10 Perfect Gifts for Your Earth Loving Friends
By Anna Hunt
I love the holidays. Time with family and friends. Lots of great food and wine. And, I admit it: I like presents. I like giving people the perfect gifts to make them smile and feel special.
Now that I’m more aware of the impact that consumerism is having on the planet, gift shopping has become a completely different beast. Although I’m not 100% plastic free, I refuse to give presents made out of plastic. I have also found that many products, however clever or cute, are essentially unnecessary or useless. It seems completely irresponsible to buy these random novelty products and support companies that waste precious resources to make them.
This is an amazing little book. I’m not going to say much about it because the title speaks for itself. You can buy it on Amazon. It will motivate you to be less consumptive. It offers individual solutions and tips on how to limit your plastic footprint.
Guides readers toward the road less consumptive, offering practical advice and moral support while making a convincing case that individual actions . . . do matter. ~ Elizabeth Royte, author, Garbage Land and Bottlemania
2. Reusable Plastic-less Wrap
I know that you probably have a roll of Saran Wrap (or Cling) in your kitchen. Pretty much everyone who cooks uses it. Giving up my Saran Wrap was a big obstacle for me, but I just absolutely hate using plastic baggies and wrap. They seems so wasteful and completely environmentally unfriendly.
I got very excited when I discovered Reusable Bee’s Wrap. They are not 100% perfect, as they affect the taste of foods when used directly to wrap things like fruits. BUT, they are perfect for dry foods like breads and sandwiches. Also, you can use Bee’s Wrap to seal up a glass bowls used for baking or to keep a salad fresh in the fridge. Bonus: they last up to one year! (I have yet to prove this, but I’m hopeful.)
3. Stainless Steel Straws
You may have seen my article about the global campaign to eliminate plastic straws. U.S. consumers alone throw out about 46,400 large school buses full of straws per year. Can you just image where these completely unnecessary appendages end up? Yup – you got it. Lakes, rivers and oceans.
Here’s where stainless steel straws come into play. They are safe, reusable and last for a long time. I’ve had my set for over five years. Aside from losing one, the rest are like new. Bonus: they are inexpensive, especially considering they will last you decades.
4. Guppy Friend
When you hear about synthetic materials polluting the environment, the mind typically goes to plastics. But there are many other synthetic materials that are part of the problem.
For example, synthetic textiles are a big part of the plastic pollution problem. Countless plastic mircofibers from synthetic garments make their way from our washing machines into the waterways. Furthermore, most sewage treatments plants are not designed to filter out these fibers. As a result, microfibers end up in the waterways. There, they are consumed by tiny aquatic organisms which are a vital part of our food chain.
A practical way to prevent microfibers from entering into rivers and oceans is to use a specially-designed washing bag called the Guppy Friend. In the U.S., the bag can be purchased on Patagonia, and in Europe on the Langbrett site.
5. Drying Rack
You can save a bundle on your electric bill just by hanging up your laundry. Although, I have to say, clothes driers are amazingly handy during rainy autumn days and cold winter months. This is why this VonHaus Heated Drying Rack is a wonderful alternative to an electric dryer. It only uses a small fraction of the electricity, while there’s plenty of space to hang a large load of laundry.
Of course, if you’re shopping on a budget, you can pick from a number of stainless steel drying racks and ones made out of aluminum. If your earth-loving friend hangs their laundry, they will love a drying rack!
6. Bamboo Toothbrush
You don’t really realize the problem of plastic toothbrushes, until you’re riding a horse on a remote beach in Costa Rica (or any other tropical country) and notice that there’s mounds of plastic toothbrushes littering the high-tide line.
This is actually the real experience that motivated me to change to bamboo toothbrushes. Although I don’t love them, they do the job. I feel better using them than plastic ones or even the electric toothbrushes. It seems that electronic toothbrushes address the single serving issue of regular toothbrushes, although they create an even bigger waste problem, because let’s face it: very few people make the effort to recycle them.
So, bamboo toothbrushes are it, as far as I’m concerned. Here are two brands that I’ve liked the best (and trust me, I’ve tried many). Eco-friendly Toothbrushes by f.e.t.e. (the colors help out when you’ve got three kids!), and WowE Natural Toothbrushes (these are numbered, so it’s still easy to keep up which is whose). Bonus: Add a biodegradable silk floss by Dental Lace to give each family member some eco-friendly stocking stuffers.
7. Basic Beekeeping Kit
One of the greatest coming ecological catastrophes for the human race is the global collapse of many bee species. Bees are largely responsible for pollinating our food crops as well as wild plants. Without bees, human kind will suffer a terrible famine.
In some areas bees, have already lost up to 90% of their colonies. Many scientists have linked the collapse of bee colonies to the overuse of a cocktail of varied herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides used in modern agriculture and landscaping.
There are things we all can do to contribute to the well-being of our bee populations. One fun way to help the bees is to start a colony of your own. Here is a wonderful Basic Beekeeping Kit perfect for someone that may enjoy this less conventional “pet.” (PS – don’t forget that you’ll get honey!)
8. Door Mat Made from Recycled Materials
Door mats are just one of many types of products made from recycled and re-purposed materials. What makes these door mats kinda cool is that they are a wonderful conversation starter for anyone entering the house.
If you decide to purchase a brand new door mat, chances are its makers used rubber, nylon, or palm tree fibers. Procuring these materials creates pollution and wreaks havoc on the environment.
Recycled mats are just as functional, and there are lots of varieties these days. There are flip flop mats, made from the excess foam from the production of flip flops. There are lots of options for recycled rubber mats, as well as recycled plastic mats.
9. Reusable Bags (Made from Recycle Plastic!)
Plastic bags are a major pollutant. I won’t go into the damage that plastic pollution is doing to the environment, but you can read more about it here: The Convenience of Plastic is Killing our Oceans.
My favorites are reusable bags by EcoJeannie. They are made from 95% recycled plastic, and at the end of the bag’s lifespan you can recycle it again.
10. Organic Non-GMO Seed Collection
I would bet that a good share of your earth-loving friends grow their own foods. Or, they really want to and just haven’t gotten around to it. Either way, you cannot go wrong with a collection of heirloom, non-GMO garden seeds. And for anyone that lacks a green thumb, a small herb garden kit is a great way to go. Just make sure to get wood planting boxes and not plastic. Better yet, make them a planter out of re-purposed wood scraps.