How green can it get in eco-conscious Northern California? You can take an entire "eco-trip" in Marin County using nothing but green products produced by local companies and eating organic food in countless venues.
[caption id="attachment_77672" align="alignright" width="315"] ECOlunchboxes are stainless steel for no-waste munching.[/caption]
For green transport take the PiCycle (picycle.com), a hybrid that employs both electric and pedal power. Its distinctive curving shape -- the Pi in the cycle -- houses electric components that turn it into a zero-emission vehicle when your legs get tired.
Pi Mobility, the Sausalito company that invented it, claims a standard PiCycle can go up to 20 miles on a charge, climb an 18 percent grade with a 185-pound rider on-board or hit a top speed of 20 miles per hour.
According to founder Marcus Hayes, an electric-vehicle pioneer, the vehicle was designed using Autodesk software and is manufactured in Marin County.
"By producing our bikes locally, much of the transportation carbon that often affects even environmentally sustainable goods can be eliminated," said Mr. Hayes.
The cycles cost between $6,000 and $10,000 depending on battery power. It’s the perfect vehicle for traveling the back roads of Marin.
For an eco-picnic you can stock up on any number of organic goodies from Good Earth Natural Foods in Fairfax, the Mill Valley Market in Mill Valley, Toby’s Feed Barn in Point Reyes Station, United Markets and Whole Foods Market in San Rafael.
[caption id="attachment_77673" align="alignleft" width="245"] The paperboard Ecotensil replaces plastic tasting spoons that clutter landfills and oceans.[/caption]
Marin Organic, a 13-year-old organization that’s dedicated to keeping Marin green, maintains a website listing 20 farms and ranches that are certified organic.
"Originally our focus was on making all food grown in the county organic," said director Jeffrey Westman. "Now that that’s largely accomplished -- all row crops are certified -- we’ve turned our attention to education."
Marin Organic brings elementary school children into the organic fields to show them where their food comes from. It’s about to launch a program for high school students that takes them from farm to table, with a close look at all the operations between the two.
The group also gives farm tours and lists all organic food-related events on its website (marinorganic.com).
You wouldn’t want to tote your picnic in plastic. ECOlunchboxes (ecolunchboxes.com) will provide lead-free, PVC-free, vinyl-free, BPA-free, no-waste stainless steel bento boxes manufactured in Thailand -- not China -- and colorful cotton bags and napkins ethically-sourced directly from artisan weavers and dyers in India.
‘"I thought I was starting a little internet business, a mom-shop," said founder Sandra Ann Harris, who designed the products for her children when she couldn’t find what she wanted in the way of sustainable lunchware.
The boxes -- about $20 apiece -- and bags were such a hit with consumers that Ms. Harris had to formulate a business plan, consider scalability and do market analysis.
ECOlunchboxes became one of the first companies in Dominican University’s Venture Greenhouse incubator and is now a graduate.
"I found that an average family spends about $400 extra through the use of disposable lunchware and creates 4,320 trash units unnecessarily," said Ms. Harris. "That’s an excellent reason to stop buying sandwich baggies."
You can pick up an ECOlunchboxes at Whole Foods, where it’s among the top-selling lunch containers.