure that these watches will last, while Zoobee's donations to the Wildlife Conservation Society will help ensure the animal inspirations last as well. Available for $20 and $30 in zoos nationwide and retail stores like The Nature Company and FAO Schwartz.


Zoobee, Inc.
Tel: (800) 815-1306

—Damon Franz


Apen you can plant? That's the idea behind Lecce Pen Green's new Green Flower pens. Made entirely from corn products, these writing instruments are as biodegradable as paper and contain wildflower seeds inside of them. When the ink is gone, you can simply plant the pen in soil, add water, and wait for the flowers to emerge. The degraded corn base of the pen even acts as an organic fertilizer for the growing seed! Lecce Pen Green offers an entire line of corn-based biodegradable products for the office that can be personalized for your business. A plain Green Pen is $1, and with flower seeds, $2.


Green Pen
PO Box 667
Montreal, Quebec H3X 3X8
Tel: (514) 489-4880

—Hillary Young


Instead of feathering your own nest this holiday season, why not help out your avian friends? Cavity-nesting bluebirds were once in decline due to the rapid loss of old trees and wooden fence posts, suitable nesting habitat for them. Human-built nesting boxes have proven an acceptable substitute, and now you can assist in the bluebird's recovery by Adopting-a-Box on the “Transcontinental Bluebird Trail.” Your box will be assigned a number and location along the expanding U.S.-Canada stretch, and an end-of-nesting-season report compiled by local trail monitors will inform you how many bluebirds were raised inside. For the same $35, you'll also enjoy a complimentary year-long membership in the North American Bluebird Society.


Wild Birds Unlimited
Tel: (800) 326-4WBU



For a baby gift that promises to protect newborns' soft, supple skin, look to little merry fellows. This Connecticut-based company boasts a catalog stuffed with cuddly blankets and cushy pillows. All the products are made of organic cotton or Eco-spun, fabric crafted from recycled soda bottles. The plush goodies include toys for toddlers, like a whale-shaped blanket ($50) or a hat fashioned into a birthday cake ($26). Moms will love the selection of organic sheets and comforters. There's even an organic bean bag ($60). Better yet, some items are made in conjunction with Greenpeace and 10 percent of sales are donated to the organization.


Little Merry Fellows
Tel: (203) 270-1820

—Amanda Presley


Pamper yourself and loved ones through the hectic holiday schedule with Nadina's Cremes, waterless lotions (no evaporation!) made of all-natural ingredients like coconut, almond oil, beeswax and aloe vera. Each softly scented cream comes in earth-hued pottery containers, which can be refilled or reused long after the creams inside disappear. Use them as moisturizers, bath oils, after-shaves, lip balms and even hair conditioners, then try Nadina's scented candles, soaps and bath crystals, too. If it feels a little too self-indulgent, know that Nadina employs local artisans, disabled adults and the homeless in her environmentally conscious business. Half-ounce to seven-ounce containers range from $10 to $35.


Nadina's Cremes
Tel: (800) 722-4292

—Jennifer Bogo


Who knew that plastic bottles would become the stuff that holiday lists are made of? Dog lovers Alex Fisher and Stew Maloney are turning trash into treats for the environmentally conscious canine by using recycled P.E.T. plastic soda bottles in their durable pet products. Created for an active lifestyle, Planet Dog products are tested by Fisher and Maloney's dogs right in their Portland, Maine office. While the hemp leashes, Eco-Fleece toys and rugged Ridgeline “doggy saddlebags” allow much time for play, the corner dog bed and waterproof food and water bowl will meet your dog's basic needs. Holiday gift totes and gift bowls are also available. A present for your favorite pooch can range from $14.95 to over $150.


Planet Dog
Tel: (800) 381-1516

—Page Neubert


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and, for Eco-Artware, it runs landfill-deep. These eclectic artisans fashion accessories, clothing and housewares from, quite literally, garbage. Colorful Mardi Gras Pins, for instance, are constructed from old Mardi Gras costumes, ball gowns and broken television set wires ($18 and up). Other innovative twists include mirrors wrapped with surplus telephone wire ($125), sleek piggy banks molded with used coffee grounds ($30) and beaded jewelry made from old copies of Vogue ($14 and up). Eco-Artware also sells some items not crafted from recycled material, like shawls from India and Nepal.


Tel: (877) 326-2781



What do you get for the man who has everything? We bet you he doesn't have a Rubber-Necker Tie! These thick, yes, rubber, ties are cut straight from junk tires. While they aren't guaranteed to land wearers a raise—or even prestige—Rubber Neckers will help send kids to college. Dennis LaShier and his wife Carolyn donate all their proceeds to charity scholarships. The ties come in two styles: bow ($13.50) and neck ($18.50). So straighten that neckwear, be it a whitewall or raised letter, and spend some cash on a humorous gift that funds some serious students.


Rubber Necker Ties
Tel: (413) 774-4349




“I have been fascinated by live animals from the time when I first learned to crawl,” explains Jane Goodall, a woman who has gone to extraordinary lengths to live among and learn from wild creatures. Through intimate correspondence to family and friends, readers follow seven-year-old “Valerie Jane” as she grows into an unprecedented career as a young woman in “Chimpland.” The book offers a unique view of the forces that shaped Goodall's passion for Africa. From early childhood sketches of caterpillars to her first days with the chimpanzees, Goodall's autobiography in letters, Africa in My Blood (Houghton Mifflin, $28), provides an intensely personal account of her life.



Frustrated with the virtual world that allows over-processed foods to reach your doorstep with the simple click of the mouse? In Reclaiming the Commons: Community Farms and Forests in a New England Town (Yale UP, $27.50), Brian Donahue traces the efforts of Weston, Massachusetts to create a connection between the people and the land they inhabit through community farming, gardening and preservation efforts. Acknowledging the effects of America's sprawling suburbs, Donahue's personal narrative attempts to motivate suburbanites to action. He weaves his own experiences with rich history, current environmental concerns and relevant literary parallels to create both a practical resource and a captivating narrative that follows the four “E's” throughout: Ecology, Economy, Education and Esthetics.



Have you ever had an octopus dog? Or made ice cream in the snow? Probably not, but your kids will be more than glad to show you how after reading Toni Albert's A Kid's Winter EcoJournal (Trickle Creek Books, $9.95). This little book contains short stories and over 50 do-it-yourself kid activities arranged chronologically to correspond with winter weather and holidays. From arranging holiday wreaths and making bird biscuits to building campfires, all of these activities make for good old-fashioned fun. Even better, many of them, like building hibernation dens or making bird calls, help teach children about the wildlife around them. Summer, Spring and Fall EcoJournals are also available.



Can't decide whether to give the literary gift of rolling down a river or meandering up a mountain? Not to worry: two anthologies of nature writing, The Mountain Reader (Lyons Press, $17.95), edited by John A. Murray, and The Gift of Rivers (Travelers' Tales Inc., $14.95), edited by Pamela Michael, contain inspiration for lovers of both land and water. In addition to scientific observations of local landscapes, the writers offer both spiritual and philosophical insights. Each editor delivers something fresh, pairing nature-writing legends like Barry Lopez, Wendell Berry, Henry David Thoreau and John Muir with such new contributors as a recent Ivy League graduate and a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.



Wolves, throughout their long coexistence with the human race, have been both loved and feared. In Diana Landau's Wolf: Spirit of the Wild (Sterling, $24.95), these charismatic canines are given a wide range of interpretations. Landau uses folk tales, poetry, short stories, excerpts from novels, photographs, illustrations and sculptures to paint a vivid framework of our relationship with wolves. The aesthetic components balance an informative array of facts, producing an engrossing study not only of the wolf, but the striking differences between human cultures and their perceptions of nature. Wolf: Spirit of the Wild is a very good read and a brilliant addition to anyone's nature collection.



Children will love A Symphony of Whales (Harcourt Brace & Company, $16), mainly because the hero is a little girl named Glashka, the only person who can hear the voices of whales. When scores of these “Narna” are in danger of being suffocated by thick ice, Glashka frantically tries to save them. She encourages other villagers to feed and keep watch over the whales. A ship arrives to lead the Narna back to safer seas, and the ending is a delightful surprise. A Symphony of Whales, written by Steve Schuch and based on a true incident, features wonderful illustrations by Peter Sylvada.