Nov 17, 2017
Welcome to How You Can Save The World
My name is Barbara Edelman
And this is Episode 23 Your Green Guide to Holiday Gift Giving
Oh dear heavens it’s fast approaching. You know what i mean, the happiest time of the year. As we round the horn on the first year of Trump’s Presidency, spirits are flagging. BUT….none the less, I think we need to put the pep back in our step and what better way then….making a list checking it twice and then throwing up and laying down on the sofa with a damp rag on our brow.
Oh lord. The holidays. The ha ha ha holidays. Actually. I am saying to myself, self, snap out of it. This is the time to actually put some joy back into our world. If all we do is fret and check our phones and exist within the parameters of our screens well..what exactly IS the point of it all?
My contribution to the season is to have compiled a source of all sites that will make your holiday gift giving easy as well as good for the planet. Since my last holiday episode (nearly 2 years ago!) the amount of possible environmentally beneficial yet totally delightful gift sites has exploded! There are so many wonderful choices of things to get for your loved ones as well as the planet. Now, the downfall of this podcast is it is always so information dense and one can listen to it, and not be able to specifically recall the info we discussed. THAT IS WHY…drumroll maestro? In addition to all links being on the show notes to every site ever mentioned, I am also including a transcript of each episode that I will release on the website howyoucansavetheworld.org at the same time I upload the episode. I will also put a link to the website on the show notes so you can hop over to it even from your smart phone. The transcript is just that, the entire show, in writing. I will try to embed the website links into the transcript for your convenience as well.
Now..here we go. Close your eyes. Imagine that instead of sitting at our computers and looking at a list of websites, or scrolling through Amazon on our phones…. imagine that we are going back in time….(time travel Sound effect) to a lovely late November Day. The year is…oh…somewhere in the late imaginary 1950’s. As we finish our morning cup of coffee we out the window to discover that… its snowing! A beautiful light dusting of glimmering soft white flakes are floating down and making every inch of our backyard sparkle. Looks like this year we will really have a white christmas! Well, you and I have big plans! Today we are going to tackle our holiday shopping list, and honestly on such a lovely winter day what better thing COULD we be doing! We hasten to the downstairs coat closet, tug on our boots and slip into our warm winter coat. As we go out the front door we pull on our gloves and snuggle into our warmest muffler, because, baby its cold outside! Off we go, through the snow to catch the train into center city. Its so lovely outside. Waiting for the train, we even thought we might have heard the soft jingle of distant sleigh bells. Soon we arrive in town, just in time to join a throng of smartly dressed city shoppers all bustling about with their own Holiday lists. The smell of street vendors roasting chestnuts just makes us swoon with happiness. Ahh, and here we are! At our destination, the department store of our dreams, every window dressed with holiday sparkle and delight. In we go, unwinding our mufflers, tucking our gloves into our pockets and readying ourselves for a day of shopping. We know we want to start with clothing so we force ourselves past the counters stocked with cut glass bottles of intoxicating fragrances, we meander past the line of mothers holding the hands of awe-struck children waiting in line to sit on the lap of the fattest and jolliest of all Santa Claus’! We zoom through the mezzanine, where the lights on the giant tree twinkle, filling the air wit h the scent of pine and the memory of distant forests. Everyone is excited and happy. The biggest problem we are going to have today is deciding what wonderful beautiful hand made trinket to get for each person on our lists.
Lets first head over to the clothing department. Because everyone wears and loves beautiful clothes. AND
Mrs. Claus has made it clear that sustainable fashion doesn’t mean ugly anymore!
Pact (https://wearpact.com/women) Website is the first clothing counter in our sights. The sign above the stacks of soft organic cotton merchandise states, “Pact began with a lofty goal: to create the comfiest clothes in the world without destroying the earth, or harming people. We believe that what we wear, matters.
By using the best sustainable ingredients, and Fair Trade Certified™ factories, we create clothes that don’t just feel good, you can feel good about wearing them.” Well. How neat is that.
As one holiday shopper to another I feel compelled to tell you that I love love love their 30 dollar black drawstring yoga/lounge pants. There isn’t a better deal out there for you or the planet. They also make great underwear, socks and yoga clothes. But holidays are not made up of yoga clothes! So, after tucking a pair of lounge pants and socks into your cart, you head
directly to the beauteous AmourVert. Counter. Seriously this company makes gorgeous clothes. The sign above their glorious display of silks and cotton and jewelry informs us that “Amour Vert was founded on the belief that great fashion and social responsibility can coexist. Their name means Green Love in French, but it also means American manufacturing, non-toxic dyes, sustainable fabrics, a zero-waste philosophy, and above all, enduring style.
Amour Vert believes they can make the world a greener, more beautiful place – one garment at a time.” And again, as one human wearing clothes to another, you can’t find more lovely clothes anywhere. People actually compliment me whenever I am wearing one of their silk tops, or simple tee shirts (and they plant a tree for every single tee shirt they sell). I only mention this because in the past, my sustainable wardrobe didn’t garner compliments so much as comparison to what was being worn at the good will. But Amour Vert has changed all that. They have flagships in San Francisco, Los Angeles and NewPort beach. They make stunning clothes. Not cheap. But it is the holidays after all. One tip, if you fall in love with a style on the website or in the catalogue buy it quickly. When you are working with sustainably produced textiles and garments only manufacturing in the US with well paid workers, you do small runs so sizes run out quickly. Also, check out their sale section. Summer and another heatwave will be here before you know it.
As for athletic wear. Sometimes a person doesn’t wish to wear cotton. And then that person, who is an athlete, and needs all sorts of togs that make me weary to consider donning, should get a gift from the Girlfriend Collective (https://www.girlfriend.com/our-story) As you reach out to touch one of the beautiful insanely soft feeling apricot colored pairs of leggings, you read the sign above…about how these leggings came from a chip of plastic from a discarded water bottle in Taiwan.
There is tons of info on the Girlfriends website, about how the plastic bottle goes from being another ocean killing hunk of garbage to being the soft apricot crave able object in your hands….but we just don’t have time to learn about all this because we have SO MANY OTHER THINGS ON OUR LIST, and it is getting close to twilight, so into your shopping bag go the leggings and a jogging bra, and you mosey over to the accessory department..
to find the most comfortable, most fashionable shoes you have ever tried on made from….oh my! Recycled plastic bottles. Rothy’s shoes are the only shoes I will ever wear again. In fact my happy little toes curl in delight inside my faux leopard printed Rothy ballet flats, as I ooh and ahh over each new pattern in the display. Again..these shoes are pricey. BUT here’s the amazing thing about them. THEY NEVER WEAR OUT. I mean, plastic never decomposes, right? And shoes made from yarn spun from plastic bottles…they don’t wear out either .AND you can throw them in the washing machine. And you can wear them to the opera, or to the supermarket. They are utterly fashionable, and totally comfortable. Did I mention they were comfortable? So check your list, see if you have your daughter-in-laws shoe size on it, and buy her a pair. I guarantee she will never wear anything else again.
Next to the shoe department is the handbag department and oh oh oh, there is the most luscious looking brown leather backpack you just wish you could buy it but you have sworn off cruelty things like leather…but WAIT, OH! LOOOK. The sign above the intoxicating display of all kinds of handbags says Evas Cork Bags are made from sustainably harvested cork! “You shouldn't have to sacrifice quality to have something that's cruelty-free. Vas take pride in creating beautiful cork products that you can feel great about. In addition, cork makes our entire collection. Cork, if you didn’t know, is the bark of the cork oak tree. Eva’s Cork Bags’ farmers only harvest the cork off a tree every 9-10 years, which allows their trees to grow faster and live longer.
The colors are created by dying our cork fabric with organic vegetable dye. no harmful chemicals or glues in the creation of their products.” Well, my niece is going back to Vermont in her first year of college and so…my hand reaches out, and snags that gorgeous backpack. Its expensive. But….I do love my niece!
Eva’s Cork Bags (https://www.evecork.com/)
Ok. You shake your head. You have spent a fortune on a few items and you have made a few notations of what you deeply hope you will get from a loving relative. So..onto the actual real reason you had to go shopping in the city today. The department store has the most magical toy department outside of the north pole, why, the salespeople are all elves. All very proud of their handiwork. You knew Santa employed fair labor practices, and you knew that he would never make a toy that would harm a child or the environment. Santa is so cool that way.
So You hustle back down stairs past the jolly old elf ho ho ho ing at the scared little toddler perched on his lap. As you fly by, Santa gives you an approving wink and you feel as if you have won the lottery, which, lets face it, you might need to do if you buy more than one cork backpack.
Into the toy department you go, twinkling lights are everywhere, sleigh bells are jingling, and candy canes sparkle next to mountains of magically created glistening snow.
Heaped up on the back of a shiny red santa sleigh are brightly colored wooden toys made by…PlanToys (http://plantoys.com/product-category/age-group/3-years/) Oh my goodness. You just can’t stop putting different toys in your basket! The sign above the display informs you that they are all sustainably made our of rubber trees that no longer produce latex. Every single thing about these toys has been thought out to be good for the kid and great for the earth. Even a tricycle! Seriously, whatever you think you would get made out of plastic that is just so manifestly terrible for the environment, buy the Green Toy or Plan Toy version, Why not buy a toy made from what would otherwise be something else we discard, transformed into something great for your child. There is a darling set of woodland animals complete with a little hill and tree for them to hide behind. A tray of wooden food for the budding cook. Balancing game sets for little ones which are not so easy to find, mind you, a cactus, a boat, a tree full of monkeys. If you have a toddler you MUST race to their website. There are farm sets, and a build a robot set, trucks, doll houses, a build a castle set…there just is something for every child on your list.
I would stay at this display for the rest of the afternoon, but just beyond, in a magical forest display, are the toys from the Magic Cabin Website…….Oh My! Fairies, elves, woodland creatures, cooking, costumes, dolls,—whatEVER your little elf requires for the HaHaHolidays…you can get at Magic Cabin. They have an entire page of 64 sustainably made toys for you to check out, and honestly the things on the rest of the site are adorable too. Dress up clothes, kits for older kids, books, just a magical cornucopia of gifts. (http://www.magiccabin.com/eco-friendly-toys/eco-friendly-toys.htm Your basket is so heavy, it is so laden with beautiful desirable wonderful things…how ever shall you continue…but…you have a grandchild, and nieces and nephews and neighbors…and well…its the holiday season and everyone must just help spread the magic.
So moving on, next to a pretend pond, we find the display of toys from The Green Toys Website
(http://www.greentoys.com/our-passion) This is another company trying to make good use out of all the discarded plastic in our universe. Their toys are made out of recycled milk jugs. In front of you are great little gardening sets, jump ropes, tons of bath toys, and pool toys, a toy farm, dump trucks, think an eco version of all the basic toys out there. They have a new line of non toxic play dough with all sorts of neat kits to transform it into stuff—as well as all kinds of fake food/cooking kits. Into my bag go the play dough kits. Why would I buy the chemically made stuff when I don’t have to? Yes, the devoted savvy eco parent knows how to make play dough at home, but this stuff won’t spoil. Also..they have all the neat kits to make that play dough into something swell.
I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. So it is time to take a break. I offload my stacks of merchandise to a lovely woodland creature who swoops by and offers to take it all to get wrapped up for me. I am so relieved, one last chore from my list. The elves at the store will happily wrap up my choices in sustainable sparkly paper. So, relieved of all my burdens, both physical and mental, I walk through this beautiful snow globe of a department store into the cafe. It is time to take a break. Happily I take a seat at a little gilded table, and order a cup of Nigella Lawsons intoxicating and by that I mean intoxicating because every hot chocolatey sip is spiked with rum. (don’t despair, I shall include a copy of the recipe in the show notes. Every adult truly needs to have a cup of this fragrant holiday elixir to fortify themselves for the holiday season. As I sip my restorative decadent warming cup of cocoa, I look out the window at the snow still gently drifting down, and scan through the rest of my shopping list. Time is passing, and I have a lot of people and sites to get through. So chop chop time to hustle. Reluctantly I drain my cup of magic and head back out into the store, to focus on gifts for the kitchen and the home.
The home section is laid out in a giant wood paneled farmhouse area of the store. There is even a big fireplace replete with crackling logs in the grate. The first counter I arrive at is Rodales ….what a great website. They were the first people who started to beat the drum about organic farming, and the need to care for the earth, and honestly they have stayed true to their mission. Also, the gifts I’ve gotten people from this site have been beloved.
Most of the time I didn’t want to actually give them away..(http://www.rodales.com/) Sadly they have a little less merchandise this year, then last. But I still think this is the go-to place for buying something nice for the environmentalist on your list say a stunning apron made of linen…or even if you decide that you want to make lets say my homemade fabulous REALLY GREAT granola to give away to friends and family for a little home made hahaholiday gift that will truly be appreciated vs. more cookies which will be eaten but dreaded…..you can package the granola in their gorgeous little reusable glass terrine jars. they aren’t the screw tip lids, they have the clamp down rubber gasket attached lid, and are beautifully shaped and great for beautiful food storage. If you doubt their adorableness, take note, they are made by french company Le Parfait. They will add a little je ne said quoi to your humble yet delicious granola. (which did I say comes to gather in 10 mins, with an hour plus baking time that really requires zero attention from you—I shall of course include a link to that recipe in the show notes as well)
Onward from Rodales to the upscale very elegant display from Bambeco. Their prices are a little high, but for something special check this site out. In addition to them going the extra mile sustainability wise, Every purchase plants a tree. A sign above their farmhouse table stocked display reads “At Bambeco, we strive to inspire sustainable living.
We design, create and provide responsible home goods that inspire sustainable design and enhance the way people connect with our planet.” I especially like all their do it yourself oddball kits…beer making, cheese making, moose head making out of cardboard…I tuck a few of these kits into my basket as gifts for my adult sons.
VivaTerra is right next to Bambeco, and stacked high upon the counter is a luscious array of beautiful sustainably created gifts. The prices of the crave-able gifts at Viva Terra are a wee bit more reasonable, they run the gamut from (https://www.vivaterra.com/gifts/ideas/eco-friendly-gifts.html) a pretty glass vase for 12.00 to a Recycled Glass Beehive Drink Dispenser for 77.00 you can find something beautiful or manly or womanly, or college studently for every grown up on your list.
AND DON”T FORGET to tuck in a roll of Give a Crap bamboo toilet paper for each lucky human you know. The elves must have a sense of humor or they read the email from friend of the show and beekeeper Jessica Lamden about how everyone will get a laugh out of unwrapping a roll of toilet paper this year! Made from bamboo, utterly sustainable and not packaged in one shred of plastic. (https://us.whogivesacrap.org/?utm_source=talkable&utm_medium=other&utm_content=Advocate%20Dashboard%20Standalone&utm_campaign=51698&talkable_visitor_uuid=946ac80c-6b5a-4960-9aaf-2242b1d607ca&talkable_visitor_offer_id=42184026) These rolls of toilet paper are festively packaged, truly in adorable wrapping.
From the kitchen display I mosey into the fake outdoor porch display where I come upon a raft of Gifts for the Garden
Even if the folks on your list are not huge gardeners, everyone likes a houseplant. Well, almost everyone. And if you do have any gardeners on your list, please check out the website (https://www.groworganic.com/) (https://www.groworganic.com/search?q=gifts) they have 64 organic gardening gifts …beautiful items, from a do it yourself Succulent Container Garden to la little book called making liqueurs for gifts which…come on, if you only gave people your homage granola in a weck canning jar, or a le Parfait french terrine, along with a small bottle of your home made limoncello, you’d be beloved forevermore.
I now turn a corner and find myself in the huge Something for Everyone display that takes up the entire center of the second floor of the store. Here are tables stacked sky high with all kinds of gifts.
From the Life Without Plastic website (directed here by the famous Beth terry website My Plastic Free Life) (https://us.whogivesacrap.org/?utm_source=talkable&utm_medium=other&utm_content=Advocate%20Dashboard%20Standalone&utm_campaign=51698&talkable_visitor_uuid=946ac80c-6b5a-4960-9aaf-2242b1d607ca&talkable_visitor_offer_id=42184026) there are a ton of useful neat everyday objects all made WITHOUT PLASTIC. Now they might not be gifts that are made up with the maximum OOOOHHHH this is so cute vibe, …you would be surprised at all the really great and necessary things..gifts for babies and kids and parents and humans that you can get that will replace the need for plastic. Its a great resource. Especially if you have a newborn in your family somewhere.
Two steps away is the fabulous display from Eartheasy.com Here is a counter with a little of everything for everyone. Their prices are reasonable and I defy you can whip through this site and not find something for everyone on your list. Including, those disaster preparedness things you think folks should have on hand…I mean, nothing says a holiday gift from me like a disaster preparedness basked. Including a life straw, an NOAA emergency hand crank solar rechargeable radio, solar lanterns and a bivvy to hop into on a cold night when you are fleeing death and destruction through the woods. But hey, my idea of a great personal gift is NOT in the mainstream. But..while you are shopping all the adorable cute things on this site, just, for my nagging sake, take a quick peek at the emergency preparedness stuff they have for yourself. Sadly ,that next hurricane/tornado/climate catastrophe is just around the corner.
.I personally like to get people things they will really need and use. So to that end, West Elm sells really wonderful, soft, beautiful organic cotton sheet sets. Who has enough sheets? I ask you? No one. Maybe Ivanka. I’m sure hers are not organic. Or..wait…wouldn’t that be ironic if she insisted on totally organic products for her home? People are never consistent. Sadly. I always want them to be 100 per cent bad or good. No shades of grey in my preferred imaginary universe. But..of course. We all float around in the middle doing our best, and as this is the holiday episode, lets hope she does buy organic sheets, and in her heart knows that an organic world is a safe and healthy world. Ok, moving on. check out those sheets! Good for the planet, great for the bed, beautiful for the bedroom, win win win win.
Remember put your dollar where your values are. Our entire society revolves around buying and sellling. If you buy only the products you believe in, products that express your values, you will actually be making a difference. Purchases are tracked people. Every single one of them. The more organically grown, sustainably created merchandise you choose, the more that will be created and sold. Basically if someone can make a buck over it they will sell it.
Sadly our shopping day is at an end, but hooray, you have found a gift for every human on your list. A gift you are excited about giving them. From a beautiful sweater, to a dog dish made of recycled elk horn (ok, I made that up.) It is hard, and probably absurd on a podcast to try to describe all the sustainable wonders that are out there just waiting, HOPING that you will buy them. But, as we pull our gloves on, and wind our mufflers around our necks, and toddle back to the train station carrying more packages then we thought possible, we feel so good about ourselves. We feel good about what we are giving people, and we feel good about supporting all the wonderful artisans who create things without destroying the earth. Win win win win win.
Oh, and while you are at it, buy everyone a book to read. A real book. With pages. So they can put down their phone and enter another magical universe. If you don’t have a small independent bookstore near you anymore, go to https://www.indiebound.org/
Home Made Gifts Anyone will appreciate and you will have fun making.
Ok, There will be links in the show notes to my super duper homemade granola recipe (I got this from the mystery Topped Chef: A Key West Food Critic Mystery by Lucy Burdette and hey, if you have a foodie on your list, or a mystery reader, tuck a paperback copy of the book into the box you ship the granola in! Talk about win win win win. (http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/2012/06/lucy-burdettes-good-for-anything.html)
There will also be a link to the Nigella Lawson distressingly wonderful alcoholic hot chocolate (http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/nigella-lawson-alcoholic-hot-chocolate-215306)
And a link to Giada De Laurentis’ homemade Limoncello liqour. (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/limoncello-recipe-1916618) I tried to pry the secret recipe my daughter’s boyfriend made one year from him, but he swore an oath of secrecy to the waiter in the hills of Italy that taught it to him, that he would never divulge it to another mortal. So though that is pretty amazing stuff, we shall have to make do with Giada’s version which is quite delicious and only takes 4 days to marinate.
Please, if you do decide to give as a gift the Limoncello, order these charming little bottles made of recycled glass to decant it into. And of course, use organic lemons! (https://www.specialtybottle.com/glass-bottles/recycled-spanish-glass/swing-top)(https://www.specialtybottle.com/ordering-information)
Thats it my friends. Please have a happy healthy sustainable holiday season. I end this year optimistic that we are slowly getting back on track and heading in the right direction. There is so much goodness around us. Have you ever scrolled through FaceBook and just marveled at how many posts are photos of people who love each other? People who are creating dance or theater pieces? Puppet Shows? Podcasts? People who are adding to the world, not destroying it? People who are devising new systems to recycle, or to harness renewable energy? People who are working in school gardens, or serving on local community councils. There are so many of us that are trying with all our hearts to love our world back into health. That matters. I will end our year of podcasts with a brief reading from the end of my very favorite book of all — A Wrinkle In Time
I think this book shines a light on the path forward, to both sanity and the saving of our world. I wish for you this holiday that you wrap your arms around your Charles Wallace, be it a child, a partner, a dog, or a cockatoo, ad love them with all your might and main, and that they love you back as well.
Happy Holidays my friends. I look forward to talking to you in January.