Happy Holidays: Sustainable and Ethical Gift Ideas Pt 3

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Personalized, unique and friendly to the environment, here’s the final part of our ethical and sustainable gift ideas that will keep you in good graces with Mother Nature and your loved ones this year.  They’re recycled, reusable, handmade, ethically and locally sourced — not to mention practical and affordable. This holiday season, our favourite colour is green.

Reusable Stainless Steel Straws

Forget about plastic straws; they’re just plain bad for the planet. Introducing the stainless steel drinking straw, a practical and durable way to replace its pesky throwaway predecessor. Available in a set of four at just under $10, the stainless steal drinking straw is a perfect gift for all ages. Use it for picnics, school lunches and backyard parties — it’s even constructed with the classic “bendy” design. Pairable with any small bottle or glass, these stainless steel straws are a great way to go — and suck up holiday ‘nog.

sustainable gifts

Recycled Paperback Notebooks

You won’t find stories in Paperback Note covers; rather, these vintage-bound covers are filled with blank pages, becoming kitschy custom notebooks. Designer Herman Kao tracks down original paperbacks and rebinds the covers into workable new notebooks, even going as far as to keep the original page count. For the past three years Kao has rifled through bargain bins at thrift stores and trolled through discarded wares at garage sales, looking for vintage covers to be rebound. For those coveted covers from Penguin Publishing, Kao navigates through E-bay to enrich his selections. Cater the cover to your special someone; choose from famous sci-fi, mystery, horror and romance novels from the last 100 years.

sustainable gift

Ethically Sourced, Botanical Body Care Products

Natural skincare products from Element Botanicals sit at number four on our list and offer relief to winter-ravaged skin for the fair-trade conscious.  This local producer creates everything by hand, and in small batches, with ethically sourced ingredients. Element keeps to the point, only using pure essential oils and botanical extracts in their soaps and rubs. These back-to-basics and delicious handmade body care products come complete with punchy holiday packaging and classic winter flavours. Element’s holiday collection incorporates spearmint, ginger, cinnamon, and extracts, amongst others.

sustainable gift

Reclaimed Leather Bags & Accessories

This year you can shake off old inhibitions about buying leather. Bywabag is committed to reclaiming leather materials and repurposing them as up-market designer handbags and accessories. Their collection is infused with bright colours, and offers a variety of gift opportunities to fit a modest budget. Belts and earrings range from $25 to $30, while a smart little green suede shoulder bag named Sofie sits at $245.

sustainable gifts

Maiwa Wrapture Scarf 

Located in Vancouver, BC, Maiwa Handprints is a retail shop that was founded in 1986 to support communities around the globe by retailing exquisite handcrafted, fair-trade textiles. A vibrant red leather shoulder bag made in the rural Jawaja Cooperative in Rhajastan India is $79.95. It is hand-tooled and beautifully stitched with an inside pocket. The cooperative was founded in 1975 with the goals of eliminating the toxic or ineffective stages of production and developing a new line of products to sell in the contemporary market place.

The ‘wrapture’ of a scarf or hand-woven shawl is a unique gift. From the looms of Bengal producing silk fabric as light as air to the wool-producing foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, weaving is a natural part of life. People weave the same way they might read a book — a little bit at a time throughout the day and evening. Hand weaving is a viable way for artisans to express their culture, where they live and who they are. Prices vary between $39.95 and $229.95 depending on textile fibers and sizes of the garment.

sustainable gift

Seed Bombs

Winter may not be the best time for flowers, but there’s something wonderful about seed bombs. Imagine wandering down the road with a seed bomb in your pocket, and spotting out-of-service railway tracks, rusty and overgrown with weeds. One seed bomb can transform that small area into a colourful tangle of beautiful wildflowers. Made from nutrient-rich soil that is a byproduct of earthworm digestion, these gems are environmentally friendly, sustainable, and pretty! They’re so out of the box, they’re sold in a bag, and for only $6.95. Airth & Olson sells some for the spontaneous gardener in all of us.

sustainable gifts

 All-Purpose Recycled Bag

Finally, you’ll need a bag to carry all your ethical treasures in. This sturdy all-purpose bag is perfect at this time of year when we may find ourselves schlepping more than we expected. They are made from Ecotec™ — blended cotton yarn made from the excess material trimmings from clothing manufacturing — and Bottle Bag ™ — recycled pop bottle material.

sustainable gifts

Hopefully, this will give you a head start on your shopping. Enjoy the season – enjoy life!

by Jimmy Leitch, Raemon Fernandez, Marcella Reay, and Tanya Paterson

This series on living fantastic for the holiday season is a collaboration between Greenster and the students of the Langara Publishing Program, who as a team produce Pacific Rim Magazine. Enjoy! 

Photo Credit: Ktonick
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