Material World

Material World

This Clothesline Hides Your Virtues
Project Laundry ( has a laundry list of good reason for using a clothesline rather than a dryer: You’ll save 10–15 percent on your energy bill, your clothes will last longer, you’ll get moderate exercise, and sunshine is a natural disinfectant. But here’s the rub — hanging your clothes outside can bring down property values by some 15 percent, according to the California Association of Homeowners. What to do? The Versaline disappearing clothesline has a unique bracket mounting system that enables you to remove your clothesline as easily as taking a T-shirt off the line. It also can be folded flat against a wall, is large enough to hold sheets, and can be used indoors or out. (

The Heavens around Your Neck
Becky Thatcher makes landscapes that hang at your throat and skyscapes that dangle from your ears. For the horizon, there’s iolite; for the clouds, moonstone or pearl; for the sky, blue chalcedony or glistening aquamarine. Sometimes in the early morning, when there’s the tiniest touch of pink or lavender, Becky will add a bit of amethyst or conch. She works with traditional materials, like diamonds, pearls, and opals, but she also collects beach rocks, recycled glass, fossils, even slag. Becky Thatcher Designs belongs to the American Gem Trade Association, which helps protect against conflict gems and international money laundering. See her designs at

Beautiful Scents for the Sensitive
In Carmel, California, Jane Hendler and her husband, Rex, blended their 30 years of experience with rare and precious plant-derived fragrances by starting an organic farm and opening a perfumery called Ajne. The Hendlers believe that what you put on your skin becomes a part of you, just like the food you eat. Therefore, all their scents contain 100 percent nonsynthetic combinations of pure, plant-distilled essential oils and absolutes; they’ll even blend a scent in your choice of denatured spirits or organic jojoba oil, making it a wonderful choice for people with product sensitivities. Choose among prêt-a-porter perfumes like “Psyche” — sweet and summery with Bulgarian rose, West Indian champaca, and Italian citrus. Or the delicious unisex scent “Om,” which is rich in sandalwood, cedar, and lichen, and which the Hendlers claim supports the base, third eye, and crown chakras. Ajne ( also creates personalized fragrances from its over 300 rare oils and can blend your fragrance into its natural skin care and home products.

Light Up the Unlit Third of the World
Close to two billion people have no affordable access to artificial light. Since 2005, Mark Bent, a former foreign service officer and Texas oilman, has been working to help alleviate this problem. His company, SunNight Solar, is now the leader in off-the-grid lighting products in Africa and parts of South and Central America. The rechargeable batteries in SunNight’s solar-powered flashlight last for 750 to 1000 nights, with an average six to eight hours of use per night. In the BOGO (Buy One, Give One) program, when you purchase a light for your own use, SunNight will donate one to a nonprofit organization and ship it where it’s needed. The company also donates one dollar per light to help the nonprofit pay for distribution of the lights. For more information, go to

Yoga Bags from Great Events
Here’s a problem you don’t think about every day: what happens to the banners heralding grand openings, movie premieres, races, rallies, and festivals? After all, these announcements are generally printed on heavy vinyl (a petroleum product) and can be up to 16 feet wide. According to Britten Banners (, a Michigan company, most of them formerly went into landfills. Last year, however, Britten Banners partnered with the Marine Corps Marathon to turn its 2007 banner into collectible bags for select runners. Called priorLIFE (, the bags can be ordered by companies wishing to recycle or by individuals looking for a very cool bag. Each product comes with a tag that tells the story of its “prior life.”

Carbon-Neutral Adventures
For those who prefer memories to stuff, Eco Tour Adventures helps people connect with the natural world through observation and natural-history interpretation. Partnering with the Carbon Fund to be carbon neutral and to support the local economy with products and services, they offer a variety of wildlife viewing in the Jackson Hole, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone ecosystems. (

If you hanker to travel outside the country, try Sustainable Travel International, a nonprofit organization that provides education and outreach services to individuals and businesses in a way that lessens the toll that travel and tourism take on the environment and local cultures. (

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