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(This is part one of a multi-part series that I'll be doing for the next couple of weeks.)

As I've mentioned here before, Buy Nothing Day will be celebrated the day after Thanksgiving. Buy Nothing Day brings some awareness to our holiday shopping orgy. It's all too easy to ignore where the gifts we buy come from, who makes them under what conditions, and what the manufacture of the gifts do to the planet.

I've been doing some research to find alternatives or alternative gifts that give on multiple levels, and I thought it would be great to fun to share what I've found. Most of the gift ideas I will post here will cost $15 or less.

One of my gifts this year will be non-toxic cleaning supplies. This gift gives on multiple levels because I will be giving this type of gift to someone who usually buys cleaning products with synthetic chemicals that aren't so good for the planet. So I will reduce the amount of the bad stuff they buy replacing it with the good stuff. Begley's Best cleaner (yes, that's actor Ed Begley) is made with all natural stuff, like "citrus fruit, pine extract, olive seeds, maize root, fermented sugar cane and palm". To make this gift idea even better, 100% of the profits are donated to non-profits. You can get a spray bottle for $6 and the concentrate refill (that should last nearly forever) that you dillute with water for $16 from REAL GOODS.

I hate the expense and toxic waste of batteries. The REAL GOODS catalog has lots of battery chargers (even one that's solar) and rechargeable batteries. They can get a bit pricey, and since I'm on a budget, I love the idea of this clock and calculator that are water powered . You just refill the little vials with water once every two months. The clock is $12 and the calculator is $14. You can reduce the amount of polluting batteries someone uses, and give them a practical gift that will save them money. The downside to this gift is that it's made in China which generally means that it's not fair trade and there's not any information as to the treatment and wages of the workers that manufacture it.

For the last few years I've given Equal Exchange coffee, tea, and hot chocolate as holiday gifts. You can buy from their website, but they do require a minimum order amount, so unless you are buying this for a lot of people, I recommend trying retail. I've found the coffee at Wild Oats, and the hot chocolate and tea at Ten Thousand Villages (which is a non-profit store dedicated to fair trade items). I also bought a box of Equal Exchange Earl Grey tea last year for our family and I can say that it was the best Earl Grey I've ever tasted.

For a humorous and yet still practical gift, CODE PINK is offering Karl Rove NeoCondoms in their online store. These bright pink condoms have a picture of Karl Rove on the wrapping with the text "Some things should never leak". Encourage safe sex, help support a great cause and and give someone a good laugh all at the same time. A package of 12 cost $12. I haven't yet found any information on where they are manufactured.


I'll be adding more holiday gift ideas posts in the next few days.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 18th, 2005 12:35 am (UTC)
On the subject of gifts...I read on the internet that it's your birthday. Hope you've had a fabulous day. :)
Nov. 18th, 2005 04:40 am (UTC)
Thanks Jaime! It's been quite nice except for the knowledge that I'm creeping closer to that halfway mark . . .
Nov. 18th, 2005 12:50 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this -- these are wonderful ideas, and I will try to do this, too. It's a great antidote to commercialism. I think there are a lot of green products that cost slightly more or have some up-front cost that deters adoption, so gifting is really appropriate.
Nov. 18th, 2005 04:54 am (UTC)
I hope you post your ideas in your LJ. I check it out occasionally to read if you've written, but you haven't yet . . .

It's actually becoming a creative exercise to try to figure out the way to have the money I spend benefit the world the most. The first year I did this, I did all my shopping at Ten Thousand Villages, which is all Fair Trade stuff. The staff is all volunteer, so there's not too much overhead and you can be sure that almost all of the money you are spending is going to artisans in impoverished areas.

I started doing a bucket filled with environmentally friendly cleaners for weddings last year. If I had a little more money it would have been great to put the stuff in the recycled tires bucket available at REAL GOODS.
Nov. 22nd, 2005 03:37 pm (UTC)
You have some very good ideas here. Thanks for the great post!
Nov. 22nd, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks -- if you have any good gifting ideas, please let me know.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Sunflower A
Jennifer Killpack-Knutsen
I'm on Common Circle.net


This blog is an ever evolving project. I write about local and national politics from an independent-left point of view. I'm also exploring ways to live with less impact on the planet and trying new ways to be an involved and active citizen.

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