By Sarah Vig and Melanie Bianchi
It’s enough to turn anyone into a Scrooge!
So many potential gifts ignore concerns about natural ingredients, fair labor, the carbon imprints of production and shipping, wasteful packaging, and so on… Enter Appalachian Voice’s Green Gift Guide! With nine suggestions for eco-conscious giving, your Christmas tree won’t be the only green thing spreading the holiday cheer!
A Water Buffalo, a Llama, or Perhaps Some Rabbits?
Heifer International, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty, allows individuals to give the gift of self-reliance to families in developing countries. Different dollar amounts correspond to different animals, which benefit the people who receive them by providing a livelihood through animal husbandry. Not only is this gift charitable, it is an especially good gift for the eco-conscious, as it will help alleviate the heightened impact climate change will have on residents of developing countries. Gifts range in price from $10 to $10,000 and can be found online at www.heifer.org
Frequent Flyer Anti-Miles
A Terrapass offers a balance for an individual’s carbon footprint through an investment carbon reduction projects. Packages offered include carbon offsets for a year of driving ($71.40 or $29.75 for a hybrid), flying ($50.60), or home energy use ($119). You can also purchase bundles for individuals ($181.50) or for a family of four ($369). If you want to be more precise, you can calculate a personalized carbon footprint with the Terrapass Footprint Calculator available on their website. Find them online at www.terrapass.com
A gift membership to a local food co-op not only means discounts on local, natural, organic, and fair trade foods, it also is an investment in the community. Co-ops will often redistribute profits back to members if they had a good year, so the gift gives back in more ways than one!
Go Straight to the Source
Though they won’t see results until growing season, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) food share is an investment in local usually organic agriculture, and means a summer full of delicious fresh and local produce picked during each weekly harvest directly from growers you know. Food shares cut out the middle man, which means a reduced price on produce and more profit for the grower.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
Forget Scrapbooks, Get a Scrap Bucket!
The kitchen composter is less expensive, and at only five gallons, less bulky than outdoor composter, making it a good gift, suitable for loved ones in any living situation. The Happy Farmer Kitchen Composter, available online uses an activator called Bokashi (which runs $12 to $16 per gallon), and produces compost in two to four weeks. As an added benefit, kitchen composters can compost meat, bones, and dairy products unlike their outdoor counterparts. Available in white, black, or tan with 1 gallon Bokashi activator for $65.95 plus shipping at www.compostbins.com.
Soak in the Conservation
A new showerhead might not seem like an exciting gift at first, but when you consider that it will help the recipient conserve a precious resource, save them money in water bills each month, and is mighty shiny to boot, it becomes more attractive. High efficiency shower heads can save over a gallon of water per minute over a regular showerhead. High efficiency showerheads range in price from $20 to $70 and can be found at most hardware stores.
IN STYLE AND IN GOOD CONSCIENCE
A Silver Lining
Clearly, plastic water bottles got the environmental dunce cap this year, prompting an increase in the availability of stainless steel and aluminum alternatives. Klean Kanteen is a deserved leader in the field. It is made from commercial kitchen-grade stainless steel, features a wide mouth (large enough for ice cubes!) and an option of tops, including the popular sippy-cup style for young ones and a stainless steel top for those who want as little plastic as possible in their bottle! Many outdoor stores or outfitters will sell them, also on the web at www.kleankanteen.com
Walk This Way
If you must give socks, give memorable ones. Made in Mount Airy, N.C., out of ingenious combinations of organic fibers and recycled polyester, Tekos are aimed at hikers and campers, but their colorful stripes make the transition indoors quite stylishly. Find them at regional chain Mast General Store, www.mastgeneralstore.com, or at www.tekosocks.com
A gift membership or donation to an environmental group or non-profit is thoughtful, eco-conscious, and always appreciated by both the gift recipient and donation recipient. It also lasts all year in the continued work of your chosen non-profit group.