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Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
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ENJOY | The Green Life

Sustainable Slurping | Trendsetter: Eric Larsen | Gifts That Keep on Living

Gifts That Keep on Living

The problem with most holiday presents is that they're just so . . . lifeless. Not these.
Avital Binshtock

Think of it as Sea-Monkeys' more sophisticated cousin. ECOSPHERE's Pod resembles a crystal ball foretelling a serene future of red shrimp, algae, and microbes. It's an enclosed, self-sustaining system, so you never have to feed the critters; all they need is natural light. Based on a concept developed for NASA, this microworld is made from handblown glass, plus a bit of earth, air, and seawater. $60 to $150, depending on size

Shopping for a fun guy? Consider BACK TO THE ROOTS' mushroom garden. The grow-your-own kit comes with "soil" made of recycled coffee grounds (the company is on track to save 1 million pounds of caffeinated refuse from landfills this year), and the packaging box doubles as the vase. Within 10 days of opening it, you can harvest up to 1.5 pounds of recipe-ready pearl oyster mushrooms. $20

A teched-up twist on UNCLE MILTON's 1950s classic is the Ant Farm Revolution. Western Harvester ants eat their way through the cylinder's green goo, tunneling a mazelike space. Thanks to an embedded lens and an LED light, their huge, crawling silhouettes get projected onto the ceiling—for the coolest night-light ever. If you'd prefer to give a ladybug, roly-poly, or tadpole habitat, no problem—Uncle Milton's got those too. $40 for ant farm, $6 for 30 live ants (or catch your own for free)

Watch as children morph into lifelong biology enthusiasts: With the Live Butterfly Garden from INSECT LORE, they get a netted pop-up habitat and at least three caterpillars. Give the striped larvae the enclosed food, and within three weeks they'll envelop themselves in cocoons and emerge as Painted Lady butterflies. $20

For fashion that grows on you, visit MYDOGANDI on Etsy and add the live-moss ring ($16) and terrarium necklace ($10.50) to your cart. The ring is made from an acorn, a tiny patch of verdant moss, and an adjustable band. To care for it, spritz it with water from time to time and make sure that it, like you, gets a bit of sunlight. The same instructions apply to the necklace, an antique chain whose pendant is a small glass vial filled with living lichen. Five percent of the profits benefits animal charities.

ON THE WEB For more holiday gifts and tips, go to sierraclub.org/greenlife.



Photos from top: Lori Eanes; iStockphoto/Ziutograf; Lori Eanes (2)



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