This year, while I was thinking about my holiday gift guide, I realized that I didn't want to buy anything this year or advocate anyone else buying anything that didn't have the purpose of bettering the world or reducing clutter. This past year, through blogging and my own initiative I've been exposed to many different "green" products. Some of them are complete gimmicks (a "green" cellphone, really?) but others really have the ability to better our lives and the world. As for reducing clutter, after moving from LA to San Jose, I realized how much junk we had that we absolutely did not need. I've made it a point to get rid of goody bag plastic toys that really add no value to life (in fact they make life more difficult when kids leave them lying around and you wake up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water and end up stepping on a small plastic arrow!). So without further ado, these are the items I've picked for my 2010 Holiday Gift Guide:
1) Fair Trade Coffee-It would probably come as a surprise to many people, but a lot of coffee plantations in West Africa and other parts of the world employ slave labor. Not just slave labor, but child slave labor. That's why it's so important to buy fair trade coffee (or at least try to get coffee sourced from South America or East Africa). My favorite is Green Mountain Fair Trade Spring Revival Blend (list price $8.49/10 oz bag). Unfortunately it's not available this time of year, so a good substitute is whole bean fair trade coffee (a few different varieties) at Fresh & Easy (locations in Southern California, AZ and NV), currently selling for $5.88/12 oz bag. This is an amazing price, less than what you would pay for "regular" beans at any supermarket! If you don't live near a Fresh & Easy, you can also find fair trade beans in the $7-10 range at your nearest Cost Plus World Market. Cost Plus World Market also has a free Explorer Club that gets you 10% off your first purchase and a free bag of coffee after every sixth bag of coffee you purchase. There are frequently deals that will make your coffee cost even less! Not only will buying fair trade coffee make you feel better about how you spend your money, it also tastes better. Giving this as a gift to someone will not only enrich their coffee drinking experience, but it's something that will better the lives of the farmers who grow it.
Simple Human Compost Pail-I had heard, read and seen on TV a lot about composting in the past few years but I had always thought it was a really difficult process that I didn't have time or the space to do. Part of that misconception was that I didn't really get to see it in action. After we recently moved to San Jose, I was able to observe how my mother-in-law composted all the food scraps off her table. After seeing how easy it was, I decided to give it a try when I was contacted by Simple Human to review its compost pail. I bought some biodegradable liners (optional) and started composting. Because of the Simple Human Compost Pail's integrated odorsorb™ charcoal filter, the food waste didn't smell because the filter absorbed the food odors. This was a big bonus because after we moved to San Jose, we had our own curbside garbage pick-up for the first time in our adult lives. Every other apartment and home we lived in had a garbage chute or a central garbage container so never had to worry about food waste smells in the garage. Composting definitely cuts down on that phenomenon! I also liked the large bamboo handle that makes it easy to carry out to the compost heap (which in my case is at my mother-in-law's house so having a pail with a sturdy handle that prevents spillage is absolutely essential). There's a wire ring that keeps bags neatly hidden, or you can use the compost without a bag and simply rinse out the wire ring. Lid hook allows you to hand the lid anywhere along the rim of the pail. The Simple Human Compost Pail retails for $59.99 online, but you can make that price better at Bed, Bath and Beyond locations in CT, NJ, NY, and PA by using one of the BBB 20% coupons that come in the mail. And if you register for the simplehuman email list now, you'll qualify to play their Black Friday/Cyber Monday game. Play the game and you'll receive a special gift with any purchase-up to a $200 value. Everyone is guaranteed to be a winner!
3) Green cleaning supplies-A few years ago, my friend's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had no family history and none of the other risk factors. One of the thoughts she had was that all the artificial chemicals her body came across may have contributed to the cancer. I thought about this and it made sense. Since then, I've made the change to all natural cleaning supplies. Out of the following two dish soaps, which once would you feel better about if your child decided to drink it?
- Ingredient list for a leading dishwashing liquid: Water, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Pareth-23, C12-14-16 Dimethyl Amine Oxide, SD Alcohol 40-B, Undeceth-9, PPG-26, Sodium Chloride, Cyclohexanediamine, Polyacetate, Fragrance, FD&C Yellow #5, D&C Red No. 33
- Ingredient list for Sun & Earth Ultra Dishwashing Liquid: