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They say you have a year from the wedding to give the married couple a gift. Following that theory, I believe that you have until about mid-January to give friends and family their holiday presents. For those of us who have a tendency to err on the late side of gift giving, here are my last-minute and belated eco-gift suggestions (plus a few eco-friendly wrapping tips).
What he (doesn’t know he) wants: If your guy is like my guy, it’s not really a present unless it has something to do with electronics or guitars. This tends to stifle my gift-giving (and planet-protecting) proclivities, so in an effort to branch out, I’ve been sizing up environmentally conscious gifts that are also heavy on the cool factor. So, he’s getting a wallet. Two years ago I bought my husband a slim green money holder hoping that he’d abandon the bulky leather number that was wearing out the back pocket of his jeans. The wallet was promptly placed in a drawer, tucked under the heavy wool socks that he only wears during blizzards. I pretended I didn’t notice, but vowed to try again. This wallet from Uncommon Goods is masculine, but fun. Made of an ingenious eco-friendly substance called tope — a synthetic, vinyl-like creation made of nontoxic, animal-free materials that will decompose if buried — the wallets are imprinted with transfers of original photographs of forests or fields.
What she (definitely) wants: Jewelry. You can’t go wrong with jewelry. Even the most laid-back woman will appreciate a bit of adornment. If images of Leo DiCaprio in “Blood Diamond” are preventing you from going the traditional sparkly route, there are lots of other options for jewelry that’s gorgeous and both sourced and created in a humane manner. Moonrise Jewelry is my current favorite, with necklaces, earrings and bracelets that are made from reclaimed and organically renewable materials (and sourced from Fair Trade and ethical vendors). Like all of the eco/human-friendly products that I fall in love with, Moonrise pieces do not compromise one bit of design or style. I can just see myself strategically framing the Madrid necklace with a simple V-neck sweater. One visit to this site and you will be able to cross your wife, girlfriend (hopefully you don’t have both), mother, sister and friend off your gift list.
Belated stocking stuffer: Nothing beats a sassy toothbrush — it can liven up your bathroom sink and give you a bolt of joy at least twice a day (three times if you really listen to your dentist). The Preserve brush from Recycline is our brush of choice. It’s inexpensive, comes in an array of fashion colors (I use lime green and my husband favors bright blue), is made from recycled plastics and best of all, it can be sent back to the company to be recycled at no cost to the consumer (just print out the free mailing label at recycline.com). Stick one in a stocking or add it to the top of a Furoshiki-wrapped gift (see below) in lieu of a bow.
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Wrapping: When it comes to present-revealing, are you a crazy wrapping ripper or a gentle save-it-for-next-year type? Either way, you’ll be doing both the planet and your gift recipient a favor if you choose an alternative casing for the presents you give. Skip the rolls of paper and wrap it as the Japanese do … in cloth. Furoshiki is the Japanese art of enclosing an object in a piece of cloth. In Japan they have cleverly created decorative squares of fabric specifically for this purpose, but you can get creative. Look around your closet for scarves, shawls or even T-shirts that would make a colorful and reusable wrapper for your gift. Or visit a fabric store and ask for scraps, or buy a couple of yards of inexpensive cloth that your gift recipient can use as a decorative addition to a table, a scarf around the neck, or a Furoshiki for an upcoming birthday or holiday (it’s not “regifting,” it’s “rewrapping”). If you’d like to wrap your present in the traditional style, the Japanese government has published this helpful guide.
If you can’t resist the crunchy sound of wrapping paper ripping, you can at least seek out an alternative to the traditional stuff. Paporganics’ hemp wrapping paper is made of 90 percent post-consumer recycled fiber and 10 percent hemp/flax blend (which adds strength to the recycled fibers). And the quirky designs (think artichokes and bees and barns) are printed with vegetable-based inks.
Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of Lime.com, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on “The Lazy Environmentalist” (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.