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The Ultimate Eco-Gift Guide

The National Retail Federation estimates that the 2009 holiday season will garner a 437 billion dollar profit from gift sales alone. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if a hefty percentage of those dollars also did some good for the planet? Well eco-friendly gift-giving is much easier than you may think, and can even save you money! This month, GreenShoots offers five key ways you can ensure your holiday purchases actually benefit the Earth. These are the gifts that keep on giving! Have a wonderfully green holiday season, and see you next year!

Gifting Goes Green!

1. Go Handmade – What could show you care more than a gift you’ve put your personal time into? Create hand painted flower pots and wooden picture frames, mini birdhouses, personalized snow globes, candles, indoor lanterns, and much more. For the especially artistic craftsperson, the Design Sponge blog is a great resource. For those who are less into the details and more into power tools, try Instructables.com. Teach others how to make your creations, and turn the gifting work into a great winter weekend activity for the whole family.

2. Go Local – Before resorting to the big department stores, pay a visit to your nearest farmers’ market or art fair for gifts that will support local businesses and in turn, make your community a more prosperous, vibrant place. Many of the gifts you’ll find at these markets are unique, homemade and green, such as jarred jams and honeys, custom jewelry, artwork, clothing and home décor. Add an extra touch by including a note telling the giftee where their present came from or how it was made. Most markets also sell small herb and vegetable plants which when transplanted into colorfully painted pots make great holiday gifts. Find your neighborhood farmers’ market here.

3. Go for Recycled or Eco-Materials – When shopping, be on the lookout for gifts incorporating recycled or other green materials. Bamboo, for example, can be used for much more than high-end flooring and fencing; plates, bowls, furniture and even clothing are now commonly made from this naturally green resource. Also, many goods can be made using recycled materials without sacrificing quality — jewelry, bags, frames, decor, glassware, journals and more. Check out National Geographic’s green buying guide and the EarthEasy blog for tips on navigating the green gift market.

4. Go Fair Trade – Use your purchasing power to help to end poor working conditions abroad by opting for fair trade goods. These items are produced under sustainable, socially-conscious circumstances, and are guaranteed to directly benefit small businesses and individual artisans in places like war-torn Liberia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Afghanistan to name just a few. Learn more at the World Fair Trade Organization and Fair Trade Federation sites.

5. Go Non-Profit — Perhaps the simplest way to guarantee your holiday shopping dollars go to a worthy cause is to support a non-profit organization. A membership with one of Cali Bamboo’s favorite non-profits like Surfrider, San Diego Coastkeeper, or Habitat for Humanity makes the ultimate green gift. Many non-profit websites also feature a shopping page where you can buy clothing, books, bags and more to support their cause. The Rainforest Site is a great resource, as are the Jane Goodall Institute site and the National Wildlife Federation online shop.

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