Posts Tagged ‘Sustainable Gifts’

posted by | on , , | Comments Off on Green Gifting: Eco-Friendly Gift Giving & Receiving Ideas

By Nira Sheppard, DC EcoWomen board member

The holiday season is upon us and for me, it’s a mixed bag. I love the dazzling lights, Christmas songs, and spending time with family eating delicious comfort food (pass the gravy please). At the same time, the expectation of giving and receiving gifts makes me dizzy and anxious with questions like, who do I give gifts to during the holidays? What should I give them? How much should I spend? What if they give me a gift and I don’t have one for them? The list goes on and on. If you have these questions too, unfortunately, I have no answers, but I can give you some pointers for making gifting eco-friendly and even pocket-friendly.

Be proactive. “A gift desired is a gift used” – Me. Does it make you feel uncomfortable and a bit guilty to get a gift you’re less than thrilled with receiving? Yes, it’s the thought that counts but all you can think about is, what to do with it (hmm, that’s not my style)? You’re not alone. Take control of your gift destiny and be proactive. Make it known what you would like from those who will likely give you a gift. Be specific or give them a category (good chocolate and natural body butters are winners for me). Also ask them what their preferences are, so you know what to get them. Help them out with questions, such as what type of books/clothes/snacks would they like and where can I get them? Once you know what they like, go the extra mile and try to get a version of the item that hits one or more of these categories: ethical, environmentally sustainable, local, and produced or sold by a woman-owned and/or minority-owned business.

Make a list. Not for Santa, unless you want to do that too (a child lives in all of us). You and those in your gift pool can use Giftster or MyRegistry.com to create a gift list to share with each other. Too much work? Cash or consumables, like wine, chocolate, coffee/tea, or candles should do the trick (please see aforementioned categories in the above paragraph). If cash is not your taste and you know this person doesn’t want or need a thing, gift them a charitable donation. I don’t recommend a gift card unless you’re pretty sure the person will use it because $1 billion in gift cards go unused every year.  

Decline extra packaging. After Christmas, the trash is filled with gift packaging – the packaging that comes with the gift and the extra that we add on top to make it pretty. To reduce waste, there are several options. Decline the gift box and wrapping service at the retailer. Reuse a jewelry box or gift bag you already have and then reuse it for next year. Repurpose it if it is no longer suitable for gift giving and then recycle it when no longer usable. If you don’t care, don’t package gifts at all.

Recycle. Say you decided to reduce packaging, but others did not? Collect the wrapping paper and packaging and recycle them yourself or ask the host about recycling what you collected. You can also take unwanted gift boxes and bags for future gift giving (I haven’t bought a gift bag in years).

Embrace gift-wrapping alternatives. Maybe you’re the person who thrills in watching your loved ones open your beautifully, perfectly, and carefully wrapped gifts. No need to deprive yourself. Here are six eco-friendly gift wrap alternatives and 15 more ideas that look chic, not cheap.

Gift experiences. An idea that is becoming more popular is to forego physical gifts for experiences, free or purchased. For example, you can gift someone movie, concert, festival, sporting event or museum tickets, yoga classes, a wine or beer tasting, etc. You can make the experience a shared memory by doing these things with them. You can perform a song or write a poem for them or give them a homemade gift (it may not technically be an experience for them, but they will appreciate your effort). You can also simply spend time together, perhaps while taking a walk or hike, at a cafe, or eating a home-cooked meal or cookies you made. If they trust you around their child(ren), you can gift them time in another way, free babysitting hours (this may be their best gift ever). Here are some more experience gifting options.

I hope these ideas have been helpful to you. Whatever you decide to do regarding the business of giving and receiving gifts, I hope your holiday season is full of love, warmth, and good cheer. Happy holidays!

Nira Sheppard is a member of DC EcoWomen’s professional development committee. She holds a BA from Soka University of America, an MA in Global Environment Policy from American University and a LEED Green Associate credential. Nira is passionate about recycling, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and waste reduction and is seeking opportunities in environmental sustainability and sustainable development. Find her on LinkedIn

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on Sustainable Holiday Shopping at Eastern Market

Below is a post from guest blogger Denise.  Denise has written for Ecowomen previously, and is a recent graduate of Cornell University, where she studied environmental science and statistics. She now works in communications and is passionate about the environmental movement, writing short stories, and living sustainably.

It’s getting to be that time of year again. The winter wind is starting to bite, the leaves are turning and falling, and Christmas jingles are on repeat in shopping malls. The holidays are quickly approaching, and with the holidays, come the stresses of gift shopping, and the stress of finding the perfect gift – a gift with meaning amidst the mindless consumerism associated with the holidays.

This year, I urge you to look for gifts with sustainability in mind. A sustainable gift not only brings joy to the recipient, but also benefits the community and the ecosystem. A sustainable gift can be meaningful in so many ways.

There’s no better place than DC to find these gifts. The Eastern Market, a haven for localites, overflows with colors, produce, and life. Shopping at a local market is inherently sustainable, as the products don’t travel far from producer to consumer. Many of the vendors take sustainability even further, with recycled or used materials. If you’re looking for gift ideas along those lines, there are several vendors and types of goods in the Eastern Market that will fulfill your needs.

Hand-made Artwork
The artwork at Eastern Market is incredibly diverse and beautiful. Some of the bigger pieces might be a bit pricey, but most artists have small, affordable pieces as well that make great gifts.

 

Tiles and Magnets

Jeannette Landphair makes tiles and magnets from old newspaper clippings. The bathroom tiles have a retro look to them, and could easily be used as coasters. The magnets are signs from San Francisco newspapers, and would make a very entertaining addition to the door of your refrigerator full of produce you just bought from the market.
Mirrors

Antique mirrors that come from the East Coast can be found at the market in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  Some of them are quite old, and some are quite strange. But they are all astoundingly beautiful.
Old magazines, maps, postcards

If you know someone who wants history in their art, you can browse through the multitude of vintage Life magazine covers, posters, maps, and postcards. And as an extra plus, these are much less expensive than the newly made art.

Canimals

 One of the most interesting finds. The animals made from old soda cans – called “canimals” – are crafted by a man who calls himself Shumba. He says he got started because he was tired of taking out the trash. Now, friends and family give him their old soda cans- more than he has the capacity to use. These canimals are the very definition of up-cycling – taking used goods that could be recycled or thrown away, and using them in their raw form to create something new. “Can-tastic!”

 

Jewelry
At a stand called “Vintage Bling” you can find boxes upon boxes of old, vintage jewelry. For the treehuggers, there are plenty of butterflies, frogs, and other creatures as pendants and earrings. It doesn’t take a lot of digging here to find some beautiful pieces.

Scarves
“Raices Handcrafts” is a vendor selling hand-made Ecuadorian scarves and jewelry. The owners of this stand travel to Ecuador twice a year to purchase the most beautiful fabric, scarves, and jewelry from local artisans and craftmakers. Take it from a bona fide scarf-lover: these scarves not only warm, they are truly stunning. If you’re preparing for another ‘snowpocalypse’ winter, why not do so with sustainable style?

Household Goods
Handmade pottery, crafted mosaic lanterns, and gorgeous cutting boards from the woods of the Shenandoah. These are just some of the sustainably-made household gifts at the Market.

Homemade Soaps
Handmade just outside of the city, the creator of Peacock Botanicals, Olivia, has been making soaps for over 15 years. The visual beauty of the soap blocks is only surpassed by their aromas. The lavender and oats soap – with real oats in the soap – and the soap called “Remembrance,” with a beautiful color palette, were my favorites. But most intriguing was the “Soup du Jour.” I still don’t know exactly what was in it, but it smelled amazing.

I am always happy with a scarf or a coffee mug as a gift, either to give or to receive. But with so many options to choose from at the Eastern Market, there’s the opportunity to branch out and still shop sustainably.

I hope you find the perfect gift this holiday season: useful, beautiful, meaningful, and sustainable. This is what I’m looking to find this year – to give the gift of meaningful sustainability.

How do you plan to make your holidays sustainable this year?