Monday, December 13, 2010

EcoMonday: Holiday Shopping

Okay. How many of you have done all your Christmas shopping? Mmhmmm, we thought so.
Never fear! We dug up some options that are lovely *and* eco-friendly, along with a few guidelines for you.

Consider consignment. We've already ranted to you about the benefits of Freecycle Philadelphia, but you don't always get what you want on the boards. However, you'll almost always find something beautiful at one of Philadephia's great consignment stores, which take gently worn items (think top-notch brands like Chanel, Prada, and Eileen Fisher), sell them to lucky consumers, and then give a portion of the sale price back to the lucky person who thought to recycle her items in the first place. Consignment stores tend to be choosy about what they take, since they have to make a buck on it, too, so you can count on good quality. You'll find everything from belts to bags and great suits at a good consignment store. All of it makes for good gifts, and in Philly, there are at least two great stores we can think of, Greene Street Consignment and Josie's Sophisticated Seconds.

If you're going to buy new, consider looking for toys and gifts made locally. Foodstuffs and other consumables, like wines and honeys, make great gifts. We found Baxter's Bee Farm, a terrific estorefront that sells not only honey but everything honey-based--and Baxter's is located in central Pennsylvania.
Soap! From bees! In Central Pennsylvania! What a lovely gift!

Toys are an obvious guess for kids, but you can go one step further. Tree Blocks, a company out of Santa Barbara, CA, makes their blocks out of discards from local paper companies. The result? Remarkably rustic-looking toys that are somehow works of art in and of themselves. They're finished with flaxseed oil and last for years. And yes, they make toy treehouses, too.

Of course, if you're one of those who's a browser and a one-stop shopper, consider a dedicated green store like Big Green Earth Store, where you'll not only have a lot to choose from, you may also learn a thing or two. On a recent trip to a similar store, we learned all about wormless composting.

While you're at it, you may want to consider a gift that truly gives. Remember when you were kids and you'd spent all your allowance money on gum, or whatever? What'd you do when you had to give a gift? You did something nice for someone else, didn't you? Scribbled on a nice piece of paper some verbiage about baby-sitting or something? Guess what? You can still do that. Consider giving someone the gift of service. Take them on a date to volunteer at a soup kitchen. Or spend a day packing boxes at your local food pantry. They'll never forget it. And they won't be forced to regift the thing.

What's the best holiday gift you've ever gotten?

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