Footprint's Green Market offers ideas for holiday gifts that keep the environment in mind.
Holiday gift-giving can present quandaries for those with an environmental conscience, but you don’t have to indulge in wanton consumerism to find something friends and family members really need or enjoy.
If you’re buying new, avoid the cheap, trinket stuff that’s on a fast track to the landfill. Go instead for quality and durability as well as items that are responsibly made. Buying second hand is fashionable these days, too — call it vintage! — as is buying “experiences” (see sidebar).
Think of it as a gift to the planet.
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Scrappy scarves: Dikka Ballantine of Sew Up Seattle has been having “a sewing recycling adventure” since 1997, repurposing gleaned and donated fabric (“no scrap too small”) into cozy Warm Wigglies scarves and hats and roomy totebags ($15), and retro-looking swirly skirts ($35). At Goods for the Planet, where Ballantine also throws free sewing-lesson parties the last Saturday of most months. 206-784-7117 or www.sewupseattle.blogspot.com.
Clean up your act: Ballard Organics claims bragging rights as the first soap manufacturer to be certified organic by Washington state’s Department of Agriculture. The soaps are handcrafted in the Rainier Valley with no animal products, synthetic fragrances, artificial preservatives or dyes. Prices start at $4.25 for a bar (lemon grass is a top seller), at its University District store, 4759 Brooklyn Ave. N.E. (where soap-making classes are being held, too, geared during the holiday season to gift-making), online and at other places listed at: www.ballardorganics.com.
More cleanliness-is-godliness: Across town in Fremont, vegans Jesse Gawne and Nicky Mack handcraft their Estrella soaps in small batches, also with no animal ingredients or artificial fragrances and with yummy-sounding names like lemon-poppy seed scrub and espressoap (with oils of olive, coconut and palm, fresh brewed coffee and ground coffee beans). $5 for a 5.5-ounce bar. Online or stores listed at www.estrellasoap.com/estrella.html.
‘Nother jolt of java: Woodinville-based Espresso Yourself’s “Seattle Coffee Shirt” is a 100 percent organic cotton T-shirt grown and sewn in the U.S., dyed with espresso grounds from Northwest coffee houses (“no artificial dyes or harmful chemicals”), and packaged in a coffee bag like a pound of beans from your fave caffeine purveyor. At $19.95 each, with 10 percent of profits promised to educational and charitable organizations in the Seattle area. For stores or to order online: www.seattlecoffeeshirt.com.
Holy dog bed: Give Fido and Fifi the very eco-humanitarian-best: a resting spot that’s cushy-comfy, made of recycled mattresses diverted from landfills, stuffed with cleaned post-manufacturing waste cotton, and made by workers who are homeless, disabled or have prison records. St. Vincent de Paul’s Dogma Dog Beds (“the name seemed like a pun; like, holy dog beds, or cat beds,” says a spokesman) is a Eugene, Ore.-based job-training project whose profits support the Catholic charity’s service programs. From $20 to $35, plus $10 to $15 for washable covers, at Goods for the Planet, 525 Dexter Ave. N. More info: www.dogmadogbeds.com.
It’s a wrap: The truly eco-correct will have stockpiled weeks of The Sunday Seattle Times’ funnies to use for holiday-gift wrapping. But for those who must supplement, Seattle-based Global Solutions offers a line of gift bags and wrap made in Portland and Vancouver, B.C. Owner Cathy Simon says her bags and paper — in patterns like chocolate floral and snowflakes — use soy-based inks and are made of at least 50 percent recycled paper and a minimum 15 percent post-consumer waste (gift bags have the added eco-advantage of usually being reused by the gift’s recipient, the recipient’s recipient, etc.). From $1.30 to $2 per bag; paper is $4.50 for a 5-foot roll. At Goods for the Planet (www.goodsfortheplanet.com).
Green greetings: Sure, you can send e-cards, but to some that doesn’t say “the season” like a beautiful, handmade card. Graphic artist Katie Dean’s nature-themed “Little Green” cards, $3.50 each, are locally made (in her Tacoma home) on recycled paper (30 to 70 percent post-consumer content, and the rest is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council). Plus, she donates 1 percent of sales to environmental causes. Find stores at www.littlegreencards.com.
Recycled bling: Old costume jewelry from flea markets and garage sales gets a new life when Suzanne Hays and Michael Baehr in Fremont refashion the bits and pieces into vintage-look brooches. $15-$45, at Pioneer Square’s Trend Station gallery and its Saturday market, and Goods for the Planet.
Festival of lights: Unlike candles made with paraffin, a petroleum byproduct, beeswax candles burn clean and soot-free. Seattle-based Big Dipper Waxworks offers a wide range of 100 percent beeswax candles, including stocking stuffers (a heart-shaped candle tin scented with cinnamon essential oil, $3). For those celebrating the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah candles are $20 for 45 tapers. At Whole Foods and PCC Natural Markets, among many outlets. See www.BigDipperWaxworks.com.
Carey Quan Gelernter is a former Seattle Times reporter and editor.