Covering your carbon footprints in the Berkshires.
"Eco-friendly" isn't just a trendy catchphrase at lesbian-owned Topia Inn, a serene, smoke-free, 10-room Berkshires retreat in arts-minded Adams, Mass.: The inn is powered with solar panels and biodiesel fuel. Nana Simopoulos and Caryn Heilman gutted the former ski lodge to its 1880s bones and went totally green in the renovation, from the nontoxic clay coating the walls to the stylish recycled glass countertops and hand-tufted New Zealand wool carpet. Shoes must be checked or covered at the door when you enter this (nearly) carbon footprint-free haven, where themed rooms (Moroccan, Zen, Iroquois, etc.) are each designed by a different artist and include botanically scented body products, organic mattresses and linens, and either a spa tub with chromotherapy or rain shower with aromatherapy steam. The inn sits a few steps from the historic Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, an 11.2-mile pathway through the Hoosic River valley, perfect for cross-country skiing in the winter and biking or Rollerblading after spring thaw.
Jet GreenQ: It seems impossible to take an entirely green trip, especially by air. Is there any way to travel with less jet-fuel pollution? Consider the equipment. The brand-new Qantas A380, produced by European company Airbus, is up to 10% more fuel-efficient than comparably sized aircraft, producing less carbon emissions than any of the other commercial airplanes in the skies. If a fuel-efficient jet isn't available, consider German website Atmosfair.de, which helps travelers calculate the volume of greenhouse emissions created during a flight and sells certificates for the amount of money it takes to offset those pollutants. It then invests that money in climate-protection projects. Additionally, Virgin America, Continental, Air New Zealand, and Japan Airlines are experimenting with various proportions of sustainable biofuel. While such flights not yet widely available commerically, these airlines are on the right track.
Hot list: Snag These Earth-friendly Products for a Greener TripSolar and Wind ChargerHarnessing the power of the wind, the sun, or a conventional wall plug, this nifty universal charger fits in the palm of your hand. The battery-stored energy powers anything from your phone and MP3 player to a digital camera and more. The wind turbine generates electricity as you ski downhill, and the mini solar panels soak up the sun's energy as you down espressos at a chic outdoor cafe. The package ($49.99 at HYMini.com) also includes a USB cable, an AC/DC power adapter, and mobile phone connectors.
Bamboo Blanket and Eye MaskAirplane blankets and eye masks are often made from polyester and come wrapped in wasteful plastic. Avoid the synthetics and snuggle with your partner under a 100% bamboo blanket and eye mask ($39.95 at Wrapables.com). The natural and very sustainable fibers create a silky-soft fabric that feels like jersey cashmere at a fraction of the price. Hypoallergenic and antibacterial, the set is available in a festive pink or very fitting leaf green.
100% Natural Hemp LuggageSuper-green company Eco Traveler produces durable, 100% natural hemp luggage ($49.99-$54.99 at Overstock.com). The set, which includes a wheeled expandable suitcase and a tote bag, is olive green and has no PVC. It also comes in a dolphin or tree pattern with earth-friendly messages.