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Sierra magazine
Enjoy | The Green Life

By Avital Binshtock

Go, Dog, Go | Trendsetter: Jeff Corwin | Green Biz | Mixed Reviews

Go, Dog, Go
Forget the pet-sitter. Next vacation, bring your pup.

Like Steinbeck's poodle, Charley, many animals know that a trip is in the offing "long before the suitcases come out." We assume that your rescued, neutered buddy already wears a sustainably made collar (wagginggreen.com, itzadog.com), snoozes on an ecofriendly bed, and produces poop that gets scooped into biodegradable bags. When it comes time to hit the road with your furry companion, consider packing these green, portable accessories as well.

These bendy, BPA-free Packabowls, by POLKADOG BAKERY, come in cheerful colors and can be compressed to cram in your pack. They are sold with no packaging and can be sent back to be recycled when their days as a doggie bowl are done. $18

Make your adventure-loving pup carry its share with the Dog Pack, by MOUNTAINSMITH. Made mostly of recycled plastic, it has adjustable straps and plenty of storage compartments. It's available in sizes for dogs weighing 20 to 110 pounds. $45 to $55

The OrbeeBall, the signature toy by PLANET DOG, is one of the sturdiest canine playthings we've seen--and it's recyclable. It also smells like mint and is U.S.-made, nontoxic, and offered in various colors and three sizes ($6.95, $11.95, and $14.45). The company uses leftover manufacturing materials to make its aptly named RecycleBall ($11.95).

Call it the canine Clif Bar. The Veggie-Hide, by ONESTA ORGANICS, is a meatless, wafer-thin snack made with all-organic ingredients--including spinach, flax, and quinoa--that are GMO-free and fit for humans. The company also makes vegan treats for rabbits, rodents, and birds. $8.98 per 6-oz. pack

SNOOZER's earthy-looking Eco Friendly Pet Tote is made with jute fibers, and thus biodegradable and recyclable. It holds a critter weighing up to 12 pounds, is carry-on approved for air travel, and has ample padding and pockets. The top and two sides are made of see-through mesh, allowing your pet--and you--to breathe easier. $59.95

See more images from our pet photo shoot.


Trendsetter: Jeff Corwin


Jeff Corwin, television host, animal advocate, and author

"We are hardwired to be explorers...We need to cultivate tomorrow's scientists and conservationists today." --Jeff Corwin

Emmy winner Jeff Corwin, 42, has crisscrossed the globe for Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel, NBC, and the Travel Channel. His recent book, 100 Heartbeats (Rodale, 2009), focuses on species endangered by climate change, habitat loss, and poaching. In his new Food Network series, Extreme Cuisine With Jeff Corwin, he samples sustainable regional delicacies like Moroccan pigeon pie to show how food can bring cultures together.

Q: How difficult was it to reach the endangered animals in 100 Heartbeats?

A: We had a 40-hour hell ride through a Sumatran jungle to find a home for orphaned orangutans, a treacherous 12-hour hike up a mountain in Panama to find a nearly extinct frog species, and two days of diving in belly-churning waters off South Africa to tag great white sharks. But moments of discovery outshone blisters and seasickness.

Q: Do you think we can save many of these species?

A: I'm optimistic. The American alligator, bald eagle, gray wolf, and California condor were almost driven to extinction, but now they're showing signs of recovery. Both of m

y favorite survivors, the black-footed ferret and the American red wolf, were declared extinct but are now living in the wild.

Q: How do you tell these stories without making people think it's too late?

A: I try to imagine the audience as my adventure companion and use authentic moments of humor, sadness, failure, success, and discovery to tell the story. If I thought things were hopeless, I'd be in another line of work. --interview by Jennifer Weeks, via e-mail

ON THE WEB Read a longer interview with Corwin on our Green Life blog.


Green Biz

Tithing — offering a percentage of income for a cause — dates back to the Old Testament. And lately its popularity is surging in the business world, though today's offerings are not fixed at 10 percent, and are far different from the garments, dates, and barley that believers once donated to the church.

When Yvon Chouinard, owner of outdoor-apparel giant Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, owner of fishing supplier Blue Ribbon Flies, joined forces in 2002 to give 1 percent of sales to Earth-oriented nonprofits--and to recruit other executives to do the same--the result was itself a nonprofit: 1% for the Planet.

Today, the organization's thousand-plus member businesses, spread over 37 countries, donate directly to more than 1,900 approved environmental charities, including the Sierra Club. Many of the companies that slap the 1% FTP logo on their products--like Volcom, Sigg, and Clif Bar--are noticeably hip. But its biggest get might be Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records. The mellow singer-songwriter has sold more than 15 million albums, a mellifluous boon for the natural world.

So far, 1% FTP (tagline: "Keep Earth in business") members have funneled $42 million toward environmental groups. And they're not just being selfless: The Web site's "Why Join?" section stresses that membership brings networking opportunities, forges marketing inlets, and adds positive brand perception. What entrepreneur worth his or her MBA wouldn't say amen to that? --Avital Binshtock

In 2008, K&D Market, a small liquor store in San Francisco, found itself with an unusual problem: too many customers. A line for the lone cash register spilled out the door and around the block. The overflow came courtesy of Carrotmob, a recent form of activism focused on patronizing businesses that promise to improve their environmental efforts.

Carrotmob creator Brent Schulkin believes consumers can employ "organized spending" to influence business practices. He approached 23 San Francisco liquor store owners with a proposal: Using the Internet, personal contacts, and publicity outlets, he'd rally a burst of customers to the store that pledged to divert the largest percentage of a day's profits toward ecofriendly improvements. K&D won, with a promise of 22 percent.

The store grossed almost $10,000 in three hours, more than five times its typical single-day revenue. True to their word, the owners overhauled the lighting system and replaced refrigerator gaskets.

Since then, dozens of Carrotmobs have played out at nightclubs, cafes, and grocery stores across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Schulkin plans to spread the movement to mass-market corporations by influencing large-scale consumer choice. --Katherine Lonsdorf


Mixed Reviews
Our trail mix taste test proves to be divisive

No one knows exactly when humans first paired nuts with dried fruit and thought, "Gorp! I must have this as I journey forth afoot." We do know, however, that the salty-sweet concoction now called trail mix became commercially available in the 1960s and that makers have been refining recipes ever since. We recruited 15 hungry Sierra Club staffers to blind-taste and rate several ecofriendly varieties. The results were all over the map, so much so that we found only four worth recommending. More than one trail mix received the lowest score of 1 from some tasters and the highest score of 10 from others--proving that one hiker's bird feed can be another's nectar. Below are Sierra's top four brands.

GrandyOats: High Antioxidant Trail Mix
Score: 7.7 | $10 for 16 oz. | grandyoats.com

"Good if you like it simple and hearty" was the general impression of this "crunchy," "mellow," "very wholesome" blend of "plump and juicy" raisins, snappy almonds, huge walnut pieces, and mulberries. The GrandyOats Summit Blend scored well too. Both mixes are certified organic, and the company works with the American Hiking Society (americanhiking.org) and other groups to maintain trails.

SunRidge Farms: Organic Hit the Trail Mix
Score: 7.2 | $4.59 for 8 oz. | sunridgefarms.com

"This made me feel like I was out hiking," one person said about this "rustic" blend. Others noted its "perfect combination of flavors," "old-school trail mix" taste, "many types of crunch," and "nice fruit-to-nut ratio." A few naysayers described it as "boring." The family-owned SunRidge's Wild Ginger Harvest Mix also received high marks. SunRidge is 70 percent solar powered, uses biodiesel-fueled delivery trucks, and recycles.

Global Gardens: Global Peace Snackmix
Score: 6.3 | $11 for 8 oz. | globalgardensgifts.com

"This is genius. It gives a whole new meaning to trail mix," one taster said about this "exotic," "bold" concoction. "Indian spices + chocolate + coconut = delish!" But not everyone was a fan: More than one called it "bizarre," and some complained about its "dirty appearance." A good summary: "Looks like dog chow, tastes like dessert." Global Gardens uses organic ingredients, sources locally, and recycles extensively.

Navitas Naturals Trail Power: 3 Berries, Cacao Nibs, Cashews
Score: 5.2 | $6 for 4 oz. | navitasnaturals.com

People either loved or hated this one. Lovers: "Yes! Fruit, fruit, and more fruit. It's a party in my mouth," and "Sexy and delicious! Makes me feel wild and free." Haters: "It looks like what I was told not to eat as a child," "last-resort food," "mushy texture," and "missing nuts." Navitas Naturals is a certified-organic company that gets ingredients directly from indigenous farmers around the world.


Go, dog, go photos by Lori Eanes (5)
Trendsetter photo courtesy of Rodale Trade Books
Green biz photo by Sabrina Lemoine Brant/SABphotography
Trail mix photos by photos Lori Eanes (4)

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