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PLAZA DE CESAR CHAVEZ PARK: Make a day of it in San Jose with locally made Flip and Tumble shopping bags and paraban-free Kiss My Face sunscreen.

Staying in Style

By Holly Szkoropad

FORGOING a pricey summer vacation shouldn't leave one's style feeling neglected. A holiday in Silicon Valley can remain an exotic affair, especially with the help of a few fashionable accessories. The key to a successful "staycation" is to feel as though one is being pampered while remaining free of financial worry.

An indulgent summer escape locally is a smart idea: it's cheaper, stress-free and easier on the environment. Although the "green" wave of eco-friendly gear is no longer a new concept, environmental awareness can leave one with an air of enlightenment.

Kick off a local retreat with a stroll through Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park; a bit of Kiss My Face Obsessively Natural sunscreen will help. This 100 percent paraben-free sunscreen is available at most drugstores. It allows a goodly amount of protection from UV rays without harmful chemicals that take a toll on skin and the planet.

Good, comfortable walking shoes are vital; consider Simple Shoes' Teetoe, affordable gladiator sandals made with squishy latex, cork top soles and outsoles made from recycled car tires. Available at stores like REI and Nordstrom, these sustainable sandals are a favorite of Twilight's Kristen Stewart, who has been seen wearing them all over the L.A. set of her new film The Runaways.

After catching some rays on the park lawn, head kitty-corner to American surrealist Todd Schorr's exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Art. For less then the price of a movie ticket, one can wander through the museum and escape the heat.

Once one is finished sampling the sites of Market Street, journey north a few blocks to browse the San Pedro Square's Friday Farmers' Market. Take along a Flip & Tumble shopping bag and stock up on fresh, summer produce like strawberries and sugar-snap peas. Flip & Tumble produces colorful bags that fold into a baseball-size ball and can hide within a purse or pocket until needed. Designed and manufactured in the Bay Area by two Stanford University graduate students, these bags help to save on shipping pollution and also eliminate the worry between paper and plastic at the market. Plus, after these bags become used and abused, consumers can send them back to company headquarters to be recycled for free.

Heading downtown with a fresh sense of fashion can help revive a muddled state of mind. With the help from these key eco-friendly items that are both ecologically and economically viable, one can retain the carefree feel of summertime in Silicon Valley.

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