Maven Moment: Baskets Aren’t Just for Easter

March 31, 2021 by  
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Maven Moment: Baskets Aren’t Just for Easter

Valentine’s Day Gifts That Show Mother Earth Some Love, Too

February 8, 2021 by  
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Valentine’s Day Gifts That Show Mother Earth Some Love, Too

The high environmental cost of popular holiday gifts

December 24, 2020 by  
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As we scramble around gathering up last-minute Christmas gifts, we often worry more about hurting somebody’s feelings if we don’t get them something compared to how much we consider that gift’s impact on the environment. But the societal pressure of all this gift-giving has many bad consequences for the planet. The top 10 types of Christmas gifts given in the U.K., in order, are: clothes and shoes, food and drink, health and beauty products, toys and games, books, jewelry, vouchers, music, movies and computers. Each of these items has its impact on the environment. Related: 10 eco-friendly holiday gift ideas for friends Pajamas are one of the most popular holiday presents. Many gift-givers and recipients would be shocked to find out that those cute cotton pajamas took 20,000 liters of water to produce — enough water to keep a U.K. household of two running for 2.5 months. Then there’s the pesticides . While cotton only represents 2.4% of the world’s croplands, about 24% of the world’s insecticides and 11% of pesticides are used for growing this crop. About half of the usable cotton ends up as waste product. Then, consider health and beauty products. Half a million animals die every year in makeup and toiletry tests . When it comes to packaging, those little plastic containers can take a millennium to break down. So what are we to do if we don’t want to be the Grinch around Christmas? Be a little choosier. Think of a gift the recipient will actually use, preferably for a long time. When possible, buy secondhand. Do a little research — at least read the labels or look at the company website — to ensure that ingredients are vegan and sustainably sourced. If this is too much work, shop where somebody else has already done the research for you, such as Shop Like You Give a Damn . Maybe it’s too late this year, and your presents are already wrapped and under the Christmas tree, or you already exchanged them at Hanukkah or on the solstice. But there’s always next year, and the many holidays, birthdays and other occasions in between. Each gift is a choice; choose wisely. Image via Kari Shea

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The high environmental cost of popular holiday gifts

Sustainable holiday gift ideas for siblings

December 11, 2020 by  
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You grew up with them and have probably known them your whole life. So why are some siblings so hard to shop for? We’ve scoured the internet for fun, thoughtful and sustainable  gifts  which even the most discerning sib will be thrilled to receive. Zero-waste cocktail kit This  zero-waste cocktail kit  lets your siblings stir up a gimlet or  French  75 anywhere. The mason jar cocktail shaker, two stainless steel mini straws and sphere ice tray travel well in their own special tote. Related: Gift loved ones with classes that teach and build nature skills Organic soaps Okay, people often use soap as a sort of fallback gift when they don’t know what else to give somebody. But  Birch Ridge ‘s handmade soaps are something special. These soaps are vegan,  organic , synthetic-free and, best of all, come in delicious fragrances with cool names. Blood Moon is a combo of citrus notes — blood orange, tangerine, lime, sweet orange, tangerine and lemongrass. Collins pairs lemongrass with sage, patchouli, lime and bergamot. Hemp socks Want  hemp socks  without the hippie look? These unisex machine washable crew socks use a cotton, nylon and  hemp  blend. They come in three patterns: mustard with a mountain pattern, tan with bison and rust with a geometric pattern. The socks are also responsibly made in China (a self-reported label meaning a company aims to treat workers fairly and reduce environmental impacts). Sustainable wireless charger For the electronically-inclined sibling, try these  chargers  made from hemp and recycled plastic. Go Nimble offers several options, including a wireless travel kit and a dual pad for simultaneously charging two devices. A safe bet for your bro who is always wearing down his phone battery at  family  dinners. EcoVibe gift set EcoVibe  has done the work of putting together cutesy gift sets for you. The company has lots of choices depending on your sib’s favorite activity. An Icelandic bath kit includes a special  Icelandic  kelp soap, stone soap dish and matching tiny Icelandic kelp candle. The bike buff gift set includes shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream and lip salve to clean up post-ride, plus a cyclist kit and a pocket bicycle multi-tool. The air plant wall mounting kit will help up your sib’s botanical game with a natural cork backdrop for their air plant collection. Includes step-by-step instructions. Vegan jams by Trade Street Jam, like soap, is a classic gift because the recipient can enjoy a special flavor without leaving behind an artifact to clutter their house forever. We want to try all of  Trade Street Jam’s  interesting  vegan  blends, like strawberry chipotle and fig or plum and rose. Or maybe sour cherry ginger. Or smoke peach. Whichever you choose, be sure to order some of Trade Street’s darling mini wooden jam spoons to go with your gift. Wellness app membership Is wellness a gift you can give? Sure. Help your anxious sib learn to slow down with a gift of  Calm , the leading meditation app.  Headspace  is another meditation app that promises to change lives with an investment of only a few minutes a day. Or you could give a gift of Zoom classes with your sibling’s favorite  yoga  teacher. Vegan, biodegradable juice masks Is your sibling into clean living? This  masking and juicing set  brings the raw juice trend into skincare with biodegradable sheet masks. We especially like the set’s included sprout headband to secure your hair while the raw juice cleanse mask is on your face. This set is, of course, vegan, organic, eco-friendly and cruelty-free. I+I Botanicals For the CBD-inclined sibling,  I+I Botanicals  offers expertly crafted feel-good formulations to solve skincare issues. I+I Infused Bath Teas blend CBD and essential oils into bath salts. I+I Dry Oil Body Mist will leave your sib glowing, not greasy, and smelling of citrus and sandalwood. This women-owned company uses only American -grown, lab-tested CBD in its products. Artsy reusable water bottle People may not leave the house as often during the pandemic, but when your sibling goes out, they’ll want to be toting an eye-catching  water bottle . This cute retro  water  bottle comes in mint, coral, dark gray and indigo, each with a contrasting top. It’s vacuum-sealed and has a double-walled construction that keeps cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot drinks hot for up to twelve. Plant-based milk maker If your sibling is part of the global trend against dairy, they’ll benefit from this  plant-based milk maker . Instead of buying premade and processed faux milk from the store, this gadget turns  nuts , grains and seeds into fresh dairy-free milk at home. Your sibling can even devise their own custom blends. Compostable phone case Alas, every good thing comes to an end. Even a trusty and beloved phone case.  Compostable cases  for your iPhone and Airpods can help pare down the global waste stream. These cases made from a bamboo-based proprietary blend can decompose and return to the earth. When your sibling’s phone case must meet its maker, we prefer to think dust to dust than permanent burial in a landfill . To make these cases even sweeter, you can customize them with your sib’s name or initials. Cases come in colors like mint and French raspberry. These work great with wireless charging or a lightning cable. Images via Package Free Shop, Birch Ridge, United by Blue, Go Nimble, EcoVibe, Trade Street Jam, Calm, ESW Beauty, I+I Botanicals, The Grommet, Pexels, and Casetify

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Sustainable holiday gift ideas for siblings

SoKind Gift Registry: Another Way To Give … and Receive

December 1, 2020 by  
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The SoKind registry from The Center for a New American Dream allows users to make lists of experiences they’d like to have or handmade gifts they’d like to receive. The post SoKind Gift Registry: Another Way To Give … and Receive appeared…

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SoKind Gift Registry: Another Way To Give … and Receive

10 eco-friendly holiday gift ideas for friends

November 27, 2020 by  
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Too often, the giving season feels like a mad rush to check tasks off a list. It’s all too easy (and embarrassing) to wind up giving our friends and family junk gifts that we regret buying. Our  shopping  guide makes it simple to find sustainably made, easy-to-purchase presents that you can feel good about giving over the holidays. Spent grain pancakes Everybody has to eat, and anybody sane likes a good pancake. This  spent grain mix  is low carb, high  protein , contains lots of fiber and uses recycled grains. What?! That’s right, these pancakes are called “spent” because the barley flour comes from microbrewery castoffs. You and your pancake gift recipient will feel even better about breakfast knowing that Grain4Grain donates to a food bank every time somebody purchases a box. Related: How to make soy wax candles for a cozy, autumnal home Shoes by Allbirds Buying shoes can be intimate, so this one is for your close friends.  Allbirds , best known for its sneakers, also makes boat shoes, slip-ons and flats. Choose from shoes made from wool — supposedly these New Zealand sheep have a fabulous life — or, for your  vegan bestie, choose shoes made from responsibly sourced eucalyptus fiber. As a carbon-neutral company, Allbirds puts eco-thought into all aspects of business. The laces are made from recycled plastic bottles, the insoles use castor bean oil and even the shipping boxes are made from 90% recycled cardboard. Digital thrift store gift card Some friends are easier to shop for than others. For some particular people, it’s best to let them pick out their own  gifts . Help them shop sustainably with a digital thrift store gift card from Rent the Runway or thredUP. Upcycled clutch from Jungalow Jungalow  specializes in bright colors and bold botanical patterns. The company is the brainchild of  design  blogger Justina Blakeney. Now you can get Jungalow’s super lush upholstery fabrics in a clutch purse. These clutches use upholstery scraps that wound up on the cutting room floor. Your friend can carry it as a small purse, or keep important things organized inside the clutch while tossing it in a larger bag. Darling little tassels adorn the clutch’s zipper. Girlfriend Collective activewear Through  fashion  alchemy,  Girlfriend Collective  turns old fishing nets, plastic bottles and other trash into chic leggings, bras, socks, sweatsuits and shorts. The company has already sidetracked about 4.5 million plastic water bottles bound for a dubious fate. You can find clothing for all sizes, and even a maternity section on their website. Homemade sugar scrub For a low-cost yet personal gift with a sweet scent, make your friend a sugar scrub. All you need is  sugar , coconut oil (or similar) and a few drops of essential oil. Use the essential oil straight out of the bottle, or make a special blend for your friend. Scoop the scrub into a mason jar, tie a bow around it, and it’s ready to gift. Full details on making sugar scrubs are available at  The Simple Veganista . Malala Scrunchie With a  Malala scrunchi , your friend can secure her hair while simultaneously promoting  education  for girls. When you buy these hair holders, the money goes to the Malala Fund, named for the brave and beloved Pakistani heroine and kick-ass activist Malala Yousufzai. The scrunchies are made from sustainably sourced bamboo fabric and dyed with natural plant dyes, like turmeric for yellow, indigo for blue and madder root for pink. We like the pumpkin color for fall and winter. Cruelty-free, 10-free nail polish from Pear Nova Ten what? Bad ingredients: toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, xylene, parabens, camphor, fragrances, phthalates or animal ingredients. Not sure what all those ingredients are? The bottom line is you probably don’t want them on your nails.  Pear Nova  products are 10-free, designed in  Chicago  and look much more stylish than your average drugstore nail polish. The inventive colors have fun names, such as Cleo F*ckin Patra, Rub My Temples, It’s Summer Somewhere and Rooftop ‘Til You Drop. Wine barrel Apple Watch strap In another clever example of  upcycling ,  Uncommon Goods  offers an upgrade for your Apple Watch strap. Your oenophile friend will feel good knowing that her new watch strap was once a French oak wine barrel. These straps are made in Austria and compatible with Apple Watch Series 5, 4 and 3. Eco travel kit In this pandemic  holiday  season, everybody wants things to go back to normal ASAP. Give the gift of optimism with this  eco travel kit . Your friend will smell delightful with naturally flavored lip balm, deodorant, moisturizer and perfume in grapefruit, bergamot and rose scents. She’ll nap beneath a silky eye mask and wake to note her thoughts in an artisan-crafted kite notebook. The kits come in a vegan leather case and also include earplugs, q-tips, hair ties, disposable face masks and Emergen-Cs. You can upgrade and personalize the Aria Kit with extra add-ons. Images via Grain4Grain , Katherine Gallagher / Inhabitat, thredUP , Jungalow , Girlfriend , Pixabay, HARA , Pear Nova , Uncommon Goods , and Aria Kit

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10 eco-friendly holiday gift ideas for friends

Vellabox delivers natural, artisan candles to your door

November 13, 2020 by  
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Subscription boxes can be a great way to treat yourself each month or surprise a loved one with a thoughtful, curated gift. As we spend more time at home than ever, these monthly boxes can break up the monotony of daily life, too. With sustainability and affordability in mind, Vellabox delivers candles and eco-friendly goodies to your door, and it is a perfect little act of self-care. Plus, who doesn’t love the coziness of a freshly lit candle this time of year? Vellabox is a Columbus, Ohio-based company that offers handmade, natural wax candles in its subscription boxes. Each month, new scents are available in 4- or 8-ounce glass jars with metal lids that are 100% reusable or recyclable . Prices range from $10 to $30, with the $10/month box offering a 4-ounce candle and sustainable product, the $20/month option offering an 8-ounce candle and gift, or the $30 box offering a 4-ounce and an 8-ounce candle plus the surprise gift. Related: How to make soy wax candles for a cozy, autumnal home The Vellabox  packaging  is simple and sustainable. The cardboard boxes have no packing peanuts or bubble wrap; instead, the candles are secured in cloth bags in perfectly sized boxes to keep them safe. Every element is reusable or recyclable. The only plastic in my first box was the packaging for the sunflower seed butter. I tested the Ignis Box ($20/month) and the Vivere Box ($30/month) and was honestly impressed with both. The Ignis Box included a large Pumpkin Spice candle by Aster Candle. I’ve smelled a lot of pumpkin spice candles in my day, and I loved that this one struck the balance between too spiced (I’m not a huge fan of the overpowering scent of cinnamon) and too sweet. Truthfully, this one was less potent in smell and didn’t dissipate throughout my home as much as the other candles I tested, but it still smelled lovely. The company, Aster Candle, is based in Rhode Island; the owner, Catherine Kwolek, hand-pours each soy candle, and the  cotton  wicks are lead-free. My Ignis Box also included a package of 88 Acres Dark Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter. While the taste wasn’t exactly my cup of tea on its own (coming from someone who definitely enjoys a spoonful of peanut or almond butter on the regular), I blended it into a  dark chocolate-cherry smoothie  as recommended on the card included in the Vellabox package, and it tasted great this way. The second box had two candles by Lustre + Bloom. The larger of the two was an Aspen Woods scent. I’m picky about woodsy scents, as they can often be too strong or too musky for my taste. Honestly, I was bummed when I saw that scent in the box — that is, until I unscrewed the lid and took a whiff. It smelled like a walk through a  forest  in the best way. All the elements you’d expect here — leaves, moss, bark — blend beautifully with a touch of spice. Lighting it made a dreary day in the city feel slightly more in tune with nature. The second, smaller candle was a scent called Greenhouse. I wasn’t sure what to expect; I’ve definitely never encountered a candle with the scent of a  greenhouse , but it turned out to be my favorite of all the Vellabox candles I tested. Greenhouse reminded me of the very specific smell of eucalyptus in the shower, although the scent profile is technically “agave, aloe, chrysanthemum, green leaves.” It’s earthy and peaceful. This candle was the strongest of all three; even sitting across the room with other candles lit, I could only smell Greenhouse. Lustre + Bloom is a natural candle company based in Denver, Colorado. Mandy Candice, the shop owner, started making  non-toxic  candles after her son was born. She wanted to ensure she was only burning candles that were safe for the family. With these two candles came a bundle of Lunchskins, which are compostable, toxin-free sandwich bags meant to replace  single-use  plastic bags. When I was heading into the office every day, I always packed lunch and often used reusable silicone bags for my sandwiches. I actually have no immediate need for sandwich bags these days, but I’m excited to try these out, perhaps on a picnic or long drive. So far, I love that they have a cute avocado print across the bag. Although I received these boxes as editorial samples, I’ve already subscribed to the Vivere Box (I’m a sucker for natural candles, what can I say). I also have a few people on my list that I’ll be sending gift subscriptions for the holidays. Overall, I am thrilled with the candles. I loved all three scents despite being picky about candles, and the smells, especially Greenhouse, carried better than many of my other candles and wax melts. Although I was a little iffy on these particular bonus gifts , I am looking forward to seeing what other surprises are included in my future boxes. + Vellabox Images via Paige Bennett / Inhabitat

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Vellabox delivers natural, artisan candles to your door

Ecosystem Services: Nature’s Gifts That Help Us Thrive

August 6, 2020 by  
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Ecosystem Services: Nature’s Gifts That Help Us Thrive

12 sustainable gifts to give Dad for Father’s Day

June 15, 2020 by  
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Father’s Day is just around the corner, so as you celebrate graduations, June birthdays and virtual weddings, keep an eye out for the perfect gift for Dad. While his favorite treat is always welcome, finding something more personal can be a challenge. We’ve come up with some ideas that not only express your love and gratitude for your father, but for the planet, too. Tools If your dad spends his spare time woodworking or tinkering on cars, there are many new gadgets on the market he would like to experiment with. He might also want to upgrade older tools. While shopping, avoid tools made with plastic and look for high-quality wood or stainless steel options that will last a lifetime. Many brands even include a lifetime warranty with your purchase. This will keep low-quality tools out of the landfill and keep Dad from having to shop for wrenches or hammers ever again.  Related: 15 essential woodworking tools Travel mugs and bottles Whether your dad must have his morning cup of Joe or always carries a water bottle with him, provide him with a long-lasting stainless steel option that will keep him from needing single-serve water bottles or to-go coffee cups. Watches Watches are a timeless gift. But, when choosing a design, seek out an eco-friendly model. Many watch manufacturers are now offering sustainable wood designs, like WeWOOD . Also check out the Veldt LUXTURE AARDE watch with a built-in Climate Action Reminder. Wallet By the time a good wallet gets broken in, it starts to break down and needs replaced, so Dad might appreciate something a little different. This year, go for a vegan leather wallet. Some unique options include these apple waste and wood leather wallets , or these wallets made from recycled banana trees . Plants Whether dad is the clear winner in the green thumb category or simply could use some bamboo luck in his office, both indoor and outdoor plants are great options this Father’s Day. Perhaps select a succulent or cactus, or if Dad is into novel gifts, pick up a Venus flytrap, tropical pitcher plants or sundews. Beer-making kit If your father enjoys a good brew at the end of the day, he may also enjoy making his own beer . Complete kits run around $200 and include all of the tools he’ll need, from a glass carboy to the instruction book. He can then add hops and yeast to perfect a recipe of his choice. Hobby class What does your dad love to do in his spare time? Has he shown an interest in gardening, pottery, knife-making, welding, golf, photography, playing guitar or learning another language? Whatever the hobby, get him a certificate for a local or online class to boost his learning on the topic. You could even take the class with him for a special, shared experience. Time outdoors Sometimes all Dad wants is to spend time with you, so set a date for some outdoor fun. Hike somewhere he’s never been, plan a camping trip or go fishing. Meet up for a road or mountain bike ride. Go for a round of golf or introduce him to disc golf at a nearby park. Whatever activity you choose, make sure to get a picture to memorialize the event. Backyard games If your father is the perpetual entertainer with the grill always ready for action, add some backyard games to the mix. Find or make a solid wood cornhole game for hours of family fun that won’t damage the planet. Horseshoes is another classic that requires little more than two metal poles and four metal horseshoes. Gardening supplies Whether he’s just recently shown an interest or taught you all you know about gardening while growing up, your dad might appreciate some new gardening supplies to add to his tool shed. If space is tight, get him one of the many new indoor gardening systems where he can grow veggies in the kitchen. For the outdoor gardener, invest in quality and sustainable gloves, organic skin protection and seeds. For yard decor, get solar path lights, a bird bath, bird feeder, bat house, butterfly house, bird house or beehive .  Park pass For the dad who enjoys spending time in nature, make sure he has the access he needs with a park pass. Most passes expire annually, so it could even be a tradition in the making to buy Dad an access pass. For the road-tripper, a national park pass will provide access to parks and monuments across the country.  Check out pass options here . Solar products The sun is a powerful tool for providing energy. Mount a solar panel to the RV or van for continual power on the road. On a smaller scale, get Dad a solar-powered lantern for nights under the stars. For cooking, invest in a solar oven and leave the propane and charcoal at home. Images via Aleksandra , Deborah Breen Whiting , Nicolas J. Leclercq , Gyae Min and Akiragiulia

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Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

May 5, 2020 by  
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