Saving the Planet Without Getting Off Your Tush

Wouldn't it be great if you could sit around watching bad television and feel as if you were doing something good for the environment? With a marathon of "Melrose Place" reruns and an EarthChair, you've got it made.

What's an EarthChair? Not a tree stump or a mound of dirt, but a sturdy, washable denim shell you stuff with plastic grocery bags, toilet paper wrappers, newspaper protectors, even bread bags (after you shake out the crumbs, of course).

EarthChair CEO Betty Buss, a professional seamstress who sews all of the chairs herself, got the idea for the chair several years ago while cleaning out her sewing studio.

"I was sitting on a garbage bag filled with plastic bags, and I saw this cushion cover I made. 'What am I going to do with this?' I thought. Then the proverbial lightbulb went off, and I said, 'What a blast.' "

Buss, a self-confessed old hippie, admits it takes awhile to stuff an EarthChair: about 1,500 to 2,000 units. But it's worth it.

"When you think of sitting in a bean bag chair," she says, "you think 'plop.' An EarthChair is softer. It's sort of like a slow swish. Plus, you're keeping all that plastic out of landfills."

John Buss, Betty's husband and business partner, adds that the chairs are a way for children to learn to reuse, one of the "three Rs."

"And," he says, "our cats absolutely love them."

EarthChair can be found on the Web at Or call (757) 465-8959. The basic model is $39.95.

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