Friday, July 29, 2011

Have a Green Summer


It has been 102°F (~39°C) here for a couple of weeks now and we are all trying to think of fun ways to stay cool and still enjoy our summer. These summer activities got me to thinking about great ways to keep summertime both fun and eco friendly.

I've broken today's post into a few categories to help make the reading a bit easier. There will be all kinds of in-text links that you can click to take you to a company's website followed by my typical link list at the end of the post where you can find companies that specialize in green products of all kinds.

Apparel

Show off that summer style with some eco friendly clothes and accessories. Start with some glasses frames for over at Herrlicht that are made 100% from wood. Go over to Dragon Alliance for cool, edgy sunglasses and goggles made from 100% renewable origins. Clothes made from organic products are becoming increasingly popular with both the average wearer and the fashion forward. You know those comfy jeans that you love to wear? There are several organic options for denim that you will love. Among the companies offering eco friendly clothing are Mission Playground, Nau, Loomstate, Rawganique, Mar Y Sol, and many others. And ladies, check out these cute, simple summer dresses to keep you looking cool when the weather is hot. Pair them with cute shoes made from recycled materials from Faye, Melissa Shoes, ecosandles, Simple shoes, and El Naturalista.

Lawn and Garden

Outdoor furniture can be stylish, comfortable, and eco friendly. You can get a variety of chairs like this one from Room & Board. It is made from recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) which is a plastic made from petroleum. It comes in multiple colors and even has a bottle opener under the right arm.

Did you know that lawnmowers can be bad for the environment? It’s true. These engines contribute to more smog-forming emissions than cars on a gallon-for-gallon basis. What does that mean? A gasoline-powered lawnmower run for one hour puts out the same amount of emissions as 40 new automobiles run for one hour. Consider an alternative like a hand lawn mower or an electric lawn mower from companies you know such as Black & Decker and Bully.

Don’t have a yard? Use pots and planters instead. There are all kinds of containers made from recycled plastics like these from Rotoluxe. There are some very interesting options out there too, like these upside-down sky planters from Boskke.

Cooking

Having a cookout, or BBQ, is one of my favorite summer pastimes. But it does generate a large amount of garbage: paper plates, plastic cups, napkins, plastic utensils, cans, bottles, etc. One of the easiest things you can do is set up easy to see and use recycle bins for those cans and bottles. Also, exchange those paper, plastic, and styrofoam plates, cups, and napkins for biodegradable and compostable alternatives. Some of these alternatives include the Disposable Bamboo Utensil set and Seventh Generation natural napkins and paper towels. The Jaya Biodegradable Utensil Combo Pack is microwave and freezer save, impermeable and non-toxic. Heavy duty dinner plates and bowls from Stalkmarket are made from sugar cane fiber, a waste product of the sugar refining process.

If you are on grill duty you can fill your grill with sustainably produced charcoal briquettes. There are a variety of brands out there including Wicked Good Charcoal which is made from industrial scrap wood. If you use propane then you already produce half the emissions of regular charcoal.

Food. Food. Food. Summer is the perfect time to get a garden going. Plant some native plants in your backyard to grow fruits and vegetables. They are inexpensive, plentiful, fresh, and oh-so-delicious. If you are like me and don’t have a yard then check out when your local Farmers’ Market is being held and go there to get some great in-season and local produce.

You can also use reusable containers to store that extra food. For everyday you can use items like Lunch Skins reusable sandwich pouches. These are made from thick cotton fabric coated with food-safe polyurethane liner. They are BPA and phthalate-free and are dishwasher safe. Carry your sandwiches and other yummy summer goodies in a tote bag like this one from Branch Home that even includes a picnic set.

Even the liquor in your fruity summer drink can be green. Vodka360 is the first green vodka. It is made using a unique distillation and filtering system using high quality, local grains. The bottles use 85% recycled glass and even the label is made of 100% recycled paper using water-based inks. They also come in more flavors like 360Cola and 360DoubleChocolate. Or you could try some great organic wines. Go over to Organic Wine Find to find the brand that suits you. But remember, kids, no underage drinking. And adults, hug your friendly neighborhood designated driver. And buy them lunch.

Transportation

Consider public transportation. Buses, trolleys, light rail, trains, ferries, subways. There are so many options. They are usually inexpensive alternatives that save fuel, reduce city congestion, support your local economy, and reduce our carbon footprint.

Or you can run on your own steam. Or bike on it. I guarantee that there is a bike out there made just for you. There are even organic bikes like the Vestige from Schwinn, made from organic flax fiber. It was introduced at Eurobike 2010 and won its Gold Award. If you are looking for something truly original then take a look at the Shadow eBike from Daymak. This is a wireless electric bike that sports either a 250W or 350W electric motor and a 36V 10AH lithium-ion battery that can run for 12 to 25 miles just on motor power, 22 to 25 miles if you use the pedals. It can also charge your wireless devices on its own USB port.

Don’t want to put down the cash for your own bike? More and more bike rental programs are lauching in cities around the world. Companies like Bike and Roll have programs that allow people to rent bikes and return them to any of the company’s locations around the city. These bike sharing programs are popular with residents and tourists alike. Look to see if you have one in your city.

I’m not sure if this one counts as transportation but it sure looks fun. It is the AquaSkipper from Inventist, Inc. It is an ultra light watercraft that transforms a rider’s hopping motion into forward thrust. Fun!

Fun in the Sun

Fun in the sun is the name of summer. But a sunburn and irriating insects can ruin a good time. Try ditching the chemicals with toxin-free insect repellant from greenfeet and Bert's Bees and healthy sunscreens from companies like Nature’s Gate, Jason, and Soleo.

With all that heat, don’t forget to hydrate! For that you need a great, reliable and stylin’ water bottle. There are lots of 100% recycled, BPA-free bottles out there for you to choose from. Scroll through the options over at PrintGlobe, Sigg, and the Container Store.

I don’t go anywhere without my tunes. Imagine my surprise when I came across these electricity free bamboo iPod speakers. The iBamboo is a natural speaker made from, that’s right, bamboo. The natural resonance of bamboo acts like an echo chamber, amplifying the sound. And keep all your gadgets charged with the Freeloader Solar Multicharger that can power any hand held device. It can power an iPod for 18 hours and a cell phone for 44 hours!

If you play sports look for eco friendly sports equipment like this Eco Soccer Ball from Fair Trade Sports. This ball meets international ball standards in weight and size and is eco certified. You could also use a good pair of running shoes. There are some great green choices like the VivoBarefoot, Bare-Grip by Inov-8, Sir Isaac by Newton, the Kigo Edge, and the Columbia Amphibian by Sockwa.
Looking for something big and expensive and fancy to show off to your big and expensive and fancy friends? Then you need the Emax Excalibur solar hybrid luxury yacht. It is built from Kevlar and carbon, is covered in solar panels, and is completely carbon neutral. Ohhh yeah.

Here are some websites where you can order great green products you can enjoy all summer or anytime:

greenfeet
Eco Citizen Boutique
Nvey eco organic cosmetics
The Ultimate Green Store
Green Toys
Nature's Gate
Bambeco
Ecouterre

(image from surterreproperties.com)
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