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Dreaming of a Greener Christmas? Target Holiday Trash First

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
By Christa

Overflowing garbage cans are a common sight on post-Christmas trash days. Bags of boxes and plastic packaging sit beside bags of unloved leftovers and wreaths getting brown around the edges. Even recyclables like cardboard boxes and Christmas cards find their way into trash bins instead of that other bin that we at Green Manolo love so much. But Christmas doesn’t have to be wasteful – a little mindfulness goes a long way prior to and on December 25.

Cut or Fake?
Both real and artificial Christmas trees can end up in the trash. Honestly, neither is a truly green option, though real trees come out a wee bit ahead – particularly if you cut your own locally-grown tree from a nearby organic evergreen farm or buy a tree with a root ball and plant it after the holidays. If your city has a Christmas tree mulching program, take advantage of it. Artificial Christmas trees are frequently made of non-recyclable plastics and many are made in China where standards for paints and plastics may be low or non-existent. Eventually, they all end up in landfills. If you have to have a fake (because you won’t be home to water it, for example) then choose one that you’ll use for years and years to come to minimize the impact. Or better yet, go for something like this.

Ditch the Packaging
Who else can remember throwing out bags and bags of torn, wrinkled wrapping paper on Christmas? That’s a lot of waste! Nowadays I like using recycled wrapping paper that is also recyclable – which not all wrapping papers are. Wrapping papers that contain laminates and non-paper additives, and super thin wrapping paper may not be accepted for recycling in your area. I use plain brown kraft paper with embellishments of pine branches and cotton ribbon (very rustic) and reusable cloth wrapping bags. Even though people secretly diss on old aunts and grannies for smoothing out and reusing wrapping paper and ribbons, it’s totally the green thing to do.

Beware What You Buy
As difficult as it can be, buying stuff – food and gifts – that comes in less complicated, single-material packaging will mean a lot less waste. Look for products in packaging that can be recycled or things that don’t have any packaging at all. Sometimes spending more money means less waste – look for durable, long-lasting gifts that will be appreciated by the recipients, and think in terms of longevity when it comes to accessories. Will it need a constant stream of batteries? Can you get a reusable filter? If possible, buy recycled, fair-trade, sustainable gifts for the people you care about. And don’t forget when you’re shopping to BRING IN THOSE REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS!

Don’t Pig Out
Or at the very least, pig out thoughtfully – because, come on, pretty much everyone who celebrates Christmas is going to pig out a little. At those ubiquitous buffets, don’t take more than you’ll finish, since it’s not like you can put it back. And if you’re wearing the apron this year, try not to go crazy cooking way too much food since there’s no guarantee your guests will want to take a to-go bag home. All those tips for a greener Thanksgiving I shared last month still apply – go local, go organic, go vegetarian or vegan if you’re up for it.

Honestly, eating green is probably the easiest way to have a greener Christmas this year because decorations and wrapping paper are non-negotiable elements of most peoples’ holidays. Don’t think you have to adopt an all or nothing attitude about green holidays – even reducing your Christmastime waste a little bit is better than doing nothing at all.

10 Green Gifts Under $10

Friday, December 3rd, 2010
By Christa

Sometimes you just need a little something for someone – not big gift, but you’re still hoping for a green gift. As you surely know, green gifts frequently come at a premium, sometimes because they truly are more expensive to grow or make and sometimes because green is in so people are willing to pay for it. But not all green gifts have to be expensive. Here, for example, are 10 green gifts under $10:


Sure, reusable shopping bags make a great gift provided your recipient doesn’t already have 20 that never actually make it into the store. But what’s even better? A reusable shopping bag that doesn’t actually look like a reusable shopping bag, like these Flip & Tumble bags that look cute and can be folded up into a little ball.


A set of two attractive organically grown bamboo cutting boards are a great replacement for sorry old plastic cutting boards. Just be sure to tell your gift recipient that they shouldn’t leave their bamboo cutting boards soaking in water because fyi they will warp.


Green Shopping: Thrifting Is Where It’s At

Monday, November 29th, 2010
By Christa

Green fashion and green furniture and green *everything else* assault us from all sides nowadays, reminding us that the stuff we already have is probably not as green as we’d like it to be. Are my shirts made from organic cotton? Is my couch still off-gassing? Should I replace my reusable shopping bags with something more eco-friendly? Do I need to start making my own green window cleaner?

Maybe yes, maybe no. It sure is easy and it sure does feel good to say out with the old and in with the new when thinking about the health of the planet. And thanks to the fact that the green movement has money behind it, finding that earth-friendly couch is not a problem these days. But that brings up an important question: How green is buying new, anyway? Especially when it’s something that you maybe don’t need so much as want or what you really want is the pleasure of shopping for and having something new.


10 Green Gifts For Everyone On Your List

Friday, November 26th, 2010
By Christa

This year, on Black Friday 2010, I hope that you’re thinking about your holiday gifts in terms of not only great deals, but also eco-friendliness. It’s no longer difficult to find great green gifts – long gone are the holidays where your only choices were soy candle or rough raw organic wool sweater and the vegetarians at the table were limited to the mashed potatoes. Below you’ll find some of my favorite green gift ideas, and I’ll be posting a few more gift guides as we get closer and closer to the holidays. Enjoy shopping, and feel free to add your green gift suggestions in the comments!

1. For the green glam girl:

bamboo makeup brushesorganic perfumecandy wrapper clutch

Staying beautiful and going green aren’t mutually exclusive goals, and beauty accessories make the best grownup stocking stuffers. I wouldn’t mind waking up to some bamboo makeup brushes (at 15% off squee!), a bottle of organic wheat almond perfume, and a cute recycled candy wrapper clutch to store everything I need for a glam night out.

2. For the fitness buff:

flowered stainless steel water bottlestainless steel water bottlegreen water bottle

Stainless steel water bottles aren’t just trendy and way better than plastic bottles, they’re also easy to clean, won’t retain scents, don’t leach yucky stuff into your water, and last just about forever. You can satisfy anyone obsessed with hydration with the gift of a stainless steel water bottles from CamelBak, Lifeline, and Gaiam.

3. For the bag fiend:

I am a total bag collector, but I try to keep my obsession green by buying designer vintage. For those for whom new is the only option, I recommend these super cute hemp and recycled polyester handbags from Reveal – fashionable and good for the planet? Sweet!

4. For the tiny tot:

Under the Nile fruit Flat CatUnder the Nile vegetables

If you’re in the market for organic cotton soft toys appropriate for very young babies and toddlers, you can’t beat Under the Nile. Our household has gotten a lot of play out of the Fruit Tote, Flat Cat (my daughter’s best friend in the whole world), and Veggie Crate, which is on sale for 26% off.

5. For the home:

recycled orange wall clockowl framefleece blanket

Now these, I love… an adorable clock made of reclaimed and recycled detergent bottles, a eco spun felt photo frame, and a 100% recycled plastic polar fleece throw for those chilly January evenings. Recycling – especially plastic – keeps those landfills little.

6. For the coffee or tea lover:

reusable coffee cupreusable iced coffee cupreusable tea cup

Mmm, hot beverages. But if you get them on the road, you’re talking about a lot of waste. So for the coffee, tea, or hot chocolate lover in your life, how about wrapping up a thermal coffee cup with the look of a travel cup, an iced beverage cop for the summer months, or a reusable cup just for tea lovers?

7. For the gadget fiend:

electricity monitor

Everyone knows someone who loves gadgets, so let’s think green. My favorite green gifts for the gadget lover have to be the trendy electricity usage monitor that shows you were waste is happening, a solar bag charger that can charge your phone or serve as a battery, and a wee USB battery charger so no more trying to figure out where to recycle batteries.

8. For the kid in your life:

stainless steel lunch boxrecycled pencilsrecycled pencil case

Students need a lot of gear, so going green can make a big impact. For the student gift recipient, pick up a stainless steel bento box for lunches from home, arecycled pencils (who knew?), and recycled plastic pencil case for all those pens.

9. For the gardener:

There’s nothing like some nice fresh compost when you’re a gardener, so help your green thumb friends out this holiday season with the gift of a roto composter that is child safe and pet safe, and easy turn. Getting 25% off the regular price sweetens the deal!

10. For the pet and pet lover:

eco friendly dog toysorganic dog treatseco cat toy

Fido and Fluffy want to go green, too, and they love a good gift as much as the rest of us. Here are some faves recommended by my pet-loving peeps: a plush organic hemp toy for a pooch, all natural, organic, grain-free doggie jerky, and step and scratch cat stairs that are recyclable when kitty gets bored with them.

Are Homemade Holiday Gifts Really Greener?

Friday, November 19th, 2010
By Christa

I think the most common quickie answer to the question I pose in the headline would be YES! But stop for a moment and consider how ‘meh’ some homemade gifts can be. I’m not saying that your homemade gifts wouldn’t be absolutely fantastic, of course, but too many homemade gift ideas I encounter – and I’m always on the lookout – are more homey versions of the impersonal gift grab gifts we get at work. Bath salts. Candles. Soup ingredients in a jar. Etc. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things if you like them, but not everyone does.

The first step toward making sure your homemade holiday gifts are really green should be choosing presents that won’t eventually end up in a landfill. Wasted food, for example? Not green. The next step is making sure that your homemade gift doesn’t involve more consumption of new resources than buying something from a store would. What can you make using materials you have on hand or get source secondhand or even outside? What can you make using trash? (You know, nice clean trash like bottle caps, not old butter wrappers.)

So with that in mind, here are five green homemade gift ideas that aren’t too difficult and can be made with stuff you already may have lying around.

Need a gift for a baby or a bunny lover? Wee Wonderfuls has an easy pattern for a wee bunny that can be made with fabric scraps or old clothes.


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