Friday, November 27, 2009

Season's Greenings: Good for the Environment

Today is Black Friday, and I can't think of a better way to turn this mad season of consumption on its head than to think about ways we can start spending money in a sustainable fashion. This is the third in a five-part series adapted from an article I wrote for the Nov.-Dec. '09 issue of NW Palate magazine.
Lindsay Coulter is the Queen of Green at the David Suzuki Foundation, which works with government, businesses, and individuals to conserve the environment by providing science-based education, advocacy, and policy work.

Coulter suggests giving paper new life. Recyclable papers made from newspapers, magazines, and envelopes can be made into cards, bookmarks, gift tags, and small gift boxes, and can be embedded with seeds that grow herbs and flowers indoors in pots or outdoors in the spring. Plus, crafting is a great family, kid-friendly activity. Check out her recipes here.

Coulter also recommends buying used goods, whether recycled, vintage, pre-owned, or antique, which minimizes the carbon footprint attached to the gift. One more idea: “Consider giving experiences instead of stuff,” she says. Gift certificates to restaurants, for instance, make great gift card stuffers. “Throw in bus tickets or passes for an extra shot of green,” she adds. For more of Lindsay's ideas, go to her website, and take a look at other green gifts in the Suzuki Foundation holiday catalog.

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Eco-Guides puts homeowners on the path to sustainability with in-home consulting on home energy conservation, waste reduction, toxics reduction, water conservation, and green gardening. The Portland, Oregon-based service offers a three-session package that has estimated per home savings at $466 per year, much less than the cost of the service.Taste of the Oregon Coast gives you a delicious way to support the protection of Oregon’s wetlands habitat. Along with a $100 donation, you’ll receive a can of Local Oceans Seafood Smoked King Salmon and a bottle of Rogue Beer, plus a personalized thank you letter. Call 503-691-1394 for information.

A recycled bike chain bottle opener from Resource Revival in Mosier, Oregon, says love to your dearest beer aficionado.—$14

Fat of the Land by Seattleite Langdon Cook. This book explores the Pacific Northwest via adventures in foraging and discovers a regional stew of food, natural history, and unusual characters.—$27

Read Part One: Gifts That Grow, Part Two: Farm to Table, Part Four: Helping Others and Part Five: DIY Food & Drink.


EcoGrrl said...

All interesting ideas, however I would also recommend people think about finding ways outside of shopping to celebrate the season - instead of people focusing on buying more Stuff, how about the gift of time? I would do anything for a full unscheduled day with my mom getting gardening and canning tips, or have a friend take me to the coast for the day, or enjoy a city hike with a friend, or a promise to help work on a home improvement project in the spring. Or better yet, take a friend or one's family to go volunteer. Or donate the gift money to charities who need it more than we do. The more we focus on the holidays being about gifts rather than about togetherness, I think the more sad the world becomes...

Langdon Cook said...

Thanks for the shout out! And very cool that you plug Resource Revival--Graham is an old friend.

Kathleen Bauer said...

Great tips, Grrl, and ones to add to the list.

And Langdon, I'm honored you dropped by. Thanks for writing a very engaging, not to mention useful, book!

Amanda said...

I try to give experiences, rather than "stuff." After all, don't we all have too much stuff?

The best gift of all is a happy memory.

Kathleen Bauer said...

It's amazing how a gift reminds me of the giver, whether it's a physical one (especially if it's useful!) or an experience we've had together.