‘Tis the season… more ways to “give green”… guilt-free!

Yes, ‘tis the season and the clock is tick, tick, ticking away (a week and counting…. eek!).

I recently wrote about some of my favorite ways to give, with some tangible and intangible ideas for giving the gift of green and/or helping the environment and some of its inhabitants.  Well, as I realize ideas I didn’t give or discover more great options, I can’t help but want to continue to share… especially because of that damn “ticking clock” and the stress of it all.

So, I know a lot of us would prefer to give “something”, but if you give something, there are a lot of great ways to give a gift that doesn’t impact the planet like traditional giving… so, give these some thought:

  • Give a live plant.  Who doesn’t love a beautiful plant to liven & brighten their home while consuming some CO2 and giving some oxygen!
  • Give an organic fruit basket. (Be sure to refer to my do and do not buy organics list!)
  • Give a framed work of art… not from a famous artist… one created by your kids… or YOU, for that matter.  It would mean more than a Picasso to most recipients!
  • Give your best homemade “goodie” and share the recipe! Or simply share the recipes of some of your favorite dishes.
  • Give a “helping” certificate. Whether it’s for running errands, babysitting, cooking a dinner on request or even setting-up a “non-recycler” with all of the tools to start recycling, it will be appreciated!
  • Give CFLs or recycled batteries & a charger. They’re energy saving and keep nasty trash from landfills.  Plus, it’s like handing over $$ because they will save, save, save!
  • Give a handmade gift… like a candleholder made from a glass jar or a pen holder from a can.    Get creative, use recycled materials and remnants… you’re creative, so CREATE!
  • Give something that can be used. If the recipient won’t use it, it’s waste.  Sounds harsh, but    it’s true.

Still not finding something that feels like “the one”?  Well, there are still lots more ways to “give back” and give the gift of green.  Please consider:

  • Change the Present – you can contribute and honor someone by helping to restore a fragile ecosystem in Kenya, purchase carbon offsets, plant trees, preserve wildlands, adopt wildlife or any one of about 1600 causes of your choice!

And if you feel you need to give a more traditional gift, at least check out:

  • Treehugger Holiday Gift Guide – for over 100 green gift ideas, from gadgets to fashions to toys
  • MSN Green – everything under the sun, including a terrific list of 25 great green gifts under $25

Is your head spinning?  Well, just grab that “to do” gift list and look no further for answers… I hope I’ve given you everything you need to cross off the entire list.

(frame image from:  www.kidsartframes.com )

The “clean 15”: Skip the organics? Yep… skip ‘em!

Last month I posted about the nasty “dirty dozen” – the 12 produce items that are most likely to hang onto pesticides after harvest.  (yea. ewww… dirty produce with chemicals.)  Those are the ones you WANT to buy organic.

Well, I had some readers ask me about the other side of the story. Are there items that we DON’T need to buy organic?  Well, you bet there are!  For some produce there isn’t an advantage to using pesticides because the bugs and critters don’t like them or tough outer skins make them too much of a challenge.  Even when not organically grown, they consistently test negative for pesticides, year after year.

So, with the holidays around the corner, maybe you’ll be entertaining, taking a potluck dish somewhere or you’re just keeping an eye on your grocery store budget (aren’t we all!).  So let me not deprive you of some more great info and give you the low-down on the ones that To Buy or Not To Buy Organics dubs its “clean fifteen” (the “DON’T” bother buying these organics list):

–    Asparagus         –    Mango
–    Avocados          –    Onions
–    Bananas            –    Papaya
–    Blueberries         –    Pineapple
–    Broccoli             –    Shelling peas
–    Cabbage            –    Sweet corn
–    Garlic                –    Watermelon
–    Kiwi

Next time you’re at the grocery store (and many of us will be, since we don’t have access to locally grown produce this time of year!) put your cart in high gear and drive right out of the organics section for this produce…

And feel grateful for the “picky”, “lazy” bugs that just have no interest in bugging some of our favorite produce.

Chestnuts roasting on a “wax cardboard waste” fire…

Okay… so it doesn’t quite flow as smoooothly as the original song lyrics, but I happen to love when unrecyclable materials get turned into usable products (don’t you?!?) … and Terracycle is at it once again, just in time for chestnuts.

They’re turning unrecyclable wax cardboard waste (from produce boxes) into fire starter logs for a great eco-alternative to typical starter logs (that are often filled with chemical binders and fuels!).  The cardboard is shredded, heated and compressed into shape and voila… starter log!  No unwanted (despised) chemicals added!  Just 100% wax cardboard waste.  They burn clean and easy, and most importantly, they keep tons and tons of waste out of landfills.  Find them at Target, strike a match and grab the egg nog!

And what fireplace would be complete without “stockings hung by the chimney with care”?  Well, Terracycle is even making recycled stockings and tree skirts from drink pouches!  Those crazy Terracyclers!… they keep coming up with more and more cool stuff.  They’re really cute and perfect for brightening up your holiday décor the green way!  Find them exclusively online at Home Depot.  The stockings might even make a great gift for the drink pouch junkie in your life!

But sincerely, what better way to continue your pursuit of “going green” than having Santa place your loot under a tree or in a stocking that is essentially helping to make sure his happy home stays nice and frozen?… just make sure that fire log is out before his arrival!… ouch!  No “roasted Santa”, please!

Gift guide: Green gifts that REALLY give back

My least favorite part of the holidays has to be the stress over what to “give”.  I am hard pressed to know anyone who really NEEDS anything.  We’re all pretty fortunate and for that, I am definitely not complaining.

Are you having gift-giving dilemmas too?  (I think the sound of a huge “yes” was probably deafening!) Well, here are a few miscellaneous items that I have given kudos recently, including:

  • The “Starter Kit for Change” – packed full of great green goodies for yourself, the earth-lover in your life or to help a newbie get started (and they’re havin’ a holiday sale!)
  • Cynergreen Bottles – fab, affordable bottles to keep the BPA away from loved ones
  • Movies Wall-e (for kids), An Inconvenient Truth (for adults) and Planet Earth (for the whole family)
  • Memberships – to environmental organizations, zoos, botanical gardens, etc…
  • Any kind of reusable bag

But I also firmly believe that the recipients of gifts don’t always need a tangible gift.  I would much rather know that my gift was a gift of “doing good” for the earth and environment.  Do you know someone like this?  If so, this list may be for you, for them, for our planet!

Also consider THESE amazing gifts:

(If you have a similar cause that is near and dear to your heart, let me know… I’ll add it to the list.)

So this year, consider forgoing that purchase of a socket set (he has six already) or that body & bath set (she has six already) or that sausage sampler basket (the whole family hates sausage).  Instead, give the gift of “green”, “environment”, “eco-“, “earth”, “nature”… call it what you will… just consider it…

Our planet needs gifts more than we do.

The red and GREEN of holiday partyin’!

I love holiday parties. Okay, I love parties for any occasion, but ’tis the season for holiday parties, so we’ll stick with that as my excuse for loving parties.

The unfortunate part is that parties are often an occasion for over-abundance and waste.  (Also an occasion for over-indulgence, but that’s another topic completely!)  But it shouldn’t be an occasion that makes you feel guilty or stressed out for fear that a great celebration has to be completely eco-unfriendly.

There ARE some simple ways to “green” your holiday party:

  • Try evites or create your own electronic invitations instead of mailing the paper store-bought version.  Sure, you might have a few guests who aren’t email users, but where you can minimize… minimize!  For guests, requiring mailed invitations consider using last year’s holiday cards and turn the front of the card into a postcard.  Too cute!
  • Decorate using live plants and maybe even give them to guests at the end of the night.  Toss pine cones or evergreen clippings from your yard (or your neighbors!) into a bunch of beautiful bowls or vases you already own.
  • Turn off an excess of lights.  Blaze up the soy candles. It creates great ambiance.
  • Turn down the thermostat. Bodies = heat!
  • Consider buying biodegradable and/or compostable tablewareEco Products offers a variety of tableware made from corn, sugarcane and paper.  Or check out Verterra for tableware with some real character – made of leaves!  (Crazy, huh?… but very beautiful!) If you’re a Captain Moneybags, rent real tableware and utensils… not in my budget, but maybe someday!
  • Hit a dollar store for linens.  I bought four cloth napkins for a buck!  Skip the poinsettia print.  Pick flat colors so they can be used for many other occasions.
  • Set up a receptacle for recycling. Clearly mark it and ask everyone to jump on board.
  • Set up a numbering system where only “every fourth guest” who uses the bathroom flushes.  Haahaa!  Obviously, this one is just a joke!  I’m not that crazy!

Sincerely, just do the best you can.  It’s a time to celebrate being with the people you care about and if you’re doing the best you can do, you’re doing great!  Every little thing matters.

And really… stop considering that numbering system… it was a joke… a JOKE!