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For Those Who Know Too Much: The Eco-Friendly Gift Guide

350.org3Photo: 350.org

Your aunt, the environmental lawyer who sued British Petroleum. Your Fulbright scholar cousin who recently returned from India, where he's developed a highly efficient solar cookstove. Your old roommate, the vegan who went undercover to expose cruelty on a chicken farm.

What, in the world, should you get them for holiday gifts?

OK, you might not have that many incredibly committed, informed, passionate people on your list—and even if you do, they're not going to judge you that much for buying them some lame, plastic stocking stuffer with a huge carbon footprint. Then again....

So if you're still on the hunt for a gift or two, consider these options for your eco-est friends and family.

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Peak Design's Leash: The Ultimate Camera Strap

IMG_8716

Last week, on a safari in South Africa’s Kgalagadi (Kalahari) Transfrontier Park, I picked up my SLR with the long lens to photograph a lioness and her kill at a watering hole, and the strap simply fell off the camera. I got lucky—my $2,000-worth of electronics didn’t clatter to the floor of the Jeep or fall in the sand. I caught the camera. But luck isn’t what you want to rely on with a camera strap. It’s an accessory that should be functional, comfortable, and, most important, dependable.

Traditional camera straps are often difficult to attach and detach, they're bulky and expensive. That’s why Peak Design is making Leash. Re-defining the classic camera strap, Leash has an elegant quick-connect system, it's made from high-quality and secure materials, and it's rugged and minimalist. Use it as a neck strap, sling strap, safety tether, or video stabilizer, and when you don’t want it, it quickly disconnects from your camera and rolls up small enough to stuff in your back pocket.

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End Your Search for Outlets With Timbuk2’s Power Q Packs

Powerq

Finally put an end to searching for wall outlets, or carrying a bouquet of charging cables and converters for all the electronics in your bag. World travelers, itinerant wanderers, and absent-minded electronics users: with Timbuk2’s Power Q Laptop Backpack you get Timbuk2’s best-selling durable ballistic nylon briefcase backpack with a no-fuss built-in power supply.

Timbuk2’s Power Q has the features that travelers need, whether your voyage is from home to office, classroom to library, or LAX to Charles de Gaulle. The side entry computer sleeve holds up to a 17" laptop, and the zip bottom compartment keeps your power brick and other accessories from getting tangled with the rest of your possessions. Two large pockets, plus a cell/wallet pocket, allow you to stash everything else, including the Joey T1 Power Supply.

Joey

This power pack, which is just slightly bigger than a computer mouse, will charge any USB-compatible device in your bag with no need to remove the power or the device. Charger cables thread through a port in the bag from the power supply pocket. Unlike other chargers, the Joey won’t overheat, and it’s button-free, so it won’t accidentally turn on when you don’t need it. Charge it pre-departure, and the Joey will keep your phone, point and shoot, GPS, iPad, and other electronics fired up for weeks.

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This Time Tomorrow Trailer

Filmmaker Taylor Steele's last movie, Here and Now, took the viewer through a single day in the life of more than a dozen surfers from around the world. His latest project, This Time Tomorrow, follows surfers Dave Rastovich and Craig Anderson as they travel more than 20,000 miles around the Pacific Rim over the course of eight days to chase the swells created by a single storm cell. Steele premiered the film at the New York Surf Film Festival and then stuck around after the screening to answer questions.

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Jumping Off

After nearly two years of planning, meetings and refining the Riverview Project, the team at Below the Surface is ready for its most epic road trip yet—the Exploring with a Purpose East Coast tour. Over six weeks, your Readers of the Year will be driving from San Diego to Washington, D.C., Boston, New York, New Jersey and back, to bring more people into the mix to help protect our rivers.

Driving hard and fast from our San Diego headquarters in our trusty (and sometimes testy) 1990 Ford F250 "Dark Chocolate," I find myself 45 minutes east of Denver perched on a orange "homer" pail, taking a break before pushing through to St Louis to visit our friend "Muddy" Mike Clark, wild man of the Upper Mississippi. Dark Chocolate is filled with adventure gear, our computers and batteries are being charged up by solar energy gathered with GoalZero's Sherpa solar kits and we're hand-pumping our way through the nearly 152 gallons of recycled vegetable oil that powers our truck. Eleven-hundred miles into a 9,000-mile driving, paddling and speaking odyssey, we're brimming with enthusiasm.

Along the way, I picked up Mark "Holy Man" Downey, the team leader from a group of guys that paddled the entire 24,00 miles of the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico in June. His trip represented the hope and promise of the work we do at Below the Surface—inspiring people to Explore with Purpose. This group took the beta version of the Riverview Mobile App and gathered over 2,000 pictures of their adventure to contribute to the Riverview Project.

This road trip is so much more than a great ride, it is the actualization of many dreams. Since launching the Riverview Project and working hard to bring on paddler/explorers, sponsors, partners and advocates for protecting our rivers we've realized that the most important element of our project is having a sustainable, grassroots and free way for people, businesses and organizations throughout the world to participate. We felt that the best way we could plug both river and ocean enthusiasts as well as people who've never been on the water into the Riverview project is by leveraging what we all carry with us—the ubiquitous smartphone and attending mobile apps.

The Riverview Project was featured in an article in the New York Times after a series of meetings with the U.S. Geological Survey. The timing couldn't have been better. I was on a plane flying back from Washington, D.C., when I met an earnest young reporter who was excited to be heading to San Diego to visit her grandparents and surf. As a direct result of our light conversation on the plane, she posted the following hyperlinked article on the New York Times Green blog. This article initiated a conversation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which ultimately joined our team to provide the resources to develop an Android- and iPhone-based mobile app.

As we're not programmers by training or curiosity, this has been a bit of an undertaking, but one that we've been blessed to be supported on by many indvividuals and groups. Through reading, asking reams of questions and patience, we've created the Riverview Mobile app. This allows people to create an account representing themselves or their organization, snap a picture, geotag, type in comments and upload their "riverview" to our maps and cross-promote on Facebook. We're in the process of integrating all the code for the app into our website and Google's Earth map! To quote our friend Shelby Stanger in the Readers of the Year article from December 2012, "Call it Conservation 2.0."

The goal is to inspire more paddling with all manner of vessel. We want to deepen the sense of community and connectedness to our waterways and coastline, share the excitement of a new expedition, promote our partner organizations and be able to demonstrate how important our waterways and coastline are beyond commerce and being receptacles for diluting wastewater and runoff effluent.

We'll be paddling and speaking all fall at events from Washington, D.C., to Boston. We'll keep you updated as we progress, and let you know when the Riverview App is available.

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