It feels like only the other day that the sun was shining and I was at the seaside in Devon, picking out grains of sand from my ice cream as the sweltering noon day sun bore down upon me in all its fury.
But indeed it had been only yesterday that I walked home from work in the advancing night hours, shivering uncontrollably through three layers of clothing and contemplating what this inevitably meant… Christmas is on its way!
Christmas of course signifies presents, and particularly so for the young ones. This being the situation it may be an idea to consider buying ethical Christmas presents this season, bringing happiness and joy for the children whilst doing something positive for the environment and encouraging acceptable employment conditions for the workers who create these products.
There was a time not very long ago when the idea of taking environmental and ethical factors into account when embarking on our Christmas shop might have seemed just a little whimsical, even eccentric. Today nevertheless it is very much more mainstream, and the possibilities to us are much more numerous and varied.
Ethical shopping for people of all ages
Obviously it is not just about the kids. For older friends and relatives it is also remarkably simple these days to find ethical jewellery whether one is looking for necklaces, bracelets, earrings or whatever else in the range.
Nowadays even everyday items for example stationery and kitchen utensils are available as fairtrade and ecologically sustainable products. And green food production of course is pretty much an industry all of its own. Whole stores as well as chains exist where nothing but eco products are available. Soaps, shampoos, toiletries and related items that have been ethically manufactured is usually more than a match in terms of quality for the more popular supermarket or big commercial brands.
Belief and Philosophy
The philosophy and honest belief driving this mode of shopping is usually that the receivers of ethical gifts derive twice the pleasure from the product they love coupled with a positive feeling that in some small way just receiving it has helped the world to become a better place. It envisages a world in which exploitation and environmental exploitation play no part in the process of production. With the extended product ranges now available there is absolutely no reason why we cannot all play at least some small part in helping to realise that goal.
Deciding what to buy friends and family for Christmas seems to be an increasingly difficult task, especially if you are trying to find something unique that they will actually like! But what if you need to find something for someone who is green living and environmentally friendly? You may think this adds an extra challenge, but in fact there are lots of planet friendly ideas that you can choose from. Here are ten to get you started.
Adopt a pet
For green conscious, animal lovers consider adopting them a pet this Christmas. Ask at your nearest zoo or conservation centre about opportunities. With this gift, you normally get an adoption certificate, a photograph and a visit to see the pet you've adopted.
Plant some hedgerow
For anyone who likes to do their bit for the countryside, the perfect gift this Christmas would be to buy a stretch of hedgerow from a wildlife or conservation group. As hedgerows are in decline, the gift would see hedgerow planted to help increase natural habitats and wildlife.
For someone who really has everything and doesn't need anything more, then a really ethical gift would be to make a charitable donation in lieu, to a good cause. Alternatively, the gift or donation could be given to someone in a poor country to help raise their basic standard of living.
There are lots of types of accommodation and holidays that now boast being eco friendly and organic, so browse through the selection and pick a night in a green bed and breakfast, a stay on an organic farm or an eco-friendly campsite.
For someone who wants to do their bit for the environment, then buying them a bike for Christmas is a really great start. Cycling is good for both your health and the planet, compared to other forms of transport.
There is a plethora of books available now that teach you how to go green, give tips on being eco friendly, how you can save energy and protect the planet, etc. Have a look at the selection at your local bookstore and pick out a book as a gift this Christmas. Just make sure the book is made from recycled materials!
There are tons of eco-friendly gadgets available that would make the ideal Christmas gift for an environmentally conscious friend, including solar powered chargers, wind up torches and radios, and energy monitors.
Fair Trade gifts
By buying Fair Trade gifts, you are contributing to making sure the growers or makers of the gift are not being exploited and have acceptable working conditions, as well as getting paid a fair and reasonable wage. Seek out unusual Fair Trade gifts, including jewellery, knitted or hand crafted items, confectionary, books and other accessories, etc.
Seed growing kit
Growing your own plants, flowers and vegetables is highly rewarding, and reduces reliance on buying shop bought items, which are often imported. A seed growing kit with a selection of seeds, a trowel and a fork would make the ideal Christmas gift for anyone conscious of the environment.
With most of us now owning a tablet or smartphone, you'll likely need a sleeve or cover to protect it. Consider buying a green living friend a sleeve made from soft sustainable cork this Christmas. Not only does it look very stylish, but it will protect the tablet or smartphone from scratches or dirt, and it's made from eco-friendly materials.
This article was written by Amy Elliott and the team at Juice Electrical. Juice supplies wholesale electrical and energy saving devices and are committed to promoting green living. Amy and the Juice guys write for the juice blog and various other green blogs across the web.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, you’d be hard pushed to track down ethical goods of any kind. But the past few years have seen a quiet revolution taking place.
Across Britain and beyond thousands of small companies have sprung up, dedicated to sourcing ethically and environmentally responsible products of every kind from mother and baby to food and home-ware, clothing to bath time and grooming treats.
There are organic and free range specialist butchers online, organic fruit, veg and wines, electric and hybrid cars, gorgeous sustainable tableware and glassware, children’s toys, snacks… the list goes on and on. Responsible shopping is so popular that we’re right on the cusp of being able to buy almost anything and everything we need ethically, on an everyday basis. Here are two of the best.
Chunky recycled glass tumblers
Beautiful dark green, rich amethyst and summery turquoise chunky recycled glass tumblers have taken over the kitchens of thousands of people with their cool good looks and immaculate ethical credentials. They’re made by hand by a family business in Mexico from used Pepsi bottles, carefully shaped using techniques that date back a thousand years. Every glass is unique, and they’re rugged enough for kids to use. And you can also buy funky wine glasses made by the same people.
The Pepsi bottles the business uses are at the end of their recycling life, as it the other types of glass they add to the mix. It’s melted down and hand-blown, at which point the colour is added. Glass recycling is energy-efficient, saving the same amount of energy you’d use boiling five cups of water. Multiply that by the 2.4 million tonnes of glass dumped in landfill sites every year and you can see how it stacks up! Hand-made glass is never fully dishwasher proof but these beauties can be put through the washer as long as you don’t mind if the glass eventually goes a little dull. And, of course, when you wash up by hand you save water and energy.
Bamboo picnic-ware by Bambu
Bamboo, like cork, is rapidly becoming a superstar in the ethical goods world. It’s sustainable, it grows like wildfire – the fastest growing plant on the planet – it sucks up CO2 and gives off 35% more pure, clean oxygen than a tree the same size. Bamboo ‘wood’ is tough, durable and lovely to look at.
You can buy gorgeous veneer-ware, 3 ply single-use bamboo picnic equipment that biodegrades in just four months, including cutlery and travel sets. Or choose from a vast collection of lovely tableware that you treat just like ordinary ceramic plates and bowls, perfect for hot or cold food. Although they’re not dishwasher safe, they’re easy to wash by hand with warm, soapy water.
You might be looking for special ethical presents. Maybe you just want to enhance your everyday life with products that don’t cause harm to people, animals or environments and are made by well-treated, happy workers. Either way the world’s your oyster these days – a short search online should deliver everything you need.
Even the mildly conservation-minded person looks with some degree of horror at the mounds of gift-wrap stuffed into black trash bags and hauled out to the curb on Christmas morning. The trees that died for all that waste are mourned. Still, no one wants to be grandmotherly, admonishing gift recipients to open packages without tearing the paper, so she can fold it up and reuse it next year. That simply squelches the joy of ripping into anticipated surprises disguised within the boxes and bows.
Perhaps the eco-friendly answer to this age-old conundrum is to use recycled or re-purposed packaging for the holidays or any gift-giving event. At the very least, use papers from sustainable resources. Stylishly saving the planet Earth becomes part of the present. If you need some ideas to jump-start the creative juices, try a few of the strategies below.
Map the Wrap
Why not use those old road maps stuffed in the car’s glove compartment? With GPS to give guidance these days, those maps rarely get pressed into service and the blues, greens, reds and yellows certainly make a cheerful presentation. Yard sales and antique stores are great places to pick up additional maps of all kinds for very little cash.
Never cast off a perfectly good cardboard box. Clear out a corner shelf in a closet and collect empty boxes from mail order purchases. When gift giving rolls around, the right-sized box is bound to be in the stash. Tape it shut with designer duct tape and tie with a pretty bow. The recipient will be wowed by so much ingenuity and resourcefulness.
Let Kids Create
Packing paper from mail order purchases deserves a second life as well. Usually, the white or off-white paper is tucked around the item and looks like a wad of trash. However, it unfolds and unravels into large sheets perfect for a child Picasso. Let the kids colour it, paint it, stamp it or sticker it to fashion their own wrapping paper. Grandma will be clamouring to rescue it from the piles of gift-wrap, but not because she wants to reuse it next year. She will have it framed and hanging in the kitchen by Valentine’s Day.
Reuse Those Remnants
Fabric scraps from past projects can be converted to very elegant wrapping alternatives. Truly adventurous artisans can quilt pieces together to form a large fabric wrap or sew them into drawstring sacks of various sizes. For a simple but an attractive wrap, cut a fabric scrap into a square, gather it around the gift and tie it off with a length of cording.
Banana Fiber Paper
For the diehards who thrill over pretty colors that reflect the occasion, banana fiber paper is a great alternative to regular wrapping papers. No tree gives its life for this paper. Instead, by-products of the banana industry are used to manufacture it. This striking, acid-free paper is made from banana stems left over from the harvest and from fruits that could not be sent to market. Made from sustainable resources with low environmental impact, it has a beautiful, high-quality appearance to please the most discerning taste.
Pearce Corbin is a contributor to many DIY and home improvement sites around the net and works for MyProjectorLamps
If a green Christmas means more than just the tree to you, then you may be looking for some eco friendly gift ideas for that special man in your life. Whether it be for your father, brother or your partner, there are plenty of gifts that won't cost the earth (literally)! If you want to enjoy an eco friendly Christmas this year then here are some gift ideas that will help you do just that!
There is nothing quite as nice as opening a gift packed full of your favourite goodies at Christmas and men love nothing more than their food and drink! Although you may find a dozen hamper websites online, for a truly green Christmas look for the ones that include some organic treats too. Whether it be fair trade chocolate, organic cheese or even a recycled wicker hamper, there will be something for everyone. Some places will let you customise your hampers, others will have the perfect eco-friendly choice for the man you had in mind.
Solar powered gadgets
There are some things that men cannot live without and a lot of them will involve some kind of technology. Although gadgets may not seem like the most eco friendly gift, this has all changed since the introduction of solar powered technology! You can find a whole range of gadgets that are powered by solar including beard trimmers, alarm clocks and even car battery chargers. For those who like to play rather than work, there are also plenty of solar powered toys, radio controlled vehicles and the suchlike to give them too. Perfect for the younger men of the family, or those who haven't quite grown up yet!
Recycled gifts are a great eco-friendly Christmas idea for him, especially when you see the amount of different things you can get! How about cuff links that are made from old circuit boards? Great for those who love their technology or who work in IT! There are also a whole range of stationary solutions you can get that have been recycled from things such as tyres, plastic cups, old paper and much more. A quick search on the internet for recycled gifts will give you a massive selection to choose from, all reasonably priced and great for the environment.
Grow your own kits
If the man in your life loves to cook, garden, or both, then a grow your own kit will make the perfect eco-friendly Christmas gift! Instead of rushing out to the shop to buy herbs, chilli peppers or even mushrooms, he can grow his very own in the house. This not only cuts down on his shopping bill, but will provide fresh ingredients that can be used in pretty much any dish. Your man will be so happy with his gift that he'll want to start growing things right away. Just be prepared for some green thumbs and muddy finger prints around the house!
These examples are just a few of the eco-friendly gift ideas that you can buy for him this Christmas. A green gift is the perfect way to show how much you care about the men in your life, as well as the environment.
Debbie Manhis is has been living proud and green for over a decade and loves to share her tips with everyone. She writes on behalf of http://www.boutiquetoyou.co.uk/
Making her Christmas special can be a tough job for anyone, but making it green can be all you need to ensure she is made up with her gifts! Eco friendly gifts can show a lot of thought, effort and attention, which all women love when it comes to opening their presents! If you want to make her Christmas special and eco-friendly, then check out these top gift ideas.
It is very true that women love clothes, even more so when they are eco-friendly. There are various stores that offer environmentally friendly and fair trade clothing that the woman in your life will be more than happy to wear. You can find items such as recycled yarn socks, fair trade scarves and even whole outfits made with the environment in mind. Green clothes doesn't mean that your mother, daughter, sister or partner has to dress up like an elf this Christmas, it just means that they are made using recycled materials, fair trade workers or other eco-friendly methods. There are whole stores and websites dedicated to ethical and environmentally friendly clothes, so take a look through and make sure you know her size!
Environmentally friendly jewellery
The next thing on any women's gift list has got to be jewellery, this is a must-have for grown ups and little ladies alike. Many people understand that a lot of jewellery on the market is not exactly ethical, with the constant news about mines and poor working conditions. If you want to get your loved one jewellery, but don't want it to cost the earth, then there are some eco-friendly and fair trade options too. Look for metals that are recycled, or even leather or rope instead of silver and gold. Rope and leather bracelets are extremely popular at the moment and mean that the lady in your life can adorn them with their favourite charms and accessories. Make sure that whatever you pick is something truly special, or even get it personalised to achieve that ‘wow' factor when it is opened on Christmas day!
A lady can never have enough cosmetics or smellies in their bathroom, which is why they make the perfect Christmas gift. Those who would prefer to stick to high street shopping should take a peek into the wonderful world of Body Shop and Lush for a whole range of eco-friendly options when it comes to bath time and even make-up! If you would prefer to order online then there are websites dedicated to selling environmentally friendly cosmetics. All of the ingredients should be natural and not tested on animals for them to even warrant being ‘green'. If you are unsure what the woman in your life might like then take a sneaky look through her bathroom cupboards when she's not looking. You'll find out her favourite smelling shower gel and perhaps even the shade of her foundation. If you're still stuck for ideas then try asking around members of the family or friends. Making sure you get the right type of cosmetics will make all the difference when it comes to your gift being used or re-wrapped and given to someone else!
Buying gifts for her doesn't have to be hard, as long as a little thought goes into them. You can have an eco-friendly gift personalised for something a bit more special, or find out her favourite fragrance and find the ‘green' option that she is bound to love!
Debbie Manhis is has been living proud and green for over a decade and loves to share her tips with everyone. She writes on behalf of http://www.boutiquetoyou.co.uk
The current year is drawing to a close, and with that comes the festive season. This year, why not consider giving a fair trade gift ? Fair trade gifts are well made, unique, beautiful and provide a fair income to someone working in a country less well off than your own. They will be gifts that you will be glad to give.
Fair trade can mean different things, but the most common accepted usage refers to produce or goods that are produced using methods that are environmentally sustainable, fair to the workers, and provide a fair price to the producer. Fair trade is also about building long term relationships that are beneficial to both the prouder and the consumer. When you choose to give fair trade gifts, you'll be paying a fair price for a high quality gift made by someone who puts much care and effort into the items or crop that they produce. For more info about what fair trade is go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trade
If you are shopping for a child, there are many fair trade gifts that would be perfect for them. Many fair trade sellers feature children's toys and clothing that are produced using fair trade practices. Board games are another option. They use fun to teach children and their whole family that the world is so much bigger than their own backyard. Knitted or crocheted hats, scarves and mittens are a fair trade gift choice that is always appreciated, and may look really “funky” which means that kids will actually love to wear them.
There's lots of fair trade gift ideas for the home. For those who like to cook, there's a wide range of food items ranging from quinoa and rice to gourmet coffee and teas. there's also a huge range of bowls, spoons, mortar and pestle sets as well as many other cookware items. For the rest of the home, there's wall art, colorful blankets, plant pots, rugs, and may,many other gift ideas. There's even books to put on your coffee table! You'll be sure to find the perfect gift.
If a gift of clothing or jewelry is what you are looking for, then fair trade is the way to go. You'll find unique pieces in every price range that are ethically produced. they'll be crafted with care and concern, and are sure to please. You'll be able to find just the gift for the person who is always so hard t shop for!
If you are in the market to gift a piece of holiday decor, then look no further than fair trade items. A wide range of holiday items are produced using fair trade practices. You'll find a gift that the person you give it to will be proud to own and display.
If you can't decide what to give, you can make your own gift baskets that are 100% fair trade, all the way from from the basket , to the gifts lovingly placed inside to the decorative bow on the basket handle. What a wonderful way to show a special person in your life just how much you care.
This holiday gift giving season, why not pass by the big box stores and their mass produced items and purchase fair trade gifts instead. You'll be doing something nice not only for the people you are shopping for but also someone a world away.
An increasing number of us want to know where the goods we buy come from and by whom, under what conditions. The world is changing fast and greener ideals are going mainstream. More of us want to feel a personal connection with the things we buy, and we’re not prepared to accept less than the best when it comes to corporate social responsibility.
Christmas is all about feeling good and making other people happy, whatever your religion or lack of it. And ethical gifts are a great way to make the most of the occasion. Not only are many of them very beautiful, unusual, different, stylish and special, they also come with a built-in feel good factor – the fact that nothing and nobody has been harmed during their production.
Feel good with gorgeous Sranrom products
Take Sranrom products, deliciously luxurious bath, shower and body treats designed and made in Thailand to ancient recipes, many centuries old. Thailand is famed for the diversity of its plants, herbs and spices so the ingredients used don’t have to travel far – something to feel good about.
Sranrom only use 100% natural ingredients in all their products and they are completely free of all the usual nasties: parabens, propylene glycol, petroleum derivatives, silicone, synthetic colours, synthetic fragrances and animal ingredients – something else to feel good about.
It goes without saying their products are not tested on animals – another major plus point. And like all Thai people, the workers who make Sranrom products are taught from childhood to live in harmony with nature and be self-sufficient. If you hadn’t realised there could be a spiritual side to manufacturing, now you know there can!
100% organic treats for happy, healthy dogs
The company has spent a lot of time in consultation with vets and animal nutritionists, bearing in mind the latest research into animal nutrition to identify exactly what dogs need to stay healthy and happy.
The ingredients include a variety of important anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, fortified with naturally occurring essential vitamins and minerals designed to give your pooch a healthy treat. Their products are certified organic by The Organic Food Federation and because they’re made here in Britain, they haven’t travelled far.
Ethical gifts for toddlers
It’s also important to buy safe, responsible gifts for kids and the cute pull-along Tuttu Turtle is a best seller for little children from 9 months to 24 months. It features a lovely, simple design, gorgeous colours and it’s responsibly made by a happy collective in Bangalore, India.
The collective’s charming wooden toys are coated with shellac, which is completely safe and natural, and coloured with harmless natural vegetable dyes including Turmeric. They’re made by artisans who are paid on time, at a fair rate, and receive royalties from their UK sales. They work reasonable hours, have regular breaks and are supported by Maya Organic, a non-profit organisation that improves their futures by helping improve their computer skills, financial skills and so on.
Make this Christmas an ethically responsible one
It’s more important than ever to look after the world’s precious resources properly and treat everyone on the planet with respect. Choose ethical Christmas presents this festive season, support the peaceful ethical revolution for a better future and enjoy a genuine retail therapy feel good factor!
Why might you need jewellery that serves more than one function? For practical or economical reasons, it may be sensible to own jewellery that can be worn in more than one way. It also means that you can wear something you think is particularly beautiful or special on different occasions without any one even noticing that its the same item.
Wearing one item in different ways ultimately means that you can get away with buying and owning less jewellery. If your life is hectic and you find yourself moving from one activity to another, versatile jewellery can be very useful.
Many items of jewellery can be used in more than one way. Some necklaces can be wrapped around your wrist twice or more to become a bracelet; this works particularly well with beaded items. Bracelets and anklets can sometimes be interchangeable too. Zulugrass strands from the Leakey Collection are particularly good for this, as the strands have been specially designed in order to be versatile and the limits of how to wear them are almost endless. Rather than just giving you one necklace length, you can make a long, medium or even choker style necklace from the strands. You could wear a necklace to work and transform it to a bracelet for evening wear, or perhaps change it to a more elegant choker style. You can also make a bracelet or anklet from the strands. Amazingly, it doesn't stop there; lovers of Zulugrass even use it to wrap around their stomachs on the beach or wear it in their hair as a hair band.
If you have a ring you love, either because it is valuable, beautiful or reminds you of someone special, you may want to wear it all the time. But the problem with rings is that you can actually grow out of them. It's rare to find someone exactly the same size they were thirty years ago and if a special ring doesn't fit anymore, it's such a shame not to wear it. Rings can be placed on a necklace so that they are still on show but without the need for melting them down or having them made bigger.
There are some truly stunning brooches out there, especially vintage ones inherited from relatives. If you have a brooch you love but don't fancy wearing it on your lapel, there are a number of other options. Some brooches make good hairpieces and can work especially well with the baroque look that is big this year. Others look great as a handbag accessory or look particularly elegant on a hair shawl or hat.
From Zulugrass strands by the Leakey Collection to finding new places to wear a vintage brooch, wearing more versatile jewellery pieces means you can go from office to bar in one swoop and can also save you money.
Obviously the main purpose of a gift is to make the recipient smile, but it's nice to get a big thumbs up from the planet as well! We all want to keep the earth happy, and these eco-friendly gifts will certainly do that.
A tree is a great gift. It's a bit like a pet, but needs a lot less looking after. Obviously you're not going to be able to present your recipient a fully matured woodland oak but a young sapling is definitely a possibility.
It's a nice idea to choose a tree or plant that produces some sort of fruit or nut, like a lemon tree or a sweet chestnut. Your recipient will enjoy using the produce from their new tree in the kitchen, and the planet will appreciate the increased absorption of carbon dioxide and the release of oxygen into the atmosphere. Everyone's a winner.
Hemp, Hemp and More Hemp!
Who doesn't want to sling a bag made of hemp over their shoulder or pop on a hemp shirt to keep cool in the summer? It's not always the coolest look but if it's good enough for Woody Harrelson it's certainly good enough for us.
Hemp reaches maturity in just 100 days and doesn't really need any pesticides to help it grow. It's also very naturally strong and durable. Unfortunately many people find it hard to look past its association with the drug cannabis, but despite this hemp clothing is definitely on the rise.
Shoes and Belts
The planet isn't going to be happy if your gift your friend a pair of leather shoes or a crocodile skin belt but there are plenty of more eco-friendly alternatives out there that everyone will appreciate.
There are loads of funky designs made from recycled materials. You can get shoes that have been carefully crafted out of disused car tyres and belts that are made from airplane seat belts. The only real limit is anindividual's creativity.
If you opt for solar panels you should be aware that they're going to set you back a fair bit. It can cost up to £3,500 to install a one kilowatt system and the average household requires an estimated two kilowatt system to cover all their energy needs.
But if you do have a spare £7,000 lying around and are feeling super generous you should definitely consider getting your friend their very own solar energy system. Producing your own energy feels great, especially when you can sell any excess back to the National Grid.
And of course increasing solar energy production means we'll become a lot less reliant on dirty fossil fuels, which is only going to benefit the earth.
When he's not recycling yoghurt pots to make hats Adam Jones writes for Find Me A Gift, the gift ideas people – www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk