There's a lot of great information in this post and I encourage you to read through it ... however, if you don't have the time right now, you might find the following quick-click links helpful:
Last week we challenged ourselves to start thinking about Eco-friendly gift giving. What a fun week! As always, the readers of this blog rose to the occassion and offered a variety of terrific ideas. You might want to bookmark this post for future reference ... your ideas are just THAT good!
The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing a post about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments. Let's see what they had to say this week:
One of the more unique gift ideas that I received this week came from Catalog Choice, one of my favorite sites for eliminating junk mail from your mailbox. They have always offered a free title-specific opt-out service ... basically one manually types in relevant information from a catalog or advertisement and then, like magic, Catalog Choice gets your name off the mailing list. Now they are offering a subscription service ... they work on a client's behalf to remove personal information from third party marketing lists and personal search services. How does this tie in with green gift giving? They have arranged it so that we can give the "gift of less" to our friends and family for a modest donation. If you're as intrigued as I was, click HERE for more information.
EcoGrrl says that when she gives gifts, she prefers to give her time or an experience. In her words, "When my friends have birthdays I rarely think "what doodad can I buy them?" - instead it's 'how can I make them feel good?' - is it a massage? a night out? babysit? go to the park? people still get me stuff occasionally, but i remember their time more. ... let's help each other see that there's more besides 'stuff', more besides tradition for tradition's sake, and give when it's in your heart, not because a calendar tells you, and give of your time."
Ilhami Uyar stopped by. He likes the ideas shared and says that we must guard the environment and the world.
Rachel has a blog called Growing Things and Making Things so you know she has some good ideas. Here's what she had to say, "...much as I hate thinking about Christmas too much in advance, I find that some "green" gifts take a lot of advance planning. For example, this year I'll be giving my mother in law a cutting from a lavender bush that I took over a year ago. OK I didn't really plan that far ahead - I took more cuttings than I needed in case some didn't take, then ended up with spare plants, which are now established and flowering. In general, I think that giving consumable presents are a good way of avoiding the accumulation of stuff. I give homemade sweets, jam, wine, soap and moisturizer. I also like the idea of flavoured oils and vinegar, but the people I give to probably wouldn't appreciate those."
In this POST Argentum Vulgaris shares his ideas for "green" gift giving including some ideas for reusing computer components. Very clever! He also wrote this ARTICLE about how our mailboxes are full of wrapping paper. Thanks, AV!
Betty Manousos stopped by! Nice to see you, Betty!
Teresa shared a link to Stoney Mountain Farm, a North Carolina farm which preserves the ways of the past while honoring Mother Nature. They sell Eco-friendly products such as wool dryer balls and cat toys. Thanks, T! By the way ... I happen to know that Teresa makes and sells jewelry. Many of her pieces are made with recycled materials ... all of them are gorgeous. So, click on her name and you'll find her shops listed in the side bar.
If you'd rather make your own wool dryer balls to give as gifts, check out this ARTICLE where Alicia shares detailed instructions. You might remember from a previous challenge that Alicia finds materials for her dryer balls at Goodwill. These aren't the only "green" gifts she comes up with ... in her words, "Since Christmas is the Celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we have always taught our children that gifts from the heart are the best ones. We all love to bake so each year we will bake lots of different things and then use recycled materials for the gift wrap. This past year our son went into the woods behind our house and collected grape vines and we made some really cute baskets to put the goodies in. I also have used Christmas table cloths and napkins to make super cute gift bags. I know that technically giving baked items is not considered a green gift but most people like food so it doesn't go to waste and there is no wrapping paper to throw away and the bag or basket can be reused. I am doing a post on this next month because it is amazing the amount of wrapping paper that goes into the landfills during the holidays!" And don't forget that Alicia makes and sells "green" soaps, lotions, lip balms, etc. You'll find a link to her store in the upper right corner of her blog.
The Accessory Lady shared some great ideas. In her words, "I've found that I get the biggest smiles from handcrafted or handmade gifts, and I took it one step further one year and I made green personal care and home product: Laundry detergent, body soap, hand soap, home sprays, etc. I put them in sanitized glass food jars that would have gone to recycling and decorated them. They were a hit and most of the recipes were easy, inexpensive and can be found all over the net. If you don't have time to make them yourself, their are literally thousands handmade/crafted independent merchants that would be so thrilled for your business this holiday season. You can find them on Etsy, Artfire, Storenvy.com & bigcartel.com . They are very good about posting detailed ingredients too. I better get working on this so that I'll have my batch ready for the Holidays! :) " The Accessory Lady is an artisan herself ... she makes lovely items, using Eco-friendly materials. Here's a sample of what you'll find in her shop: Terrestre Organic Cotton Beige Bracelet.
Jennifer is busy making gifts this year. Here's what she has to say "I really like the idea of giving service-based gifts, like gift certificates to a local massage therapist, tickets to an event, or registration for a special class or workshop. After a certain point in our lives (gosh, I sound old), we have just about everything we need and want, so it's silly to keep spending money on things. When I do give physical presents now, they tend to be handmade (usually by me!) or antique, so I'm not supporting big corporations with dubious ethics. This time of year, I'm busy making dainty ceramic mugs at the pottery studio and am thinking of trying to make homemade caramels or truffles to fill them with."
Kris wrote this POST where she talks about a very unique gift that she makes. I haven't seen her idea in any of the other suggestions and it's not only very clever, it's a gift that totally pleases the lucky people who receive it. Thanks, Kris!
With a blog named "Green GiftsGuide.Com", you know that Amity has a LOT of ideas for us. Here's her formula for Eco-friendly gift giving: ADD A LITTLE THOUGHT TO YOUR HOLIDAY GIFT LIST. Mix in THE 2011 ETHICAL HOLIDAY SHOPPING GUIDE. Take the finished product and WRAP IT GREEN. Nice!
Mrs. Green suggested this challenge because ... well ... she has a dilema which I'm guessing many parents face. Has she come up with the solution? Click HERE to find out.
Ange makes earth-friendly gifts for the people on her list and likes the idea of giving a pretty homemade vouchers for a unique service such as a week's ironing or housework, or babysitting for a tired mother. Children, including her own, are more difficult when it comes to "green" gifts. In her words, "With the 'outside influence' even though they are homeschooled, it's not easy. They are quite happy however getting something that's not 'new' so I spend a bit of time in advance hunting through flea markets and 'brocantes' here in France for things that are pre-loved but still in great condition that they might like, if only for stocking fillers. We also have a tendency to buy group or useful presents for Christmas like a trampoline for all one year for example. We encourage the kids to make gifts for their friends and our family with all the stuff I have a tendency to hoard for a 'rainy creative day.' Don't forget to donate toys and games your kids don't use any more to Good will. Our kids love sorting through their things so they can give something in great condition to children less fortunate than themselves. It also encourages healthy 'decluttering' at a younger age :)" If you're looking for a truly unique gift to purchase, check out Ange's shop Signed By Ange. Using words and recycled materials, she creates beautiful home decor.
Our twitter friend, @peopletowels ... a regular challenge participant, sells Eco-friendly towels. And get this, they sell packs that support other great causes like The Breast Cancer Fund. Hm ... a gift that truly gives ... and gives back. Check them out HERE.
Twitter was buzzing with great ideas this week:
From Melanie (aka @mom2tle): Not sure if this counts as green, but we often give as their holiday gift donations to causes in honor of the person
From Gwen (aka @gwened02): me & @liliacangel are doing a 2 day course called "gifts from my kitchen" hope to create Eco friendly gifts on 26th nov
From April (aka @pinkladyapril): Eco gifts. I make a large Xmas cake & cut into mini ones for gifts. Have also made plum jam (from plums I was given)
From Josefin (aka @GaiaPerspective): It feels almost like an obligation to give unnecessary gifts for x-mas. Usually I ask what ppl want, to make sure it'll be appreciated. We can re-give things that we have no use for anymore and reuse wrapping paper from last year. An experience like a consert or a day at the carnival can be a fun and memorable gift as well.
From Ethical Deal (aka @ethicaldeal): Noticed today's #CTWW is #green #gifts! Check out ethicalDeal.com for more green gift ideas!
From Harold Shaw (aka @haroldshawjr): We plan to not use wrapping paper but instead Sunday comics/newspaper and paper bags, then either recycle/fire starter.
From Tanya (aka @pfwoman): Agree, I try really hard to get what they want/need. I'd like to do more home-made this year.
Many people have said that gifts for kids are a problem. Tiffany has solved that problem: "I love making gifts, especially when it comes to the kids. SO have your kids make something like a mug, t-shirt, picture frame or some other cool decorative item to give as a gift. My sons, tristin and tyler love drawing so they make pictures and then make frames out of recycled materials and decorate the frames!" Hey Tiffany, what kinds of things do you make for the boys?
Mean Joe Green likes to give gift certificates to Eco-friendly restaurants to his friends and family. And to make the experience even more "green", he suggests biking to dinner. Have you browsed Joe's blog lately? Well, he's the creator of Eco-friendly cartoons ... but that's not all ... he writes children's poetry and sells art. I'm guessing it's all Eco-friendly and would make a wonderful gift for someone on your list.
Amy (aka NonMom) stopped by with some ideas: "I made my own lavendar and vanilla bath salts and packaged them up nicely too. I also crochet gifts for friends and family. I figure this way there's less drives to the store and I know what I'm getting and sending out and what the ingredients are. Other ideas are giving home baking...again, homemade always has better ingredients."
What is one of Stephanie's all time favorite and most memorable gifts? It's a good one which you can read about in this POST. She has other ideas, as well, including giving tickets to an event. But here's the truly fascinating part of her post ... green gifts that are waste-free. Wow! Be sure to stop by and see what she has to say about that! Thanks, Stephanie!
Joanne sent in a ton of great links to Eco-friendly sites for us to consider:
Wowee! Don't forget that Joanne offers very "green" gifts on her site ... just click on her name above.
Michele stopped by with some nice ideas: "I love to give baked goods as well. I do all my baking vegan & use organic ingredients, so I feel like that is more eco-friendly then buying some other gifts. My brother always likes to get music and books, but he has a Kindle and an Ipod now so I can buy the downloadable versions. I also like the idea of giving an experience, like a gift card to a spa or tickets to the theater." Be sure to stop by on Friday because Michele is going to be our "Guest Chef" and the recipe she'll be sharing is a winner!
Katie has several great ideas about gifts and wrapping. You'll find them in this POST. One of her suggestions is to add "bonus" eco-friendly gifts. Curious about that? Head on over to read all about it!
Tiffany makes truly unique green eco-chic jewelry ... they are beautiful (I know because I'm a proud owner of several pieces). But she's focusing on how to give them with no waste. She wrote this ARTICLE about creating a new, better way to give during the holidays. Be sure to check out Tiffany's shop ... you'll find a link on her blog.
Nicki Woo plans to give her neighbors Eco-friendly and conscious gifts ... gifts that will feed their tummies as well as their spirits. Her lucky neighbors will get homemade canned fruit and homemade granola .... mmm, makes me wish I were one of her neighbors. :-) Nicki also left a comment about our pet challenge ... her daughter decided to use their dog in her science experiment (no animals were hurt in this project). She is experimenting with various dog foods to find out which food gives her dog more fuel (fuel as in usable energy vs. empty calories). So far they've discovered that foods made primarily out of meat are better ... and foods made out of grains and fillers aren't. She promises to come back when the project is complete and let us know her daughter's findings.
Ann stopped in and, regarding our pet challenge, says that she's going to begin making dog treats. Yay!
Also from our challenge on pets, Lynn writes this ARTICLE. In it you'll find tightrope walking, tutus and fish. Oh you know you want to read it!
And, Miss T says "For Jennifer who is wondering about the catfood, if it is of any comfort to her, I have read that pets do a lot better on this kind of diet- raw meat. Apparently it works well for dogs too. They are much healthier as a result of it so making an effort to feed them this way as local as she can is well worth it."
The #CTWW Gang are those folks who share our challenges on twitter using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I highly recommend following them ... they have a lot of great things to say. Let's meet them:
My final thoughts: I recently read that a gift can refer to anything that makes the other happier or less sad. It can be something we buy or something we make ... it can be an experience or simply our time. There is another definition that I particularly like ... a gift can be a favor, forgiveness, appreciation, kindness or simply wishing the best for another. A gift is freely given without expectation. Most people will say that the true meaning of gift giving (whether it's for Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays or Halloween) has become too commercial. Given all that, it hardly seems fair to give gifts that hurt our environment. Imagine what our world would be like if we made this one small change ... if every gift we give pleases the recipient and is kind to the earth.
Great job, everyone! If you wrote an article, I have Stumbled, Tweeted and Facebooked it. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share feature at the bottom of this post.
This Week's Challenge:
Are you up for TWO challenges this week? We're going to start a month-long challenge suggested by Mrs. Green and a week-long challenge suggested by EcoGrrl. Here you go:
MONTH-LONG CHALLENGE: This month make note of the electricity (Kilowatts) used in your home (find this number on your electric bill, by reading the meter, by using a home electricity monitor, etc.). Then, spend one month reducing that number by 10%. In December we'll come back and report on our success including the actions we've taken to reduce our usage.
WEEK-LONG CHALLENGE: This week, eat Vegan for one entire day. That means, for one entire day eat only plant-based foods ... no meat, poultry, fish, dairy, etc.
If you eat a Vegan diet every day, we'd like to benefit from your experience so please share tips, ideas, recipes, etc.
If you eat a Vegan diet every day, we'd like to benefit from your experience so please share tips, ideas, recipes, etc.
So ... we're going to be busy with these challenges. What fun!!
WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!