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The Ultimate Green Christmas and Holidays Guide 2009

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Readers who have been with us for awhile may remember last year’s holiday guide and how huge it was. This year is guide is even better! So many of the tips and gift ideas last year were good that I’ve migrated them over to this year’s guide, as well as added a whole bunch of new ideas.

I’m cutting the post with the read more tag because it’s so big, I don’t want it to slow down the front page too much!

This post is organized into sections for easier reading. The links to gift ideas and other websites do not load in new windows, so you will need to click the back button to come back here. You can also open the links in new tabs or windows (Mac- command click, Windows-CTRL click), and close them when you are done to return here and continue reading.

Holiday Tips

Gift Guide

Throwing a Party

More Ideas

Credits & Thank Yous


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Tips
  1. Plan your meal ahead of time
    If you are having a party, know how many people you will be serving. This will help you purchase your food without buying too much, which will reduce the amount of waste you have after the meal. If you are having a lot of people over, consider buying in bulk to avoid excess packaging.
  2. Buy local and organic
    From the main course to your wine or apple cider, try purchasing your food items locally and organically. You can find local farms and farmer’s markets on LocalHarvest.. Less transportation = less emissions, and you will be helping to support your local economy. Purchase your side items locally, too, whether from your local farm or from a farmer’s market or co-op.
  3. Use Reusable Shopping Bags
    Worldwide, 1 million plastic bags are used per minute. Cut down on this use by bringing reusable shopping bags when you do your Christmas and grocery shopping. Find beautiful reusable bags in this section of this post.
  4. Use reusable dinnerware
    Use dishes and silverware that you already have and have your party guests help you do the dishes after.
  5. Compost food waste
    If you do end up with leftovers and can’t eat them all, compost them. Not compostable: liquids, grease, cooking oil, plastic, styrofoam, glass, metal
  6. Avoid wrapping paper
    Especially paper with metallic content, as it is difficult to recycle. Use reusable gift bags, or pack your gifts in reusable shopping bags that the gift recipient can make use of later. If you want to wrap, try using newspaper and match the store to the recipient, or use colorful magazine pages, cloth, calendar pages, or recycled wrapping paper. Leftover work paper can be an interesting, personal wrapping paper. Blueprints, maps, sheet music, etc. are options personal to your interests or job that can be used as wrapping paper. You can wrap gifts in other gifts, such as scarves, hats, shirts, etc. You can also use a napkin, tablecloth, sheet you’ve decorated, any piece of fabric. Check out www.furochic.com or www.bobowrap.com for very simple instructions for gorgeous wrapping techniques. So simple, a five-year-old will love to do it. Old neckties can make clever bows on any gift. The silkiness of them glams up any ole box with out doing much.
  7. Skip wrapping
    Forget wrapping at all and hide gifts. Very small children can be led or you can play “hot and cold.” Older children will enjoy using clues. This is a great idea for children giving each other (and even parents!), gifts.
  8. Set up Secret Santa
    To avoid excess “stuff,” you can set up a Secret Santa with your friends or family. Put all the names in a hat, and choose randomly. Set a price limit for gifts, and when gifts are exchanged, try to guess who bought yours.
  9. Set up a gift swap
    The hitch: The item brought to the swap MUST be recycled from your home or a yard sale and reusable.
  10. Set up a neighbor swap
    Host a toy swap with neighbors and friends before the big day. New-to-kids toys are what’s important, not store bought. Host a décor swap with friends and neighbors. Tired of that old collection of snowpeople? Trade them for a new-to-you wreath or candle holder.
  11. Avoid excess packaging
    When it comes to purchasing gifts (and other items), try to avoid excess packaging when possible. If two items or similar, buy the ones with less or recyclable packaging.
  12. Shop consciously
    Consider who made the gift, what it is made of, and whether or not the gift recipient can use it. Will it get thrown out or tossed in the back of a closet and forgotten? If yes, don’t buy it. These guidelines can apply to everything you buy.
  13. Give gifts that give back
    A lot of organizations now offer gifts that give back to communities and help others in need. For a donation ranging from affordable to very expensive, you can purchase gifts for communities such as cows, chickens, water wells, schools, and more. Most times the gift recipient will receive a card saying that a donation was made in their name and telling them how the money will help people in need. Ideas for gifts that give back can be seen in this section.
  14. Make gift tags
    If you saved last year’s Christmas cards, turn the unwritten area into gift tags for your presents. Save this year’s cards and do the same thing next year.
  15. Send earth-friendly cards
    Many companies now offer recycled holiday greeting cards. Ideally, you would want cards made with 100% post-consumer waste. There are also tree-free options, and FSC certified cards. Cards can be made from other recycled cards, or from magazine ads, calendar pages or catalogs. Making your cards can add a much needed personal touch. Some earth-friendly card ideas can be seen here.
  16. Give rechargeable batteries
    If your gift requires batteries, give a set of rechargeables with it (consider a charger to go with the batteries).
  17. Don’t use packing peanuts for shipping
    If you have to ship your gifts, use something recyclable for packing. Recycled newspaper or junk mail are two options. If you just received a package yourself that was stuffed with packing peanuts, you can reuse them to send out your package.
  18. Buy a real tree
    Artificial trees are made from PVC, which is very hard to recycle and off-gases carcinogenic chemicals. Cutting down a tree for decoration may not seem earth friendly, but consider that well-managed tree farms are set up just for this purpose. For every tree harvested, 2 to 3 are planted in its place, and purchasing from a local tree farm helps support your local economy. To find eco-friendly tree farmers near you, check LocalHarvest or GreenPromise. For information on what it takes for a farm to be certified by The Coalition of Environmentally Conscious Growers, which ensures that growers are utilizing sustainable farming practices in the production of Christmas trees, visit CECG. For more information on real vs. fake trees, visit Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association and National Christmas Tree Association.
  19. Avoid potted trees
    Live, potted trees actually are not a good idea. They typically do not survive as they cannot be planted in the frozen ground after the holidays and do not grow well indoors.
  20. Good scents
    Skip synthetic scents and simmer cloves, cinnamon, pine or peppermint on the stove. Synthetic scents contain cancer causing VOCs and hormone disrupting phthalates.
  21. Decorate with food
    String cookie ornaments and popcorn for decorations on your tree or in other areas of your home. Make sure they aren’t in areas that might be prone to bugs, especially if you are in a warm climate. If you string popcorn, let it go stale for at least a day or it will fall apart. Store the popcorn in a tin and you can reuse it next year.
  22. Decorate with nature
    No plastic or even recycled ornament can beat the beauty of nature’s decorations. Berries, twigs, holly sprigs, pinecones, and acorns can all make beautiful decorations when used separately or piece together into ornaments, centerpieces, or other pieces. Take your family on a hunt for natural décor. Give each person a bag and hit the nearby woods, seashore or whatever outdoor environment is nearby. Collect whatever suits your fancy (legally of course). When you return home, you can work together to decorate tables or stage a little friendly competition to see who comes up with the best table top display. Pinecones with raffia (ribbon made from a plant) are also great for adorning boxes.
  23. Display your kids artwork
    If your kids made decorations in school, display them proudly. These pieces are sure to be cute, and displaying them will encourage your child to continue making creative artwork.
  24. Make something old something new
    Use an aluminum can as a vase. Wrap brown craft paper or old grocery bags around the cans and tie a ribbon or twine around it. Use the cans as vases for organic flowers, twigs, or evergreen. For a unique centerpiece, line the cans down the center of the table. Used incandescent lights can be painted and hung as ornaments.
  25. Use LED lights
    Using LED lights can save you 90% on your energy bill over standard decorative lighting. Set your lights on a timer so you don’t forget to turn them off! According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if everyone replaced their conventional lights with LEDs, at least 2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity could be save each month.
  26. Avoid petroleum based candles
    Paraffin wax candles are made from petroleum, and they release harmful chemicals into the air. Use soy based or beeswax candles, and go for unscented. If you buy scented make sure they use essential oils for the scent rather then chemical fragrances. Dine by candlelight to save electricity.
  27. Recycle your tree
    Don’t throw away your tree after the holidays. Trim off the branches and use them as mulch for perennials. If you don’t have a garden, search Earth911.com to find a tree recycling center.
  28. Have lots of family time
    Make a quick and easy activity-a-day countdown calendar banner. Cut recycled paper into triangles. On one side print a number from 1-24. On the other, write an activity your family can do together. Does not have to cost anything—make popcorn balls, sing carols, make placemats out of old holiday cards and deliver to a nursing home—any family-centered activity is great. Hang a string on a wall and hang the triangles from it using paper clips or clothespins with the number facing out. Every day or evening, gather the family, remove the triangle marked with the current date and do the activity. (This idea can be used throughout the year or as a countdown to any holiday or family celebration.)
  29. Bundle up and walk
    Or bike, if you can. Tour your neighborhood to view the holiday decorations without your car. You can enjoy the beauty of the season much more if you take it slow rather than driving by, and you’ll save car emissions and gas.
  30. Turn off the TV
    Watch a few of your holiday favorites, of course, but turn off the TV the rest of the time. Take the time to read your kids a Christmas story, or let them read to you. Invite friends or family over for story time, or to sit in front of your fireplace with cups of organic hot cocoa just spending time together.

Gift Guide

Looking for green gift ideas? We’ve got a ton of ideas for you, along with quite a few online coupon codes that you can use to save some money. Gift ideas are organized by category.

Kids & Baby

Who appreciates Christmas gifts more than a child? Teach them about environmental responsibility with green gifts, and have fun at the same time!

  • A set of 64 all natural, US grown, natural mineral-dyed, soy wax crayons, Crayon Rocks ($29.80), come in vibrant colors and and an eco-box. They are designed to strengthen the tripod grip muscles in small children by preparing their fingers and hands for a future of fine handwriting. use coupon code ECO20 for 20% off
  • MiniMe Books ($29.99-$45.99) are handmade with FSC-certified paper. To create a book, you upload a photo of your child, plus 1-2 adults (e.g. parents, grandparents), and then you become the main characters in the book. Very cute.
  • Little Bird Tales offers another way to create a personal story. It is a website service where kids & parents can go to upload photos or create custom art, write a story to go along with it, record their voice over it and then export a slideshow eBook to share with family and friends. ($24.95 for one year)
  • Know a budding interior designer? A Digital Dollhouse subscription (starts at $4.95/month) might be a good gift for them. Digital Dollhouse is a virtual 3D dollhouse experience that empowers kids of all ages (and adults!) to become their own interior designers. Members can paint, furnish and decorate their own virtual dream house and even purchase and re-gift items in a virtual economy.

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  • What kid doesn’t love to play house? This little piggy’s house can encourage creative play in more ways than one. Designed by a group of architects, digital artists, graphic designers and a national park ranger, these homes are made from recycled cardboard and are 100% recyclable. Two hand painted options are available, as well as one blank house, which your child can paint or draw on on their own.
  • Idbids Eco-Friendly Starter Kits are an adorable way to teach your children about taking care of the Earth. The kits come with plush toys in your choice of 3 different characters – Lola the Flower, Scout the Cloud, and Waverly the Water Drop, as well as other materials to get your child headed in the right direction. With the purchase of each kit, a child can enter a code online that will help protect the habitats of animal friends through The Nature Conservancy’s Plant A Billion Trees campaign, Adopt an Acre® or Rescue the Reef® programs.
  • Scrap Kins Sticker Activity Wall Calendar includes stickers, trading cards, coloring pages, games and activities. Scrap Kins are based on the adventures of a group of monsters that live in a recycling center and build their world out of the things we throw. Chomper, Wrecks, Itcher, Digger and Swooper get together to teach kids and parents to reduce waste and help the environment throughout the year. Printed on 90% recycled paper.

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  • Apple Park makes what are quite possibly the world’s cutest organic stuffed animals for babies. They are called Picnic Pals, and you can choose from a monkey, lamb, bear, bunny, or duck. Each one comes with an apple rattle, which can also be purchased separately. They also make organic cotton blankets with the characters.
  • Planet Pixie Organic Dolls ($24.95) are a cute idea for young children. Each pixie contains information about their homeland, the danger they face suggests eco-tips that kids can learn to help save the planet.
  • thinkbaby carries BPA-free, non-toxic baby bottles and supplies, as well as reusable water bottles. The BPA-Free Gift Set ($44.95) includes four 9oz baby bottles, one 9 oz sippy cup, two medium flow anti-colic nipples, two fast flow anti-colic nipples, and five travel caps.

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  • Jasper’s Jungle is a line of adorable toys made from organic cotton and sustainable rubberwood with a non-toxic finish. Each piece includes an action, such as the monkey’s clasping hands, the giraffe’s posable neck, the spring action of the pop up lion and the mobility of the pull along elephants.
  • For an entertaining and educational toy, consider an alphabet or numbers puzzle. The snake A-Z puzzle ($37) or the millipede 1-20 puzzle ($37) will have a child on their way to fun and learning. Other animal options are also available.
  • Marble runs made of FSC certified wood are sure to catch a child’s attention. The basic set ($179) comes with 30 blocks and 3 marbles, and the large set ($259) comes with 54 blocks and 3 marbles. More compact runs and basic runs are available.
  • The short sleeve tees and onesies at Tyler Trends are made from fair trade organic cotton and are made in India, and the long sleeve tees are sweatshop free. They feature a choice of six animal faces: Giraffe, Monkey, Panda, Tiger, Polar Bear and Ladybug.
  • For adorable, sweatshop free shirts and onesies for the little ones, Tiny Revolutionary is a must-see. They display inspiring and cute messages such as “I’ll Change the World Someday,” “All Babies are Created Equal,” and “War is Poop.” For each purchase, $1 is donated to charity. A few of the tees donate even more to other charities, and there is a selection of organic tees. The material is super soft and comfy, you’ll love them! use coupon code FOCUS for 15% off. See our other post on Tiny Revolutionary here.
  • I don’t know what’s cuter about eco ike’s tees, the tees themselves or the cute little models! Made of organic cotton, the tees range from $22-$24. There are also a couple reusable shopping bags available. My personal favorite tee is “bee green.”
  • Another option for children’s tees comes from eco-generation kids. Also made from organic cotton, these tees display powerful environmental messages such as “preserve it – we deserve it” (which has a drawing of the Earth) and “don’t destroy my beach front home to build yours.” (which has a drawing of a turtle). Tees sell for $28 and are available in sizes 6-12M, 12-18M, 18-24M, 2T and 4T.
  • Shainsware is perfect for the creative child who enjoys expressing him or herself. Made from recycled materials, shainsware is jewelry that comes with icons to spell out your own message. You can choose from bracelets, necklaces, pony tail holders, and even pet collars. All pieces are very affordable, with the most expensive, pet collars, at $19. See our other post on shainsware here. With each purchase of the new Jane Goodall Save the Animals Kit, Shainsware will contribute 10% of net sales to the Jane Goodall institute to continue programs including Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots.
  • greentoys.jpgAn interesting twist on recycled toys, Green Toys are made from recycled plastic milk jugs! They are not cheap and flimsy, as you might expect, but are very durable (and cute!). Great for kids of all ages. Even the packaging is eco-friendly, made from reycled corrugated boxes (which are also recyclable), with no plastic and no twist ties. The toys are available at a number of online and offline retailers, including Toys R Us and Amazon.

Clothing & Accessories

Clothing – my personal favorite gift. With more companies creating eco-friendly clothing lines, it’s becoming a little easier to find stylish clothing and accessories for gift-giving (or for yourself!)

  • Bright Baby Tees creates organic cotton tees with a unique twist – they feature original educational infant visual stimulation (IVS) designs. The bold colors and patterns are said to encourage visual development and physical activity. Check out more info on IVS.
  • Swell Foop sells 100% organic cotton t-shirts that are available in baby onesies, toddler tees and in adult styles. Each t-shirt is made and printed in the USA and promotes a positive, environmentally aware lifestyle. The shirt designs feature endangered animals including the African bush elephant, Sumatran orangutan, and Grizzly bear above positive taglines such as “play well” and “evolve.”
  • Ex-Boyfriend carries a huge selection of organic t-shirts with awesome designs. Their production processes are also eco-friendly, with no excess inks used and their screen printing uses water-based inks. use coupon code cute tee for 10% off
  • Barnaby Black carries a great line of graphic tees for the guys. Andrew was complaining how there isn’t enough eco swag for guys, so this is perfect for him!
  • TheNakedHippie offers another option for organic tees ($29), also printeed with water-based inks. Unique designs.
  • olivegreenapparel.jpgWear Your Intention carries organic cotton tees that have zen designs with inspiring messages to help women feel as good on the inside as they look on the outside.
  • Olive Green Apparel carries mittens and hats made from felted, recycled wool sweaters, lined with fleece and accented with reclaimed buttons. Each piece is a one-of-a-kind creation that is carefully crafted in the USA, and all are adorable!
  • Satch & Sol‘s slippers are fair trade, eco-friendly, and handmade in Mongolia using traditional felting skills. Satch & Sol launched in August 2008 and was accepted as a member of Green America in August 2009.
  • kigo footwear offers two styles of unique shoes – a unisex slip on and a Mary Jane for women. What is most unique about these shoes is that they fold up for easy storage. The shoes include uppers made form recycled plastic jugs, recycled nylon lining, EVA insoles, water based adhesives and even an EPA approved water/stain resistance treatment.
  • Simple Shoes are eco-friendly shoes that come in a variety of styles for men, women and children. My personal favorites – Men’s GUMshoe in hemp ($60), Women’s PesTOE ($100), Toddler’s Doodle – boys and girls ($38)
  • The Splaff Recycled Bicycle Inner Tube Belt ($27.95) is lined with hemp, and very stylish. Perfect for that special guy. use coupon code ECO20 for 20% off
  • Harvey’s Treecycle Boxy ($134) is an adorable purse made from recycled seat belts (check out the picture!) and lined with hemp.
  • This adorable, brightly colored purse ($36.99) is made from recycled juice boxes. It is available in multiple color options and is sure to get some great compliments. Go Green Items carries a number of purses made from recycled material, all are sure to turn heads. My personal favorite is the seat belt tote ($59) in red.
  • Handwoven from recycled newspapers, Banyan Paper Handbags are made possible by micro-finance loans helping a poor women’s co-op in the Philippines lift their families out of poverty.

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  • XSProjectUSA carries everyday use products including wallets, bags, laptop cases and more, all made from consumer waste. Very colorful and lots of options to choose from. A portion of each purchase goes to the XS Project, a nonprofit organization that raises environmental awareness and helps trash pickers—those who source the raw material for these products— and their families.
  • Probably the most interesting purses I’ve ever seen, Escama Studio‘s purses are made from recycled aluminum pull-tabs. Depending on the bag, 300 to 1600 pull-tabs may be used. The bags can be purchased at supermarkethq.com
  • Atayne is a sporty clothing line made from recycled plastic bottles and coconut shells. According to the company, “this unique combination offers exceptional Moisture Wicking, UV Protecting, Odor Controlling, and Temperature Regulating properties.”
  • Thriv is a new sportswear line made of their newly created fabric, BamCo, made from bamboo, organic cotton, and elastane. The fabrics allow the clothing to provide moisture wicking, uv ray protection, and odor blocking.
  • Bamboosa carries yoga inspired clothing made from organically grown bamboo blended with organically grown cotton. They also carry accessories, soaps, and baby items. use coupon code BITER for 15% off

Jewelry

Conventional jewelry can be made from diamonds and metals that are dangerously and unsustainably mined.

  • African Trade Bead Bracelets and Necklaces and Magazine Neckleaces/Bracelets are made from reused and recycled materials. 100% of proceeds generated from sales go directly to H.E.L.P., a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing Hope, Education, Love and Protection to orphaned children around the world.
  • Wired Originals is an etsy shop that carries jewelry made from 100% recycled/reclaimed resources. Etsy is a wonderful resource when searching for unique, hand-crafter eco items!
  • sodabracelets.jpgAnn-Made creates jewelry from post-consumer soda can tabs. Beautiful and unique, definitely conversation starters.
  • These Recycled Tin Cuff Bracelets ($10) are adorable and affordable. They are made from repurposed tin soda cans by an Indian Fair Trade Coop. Available in Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Sprite, Diet Coke, Fanta Orange, 7-Up.
  • Sorte necklaces are given as symbols of support and good wishes from one person to another. Each necklace has two “protective” amulets and they are meant to be worn on both in the chest and the back by the wearer. It is believed that these amulets therefore surround the wearer with protection from any bad luck or ill will.
  • Rebekah Green creates beautiful hand-made earrings available in six styles. All are made exclusively with 100 percent recycled 14K and 18K gold and fair trade gemstones and Rebekah has allocated five percent of net profits from earring sales to benefit Global Green USA, Charity: Water and Heifer International.
  • The Smart Mom Teether Necklace ($21.50) is very unique! Designed to be stylish and functional, the silicone pendants are phthalate-free, latex-free, non-toxic, food-safe and can even be put in the dishwasher.
  • The Recycled Game Tile Tree Pendant ($12.99) is a beautiful, inexpensive jewelry option that is handmade from recycled Scrabble tiles and features graphic images that are sealed to the tile with a non-toxic coating. use coupon code 10PERCENT for 10% off $25 or more at Guffly
  • Kevia‘s eco creations are made from reclaimed wood and recycled furniture and is finished with all natural linseed oil.

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  • Synergy Beads are unisex bracelets made from natural and recycled materials. 5% of the sales are donated to a no-kill animal rescue.
  • The Leakey Collection sells beautiful jewelry, handmade by Massai women. Zulugrass is made from hollow wetland grasses, and Zuluwood pieces are made from fallen woods. With The Leakey Collection, you’re not only getting a beautiful piece of jewelry, but you are helping to sustain the lives of over 1400 women who create the beautiful pieces of art. The collection can be purchased at LeakeyLife.com. See our other post on Zulugrass here.
  • Brilliant Earth jewelry is made with conflict free diamonds and recycled precious metals. 5% of profits are donated to African communities.
  • Make Piece is a non-profit organization that teaches women jewelrymaking entrepreneurship, helping them earn living wages.
  • Gayle C. Baker Designs creates unique pieces of jewelry that are made from reclaimed gold and sterling silver. Prices of currently available pieces range from $59 to $1499.
  • This cute bird necklace ($65) is made from reclaimed sterling silver.
  • legocufflinks.jpgEach one of these Clear Circle Glass Necklaces ($69) is handcrafted from recycled glass from a beer bottle.
  • For the men, how about recycled cufflinks? These cufflinks ($14.99) are made from Legos that are salvaged from garage sales and thrift stores. A perfect nostalgic gift! use coupon code 10PERCENT for 10% off $25 or more at Guffly
  • And more recycled cuff links… Not just any recycled cufflinks… but ones made from old public transportation tokens ($60).

NYC Subway Token Cufflinks

Pampering

Who can’t use a pampering now and then? Pamper yourself with products that are good for you and for the environment.

  • Beautorium only carries products that are natural or organic and cruelty-free. Most are certified natural, organic and/or vegetarian. There’s something for everyone at Beautorium, including men. use coupon code FALLSAVINGS for 15% off
  • SIRJJ Organics carries a daily care line for men called Men’s Logic, which includes a face scrub, face wash, night hydration creme, day creme, and toner. SIRJJ Oganics also carries a number of other organic beauty products, and holiday gift sets, most for $25.00.
  • Unity carries organic and fair trade bath, body, and skincare products, including organic baby care.
  • Christopher Drummond offers a Women’s Gift Set ($95), which includes three Veludo Velvet Foundation colors, Saude Pele Radiance Booster, Sol Bronzer, Revitalizing Facial Serum and an Animal Friendly Flat Top Brush.
  • ElyOrganics.com features over 100 effective, truly organic, miessence® skin-care, cosmetics, aromatherapy and health care products. Each product page includes complete ingredients list so you know what you are buying. No need to wonder if your skin and body care products are filled with icky chemicals.
  • Sparklehearts is a natural beauty line for "tweens." Their products contain no artificial fragrances or colors, parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. goodforyougirls.jpgSparklehearts products are never tested on animals and are packaged in bottles using 100% post consumer recycled materials.
  • Good For You Girls is another line for "tweens." Their Complete Skin Care Kit ($24.99) is a good way to start a young girl on the right path to taking care of her skin and includes gel cleanser, toner, and oil-free moisturizer.
  • For our Canadian readers, bluebasins bath & body uses only 100% natural ingredients in their products, and they do not test on animals.
  • candi andi carries luxurious eye masks, neck pillows, heating pads and more, filled with organic lavender blossom and flaxseed mix or lavender and buckwheat hull mix.
  • The Zambian Soap Company creates organic fair trade soap. Using land donated by local tribal leaders, they grow organic grasses that are sustainably harvested for making essential oils. This is in turn used by the villagers to produce handmade soap.
  • Carved Solutions offers a personal twist on 100% vegetable based soaps. They carve designs into your soap, and you can choose to use a basic symbol, commemorate an event, celebrate a sports team, or something more personal.
  • The Joy of Soap includes a number of different soaps that are made from scratch and by hand. All-vegetable recipes begin with certified organic oils, sustainable and therapeutic grade essential oils and organic or wild crafted botanicals.
  • Giovanni‘s Hot Chocolate Sugar Scrub exfoliates and polishes skin using soft sugar grains and crushed cocoa beans. All of Giovanni’s body care formulations are paraben free, 100% vegan and never tested on animals.
  • The Skinny Skinny Fair Trade Organic Gift Set ($80) comes in a small tree-less gift box made from sustainable wild-grass with Fair Labor, tied with an organic cotton bow. You’ll get 10 bath salts and your choice of 6 bars of Skinny Skinny organic soap, each wrapped in 100% recycled and reclaimed wintercare.jpgmaterials.
  • The Winter Care Kit ($95) from Pomega5 features the three "must-have" items for protecting skin throughout those dry winter months. The kit includes a full size Healing Cream, formulated with pomegranate seed oil and active botanicals known for their restorative and skin nourishing qualities, Revitalizing Treatment Ampoules and a Lemongrass Cleansing Bar. Packaged in an elegant, red silk hatbox.
  • The Pomegranate Green Tea Skin Detox Kit ($29.50) from Pomega5 draws upon the incredible antioxidant strengths of the precious green tea leaf, combining it with the healing qualities of the pomegranate and invigorating accents of verbena to yield a new system that is uniquely purifying, nourishing and irresistible.
  • The Body Deli carries products made from all natural ingredients. Some products are so fresh, they have to be refrigerated!
  • ToriHartman.com carries Intention Candle Kits, which are meant to help you attract certain intentions, such as restful sleep, luck, inspiration, and more. The candles are made of soy.
  • Special Edition Absinthe + Sugar Water ($60) isn’t jut any candle. The paraffin-free wax melts down into the container (with a 72 hour burn time) to create a massage oil.
  • Scandle Candle is another candle that melts into massage oil. Made with 100% natural and vegan ingredients, Scandle Candle comes in a number of sizes.
  • Trillium Organic offers USDA certified organic body products that are free of parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, sodium laurel sulfate, and a number of other nasty chemicals.
  • JoAnne Bassett offers a collection of natural fragrances for men and women, made with pure essential oils and absolute essences only. All of the women’s fragrances come with organic body care products that match the fragrance.
  • Almavi Skincare offers natural hair colors, goat milk soaps, makeup, and other skincare products.
  • Sevi Cosmetics is a line of cruelty free and vegan skincare, haircare, makeup, aromatherapy based perfumes, and body care products. They even carries a pet care line!
  • Pacific Shaving Company’s all natural shaving oil the company has partnered with Trees for the Future, and for every bottle purchased, a tree is planted. They also carry a blade oil that can extend the life of your blade by up to 95%.

Home

Some of the best gifts are ones that you can use over and over again at home.

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  • Preserve products are all made from 100% recycled BPA-free plastic (or recycled paper, as is the case in 2 of the cutting boards). They carry kitchen products as well as tableware, much of which is technically disposable (recyclable, I should say!), but is dishwasher safe and can be used hundreds and possibly even thousands of times without a problem.
  • Greencookingpots are made of enameled cast iron and are free of any chemicals .Enameled cast iron absorbs heat and distributes it evenly, making for very efficient cooking. These pots and pans are available in a few very vibrant color choices.
  • MUkitchen offers dishcloths and dishtowels made from 80% bamboo in a variety of natural colors. The towels are 100% biodegradable. They can be purchased from Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, and other retailers.
  • Vermont Organic Fiber Company carries moisture-absorbing O-Wool® mattress pads for baby through adult made with organic wool. Prices start at $45 for the puddle pad without straps and go up to $250 for the king size mattress pad.
  • The Crypton Doodle Dog Apron ($30) is a gift idea for a foodie who is also an animal lover. It is made from 100 percent post consumer clear plastic bottles and the fabric is odor and bacteria resistant and includes a built in moisture barrier that prevents grease and liquids from penetrating the fabric and staining clothes.
  • Dajoji carries chef coats, as well as an apron, made from 100% organic, unbleached cotton.
  • The Belkin Conserve Energy Saving Surge Protector with Remote Switch ($59.99) is equipped with ten surge-protected outlets, eight of which are "switchable" and two that are "always on," just plug in up to eight devices into the "switchable" outlets, such as your TV or holiday lights, that can be turned on or off by the remote switch, and two devices into the "always on" outlets, such as your DVR or rosyringcandle.jpgrouter, that will need to stay on at all times.
  • Rosy Rings soy candles ($25) come in 4 fragrance options – Birch Woods, Mandarin & Black Pepper, Spicy Apple and Sweet Bay. The tall glass cylinders are filled with 100% pure soy wax, are made with a cotton wick, and come with a wooden lid for reusability.
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Pine Scented Soy Candle and Pine Scent Diffuser are great ways to help enhance that Christmas tree smell.
  • Soap nuts ($19 for 10 oz) are an environmentally friendly, chemical-free way to do your laundry. Use 5 soap nuts per load, and those nuts can be used for a total of about 5 washes.

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  • Soak is a biodegradable, phosphate-free, non-toxic hand-washing no-rinse soap that is free of perfumes and dyes, perfect for your delicate clothing.
  • Robbie Adrian offers organic blankets, including baby blankets, ranging in price from $44-226.
  • If you’re looking for organic blankets in more vibrant colors, try Yumi & Lauri Organic BlanQuettes. Available in 5 collections, each with a number of different color options, prices range from $195 to $235.
  • Organic Comfort Zone carries organic and natural latex bedding. Take a look at their La’Noodle pillows, made from natural latex noodles with an organic cotton casing.
  • For more eco-friendly and luxurious bedding, take a look at VivaTerra. I highly recommend bamboo sheets – so comfy! use coupon code VT0915 for $15 off $100 or more
  • White stone placements and runner ($55 for 4 square splacements (currently on sale for $27), $59 for 4 rectangle) are sure to get compliments for the gift receiver and their guests. They will make any table look creative and beautiful. use coupon code VT0915 for $15 off $100 or more at VivaTerra
  • Bamboo knife holders are made of bamboo rectangles filled with bamboo skewers to hold your knives without dulling them. Available in red or white and small ($49) and large ($89). use coupon code VT0915 for $15 off $100 or more at VivaTerra
  • These flowering vine rugs are made from recycled plastic bottles and packing materials. Available in 4′x6′ ($49), 5′x8′ ($95), and 6′x9′ ($119). use coupon code VT0915 for $15 off $100 or more at VivaTerra
  • The recycled chopsticks folding basket ($25) is definitely a neat use of something that would otherwise be thrown away. One time use chopsticks are sanitized and dyed with tea to be used in this basket, which folds up when not in use. 10% of sales are donated to the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Office

Know a work-a-holic, or maybe someone who is setting up a home office? Try these eco gifts.
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  • This bamboo 2 pod charging station ($9.99) is made for charging two devices – cell phone, mp3 player, camera or PDA. There is also a bamboo 3 pod ($45).
  • Eco ballpoint pens ($19.99 for 12) are made of up to 75% recycled post-consumer plastics.
  • The bamboo space saving organizer ($29.99) is a great gift to help someone get more organized, whether it be in their office, or just for their computer room at home.
  • The office in a box is a set that would help out anyone organize there home office. Made from recyclable paper, office in a box is a 7-piece kit that includes a large file box, magazine file, letter box, large pencil cup, media box, supply tray, and letter sorter.
  • The Ikea Sunnan solar desk lamp ($19.99) combines low-energy LED technology with solar panels. You charge the panel for 9 -12 hours in the sun and get four hours of full light.
  • The Retro 51 Bamboo Tornado is a refillable bamboo pen, but that’s not all. For every pen purchased, a donation is made to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Rain Forest Rescue Program to save 250 square feet of rainforest.
  • Looking for a gift for employees in your office? Proforma Green offers environmentally friendly gift ideas that can be labeled with your company’s logo. Some of their gift ideas include 1GB bamboo flash drives (about $9.50), bamboo robes (about $65), bamboo cutting boards ($18-48), organic cotton towels (about $24 per unit), organic market bag sets ($16), 100% recycled laptop sleeves, and more.

Gardener

For the green thumbs on your gift list.
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  • EasyBloom Plant Sensor is a tool to make gardening a bit easier. Place it anywhere you want to grow, and it will collect information like light, humidity, temperature and soil conditions. Then it syncs with the web to tell you exactly what kind of plants will thrive anywhere – indoors or out. It will also diagnose ailing plants to help you bring it back to life. The plant sensor analyzes the soil and tells you if the temperature and light are optimal, and if the soil is draining well. It will also give you an instant "chirp" if your plant needs more water.
  • The Worm Factory 360 ($109.95) makes it easy to use worms to compost your food scraps, and can be used inside or outside.
  • Park Seed carries a variety of gardening products, including USDA certified organic seeds.
  • The Seeds of Life Tree Kit ($50) is a wonderful way to commemorate an event. Each tree variety is selected based on the recipient’s zip code.
  • CobraHead makes eco-friendly gardening tools, made from recycled materials and wood grown in managed forests.
  • This organic tomato garden ($20) comes in a biodegradable container made of grain husks.
  • For more mini gardening kits, check out organic rice hull herb gardens ($16). Available in basil, garlic chives, or parsley, the containers of these gardens are also biodegradable and made of grain husks.

Pets

Don’t forget the little furry ones!
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  • The Recycled Retriever carries a large selection of eco products for cats and dogs. My personal favorite is the Caboodle Corrugated Cat Furniture ($34.95) made of recyclable cardboard, and absolute adorable.
  • Onesta Organics carries USDA organic vegan treats for small pets (chinchillas, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, and rats) and USDA organic, hypoallergenic, raw-dehydrated, whole food-based dog treats.
  • Paw Luxury is an online eco dog shop with a wide variety of products. From hemp dog collars to beds made of recycled materials, they make it easy to… green your dog?
  • Mentioned in the children’s section of this guide, shainsware also offers collars for pets ($19).
  • Sevi, mentioned in the Pampering section, also carries products to pamper your pet, including aromatherapy blends, healing ointments, mists, shampoos, cream rinses, and ear cleaners.
  • Only Natural Pet Store is an online shop for that carries natural products, holistic remedies, organic food, and more for dogs and cats.
  • PETCO carries some eco pet products, too. Check out their green shop to see what they carry. use coupon code week10 for 10% off your purchase

Books

  • In REFASHIONED BAGS: Upcycle Anything into High-Style Handbags, the authors present crafters, designers and novices alike, with 25 must-have handbags made completely out of cheap and accessible everyday materials.
  • Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family ($17.95) is a book full of ideas for greener celebrations, from holidays to birthdays, weddings, baby showers, and more. A great guide for making a more green Christmas, but also a good gift idea, since it can be referenced year-round. Printed on 100% recycled FSC certified paper.
  • The Better World Shopping Guide ($10) is a pocket sized guide to help shoppers decide which brands and companies to spend their money on. It grades on a scale of A-F, considering the company’s human and animal rights policies, community involvement and philanthropy, environmental practices and overall social responsibility. This little book is addicting! See our other post on the book here.
  • Big Green Cookbook contains 200 simple and environmentally-friendly recipes for fresh, delicious, all-natural food, with a chapter for every season plus a year-round-recipes chapter.
  • American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau ($32) is a wonderful collection of environmental writing, including fiction and non-fiction, poetry, art, speeches, photos, and more. With foreword by Al Gore and the transcript of his speech from the Kyoto Climate Change Conference, the book also includes pieces from people such as Walt Whitman, John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, John Steinbeck, Lyndon B. Johnson and many, many more.The book can be purchased at The Library of America, and the paper is acid free and made of 50% post-consumer waste, with the photos/illustrations sections acid free and 100% post-consumer waste.
  • Cool Cuisine – Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming ($24.99) details global warming and food connections, with in-depth research and interviews from over 30 scientists, farmers, ranchers, and food professionals. “The reader embarks on a exploration that feeds mind and mouth with art, science, pleasure, culinary tips and recipes on how to cook a globally cool cuisine.”
  • Relieving Your Holiday Stress and Achieving Your New Year’s Resolutions isn’t a book, but more like an audio book. The mp3 download is $2.97, and the CD is $19.

Fun

These gifts are fun and sure to impress.

ElfYourself

  • ElfYourself (free) is an online greeting that is sure to make anyone laugh. Users upload photos of themselves to be placed on elf bodies and choose dance themes.
  • Circuit Board Coasters ($12.99) from TerraCycle are fun and stylish and made from electronic waste. We got a set of these at Target a few months ago and love them!
  • A magazine lover will enjoy a digital subscription from Zinio. They’ll get to continue reading their favorite magazine, and save trees.
  • From Etsy seller dote, recycled map stationery is a great idea for anyone who loves to write. Give it to a loved one with some stamps and they’ll have no reason to not keep in touch :)
  • Asgard Press carries really cool vintage-styled calendars (and notecards and posters) made with recycled paper and soy-based inks. Most are college sports-based, so they would be great for diehard fans or alumni. They have a few great non-sports options – we got the DC Comics calendar and the Mad Magazine calendar for 2009 – we loved them! See our other post on these calendars here.
  • I’ve seen A LOT of items made from recycled… everything, but there’s some products that still impress me with how cool they are. The vintage record snack tray ($28) is one of those. Simple, but still awesome.
  • The Terraclime 100 camera bag ($79.99) is made from over 95% recycled materials with all fabric 100% recycled PET bottles. A portion of the proceeds from each bag goes to Polar Bear International to help save polar bear habitats.

Go Green Kits

These kits are great for anyone who wants to start going green or help others start going green, or to enhance the efforts you are already making.

  • Jump Start to Green offers two kits for anyone interested in starting or enhancing their green lifestyle. The Jumpstart Essential Kit is $59.99, while the Jumpstart Complete Kit is $89.99.
  • The GoGreenGift Eco Starter Kit also offers two options – the Deluxe GoGreen Gift for $65, and the Original GoGreenGift for $45. These kits offer a few different options than the Jumpstart Kit, including some food and personal care items.
  • The Niagara Conservation Efficiency Kits are offered in Water EcoKit ($42.19), Basic Water EcoKit ($16.24), Electric EcoKit ($26.24), Basic Electric EcoKit ($13.94), Gas EcoKit ($46.19), and “I Save Water” Kit ($25). The kits come in recyclable cardboard packaging in the shape of a house.

Stocking Stuffers

Stockings are quite possibly the best part of Christmas morning, or at least my favorite.

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  • Indigo Wild carries a number of awesome stocking stuffer ideas, from the Peppermint Goat’s Milk Soap (wrapped up to look like a candy! $6.25) to the Spiced Almond Yule Ornament soap ($6.25) to the Bah Hum Zum Lip Balm ($3.75) and more.
  • Jungle Balm ($14.99) is a great stocking stuffer for anyone suffering from arthritis or other aches and pains. Jungle Balm, made solely of culillawan essential oil, is a traditional pain remedy from Indonesia that just came on the market in the US. Culillawan essential oil has been used in Indonesia for everything from mosquito bites to arthritis for over 400 years. During WWII, soldiers applied it when morphine was not available.
  • Brazilets ($5) are a 200 year-old tradition from Bahia, Brazil. Wrap them around your wrist and tie three knots, making a wish with each knot. When your Brazilets naturally break down and fall off, it is believed that your three wishes will come true.
  • Green Laces ($5) are colored green, but they are also made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. Make a promise to the planet on their promises page.
  • Vermont Organic Fiber Company carries a good stocking stuffer for a knitter. O-Wool hopscotchkids.jpgyarns, made from certified organic Merino wool and blended organic wool/organic cotton, is available in colors perfect for the holidays – from evergreen to sumac and everything in between.
  • Hopscotch Kids sells water-based, non-toxic, eco-friendly, kid safe nail polish ($9.99). They will be adding products to their line soon, including natural lip glosses and scented nail polish.
  • eco.kid carries products specifically designed for the special needs of children’s skin and hair. All eco.kid products contain only the purest and safest plant extracts and botanicals that are specifically designed for preventing and treating the hair, scalp and skin issues that affect the daily lifestyle of kids.
  • Shea Butter Balms ($9) by Sula Beauty are a sweetly scented collection of nourishing all-purpose balms that are 100% natural, multi-duty and petroleum free. Available in 3 scents – Bergamot, Neroli Blossom, and Rosa Damascena.
  • Perfect As Is Balm ($7) from PeaceKeeper is an ultra-moisturizing lip treatment infused with healing ingredients including jojoba, coconut, virgin olive oils and rosebud oil. All profits from sales, after taxes, go to support women’s health advocacy and human rights issues. My lips have been very dry lately and this balm feels great on them.
  • Softlips PURE lip conditioners are USDA organic and come in 6 flavors – peppermint, acai berry, papaya, chai tea, pomegranate and honeydew. Pomegranate and honeydew are available in mass retail, supermarket and drug stores nationwide, and the other 4 flavors, which are new, can be found in Target. (MSRP $2.99)
  • Glee Gum ($0.99) is all-natural, gluten-free chewing gum with no artificial coloring, flavoring, sweeteners nor preservatives. Glee Gum is the only gum in North America made the old-fashioned way, with chicle. Chicle is a natural tree sap harvested sustainably from the rainforests of Central America. The gum’s packaging is also made from recycled, biodegradable cardboard.
  • Cowgirl Granola‘s Christmas mix ($10 for 12 oz) will be coming out in a few days and will feature dried cherries, dried orange-cranberries, cinnamon pecans, and nutmeg. It also has the traditional five nuts that Cowgirl Granola is known for – almonds, cashews, Texas pecans, raw organic pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
  • Ignafire offers a unique chocolate option. Their candies are unprocessed, avoiding the heating and processing of other chocolates. They contain no dairy ingredients, either. The chocolate is available in edible pieces and ground powder for making hot chocolate, and comes in four flavors: cacao, cinnamon, vanilla, and moka. The packaging is left blank, rather than printed with a logo, so they can be reused again, and they are compostable when the time comes. The cellulose bag surrounding the chocolate composts in 45-60 days.

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  • Navitas Naturals Organic Superfood Chocolate Kits ($9.99) contain raw organic cacao butter, organic cacao powder, organic mesquite, organic lucuma, organic maca and the specific organic superfood which is featured in the chewy center of the chocolates (Goji Berry, Cacao nib, or Goldenberry).
  • Most greenies have heard of Endangered Species Chocolate. 10% of the company’s net profits are donated to help support species, habitat, and humanity. They carry gift selections, event favors, baking chocolate, and organic line, and more.
  • TerraSource sells handmade vegan dark chocolates in a number of drool-inducing flavors.
  • The Chocolate Survival Kit ($39.99) includes six assorted chocolate bars in a handmade bamboo box. The sale helps support endangered animals.
  • Surf Sweets candy are organic, natural candies that contain no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors or colors and are gluten-free. They are produced in a nut-free facility, colorful, and delicious, with 100% Vitamin C per serving, and a few are vegetarian/vegan (these are the packs I got). I’m going to be honest – I wasn’t expecting much when I tried these candies. I was greatly surprised, though… the candies are DELICIOUS. They taste exactly like their less healthy counterparts. Kids will love them and you will love knowing that they aren’t loaded with corn syrup and chemicals.
  • Every year that we go back home to visit family for the holidays, I get sick. Bee M.D. Organic Throat Drops are a great stocking stuffer vapur.jpgfor that reason. They can be purchased at grocery stores and pharmacies for MSRP of $3.29. To see our review of Bee M.D., click here.
  • The Vapur reusable water bottle ($8.95) is definitely the most unique I’ve seen. When empty, it lays flat and rolls up, making it super easy to carry around. It also features a clip for easy carrying and is BPA free, freezable, and dishwasher safe.
  • Greensender offers a twist on your standard reusable water bottle – they are customizable. Select your size and color, choose from over 200 images, choose a font and add your custom text, and Greensender laser engraves the design on the bottle.
  • The Kids Konserve thermos is a great option for anyone who would like to carry a hot lunch to school or work. It is BPA, Lead & Phthalate Free. use coupon code holidays for 15% off at Kids Konserve
  • Yoga Paws ($34.95) are a friendlier alternative to many yoga mats, which contain PVC. Yoga Paws are PVC-free, as well as latex and chloride free.
  • Mama Mio’s O-Mega Body Oil ($35) is a stocking stuffer that should also be listed under pampering! This oil is all natural, free of parabens, synthetics, and other nasty chemicals. Mama Mio carries a number of other great stocking stuffer and gift ideas, all which follow their strick No Nasties policy.
  • Made of recycled material, recyclable, non-toxic, and waterpoof, the Jimi wallet ($14.95) is a wallet made for anyone who enjoys simplicity. There are 11 different color choices. The JimiX ($15.95) is another wallet, similar to the Jimi wallet, but with a clip on the outside, and available in different colors. Read our other post about the Jimi here.

Hanukkah

Menorahs and Stars of David can also be found made of recycled and eco-friendly materials.

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  • This Happy Hanukkah 3-soap bar gift set is 100% vegetable based. The outer two bars showcase the Star of David and Chai while the center bar exclaims "Happy Hanukkah" presented in a keepsake box.
  • These Hanukkah puzzles are fun, colorful, and educational. Made out of rubber trees and painted with child safe paint, the menorah ($19.99) has letters on one side and numbers on the other.
  • This Star of David ornament ($12.99) is made from 100% recycled glass and is a beautiful blue color. A portion of the proceeds from each sale are donated to organizations supporting environmental conservation.
  • The battery-operated motherboard menorah ($19.95) is made of recycled computer motherboard and has LED lights for flames. Talk about creative!
  • With movable candleholders made from assorted stone cores, the moving lights menorah ($85) is a stylish option for the holidays. It comes with 44 blended smokeless and dripless paraffin and beeswax candles.
  • These Beeswax Hanukkah candles ($20 for box of 45) are dripless, soot-free, and long burning having the natural scent of honey with no added fragrance and are hand-poured in small batches with lead-free cotton wicks.

Bags

For all the inevitable holiday shopping you’re going to do, make sure to bring along your reusable bags. These can also make good gifts (or gift bags to stuff all the other presents in!) The selection of styles and colors for reusable bags is absolutely endless.

Gifts That Give Back

Sometimes the best gift to get and to receive is one that helps the planet and others. Instead of buying more stuff (and I know, I have a lot of stuff listed here), consider donating to a good cause.

  • AdoptAShark is a program of the Southern California based nonprofit group, Iemanya Oceanica, that is dedicated to groundbreaking research and education efforts to save sharks. Different packages are available for adoption, including Classic ($49.99), Deluxe ($99.99), and a special Children’s package ($75.99) which includes extra goodies for that special child. Your donation helps provide towards the placement of the tags used to track and help protect the sharks. Each adoption pack comes with a personalized certificate of adoption, pictures of your shark, stickers, a t-shirt and plenty of fun and educational information about marine conservation, with the Deluxe and Children’s packages coming with extras.
  • Oceana is hosting a program for the holiday season where you can adopt a marine creature, with prices ranging from $35-$150. Included with your adoption are several gift options to give to the recipient, some including adorable stuffed animals and all including a beautiful personalized adoption certificate. See our other post on Oceana here.
  • Adopt-A-Rainforest is a program that supports the purchase and sustainable management of tropical forest lands. Donors may choose to support a particular project in a country of interest, or they may ask the Rainforest Alliance to select one in need.
  • In over sixty years, Heifer International has helped 38 million people to become more self-reliant for food and income. Through Heifer International, you purchase gifts of livestock and training in sustainable agriculture that helps hungry and poor families all over the world. There are a number of options to purchase, ranging from $20 (flock of gees, flock of ducks, flock of chicks) to a $10,000 livestock development. An honor card is presented to the gift recipient, or it can be downloaded and emailed online.
  • World Vision Gifts offers a program similar to Heifer International, with different gift options. The gift recipient receives a card describing the gift and the impact it will have in the life of a person in need.
  • Oxfam America Unwrapped is another group that offers gifts to help those in need. For example, for a $1500 donation, a primary school can be rebuilt. A $75 donation purchases a cow, $100 will help someone start a small business, and $18 will buy blankets. There are over 50 helpful products to choose from, and you can search by price.
  • Adopt-A-Farm-Animal is another adoption program that is a bit different than the others. In the case of this program, you are adopting the animal to help rescue it rather than help a family or village. Your gift will provide the necessary support to care for a rescued animal and sponsor their monthly feed, shelter and veterinary care costs. The gift recipient will receive an adoption certificate with a color photograph of their adopted friend, an adoption card, and other benefits, depending on the animal.
  • For a $30 or $50 donation (depending on location), Cool Earth helps protect half an acre of Amazon rainforest, which offsets a household’s annual emissions by 5x. The gift recipient can view or monitor their half acre through the website. You can also protect a tree, purchase community gifts to help rainforest communities fight deforestation, or purchase jewelry or t-shirts. Each necklace protects a 1/4 of an acre of rainforest.
  • Trees for a Change is an organization that plants trees as gifts in U.S. National Forests that have been destroyed by wildfire. The gifts include a tree planted by the U.S. Forest Service in an area that is desperate for reforestation, a personalized certificate and card, made from 100% PCW recycled paper, the gift recipient’s name on our online name registry, and online access to information about and photos of our tree planting projects.
  • The idea for Trees Instead was developed when the creators had a friend pass away, and they wanted to honor him in a different way. This program lets you order trees to be planted at national and state forests and reforestation projects in the U.S., Israel, and the Amazon. The recipient receives a certificate with the number of the tree planted in their name. The options include half an acre of trees ($55), a full acre ($95), one tree ($25), and a pet memorial tree ($25).
  • Another tree planting service, mokugift offers a cute digital representation of your planted tree, which costs $1. They will soon be upgrading to allow you to choose where you want your trees planted.
  • For a donation of $50, you can have a majestic redwood planted in a California state park through the Save the Redwoods League.
  • For the animal loving child, the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) in South Africa has created and Adopt-a-Cheetah program especially for kids. For 1500 Rand (about $150), the child receives an adoption certificate, a small stuffed cheetah, and an animal mug. The child’s name and the Cheetah’s name will also be placed on a plaque at the entrance to the center, and the child will receive a newsletter of happenings at the Centre three times a year, as well as a full-scale report once yearly on the cheetah’s development. The adoption is good for 12 months of medical supplies, equipment, food, and medical treatment as necessary.
  • For a donation of $30, you can provide one person with safe drinking water for life through the Blue Planet Run Foundation. They offer other donation options as well, including a well cover to keep water clean ($60), a shallow hand dug well to serve 20 families ($400), a complete water system for a village of 100 families ($10,000), and many more in varying prices.

Gifts Without Stuff

Gifts can be given that don’t require wrapping, and they can be just as enjoyable.

  • Purchase a membership to something the recipient will enjoy, such as a museum.
  • Tickets to a show or concert that your loved one will like might be more enjoyable than a shirt or gift card.
  • Take the gift recipient out for dinner and a movie, a night out on the town, or have a special night in. Enjoy yourselves!
  • Join a friend to do something that you both need accountability on (for example, a morning walk).
  • Make a book of coupons for your loved one that he or she can redeem at any time. Some examples include “Control of the remote for an evening,” “Breakfast in bed,” “I will do the dishes after dinner tonight without complaining,” “One dinner out anywhere that you want,” “One night out together while the kids are at my mother’s house,” “Get out of jail free card,” etc.
  • While technically “stuff,” food gifts won’t add to the piles of stuff you already have, since you’ll be eating them! What’s better than a tin full of homemade cookies or brownies? If you are having a party, make it a pot luck and tell your guests to consider the food they bring to be your gift.
  • For an elderly person, your gift could be to do their grocery shopping, balance their checkbook, or bring dinner once a week.
  • Are you a pro at something such as golf, piano, etc.? How about giving lessons to a loved one as a present? They’ll learn a new skill, you’ll feel good about teaching someone, it’s free, and you’ll get to spend quality time together.
  • "A really nice Christmas gift that I received last year from my niece that was totally eco-friendly was a plant with pictures and words about my life glued and glossed around the pot!" Cynthia Hernandez Kolski of Communication Education

Throwing a Party

We’ve got ideas for that, too. Many of these ideas can also be used as gift ideas, as well.
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Cards, Invitations, Gift Wrap

Invite your guests and wrap presents in eco style, send earth friendly greeting cards.

  • Cards from Africa employ people orphaned by the 1994 genocide and diseases like AIDS and malaria to make beautiful handmade greeting cards. All the cardmakers have lost both parents and support at least one younger sibling. As young adults with few job prospects, they were destined for a life of poverty. However, at Cards from Africa they are able to make over five times what they could otherwise earn, empowering them to provide food, shelter, health care and education for their siblings. The cards are adorable and all of the paper is handmade from local Rwandan office waste.
  • This dove and star card is made from handmade paper fabric cutouts recycled from the company’s clothing production. The inside of the card is blank say you can write in your own personal message.
  • Wrapsacks are cotton batik bags with drawstrings that can be used to wrap gifts. What makes this option unique to others is Track-a-Sack, where you can register your Wrapsack with its unique ID and track its journey with Google Maps as recipients fill in details about the gifts it held and the occasions that were celebrated.
  • My Good Greetings personalized cards are all printed on 100% recycled, FSC Certified, card stock. All of their cards include 100% recycled envelopes and recycled packaging materials.
  • Cast Paper Art cards, sold exclusively through eInvite, are made from recycled cotton fiber and have a great texture. The cards can be ordered in increments of 25, starting at 25. See our other post on Cast Paper Art here.
  • eInvite also offers a few more great holiday cards including Working Together, and Happy Holly-days.
  • Night Owl Paper Goods offers stylish FSC-certified faux wood holiday cards. Adorable!
  • Ecosaurus offers eco-friendly note cards, greeting cards, and gift wrapp. The products are printer with vegetable based inks on 100% recycled paper, processed chlorine-free, Green-e and FSC certified.
  • Zola Goods offers a few eco-friendly greeting card and wrapping paper options made from 100% post consumer waste and shedding tree bark.
  • The 100% post-consumer recycled cardstock husk ornament card can be strung up on the tree or set on a table once received.
  • Reproduct.net offers a unique Christmas card option – they are made from a special plastic that can be mailed to a carpet company after the holidays and made into carpeting!
  • Etsy is an amazing place to find handmade, earth-friendly products. Jennifer Squires is offering a holiday called titled “Cheers” made from 100% recycled card stock, processed chlorine free, and the energy used in the printing process is 100% wind-powered via renewable energy credits. The card features a photo of a wine glass and holiday ornament on the front, and the inside is blank to write your own message.
  • Copper Willow offers holiday cards and gift tags made with all recycled paper and soy-based inks.

Food, Snacks, & Drinks

Whether you use these for a party or as gifts, they are sure to please.

  • Girasole Vineyards and Barra of Mendocino both carry organic wines created on a family owned vineyard. The family has been farming the same vineyards for over 60 years and all of the grapes that go into their wines are estate grown.
  • Blue Ice Organic Wheat Vodka is made from 100%, locally harvested, organic winter wheat and pristine Idaho water.
  • The Eco Wine Trio ($29.99) can be purchased for your holiday party or as a gift. A fruit-forward Merlot, a lush Rhône red and a bright fruity Pinot Noir are brought to you in this 100% recycled and recyclable gift box. Additionally, 10% of this product’s retail price goes to the EarthEra Renewable Energy Trust where every penny is used to build renewable energy facilities in the United States.
  • Beautiful Sweets creates beautiful organic cookies, and they even offer a cookie of the month club, a great gift for someone with a sweet tooth. This gift is available for 3, 6, or 12 months, and includes 24 seasonally appropriate organic cookies delivered to the home of the gift recipient.
  • Fillo Factory sells a number of USDA organic appetizers and desserts that are perfect for parties because they’re super easy to prepare. They also carry organic dough, pastry shells, entree pies and pocket sandwiches.
  • Larry’s Beans carries a Larry’s Rockin’ Holiday Blend ($12.49), a 100% Fair Trade, Organic, and Shade Grown flavor that features a rich chocolate-covered cherry sweetness, with a full body and fruity acidity, like a sweet red wine or hot apple cider. There are also hints of spice (nutmeg ) and a nice, caramelly earthiness leading to a long, sweet finish.
  • Caribou Coffee and Gloria Jean’s Coffees both offer Rainforest Alliance Certified blends, which means they must meet a set of environmental and social standards, including agrochemical reduction, ecosystem conservation, and worker health and safety. Grounds for Change sells fair trade, organic coffee, and Unity carries fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate, and gourmet foods.
  • Numi Tea offers a huge selection of organic teas, including beautiful gift sets, iced teas, loose teas, flowering teas, and more. I was beyond impressed with the package I received from them. Highly recommended products! See our other post on Numi Teas here.
  • Teatulia is another organic tea option. Teatulia offers a variety of flavors in loose tea and biodegradable tea pyramids, as well as sample packs and gift sets. The sampler packs come in a biodegradable container with 6 biodegradable bags and would make perfect stocking stuffers.
  • Hank’s Gourmet Infusions are a healthier option for soda lovers. Great for parties or as stocking stuffers, Hank’s sparkling beverages are made from only all natural ingredients including vitamins B12, C, and E, calcium, EGCG, sugar, skim milk, and cream. Available flavors include berry, green apple, orange cream, and root beer float. See our other post on Hank’s Gourmet Infusions here.
  • For guests and gift recipients who need their soda, consider a Soda-Club soda making machine. Making your own soda with the machine is much healthier (for example, Soda-Club Cola contains 34 calories per serving, while Coca-Cola contains 100), and the soda does not include high fructose corn syrup. You’ll also use less cans and bottles, and the machine requires no electricity or batteries. See our other post on this machine here.
  • Alcohol drinkers will love organic alcoholic beverages, including organic beer and organic champagne ($44.99). They also make great gifts (especially the organic beer sampler set!).
  • For more organic food items, including baking supplies, try Fiddler’s Green Farm. They also offer gift packages at great prices.
  • While it is recommended to store your leftovers in your fridge in glass containers, if you need foil to cover food while it is cooking in the oven, try Reynolds Wrap Foil from 100% Recycled Aluminum. A $0.50 coupon is available on the website.

Decorations

Don’t forget to decorate! One of the best parts of the holidays.

  • EnvironmentalLights.com sells LED lights for holiday decorating. They have a lifespan of 50,000 – 100,000 hours (compared to 1500 for incandescents) and are waterproof.
  • Lucuma carries super unique fair trade ornaments and other art.
  • A unique alternative to a live wreath, the “Ever-Green” Aluminum Holiday Wreath is handmade from recycled aluminum traffic signs.
  • This Recycled Cardboard Wreath ($38) is another unique option. It is constructed of recycled winter white cardboard and laser cut for precision fit. The wreath, designed to be used indoors, can be decorated with magic markers, glitter and paint.
  • Great ornaments for a music lover, these record label holiday ornaments (on sale $16 set of 3) are cut from vintage 45s and feature the original record label. After the design is cute from the record, the leftover vinyl goes to commercial plastic recyclers for reprocessing.
  • VivaTerra carries a variety of unique, eco-friendly holiday decorations. My personal favorites are the real leaf ornaments. “These stunning metallic art pieces-a boxed set of three real leaves made semi-transparent through a filigree process-elevate holiday ornaments to an entirely new level of achievement. Dipped in liquid metal every leaf vein becomes visible, while the shimmering copper of their tips twinkles in reflected light when hung on their sheer ribbons.” use coupon code VT0915 for $15 off $100 or more

More Ideas

More online stores with more gift ideas include:

For more online coupon codes, check out Celebrate Green’s 50% off 12 great eco-friendly gifts here.

Credits & Thank Yous

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There are some people I would like to thank, in no particular order, for helping me with tips and ideas.

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