It's the season to give, but how do you remain environmentally aware and give gifts that help others? I've compiled a list of some great gift ideas that lend people a helping hand and/or are healthy for us and our planet.
Berry Towne Crafts is an online retailer that sells handmade soaps, organic wildflower honey, hand thrown stoneware pottery, NABS approved blue bird nesting boxes and handmade wood crafts. All these products are made in Goldsboro, North Carolina by artisans with developmental disabilities such as autism. I love their Oatmeal Milk and Honey soap and their shipping costs are amazingly low. Check these folks out at http://www.berrytownecrafts.com/.
J.R. Watkins sells a line of natural apothecary skin care products made from environmentally friendly, sustainable and renewable sources. Their products are at least 95% natural and certified by the Natural Products Association. Watkins also sells a line of natural plant based cleaners that are safe for us as well as the environment, a line of natural and organic spices and extracts and an assortment of home remedies that relieve aches and pains. I love the lavender body lotion and my husband and I recently switched all our household cleaners to Watkins. These products are available on-line at http://www.watkinsonline.com/.
Want a natural deodorant that doesn't contain aluminum, alcohol and bactericides? Spa Therapy Works at http://www.spatherapy.etsy.com/ sells vegan deodorants that do not interfere with sweating which is our natural cooling process, but combats and kills odor-causing bacteria. This Etsy shop not only sells deodorant for men and women, but also sells lotions, vegan lip balms and shampoo.
Ten Thousand Villages is an on-line store selling fair trade products, some made of recycled materials. Here you can buy tapestries, ornaments, jewelry, and home decor items. To view the many crafts go to http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/. My favorite product I bought a couple years back is their large trivet made of recycled news papers.
What about the person who has everything? They've asked that no one buy them anymore stuff! How about planting some trees on their behalf? Every dollar donated to American Forests plants a tree. To plant a small forest for someone, log onto http://www.americanforests.org/. Or, how about offering a free loan to an entrepreneur in a third world country to help alleviate poverty? At http://www.kiva.org/, you can select real person and the amount of money you wish to loan. Throughout the course of a loan, about 6-12 months, you can receive e-mail journal updates and when the loan is paid off, you can lend it to another individual. This site sells gift certificates so that your gift recipient can choose the person they want to make a loan to. My husband and I have been making loans for a year now and no one has defaulted on their payments.
If you know of a great gift giving idea that's environmentally friendly and/or helps a particular cause, please leave a comment. Happy holidays!