Give till you're green in the face

By Jay Cridlin, tbt* staff writer
Published December 7, 2007

Hardly a day goes by that we don't receive an e-mail or 10 trumpeting the latest holiday gift idea for the eco-friendly consumer. "Staying 'green' with your outdoor holiday decorations this holiday season," reads the subject line of one e-mail. "Holiday gift guide - green waterless car wash!" bellows another. We've heard about green gifts till we're blue in the face. Here's a look at some green gifts that may or may not be on your list.

Green Earth Waterless Car Wash

How does Green Earth Waterless Car Wash work? "It is magical," says the Web site. In reality, it's a squirt bottle filled with organic soaps that won't produce toxic fumes as you wash. True to its name, Waterless Car Wash requires no water - you just spray and wipe. It's like Windexing your car. And you can imagine how long it would take to Windex your entire car. The site estimates that it can take up to 40 minutes to hand-wash a big SUV (a not-so-subtle hint that you should be driving a Prius). You're not wasting water and producing soapy run-off, but you are cleaning your windshield only a couple of bugs at a time. The choice is yours. $23 for a 32-oz. bottle, www.greenearthcarwash.com .

The Gift of Bovine Spam

"Looking for an 'a-moo-sing' gift this hoilday season?" asks the press release from Stonyfield Farm Organic Yogort? "Give a gift that keeps on giving ... milk, that is!" Groan. If you go to the Stonyfield Farm Web site, you can click on pictures of several of their dairy cows to read their life stories, written in the first person ("They won't begin to make money off my milk until my second lactation," one notes). Then, you can sign up for "Moos From Your Cow" - a quarterly e-mail newsletter describing what your Cow has been up to, as well as updates on Stonyfield Farm's organic, nutritional and environmental initiatives. If you like organic yogurt - and what kid doesn't? - this could be interesting. But we just think it'd be a hoot to sign up all your enemies for spam written by a cow. Free, www.stonyfield.com/haveacow .

Green Board Games

The only eco-friendly board game we ever played growing up involved feeding starving hippos. But Peapods.com sells family board games designed to teach kids the value of environmentalism. There's A Beautiful Place, in which children have to work together to restore earth's beauty before pollution clouds envelop us all. There's Harvest Time, in which you plant gardens, then harvest them by rolling a special die. And there's Yoga Garden Cooperative Game, in which children are encouraged to plant a garden before nightfall, using a bumblebee marker to move around the board and pick different yoga poses. We say, give us Monopoly, with its worshipful reverence of coal-spewing railroads and energy utilities, and egregious over-development of every untouched borough in the city. Capitalism is fun! $15-$25, www.peapods.com .

The World's Tallest Roses

Who wouldn't want to have some of these delivered to your office? Organic Bouquet sells these 5-feet roses grown at an altitude of nearly 10,000 feet in Ecuador. Act now and you can get a 24-inch Galvanized French Flower Vase - and they'll throw in a pair of professional garden shears for free! That's exactly what we'd like: An impossible-to-carry bouquet that requires professional care. $249.99 per dozen, www.organicbouquet.com .

Air Travel Carbon Offsets

We can't imagine a better present for a visiting relative than a certificate that says: "Here, I spent $18 to offset that flight you just took to come see me." Offsetting a plane ride from Tampa to Chicago costs $7.50. You can also offset road trips. Various prices, www.liveneutral.com .

Biodegradable Hand Wipes

We have nothing against La Fresh Biodegradeable Travel Wipes, which made with biodegradable cloth. Good for them. But honestly - who gives the gift of travel wipes at Christmas? "Special gift sets tailored for men or women are also available and make for great holiday gift ideas," they say. Ah, the gift of hand sanitation. How did Santa know? $4.50 and up, www.lafreshgroup.com .

Kitchen Compost Crock

Are you sick and tired of carrying your table scraps all the way out to the garden for composting? Now you can let your chicken skins rot in the comfort of your own kitchen! The handsome Kitchen Compost Crock, which holds up to one gallon of table scraps. A carbon filter prevents odor leakage, they say. Just don't confuse it for the cookie jar. $42, www.gaiam.com .

360 Vodka

Touted as the world's first green vodka, 360 is "crafted from a philosophy for eco-awareness and corporate responsibility." That means using 85-percent recycled bottles, 100-percent recycled-paper labels and packaging, and environmentally friendly distilling procedures like using locally grown grain and minimizing emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Yeah, we know, we dozed off midway through that sentence, too. But so long as it's got alcohol in it, we're down with 360. $26.99-$27.99, various liquor stores around Tampa Bay, www.vodka360.com .