Shopping for picky loved ones is difficult enough. Factor in your commitment to eco-sensitive products, and a holiday shopping mission can become as daunting as an unaided ascent up El Cap. Fortunately, we at Sierra can give you a guide, if not the actual gear.
FOR THE BUDDING ENVIRONMENTALIST
To teach your kids the value of rainforest products, stuff their stockings with Glee Gum's make-your-own-chewing-gum kit, an irresistible mess of sugar, syrup, flavoring, and chicle gum base from Central America's sapodilla trees. It comes with a pamphlet telling the story of Eduardo, a Guatemalan chiclero who "has found a good way of earning money without chopping down any trees." $13
FOR THE ETHICAL NESTER
Rablabs' stunning agate coasters (available at Gracious Home), large enough for an oversize mug, are "mined" out of the shallow, volcanic dirt in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul region. The entire manufacturing process consists only of slicing and polishing. Set of four $65
FOR THE TECH-GEEK TREKKER
Voltaic solar backpacks and messenger bags, made mostly of recycled plastic bottles, can convert a day's worth of sunlight into a full charge for a laptop, cell phone, or MP3 player. The totes come with a battery pack, adapters, and space-age style. Starting at $199
FOR THE GREEN FASHIONISTA
Get her a well-fitting T-shirt from Gramicci (starting at $19). Some are organic, some hemp, some recycled, some reversible, some printed with eco-positive messages like "Live green." Pair the shirt with a so-simple-it's-cool bracelet from Wear Your Music, handmade of recycled silver commingled with guitar strings strummed by famous rockers like Ben Lee ($50), Jack Johnson ($150), Joan Jett ($200), or Eric Clapton ($500). Profits are donated to artist-selected charities.
FOR THE WORKAHOLIC
SimpleTech by Hitachi makes the greenest external hard drive we've seen. The 500-gigabyte [re]drive has a shell of bamboo and recyclable aluminum, comes in minimal packaging, and can use 90 percent less energy than a typical external drive. It's also fast and PC- and Mac-compatible. $100
FOR THE URBAN EXPLORER
If your budget's unlimited, pick out a set of wheels from My Dutch Bike, which start at $1,399. They're imported from Amsterdam and can be fitted to carry kids or packages in ubercool, emission-free style. Or consider a bike from Electra. They start around a more reasonable $300 and mix a vintage American look with German and, yes, Dutch influences.