20 Eco-Friendly Gifts Under $25
Here's my list of 20 gifts that tread lightly on the earth and, at under $25, are also kind to your wallet. These items are beautiful, functional and made by really incredible people. Share the love.
Eco-friendly home goods
World of Good is another great resource for eco-friendly, people-friendly goods. The portal aggregates values-based sellers and buyers and lets you search for stuff based on attributes like being people positive, eco positive, animal friendly and supporting a cause.
Chocolates, shortbreads and more
Of course, a girl can't live on chocolate alone. That's why there's shortbread. I discovered Bramblewood Shortbread at the incredible Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis. Amy Goetz uses her grandmother's recipe and makes an incredible array of shortbreads and caramels. The website says, "Sharing is optional." Indeed.
Food is love and can be used to show your affection for your self and others as well as your appreciation for the preservation of food cultures and traditions. The White Earth Land Recovery Project works to preserve traditional foods and indigenous cultures in the United States through the sales of wild rice, hominy, maple syrup and jellies. Heritage Foods USA sells food raised on small farms that are in danger of being phased out. Their motto is: "If we want to save them, we must eat them!" Fledgling Wine uses wine as a vehicle for educational empowerment. Proceeds from sales of its California blends benefit Room to Read, a nonprofit dedicated to establishing libraries, creating local language children's literature, constructing schools and providing education to girls.
A portal for earth-friendly, handmade goods
I also dig the artisan outlet 1000 Markets. Stunning leather fringe earrings from Lynore Store are made with materials designer Lynore Routte sources from her own clothing, finds in thrift shops or reclaims from the fashion industry. Dwell magazine editor Sarah Rich turned me on to handmade prints created by independent designers in San Francisco on sustainably grown, chemical-free maple.
If you are crafty enough to DIY, here is a great guide. Crafted By Us teaches you how to make your own duct tape purse, among other things. If you covet the purse (like me) but have no crafty inclinations, KMC designs has really well-made duct tape clutches, wallets and bags that I would go so far as to call elegant.
Tom Bihn adopts the same kind of sustainable philosophy, and its cork pouches help make my dream of organization a reality. The cork fabric is harvested from the cork oak tree by peeling the bark, not chopping down the tree. I love the look and the insanely smart design of their products (that let you see the contents of your bag and protect the items you love). They also have a great cork bag for your Kindle.
Books that make a difference to those who need it most
Donations to nonprofits that you find inspiring are my favorite gifts. There are so many groups that could use your support, and it feels great to customize donations for beloved friends around issues they care about. In the spirit of creating a healthy home, I highly recommend donations to Environmental Working Group and the Ecology Center, both dedicated to educating the public about toxins in everything from toys to beauty products and empowering us to make the best consumer choices we can.
Knowledge: There's an app for that!
The Environmental Protection Agency has found that indoor air can be twice as polluted as outside air is, in part because of the products we use inside our homes. (You can learn more about this in my earlier post on volatile organic compounds in floor finishes and paints.) The Food and Drug Administration doesn't require companies to divulge contents of household cleaning products, but businesses are increasingly making the voluntary decision to do so. That said, who among us really knows the difference between the ingredients sodium chloride (table salt) and sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach)? The What's Inside app breaks this information down in language we can all understand. The Good Guide mobile application, which I am just starting to play around with, offers a fairly comprehensive rating system for over 70,000 food, toys, personal care and household products based on various environmental, social and health attributes.
(If you're like me—chatting on your phone in subzero weather conditions—take a look at these Freehands gloves created by Coolhunting founder Josh Rubin. Little flip back caps on the thumb and index fingers let you text, dial and take photos without removing your gloves. They are not a green item—hence the parenthesis—but I am campaigning for an eco-friendly version in 2010.)
Furry friends for little ones
The other little loved ones worthy of organic love are your furry babies. I am a sucker for organic cotton fleece, dye-free cat toys stuffed with organic catnip. Purrfect Play also has sweet eco-gifts for dogs and people (cat-shaped soaps or dog-shaped earrings, anyone?).
Perfect present for the home improvement lover
Mortite rope caulk is rolled putty that can be pressed around the edges of your windows to reduce drafts and seal out any critters you don't want joining you for the holidays. It is so easy (and fun) to use and gives you the instant gratification of sealing air leaks. I am not usually one to hawk products, but allow me to get specific: The hardware private label brand was thin, crumbly and assured to leave me with a big mess. Mortite is kind of gooey and lifts off easily. Look for that brand in your local hardware store.
The best gift you can give
You can see other geeky home things I covet on my Twitter feed.
Happy belated Eid and Diwali, glorious Hanukkah, blessed Kwanzaa and merriest Christmas. Here's wishing you a breathtaking 2010.