This Holiday Season Save on the Stuff and Get Back to the Basics

December 10, 2009

This holiday season, why not skip the scarves, socks and stocking stuffers and consider giving friends and loved ones the gift of a shared experience -- a performance of The Nutcracker Suite, a visit to a local museum, or farm? Prepare a dinner using sustainable ingredients. Or make a donation to a charitable organization on your friend's behalf. Give the gift of time -- offer to help a family member complete a project. Consider cooking classes for your culinary counterparts or a massage for someone in need of unwinding.

If physical gifts are an absolute holiday must, choose items that tread lightly on the environment:

For the home...

  • If you're shopping for new furnishings, consider companies like Khoury Furniture, which has a "Certified by SmartWood" line. The wood used in the manufacture of these pieces comes from forests managed to protect wildlife, waterways and the safety of workers.
  • Cutting boards by Preserve Products are made from 100% post-consumer recycled FSC-certified PaperStone™ paper.

For the body...

Alba Botanica's Rainforest Line

  • Alba Botanica's Rainforest line supports the rainforest and local communities because it contains Andiroba and Brazil Nut Oil from Forest Stewardship Council-certified forestlands.
  • The Body Shop carries FSC-certified foot files and nail brushes -- perfect for at-home pedicures.

For the host...

  • Party hosts deserve a bottle of Willamette Valley Vineyards wine. The bottles are stopped with cork harvested from FSC/Rainforest Alliance Certified forests. These cork forests, located in Spain and Portugal, provide habitat for wildlife including the endangered Iberian Lynx.
  • A great pot of coffee always perks up the party. Make sure the beans are from farms that protect the environment and the rights of workers. This holiday season, Caribou Coffee is releasing The Triple Cheer Box Set featuring five Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees. Other brands that buy from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms include: Allegro Coffee, Yuban, Irving Farm and many more.
  • Who doesn't love chocolate? Cocoa is grown in the rainforest in areas rich with flora and fauna. Your gift can benefit ecosystems and farm workers when you buy brands like Newman's Own Organics, Vosges Haut-chocolat, Kallari and Vintage Plantations that buy cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.

Finishing touches...

  • Rather than purchasing rolls of wrapping paper, reuse gift bags that you've received in the past. Use care when opening presents this year, save the paper and reuse it to wrap smaller items the next year. Challenge your creative side by using only reused or recycled items to package your gifts.
  • If you're sending out traditional holiday cards, they should be crafted from recycled paper or paper from FSC certified forests. National Envelope and sell holiday cards that are certified by the Rainforest Alliance to FSC standards. All of the cards sold by come from FSC certified, responsibly managed forests.

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