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Eco Corner

By Jake Reiner

Eco Corner


ECO CHRISTMAS—Heifer International

This holiday season, whether you are carving up back country powder or tanning in Thailand, you are now a walking power station, free forever from oil politics. Voltaic’s line of Solar Backpacks is fitted with three tough solar cells, able to recharge your cell phone, cameras, MP3 players and more.

A built-in battery pack stores sunlight for when you need it, and it can also be charged from a wall outlet or car lighter. So you can carry extra power for your gear, even when the sun doesn’t shine, including 11 adaptors for iPod mini, nano and many other gadgets.

These well designed, durable bags are reasonably priced (USD $229) and the more we buy, the cheaper they get, so get one for a friend too!


Hit the open road without hitting the gas. The Power Bike Pro (USD $799) is an electric bike not designed just for Grandma’s run down to the shotengai. This rugged bike is equipped with a battery and electric motor to give you that little extra boost when you are passing a taxi on Meiji-Dori, or about to pass out climbing to mountain roads.

Front suspension, soft seat, mud guards—all you need—and no pollution! Trade in your train pass and your Suzuki scooter-polluter. The Power Pro has just enough boost to help you with that Monday morning, hung-over commute. Conversion kits also available. See more models online.

ECO FASHION—Voltaic Backpacks

Christmas in Japan is finally catching on. Maybe not the “Peace and Love for All Mankind” bit, but the shopping, the lights, the cake, and of course all the wrapping paper. Did you ever wish you could actually enjoy the giving part too?

Since 1944 Heiffer International has been giving farm animals and training to millions of families in 115 countries around the world. Instead of sending that package of chopsticks and kimono to your well-off relatives at home, you can buy a water buffalo in their name for a family in Vietnam, or an Alpaca in Peru, or six ducks for a little girl in Africa.

Heiffer will send a customized thank you card or e-mail to your gift recipient, with pictures of the animals and families your gift buys. Visit their website to choose your animals today.


Looking to take a cruise around the world? Can’t quite seem to save up the $35,000 it usually costs? How about working your way around the globe on a boat dedicated to world peace, equality and sustainability?

Peace Boat is an NGO/cruise ship that runs three-month tours to ports around the world. Linking with social and environmental organizations in each country they visit, they hold events, concerts, conferences and other activities to open dialog and create support for a diverse range of groups and projects, from AIDS in Africa to coastal erosion in Fiji.

They are always recruiting teachers, translators and people with something to contribute. There are volunteer opportunities at their peace centers across Japan as well.