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Poo paper scratch pad made from elephant dung

Greenwashed Gifts May Require Strong Soap

While round-about on Black Friday I’ve noticed that the shelves are bulging with “green” products for your giving and receiving delight! However, many of these “green” items fall into a definite grey area in usefulness, practicality and good taste.

Take this little gem of a gift I recently received – Poo Poo Paper! That’s right, paper lovingly fashioned in an exceedingly green manner from s***! “Why, thank you! I love it, it’s just what I wanted! If you’ll just set it over there for me, please…” How, I ask you, have we come to the enviro-insanity point where ANYONE would give a gift that proudly trumpets “Made with Real Poo!” Handle this one with kid gloves!

Poo paper scratch pad made from elephant dung

Let’s take a closer look at this, though, as it incorporates many of the marketing hallmarks of “perfect” little gifty-green goods vying for your attention and cash.

package label poo poo paper

1 – It’s unique! Wait until the recipient shouts in delight, “Why, I’ve never seen such a thing!”

2 – Recycling and/or reuse angle: Your green product should clearly state that it is either on it’s way from…(or properly headed to) the recycling bin. The big recycling logo is a must!

3 – Affordable price – but note that this isn’t the same as a “reasonable’ price for a similar non-green item.

inside cute label for poopoo paper scratch pad

Note the clever and cute elephant droppings and slogan!

4 – Direct ties to a less-privileged country/region: any point in the manufacturing/recycling chain counts! So, for example, you could NOT make acceptable greenie “poo paper” from elephant dung gathered at a Western zoo.

5 – Supports a broadly loved “cause.” Who has a problem with conservation of endangered elephants? Not you or me,surely!

6 – Hip and clever concept and presentation – “We’re number one at number two™” So cute, and really makes the shoppers at Urban Outfitters point and smile in approval!

price tag for poopoo paper

Can you guess how I misread “Scratch pad grass” before wearing my reading glasses?

2009 Wet and Wild Water Gift Guide, Part 1

The Frog-O-Sphere™ from Brookstone ($39.95) includes 2 aquatic mini frogs, Living Gravel™ and a bamboo plant. Your new little buddies, the frogs, won’t outgrow the tank. Living Gravel™ acts as a biological filter, converting excess food and waste into a soluble form that can be used by the bamboo plant. Just like trees in our environment, the bamboo absorbs liquid and gaseous elements and releases oxygen, which helps the frogs thrive.

The LED Showerhead from Maplin (£29.99) We all like colour in our life and now you can have a kaleidoscope of colours in your own shower! It phases through vibrant green, red and blue to make showering that bit more fun for kids, both big and small! You don”t even need batteries as it is powered by an internal waterwheel – so it”s multi-coloured and green at the same time. Simply connects to your existing shower hose via a universal screw fixing.

Water Pitcher from Design Within Reach ($85) Using Iouseki stones and Binchotan charcoal, the Charcoal Water Pitcher creates filtered, mineral-rich water. The stones come from the mountains in Kanazawa, the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan coast. The charcoal is specially prepared for potable water use, and also works as a deodorizer to create odor-free water. In place of filters that need monthly replacement and add to landfill, Iouseki stones and Binchotan charcoal last up to six months (depending on use). In addition to being an eco-friendly solution, this elegant Water Pitcher can go from fridge to table, rather than having to pour the water into a suitable serving vessel. The Water Pitcher comes with one set of Purifying Sticks and Stones; additional sets can be purchased separately. ($25)

Kishu Binchotan (68 euros excluding VAT) from sortofcoal.com soaks up chlorine from tap water while releasing natural minerals into it. Kishu Binchotan softens the water and improves the overall taste. Bottle is mouth blown and is designed by Fragile, Denmark. Sort of Coal is products feature natural handmade active charcoal, so-called White Charcoal that emphasizes both the function and the aesthetic. It looks black, but is called White Charcoal because of its purifying ability and white shine and has been used in Japan for several centuries.

Speaking of Japan, The Japanese company Toto makes a toilet that senses when you enter the room and automatically lifts the pre-warmed lid. Additional sensors next to the toilet activate an MP3 player with 16 preloaded tunes and a media slot for SD cards so you can load in your own music library.

After you’re finished, the toilet automatically flushes and closes the lid. (I don’t know how much or how you’d acquire one this outside of Japan… get to work, there’s a few weeks left!)

The Walking Water Ball from Zorbasia on ecvv.com comes in two sizes, 2.0 or 2.5 meters. It’s made of TPU or PVC. A customized design is allowed, woo hoo!  (size, material, color, logo). Made in Guangdong in China, FOB Price: 200-280 USD. Payment Terms: Bank Transfer, Western Union, PayPal. Delivery Time: 3 days.

Showertime is a simple, battery operated, five minute timer with a blue and red lighting sequence. The lights change from blue to red while showering and flash red during the last 30 seconds. It helps encourage water users to change wasteful behavior in the shower by gently reminding users when it’s time to turn the shower off. It installs quickly and easily with no tools required.

Spirit of Water Barbie doll $68.49 from Amazon.com wears a beautiful turquoise suede dress with a long cream colored fabric belt with fringe. A traditional full-length wrap in turquoise suede with white fur trim accompanies the ensemble. Her long suede boots are the same fabric as the dress accented with white fringe. She wears a choker and a single strand beaded necklace with medallion and feather to complement her outfit. Long brown hair is in two braids, each accented with a beaded hair ring.

She comes with an authentic looking rain stick hat has real sounds. A feathered hair ornament completes her striking Native American look.

These chic tap water bottles from tapwater-bottle.com are made of glass and are 100% recyclable…a moot point, since your recipient will want to reuse them forever.

The bottles are available in two different sizes – 250 mL ($10) and 500 mL ($12). While they’d be easy to carry around with you, glass is of course breakable although these are extra thick and tough.

From uncommongoods.com ($45) This glass and metal faucet sculpture features flowing glass “water” and is handmade by artist Gary Guydosh in Pennsylvania, where glass has a distinctively rich history. The piece is created using classic glassblowing techniques and craftsmanship.

Terra Cotta Water Whistle, $6 from tenthousandvillages.com

Amazing terra cotta whistle imitates the song of birds. For a warble sound fill the whistle with water and blow on it, and have fun experimenting with different levels of water and holding the bird at different angles. Terra cotta bird will also whistle if blown without water. Terra cotta, 4″L x 2″W x3″H, and made in Cameroon.

I’m Getting You a Gift for Drinking Water Week!

In Suburbia we’re trained to mark every “occasion,” no matter how small or obscure, with a thoughtful little gift. Or at the very least, a quality card from the Hallmark Store. So, I’ve pondered long and hard about what to get you for Drinking Water Week, and then I saw this…perfect!

These awesome water glasses from Modcloth.com feature an authentic nutrition label…0 calories, 0% of your daily recommended vitamins and minerals, and just a few carbs! But wait… Omygosh, they are out of stock right now! I am so embarrassed and sorry, I know you must be so disappointed!

But no matter, I have another idea. I’m going to get you these clever “half empty, half full” water glasses… one for optimists and another for pessimists, like you! The artist Alex Ostrowski says his design includes “a glass for optimists, which is permanently half-full with clear caster resin, and one for pessimists, permanently half-empty with a chamber of air.”

Oh no! So, here I am, looking for the “order now” link, and find that this is a design concept, I can’t actually buy them! And it would have been perfect for you, my apologies, that’s strike two!

Never mind, I know just the thing for your Drinking Water Week gift. I’ll bet you don’t have a Faucet Light! Look at this freaky thing from BaronBob.com, don’t you love it? And the colors change from blue to red as the water gets hotter! Wait, what’s this? Installation? Oh, no, I KNOW you’re a total klutz with a wrench. There’s no way I can get you a gift you have to install yourself, just think of the stress I’d cause you!

Now I’m really out of ideas. I’m so relieved that “it’s the thought that counts,” because although you don’t have a gift in hand, as you can see I’ve thought about your gift quite a bit.

Happy Drinking Water Week–your card should be arriving any day now!

UPDATE: Success! Wouldn’t you know that Aquadoc over at WaterWired would know JUST what to do… so I’ve thoughtfully made a donation in your name! (You’ll still get the card, don’t worry!)