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Green Gift Guide Continued



Bramble Berry
Soap doesn’t leap to mind as an environmental threat, but the chemicals used in soap production can be dangerous, both to our health and to our waterways. So why not skip the chemicals and make your showers that much more rewarding by making your own soap?

Bramble Berry’s Eco-Chic Soap Kit ($15.45) is a great way to do just that. You get an organic base, cranberry seeds, natural oils and more, plus Web-based instructions (no paper waste!) on how to incorporate your own ingredients – oatmeal, coffee grounds, etc. – to bring it all together.
Plus, it helps you recycle because you use your own containers (they recommend yogurt or tofu) as molds, and the end product is a 100% organic cleanser.







Loyale Clothes
Founder Jenny Hwa says Loyale offers “chic, sophisticated eco-apparel for fashionable women.” Well, she’s got the “chic” covered, as the likes of Jessica Alba and Courtney Cox have been known to don her duds. But what about the “eco”?

Put a checkmark there, too, as Loyale uses low-impact dyed organic cotton, color grown organic cotton, organic wool, naturally dyed eco-silk and factory reclaimed overstock fabrics.

And it’s local – all produced right in NYC – which reduces the company’s carbon footprint. To top it off, Loyale donates 1% of annual sales to Green Corps, “a graduate school for environmental organizers.”

If you’ve got the bucks for high-fashion/low-impact threads, LoyaleClothing.com is a must-visit site.




World Vision Gift Catalog
If you’re thinking green clothes, soap and the like are fine but still not quite close enough to environmentalism’s spiritual ideal, I invite you to explore The World Vision Gift Catalog, which offers items that benefit children and families living in poverty in the U.S. and around the world.

The World Vision catalog allows you to really make a difference, “offering more than 100 gifts from $20 to $39,000 that can be purchased in the name of a friend, colleague or loved one. The gift recipient in turn receives a special card describing the gift that was purchased and the impact it will have in the life of a person in need.”

Sample offerings include 10 fruit trees for $60; reforestation education and training for $50; and alpacas – which offer wool and combat deforestation because of their gentle, “mowing” style of grazing – for $360 apiece.

In addition to making you feel good, there’s a “cool factor” here – you’ll be giving something guaranteed to not be a duplicate (unless your gift-givee has a crazy aunt who doles out Christmas alpacas).





Asgard Press Calendars
You know that guy who’s still as insanely passionate about following his old college team today as he was when he graduated, like 20 years ago? Sure you do, we all know that guy.

And we’ve got the perfect gift for you to get him (assuming he hasn’t already alienated you with his grating, nonstop gibbering about the ol’ alma mater): An Asgard Press calendar.

I know what you’re thinking – “how original, a calendar” – but believe me, these are unlike any calendars you’ve seen before. They’re better categorized as works of art … that just happen to have the days of the week on them. As Asgard puts it, they “showcase captivating images and produce them to the same exacting standards as museum or gallery prints.”

The “prints” are actually reproductions of vintage game-day programs. A Wolverines wacko, Longhorns loony, Crimson Tide crazy, or any other fan of the 50-plus teams in the Asgard collection is guaranteed to enjoy the calendar for its retro, artistic, and authentic look. They also offer classic comics (above) and MAD Magazine.

And, oh yeah – Asgard uses only 100% recycled paper and soy-based inks.




Mission Playground
One more clothing company to highlight. Mission Playground currently uses 100% organic cotton in its line of tees, jackets, and pants. But it’s promising some really unique offerings early next year: clothes made from the likes of 100% recycled “PET bird’s eye knit with technical attributes,” 100% merino wool jersey, 100% organic cotton poplin, and an exclusive MIPAN regen recycled nylon, which is said to be made from fishing net and nylon rope.

Mission Playground also has its S.E.E.D. program, “committed to raising awareness for issues that concern our playgrounds,” which pledges 1% of sales to non-profit organizations that share the same passions for playgrounds.


Greenwash Ball
UPDATE: I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I might have been too quick to give even a qualified recommendation to the Greenwash Ball. So I revisited it more “scientifically” (by the way, I did get in contact with the IEEE to try to confirm Greenwash Ball’s claims, but they didn’t get back to me; probably should’ve taken that as a sign) by conducting a little test: I took a big chunk of my laundry, divvied it into two loads, running one with the Greenwash Ball and one with just water. You can guess the outcome – that “pure, chemical-free clean” I gushed over in the original post (below for your amusement) had nothing to do with the Greenwash Ball, as I also found that to be the case with the clothes “washed” in nothing but water. So, as it turns out, “Greenwash” Ball is the perfect name for the product after all. You’re probably best to avoid it.

I’m about as skeptical as you get. Don’t try to tell me you’ve seen a UFO, spoken with a deceased loved one, or have ESP. It’s all hooey. So I heard about the unfortunately named Greenwash Ball (somebody ought to tell these folks ‘greenwash’ ain’t something you want to be associated with), and its “powerful remote infrared rays,” “ceramics” and “negative ions,” and thought I’d get a kick out of debunking it. Guess what? It works!

Well, kind of. It depends on your definition of clean laundry. You need to get rid of stains? This ain’t gonna get ‘er done (the ketchup that flung from my homemade fish nugget onto my t-shirt during a struggle to prevent my shimmying two-year-old from toppling off her Cooshie remained). You need to have freshly laundered clothes that feel soft and smell clean – not synthetically “spring fresh” but pure, chemical-free clean? Then Greenwash Ball is the way to go.

You don’t use detergent, you just drop this bad boy in with the water and clothes and presto, the freshest laundry around.

Just don’t forget to leave it in the sun for one hour per week (hey, I didn’t say it wasn’t a little creepy).

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“Green Gift Guide Continued”