Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa. Let’s color them all green this year. Here are our picks for some green gifts that can truly make a difference. Look for more as the season of lights (please make those LED lights) continues.
Laptop Lunch Kit
Nothing seems to generate more needless trash than today’s school lunch. There are so many mini-packaged snack tidbits and chunk-lets of food pre-sealed in plastic what-nots that tempt us at the grocery. Give in to this and you’ll pay more and pack a lunch that winds up as a cacophony of paper, plastic and foil refuse. Say no more! Get a Laptop Lunch kit, which includes a zip lunch box, drink bottle and multiple sizes of plastic containers that fit neatly inside the box like a jig-saw puzzle. One container is perfect for a sandwich, another good for fresh fruit and others could contain peanuts or veggie sticks with a separate container for the requisite Ranch dressing. We love this green idea created by two moms who were fed up with the lunch garbage. It not only solves the problem of using too many environmentally questionable plastic bags, it encourages us to buy in bulk and pack healthier, fresh stuff.
The kit includes a user’s guide with lunch ideas, kid-friendly recipes and creative lunch menus. Components are also available separately, should you need replacement parts.
Price: $34.99 each or two for $32.49 each
Buy it at: Laptop Lunches
SOLIO Hybrid 100 Solar Charger
Don’t like to be alone when your cell phone or MP3 player runs out of juice? Then you need a personal power gadget for your gadgets. The new Solio Hybrid 1000 solar-powered universal charger will keep you connected, talking and listening, no matter where you happen to be. This personal solar power device is being marketed as more rugged and less expensive than its predecessor, so it can endure backpacking and camping trips. Chances are, this new improved solar charger has a bright future. The first Solio has sold about 500,000 units, more solar power devices than any other solar-supply gadget, according to a spokewoman for the company.
The Solios (the older model remains on the market) work like this: You set them in the sun or in the case of this new model, under any light to charge. It takes just four hours to fully charge and can store that energy for up to a year. Once it’s charged, you can use it to fully recharge your cell phone or power your MP3 for 10 hours of music. You can recharge it again and again, so even more than that energy bunny, whose batteries need to be recycled or recharged on your home electricity current, this is one energy source that keeps on working. It is renewable and free, the solar energy that is. It includes a USB port replicator tip that can power an iPhone, iPod and various MP3s; a mini-USB tip to power Blackberries, Motorola and other cell phones and a Nokia tip. (The Solio is a hybrid because you can also plug it in.)
Buy it at: Solio.com (Also soon to be available at Amazon.)
Clothing From the Garden of Edun
No guarantee you’ll look as hip as U2’s Bono or his wife, Ali Hewson, but you can be “one” with the socially conscious couple this holiday season by selecting a gift from their Edun apparel line. A fair-trade and fair-employment label whose purpose is to simultaneously create chic fashions and sustainable jobs in developing nations, Edun uses natural materials (organic cotton as often as possible) and only works with locally run factories in Africa, India, South America. The factories, in turn, are monitored by international non-profit Verite twice annually, to ensure humane working standards and to observe and consult with local businesses. Apparently there is no place in Edun for multi-national conglomerates.
Co-designed by New Yorker Rogan Gregory and launched in spring of 2005, the line is once again working with Bono’s “One” organization this fall, creating specially designed t-shirts to raise money for AIDS treatment and prevention in Lesotho, Africa – where one-third of apparel workers are estimated to have the HIV virus. The $40 shirt (see Ben Affleck modeling one above) is made of 100-percent cotton produced in Lesotho, Africa, and $10 from each purchase goes directly back to the Apparel Lesotho Alliance to Fight AIDS (ALAFA), which is partially funded by UK’s Department for International Development.