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Travel Kit

Think Global, Travel Green

In some circles, travel itself is considered, well, politically incorrect. After all, claim the self-righteous - who brandish photos of a garbage-strewn Machu Picchu or the traffic-snarled roads of Yosemite - we'd all have a lot less impact on the environment if we'd just stay home. Still, we can't imagine spending our two weeks vacation spreading compost. Here then, solutions for ecoconscious travelers.

H y p e r - G r e e n   G e t a w a y s

In Eco-Journeys: The World Guide to Ecologically Aware Travel and Adventure, Stephen Foehr gives plenty of tips on ecofriendly traveling and suggests nearly 300 wilderness destinations for responsible travelers. Explore the Amazon by dugout canoe, hike Mount Kilimanjaro - and feel a lot less guilty doing it. Physically disabled travelers will also find plenty of tips for getting off the beaten track in Foehr's well-thought-out presentation, including detailed information on accommodation and getting around. US$15.95. Available through the Adventurous Traveler Bookstore: (800) 282 3963, or +1 (802) 482 3546.

E a s y   G l i d e r

Road trips are bad trips for the environment, unless your vehicle is nonpolluting - an increasingly available option. Ford, for example, is set to begin selling a "glider" version of its 1996 Ranger truck - glider because it comes fully loaded with everything but an engine and a gas tank. The pickup - whose fossil-fuel version is already the most popular truck in North America - can be bought only by qualified electric vehicle modifiers. After these middlemen have installed an electric motor and charger, you'll be able to buy the finished product. One caveat: it's not really suitable for the "Gun-control means using both hands" bumper-sticker set. Electric-ready Ford Ranger - available sometime in the next year from Troy Design and Management, Troy, Michigan: +1 (313) 537 3880. (In 1998, Ford itself will begin selling its own complete electric version, the Ranger EV. It will sell for approximately US$30,000.)

S o l a r  I s  B a c k

Solar power never did outlast the hype - we're still burning coal and splitting atoms. But if you take your laptop along on trips, you can actually start relying on the energy source that renews itself every morning. Really. The durable vinyl cover of the lightweight Sun Runner Powerbook solar battery pack unzips to reveal rows of silicon photoelectric cells - just like those cool collectors on satellites - that allow your Mac to run continuously in sun or light shade. The unit operates under adverse conditions too - Power Express spokesperson Lloyd Middlekuff says even a couple of test bullet holes weren't enough to shut it down. Good news for the extremely, uh, adventurous. Sun Runner Powerbook for Macintosh 100 through 180: US$189. For Mac 520, 540, and Duo: US$354. Power Express: (800) 769 3739 or +1 (415) 529 0133.

P o p   B o t t l e   P u l l o v e r

Wear your trash on your sleeve in garments made from Wellman Inc.'s EcoSpun polyester fleece. Every year the environmentally correct textile giant turns 2.65 billion two-liter plastic pop bottles into 265 million pounds of fiber. Most of the bottles come from curbside recycling programs, saving space in landfills, conserving almost a million barrels of oil annually, and avoiding the production of nearly half a million tons of toxic air emissions. Wow. Top-of-the-line outdoor outfitter Patagonia uses the recycled fiber in its coveted Synchilla garments (like the classic Snap-T). This pullover won't pill, comes in 12 color combinations, will keep you ultrawarm on the road or at home, and weighs a mere 21 ounces. Let's see, that would be how many pop bottles? Snap-T, US$82. Patagonia: (800) 638 6464 or +1 (406) 587 3838.

By Laurel Wellman


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