Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

The 2015 Eco-Friendly Christmas Gift Guide!

The holidays are a great time to give your loved ones sustainable and eco-friendly gifts, and the best part is that they don't have to scream "eco-friendly". But with all the options out there on the Interwebz and in local shops, it can be overwhelming. What do these green labels all mean and how does it make an item eco-friendly?

Scarf: Ten Thousand Villages | Glass Set: Bambeco | Pouch: Gaia Empowered Women | Necklace and Cufflinks: Secondline Jewels | Blanket: Bambeco
Necklace: Mimosa | Bottle: Klean Kanteen | Chocolate: Alter Eco and Green & Black's | Phone Case: Charity:Water

Fair-trade

Fair-trade goods are made by workers who are paid fair prices and work in better conditions. Many times goods are produced with eco-friendly methods as well. The goal is to help producers in developing countries to get a fair price for their products to reduce poverty, provide for the ethical treatment of workers and farmers, and promote environmentally sustainable practices. Buying fair-trade goods support workers in developing countries much more than conventional goods.

In the gift guide, the scarf and pouch are produced under fair-trade standards, and each company's website highlights the artisan who worked on the product. The Ten Thousand Villages scarf was made by a member of the Phontong Handicrafts Collective in Laos, and the Gaia pouch was made by resettled refugess in Dallas, Texas.

Organic

Organic items are produced without chemicals. For example, an organic cotton t-shirt means the cotton was grown and farmed without the use of pesticides. Choosing chemical-free has many benefits for your health, your children and the environment.

One of my favorite organic products is dark chocolate, which I wrote more about this past Valentine's Day. The ones shown above from Alter Eco and Green & Black's. Many times, but not always, the chocolate is produced fair-trade as well. I swear it just tastes that much better, and dark chocolate is totally good for you.

Recycled

Easily enough, these gifts contain recycled material. By checking the tag or description, you can see if an item was made with pre-consumer recycled material, which is what's salvaged in production before a product is distributed. Post-consumer recycled material is what's made from items you throw into your recycling bin.

Upcycling is a form of recycling where the new product is better or more creative than its original version. Hipcycle shares some creative infographics on the difference from recycling to upcycling. Upcycled products make great gifts!

In the gift guide, the gorgeous set of glassware from Bambeco is made with recycled glass. Can't even tell, can ya, Russ?

The necklace and cufflinks from Secondline Jewels are upcycled from a surprising material: Old and broken drum cymbals! They also lead into the next category...

Upcycling is the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful. - See more at: http://hipcycle.com/what-is-upcycling#sthash.LVP8zOox.dpuf

Handmade

Both the drum cymbal jewelry and the Mimosa necklace are handmade by Louisiana crafters. (Awesome ones you should follow on Instagram, by the way...)

Handmade goods make awesome gifts because of their uniqueness and heart. I tend to feel a more personal connection with handmade goods because I know someone really spent time and effort into making them. You can usually buy direct from the maker, or you can find great handmade goods in locally owned shops, which benefits even more people in the community.

Reusable

You know I HAD to throw a Klean Kanteen in the mix, right? Reusable items are just that - things not meant to be thrown away after one or two uses. Help someone get started on the reusable path by gifting them a water bottle, coffee mug, or even coffee filters or K-Cups.

Charitable

Charitable gifts can go two ways: tangible and intangible. Many charities have online shops where you can find gifts, and proceeds go toward funding the charity. Or you can simply make a donation in someone's name, without getting anything in return (except for your receipt for tax purposes, amiright!?)

Charity:Water has a big store with related products and all proceeds fund their clean water projects. The World Wildlife Fund has a variety of gifts you can choose when you make a donation. By giving a charitable gift for the holidays, you're really giving twice!

Last week's Eco Cajun post on Giving Tuesday can guide you toward more ideas for giving.

Sustainable

Sustainable materials are ones that leave a smaller impact on the environment, from requiring fewer chemicals or natural resources during production, to replenishing itself quicker.

Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world, and can be used in SO many different ways (literally from super-soft t-shirts to very strong flooring and construction material.)

Wool is an all-natural, renewable fiber from sheep, has a long lifespan, is one of the most recycled textiles, and is biodegradable. The featured wool blanket from Bambeco looks so warm and cozy, and it's beautiful to boot!

Cork trees are not cut down when cork is harvested; the bark is simply stripped from the tree. The tree is also able to regenerate its bark during its lifespan. Cork is used for bottle stoppers (get me a recycled-glass bottle of sustainably harvested wine with a cork stopper and I will be a happy girl!), flooring and insulation.

Shopping Guide

Now that you've got the rundown and possibly some ideas for Mom, Dad, your sister-in-law, or the office White Elephant game, here are some places where you can start browsing!

Online


In-Store


Local


Come back tomorrow for some tips on how you can wrap all your gifts without creating a mountain of trash!

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