backpacking… upgraded

Mr. Darcy opens an eco-boutique!

If I had a list of literary and/or movie characters I’d date, it would go something like this:

1) Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice

2) Mr. Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary

3) Mr. Darcy in the sequel to Bridget Jones’s Diary

As many of you (female) readers probably already know, all said versions of Mr. Darcy are played by the British actor Colin Firth, who apparently has opened an eco-boutique(!) called, umm, Eco. Well, it’s the restrained, passionate, smoldering look we’re all so fond of, not the man’s creativity.

Anyway, I digress. Not only can you shop for eco-friendly home wares, but there are also in-store consultants that can help you make your home more efficient. The shop aims to be “Britain’s first ecological destination store.” I don’t know if they mean tourist destination, but this is definitely on my list for the next time I’m in London!

Unfortunately you can’t shop online (of course, you can’t stalk Mr. Darcy while pretending to be interested in bamboo-fiber curtains online, so what’s the point anyway), but you can check out an article about the store from the Times Online.

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Eco-friendly travel accessories

So, it’s official. Anything can now be made to come in “organic.” Witness the birth of organic, lavender-scented hand sanitizer.

The thing is, I have this nightmare that I’m in a remote location without any knowledge of the city, language skills, etc., and there are two things I don’t have that really freak me out – a Lonely Planet and hand sanitizer. It’s the traveler’s version of the not-being-prepared-for-a-test nightmare. Imagine my relief knowing that I have my hand sanitizer and it harms the planet less.

All jabs at self aside, I have to admit that I love eco-friendly travel products because they usually make the ordinary just a little special. For instance, silk travel accessories can be eco-friendly, which is a nice upgrade from your run-of-the-mill sleep sack and travel pillow. As a defense against being judged a complete prima donna, I have spent months on the road or away from home living in some really dingy, tiny places. As I’ve said before, a scented candle and a cozy throw blanket can really help with the “let’s pretend” coping strategy. Which brings me to… Eco-friendly scented travel candles! Soy candles burn longer and cleaner. Jasmine is one of my favorite scents.

Moving away from the frou-frou stuff and onto things that really could do some good for the environment, I’ve had my eye on a solar paneled backpack (which charges your laptop, phone, ipod, etc.) for a while. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like a Voltaic Messenger Solar Backpack is tech-chic and the backpack style is just geek. It’s 3 lbs., though, so I’m still deciding if I’m prepared to sacrifice a little extra back strain for mother earth.

Plastic bottles for all that drinking water are a major downside to tourism. As someone who’s had every parasite on the block, I wouldn’t always recommend the tap. One great alternative is the Atlantis Water Purifying Cup. From Carolyn Ali at “The device weighs just three-and-a-half ounces and can purify up to 3,700 litres of water. It fits neatly into a one-litre water bottle while it’s working, and folds into its own plastic cup for storage.”

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