Sunday, November 30, 2008

Green Holiday Gifts for Babies, Kids and Teens: All from Small Eco-Businesses

As a savvy auntie, I feel especially qualified to cover this topic. Never a mom but nine times an aunt and even more times a FONM (friend of a New Mom), I’ve shopped for babies, kids and teens more often than I can remember. I know how hard it is to find just the right thing – not too scratchy, not too babyish, “in-the-know” and trendy but not trying too hard…So I’ve decided that this holiday season, the right thing is the green thing. Bringing kids up to be eco-friendly is a gift they will appreciate forever as you introduce them to the more natural, more sustainable things in life. Here are a few great green gifts to start them on a greener path (all from small eco-companies who need our green during this tough retail season).

Babies and Kids personal care kits:
California Baby: Green moms love these safe, non-toxic, personal care baby soaps, creams, lotions and bubble baths. Baby gift sets can be completely customized and come with a non-toxic bath toy and product samples.

Burt’s Bees kits: Try the Baby Bee Getting Started Kit…all SLS and paraban-free creams and lotions made with soothing buttermilk and coconut oils.

Clothing: A true green treasure full of environmentally-friendly baby and toddler gifts from an organic fleece cape to sustainable nursery cribs to organic cotton baby sun hats, unstained wooden rattles and my favorite…a plush organic monkey toy.

Stewart & Brown: A wide range of fashionable eco-hats, sweaters, dresses and scarves made from yak down, hemp, organic cotton and Mongolian cashmere. You are sure to find something here to please any fashion conscious young lady.

Tees for change: Channel your sage wisdom to a tee shirt for teens. These sustainable, eco-friendly tee-shirts make a statement with words such as “Laugh Often”, “Today Matters”, “Choose Dreams”. Here’s a fashionable way to inspire young minds eager for change.

Toys: Locally made, Vermont Maple Landmark toys are beautifully crafted wooden, sustainable toys bringing us back to basics and sure to become family heirlooms for years and years to come.

Green Toys: Adorable play toys: tea sets, gardening tools, cookware and beach gear…all made locally here in the USA from recycled plastic milk jugs. Safe. Fun. Local. And winning all the parenting awards…

School stuff:
To-Go Ware: So cool and yet functional, the stainless steel Sidekick is the new green lunch box. With separate compartments for cold and hot foods, this is a great daily solution for anyone who carries their lunch every day (and is tired of that same, soggy peanut butter and jelly sandwich).

Ecogear bags: Bags for every age…these organic cotton, hip bags use toxic-free dyes and sustainable wood fastenings. Check out their messenger bags, laptop carriers and backpacks.

Afterglow Cosmetics: Their Glow Kit is a glam gift for a teenage girl just starting to experiment with makeup. This starter kit includes organic mineral foundation, concealer, blush, vegan brushes and powder. All packaged in a fabulous silver makeup bag.

Juice Beauty Any teen will love their gift kits full of eco-chic organic skincare goodies – especially good for those with sensitive skin. They also have special lines for men which are great for teenage boys (who all seem to be learning much earlier about “using product” than the teenage boys I dated.)

Coming next: Green Stocking Stuffers from Small Eco-Businesses

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What She Really Wants: Green Holiday Gifts for Gals from Small Green Businesses

Whether it is already on her wish list or not, what woman doesn’t want a gift that keeps giving back to her family, her community, her planet and herself? This holiday season surprise her with eco-gifts she’ll love and help support economically-challenged green small businesses. In “Buycotting the Holidays”, I explained why these companies need our support to survive this tough holiday retail season…so here are some great green gifts for all the women in your life:

· Luxurious eco-clothing, bath and bedding: DreamSacks is a one-stop, eco-shop for comfortable and natural fiber products made from silk, soy and sustainable bamboo. On their website, you’ll find beautiful sheets, blankets, casual clothing, robes and towels. And for a limited time (Sunday November 23rd – Friday 28th at midnight), DreamSacks is offering a special coupon just for visitors to this blog. Just enter NBCUGREEN at the website when prompted for the coupon code and get 15% off! Quality and value…a dream solution.

· Organic Skin and Personal Care: There are so many great eco-friendly, organic skin care companies in business today…please support them so they will all be here tomorrow. A few of my favorites with special offers this season:

· Gilly’s Organics: “Hey Sugar, Lookin’ Good” – an all organic, natural, extremely gentle, sugar scrub is a wonderful exfoliant that smooths and shines your skin. Perfect for home spa manis and pedis. Plus, readers of this blog can enjoy a free 4oz. scrub (worth $18) FREE when you buy 8oz. of Gilly’s amazing product. Treat her and support Gilly because she then gives 10% to local NJ foodbanks. Buy one for all the women on your list.

· Pharmacopia: These natural and organic skin care products are a treat 365 days a year but during the holidays, Pharmacopia offers a special GO. RELAX. Gift Set of their fabulous organic lavender and chamomile essential oils in a cleanser, body lotion and shea butter cream, all TSA standard travel sizes in an eco-friendly tote.

· Soaptopia: At the top of my wish list, being a member of the Soaptopia Bath of the Month Club…the very best way to enjoy all their great “junk-free” bath products. Or visit their website and build your own gift sets - all wrapped in free, eco-friendly gift wrapping.

· Eminence: Here’s a great idea. Eminence packaged up their best selling handmade organic fruit smoothie bodywash with a natural body loofa in an eco-bag with a festive ornament. But the gift doesn’t stop there…inside the ornament is a chocolate that could be your golden ticket to a world famous spa in Sedona, Arizona. (A trip for two so you could win too!) Buy the gift bag, enter the contest and cross your fingers…

· Natural Purses and Wallets: Raw Bags offers elegant purses and wallets that will be the perfect fit for any women. They design raw material purses from bamboo, raw leather, raw silk and recycled paper. My favorite pick of the season is their Green Bamboo Cube Clutch.

· Jewelry: Of course, what she really, really wants is some bling…so thrill her with eco-luxury and conflict-free jewels from Brilliant Earth. From socially responsible gold to fair trade jewels, their beautiful rings, pendants and gemstones originate from ethical and environmentally responsible sources.

Coming up next: Eco-Friendly Gifts for Babies and Teens

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Eco-Holiday Gifts for Men: Supporting Small Green Businesses

This holiday you have the choice to support economically-challenged green small businesses as you select holiday gifts for the special men in your life. As discussed in “Buycotting the Holidays”, I’d like you to show small green companies your green and buy your holiday gifts here:

Green Gifts for Men:
· Shower Water Timer:’s Blue Star Digital Shower Timer from Ripple Products. They promote water awareness and water conservation thru inventive bath-time products like this easy to use digital shower timer. This is a real clock with a simple, programmable countdown timer. Battery operated, steam proof and water proof.

· Men’s Grooming Products:
o Pangea Organics has many organic personal care products for men (and women) and to celebrate their 7th anniversary their festive holiday gift sets come in plantable boxes to grow a Spruce Tree! Embedded in the gift boxes are spruce seeds which can easily be planted to reforest our planet.

o Burt’s Bees Natural Grooming kit: this small black dopp kit includes a range of natural products to keep him looking great including beeswax lip balm, body wash, aftershave, shave cream and soap. All specially formulated for him with a natural, clean fragrance with sunflower oil.

o Organic Man “Sock-it-to-him” Beauty Bootie: Beautorium has designed a “stocking” made out of certified organic cotton and bamboo and filled with organic, 100% vegetarian, men’s personal care items from Logona Mann. These products are certified natural and don’t contain petrochemicals, paraffin, parabens, silicone, synthetic fragrances or colors, ethoxylated ingredients or GMOs. Includes shampoo, shower gel, face & body lotion, shaving cream and after shave lotion.

· Green Car Wash Kit: Lucky Earth makes an eco-friendly, waterless car wash kit. This gift saves water and money by enabling folks to wash their cars themselves. This exceptional, completely non-toxic, organic soap product cleans, polishes and protects cars without the use of additional water. Just spray the product on a car, wipe it off with a microfiber towel and lightly buff to shine. Traditional car washes can waste between 40 and 120 gallons of water per wash and pollute our local waterways and beaches with toxic run-off. This is a great no chemical suds, no fumes, no water solution.

· Bamboo Grilling and Cooking Accessories: Bambu makes sturdy, sustainable and contemporary designed bamboo cooking tools. I think any man who cooks would appreciate their stainless and bamboo cooking utensils and range of bamboo cutting boards.

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Eco-Holiday Prep: Supporting Small Green Businesses

As discussed in “Buycotting the Holidays”, this holiday you have the choice to support economically-challenged green small businesses as you prepare for the holidays. With predictions of a poor retail season, small companies who have devoted themselves to being environmentally friendly are at great risk. Show them your green and buy your holiday preparations here this season:

Solar Powered Light Emitting Diodes (LED) Holiday String Lights: Light your home this year with self-sustained, energy-conserving, environmentally-friendly Ecolites from Eco Geek Living, Inc. The lights recharge during the daylight hours and automatically turn on at night while using as little as 1/50th the amount of energy traditional light bulbs.

Bamboo Ornaments: Bambu has introduced certified organic bamboo ornaments - all hand shaped from a single piece of highly sustainable bamboo. Tied with recycled twine, these ornaments come in four shapes: Tree, Dove, Star, Person. Available at Whole Foods and Greenfeet.

Plantable Seed Holiday Cards: If you must keep this treasured tradition alive, please consider sending a holiday card that can be re-purposed. Green Field Paper Company (a tree-free paper company) offers Grow a Note cards that can be planted to produce wildflowers.

Bamboo Holiday Invitations: Smock makes fun and elegant holiday invitations with antique, cast-iron letterpresses on sustainable bamboo paper. Smock is an entirely wind-powered facility, uses vegetable-oil based and low-VOC inks and low-VOC and citrus based solvents and is a member of Co-op America Green Business.

Green Hostess Gifts:
Hostess Soaps:

- Luxurious triple milled soaps so fragrant and beautiful you will want to share. Bring a box of Earthworks paraban-free soaps which are wrapped in eco-friendly, pulp from fast growing bamboo and mulberry trees.
- Handmade natural soaps from Soap & Paper Factory makes elegant gifts. This pure, natural collection of products for home and body are handmade from start to finish. Founders Lisa Devo, Shannon Burch and Beth Grubaugh join to make traditional handmade and hand-wrapped home and body products in small batches for gifts as beautiful and unique as their packaging. Lisa and Shannon make the all-natural bath and body products by hand with as natural and organic ingredients as possible and then wrap them in Beth’s gorgeous hand-sketched, locally printed recycled paper and boxes.

Gourmet Baked Goods: Who doesn’t want to be in the Brownie of the Month Club? Especially when the brownies are organic and vegan. Or bring the hostess a basket filled with Allison’s Gourmet organic cookies, candies, teas, cocoas and fair trade coffee.

Soy Candles: Ka Nani Essentials and Soy 4M have partnered to create custom, 100% soy candles hand poured in refillable tin containers. These fragrant candles are chemical-free without dyes or preservatives.

Organic Tea: Numi Tea offers a lovely Velvet Tea Caddy. With a classic mahogany finish, glass top, this elegant tea caddy holds premium organic and Fair Trade Certified teas in style. A great gift for any tea lover.

Mary Beth Gonzalez

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Buycotting the Holidays

For many years, I’ve heard the same refrain: “This year, I’m going to cut back on my holiday shopping”. And yet this year, I think people really mean it. Our poor global economy, U.S. recession, high unemployment rates and bleak immediate economic outlook all contribute to increased spending scrutiny.

Not just an expense
But it isn’t likely that most folks will just boycott the holidays altogether. Holiday gift giving is more than just an expense. It encompasses determining the actual gift recipient list and taking the time to find an appropriate gift. It isn’t about how much one spends on the gift. Our time and effort, while valuable, are free. Maybe this is the year to give the gift of time to those on your gift list. Offer to run errands for an elderly person or a night of babysitting to a harried mom.

“Buy-cott”: Buy Green
Now working off the assumption that some holiday gifts will still be bought, wrapped and presented with glee, I propose a “buy-cott”. Let’s make our hard working dollars work even harder by only buying green gifts this year. We know that our holiday dollars are going to go somewhere and we have the choice to use them to support companies who not only provide superior products but also strive to make our environment a better place. If you care about green, now is the time to show it. With many eco-minded small businesses already struggling in today’s economy, these small green companies will not succeed without our support. Remember that 70% of all employed Americans work not for huge multinational corporations, but for small business, like so many of these green companies. They need our help, so in the traditions of our great country, let’s give them our support.

Series of Holiday Green Gift Ideas
So over the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging about more than 20 small businesses where you can find perfect green holiday gifts for everyone on your list. In many cases, there will be special discounts available, and I’ll provide the links so you can buy online to save gas. I invite you to share your own green gift suggestions as well but most importantly, I urge you to put your money where your green is and buy from these companies this holiday season.

- Show them that you appreciate their extraordinary efforts to provide you with sustainable, safe, non-toxic, chemical-free products.
- Show those you love that you care enough about them to give green presents that will enhance their health and well-being.
- Show the world that you care about future generations who will inherit our earth.

In the next Going Green blog - Small Business Green Holiday Preparation Gifts:
- Solar Christmas Tree Lights
- Organic Hostess gifts
- Recycled and E-Holiday Cards