Jingle bells are jingling, cold weather approaching, and bright colorful decoration are upon us as the winter holiday season has quickly arrived. Each year it seems as if stores are putting up their holiday decorations earlier than the last and advertisement for Black Friday deals have literally attacked my inbox even months before. I have barely put away my Halloween decorations before ads of sales and savings make their way into my mailbox. And each year I tell myself to start shopping earlier so that I don’t stress out during the holiday season when everyone else is buying presents at the last minute. I want to relax and savor moments of freedom and quietness from the rush of crowds sure to camp out at my favorite stores.
But buying should be done responsibly and with the environment in mind. Not only are the holidays the most festive time of the year, it is also the most wasteful. We may spend thousands of dollars buying gifts and wrapping paper and decorations without really thinking about the impact all of these things create for our planet.
If you’re still looking for gift ideas, below I’ve listed companies and gift ideas with the environment in mind. Most of these items can be found at natural grocery stores as well as certain major supermarkets and specialty stores. You can also find their products on their website.
Sure, most people enjoy receiving gifts of food for the holidays but choosing the right ones are important if you take extra care in buying the right kind. Food gifts can be gourmet or simpler depending on who you’re giving it too and how personal it is. And if you’re a great baker, baked goods should look as delectable as possible and try to only use natural and organic ingredients.
Gourmet Coffee and/or Tea – when giving coffee or tea, choose brands that take coffee and tea seriously. We may feel inclined to buy the ones we see in supermarkets, but take care in choosing companies that grow coffee from Rainforest Certified plantations and are Fair Trade. Both certifications verify that coffee is grown without damaging precious land and resources and proceeds go back to the farms and workers. Tea should be high quality and preferably grown without any pesticides or herbicides. There are many varieties of tea but the most popular ones are green, black, oolong, and chai. Coffee should be organic as well to ensure the beans aren’t sprayed with toxic pesticides or grown in chemically treated soil. Just like any other non-organic food, chemicals can leak into the food you eat and into your body. Good organic and fair trade companies include Newman’s Own Organics (http://www.newmansown.com/) which donates all proceeds to charity and Equal Exchange which supports small farmers, their communities, and the environment (http://equalexchange.coop/).
Gourmet Snacks – I love making food baskets for individuals who enjoy opening up the gift and selecting something different to try each day. When it comes to snacks or food in baskets, it’s a nice thought to pack items that the recipient don’t usually get for themselves because they’re hard to find. Buy items from brands that are the recipient’s favorites and in similar categories so you can include several different products. Recently I tried a new brand of organic popcorn called Quinn (http://www.quinnsnacks.com/) and I was so impressed with their products that I had to buy a few bags to give to my nieces and nephews. I enjoy freshly popped popcorn but not the kind that you find in chemically treated plastic bags. Quinn Microwave Popcorn come in a special non-toxic microwavable bag using only organic, Non-GMO Certified corn. The ingredients are simple yet the flavors are full of complex sensations. The popcorn are airy and light and taste as fresh as if you plucked the corn from the field and popped them on the stove. There are currently five different flavors of microwave popcorn and the boxes are cute and whimsical enough to put into gift baskets. If you’re making a theme out of the gift baskets (which is always fun!), I recommend a movie theme to include Quinn Microwave Popcorn, healthy sweets such as organic chocolates and gummy candy (http://www.surfsweets.com/), some natural soda or juice, and DVDs or movie theater tickets.
(Sorry, Elf on the Shelf…all the Quinn popcorn were popped!)
In going along with the theme of natural gifts, giving gifts that come from nature is suitable for many. Nature gifts include anything that comes from and gives back to nature. When purchasing gifts made from nature, try to buy sustainable products which means products that can regrow and does not take away from its natural source.
Plants – There’s something quite unique about plants as gifts. Plants can be great gifts for virtually anyone of any age and interest. The recipient doesn’t have to be a plant lover to enjoy plants. When you see a beautiful plant in a decorative pot it always brings a smile no matter what. But take care in buying plants that are easy to manage for the novice and for the more experienced gardener, give them something unique and more complex. Visit your local nursery or buy online from well-known nurseries and farms. Be careful when buying plants from grocery stores as most of them are conventionally grown and may not last as long. Plants make great gifts because they can last many many years and can also be planted into the ground to last even longer.
Experiences – While experience gifts can fall into almost any category, this year give the gift of nature. A great and meaningful experience gift can be an annual membership to a museum or park. Many museum memberships can be low cost but offer so much for members. If you know the interests of your recipient, give them museum memberships tailored to what they like – art museum for art lovers; nature museum for the conservationist; automotive museums for the car lover, and so forth.
GIFTS FOR THE HOME:
Buying gifts for the home can be tricky especially if you don’t know the recipient well. But gifts for the home can be meaningful and useful no matter who you give them to. Just keep the gift simple yet elegant and consider a gift that can be used multiple times.
Keeping the house clean – For that one person who is a clean freak but also an environmentally aware shopper, consider giving gift baskets from companies who produce eco-friendly supplies. A great company to try would be If You Care (http://www.ifyoucare.com/) where all their products are sourced and manufactured using renewable, recyclable, and sustainable materials. And of course one of my most favorite home care company is Earth Friendly Products (ECOS). With their new line of environmentally-friendly and non-toxic cleaning products (http://ecos.com/), you’ll definitely find some great products to put inside the basket. Try their newest Hypoallergenic Dish Soap in Winterpine scent which is perfect for this holiday season.
Putting together a non-toxic, sustainable household gift basket is a great way to show you care about your recipient and help them become more “green” as well. The gift basket can include items such as natural cleaners for the home, natural sponges and reusable cleaning cloths.
For the gardener – Gardening is one of the most relaxing and rewarding experience a person can have. When you grow your own garden whether full of edible plants or not, you are enjoying the beautiful gifts of nature while giving back to nature as well. Consider a garden basket for a specific garden or yard. Try a butterfly garden where the recipient can plant flowers and plants that attract butterflies. Add in seeds, some plant seedlings, gloves, shovels, and pruning shears and your recipient will enjoy a bountiful garden for many years.
For the food connoisseur – Who doesn’t love food, right? Especially if the food is delicious and healthy. But consider giving gourmet food to make the recipient feel extra special and appreciated. Go beyond even that and buy from farmers markets and locally sourced farms and manufacturers. Locally produced products helps these smaller companies, reduce carbon footprint, and are usually very unique and special. You can find locally sourced products at natural grocery stores and your neighborhood small business shops.
There are many factors to consider when buying gifts to help the environment as well as making it special. When you give gifts of nature that are sourced responsibly, promote healthier living, and are naturally beautiful, you are showing your gift recipients that you care about their health and well- being.
Happy Holidays and have a fun and safe shopping experience!
Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.
Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.