What do you get for the best eco-boss ever? A stainless steel water bottle? A bike repair kit? A share of a local farm CSA?

The Grist staff was thinking those would all be great gifts for beloved founder Chip Giller. Then we found out that the Heinz Family Foundation is honoring him with one of its 2009 Heinz Awards.

Ulp … back to the drawing board, Gristers.

In all seriousness, the Heinz Awards are a big deal. Saluting the achievements of ten “individuals whose achievements have helped bring about a cleaner, greener and more sustainable planet,” the award comes with $100,000 and, certainly, a higher platform for furthering each recipient’s work. Here’s the foundation’s tribute to Chip:

Chip Giller is being honored for founding Grist, an online media platform devoted to environmental news and views. Mr. Giller launched grist.org in 1999 to counter the notion of environmentalists as dour doomsayers and to spread a new, positive form of green journalism with a humorous twist. In doing so, Mr. Giller established a new model for delivering independent environmental content free of charge via the web, and other new-media channels, reporting on everything from climate change to green celebrity news, and showing how the environment intersects with critical issues like poverty, health care and economic growth.

Teresa Heinz, chair of the Heinz Family Foundation, said Chip “has taken traditional environmental journalism and turned it on its head. He has injected environmental reporting with irreverence and wit, yet without compromising depth and accuracy. At a time of declining journalistic budgets and standards, Mr. Giller has established Grist as a serious source of independent content and analysis that makes environmental issues relevant to a new and broad audience.”

The Heinz Family Foundation, one of the Heinz Family Philanthropies, began as a charitable trust established by the late U.S. Senator John Heinz. His widow, Teresa Heinz, established the Heinz Awards in 1993 to honor and sustain the legacy of her late husband. The awards recognize exceptional leadership and accomplishments in areas of special interest to Senator Heinz. “The most important investments — and the most profitable,” he once said, “are investments in people.”

Congratulations, boss! Now get back to work; we’ve got a world to save!

Read a message from Chip. And, just as importantly, the other nine recipients are:

Robert Berkebile, 72, BNIM Architects (Kansas City, Mo.) — For his green building advocacy and promotion of sustainable design and planning.

P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D., 62, University of Washington (Seattle, Wash.) — For developing greater understanding of the impact of humans on marine ecosystems.

Christopher B. Field, Ph.D., 56, Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.) — For his leadership and innovation in carbon cycle and climate science.

Ashok Gadgil, Ph.D., 58, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.) — For his work as an inventor and humanitarian.

Deborah Rice, Ph.D., 61, Maine Deptartment of Health and Human Services, Environmental and Occupational Health (Augusta, Maine) — For research yielding new understanding about exposure to toxicants during human development.

Joel Salatin, 52, Polyface Farm (Swoope, Va.) — For creating alternative, environmentally friendly farming techniques.

Kirk R. Smith, Ph.D., 62, University of California, Berkeley, (Berkeley, Calif.) — For exposing the relationships among household air pollution, fuel use, climate and health.

Thomas Smith, 59, Public Citizen – Texas (Austin, Texas) — For his advocacy of wind and solar energy efficiency.

Beverly H. Wright, Ph.D., 61, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (New Orleans, La.) — For her work as an environmental justice advocate.

Tons more on the Heinz Awards at www.heinzawards.net.