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Gifts That Are Kind To the Earth, Too

December 12, 1991|RICHARD KAHLENBERG | Richard Kahlenberg is a writer who has been involved with environmental issues for 20 years.

Here are some just-in-time gift suggestions--chosen from items I've come across while covering the environmental scene. If you pursue any of these suggestions, use the phone first to confirm what you want and you'll save driving and time. And, whatever you buy this season, try to emphasize things which will make folks feel good health-wise and environment-wise now and after the holidays.

STOCKING STUFFERS

Carlsbad's Plaza Camino Real Mall is the location of a Waldenbooks store (729-1286) which has chosen the environment as its holiday focus. One of my picks from their special display is the latest offering from the Earthworks Group, compilers of the publishing phenomenon entitled "Fifty Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth." This time it's "Kid Heroes of the Environment," a paperback book about kids from around the country who have initiated projects in their schools and communities which are going to lengthen the life of the planet. Amazing stuff, considering that some of the kids are as young as eight. $4.98. Also available at other Waldenbooks and Crown outlets in North County.

Pacific Bakery in Oceanside (757-6020) has two items which will delight your friends--or yourself, for that matter. Fruitcake is a seasonal item, and out of favor these days anyway because of sugar worries. But master baker Chuck Lowery has gone the whole eco-mile to produce an item which is not only non-sugar but non-egg, non-chemical and made from completely organically grown fruits and nuts. I'm familiar with his tasty recipe because it was once the solution to my daughter's birthday cake problem. She's allergic to everything. Twelve ounces for $8.95.

"Northern Lights Wild Rice Pasta," a unique ebony pasta item made from natural, organically grown wild rice is a speciality of the Gold Mine Natural Food Co. which started out in Julian. It's sold at Cream of the Crop Natural Foods (433-2757) in Oceanside and at Pacific Bakery. About $4.50 -- and the package is so cute it doesn't need to be re-wrapped.

Cardiff's Sea News Bookstore (436-5937) is where you can buy a copy of an eco-magazine which warrants reading regularly. "Backwoods Home Magazine" is a California-edited journal which regularly pulls off the amazing feat of pleasing both the "sustainable growth" environmentalists and folks with a more traditionally conservative outlook. The December issue has an American flag on the cover and articles about solar energy and self-breeding herbs inside. At $3.50 a copy and $18 a year to subscribe, it's an eye-opener to folks who still might think that you can't be a "two-fisted" type of person and eat organic too. Also available at Coronet News (722-3233) in Oceanside.

UNDER-THE-TREE GIFTS

My kids have "taken up" with the solar charged flashlight I gave them last year. True enough, it looks like something the Ninja Turtles might wield, but it's for real. It's a "Solara High Performance Solar Torch" which a Solana Beach firm, Suunto-USA, has introduced to the US from France. (Camping-Gaz is the maker--a famous name among outdoorsmen.) They're wholesalers only. But The Nature Company (459-0871) and R.E.I (295-7700) in San Diego carry the torch, so to speak, for around $30. Expensive, you say. But it's the only flashlight in my house we can trust. That's why the kids keep it in their bedroom. It even charges indoors.

Is there a person in your life who is of a reflective turn of mind and deeply commited to environmentalism? Sierra Club Books has just brought out "In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of Indian Nations" by Jerry Mander, $25. Simply put: did you have your consciousness raised when you saw "Dances With Wolves"? Then you'll appreciate Manders' moving reminder of how much we need to rediscover the sense of the sacred in the earth.

The EcoSphere serves to illustrate--or give "ocular evidence" as Shakespeare would say--of the beauty and mystery of a perfectly balanced eco-system.

NASA scientists some years ago set themselves the task of creating a real-world self-contained, life-sustaining environmental container. For space travel of course. But there are other values to such an undertaking. A firm over in Arizona has put the results of this research in a glass ball, believe it or not. It think it's a marvelous item to give a person or a school where there's deep interest in the way nature takes complete care of itself if we don't pollute. These globes, varying in size from three to nine inches, are sealed aquatic environments containing animal and vegetable life forms that will live for years, sustaining one another. This item sort of combines science and art. It's sculpture and a zero-maintenance aquarium. You can see one at Discover Nature (231-1299). Prices start at $69.

I want to end on a very nuts and bolts environmental note. Have you ever jumped into your RV or boat after too long a time in the workaday world and discovered that the battery is dead? You should have put a "Solarmode Kit-5, a photovoltaic battery maintainer" on the deck or roof. All those gizmos and accessories in your leisure dream-vehicle will always drain the battery. Your alternative is to plug it into the house or dock all the time, and use up juice. I suggest you get this solar rig holiday present to yourself--also a present to the environment. Available at Vehicle Inc., Escondido (743-8688) and La Mesa RV, La Mesa (462-5660) for about $150. Ask them for a special Christmas deal.

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