Choose Green: Eco-Friendly Holiday Surprises

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In the quest for the perfect gift this holiday season, it makes sense to search out what will be appreciated by the recipient not only for its unique qualities, but also for its eco-friendly and sustainable attributes.

We’ve looked at a plethora of green choices and narrowed it down to a few suggestions and ideas for all gift-givers.

Greenery is Green
In one visit to your local garden shop, you might be able to satisfy a large portion of your gift list! A pretty pot with a colorful orchid, a dish garden, a lush wreath (possibly already decorated!) or a seasonal red or white poinsettia are appropriate for many situations.

If you started rooting cuttings in September, your greenery is ready to be potted. Perfect for this are variegated pothos, creeping jenny, most ivies, tradescantia or begonias. A pretty pot, good quality potting soil and a colorful bow create a sweet and thoughtful gift.

More green that looks forward to January or February is a bag of bulbs–amaryllis or paperwhite narcissus–accompanied by a pretty glass forcing jar. The amaryllis will grow to provide color, the narcissus will provide fragrance, and both are welcome during dark winter months.

Sweet Fragrance
We’ve discussed ways to repurpose our wine bottles, but Rewined Candles in Charleston, South Carolina, takes reuse and recycle a step beyond. This small business makes 1,400 premium soy wax candles daily in fragrances that echo favorite wine varietals. Rosé, for example, contains aromas of lush red fruit, rose petal, white peach and pink peppercorn. New offerings include cocktail scents such as Cosmopolitan and Manhattan.

Beeswax is made from the nectar of flowers by industrious honeybees, infusing Big Dipper Wax Works pure beeswax pillar candles with a natural, subtle honey fragrance. These candles are all natural and free of paraffin, with wicks made from 100% cotton. Beeswax is a renewable resource that cleans the air by emitting purifying negative ions; Big Dipper uses locally sourced beeswax and pure essential oils, and it packages with post-consumer recycled paper products and soy-based inks.

Light It Up
The Little Sun solar lamp, designed by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen, features the world’s most efficient solar cell and has an attractive, sunny design. Five hours of charging in the sun produces ten hours of soft light or four hours of bright light. The nonprofit is socially responsible as well; the website says, “Every Little Sun sold in an area of the world with electricity enables us to deliver one Little Sun to an off-grid African community at a locally affordable price.” It’s also a great way to introduce kids to the concept of solar energy.

Seeds Without Weeds
Cards created from recycled paper and wildflower seeds, such as those from Grow-A-Note®, serve the dual purpose of extending greetings and providing a gift in the springtime! Seed paper is embedded with a colorful array of wildflower seeds, including alyssum, Siberian wallflower, black-eyed Susan and baby blue eyes. Just plant the card, keep it watered, and watch it grow! The papers, an eco-friendly concept of Green Field Paper Company, are handmade by skilled artisans in San Diego, California, and communicate a sense of style and environmental responsibility. Each sheet is hand crafted in an age-old tradition from tree-free fibers and is rich in texture and appearance.

Green Field’s Hemp Heritage® paper has organic texture and is crafted into journals, sketch and drawing books in seven sizes and a choice of 24-lb. or 70-lb. paper. These journal books are lined in soy ink on one side of the sheet, giving a budding artist or writer the flexibility of being able to sketch on one side and write on the other. All are acid free, chlorine free and of archival quality.

Coffee Therapy
Is a coffee connoisseur on your list? Give her a reason to boast that she’s getting a caffeine kick and boosting a sustainably grown product. Certified organic coffees are grown without the use of pesticides and fertilizers; certified fair-trade coffee gives farmers a better standard of living and producer cooperatives are guaranteed a minimum fair price for their crop. Shade-grown coffee reduces cutting of the rain forests and protects bird habitat. Many coffee producers, such as Deans Beans and Grounds for Change, participate in socially just and environmentally responsible practices and provide flavorful products as well. A gift pack or coffee-of-the-month club membership from a fair-trade producer serves the dual purpose of taste and social responsibility.

Minimize Impact, Maximize Gift
Finally, a donation to an environmentally responsible organization may endear you to a recipient who favors it. Through the Nature Conservancy, for example, you can “Adopt an Acre” in one of five scenic locations, and the giftee will receive an adoption certificate plus a subscription to Nature Conservancy magazine. ■

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