Green Holiday Gift Guide 2019

Hey #FriendsOfThePlanet, if you’ve been reading the email all week then you will have seen our picks for meaningful green gifts for you and your loved ones. We’ve compiled all of our recs into this handy guide and hope that if you’re looking for gifts, that you love all of these items and experiences as much as we have this year. Happy holidays!

-Monica and Miro

The Gift of Less Plastic 

My (Miro’s) most-used and repurchased item this year is hands down the Lush Cosmetics shampoo bar and accompanying travel case (the case I’ve only bought once, duh). While they have several scents and attributes (volume, shine, frizz ease etc.) the Godiva scent smells like jasmine and makes me feel like I’m on a tropical vacation even if I just got off a red-eye.

Why I Like It: I’m always trying to consume less single-use plastic and while it’s often difficult (I just can’t get the hang of safety razors) this product is a no-brainer. The bar lasts forever, it’s small and easy to travel with and they make thoughtful gifts for friends. This certainly isn’t the only bar shampoo out there, so explore what works for you! Honorable mention: this travel case for bar soap that keeps it from getting mushy.

Why This Matters: We write all the time about the plastic pollution crisis. While ultimately this will have to be a solution that’s solved by governments, as consumers we can signal to brands and retailers that we don’t want or need excess packaging.

The Gift of Carbon Offsets

This year, many people started thinking hard about their own carbon footprints after climate activist Greta Thunberg made headlines by sailing to the large UN climate meetings in a solar-powered boat rather than flying to them and by taking trains to events around Europe.  And when the British royals took a private jet they also made news when they defended the action by saying they had bought carbon offsets for the trip.

  • So we suggest that one way to lower the climate stress caused by the lack of low carbon travel alternatives is to give the gift of carbon offsets.

Where To Purchase Offsets:  There are many organizations that sell offsets so, by all means, do your research (start with this guide) and find the one that best suits your recipient(s).

  • The UNFCCC has a carbon offset program that funds projects with Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), a type of carbon offset measured in tons of CO2 equivalent. To learn more about how to purchase from the UN’s program called “Climate Neutral Now” click here.
  • Another one that has been around for a long time and is well-regarded is called “terrapass,” which works with businesses as well as individuals that want to offset their carbon emissions.
  • Also, a company called Offcents purchase offsets in large amounts but then break it up into pounds, instead of tons, making it easier for individuals to purchase.

And to make sure you are getting your money’s worth, check out the “gold standard” for offsets, here.

Why I Like This Gift: This gift is a great way to make the recipient happy by purchasing credits from an offset project that will be meaningful to him/her/them and will also help non-profits fund important climate projects that make a difference by literally taking carbon out of the atmosphere.

  • And you can scale the gift to suit the recipient or your budget.  Most carbon offset calculators allow you to look at the footprint of specific activities — you can offset an activity or all activities for a certain period of time.
  • Plus, if you buy the offsets from a reputable organization, you can rest assured that the money will be well spent.

Why This Matters:  Purchasing carbon offsets is something we can all do — it does not require government action or involve politics that might raise issues within families that do not all agree.  

The Gift of an Earth-Friendly Diet

This February will mark 10 years since I (Miro) have been a vegetarian and while I would be happy to eat a black bean quesadilla for dinner 75% of the time, my meat-eating husband would probably be less thrilled. With that said, I’m always looking for recipes that eliminate the need to cook two dishes while being satisfying enough for an omnivore.

This year, two cookbooks came into my life that have fit the bill perfectly: Priya Krishna’s Indian-ish and Jillian Harris’ Fraiche Food, Full Hearts

Why I Like This Gift: Indian-ish is packed with (mostly) vegetarian recipes that offer a friendly intro into Indian cuisine–but with American twists adopted by Krishna and her mother. I’ve loved every recipe I’ve made as well as reading the sweet anecdotes throughout the book. (These Indian nachos will change your life).

Fraiche Food, Full Hearts is lifestyle influencer Jillian Harris’ foray into plant-based eating. For environmental reasons her family switched to a plant-based diet and she wrote this book as an effort to show that classic, comforting meals need not come from animals. The book is beautiful and the recipes have been divine (vegan pot pie is SO good, you’ll never miss the “real” thing).

Why This Matters: The UN report that came out this past August describes plant-based diets as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change ― and includes a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption.

The Gift of a Greener Home 

There’s no denying it, Amazon Prime is incredibly convenient but it’s also a company fraught with environmental and human rights problems. This year, at the recommendation of a friend, I (Miro) tried the Grove Collaborative–a B-corp, eco-friendly, personal care and home essentials online retailer. (They also offset all shipments!)

For $20/year you can join their VIP program to get free shipping on all items from plastic-free razors to wool dryer balls. While they carry known green brands I love their store brand the best–there’s so much to explore (I’ve loved their micro cloths and dish soap set).

What I’d Give As a Gift: I’d recommend gifting a year-long VIP membership, one of their green home starter kits or this “plastic swaps” kit.

Why I Love This Service: Sure, you can get microfiber cloths and spray bottles for less elsewhere, but sometimes convenience and aesthetics just bring you joy. Plus I really like the ethics of this company and that they round up so many eco-friendly products in once convenient marketplace–a real a win-win.

Why This Matters: In 2019 we’ve passionately debated how big of a role individual actions versus government/corporate action play in making our planet more sustainable. My opinion is that systemic change is critical but our choices as consumers can signal to companies that they must commit to better practices. Plus the habits we develop at home (like being conscious of our throw-away society and the human cost of consumerism) can help shape our thinking about broader issues like climate change and conservation.

The Gift of the Great Outdoors

This past year whenever I’ve (Miro) visited my parents back in California or have traveled anywhere convenient to nature, I’ve made the effort to go for a hike. I find that living in a city often makes me feel disconnected from nature and a hike not only means exercise and fresh air, but it’s also a boost for my mental health (it’s science!). I also cherish the memories I have made during these hikes and I hope to spend more time with my family outdoors in 2020.

That’s why one of the gifts I plan on giving the family is a yearly California state park pass. Of course, you can find a state park pass for whichever state you call home! Additionally, you can buy a National Park pass from the National Park Service, which is a really great value.

Why I Like This Gift: Frankly, I don’t want any more “stuff” and I don’t want to give gifts just for the sake of it. In true Millennial fashion, I want to gift experiences and what’s a more amazing experience than nature?

Why This Matters: REI put it best: The average American spends 95 percent of their life indoors. As a result, we are becoming an indoor species, which comes with consequences. Our health and well-being may suffer. And the less we value our outdoor spaces, the less likely we are to protect them.

I want to give a gift that helps conserve nature, because as Jonathan Jarvis, former director of the NPS, said:

“National parks risk obsolescence in the eyes of an increasingly distracted demographic.”

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