Jumat, 16 Desember 2011

Sustainable Gift Giving Ideas

I know I predominantly share recipes here, but I have decided to begin sharing more than just recipes, because our health and the health of the planet is all connected in this intricate web we call life. When we purchase toys and products created from industrial plants and cheap labor in Asian countries we continue the demise of our environment and our children's, grandchildren's, and great-grandchildren's health. With the uprise in food allergies, it is clear that our immune systems are very confused and not functioning properly anymore. Environmental toxins, GMOs, and stress are the main culprits. We CAN support a cleaner, greener world every day by voting with our dollars. What we buy and consume affects everyone else on the globe. So, I thought I would share some wonderful, eco-friendly gift ideas this holiday season!

Girgenta Goat Picture

Worldly Gifts
Support a family in a developing country with the gift of a goat, ducklings, a cow, a pig, or honeybees through Heifer International. Your gift goes a long way in promoting health and self-reliance in communities. Last year Tom's brother gifted a goat in our name and we thought it was such a wonderful idea that this year we are letting our children pick an animal to gift in their names.

Donate money through World Vision. You can Sponsor a Child, Give an Animal, or Contribute to Clean Water for a community in a developing nation.

Donate to the Environmental Working Group. EWG is a nonprofit action group based on science and research that works to protect the most vulnerable segments of the human population, children, babies, and infants in the womb from health problems attributed to a wide array of toxic contaminants. "EWG's research brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know. It shames and shakes up polluters and their lobbyists. It rattles politicians and shapes policy. It persuades bureaucracies to rethink science and strengthen regulation. It provides practical information you can use to protect your family and community."

Donate to the Cornucopia Institute! "The Cornucopia Institute will engage in educational activities supporting the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture. Through research and investigations on agricultural issues, The Cornucopia Institute will provide needed information to consumers, family farmers, and the media."

Give Experiences
What will your child remember most when he or she grows up: a particular toy they received or time spent with you? I remember the trips and fun hiking adventures we did as a family much more than I remember any particular toy. Here are a few of my ideas, please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section. :)

A day sewing with mom. A day skiing in the mountains with dad. A special evening with just the older girls playing cards and having a tea party. Taking the kids to a movie (they have never been to a movie theater yet and our oldest is almost 10)! A little card for the kids saying we will go to Seattle for the day and visit the Zoo and go out to eat. An afternoon at the train museum (for our twin boys).

Unconventional Gift Ideas
Give a six month supply of eco-friendly, biodegradable laundry soap and dishwashing soap to your college student or family member. Most of what you find at your local supermarket is quite toxic to our bodies and local environments after it goes down the drain. These chemical detergents contain hormone disrupters that not only affect ourselves but the aquatic life around us. Plus, they smell disgusting. Products such as Biokleen and Seventh Generation are good choices.

Give a gift certificate to a local food co-op. We received a gift card to our local co-op a few years ago from Tom's family and it was very helpful to stretch the food budget!

Buy a share to a CSA for a friend or family member. Ask your local food co-op or Farmer's Market office to get the names and contact info of a few local organic farmer's who offer CSA's. If you are in the Northwest, this is a good site to look for a CSA.

Eco-Friendly Gifts
Beeswax Candles scented with pure essential oils. Many people do not realize that regular petroleum-based paraffin candles may be emitting solvents like toluene (that can negatively affect the nervous system), and benzene (which has been linked to cancer) when you burn them. As an extra bonus, those candles with wicks that stand up straight may have lead in them. Within an hour of burning these candles, you may end up with an unsafe level of airborne lead that may contribute to learning disabilities in children.

Wooden Toys made in the USA. I have been on a mission since I was pregnant with my first daughter, ten years ago, not to allow plastic toys in the house. We have succeeded for the most part except for last year when the plastic Legos made their appearance. Other than that our children have wood toys and cloth dolls stuffed with wool to play with. What happens to all of these plastic toys when they break? They end up in the landfill or our oceans causing pollution for many years to come, not to mention the pollution caused during the production of the plastic and toys themselves. Wooden toys can biodegrade once they are old and worn. Before you go online to shop, see if you can find a local wood worker who makes and sells solid wood toys. If you can't find anyone, then shop online at stores such as Nova Natural, A Child's Dream, Bella Luna Toys, or Rosie Hippo.

Non-Toxic natural art supplies such as Beeswax Block Crayons, Gluten-Free Aromatic Play Dough, Hemp Sketch Pads, Unlacquered Colored Pencils, Natural Glue, and Hemp Fabric for sewing projects.

Hand-Painted Silk Scarf from Siren Silks on Etsy.com

Shop on Etsy.com. Your money goes directly to the person who made the toy, clothing item, house decor, or jewelry. I am amazed at all of the beautiful creative works of art you can find on this site. Everything from upcycled wool clothes to wooden blocks and hand painted silk scarves. This felt play food makes a great addition to your child's wooden play kitchen.

Fair Trade Stores are also a good place to shop for unique gift ideas. The communities and people who make these products are not exploited and the materials used often are sustainable or recycled.

Stainless steel lunch containers such as Lunch Bots, Kids Konserve, or a 10-ounce Stainless Steel Thermos for soups and other hot food.

If you have any other ideas you'd like to share, please leave a comment, thanks and Happy Holidays!

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