News & Politics

Best of Washington: Sustainable and Sensational

Different ways to go green.

Bottoms up: These etched Green Glasses are made from wine and beer bottles rescued from the trash. Wisconsin’sGreen Glass Co. uses the bottoms for tumblers and the tops for goblets. It also uses energy-saving equipment. Sets of four are $25 to $50 at Go Mama Go! (1809 14th St., NW; 202-299-0850; or

Bathroom’s best: Nearly half a million trees would be saved if every US household replaced just one regular roll of toilet paper with one made of recycled paper. The best choices are whitened without chlorine bleach and have high postconsumer content (paper recycled after it’s been used). Trader Joe’s brand is the best buy at $3.69 for 12;

Car sharing: Go online to reserve one of the cars parked in spots all over the city and close-in suburbs. Flash a card at the windshield and it’s yours for a half-hour ride to the store or a weekend trip to the beach. Zipcars ( start at $7.65 an hour, after $25 to join and $50 annually.

Pop-top purses: Who knew trash could be fashionable? These Escama Studio bags are made from aluminum pop-tops—still abundant in Brazil, where two women’s cooperatives fashion the clutches and shoulder bags. The cooperatives get a cut of the profits from high-end retailers, and each bag includes the name of the woman who made it and a link to her biography on the Escama Web site. The Chica Rosa clutch is $36 at the National Building Museum shop (401 F St., NW; 202-272-7706; or $35 at

A better bottle: Americans fill trash bins with more than 22 billion empty water bottles each year. Green consumers find that filling their own polycarbonate Nalgene bottles is safer for the environment, their wallets, and their health. The clear bottles don’t leach toxins—or off tastes—as factory-filled containers may. They can also make a statement with school, personal, or business emblems. A 32-ounce bottle is $7.99 at the Container Store (locations areawide;

Let there be sunlight: The small, round window of the Solatube Daylighting System collects and diffuses greater amounts of sunlight than a skylight many times its size, and it can shine brighter than bulbs—without energy costs. It can also be dimmed or completely shut off. Increasing your exposure to natural light has also been shown to boost mental and physical well-being. Starting at around $300, it’s available at Eco-Green Living (1469 Church St., NW; 202-234-7110; or