12 surprising things that arent vegan

January 16, 2020 by  
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It’s hard to stick to a vegan lifestyle. It can be easy to be foiled by ingredients that just slip right by you, and these aren’t just in food . A surprising number of non-food items also contain animal-derived ingredients. What’s a wannabe vegan to do? Remember that drastically cutting down on animal consumption is good for the planet, even if you fall short of 100 percent. If you want to be as close to completely vegan as possible, here’s a list of some surprising foods and other items that aren’t necessarily vegan. Sugar The sugar industry uses bone char from slaughtered cattle to remove the color from sugar so it becomes a lovely, bright white. What about using brown sugar? Unfortunately, that’s made of white sugar with molasses added to it. If you want to avoid bone char-processed sugar, buy organic, unrefined, beet or coconut sugar. You can also consult PETA’s list of manufacturers that forego the bones. Condoms Many condom manufacturers use the milk derivative casein for a smooth feel. If you can do without that texture, check out vegan-friendly brands . Altoids Would you like some tendons with your fresh breath? Yep, those ubiquitous mints contain gelatin. Time for a Tic Tac instead, or opt for the Altoids labeled “sugar-free smalls,” which do not contain gelatin. Related: 10 vegan myths, debunked Tattoo ink Charcoal can be made from plant or animal origins. But many of the black dyes used in tattooing are made with charcoal derived from animal bones. Other non-vegan ingredients in tattoo ink are glycerin (from animal fat), gelatin and shellac (made from crushed beetles). If vegan ink is important to you, consult this international list of vegan-friendly tattoo artists . Apple juice Now, it’s time for something really gross. Some companies use isinglass, or fish bladders, to clarify their apple juice. Paintballs Animal tendons and sinews find their way into a lot of food and non-food products. The outer layers of paintball capsules are usually made of gelatin. Dryer sheets Dryer sheets are designed to fight static electricity and make clothes soft and lint-resistant. But what keeps the sheets from drying out? In some cases, animal fat. Urban Vegan assembled a list of vegan alternatives , if you happen to use dryer sheets. Alternatively, you can also reduce your waste by opting to use wool dryer balls. Paint and makeup brushes Artists and anybody who uses makeup might wonder, where did the hairs in my brush come from? They might be synthetic, or they might be from some poor pig, squirrel, sable or Siberian weasel. Artists, consult this list of cruelty-free brushes , and here’s a list of vegan makeup brushes . Related: The pros and cons of going vegan Crayons In other art supply news, crayons contain stearic acid. This ingredient occurs naturally in plants and animals. But it’s often animal-derived, a slaughterhouse byproduct. Crayons are one of many products that contain stearic acid, including soaps, cosmetics, candles, lubricants, chewing gum and hairspray. If you prefer your crayons vegan, check out these triangular ones made by Melissa and Doug . Worcestershire sauce Newer vegans might not have realized this yet, but traditional Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies. Instead, make your own or buy this vegan, organic Worcestershire sauce from trusted brand, Annie’s. Soy cheese If you’re vegan, you probably already know that many regular cheeses aren’t even vegetarian, because they contain rennet, enzymes produced in bovine stomachs that help cheese curdle. But did you know many soy cheeses aren’t vegan? They often contain casein, which seems really weird, because why would you even want soy cheese if you weren’t vegan? British money Vegans who live in or are visiting Britain aren’t thrilled to handle the £5 notes, which contain tallow, an animal fat derivative. It is used to make the bills anti-static and less slippery. British vegans and vegetarians have been protesting since the new notes were introduced in 2016. This month, a British employment judge ruled that the Equality Act should also apply to people who sincerely believe in ethical veganism. How an indirect discrimination case will affect the bank notes is still to be seen. Plastic bags Could be beef tallow, could be chicken fat — most plastic bags use some type of animal fat as “slip agents” to prevent bags from sticking together. One more good reason for banning plastic bags ! Images via Shutterstock

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12 surprising things that arent vegan

Fun, eco-friendly things to do in Portland

January 13, 2020 by  
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Portland has boomed in the past 20 years, attracting musicians, writers, graphic designers and other creative people. Many entrepreneurial folks have started unusual businesses and events, which often surprise and delight visitors. If you’ve always wanted to visit a vegan strip club or watch an adult soapbox derby race, Portland is for you. The city of about 650,000 residents has a well-deserved reputation for rain . If you like a dry vacation, summer is your best bet. Spring is the most beautiful season, when tulips, irises and daffodils push up through the soggy ground and rhododendrons seem to bloom in every yard. Autumn enthusiasts will enjoy Portland’s fall colors. But don’t curse the rain if you get wet — it’s what makes Portland so beautiful and green. Portland outdoor adventures Outdoor adventure awaits, both within city limits and a short drive or bus ride away. The Willamette River separates Portland’s east and west sides. Running, walking and hiking are popular pastimes. On the east side, Mount Tabor, a dormant  volcano , offers hiking trails without leaving the city. Forest Park, on the west side, is even bigger, with about 70 miles of recreational trails. For a short but gorgeous Forest Park hike, take the Lower Macleay Trail along Balch Creek up to the Audubon Society, where you can check out the Wildlife Care Center which treats orphaned and injured native animals. If you happen to be in Portland on Thanksgiving, consider walking or running the annual  Tofurky Trot  5K, which benefits animal sanctuaries. Portland is well known as a bike-friendly city. You can rent a bike and explore, or join a guided tour.  Pedal Bike Tours  offers an intro to Portland tour, plus excursions focused on donuts or  beer . Their Columbia River Gorge Tour takes you out to the must-see gorge by van, where you bike and hike to waterfalls. Since Portland has access to both the Willamette and Columbia rivers, the water possibilities are vast. Join  Portland Kayak  for a guided full moon paddle on the Willamette. During summer,  eNRG Kayaking  offers SUP yoga classes. For a special Portland experience, learn about the Northwest’s favorite biped on a narrated  Bigfoot Cruise . You’ll even get the chance to smell a simulated Bigfoot pheromone (only people with strong stomachs should take a whiff). Those who like a little culture with their outdoors time will find plenty of art festivals, especially in summer. The upscale Pearl neighborhood has art openings every first Thursday of the month. From April to October, the  Urban Art Network Street Gallery  sets up an extremely accessible First Thursday show, with a chance to meet painters, jewelers, woodworkers and other skilled  artists , and find art for all budgets. Portland wellness It might seem like every other person you meet in Portland is a yoga teacher, and many neighborhoods have multiple yoga studios.  Yoga Refuge  occupies an attractive upstairs space in an older building, with plenty of light and plants to cheer up the grayest Portland days.  Studio PDX  even lets you bring your small dog to some of its classes. Portland is a city where it’s easy to find gong healing.  Portland Sound Sanctuary offers various sound healings, some including a cacao ceremony.  Awakenings Wellness Center  hosts intriguing events almost every day, such as ancestral lineage intensives, shamanic sound healing and a White Stag meditation. Common Ground Wellness Center  has a communal soaking pool and a dry cedar sauna. This clothing-optional hangout has times set aside for men, women, queer/trans and BIPOC people only, and a nightly silent hour from 10 to 11 pm. If you’re happier when everyone wears a swimsuit,  Knot Springs  is a newer facility with a delightful water circuit, sauna, eucalyptus-scented steam room and full foot rub menu. You can book massages at both Common Ground and Knot Springs.  Zama Massage Therapeutic Spa  is Portland’s only place for halo therapy in a  salt cave. The Grotto, a Catholic shrine to the Virgin Mary, is a peaceful place to visit, whether you’re religious or not. It features gardens, shrines, a labyrinth and a  meditation chapel with floor-to-ceiling windows. On a clear day, you can meditate on a view of snow-capped Mount Hood. Dining out in Portland Portland has become a city known for food, especially vegan food. At the high end, Chef Aaron Adams of  Farm Spirit  creates exquisite tasting menus from the Cascadian bioregion, with all ingredients sourced within 105 miles of the restaurant. There’s also a chef’s table experience, where you can chat with the chefs and watch as they prepare your food . The  Sudra interprets Indian food with a dash of New Mexico. Inventive plates include ingredients like turmeric-roasted Brussels sprouts, kale -infused dosas and coconut yogurt. All of this is served with a side of New Mexico green chilis, if desired. Vegetarian Thai Restaurant  KaTi Portland  makes the standard dishes, plus Thai street food and specialty entrees, with nary a drop of fish sauce. The all-vegan and gluten-free  Back to Eden  Dessert Shop on NE Alberta makes cookies, pies,  chia puddings and has an impressive sundae menu. Sweet Pea Bakery  is a real cake specialist. You can even get a tiered wedding cake or a six-layered rainbow cake. For vegan ice cream,  Eb & Bean  makes both dairy and non-dairy frozen yogurt in flavors like black sesame and salty pistachio.  Salt & Straw , Portland’s most famous ice cream shop, always features at least a few vegan flavors. Don’t miss their lemon cheesecake crumble. In nearby Milwaukie, Oregon, world-famous  Bob’s Red Mill  churns out oats, millet, sorghum, farro, and other grains. Visitors can take a tour, attend a cooking class, shop from a mind-blowing bulk section and eat lunch or breakfast. There’s also a separate veg menu. Visit during October to catch the annual two-day Portland VegFest . The newer  VegOut! Portland  Vegan Beer & Food Festival happens in  summer . Public transit It’s easy to get around Portland without driving yourself, through a combination of walking, biking, bus,  light rail and rideshare.  TriMet is the local public transit company. The MAX light rail serves the airport every day until almost midnight and is the cheapest way to get to downtown hotels. Amtrak, Bolt, Flixbus and Greyhound also serve Portland. If you see folks cruising around on heavy orange bikes built like tanks, that’s the  Biketown  bike share program. They even have a limited number of  adaptive bikes  to get people with  disabilities  on the road. Don’t want to pedal? You can also rent an electric scooter. Be advised that it’s illegal to ride scooters on the sidewalk, so stick to  bike lanes  and city streets. Also, be aware that these things pick up speed very fast when going downhill. Where to stay The  Kimpton Riverplace  puts a yoga mat in every room, has two charging stations for  electric cars  and is located right on the Willamette River waterfront path. Built in 1927, the  Heathman is both historic and eco-conscious, with low-flow shower-heads, LED lighting, walls made from recycled materials and even a ghost or two. For more eclectic lodging, check out one of Portland’s three  tiny house  hotels. Yes, three.  Caravan: The Tiny House Hotel  has five cramped but cute choices.  Tiny Digs  has eight themed units, including train car, “gypsy wagon,” barn and Victorian cottage.  Slabtown Village  bills itself as NW Portland’s luxury tiny home hotel. At Slabtown, you can also choose from three small Victorian houses if a tiny home proves too teeny. Images by Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Your eco-friendly travel guide for New York City

January 9, 2020 by  
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It’s easy to get caught up in New York’s frenetic energy. If you’re there as a tourist, the checklist of must-see attractions is exciting, but long and tiring: Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway shows, amazing museums. If you’re there for business, it’s easy to go from hotel to conference room to bar, repeat. But there are plenty of opportunities to find some beauty and tranquility within NYC’s nonstop style. Take some time to get outside, do something healthy, and take a few deep breaths. NYC outdoors Yes, there is nature within New York City’s urban jungle. The most obvious place to get outside is Manhattan’s massive, iconic Central Park. Within this 843-acre green space, you can visit the formal Conservatory Garden, pay your respects at the Strawberry Fields John Lennon memorial, rent a boat and paddle around the lake, and check out the Literary Walk, which is lined by statues of authors. For a very New York walk, stroll the 1.45-mile High Line. Manhattan’s elevated linear park, created from an old New York Central Railroad spur, has attracted a constant stream of locals and tourists since opening in 2009. Come as you are; you’ll see jogging shorts, haute couture, and everything in between. The 250-acre New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is gorgeous in every season. Peacefully wander through water lilies, lilacs and roses, or take advantage of the ambitious schedule of programming. The NYBG is on a serious sustainability mission, providing research to support government policy and protecting the world’s flora and biodiversity . Manhattan Kayak Company offers guided expeditions on the Hudson River, including its popular Skyline and NY After Dark tours. They also have many excursions for more experienced paddlers. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse has a free kayaking program during the summer. You’ll need to stay within a supervised area to participate. On Sundays, you can join them for kayak polo. Only the bravest visiting cyclists will want to take on Manhattan. But NYC has 300 miles of bike trails. Study this map and see if a bike rental might fit into your New York City plans. Wellness in NYC You can find any type of yoga you like in New York. But if you want to try something new and different, you’re in luck. Are cats your cup of tea ? You can enjoy both cats and tea during a Yoga & Kitties session at Meow Parlour . Like to let it all hang out? Bold & Naked might be the yoga class for you. If you want to get even bolder, one-on-one tantric yogassage is also available. During summer, consider joining a yoga class in a park or on a rooftop farm at sunset in the Brooklyn Navy Yard . Two of NYC’s most popular water therapy options are the old-fashioned Russian & Turkish Baths , serving New Yorkers since 1892, and the modern Great Jones Spa . At the Russian & Turkish Baths, you can get a platza oak leaf treatment, which involves being beaten with a broom made from fresh oak leaves dripping with olive oil soap. At Great Jones, the water circuit atmosphere is peaceful if a bit sterile. NYC appeals to spiritual seekers across the spectrum. Stop into Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, opened in 1879, for a few minutes of quiet or prayer. Visit the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art on Staten Island for tai chi, meditation, and a look at one of the biggest collections of Himalayan artifacts in the US. Join devotees of The Path for a nondenominational meditation, followed by relaxing in the Montauk Salt Cave. Or experience the power of spending time with ancient art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dining out in NYC Just as you might want to try an unusual yoga class while visiting NYC, this is a chance to eat vegan food that’s hard to find elsewhere. For example, vegans are out of luck in your average dim sum restaurant. But at Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant in Chinatown, vegans can safely grab anything off the dim sum cart. When’s the last time you had gluten-free veg shark fin congee? Vegan star Beyond Sushi has six locations, including in the Chelsea Market food hall, ironically situated in the Meatpacking District. Their sushi rolls are creative and ambitious. For example, the smoky jack contains black rice, pickled cabbage, mango, hickory-smoked jackfruit , watercress, mint, dehydrated olives and tomato guajillo sauce. Cinnamon Snail , in Pennsy Food Hall right by Madison Square Garden, specializes in “vegan kosher food made by a gaggle of wild ponies who live in a magical tree.” Start the day here by raiding their case of vegan donuts and baked goods, or get a hearty serving of mac ‘n’ cheese at lunch or dinner. For dessert, try some matcha cream crunch or lemon ginger cream pie at Rawsome Treats . Founder, head chef and Muay Thai fighter Watt Sriboonruang makes everything raw, vegan and gluten-free . Public transit While a Pew Research Center survey found that about 88 percent of Americans own cars, only about 22 percent of Manhattan households are auto owners. This is good news for tourists, as it means lots of public transportation. Trains serve all three of NYC’s airports , connecting to buses and the subway system to get you wherever you want to go. That said, NY public transit can be overwhelming, and New Yorkers tend to move fast. If you’re unfamiliar with public transit, New Yorker Minh Nguyen kindly put together this website for newbies. Commuter rail lines serve outlying areas. You can also ferry around town. NYC Ferry operates six routes spanning more than 60 nautical miles of waterways, and service is still growing. You can even charge your phone and get a snack while cruising. CitiBike offers a bike share program if you’re planning on short rides. Or hire a pedicab and take a rest while somebody else does the work . Eco-hotels The Benjamin Hotel was one of New York’s first hotel to focus on both sustainability and luxury, partnering with students from the New York Institute of Technology to help them revamp and earn a Green Key Eco-Rating. The hotel’s wellness offerings include the Rest & Renew program that helps guests improve their sleep . The Element New York Times Square West incorporated recycled material into its furnishings, such as carpets made from recycled plastic bottles. This Marriott hotel features loaner bikes for guests and a free breakfast bar with fresh fruit. For budget travelers who value a hotel’s gym over in-room amenities, consider staying at one of NYC’s YMCAs . Your room will resemble a monk’s cell, but you’ll wake up in a huge gym with spin class, weights and a pool. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and New York Botanical Garden

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Your eco-friendly travel guide for New York City

5 growing environmental nonprofits to support in 2020

January 8, 2020 by  
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With the new year already upon us, the need for efficient organizations battling the climate emergency is only growing. According to the Council of Nonprofits , 92% of public charities have an annual revenue of less than 1 million dollars. This year, consider donating to and volunteering with nonprofit organizations and charities that are transparent about how they use their funds and their time. Here are five fledgling nonprofits you may not have heard of yet, but that are already inspiring movements, pushing for legislation and combating climate change . The Foundation for Climate Restoration Probably best-known for its work with the United Nations Office for Partnerships and Earth Day Network, The Foundation for Climate Restoration (F4CR) is a nonprofit with a mission to restore the climate by 2050. The organization hopes to achieve its mission through initiatives that unite the public, policy-makers and businesses behind a common goal of reversing global warming. F4CR spotlights solutions that reduce carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere, restore ocean ecosystems and rebuild declining Arctic ice . According to the nonprofit, F4CR has already researched and supported solutions and technologies that, once at scale through funding and legislation, have the capacity to remove 1 trillion tons of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. To get involved, use this link to join the movement and receive updates about important working group moments, policy actions and meetings. Take the Climate Restoration Pledge and make a donation (one-time or monthly). Future Coalition Founded in June 2018, Future Coalition is the youth-led movement that mobilized 1 million people worldwide — led by the organization’s executive director, 20-year-old Katie Eder — to strike on September 20, 2019. The nonprofit is a national network and community organized for the younger generations who refuse to sit by while the future of the planet is in jeopardy. Future Coalition provides young people with the resources and support they need to make a difference in the battle against climate change. Related: Can’t make the climate strikes? Here are a few tips on how students can live sustainably On September 17, 2019, with support from the United Nations Office for Partnerships, F4CR, Earth Day Network and Future Coalition hosted the first Global Climate Restoration Forum at the UN Headquarters. “Young people understand that the climate crisis will require real leadership, as well as bold and innovative solutions,” Eder said. “We will not accept action that inadequately addresses the very real and existential crisis we’re facing. We need governments around the world to enact ambitious climate plans, and we need them to do it now.” Sign up for the Future Accelerator , which matches young people or youth-led organizations in need of pro bono campaign or support services with adult allies willing to contribute time and expertise to empower youth activists. Join the Future Coalition community Slack channel to share ideas and organize gatherings, or donate to the cause. Sunrise Movement Founded in April 2017, Sunrise Movement is focused on stopping climate change while creating jobs in the process. Coordinated by Sunrise, a political action nonprofit advocating political action on climate change, the youth-led movement is particularly focused on the Green New Deal. To show your support, you can host a 2020 launch party , search for a local hub in your neighborhood (if there isn’t one, start a chapter of your own) or donate . 5 Gyres 5 Gyres was founded by a couple who met on a sailing expedition to research pollution in the North Pacific Gyre. The organization’s goal is to empower action against the global epidemic of plastic pollution through science, education and action. 5 Gyres is a member of the Break Free From Plastic movement, and in 2017, it received special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Apply to become an ambassador to represent 5 Gyres at events and to promote and raise awareness of plastic pollution. Those interested can also donate or download the Trash Blitz app to track pollution in your area. Extinction Rebellion This global environmental movement founded in October 2018 is based in the U.K. but has recently expanded to the U.S. as well. Extinction Rebellion uses nonviolent civil disobedience to catalyze government action to avoid climate system collapse and loss of biodiversity . It has been organizing nonviolent protests against the government for inaction on the climate crisis since its founding, including the recent global climate hunger strikes in November 2019. Related: In a world first, the UK declares a climate emergency “We see that people are waking up and looking for ways to get involved and ways to create change,” said John Spies, a member of Extinction Rebellion NYC. “Extinction Rebellion provides that; people can join and take action. Extinction Rebellion’s mission, demands and means of creating change by using nonviolent direct action protesting is a proven way to create real change outside of the normal routes, such as voting.” Extinction Rebellion has groups all over the world, so check this map to find a local chapter near you. You can also donate legal fees to support members who’ve been arrested for peaceful protests or just general funds for training, actions and raising awareness. To get involved in the U.K., click here . To get involved in the U.S., click here . Images via Brian Yurasits , Foundation for Climate Restoration, Gabriel Civita Ramirez and Extinction Rebellion

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5 growing environmental nonprofits to support in 2020

5 growing environmental nonprofits to support in 2020

January 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on 5 growing environmental nonprofits to support in 2020

With the new year already upon us, the need for efficient organizations battling the climate emergency is only growing. According to the Council of Nonprofits , 92% of public charities have an annual revenue of less than 1 million dollars. This year, consider donating to and volunteering with nonprofit organizations and charities that are transparent about how they use their funds and their time. Here are five fledgling nonprofits you may not have heard of yet, but that are already inspiring movements, pushing for legislation and combating climate change . The Foundation for Climate Restoration Probably best-known for its work with the United Nations Office for Partnerships and Earth Day Network, The Foundation for Climate Restoration (F4CR) is a nonprofit with a mission to restore the climate by 2050. The organization hopes to achieve its mission through initiatives that unite the public, policy-makers and businesses behind a common goal of reversing global warming. F4CR spotlights solutions that reduce carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere, restore ocean ecosystems and rebuild declining Arctic ice . According to the nonprofit, F4CR has already researched and supported solutions and technologies that, once at scale through funding and legislation, have the capacity to remove 1 trillion tons of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. To get involved, use this link to join the movement and receive updates about important working group moments, policy actions and meetings. Take the Climate Restoration Pledge and make a donation (one-time or monthly). Future Coalition Founded in June 2018, Future Coalition is the youth-led movement that mobilized 1 million people worldwide — led by the organization’s executive director, 20-year-old Katie Eder — to strike on September 20, 2019. The nonprofit is a national network and community organized for the younger generations who refuse to sit by while the future of the planet is in jeopardy. Future Coalition provides young people with the resources and support they need to make a difference in the battle against climate change. Related: Can’t make the climate strikes? Here are a few tips on how students can live sustainably On September 17, 2019, with support from the United Nations Office for Partnerships, F4CR, Earth Day Network and Future Coalition hosted the first Global Climate Restoration Forum at the UN Headquarters. “Young people understand that the climate crisis will require real leadership, as well as bold and innovative solutions,” Eder said. “We will not accept action that inadequately addresses the very real and existential crisis we’re facing. We need governments around the world to enact ambitious climate plans, and we need them to do it now.” Sign up for the Future Accelerator , which matches young people or youth-led organizations in need of pro bono campaign or support services with adult allies willing to contribute time and expertise to empower youth activists. Join the Future Coalition community Slack channel to share ideas and organize gatherings, or donate to the cause. Sunrise Movement Founded in April 2017, Sunrise Movement is focused on stopping climate change while creating jobs in the process. Coordinated by Sunrise, a political action nonprofit advocating political action on climate change, the youth-led movement is particularly focused on the Green New Deal. To show your support, you can host a 2020 launch party , search for a local hub in your neighborhood (if there isn’t one, start a chapter of your own) or donate . 5 Gyres 5 Gyres was founded by a couple who met on a sailing expedition to research pollution in the North Pacific Gyre. The organization’s goal is to empower action against the global epidemic of plastic pollution through science, education and action. 5 Gyres is a member of the Break Free From Plastic movement, and in 2017, it received special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Apply to become an ambassador to represent 5 Gyres at events and to promote and raise awareness of plastic pollution. Those interested can also donate or download the Trash Blitz app to track pollution in your area. Extinction Rebellion This global environmental movement founded in October 2018 is based in the U.K. but has recently expanded to the U.S. as well. Extinction Rebellion uses nonviolent civil disobedience to catalyze government action to avoid climate system collapse and loss of biodiversity . It has been organizing nonviolent protests against the government for inaction on the climate crisis since its founding, including the recent global climate hunger strikes in November 2019. Related: In a world first, the UK declares a climate emergency “We see that people are waking up and looking for ways to get involved and ways to create change,” said John Spies, a member of Extinction Rebellion NYC. “Extinction Rebellion provides that; people can join and take action. Extinction Rebellion’s mission, demands and means of creating change by using nonviolent direct action protesting is a proven way to create real change outside of the normal routes, such as voting.” Extinction Rebellion has groups all over the world, so check this map to find a local chapter near you. You can also donate legal fees to support members who’ve been arrested for peaceful protests or just general funds for training, actions and raising awareness. To get involved in the U.K., click here . To get involved in the U.S., click here . Images via Brian Yurasits , Foundation for Climate Restoration, Gabriel Civita Ramirez and Extinction Rebellion

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5 growing environmental nonprofits to support in 2020

The best eco tourism spots in Montreal

December 31, 2019 by  
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Montreal is a lively city where there’s always something going on. Perhaps you’ll arrive in the middle of an enormous Pride celebration, with pink balloon-festooned streets blocked off for a huge party. Or maybe you’ll play on 21 Balancoires, a set of musical swings — notes play as people swing — that appears downtown every springtime. Montreal has long been a major port city. It’s located at one end of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, which stretches from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of two million, Montreal is Canada’s second-largest city. It’s a bilingual city with a European feel. While more than half of Montreal’s residents are bilingual in French and English, quite a few only speak one language or the other, depending on their family’s native tongue and their education. Americans, especially those from the west coast, may love being in a place with Euro-style buildings dating back as far as the 1600s. It’s the mix of picturesque old and totally modern that makes Montreal so beautiful and fun. Outdoors Montreal For a more urban outdoors experience, check out one of Montreal’s many street fairs. May through June are the top months for closing off streets to traffic and turning them into party zones. Unless you’re extremely hardy, summer is the best time to partake in Montreal’s outdoors activities. Winter is long and cold here. You’ll need serious gear to have a good time outside. Mount Royal is a small mountain that overlooks the city and serves as a 692-acre city park that has it all. You can hike , rent a paddleboat, get your cardio workout by climbing the 550-step staircase on the south side, picnic or participate in a drum circle. During winter, people tube, toboggan, ski, snowshoe, or skate on a manmade lake. The Mount Royal Chalet rents winter equipment. Whatever you’re doing on Mount Royal, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the city. The Montreal Botanical Garden is lovely in every season. Check out cultural gardens within the larger garden — Chinese, Japanese and First Nations are all represented here. In autumn you can stroll beneath golden leaves, and in winter you can cross country ski inside the garden . Don’t miss the Insectarium to get a close-up look at bug life. Did you know that 91% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Quebec? If you visit Montreal between late February and late April, get out to the countryside to experience a sugar shack. Many offer games, tastings and maple-themed meals as part of the fun. At La Cabane À Tuque , maple producers harvest maple sap the old-fashioned way, with buckets. Visitors can join in. They run an eco operation with a hempcrete -insulated house, a wall made with recycled bottles, and they even serve vegan meals. Montreal wellness scene Montreal is a secular city, but you’ll quickly notice the gorgeous churches and French Catholic influence. Nuns opened and ran the first hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, in 1645. For a historical look at the local wellness scene, at least from a European perspective, the Musee de Hospitallers chronicles Montreal’s early medical efforts. For one of the best modern spa experiences anywhere, pack your swimsuit and flip flops and head for Bota Bota , an old river ferry turned floating spa. It’s docked in the old port on Saint Lawrence River, where you can soak in a water circuit, fill your lungs with clouds of eucalyptus in the steam room, eat spa cuisine and relax in hanging chairs, all while gazing at river traffic. Bota Bota lets you choose between a quiet zone and a large area where you can visit with friends. Wanderlust Montreal , known for its Wanderlust Festival, is based in Montreal. Check out their website for current studio classes, concerts and yoga events. Eating out in Montreal When I asked local vegan activist Élise Desaulniers why Montreal has so many vegan restaurants, she said, “We hate debates in Canada . We like to find the middle ground. So, the conclusion is you should eat less meat. But being vegan 100% of the time is considered too extreme.” So that means Montreal’s omnivores support the vegan restaurants, making the city full of choices for veg visitors. Montreal has a vegan festival every fall, which Desaulniers co-founded. For some of the most interesting vegan sushi anywhere, Sushi Momo’s creations range from simple eggplant and avocado rolls to complicated concoctions full of exotic ingredients beyond my comprehension in French or English. I let the server choose for me. If you’re with a group, order the 2-foot-long wooden boat filled with assorted sushi. Lola Rosa draws people from all walks of life to its four locations for hemp burgers and international-inspired comfort food. Panthere Verte stays open late and is known for its falafel and organic vegan cocktails. Café Chat L’Heureux features a vegetarian menu of soups, sandwiches and salads, plus eight friendly kitty hosts. This is the place to get your feline fix when traveling through Montreal. Public transit Montreal’s subway system is relatively easy to figure out. Best of all, trains run every eight minutes on average, and every three minutes during rush hour. A robust bus system rounds out the public transportation network and will get you to all major landmarks. An express bus called the 747 Shuttle runs 24 hours a day between the airport and downtown, and only costs ten dollars. Ride-share services also operate in Montreal. The BIXI bike share system runs during fairer weather months, from April 15 through November 15. Since bike shares are aimed at shorter rides, consider renting a bike from Montreal on Wheels if you want one for a whole day or the duration of your stay. The bike rental shop also offers guided group bike tours. Eco-hotels For an upscale eco-hotel, stay at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth . Its impressively long list of sustainability initiatives includes employing three beekeepers , no using palm oil in its menus and turning old sheets and curtains into cleaning rags. On the more affordable, communal end of the spectrum, the Alternative Hostel of Old Montreal offers dorm or private rooms with shared bathrooms and an airy, plant-filled space with a full kitchen. The Hôtel de l’ITHQ , run by the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, is a clean, modern hotel run largely by tourism students. As a member of Canada’s Green Key eco-hotel program, it also follows many sustainability practices. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and Bota Bota

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The best eco tourism spots in Montreal

5 sustainable activities to make the most of a winter wonderland

December 17, 2019 by  
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Winter is meant for reveling in nature’s snow and ice. While the chill in the wind can drive some people indoors, you should try your best to get outdoors and enjoy all that this snowy season has to offer. Just be sure to do so sustainably, of course. Here are some eco-friendly recommendations for your winter itinerary. Go snowshoeing Snowshoeing brings one closer to nature, and just a couple hours of practice boosts self-assurance. Where can one learn to snowshoe? Try the ranger-guided snowshoeing tours at Bryce Canyon National Park , Crater Lake National Park , Glacier National Park , Grand Teton National Park , Lassen Volcanic National Park , Mount Rainier National Park and Sequioa & Kings Canyon National Park . While Yellowstone National Park offers no ranger-led snowshoeing tours, there is a list of authorized businesses that provide the service here . Greet December’s solstice dawn Winter solstice is the year’s shortest day. Did you know ancient civilizations welcomed the rising winter solstice sun by building temples and monuments that intentionally faced the emerging sunrise? To greet the solstice light this December, make your way to any number of locations with prime views, from America’s Stonehenge to England’s Stonehenge or even your own backyard! Alternatively, with summer’s solstice light in the southern hemisphere, bask in the light at New Zealand’s Stonehenge Aotearoa and Peru’s Cerro del Gentil pyramid. Stay in a treehouse Winter is a unique time to stay in a treehouse . What better way is there to appreciate a frost-filled forest than cozily atop the snow in a treehouse that is tailor-made for the cold? Related: 8 cabins that are perfect for a dreamy winter getaway For a winter treehouse escape brimming with creature comforts, visit Treehouse Point , Montana Treehouse Retreat near Glacier National Park, Hermann Bed and Breakfast Treehouses , Branson Treehouse Adventures , Treehouse at Moose Meadow or Treetop Sanctuary . You’d be surprised to find just how many treehouses you can book within a short distance of your home! Considering a treehouse stay abroad? There are plenty of treehouses in idyllic winter wonderlands around the world. Unwind in Vancouver Island’s Free Spirit Spheres , Quebec’s Les Refuges Perchés or Treepods at Treetop Haven in Prince Edward Island. If you’re hankering for a Scandinavian treehouse experience, sample Nordic options like the Hawks Nest , the Owls Nest or Å Auge Treehouse . Meanwhile, Sweden has a wealth of Treehotel rentals. If you’ll be in Finland anytime this winter, delight in a stay at the Arctic Treehouse Hotel in Santa Claus Village. Prefer spending winter in warmer regions? Then opt for Sir Richard Branson’s Kenyan Canopy Camp at Mahali Mzuri , South Africa’s Tsala Treetop Lodge , New Zealand’s Hapuku Lodge Treehouses or Raglan Treehouse . Visit ice castles and ice hotels Each year, Jack Frost crafts castles, palaces, villages, fortresses and even hotels from ice and snow. Whereas beaches have sandcastles, snow correspondingly has ice castles, like that exhibited at the Winter Carnival Ice Palace at Saranac Lake . Similarly, the multi-city Ice Castles company builds several each winter in Alberta, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Utah and Wisconsin. Related: This tiny house on a sled is the perfect way to see the Northern Lights You can even stay inside any of these icy accommodations: Austria’s Alpeniglu Village in Thale, Iglu Village in Kühtai, Canada’s Hôtel de Glace in Quebec, Finland’s Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos , Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort Snow Igloos in Saariselka, Lapland Hotels SnowVillage in Kittilä, SnowCastle of Kemi , France’s Blacksheep Igloo in Lyon, Village Igloo Morzine Avoriaz , Norway’s Hunderfossen Snow Hotel in Fåberg, Snowhotel Kirkenes in Sor-Varanger, Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel at Alta, Romania’s Hotel of Ice in Balea Lac, Sweden’s IceHotel in Jukkasjärvi or the multi-city Igloo-Dorf Hotel with locations in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Take a dip in winter’s natural hot springs All of the festivities of winter can be overwhelming and stressful. If you want to unwind, you might just need a soothing soak in natural hot springs . Luckily, there are an abundance of hot springs to thaw out in across the U.S. and Europe. Venture to Castle Hot Springs , Sierra Hot Springs Resort , Dunton Hot Springs , Indian Hot Springs , Iron Mountain Hot Springs , Mount Princeton Hot Springs , Old Town Hot Springs , Pagosa Springs Resort , Strawberry Park Hot Springs , Lava Hot Springs , Maple Grove Hot Springs , North Carolina’s Hot Springs Resort , Oregon’s Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat , Utah’s Homestead Crater Hot Springs at Midway Utah Resort and Wyoming’s Saratoga Hot Springs Resort . Want to rejuvenate abroad? Consider Canada’s Miette Hot Springs , England’s Thermae Bath Spa , Iceland’s Blue Lagoon , Italy’s Terme di Saturnia or New Zealand’s Kerosene Creek and Glacier Hot Pools to restore your mind and body this winter. Images via Shutterstock and Pixabay

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5 sustainable activities to make the most of a winter wonderland

Earth-friendly holiday gift ideas for your entire family

December 13, 2019 by  
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Wondering what to give every family member on your list — parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins? Here are this year’s green gift recommendations from Inhabitat to help you decide which eco-conscious presents to give this holiday season. Zero-waste makeup Beauty and personal care products are wonderful ideas for gift-giving. Even better are the ones that are ethical, zero-waste and eco-friendly. Some suggested brands are Antonym Costmetics , Axiology , Besame , Elate Beauty , Ilia , Kjaer Weis , Lush , RMS Beauty and Tata Harper . Vegan leather goods Vegan leather is in, especially for those who prefer being cruelty-free and ethical. For vegan leather alternative goods like belts, footwear, jackets, luggage, outerwear, purses and wallets, consider Brave GentleMan , Cork By Design , Corkor , Doshi , Ethique212 , Eve Cork , Matt & Nat , Pixie Mood , Stella McCartney , Tree Tribe , Urban Expressions, Vaute Couture , The Vegan Collection , Wilby and Will’s Vegan Shoes . Bamboo pillows and bedding For a good night’s sleep, pillows and bedding made from bamboo fibers are a healthy and environmentally friendly choice. Did you know that bamboo pillows and bedding are hypoallergenic? If that has piqued your interest, have a look at the options by Cariloha Bamboo , Ettitude , Hotel Sheets Direct , Miracle Bamboo Pillow , Simply Organic Bamboo , Snuggle-Pedic , Zen Bamboo and Zenlusso . Sustainable weighted blankets If anyone in your family has weighted blankets on their wish list this year, then Bearaby and Sheltered Company have some snuggly, sustainable options. Weighted blankets resemble the sensation of being hugged or swaddled, allowing for a deeper sleep. Plus, weighted blankets stimulate serotonin production, which helps reduce stress and increase calmness, making sleep more comfortable and satisfying. Cast iron skillets Cast iron skillets are sturdy and durable. As the original non-stick cookware , they don’t have the hazardous coating chemicals, like Teflon, which means they are a healthier cookware choice. Also, what draws many people to them is that they are easy to clean and they can be passed down from generation to generation. Examples of cast iron skillets to gift this year include those by All-Clad , Demeyere , Le Creuset , Lodge Cast Iron , Mauviel , Skeppshult , SolidTeknics and Staub . Solar grills, cookers or ovens Solar energy is now being utilized in cooking and grilling. Grills, cookers and ovens that operate via solar power are becoming a hot commodity, not only for camping enthusiasts and off-grid homesteaders but also for those prepping for potential power outages. Some viable options to choose from include those offered by All Season Solar Cooker (SolCook) , GoSun , Haines Solar Cookers , SolSource by One Earth Designs , Sun BD Corporation , SunFlair Solar Ovens and Sun Oven International Inc . Related: We tested the GoSun Go solar oven — here’s what we thought Organic fabric aprons Organic , sustainable fabrics are a better option for the planet. Luckily, there are many aprons out there that are made from organic textiles. Try the offerings from Native Organic , the Portland Apron Company and Rawganique . Nut and seed butters Nut and seed butters are wonderful sources of vitamin E and protein . They are also full of healthy fats and are high in fiber. These butters can be made from almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chia seeds, coconuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and even watermelon seeds. Some good brands to gift include Artisana Organics , Barney Butter , Dastony , Justin’s , MaraNatha Foods , Nutiva , Rawmio , Reginald’s Homemade , Soom Tahini , Sun Butter , Wild Friends and Yumbutter . Better yet, try your hand at making homemade varieties! Jams, jellies, marmalade and preserves You can’t have nut and seed butters without a tasty jam or jelly. Marmalades and preserves are a delicious addition as well, especially to cheese boards and bread trays. If you aren’t great in the kitchen, here are some recommendations for wonderful varieties to try: Frog Hollow Farm , Happy Girl Kitchen Company, INNA , June Taylor Company , Katz Farm , Lemon Bird Preserves , Mountain Fruit Company , Quince & Apple Company and We Love Jam . Eco-conscious headphones and earbuds For the music listeners on your nice list, there are some options that are friendly to the environment. While there aren’t yet any types that are 100 percent green, there are still many that strive to do better by the environment through materials like sustainably sourced wood, organic cotton, recycled plastic , bioplastic or recycled metal. Options to consider are those from The House of Marley , Thinksound and Woodbuds . Related: Inhabitat reviews House of Marley’s new sustainable headphones Garden tools Burgon & Ball has been around since 1730, and its stainless steel tools have been endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society as “Tried, Tested, Trusted.” For those on your holiday list with a green thumb, gift them a Burgon & Ball set of tools. Solar-powered gadgets If you have a gadget geek on your list, consider SunCore products like backpacks, Bluetooth speakers, solar panel kits, door locks and street lights. There are numerous other types of solar-powered gadgets, too. For instance, there are the Logitech Solar Wireless Keyboards and the SolSol Solar Charger Hat . For campers and glampers , having a tent, such as this Eddie Bauer 3-person tent or Earth Ship tents powered by a solar panel from Goal Zero or BioLite , might be just the ticket. Of course, there are an assortment of portable solar power packs to choose from as well, like chargers, portable panels and solar backpacks, as seen on SolarProductsPro . But if you want to get started with going solar, then peruse the online offerings from A Green Origin , the altE Store , Blue Pacific Solar , Free Clean Solar , The Solar Store and Wholesale Solar . Maps, globes and more MOVA offers a world of possibilities with its wide array of maps and globes. The company likewise features artworks of the planets and outer space . All of MOVA’s inventory showcases an appreciation for Earth and our place in the universe. Woodworking kits Woodworking is a hobby that is regaining momentum, and it can appeal to people at any age. For youngsters, there’s Annie’s Young Woodworkers Kit Club subscription and the wood craft kits from Craft Kits and Supplies . For all ages, visit the Wood Store ’s online portal for more merchandise and ideas to cultivate the hobby. Images via Juliana Malta , Joanna Kosinska , Olesia Misty , James Kern , Edgar Castrejon , Michal Jarmoluk , Conger Design and Mova Globes

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Earth-friendly holiday gift ideas for your entire family

Sustainable holiday gifts for babies and kids

December 12, 2019 by  
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Children innately have a curiosity about the world around them, and that curiosity can be cultivated into awareness and love for our planet. So this holiday season, give out eco-friendly gifts or green presents that your favorite kiddos can enjoy all while helping the Earth, too. Vegan shoes Vegan Chic is 100 percent vegan fashion with products vetted to meet high standards of eco-friendly and cruelty-free sourcing, especially with regards to fair and safe working conditions during production. Vegan Chic’s proprietors, Mark and Vessela, who are animal lovers avidly protecting and rescuing feral cats, explained, “We love animals and are committed to protecting them, as they cannot protect themselves.” Support the cruelty-free shop by purchasing adorable and functional vegan shoes that any child would be excited to sport. Meanwhile, CLAMFEET provides machine-washable, soft-soled, leather-free moccasins for infants and toddlers. CLAMFEET shoes are also completely vegan with organic lining. Plus, they are handmade in the United States. Eco-friendly clothing, bedding and bath items Little Lentil Clothing is “dedicated to leaving the smallest environmental footprint possible” by offering organic, natural and sustainable clothes for children. Its packaging is even derived from 100 percent reusable, recyclable or biodegradable materials. As Little Lentil Clothing’s website describes, “We are a brand with intentions to uphold elevated social and environmental values in order to leave the world a little bit better of a place for all of our babies.” Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for children While Burt’s Bees has long been known for its personal care products, did you know that the company also offers 100 percent organic cotton products for babies and kids? Burt’s Bees Baby provides gentle, organic cotton that meets “the highest global standard for organic textiles” in clothing, bedding (nursery bedding, quilts and blankets) and bath apparel (washcloths, towels and robes). Responsibly crafted, plastic-free toys BeginAgain toys are made from a mix of vintage materials (maple, rubberwood and natural rubber) and modern bioplastics derived from non-GMO corn. As the company describes, its toys “move kids away from OIL and back into SOIL. We believe in the playful power of plants.” The BeginAgain animal parade A-to-Z puzzle and playset is a recommended favorite. Bamboo bike This is another company devoted to natural toys for children that collaborates with sustainable suppliers to provide families with “heirloom quality, non-disposable toys that support healthy lifestyles in balance with the environment.” The NovaNatural bamboo run bike is a lovely toy for any child, given its sustainable bamboo wood finish. Interestingly, bamboo forests can be harvested after only 3-5 years because they grow faster than other hardwoods, making bamboo a more sustainable wood. Additionally, bamboo forests produce more oxygen and absorb more carbon dioxide than other trees. Award-winning wood toys Hape Holding AG is a German-Swiss toy manufacturer that began with the responsible business practices of its founder, Peter Handstein, who said, “A commitment to children must go hand-in-hand with a commitment to the environment. Our children will inherit the world we live in.” Based in Lucerne, Switzerland with at least 36 companies in more than a dozen countries, Hape is globally renowned for its award-winning, educational wooden toys that utilize renewable resources, such as bamboo, for “minimal impact to the environment.” Hape’s award-winning toys include a two-in-one kitchen and grill set, a croquet set, a scientific workbench, a doctor set, a doll mansion, a dominoes set, a magnetic easel, a master workbench and builder set, a miniature band set and much more. Art supplies and kits If your child has an artistic bent, eco-kids offers non-toxic, environmentally friendly “creative play the natural way,” with all products made in the U.S. Cammie and Kip are the founders of this family-run business, which all began when Cammie created a recipe for “eco-dough” with natural ingredients that they first sold at local farmers markets. From there, eco-kids evolved into a comprehensive art supplies shop that sells wholesale on its website and retail on Amazon . Another sustainable children’s art supply establishment is Natural Earth Paint , the award-winning, Gold-certified Green America business that specializes in natural mineral pigments and organic ingredients. The company was founded by Leah Fanning, an environmentalist who immediately disposed of her toxic and synthetic paints when she became pregnant with her first child. She then founded Natural Earth Paint, which specializes in locally made, non-toxic art supplies packaged in “100 percent post-consumer recycled packaging, biodegradable plastic bags and recyclable glass bottles.” According to the company’s website, its merchandise is free of “preservatives, heavy metal toxins, solvents, synthetics, additives and fillers,” which makes them safer for children. Natural Earth Paint also operates out of a 100 percent solar-powered facility, and the company has a plant-a-tree campaign to boot. Besides artist palettes, its recommended children’s products are natural face paint kits and egg craft kits, which can be found here . Crafty STEAM kits Green Kid Crafts sells science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) subscription kits and educational toys that will inspire children to learn while they play. The company has earned several distinctions, including the Academics’ Choice Brain Toy Award, Dr. Toy’s Best Green Products and Red Tricycle’s Award for the Most Awesome Subscription Service. With sustainability as its driving force, Green Kid Crafts gives back to the environment by partnering with CarbonFund to advocate for more renewable energy efficiency as well as with the OneTreePlanted endeavor to plant a tree for every Green Kid Crafts order placed. Gardening kits If you have a budding horticulturist in your family, Hortiki Plants has a wonderful beginning gardener’s kit for children. The kits from Hortiki Plants include biodegradable trays made from hand-pressed palm leaves, natural kelp fertilizers, coconut coir seed pellets, organic seeds, organic soil, recyclable glass sprayers, recyclable metal vases and recycled shipping materials. The company also offers a gardening guarantee, so that if, for any reason, the seeds do not grow into plants, the seeds will be replaced for free. The Hortiki Plants Kids Fall/Winter Gardening Kit is perfect eco-friendly holiday gift for young gardeners because it also includes games and projects for children to engage in the world of sustainable agriculture. Images via Shutterstock, Vegan Chic , CLAMFEET , Little Lentil Clothing , BeginAgain , NovaNatural , Hape , Natural Earth Paint , Green Kid Crafts and Hortiki Plants

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Sustainable holiday gifts for babies and kids

Impress loved ones with these homemade foods for holiday gifts

December 5, 2019 by  
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Many eco-conscious people face a quandary over the holidays. In a consumer-driven society with too much waste and houses overcrowded with stuff, shouldn’t we axe the gift-giving tradition? Then again, our inner Santa-loving child may feel neglected, unloved or just ripped off by a giftless December. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: the gift of food . Everybody has to eat, and a food gift doesn’t hang around forever, taking up space. To make food gifts more special — and to save lots of money — consider making your own. Here’s a roundup of some ideas for handmade food gifts. Baked goods Fruitcakes are probably the most traditional holiday food gift. This recipe by Gretchen Price features lots of dried fruit chopped up into impressively small bits, and the loaf is strongly spiced with grated ginger, cloves, anise, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom. Gretchen kindly suggests subbing apple juice for rum if you happen to operate an alcohol-free kitchen. However, while fruitcakes are traditional, many people find cookies more delicious. If you’re feeling extra creative, get out your cookie cutters and decorate with frosting, sprinkles and candies. Ellie of My Healthy Dessert offers a trendy spin on rolled cookies with her recipe for crispy matcha Christmas cookies . Scones, muffins and fruit breads also make good holiday gifts , but don’t make them too far ahead, because they’re best eaten within a couple of days of baking. Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for foodies You could go a little healthier by making a fresh batch of granola for folks on your list. My basic recipe starts with preheating the oven to 450. Put about six cups of old fashioned oats in a baking pan, add a cup of raw seeds and a cup of raw nuts and mix them up. Then, combine about one-half to three-quarters of a cup of vegetable or coconut oil with the same amount of sweetener: brown sugar, coconut sugar, agave, maple syrup, molasses, etc. I might throw in ginger, cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa and/or a little cayenne pepper, too. Once that mixture melts, combine it in with the oats and nuts. Stick the pan in the oven for 8 minutes. Take it out, stir and bake for another 8 minutes. If you want it well done, continue cooking but be sure to check it every minute or two after that to prevent burning. Candy If your friends, family, office mates and other gift recipients have a sweet tooth, it’s fun to make candy for them. Peanut brittle is delicious and easy with this recipe from Loving it Vegan. Use up extra candy canes with this peppermint candy cane truffle recipe from Where Do You Get Your Protein. For friends with slightly more adventurous palates, Vegan Gastronomy offers a recipe for chocolate-covered dates stuffed with orange cream and topped with orange zest, sea salt and shredded coconut . Nutty gifts Freshly toasted and spiced nuts are simple to make and more nutritious than cookies. All you need are raw pecans, walnuts, cashews or any other nuts, some vegan butter or coconut oil, sugar and/or spices. For a sweet nut, add brown sugar and cinnamon to your skillet of nuts. For savory nuts, experiment with paprika, chili powder, cumin or turmeric. Trail mix is even easier to assemble. Just choose some nuts, seeds and dried fruits from the bulk section of a grocery store, and pour it all into an attractive, reusable jar. Tamales Native Americans ate a food similar to modern-day tamales as far back as 8,000 B.C.E. Corn was considered the substance of life, and consuming it could be a spiritual experience. The love of tamales has continued through the ages and is now tied to Christmas celebrations in Mexico and the American Southwest. Making tamales isn’t especially hard, but it takes a lot of time. Consider doing what the tamaleras , or tamale makers like to do: throw a tamalada, or tamale making party. You’ll need a tamale steamer, access to Hispanic foods like corn husks and masa and a gathering of loved ones who also want to give the gift of tamales. Check out 18 vegan tamale recipes from Dora’s Table, including red chile jackfruit, jalapeño and cactus, and sweet pineapple tamales. Coffee syrups It seems like every financial advice article highlights how much money you could save by making coffee at home. Help your friends break their high-cost habits by gifting them with homemade coffee syrups. This is an easy and unusual gift. All it takes is water, sugar, extracts, a saucepan and a stove. Check out these recipes from Royal Cup Coffee for flavors like vanilla, peppermint, blackberry and cinnamon brown sugar. Related: 10 recipes you can gift in jars Infused oils Infused oils are another easy-to-make food gift. Luci’s Morsels tells you how to infuse olive oil with lemon, garlic, chili or rosemary in less than an hour. Hot sauce For the friend who just cannot get enough spicy food, homemade chili pepper sauce is a thoughtful gift. From ghost pepper to scotch bonnets, Chili Pepper Madness answers questions about crafting hot sauce at home. You might want to have a dedicated blender or food processor for this, unless you like your smoothies spicy. Spice mixes Custom-blended spice mixes are one of the easiest handmade food gift ideas. Your friends who like to cook quick dishes will thank you when your homemade jerk seasoning blend perks up their tofu , or your barbecue seasoning breathes new life into their kale and chickpeas. Real Simple offers 10 simple spice mix ideas. Chocolate-dipped treats For those on your list who believe chocolate makes everything better, dip some snacks in chocolate and call it a gift. Strawberries, nuts, pretzels — this is easy, messy fun. Melt dairy-free dark chocolate chips for the vegans on your list, dip the snack and let it cool. Use your creative license. Have you ever wondered what ghost pepper potato chips dipped in dark chocolate would taste like? Packaging for your homemade food gifts Think about what you can reuse here. Do you have extra mason jars on hand? Bottles you can wash thoroughly and remove the commercial labels? Excess Tupperware? Scour your nearest thrift shops for secondhand festive cookie tins or pretty tea cups to fill with truffles. If you like making food gifts this year, start a collection of your old jars, bottles and garage sale finds for next year. Images via Shutterstock

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