Shopping Green: Uniquely Environmental Gifts

Celebratory excess marks the holiday season, with its freewheeling use of credit cards, mountains of new toys, and piles of discarded packaging and wrapping paper after it’s all over. The tree is green, the money’s green, but the overall effect of the season is not particularly, well, green.

So what’s an environmentally conscious shopper to do?

Many consumers are trying to make their celebrations a bit more Earth-friendly, beginning with the gifts they give to their loved ones.

“We have seen a big upswing in demand for products made from recycled materials,” Annie Lescroart, public relations and communications manager for fair trade-focused World of Good and its brand, Original Good, told the E-Commerce Times. “The eco-movement has taken hold because consumers are becoming more aware of the negative impact of a lot of our consumptive practices.”

Green Tint to the Holidays

There has been a green gifting trend this year, said Manish Chandra, CEO and founder of the social shopping site Kaboodle.

“Green is definitely in,” Chandra told the E-Commerce Times. “We’ve seen a trend toward green throughout the year, and it’s culminating in the holidays.”

With all of this Earth-consciousness in mind, the E-Commerce Times has gathered together 10 gift ideas for people who want to put a little more green in their holiday season.

How about a Cow?

Gifts that help others are some of the most environmentally-friendly gifts of all. One organization, Heifer International, allows consumers to buy gift credits for everything from bees to goats for people in developing countries.

Make a Micro-Loan

If you’re looking for other ways of helping others, the charitable microlending site Kiva sells gift certificates for microloans to small, struggling businesses around the world.

Carbon Credits

Through companies like TerraPass you can buy carbon credits in the form of gift certificates, or as a built-in feature of other products, such as Climate Change Chocolate. Carbon credits are the perfect stocking stuffers for those who want to reduce their impact on the environment. “We find that people want to buy offsets and other green gifts because they want to do something as individuals to combat climate change and environmental problems,” Erik Blachford, the CEO of TerraPass, told the E-Commerce Times.

Recycled Jewelry

Interested in a necklace made out of recycled vinyl records? Try retailer Aroha Silhouettes which sells these and other recycled products.

Vintage Toys

Toys like a European-made Baltic Rocking Horse, marketed by Offi, call to mind toys of old, get kids away from video games, and can be passed down from generation to generation. No wonder they’re becoming more popular than ever — and they’re not as likely to end up in a garbage dump at the end of the season.

American Toys

Increasingly, consumers are realizing the benefits of buying toys made in America, if only to reduce the carbon footprint made by the shipping process from faraway countries. Manufacturers like Channel Craft, which markets its games and toys at retailers like Cracker Barrel and Fat Brain Toys, have found favor with consumers wary of Chinese-made products and eager to support American manufacturing.

Repurposed Trash

Trash can be beautiful. Just take a look at the This Bag is Garbage Tote, handcrafted in India from melted, recycled plastic bags and available through Original Good.

Oil Filters

OK, so they don’t sound 1) exciting or 2) Earth-friendly. But for those car buffs on your list who also have an interest in the environment, the new microGreen Extended Performance Oil Filter might be just the kind of stocking stuffer they’d like. Though it’s more expensive than a traditional filter, its advanced filtration technology requires that the oil itself be changed only every 24,000 to 30,000 miles, thus reducing overall oil usage. “It would be a great gift,” Steve Kirchner, the COO of SOMS Technologies, told the E-Commerce Times. “You help preserve the environment because you’re not contributing as much waste.”

Compost Bin

Another one of those green gifts in the not-romantic-but-practical category is a compost bin. Encourage gardening friends and family members to compost kitchen scraps and other waste with one of the many models of composters available from retailers like Smith & Hawken and Gardens Alive.

Green Wine

Edible, and drinkable, gifts tend to be easy on the environment because they have little waste and end up on a table, where they’re consumed. Wine is a favorite gift, and wine bought from Wine.com has the added benefit of supporting an e-tailer that has implemented energy-saving data management, with an ioDrive from Fusion-io. “We view this technology as extremely Earth-friendly because it costs less upfront, and it uses less energy,” David Flynn, the CTO of Fusion-io told the E-Commerce Times. The Earth-friendliness of the company behind a gift, after all, can be as important as the greenness of the gift itself.

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