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The Ultimate Green Christmas and Holidays Guide

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The holidays are a particularly wasteful time of the year, with the 1.9 billion cards sent each year at Christmas time, the crazy gift buying, unrecyclable gift wrapping, huge holiday dinners, a good bulk of which end up in the landfills, and all the travel to visit families. There are steps that can be taken and gifts that can be given to reduce your impact this holiday season, and it’s not as hard as it might seem. Following steps you would follow on any other day, such as turning off your lights, unplugging electronics when not in use, and walking, biking, or using public transportation when possible, plus some tips especially for the holidays will help to make this year’s festivities more earth-friendly.

This is my ultimate green Christmas/holidays guide. I hope everyone enjoys it, because it took me a grand total of over an entire day to put it together. If you get through the whole thing, I’ll be grateful, but I’ll also think you’re crazy!

I wouldn’t normally cut the post with Read More, but if the full post loads on the front page, it will be a mile long! For those with dial-up or slow internet connections, this is your warning – the post is huge, but it’s worth it!

Since this post is so long, I’ve decided to organize it into sections. Keep in mind that the links do not load in new windows (I know how annoying many people find that), 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.

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. Cook with a pressure cooker
    If you use a pressure cooker to make parts of your meal, you can save 50-70% of the energy you’d use cooking on a stovetop.
  5. Cook from scratch
    Guests will enjoy homemade food much more than canned, boxed, or frozen. You will save money and save packaging.
  6. Use reusable and/or compostable dinnerware
    Use dishes and silverware that you already have and have your party guests help you do the dishes after. Really want to avoid the dishes? Buy one time use compostable plates. For compostable and earth-friendly reusable plates, see this section.
  7. 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
  8. 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 also wrap gifts in other gifts, such as scarves, hats, shirts, etc. Some wrapping paper ideas can be found in this section.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Give rechargeable batteries
    If your gift requires batteries, give a set of rechargeables with it (consider a charger to go with the batteries).
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Decorate with 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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!
  23. Make origami box ornaments
    From Michele Patrick, “Each year when I receive Christmas cards from friends and family, I cut and fold them into little origami gift boxes. I take a piece of the card trimmings not used to make the box and write the senders name on it and the year it was sent. I put this piece of paper into the box and use small pieces of ribbon (bought from resale shops) to finish off each gift box. I hang the gift boxes on my unconventional Christmas tree which is this fabulous 3’ tall tree branch that is spray painted gold.”

    origamiornaments.jpg

  24. Use sand instead of floral foam
    If you plan on making floral arrangements for decorations, use sand in lace of floral foam. It costs less, isn’t petroleum based like foam, and the arrangements last just as long.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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!

Snake Puzzle

  • 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.
  • Teach your children the importance of reusable items, such as napkins, with cloth napkins designed especially for them. Fabkins ($22.95 for set of 5) offers a variety of napkin designs any kid is sure to love. Happikins ($29.95 for set of 5, $35.90 with monogram) also offer design sets that come with zippered pouches for storage of milk money, notes for you kids, or the dirty napkin so the lunchbox doesn’t get yucky.
  • 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.
  • For the little green thumb in the family, a children’s mushroom garden kit ($24.95) will get them interested in gardening and the Eat Your Weird Veggies Collection ($10.95) might even get them interested in eating vegetables!
  • War is PoopFor 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 (Infant Crisis Services and Doctors Without Borders). 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.
  • Bee GreenI 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.
  • For the creative child who enjoys expressing him or herself, shainsware is perfect. 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.
  • An 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!). The colors are subdued hues, 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.
  • Know someone who could use help setting up a nursery for a new bundle of joy? Picci has an adorable new organic line, Picci Natura that is great for boys and girls, in ivory and sage. The pieces can be purchased at Goores. use coupon code fopi10 for 10% off. See our other post on Picci here.
  • Looking for great baby gifts on a budget? Check out Baby Earth’s list of gifts under $25. You’ll find organic onesies, swaddlers, tees, toys, cloth diapers, baby safe bottles, and more.
  • As a gift for new mommies, consider the Wee Generation Diaper Bag ($200). All profits are donated to Healthy Child Healthy World. The fabric of the bag is made from 100% post consumer recycled plastic bottles, and the waterproof liner is PVC-free. The first 500 bags sold will contain $100 worth of eco-friendly treats, including a copy of Naturally Clean: the Seventh Generation Guide to Safe and Healthy Non-Toxic Cleaning, a Wee Generation baby tee, healthy household tips from Healthy Child Healthy World and coupons from Seventh Generation.

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!)

  • Fashion and Earth is new organic clothing store for women with free shipping both ways
  • Be the ChangeMe to We products are made from bamboo and organic, fair trade cotton, and 50% of the company’s profits are donated to Free the Children, “a charity building sustainable communities for youth in underprivileged areas around the world.”
  • BuddhiWear offers eco-friendly casual and sportswear with a flare for Yoga, Pilates, Energy Healing, the Environment, and all things Positive.” BuddhiWear has styles for men, women, children, and babies. The company also plants a tree for every garment sold. use coupon code GREEN20 for 20% off
  • For the girl who has everything, I can almost guarantee that she doesn’t have a purse made of recycled plastic juice packs! Options include the On-The-Go Bag ($66.99), the Traveler ($34.99), and the Mini Bag ($24.99).
  • My Earth Too! organic cotton sleepwear are available for women and children. A portion of all proceeds are donated to the Chuckie Goodnight Foundation For The Environment, a non-profit that provides environmental eduction for children. PJs available at Beall’s, Gottschalks, Peeble’s, JC Penney and Kohl’s.
  • Three Stone Steps carries some interesting products, including bags made from repurposed mosquito netting and one made from trash bags! use coupon code HOLIDAY08 for 20% off and free shipping over $50
  • Toggery by Kate D’Arcy is a stylish line of women’s clothing made with bamboo and organic cotton. Most of the pieces are sure to flatter many different body types. Toggery can be purchased through Lux Green Living.
  • Jute & Jackfruit is another women’s clothing company that takes pride in their environmentally friendly style. The company uses reycled and organic packaging and gift wrap.
  • Escama Studios PuseProbably 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
  • Fundamentally Dog is for pet lovers. They sell organic cotton t-shirts with cute messages, as well as note cards printed on FSC certified stock with recycled envelopes. use coupon code 1EM1108 for 10% off (first time buyers only)
  • 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.”

Jewelry

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

The Leakey Collection

  • 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. use coupon code HSJ for a 20% discount until December 19th. See our other post on Zulugrass here
  • The Thoughtful Gallery is an Etsy jewelry shop run by DeAnna Cochran, who also creates gallery quality jewlery. The pieces are made with metal clay, which is made from metals reclaimed from x-rays, film negatives, computer components, cell phones, and other metal components.
  • Brilliant Earth jewelry is made with conflict free diamonds and recycled precious metals. 5% of profits are donated to African communities. use coupon code CABNXG for 10% off
  • Make Piece is a non-profit organization that teaches women jewelrymaking entrepreneurship, helping them earn living wages.
  • C5 Company sells jewelry that is made from recycled materials, ethically-mined gems, and lab-created diamonds. Stocking stuffer ideas from C5 include a travel jewerly roll ($18), a piece to keep your jewelry safe that is fair-trade certified and made by a Vietnam co-op that trains and employs disabled women, and biodegradable and non-toxic jewelry cleaner ($16).
  • 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.
  • I know a blogger friend of mine that is going to fall in love with this necklace ($65). This cute bird necklace is made from reclaimed sterling silver.
  • Each one of these Clear Circle Glass Necklaces ($69) is handcrafted from recycled glass from a beer bottle.
  • For the men, how about recycled cufflinks? Not just any recycled cufflinks… but ones made from old public transportation tokens. They are available made from NYC subway tokens and San Francisco transit tokens, both $60.

NYC Subway Token Cufflinks

Gardener

For the green thumbs on your gift list.

  • 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 commemerate 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.

Pampering

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

  • Sunny’s Soaps is a brand local to me that my husband found. The soaps are all natural and handmade in small batches to ensure freshness.
  • The Body Deli carries products made from all natural ingredients. Some products are so fresh, they have to be refrigerated!
  • simply. brand soaps are made from organic, fair-trade ingredients with no artifical fragrances. The labels on the soaps are even FSC Certified. Online purchase offered at their Etsy store.

Jimmyjane's EMBER Cocoa + Fig candle

Scandle Candle

  • 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. use coupon code COOP2 for 10% off
  • 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.
  • The Golden Goat 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. I’ve been on the hunt for personal care products that follow these standards, and they are very hard to find. Sevi 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.

Office

Know a work-a-holic, or maybe someone who is setting up a home office? Try these eco gifts.

  • Eco ballpoint pens ($19.99 for 12) are made of up to 75% recycled post-consumer plastics.
  • Eniro Stik pencils are made from wood grown in renewable forests and have biodegradable erasers. The pencils can be purchased at Office Depot for $2.29 per 10-pack.
  • 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 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.

Pets

Don’t forget the little furry ones!

  • 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? use coupon code FIRSTFREE for free shipping on any order
  • Dr. Shawn’s Pet Shampoos ($14.95) are USDA certified organic, contain no chemicals or artificial preservatives, colors, or fragrances. The containers are also BPA-free.

shainsware

Books

Better World Shopping Guide

  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair will teach you how to make your own body care products. With over 450 bodycare formulas, the book includes some for everyone from facial and eye care to hair care, whole body treatments, natural first aid, and much more. The book can be purchased in bookstores for $17.95 or through Healthy Highways (currently $14.95).
  • Clean & Green: The Complete Guide to Nontoxic and Environmentally Safe Housekeeping is a book for those interested in making their own cleaning products. The book includes 485 ways to clean, polish, disinfect, deodorize, launder, remove stains—even wash your car – without harming yourself or the environment. Available at bookstores or through Healthy Highways ($11.50).
  • 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.”
  • My Body, My House is a story for children and adults that explains the balance of health and living in a healthy environment. It teaches about making healthy choices in your home to stay healthy.
  • 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.

Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green

  • The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green won’t be available until March 17, 2009, but it can be pre-ordered on Barnes & Noble’s website and Amazon.com as an extra gift, or wait until it comes out and buy it a special mom for a birthday or Mother’s Day gift?
  • 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. Examples: Disco Elves, Country Elves, Charleston Elves, Classic Elves.
  • 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. We got the DC Comics calendar and the Mad Magazine calendar – we love them!
  • 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.

Home

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • For more eco-friendly and luxurious bedding, take a look at VivaTerra.
    I highly recommend bamboo sheets – so comfy! use coupon code CA118 for $15 off $100 order at VivaTerra until 12/19
  • White stone placements and runner ($55 for 4 placements, $59 for runner)
    are sure to get compliments for the gift receiver and their guests. They will make any table look creative and beautiful.
  • 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).
  • These flowering vine rugs
    are made from recycled plastic bottles and packing materials. Available in 4′x6′ ($45), 5′x8′ ($95), and 6′x9′ ($119).
  • I think I need one of these myself. The Eco wood organizers ($34 for set of 2)are made from recycled wood remnants and finished in an eco-friendly clear semi-gloss.
  • 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.

Chopsticks Folding Basket

School

Here are a few ideas that would be good for the student or soon-to-be student on your gift list. Many of the gift ideas listed under “Office” would be good for students, too.

  • The solar messenger bag ($129.99) can charge your cell phone, PDA, and MP3 player with solar panels on the bag. Pretty cool. A solar backpack ($129.99) is also available.
  • Freshman Fund is a program that makes sure the money your are giving to help pay for the college education of your gift recipient goes where it’s supposed to go. The recipient must already be signed up for a 529 plan to enroll for Freshman Fund, but after that, anyone can put money into the plan, and you know it will be used for exactly what you gave it for.

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.

  • 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 for 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.
  • Tappening reusable bottles are a gift idea for anyone who likes to carry a drink with them wherever they go (my mom!). There are 2 BPA-free plastic bottles and 3 stainless steel bottles to choose from. They also carry a bag made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials.

CGKidz Water Bottle

  • CG Kidz, a website run by 12-year old Riley Hoffer, sells a stainless steel bottle especially for kids, designed by Riley. The bottle sells for $8. See our other post on CG Kidz and Riley here.
  • For coffee drinkers, this recycled and recyclable tumbler ($8.50) is a great stocking stuffer. It comes in 3 colors, and is dishwasher safe.
  • The Green Earth Technologies 5-pack car care kit is a good gift for anyone who enjoys keeping their car in top shape. The kit includes G-Wash Car Wash, the G-Glass Glass Cleaner, the G-Wheel Brake Dust Removing Cleaner, the G-Tire Ultimate Tire Shine and the G-Wheel Brake Dust Shield. All of these products are biodegradable, non-toxic, and recyclable. The kit is available through Amazonfor $12.88.
  • 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, and for a limited time, orders of Yoga Paws include a free Yoga-Syz DVD.
  • 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 nine 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. I’ve got the red Jimi and the black JimiX – they’re unique and cool.

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!)

  • Green Chic Bags ($29.95, on holiday special for $25) are available in a LARGE variety of designs and have water resistant liners. I’ve got the Chloe design, and it is gorgeous. The bags can carry a lot more than you would imagine!
  • RuMe bags are another reusable bag option that can also be purchased in matching sets of 3. The holiday bag set would be great to use as gift bags that the recipient can use over and over again.
  • Simple Peace bags are simple and durable, made of hemp and organic cotton. The options include an urban shopper bag, a farmer’s market bag, a shopping system collection, and baskets made of natural water reed.
  • EcoBags carries every reusable bag imaginable, including produce bags, lunch bags, hemp bags, organic bags, and much, much more.
  • Emilie Sloan totes are another beautiful option for shopping bags. There are four options, including the Isabelle Grocery Tote ($42), the Juliette Market Tote ($38), the Audrey Classic Tote ($40), and the Gabrielle Lunch Tote ($30).They are available in 3 color choices – cranberry, icy blue, and silver stone.
  • BeGreenNow offers a different style of reusable bag ($12.95) – it rolls into itself and has a clip. With each purchase, a tree is planted in a reforestation project.

Hanukkah

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

puzzles.jpg

  • The Hanukkah puzzles are fun, colorful, and educational. Made out of rubber trees and painted with child safe paint, the Star of David ($15.99) puzzle has alphabet letters on one side and is blue and white on the other, while 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 ($22) is made of recycled computer motherboard and has LED lights for flames. Talk about creative!
  • With moveable 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.

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.

  • 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.
  • 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. This years green gifts include An alpaca for warm wool and increased income ($360), hybrid or drought-resistant seeds for a farmer ($17), HIV caregiver kits – urgent supplies for AIDS relief ($28), clean, safe water for a school ($50 per share), a deep water well ($18,000), a treadle pump for on-demand irrigation ($392), 10 fruit trees to boost health and income ($60), goat and two chickens ($100), a bicycle for a young girl to attend school ($85), stock a school in America with essential learning tools and supplies ($100), and build and stock a fish pond ($240). 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.
  • For a $50 donation, 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.
  • 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 ($60), a full acre ($99), 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 500 bricks to line a well ($30), a shallow hand dug well to serve 20 familes ($400), a complete water system for a village 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.

Throwing a Party

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

Skip to sections:

Cards, Invitations, Gift Wrap

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

  • 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 Recycled Rejoice!, 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 wrapped. 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.
  • Husk Ornament CardThe 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.
  • Paper Shouts offers personalized note cards, holiday cards, and invitations made with 100% recycled paper. Most of the cards have options to add photos, and all are adorable.
  • Copper Willow offers holiday cards and gift tags made with all recycled paper and soy-based inks. They are currently applying to be a green-seal certified studio.
  • Month2Month offers free ecards that can be personalized and are very cute. They don’t seem to have their Christmas cards up yet, but check back, I’m sure they’ll be worth the wait!

Food, Snacks, & Drinks

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

  • Horizon Organic Low-fat Eggnog is an organic twist on a holiday favorite. Don’t worry, no flavor is lost in using 1% milk – it’s just as delicious as its higher fat counterpart. We are holding a giveaway for 5 lucky readers to win Horizon Organic Eggnog, enter here!
  • 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. use coupon code MH43 for 15% off until January 9th at Grounds for Change
  • Numi TeaNumi 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.
  • Soda-ClubFor 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. Stay tuned for a review post of Soda-Club.
  • 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!).
  • 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.
  • Most greenies have heard of Endangered Species Chocolate. 10% of the company’s net profits are donated to help supoort species, habitat, and humanity. They carry gift selections, event favors, baking chocolate, and organic line, and more. use coupon code coop15 for 15% off
  • 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 endagered 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.
  • For more organic food items, including baking supplies, try Fiddler’s Green Farm. They also offer gift packages at great prices.
  • Catering your party? If you live in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, or the Washington, DC metropolitan area, consider Organic To Go. Along with organic food, they offer bamboo plates and serving platters, biodegradable silverware, compostable or recyclable bags, plates, cups, containers, sandwich boxes and napkins. Deliveries are made in hybrid Prius’ or fuel-efficient Scions.

Dinnerware

The dinnerware you serve your food with can be just as important as the food that’s served on it.

  • Verterra offers non-toxic, compostable plates made from fallen leaves and water. Don’t think this makes the plates weak – they are strong enough to cook on! Each plate is unique and beautiful, your guests will love them.
  • Marx Foods also makes plates from leaves, which are equally as interesting and unique. The plates come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and bowls, forks, knives, and spoons are also available, all made from leaves. Imagine eating off of a leaf fork! Very cool.
  • Looking for a dinnerware set you can use over and over again when the holidays are over? Try The Eco Collection. The collection is made primarily from bamboo fibers, come in two rich color choices – mocha and natural – and include dinner plates, salad plates, and bowls. The sets can be purchased through eConscious Market.

Decorations

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

Lindsay Olive Wreath

  • The Lindsay Olive Holiday Wreath is a beautiful handmade decoration. The proceeds from the wreath sales go to The Meals on Wheels Association of America. For more information, see our other post on the wreath here.
  • Live trees and more wreaths are available from Jackson & Perkins with beautiful decorations. Each is pre-lit and hand decorated, and the trees can be planted outside after the holiday season.
  • Lucuma carries super unique fair trade ornaments and other art. use coupon code GOGREEN2 for 10% off
  • From Etsy member SoapWerks comes a holiday soy wax candle ($8). It is scented with cinnamon, clove, and sweet orange fragrance oils and burns for 40-50 hours.
  • A unique alternative to a live wreath, the “Ever-Green” Aluminum Holiday Wreath is handmade from recycled aluminum traffic signs.
  • 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.
  • The
    organic pussy willow wreath
    ($52)
    brings back memories of my childhood, when I used collect pussy willow branches to give to my mom for decoration.
  • VivaTerracarries a variety of unique, eco-friendly holiday decorations. My personal favorite, besides the pussy willow wreath, 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.”

More Ideas

Still need more ideas? Tune in to a teleseminar by Diane MacEachern, author of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World, at 3pm EST on December 8th. Call 712-580-7706, and use conference code 1735162.

Check out this PDF of 50% off coupons on eco products. Thanks to Lynn Colwell, writer of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, for letting me provide the coupons to our readers! Click on the coupon to go to the site.

More online stores with more gift ideas include:

Credits & Thank Yous

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

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