Tag Archives: christmas

Your guide to excellent, sustainable, made right (here) gifts – from companies against bigotry

Despite all the negativity surrounding us lately, a joyous season is upon us. I don’t know about you, but if we are to fiercely fight for what’s right in the coming four years, I think we need a nice break and to sit back and relax this Christmas, knowing that Obama and Biden are still in office.

Last week I shared an important post about where to donate your dollars this Holiday Season to make an impact and spread some eco-love. This week, I’d like to focus on promoting some ethical, eco-friendly brands, who just like us, openly supported a Hillary Clinton presidency and stand against hate and racism. These brands will help you give excellent, sustainable, made right (here) gifts to yourself or others worthy of a treat.

1. Bead & Reel

Bead & Reel is an ethical online boutique offering eco-friendly, cruelty free (vegan), sweatshop free fashion. Fair trade, organic, recycled material, female run brands – whatever you feel strongly about, they’ve got it. They’re good at listing where everything is made, so you can shop local if you want to too.

2. National Geographic

Can I just give a shout out to National Geographic? With their fantastic (yet frightening) environmental series Years of Living Dangerously and the new Leo movie Before the Flood, they sent a clear message about voting for the climate this election. A magazine subscription might not be the most zero waste gift, but one I’d sure like anyway! (Or go ahead an purchase Years of Living Dangerously on I-tunes!)

3. Rackk and Ruin

Rackk and Ruin is a Berlington, VT (Bernie’s home base) jewelry maker focusing on using natural materials like leather, feathers and metal in her handmade pieces. She’s offering safety pin gold earrings right now as well, so you can show off your anti-Trump feelings.

4. Skin Deep Naturals

You might remember Skin Deep Naturals from when I got my reusable, organic cotton make-up remover rounds earlier this year. However, there’s more to the brand than that. It’s a natural skin care line using safe ingredients straight from nature, without any synthetic ingredients or preservatives. Most ingredients are organic and fair trade certified and all are hate-free.

Cat stripes Cotton tote bag
My made in USA, cotton tote-bag from Seltzer Goods

5. Seltzer Goods

Seltzer Goods are so much fun! They’re definitely on the “nice to have” scale of things, but one deserves a fun and colorful treat now and then. Tote bags, magnets, pens and more, with most everything being made right here. I bought myself a striped cat tote from them earlier this year, which is made in USA, 100% cotton and so cute.

6. Tabii Just

This zero waste, feminist designer just launched her fall collection, and it’s looking classy. Tabii Just is based and made in New York. I scored a gorgeous scarf made from scrap fabric this fall and I couldn’t be happier with it (maybe it’s the cute ball hem!?)

7. The Little Market

The Little Market is an online shop where customers can purchase handmade, fair trade products made by (female) artisans around the world. Every purchase, whether it be a blanket, accessory, candle, baby beanie or little apron, generates meaningful income for the artisans and their families. Lauren Conrad is one of the founders.

8. Tradlands

I just modeled my new shirt from Tradlands in my last post here on the blog! They’re all about perfectly crafted women’s shirts, keeping it small business and always made in USA with love (not hate). Check out their soft flannels or business button-ups.

State optical glasses tradlands shirt
My Made in USA, cotton flannel from Tradlands

Please readers, if you know of any great eco-brands, who openly and proudly voted against hate and bigotry, please share them with me in the comments! I sure can’t keep track of them all by myself ;)

In addition to voting with your dollars and buying what’s right, you should also avoid shopping at places that did support a Trump presidency (it’s a search away). Funny enough, the sustainable community is very unlikely to have done so, whereas, places like Hobby Lobby (Chinese junk store) and Chick-file (mass produced chicken) probably did.

If you’re more into zero waste gifts, check out my other posts on gifting and donating.

Just opt out of it – and then it’s already a wrap

I already posted the ultimate eco-friendly Christmas gift list last year, so I won’t attempt to outdo myself, but I’d like to write some more about gift wrapping.

Growing up, my mom would always try to save the wrapping paper from Christmas and birthday gifts. We had a habit of opening gifts real gently to “keep” the surprise  as long as possible, by undoing the string, the tape and unfolding the paper slowly, which meant that most of the time there was decent looking paper to save. I used to think “Is paper so expensive that we must wrap other people’s gifts in previously used, wrinkled paper? Why is mom saving it?” But I get it now.

Throwing it away would have been wasteful. Money wise, even if we’re only talking dimes, and planet wise. (Love you mom!)

I just got a Barbie moped! Wrapped in previously used paper? Maybe!
I just got a Barbie moped! Wrapped in previously used paper? Most likely!

As an adult I try to limit packaging and wrapping paper as much as possible. I’m so lucky; my husband is not the most grandiose wrapper and always opts for using something he finds in the recycling bin (newspaper, old box, outdated map), and never any tape. Yes, his gifts are easy to spot at a birthday party and normally trigger quite a few smiles. With a signature style like that – who needs a card?

Now, just in case someone reading this really wants to wrap their gifts up nicely for Christmas, and is not sold on my husband’s recycling trend (!?), here’s another idea; fabric bags! I recently saw that there are fabric gift bags all over town now. Specifically, I saw a bunch (imported, unfortunately, from India) at the Container Store.

There’s something about fabric that tells people that the bag is not a disposable item and should not be thrown away. I think these bags look really cute and if you are handy, they’d be super easy to make yourself! Two sides, stitching and drawstring are basically all you need. I found this tutorial on PositivelySplendid.com – get sewing! (Now, don’t go buying a made in China sewing gauge…)

I have checked more than a few tags – all paper gift bags are made in China (dyes, waste, plastics, import!). They create landfill waste (methane!) and they cost a lot of money (loss!). What’s the reason to buy them again?

How are you all dealing with the Christmas wrapping waste?

bags

Want to read last year’s fantastic (*wink wink*) Christmas gift guide? Click HERE.

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree… when disposable beats reusable

It’s that time of year again when we all start talking about Christmas. Christmas plans, Christmas wishes, Christmas time off from work, Christmas weight gain, Christmas spending…

My husband and I don’t do the gifting every year and we probably have less than 10 Christmas decorations, but I actually love this holiday! For me, it’s all about cooking, listening to music, being all around cozy and drinking spiced hot wine (“Glögg”). Favorite Christmas album? Destiny’s Child’s 8 days of Christmas. Sassy harmonies combined with jingle bells – sign me up! (And give hubby a pair of ear-plugs.)

It's the real deal.
It’s the real deal.

Now, let’s talk Christmas trees!

Did you know that the most eco-friendly choice is to buy a real tree each year, instead of buying and reusing an artificial one?

A Swedish nonprofit I follow, the Nature Protection Organization, published an article about it last year, which is where I first read about it.

Before your go “hurray” and head on over to Wal-Mart’s parking lot, there are a few constraints to consider. You need to make sure your tree was grown sustainably, preferably organic, and comes from a nearby, healthy forest (or farm). You’ll probably have most luck shopping with a small vendor or straight from the owner to assure that you’re getting a happy tree.

The tree should then be cut and composted, used for heating (if you have a high efficiency furnace) or collected by the municipality for use as heating material or be composted, large scale, when the season is over.

Unless someone in the family is allergic, a real tree is also a safe choice for your home.

Taking a closer look at the option, an artificial tree, there are several (obvious) reasons as to why this type of tree is worse for the environment than the real one. First, the artificial, plastic Christmas tree was transported here from far away; most often from China, may have been manufactured un-ethically and generally contains chemicals.  It comes wrapped in plastic, inside a cardboard box with ink on it (waste!). And when it’s time to get a new one, should it get old and worn, it’s not recyclable and ends up in landfill (waste!). Even if you use it for as long as 10 years, a real, locally grown, sustainable tree, should still be better.

There’s an exception; if you already own a plastic tree, of course, using that one again is the best choice!

We had guests for Christmas last year so we said yes to the mess of decorating our house (a little). We went with a real tree, obviously, which we picked out at the local farmers’ market. We decorated it with homemade paper decorations, popcorn string, Mardi Gras beads, the few ornaments we already had, and the main attraction was a colorful string of lights from Taiwan. I’ve never been into the multi-colored lights but it was the ONLY box of lights I could find not made in China! See, this challenge is forever pushing my boundaries of style.

This year, it may just be the two of us for Christmas and we haven’t decided if we’re having a tree or not, yet. If we are, we will do a style-repeat from last year since it was such a looker!

What do you think? Artificial or real?

Picking out the tree. Notice the wonderful "Christmas weather" #Houston
Picking out the tree. Notice the wonderful “Christmas weather” #Houston
Making the popcorn string took a long time!
Making the popcorn string took a long time!
Wow, look at them classy lights! Ella & Ben are very cute though, and I spy American made New Balance sneakers in the background.
Wow, look at them classy lights! Ella & Ben are very cute though, and I spy American made New Balance sneakers in the background.

My Swedish (speaking) readers can read the article HERE.

And when it’s hot and ready, then dreidel I shall drink

There’s nothing like enjoying hot spiced wine, with a loved one (or two) on a cold December night. The smell of cinnamon, cardamom and red wine fills the house and creates that Christmas feeling. Add a few ginger snaps, music and a fire place; it’s perfection.

This year I actually got myself a little present (say what!) – 6 oz. tumbler glasses, which we will use only for these cozy winter nights. Made in USA, of course, with tiny blue winter leaves. Or winter leaves is what I thought it was until I read the label… “Dreidel tumbler” it said. Oh, what the heck, I like dreidels!

And I love it when Christmas decorations are in unexpected colors, like blue. Where I bought these cuties? All-time favorite, also known as the land of inspiration (and empty wallets); Crate and Barrel. At only a few dollars each, for once I didn’t break the bank.

Happy Holidays!

IMG_3796

Two tips for a stress free (eco-friendly) Christmas

You’ve already gotten gifts for your loved ones. Something meaningful, sustainably made, eco-friendly and local that you know they will love (right?). Now comes the stress of gifting for all the other friends and family members whom you, sort of, “should” be giving something. Let’s solve that problem real quick.

Here are my top tips for nailing it, this Christmas:

1. Give the gift of alcohol. Never has a bottle disappointed an adult. We all live somewhat close to a winery, brewery or distillery right? And if the person who gets it doesn’t drink, I assure you it will be re-gifted very soon. Packaging is all recyclable and most liquor stores accept corks back too. Cheers to shopping local!

2. Most kids won’t remember what you got them. So skip the gift. Most will have too many presents to begin with; some won’t even have time to open them all. Feel bad? Tell the parents you’re trying to reduce consumption and if that doesn’t provide an aha-moment, give them a gift according to tip 1, so they can drown their sorrows.

ran
Texas wine anyone? Yeah, I thought so.

And there’s a bonus tip:

3. Please don’t buy gift bags. Wrap gifts in stuff you have at home, like newspaper. Gift bags often contain plastic pieces and non FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) approved paper. And they ARE made in China. (Pollution! Dangerous dyes! Waste! Import!) Plus, you can’t be sure that the bag will be reused or recycled amidst all that Christmas stress.

So easy. So eco. Happy Holidays y’all!