It’s hard to imagine that the holidays are coming up just around the corner. Days go by pretty fast once you celebrate Halloween and then it’s the new year. And I personally can’t believe that it’s almost the end of the year 2010! Seems like we just celebrated New Year’s Eve. And each year I tell myself, “okay, I gotta start shopping early for Christmas gifts “, and ofcourse each year, I wait until pretty much the last minute to do all of my Christmas shopping. I try to stay within budget but that isn’t always easy, but this year I am going to make sure we stay within our budget with gifts that have more meaning in personal value rather than monetary value. Yeah right – I bet my son will have a thing or two to say about that! But this is also a great time for me to teach him more about the meaning of giving rather than receiving. It’s pretty hard for toddlers or young kids to understand that concept, so when he and I go shopping together, it would be a great opportunity for me to teach him that – and ofcourse, I’m sure I’ll learn something new from him as well.
When it comes to holiday gift giving, the sky’s the limit. The gamut can run from very inexpensive homemade cookies to million-dollar mansions (okay, that’s very rare but I’m sure some people out there can afford to do this). And nowadays, you can buy pretty much anything online since it’s less cost-effective for companies to sell products online. But if you’re in the market to look for eco-friendly gifts this year, here is my compilation from research and personal preference.
– Gift Cards: gift cards are great because the recipient can buy anything he/she wants and probably won’t end up returning the product since they chose it themselves. WHY IT’S ECO-FRIENDLY: if you know someone who loves music, instead of buying CDs and DVDs, they can download music from stores such as Amazon.com and Walmart.com. This will save the planet from manufacturing and using a lot of plastic. For book lovers, they can download books to their e-book reader or computer.
– Organic clothing: there are definitely more organic clothing out on the market lately due to worldwide knowledge of the importance of organic and natural products. Some great eco-friendly sites for organic and natural children’s clothing are http://www.organicallygrowngroup.com/, http://www.taggies.com/, http://www.katequinnorganics.com/, Gerber, Mini-Wear, and even stores such as Nordstrom, The Gap, and The Children’s Place sell organic clothing and accessories for kids. WHY IT’S ECO-FRIENDLY: clothing made from organic cotton are safer and healthier for children and for the planet and they are usually made from sustainably-grown cotton farms in the U.S. They are also usually not dyed artificially if at all and they are so much more comfortable than non-organic clothing.
– Organic Toys: organic toys are usually free of artificial colors and synthetic components. They are usually made from sustainably-made bamboo because bamboo can grow super fast and abundantly. Sites such as Nubius Organics makes a great assortment of toys for children and young teens http://www.nubiusorganics.com , and Toys R Us http://toysrus.com, and BacktoBasics http://www.backtobasicstoys.com/, and also check out your local bookstores as well since they also sell organic and naturally-made toys. WHY IT’S ECO-FRIENDLY: organic toys are made from sustainable products and are usually certified to use renewable resources responsibly. Toys are also one of the biggest industry that uses the most plastic so you can help reduce your carbon footprint by buying organic and all-natural toys.
– Books: books are great for both kids and adults because they contain useful information to entertain and educate and they can be kept around for many years with great care. WHY IT’S ECO-FRIENDLY: okay, this is a bit tough because although books are made from trees and trees are such a precious resource, I’d suggest buying books from publishers who uses renewable and recyclable paper and soy ink. You can usually tell if the book is made from soy ink or recycled material by looking at the back cover where a symbol will usually be displayed. But since books can be kept for a very long time and you can read them over and over again, they make great gifts for people of all ages.
– Organic Chocolate: who doesn’t like chocolate? Chocolates can be enjoyed by itself or used as a cooking ingredient. And if you buy chocolates that are at least 50% cacao then you’ll obtain health benefits from it as well. And they make great gifts for practically everyone and are easily found in virtually everywhere (stores and online). WHY IT’S ECO-FRIENDLY: chocolates made with organic cacao beans ensure that they are not made from cacao trees sprayed with chemical pesticides or herbicides. They are also often purchased from responsible farmers and you’re also helping the economic growth of most of these countries where cacao trees are grown. Good brands to try are Newman’s Own Organics, Dagoba Chocolates, and Endangered Species.
– Gift Baskets: gift baskets can be handmade or store-bought. They can contain almost anything your imagination allows you as long as it’s fitting for the recipient. They can be personal or for businesses and they can be in any size. For great gift basket ideas, try Harry and David, Red Envelope, and 1-800 Flowers. To make your own gift baskets from scratch, purchase baskets from craft supply stores since they have the most selection. WHY IT’S ECO-FRIENDLY: gift baskets are like a gift-in-one where you can put anything you’d like in it (as long as it fits inside the basket). Plus if you pick out a really pretty basket and decorate it beautifully, your recipient will most likely keep it and repurpose it.
– Solar Powered Gifts: there are quite a lot of great gadgets that uses solar energy to power up. Why pay for energy when it’s always around you and free? Like Superman, the sun is a very powerful source of energy and you can gain the benefits of the sun whenever possible. Such gadgets out on the market today that uses solar energy are: solar powered bluetooth headset, solar powered radio, solar powered bluetooth for the car, solar powered lamps, and even solar powered toys. One great site for an assortment of solar powered gifts is http://www.livecofriendly.com/ .WHY IT’S ECO-FRIENDLY: this is pretty self-explanatory – solar is free energy and powered by the great Sun so you’re not using electricity that can cause potential harm to the health and to the environment.
– Bath products and beauty supplies: there are so many choices when it comes to buying bath products and beauty supplies but if you want to go the environmentally friendly route, then you’re best bet is to buy products that uses only natural ingredients and organic ingredients. Many companies such as Eco Lips, Toms of Maine, Origins Organics, Alba Organics, and Juice Beauty are just a few of the many companies who refrains from using artificial and synthetic ingredients. They also use sustainable ingredients and recyclable packaging materials. WHY IT’S ECO-FRIENDLY: organic and all-natural beauty products do not contain toxic chemicals which can harm the precious eco system. They are also safer to use on your body and face because products used on your body and face can seep into your pores and into your system.
– Homemade and handmade gifts: a gift that’s personally made can help your recipient feel extra special. When you put a lot of care into the homemade gifts, they will most likely be enjoyed to its fullest and will stay in their fondest memories forever. Gifts that are personally made by you can be given to kids and adults, boys and girls so it works for everyone. And if you put extra thought into what the recipient likes, it will have even more meaning. Homemade gifts can be anything such as cookies, candies, brownies, etc. and handmade gifts can be scarves, hats, notecards, etc. Let your creative imagination go wild! WHY IT’S ECO-FRIENDLY: you can buy organic ingredients for cooking and organic and natural materials for handmade gifts. Your recipients will love that they are toxic-free!
– Donating your time: if you know elderly people who don’t have relatives close by or someone who needs help with the gardening or doing the laundry, then donating your time to help those who need some help during the holidays or any time of the year is a great gift. Even teenagers can use some extra help aside from their family such as tutoring or driving them to locations when their parents are busy. Even mentoring a child is a welcomed donation. Pet sitting is also a great gift for owners who are traveling and don’t want to leave their pets in kennels. WHY IT’S ECO-FRIENDLY: when you donate your time, you’re not buying anything that could potentially end up being junk in someone’s house. Junk gets thrown away and therefore becomes a waste.
So there you have it. Those are my ideas for wonderful and useful eco-friendly gifts for the holidays. Of course they’re not limited to just the holidays – birthdays, thanks-you’s, and anniversaries are also perfect times to give and receive earth-friendly gifts.
This year I’m going to try and make batches of sweets to give as gifts and I’m definitely going to up my supply of eco-friendly toys and gifts for children. The kids won’t know the difference when it comes to playing with them, but you’re helping them breathe in less toxic materials from their favorite toys.