Thursday, June 12, 2014

Father's Day Gift Guide for Eco Dads!

My Dad is impossible to shop for. He is a man who appreciates what he has and doesn't want or feel he needs more material possessions than what he already has. Which is lovely in theory, but really hard when I want give him a gift he'll appreciate! I've spent a lot of time searching the internet for the perfect dad gift. To save you the time of doing the same, I'm listing my top choices here.

Conscious Step Socks
These are not your typical boring dad socks. The ethically manufactured socks come in some really great colors and patterns, each supporting a different cause. Make your go-to fathers day gift more meaningful and get a few pairs for Dad!

Conscious Steps Socks support a number of great causes.

Electric Mower
A lot of us associate Dads with lawn mowers. That's probably because most of our fathers seem to enjoy mowing the lawn! Instead of a gas-powered mower, be better to the planet and give your father or husband an electric mower. I've done some research and this one has a great review rating. I was surprised by how affordable it actually is!

Elvis & Kresse
Don't go for the same old boring leather wallet for Dad. Elvis & Kresse makes all of their products out of decommissioned fire hoses. Not only do these wallets (or iPad cases, handbags, belts, keychains, etc.) keep waste out of landfills, but I like to think that each one played a part in saving someone's life.

Billfold wallet from Elvis & Kresse

Kobo eReaders
This device is perfect for anyone who prefers the convenience of ereaders but still wants to support their local independent book store. When you purchase a Kobo in person, a portion of the sales from each ebook you read on it will automatically go to the store where it was originally purchased.

Solar Grill Light
Dinner time in the summer often came after sunset for my family, and Dad was always forced to grill with a flashlight. Save your Dad the trouble with this grill lamp. It's solar powered, weather proof, and adjustable.

Sole Rebels
Sole Rebels is still one of my favorite shoe brands. They're the only WFTO Fair Trade footwear company on the planet, which is great news for the people who make the materials and manufacture the shoes. They also make a line of strictly vegan shoes.

These Sole Rebels boat shoes are vegan, carbon neutral, and fair trade!

Need some more gift ideas for your Dad, brother, baby daddy, husband, etc? Check out my "Green Gifts For Him" board on Pinterest. It comes in handy for Father's Day, birthdays, Christmas, etc!

Follow Rachel Gottlieb's board Green Gifts for Him on Pinterest.

And of course I had to make a "Dads" playlist! Take a listen to some of my favorite father tunes. Happy Fathers Day!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mother's Day Gift Guide for Earth Mamas

While you take some time this weekend to honor the mothers in your life, remember to honor our Mother Earth, and all mothers of the world. You can do that by giving gifts that are earth-friendly and fair trade. Here are some suggestions.

For Valentine's Day, I wrote about why it's important to shop ethically for flowers and chocolates. If you had those in mind for mom this year, check out that post from February.

Organic Bouquet offers flowers that are fair trade and organically grown.

Bangle bracelets from Alex & Ani are hugely popular right now. You've probably seen them on a few wrists, but did you know that they're made in America out of recycled materials? This bracelet features a flower and the word "Mom" so every time she puts it on, she'll know you think she's wonderful.

Mom bangle bracelet from Alex & Ani
Mom bangle bracelet from Alex & Ani

A really great online marketplace to shop for moms is SERRV. They are "a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide." They sell a wide array of items that would make great Mother's Day gifts, such as housewares and apparel. My mother and I both adore scarves, and SERRV has a great selection of beautiful ones.

Painted Silk Scarf from SERRV

There are also some wonderful options for the new or expecting mothers in your life. Alicia Silverstone's latest book, The Kind Mama is a guide for anyone who wants to have a naturally healthy pregnancy. I'm a fan of her blog, The Kind Life, and have heard great things about the book. Another really thoughtful and unique idea is a package of pre or post natal yoga classes! Here in Buffalo, Yoga Parkside offers a series of those as well as Mommy and Baby classes.

The Kind Mama by Alicia Silverstone

Some moms can be really hard to shop for. If yours is like mine, she has everything she needs! If you want to do something meaningful for the woman who does everything for you, give to someone else in honor of her. Heifer International is a wonderful organization whose important work is helping to reduce hunger and poverty in developing countries. They provide farm animals and other resources to women and families, empowering them to create a sustainable source of income and to overcome hunger. This year, if you give the gift a goat or share of a goat to a struggling mother in southern Zimbabwe, your donation will be matched to make twice the impact.

Gift a gift to empower mothers around the world through Heifer International!

For more gift ideas for Mothers Day, check out my Pinterest Board, below!

Follow Rachel Gottlieb's board Mother's Day for Earth Mamas on Pinterest.

Here are some of my favorite musical tributes to moms!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

4 Disposable Things to Stop Throwing Away

Happy Earth Day! Today we should all remember why it's so important to protect our natural environment. In keeping with that theme, I wanted to share some of my recent discoveries that can help us to protect our environment by keeping a lot of unnecessary waste out of landfills. And they'll probably help you save some money, too!

There are some items we all use on a regular basis that we assume have to be thrown away. Here are four household items that I was throwing away every day too, until I discovered these awesome reusable alternatives. Once you try them, you'll never go back!

1. Produce Bulk Bags

The average American uses between 300-700 plastic bags in one year. That is a lot of plastic, but I have a feeling that figure doesn't even include the bags we all pack our produce in while we're shopping. You know the ones. You want to buy 4 apples, so you grab one of those clear plastic bags off one of the rolls scattered around the produce section. Then you fill another one with bananas, and another with carrots, and so on. If you use five per week, that's 260 plastic bags already, NOT including the grocery bags they get packed in after you check out! I always bring my reusable shopping bags to get groceries, but I was still using plastic produce bags in stores, until I purchased a set of reusable produce bags. I have this set of bags from Flip & Tumble, and I'm really pleased with them. When you start shopping with reusable bags, remember to tell the cashier the tare weight of your bags so they aren't factored into the weight of your items. The tare weight per bag from my set is .4 oz. For bulk items like nuts or rice, I bring clean mason jars!

2. Cotton Balls/Rounds

I was in the habit of using cotton rounds twice daily with facial toner. A short blog post by my friend led me to realize that there were reusable alternatives available. These reusable cotton rounds are made out of organic bamboo and cotton fleece, and they're just what I needed. I got in touch with the seller on Etsy, and she was very accommodating and pleasant to work with! I purchased 20 reusable organic rounds for less than $12, including shipping. I've been using them for about three months now and actually prefer them to the disposable ones.

These are my reusable cotton rounds.
The cotton rounds I used before always shredded into bits of cotton, or stretched and thinned out before I was done using them. These keep their shape, and are easy to wash. I toss them in a delicates bag and throw them in with the regular laundry. There are a few things I wouldn't want to use these for, such as nail polish remover, but they've helped me to eliminate another disposable item from my routine, which I love.

3. Plastic Wrap

This stuff seems like something that's hard to live without. If you're like me, you use it every time you have leftovers, or you have cut cheese or vegetables you want to keep fresh. It's hard to imagine how people ever got along without plastic wrap! Unfortunately, it's really wasteful, and it's not exactly cheap! I've discovered an alternative that keeps food fresh. It's a bees-wax coated cloth, that holds shape when folded around a piece of food or over a bowl, and it's washable! The two brands of beeswax wrap products that I've found are Abeego and Bee's Wrap. If you're feeling ambitious, you can even try making your own beeswax cloth wraps at home. Here's a great tutorial. The wax wraps can help you eliminate plastic sandwich bags and aluminum foil from your kitchen, too!

4. Paper Towels

Paper towels are ubiquitous in most households. We use them as napkins, to wipe up messes, for household cleaning, and so much more. Americans use over 13 billion pounds of paper towels EVERY YEAR! That's a lot of trees cut down, a lot of waste in landfills, and a lot of dollars spent! After purchasing a pack of paper towels earlier this year, I was overwhelmed by guilt,  so I decided that they would be the last paper towels I ever bought. Since I ran out earlier this month, I haven't missed having paper towels on hand. For spills and cleaning, there are plenty of eco-friendly sponges available. I also read a lot about using flour sack towels to replace other functions of paper towels. They're a perfect replacement for paper napkins, and they can also be used to absorb moisture in refrigerator crisper drawers, and even for draining grease when you're cooking. These are the towels that I purchased and so far they've been great. They're pretty big, so you could easily cut them into smaller sizes, as this blogger suggests. I might tackle that task when I'm more comfortable using the sewing machine I recently inherited! I'm relieved to not be burdened by the guilt I felt every time I purchased a pack of paper towels, and happy with the replacements I found.

Ready to eliminate even more disposable items from your home? 
Try replacing your dryer sheets with wool dryer balls, replacing your toilet paper with family cloth, and making your own disinfecting wipes and cloth mopping pads! The Earth will thank you. Happy Earth Day!

Further reading