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Furoshiki How-To – It’s Easier Than You Think

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012
By Christa

It suddenly struck me that in a post about green gift wrap options, everything sounded easy and fun except for furoshiki. That kind of thing happens when you refer to something as “the Japanese art of” because if it’s an art, it must be complicated, right? Nah. Basic furoshiki is totally within reach of unpracticed hands, which means you could be on your way to a greener Christmas if you haven’t already wrapped your gifts. And if you have a few sizable bandannas, or charming scarves handy. Here are two tutorials to get you started:

Green Tips for the Bride

Thursday, March 17th, 2011
By Christa

As I mentioned a while back, green topics have actually come up pretty frequently at the other two blogs I author: Manolo for the Home and Manolo for the Brides. In the last post, I shared a list of eco-friendly posts from Manolo for the Home, and today I want to share a similar list taken from the archives of Manolo for the Brides.

eco weddings

Green Tips for the Bride:

Green Theshold Alert: Conserve Cards

Friday, March 4th, 2011
By Christa

Some people get a little knot in their stomachs when they hear the words ‘green giving’ – they don’t have room for another soy candle or another recycled yarn tissue box and they have reusable water bottles for every day of the week. It’s not that they don’t appreciate the thought behind green gifts, but rather that they’d prefer the gifts to be a little more thoughtful, if not a little less green. These are people who may or may not sign up for Amazon’s Aunt Mildred, but their green threshold is pretty low when it comes to overtly green gifts.

Personally, I like green gifts, and even when I don’t like specific green gifts, I like passing them on to other people who will actually want them. Where my green threshold lies, as it applies to green giving, is probably somewhere around Conserve Cards.

It’s not that I’m morally opposed to the idea of reusable greeting cards – in fact, I think it’s a pretty handy idea for those who know their recipients will actually reuse a card. And I’m happy to hear that Conserve Cards are made from recycled paper, eco-friendly inks, and water-based adhesives. I just don’t necessarily think that most people upon receiving a Conserve Card will take the time to keep it somewhere convenient and then remember that it’s there the next time they feel pressed to send a greeting card. Add to that the fear that it will be awkward when the card makes it back to the original sender, and I see Conserve Cards ending up (hopefully) in the recycling bin along with regular cards.

Or am I just being cynical? What do you think of the idea of reusable greeting cards?

Make Your Love Last: 9 Green Valentines That Are In the Pink of the Mode

Monday, February 7th, 2011
By Christa

Green giving is sometimes a big pain in the tush – and green Valentine’s Day giving is no exception. Maybe you buy the greenest possible gift, but the only place to get it from means a cross country shipping journey. Or those organic chocolates come wrapped in plastic in paper in plastic. And then there are cards – which are always a tough call. Are eco-friendly Valentine’s Day cards really worth it?

I guess the greenest thing to do would be to make a homemade Valentine’s Day card using your stash of elephant dung paper and clippings from E Magazine but not everyone is handy with a pair of safety scissors. Or to skip the Valentine’s Day cards altogether – but what fun is that? With that in mind, here are 9 super adorable green Valentine’s Day cards for your sweetie:

Cute candy heart cards printed on 100 percent PCW paper and printed with soy ink from Earth Invites


Leaf and Light: A Nightlight That Even Looks Good In the Daytime

Thursday, January 20th, 2011
By Christa

How sweet are these leaf night lights from VivaTerra? And how cool, they’re not just made to look like a leaves – they are leaves! They preserve a perfect specimen of a tree’s above ground organ (woo woo!) using a mineral dip, and the result is a shimmering night light that lets gentle illumination through its network of veins.

There’s a sugar maple leaf in copper, a maple leaf in silver, and a sugar maple leaf in brass – and on all three, the details that make them look so pretty lit up can still be seen in the daylight. While $33 might seem a little steep for a night light, I think it would make a great gift for the new parent who *will* need a night light at some point and would rather not have a cartoon character hanging from the outlet.

Returns Before Shipping: Green or Gauche?

Thursday, January 6th, 2011
By Christa

Have you heard of Aunt Mildred? No, she’s not that one distant relative of yours who always gives the worst gifts, but that’s who Amazon had in mind when they came up with the Aunt Mildred program. According to the Washington Post:

The online retailer has quietly patented a way for people to return gifts before they receive them, and the patent documents even mention poor Aunt Mildred. Amazon’s innovation, not ready for this Christmas season, includes an option to “Convert all gifts from Aunt Mildred,” the patent says. “For example, the user may specify such a rule because the user believes that this potential sender has different tastes than the user.” In other words, the consumer could keep an online list of lousy gift-givers whose choices would be vetted before anything ships.

So what makes Amazon’s Aunt Mildred program green? In addition to being an economic headache and a logistical nightmare, the whole business of returning and exchanging a gift bought online isn’t exactly eco-friendly since there’s a whole lot of shipping involved. If a gift recipient can exchange a gift before ever receiving it, that’s two fewer trips that any one product has to make. Less shipping means less emissions and that means cleaner air.

Huh. I’m thinking that this might be one of those times where manners should trump making the Earth a better place, if only because Amazon’s Aunt Mildred program kind of takes the fun out of receiving gifts and seems like yet one more way that not-so-great gift givers can get out of having to find something their recipients will actually like. I know that gifts are returned and exchanged to the tune of 30% around the holiday season – which adds up to a lot of time in transit for stuff and for people – but when green gets gauche, is it really worth it? Would you use Aunt Mildred?

Wrapping Presents the Eco-Friendly Way

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
By Christa

Still haven’t wrapped those last minute Christmas gifts? Yeah. me neither. But I’m not running out to the drug store this year for wrapping paper that has a good chance of not being at all recyclable. I’m not even going to check for recycled gift wrap, even though the plain brown stuff is a favorite of mine because it looks so rustic tied with twine. Nope, this year I’m trying to go even greener, with green wrapping paper that doesn’t require me to go out and buy something new. What will my loved ones find under their trees? How about:

Shopping Bag Wrapping Paper
It sounds dull until you go on to step two, which involves cutting down an old cork – or, heck, a potato – to make a pretty stamp and then creating signature designs on all your gifts. You can also use store-bought stamps like these if you happen to have them already. Just choose plain paper bags, not paper bags covered in logos. Unless, I suppose, you really love the logo.

Cloth Gift Wrap
In Japan, the art of wrapping gifts in cloth is called furoshiki, and it’s a wonderful way to curb paper wastage around the holidays. Gifts can be wrapped in scarves, bandannas, or towels that then become part of the gift, or you can use fabric scraps from other projects if you’re a crafter. Bonus: If your gift recipient is another crafter, they can use the fabric! Some people will secure cloth wrapped parcels with buttons or safety pins, but you can also tie a knot in your fabric or use a separate strip of fabric to create a bow.

Repurposed Wrapping Paper
Any paper can become stylish gift wrap with a little ingenuity on the part of the wrapper. For example, old folding maps can be used for larger gifts, while sheets of newsprint (I like the pink sort usually reserved for financial papers) are great for medium gifts, and vintage paper or even pretty stationery can be used to wrap smaller presents. There are plenty of tutorials for DIY gift bows – like so – and you can always embellish your parcels with things like beads, charms, leaves, flowers, and whatever else you have handy.

Hand Decorated Gift Wrap
Lastly, if you have kids or are artsy yourself, you can always break out the great big sheets of white paper and the crayons and create beautiful (or at the very least, fun) wrapping papers that certain recipients like grandparents and indulgent aunts and uncles will go ga-ga over. Of course, if you’re the artistic one and you have a bit of talent, this is another case in which your gift wrap can also serve as a secondary gift!

5 Last-Minute Green (and Inexpensive!) Gift Ideas

Monday, December 20th, 2010
By Christa

Uh oh! There are just four shopping days left until Christmas, and perhaps you’ve forgotten certain people on your list? Never fear – Amazon is one of those retailers that is all about getting gifts where they need to go in time for Christmas morning. So instead of rushing out to the mall in the hopes of finding something anything! why not check Amazon for green gifts that won’t break the bank and will arrive on time. Here are five green suggestions that will make you feel good while making your recipients feel good, too.

For a friend: A unique fold-it-yourself receptacle that makes a great inbox or outbox, FUZ floppy basket was designed by Josh Jakus and is made from wool felt from factory excess. $25 gets you the small (good for office supplies), $45 buys the large (big enough for magazines).

For a kid: Crazy Crayons 100% recycled crayons are made with broken, dull, unloved crayons collected by the National Crayon Recycle Program. Purchase of a box or two supports both various recycling education programs and the well-being of people with developmental disabilities who are employed by Crazy Crayons. At just $8.95, it’s a cheap way to do a lot of good!

For a lucky lady: Global Girlfriend totes are adorable and durable bags handmade from repurposed rice bags by disadvantaged women artisans. Created to help women worldwide gain economic security for themselves and their families by earning fair wages for their handiwork, Global Girlfriend sources women-made, fair-trade imported, eco-friendly products. Sounds good, right? So does the $10 price tag!

For the mom-to-be: ErbaOrganics travel kit makes life a little easier for moms on the go with purse-sized toiletry items that are soothing, eco-friendly, organic, free of artificial scents and colors, and designed with the perils of pregnancy in mind. $25 buys your favorite pregnant friend some much-needed comfort and refreshment.

For the the netbook lover: Looptworks Hoptu laptop sleeve is sleek on the outside and all business on the inside with durable 100% upcycled nylon neoprene to cushion any thump your computer might endure. I love the two pockets, which are perfect for things like memory cards and thumb drives. And at $30 or less, depending on the color, it’s a great buy.

A Last-Minute Green Gift For the Harried Commuter

Friday, December 17th, 2010
By Christa

How about a ceramic travel mug that doesn’t come with a corporate logo on the side from A Piece By Denise? For your $20, your gift recipient a ceramic travel mug that you can put in the microwave and the dishwasher, and also fits in most car cup holders. Did I mention that every travel mug is hand painted using non-toxic and lead-free food safe glazes? Sweet!

The Greenest Handbag Is the One That Doesn’t Bring Anything New Into the World

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
By Christa

Browsing Eco-Chick recently, I was delighted to stumble onto WASTE since I am a bag fiend. Waste handbags are not only absolutely fantastic, they’re also made exclusively out of discarded materials from the auto industry. I’m talking discarded leather arm rests and head rests, seatbelts, rubber straps, and more. What you end up with is a bag made from high quality materials that are designed to be durable, which is just the thing when you’re looking for an everyday bag.

Every WASTE bag is completely unique because they’re crafted out of what’s available so nothing new is needed to produce them. WASTE’s artisans un-stitch all those discarded parts and then craft something durable and beautiful by hand to achieve a color-coordinated, polished look. Why’s this important? Car upholstery uses a lot of leather (and other stuff), and about 45% of what is used is tossed out. Using the leftovers means less garbage in landfills and less energy spent on making new materials for other industries – in this case, the handbag industry.

As you can probably guess, these green handbags don’t come cheap – my favorite prices in at ÔéČ193 for the option currently available – but if you have the money and need a bag, why not WASTE?

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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