TODAY   |  April 18, 2012

‘Green’ products get more colorful

Earth friendly doesn’t have to mean boring. “Green” products now come in a variety of shades and styles, and TODAY contributor Elizabeth Mayhew shows off doormats, plates, and pillows that are both colorful and good for the environment.

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TAMRON HALL reporting: This morning on TODAY GOES GREEN , good for the earth doesn't have to be mean earth tone. Environmentally friendly products come in many vibrant shades and styles these days. TODAY contributor and author of "Flip for Decorating ," Elizabeth Mayhew is here with the hottest, colorful, green products. Elizabeth , good morning.

Ms. ELIZABETH MAYHEW: Good morning.

HALL: It is so true, it's often bland, beige, oatmeal when you go green with some of these products.

Ms. MAYHEW: Not anymore.

HALL: OK.

Ms. MAYHEW: This is like all cool stuff that will bring color and also good for you.

HALL: Let me bring you down.

Ms. MAYHEW: Good for your home.

HALL: And good for the environment. And we start off with lobster rope mats?

Ms. MAYHEW: OK, so these are very cool. These are made out of the rope that Maine fishermen used to use to tether together the lobster nets.

HALL: Mm-hmm, it's sturdy.

Ms. MAYHEW: Well, it happened to be very bad for marine life.

HALL: Mm-hmm.

Ms. MAYHEW: So now they've switched to a totally different kind of rope. But this company, the New England Trading Company , takes the old rope, rather than putting it into landfills...

HALL: Right.

Ms. MAYHEW: ...and weaves it into a great-looking striped door mat. And it's perfect as a door mat because obviously it's meant to be in the ocean, so it's all-weather.

HALL: Right, absolutely. Now this flip-flop mat, what's that?

Ms. MAYHEW: This is a flip-flop. So this company takes the leftover scraps from making flip-flops and turns them into mats. So you can get these at both shopgaiam.com and also Re- modern. But what's great about it is they're very cushy like a flip-flop, so they'd be great even in front of your sink or in your kitchen.

HALL: Cool.

Ms. MAYHEW: Very comfortable and fun.

HALL: Especially if you're a person who cooks a lot, and you're standing around, absorb that. Perfect.

Ms. MAYHEW: Exactly.

HALL: OK, next up.

Ms. MAYHEW: So you got to have -- you think of green living , seeds are a wonderful thing. I think these would be an amazing Mother's Day gift. Basically it's the Hudson Valley Seed Library which harvests all organic seeds and actually hopes to keep them all alive in this seed library. But what I love is they've commissioned all these artists to do the covers of their seed packets.

HALL: Cute.

Ms. MAYHEW: And they come packaged with a removable sticker that you can then take and frame, so they're colorful and they'd be a really cute addition framed in a kitchen.

HALL: Hm.

Ms. MAYHEW: So you get, like, two things for the price of one.

HALL: Very nice for the garden mom. This basil smells amazing.

Ms. MAYHEW: Right.

HALL: Next up bamboo, which is so popular with organic and environmentally friendly .

Ms. MAYHEW: Right. Well, because bamboo is the fastest growing plant. In some places it can grow three feet a day. So it's a great renewable resource. These plates...

HALL: And how is it used here?

Ms. MAYHEW: ...look like they're melamine or plastic but they're actually made out of bamboo, so they're completely biodegradable. You can even put them in your dishwasher. You get a set of four, so one of each pattern, from Viva Terra .

HALL: OK. And storage never looked so good and friendly for the environment.

Ms. MAYHEW: Good. Great in a kid's room. It's made from recycled cotton canvas.

HALL: Hm.

Ms. MAYHEW: And it's also dyed with soy-based dyes so nothing bad for the environment. Great, you know, collapsible. Put in...

HALL: Can you wash it since it's soy-based dye.

Ms. MAYHEW: You can wash it, as well.

HALL: Oh, good, OK.

Ms. MAYHEW: Yeah.

HALL: And these storage bins.

Ms. MAYHEW: These are so cool because they are actually made out of paper.

HALL: Oh.

Ms. MAYHEW: A hundred percent paper but they're super durable. If you go to buygreen.com, where you can get them, you can even see a video of a 200 pound guy jumping on top of them. You can stack them and they come in nine different colors. So great for a kids room, as well.

HALL: I love the colors. And storage jars, glass.

Ms. MAYHEW: Right. So we think of recycled glass as being very popular. Well, this artist takes recycled glass bottles , hand cuts them, hand sands them, and makes either these canisters or these really pretty colored bottles that are joined together.

HALL: These are so pretty.

Ms. MAYHEW: And beautiful vases, they're even like an art collection.

HALL: I love this, it's a do -- like color blocking even.

Ms. MAYHEW: Right. And these are from re-modern.com, as well.

HALL: OK. And a little pillow to pop your home?

Ms. MAYHEW: Right. So for your sofa or even for your bed, these are all pillows made out of natural jute and burlap, and the artist uses non- VOC paints to do the dots. And even the filler that's inside, you can -- you can attest to it, it's squishy.

HALL: Oh, it's soft.

Ms. MAYHEW: But it's made out of recycled water bottles, so.

HALL: And even the feel of the texture is not so rough. I mean, you don't want a rough pillow just so that it's environmentally friendly . This is soft.

Ms. MAYHEW: It's soft. And it also adds just like a little fun with the polka dots .

HALL: Right.

Ms. MAYHEW: So those are from Ecoaccents .

HALL: And polka dots are chic right now. Now to the running shoe .

Ms. MAYHEW: OK, these are super cool . They're from Brooks Running , and they are made out of multiple things like recycled rubber, recycled compact discs, recycled water bottles. And the other thing that's amazing is these shoes actually have 26 parts put to them which is to make the shoe as opposed to the average running shoe which is 54 parts.

HALL: Wow.

Ms. MAYHEW: So they've actually really tightened down.

HALL: And they're durable.

Ms. MAYHEW: Super durable. Come in all these bright colors. It's pretty amazing.

HALL: OK, OK. Now this looks right up my alley. I like this.

Ms. MAYHEW: OK, so this is a shopping bag. It's from a company called Artechnica . And they have a whole line called Design with a Conscious , so they're very into this. They have partnered up with an advertising firm where they take all of the recycled billboards...

HALL: Yeah.

Ms. MAYHEW: ...and the make these bags out of them. And then they die-cut them. It holds up to 33 pounds. Great to go to the farmer's market.

HALL: Yeah.

Ms. MAYHEW: And you're using something that would just normally go into a landfill. There's no glue used. So those are really cool, as well.

HALL: And these are nice and airy. You can even sit some of your, you know, tomatoes and onions on the storage shelf in your home and it still looks cool.

Ms. MAYHEW: Absolutely. You could act -- hang them in a closet...

HALL: Hang them, yeah, yeah.

Ms. MAYHEW: ...with the potatoes. Great idea.

HALL: OK. And now to baby and mommy.

Ms. MAYHEW: Baby and mommy. So diapers, 500 million diapers go into landfills a day.

HALL: That's astonishing.

Ms. MAYHEW: And it's estimated that it takes 500 years for them to break down.

HALL: Mm.

Ms. MAYHEW: So this company called gDiapers has come up with this system where you buy the little pant -- it comes in all different colors -- and then you buy inserts which are completely biodegradable. You can flush them, you can put them in the garbage or you can put them in your compost and they totally break down. And they also do wipes, as well. You cannot flush those but they are biodegradable.

HALL: So you just insert?

Ms. MAYHEW: You insert a little layer, a little liner and...

HALL: This is the cutest thing ever.

Ms. MAYHEW: And it's so much better for the environment. I know, that is a tiny baby bum. And that's -- essentially there's just a little liner that goes in, and your baby stays wet and dry -- I mean, not wet, dry.

HALL: Dry. You know, but this is great because it's a combination of kind of the old cloth diaper with the innovation of disposable.

Ms. MAYHEW: Exactly.

HALL: Perfect, great stuff.

Ms. MAYHEW: And it's all online from gDiaper.

HALL: All right, OK.

Ms. MAYHEW: You can order it all.

HALL: All right, Elizabeth Mayhew . Thank you very much .

Ms. MAYHEW: Thank you.