As the owners of Twin Cities Green, my wife Tina and I have noticed a wonderful and growing trend of sustainability when it comes to gift giving and gift getting! From sourcing to presentation and everything in between, whether you’ve been green for 70 years or are just recycling your first can, we have witnessed an emerging eco-consciousness. It is not enough anymore to just give your recipient something off the shelf of a big box chain store—there are questions to consider! Is your gift made locally? Was the store independent? Is your gift made with materials that are recycled, reclaimed, natural, or organic? Will the dollars you choose to spend serve some sort of higher green or social calling? We hope so!
Before we get to our list of affordable green gift ideas, let’s quickly discuss the oxymoronic nature of green gift buying. We are often asked, “Isn’t the greenest choice not to buy anything at all?” The answer is yes. Most gifts bought and sold have traveled some distance, used some resources, and carry some carbon footprint. This is why we are also proponents of the giftless gift. Experiential gifts like tickets to the theater, a membership to a museum, gift certificates to a favorite restaurant, or a donation in the name of your recipient to a relevant charity or non-profit make excellent and memorable gifts that carry little to no potential impact on our environment. However, there is no denying that most of us do not choose to live a “stuff-less” life and enjoy giving and getting thoughtful tokens of affection for birthdays, holidays, weddings, or just because!
With that in mind, here are a few gift ideas that reflect our desire to be less impactful on our Earth and wallets. These items are available at Twin Cities Green.
Double Fork Bracelet: This beautiful, handmade bracelet is comprised of two hinged forks reclaimed after years of use. Our local artist skillfully shapes each fork tine into a beautiful work of wearable art. This conversation starting accessory will become one of your favorites! $33
Reuseable Stainless Steel Bottle: During Keep America Beautiful’s 2008 Great American Cleanup, volunteers recovered and recycled 189,000,000 PET (plastic) bottles that had been littered along highways, waterways and parks. This is just a fraction of the plastic bottles that are thrown in the garbage each year. Utilizing a reuseable water bottle is the first step in reducing our dependence on plastic bottles. Get a bottle for yourself and give them as gifts! Several sizes available, starting at $16
Reuseable 2-Tier Metal Food Container and Bamboo Utensil Set: This 2-Tier Stainless Steel Set is reusable, lightweight, and has a lid that doubles as a plate. Includes a small sauce/dressing container. It’s easy to carry and clean, but hard to live without. Great for both cold or hot food, and the planet, too. Fold down the handle to make it compact and easy to store. Perfect for work, school, picnics, or a night out. There’s nowhere it won’t go…except to the landfill. $20.99
Combine the food carrier with our Bamboo Utensil Set and become a green force to be reckoned with! The pouch includes a handy carabiner on the back that lets you clip and carry a fork, knife, spoon and chopsticks wherever you may roam. Perfect for a busy lifestyle and our precious planet. $11.95
Babyfood Jar Soy Candles: Can’t get much greener than this… a locally made soy candle in a locally reclaimed, reuseable jar. Soy candles burn cleaner and longer than their petrol based parafin competitors. When you’re all done with the candle, just recycle the jar or better yet, bring it back to Twin Cities Green and we’ll use it again. Prices vary depending on the size.
Twin Cities Green Minneapolis, MN 612-374-4581, twincitiesgreen.com
Clothes Swap It!
By Annie D’Souza
Do It Green! Magazine
Clothing swaps are a thrifty and green way to keep your closet fresh season after season. Consider these tips to host your own swap!
Invite friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Bringing different social circles together is easy under the common bond of fashion. Plus-the more clothes, the more choices!
Send invitations as far in advance as possible so that people can plan to clean out their closets before the swap. Consider using an electronic invitation such as evite.com.
Consider a 2-4 hour period to hold the swap so friends, co-workers and neighbors can just stop by when it is convenient for them.
The best time to swap is during a change in the season, when people are already in the mood to get rid of things.
At the swap, set aside a fitting area (or room, if your swappers are shy) with a full-length mirror.
Serve a few eco appetizers and drinks like homemade zucchini bread and organic wine.
When swappers arrive, put their items in the swap pile. If the swap is large, you may want to separate items into categories like tops, bottoms, coats, etc.
Separate accessories and shoes into laundry baskets or boxes since they are easily lost in the shuffle.
Explain the basic rule of etiquette-out of the pile is fair, out of someone’s hands or out of their personal pile is not.
Have some grocery bags on hand for swappers to place their new finds in.
Donate the leftover clothes to local shelters, charities or foundations. Many organizations have capacity limits on the amount clothes they can take so consider contacting a few to make sure all the remaining clothes will have a good home. Some organizations will even pick up donations.