Ryan Chartrand

Want to be more environmentally friendly but don’t know how to get started? Want to be able to go shopping without unintentionally contributing to sweatshops, lead poisoning or global warming? Well, fear no longer! Here’s a list of some of San Luis Obispo County’s greener businesses to help relieve your conscience.

Earth-friendly fashionistas, for whom hemp-made panchos aren’t good enough or flattering to their body types, should check out Bambu Batu. This bamboo store uses bamboo to its fullest potential and offers a wide variety of bamboo goods, including clothes. The fibers of bamboo can be spun into fabric that is incredibly soft, amazingly absorbent and naturally anti-microbial.

But what makes bamboo clothing sustainable is that bamboo is a grass and is readily renewable and capable of being harvested continually without replanting. There are about 2,000 species of bamboo, most of which grow up to 2 to 3 feet per day. Also, a swath of bamboo releases 35 percent more oxygen than an equal area of trees.

For more information, visit www.bambubatu.com or check out the store on 1127-A Broad St. Also, if you find hemp ponchos surprisingly slimming, visit the Hemp Shak at 1115 Broad St.

It’s pretty safe to assume most surfers love nature, or at least the ocean. So it’s a bit disheartening that the boards they use are usually made from a handful of chemicals containing toxins and carcinogens that can not only poison you, but also cause diabetes and birth defects.

The solution to this conundrum? Fluid Earth, a San Luis Obispo-based company that, according to its Web site, uses “proprietary earth-friendly materials” with a “state-of-the-art recycling program, and carbon-offset manufacturing and shipping practices” to help clean up the surfing community.

The company also contributes to the One Percent For The Planet program; this means 1 percent of all Fluid Earth’s sales are donated to the program that in turn distributes it among grassroots organizations working toward improving the environment.

Fluid Earth accessories can be found at shops around the county and on its Web site, www.fluidearth.org.

To improve the earth while improving the quality of your body, visit Shine Café and Sunshine Health Foods on 415 Morro Bay Blvd. in Morro Bay. The café is completely vegetarian and uses local organic ingredients. The store sells natural foods and products, a good portion of which are Fair Trade certified products. The store and café are open until 5 p.m. daily except Sunday.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, pop into Sweet Earth Chocolates at Splash Cafe. This local chocolatier gives Willy Wonka a run for his money with delicious goodies made from fairly traded, organic cocoa. It also offers vegan chocolates.

Visit Sweet Earth Chocolates at 1491 Monterey St. or order online at www.sweetearthchocolates.com, where you can also read the blog of founder and professor Tom Neuhaus, in which he describes his trip to Africa to assist African cocoa farmers.

If you’re worried about how many trees are killed so gift-wrapped presents remain surprising, visit San Luis Obispo-based www.passionflowerpaper.com to ease your conscience. The Web site offers eco-friendly wrapping paper, ribbons, cards, tissue paper and gift bags made from recyclable, bio-degradable, and/or reusable materials.

Owner Joyce Romero started making the items last year after realizing that while wrapping gifts in newspapers was better for the environment, the headlines were sometimes downers.

As for the future of this new business, Romero plans to also offer stationary.

“We have to see how well it does this year to see if we can add more,” Romero said. Passion Flower Paper can also be found at New Frontiers during the Christmas season.

If you are looking for more ways to be green beyond spending money, invest in companies that reflect your own social priorities and concerns. With Natural Investments, you can do just that. The group considers itself a leader in the field of values-based investing for more than 20 years, and wrote two of the leading books on the topic, “Investing from the Heart” (1992) and “Investing With Your Values” (2000).

Aside from San Luis Obispo, this national portfolio management firm has offices in Paonia, Colorado, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and Windsor, Calif. So if you’re interested in finding a way to pay back your student loans while making the world a better place, visit www.naturalinvesting.com.

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