Saturday, December 15, 2007

It's December Again...

...and that means what, exactly? For many of us, it is a time of numerous obligations and/or celebrations. I hope you find yourself experiencing mostly the latter. By now we have all heard about cutting back, relaxing, enjoying the true spirit of the holidays - time with family and friends, etc.

So why is it that every year many of us find ourselves up until midnight the night before whichever holiday we celebrate wrapping presents? Not just any old presents either; these are often presents that we grabbed at the last minute. Worse still, we find that we are wrapping them in the last of the reindeer wrapping paper from Wal-Mart - Yes, Wal-Mart, which equals, "I panicked on December 24th again."

But what to do about the inevitable last-minute frenzy? Please indulge me as I throw my bit of advice into the heap.

Most importantly, try to align your holiday practices with your sustainable practices from throughout the year: Conserve energy (both yours and the kind that comes from the power grid), eat and cook good local/organic/seasonal food, and if you participate in a present giving holiday, use the opportunity to give gifts that are produced in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. In addition, shop online because it is not only less stressful, it is also energy efficient. According to, "e-commerce warehouses use 1/16th of the energy used to operate retail stores. And even overnight air shipping uses 40% less fuel than the average car trip to the store."

So chill out, stay home, hang those solar-powered or LED lights, skip the gift wrap (use newspaper or reusable gift wrap like scarves, jars, or reusable boxes), and check out a few of my favorite gift ideas:

For the Person Who Has Everything They Need (And really that is most of us isn't it?):
Choose a charity that matches your recipient's interests and make a donation in their name. These charities are ready to help you spread those glad tidings. Most of them are set up to send off an email or card to your loved one as soon as they receive your money. If you are not sure which charity to choose, Guidestar offers a free search service that classifies and rates nonprofit organizations, and Guidestar just added a new feature that enables you to donate directly from their site.

For the Kidlets: If you have been paying attention to the news at all this year, you are probably as scared as I that that cute little doll you have your eye on for your niece will turn into next year's leadsicle. Lucky for us and all of the little tots in our life, Coop America has put together a list of Ten Green Toys for the Holidays.

For the Discerning Ladies in Your Life: An excellent new online boutique has just opened called Mico Boutiko. They sell accessories such as bags and belts as well as a variety of home decor including blankets, vases, and sculptures, which are made with natural and recycled materials. Here are a few of their pieces:

Vase and bowl made with recycled paper

Bio-jewelery made with renewable resources

For a little pampering, Pangea Organics continues to be my favorite company for beauty products. All of their products, from facial scrub to lip balm, are organic and made without synthetic preservatives, parabens, or petrochemicals. They have also extended a limited time wholesale offer to Ten Ways readers.

For the Mamas and the Mamas-to-be: I have not had any babies yet, so I can only take this on secondhand authority, but apparently the products from Earth Mama Angel Baby are the bomb. They offer everything from ready made gift baskets for the new and expectant mama to healing salves and teas - all organic of course. Their website also offers a plethora of information, and your expectant mama will be grateful that you introduced her to this company.

Housewarming: Shitbegone. The name pretty much says it all. What started as an amusing art project has grown into a legit business. It makes a hilarious gift and is made using 100% recycled paper. Their website is full of helpful hints too, in case you need some guidance.

For the Gardeners (and Eaters!): Seeds of Change will send gift boxes of organic apples and pears to your fruit fanatic friends around the country. You can also order them gardening gifts or gift certificates to encourage them to enjoy an organic bounty during the upcoming growing season. As true gardeners will tell you, the best time to start thinking about your next garden is when there is still snow on the ground!

For Everyone Else: Fair Indigo sells "clothing and gifts made by paying a fair wage to those who make them." Fair Indigo's artisans from around the world produce clothing and accessories for men and women (often made with organic cotton), bath and spa products, gifts for babies, and gift certificates.

Big Dipper Wax Works makes beeswax candles of all shapes, sizes, and scents. While most candles are made with paraffin, which is a petroleum by-product, Big Dipper uses beeswax, a 100% renewable and natural resource. In addition, paraffin is a pollutant when it burns, and beeswax burns soot free. To read more about the benefits of beeswax candles, visit Big Dipper's website.

For the Green Greenie: If you know someone who is just getting started making environmental practices a part of their life, send them a starter kit from Greensender. The box contains a reusable SIGG water bottle, a reusable organic cotton bag, an energy efficient cfl light bulb, and an organic cotton t-shirt.

Still can't find what you are looking for? Search Co-op America's National Green Pages, which is a directory of screened and approved green businesses.

Lastly, please comment on this blog and tell us where you will be finding your fair trade/sustainable gifts this year, as well as how you will be saving energy (and money!). Check back later this week to see what other great sustainable holiday ideas the Ten Ways Crew has come up with!


leigh andrew said...

yaaay - shitbegone! go wes!

Vanessa said...