Source: Pioneer Press
The Sustainable Gift
Parties! Parties for wonderful people and for a variety of occasions have inspired today’s column. This summer I have been to parties that celebrate wedding anniversaries, a house warming, a send off for friends moving away, and a party to celebrate the return of a friend from a year abroad. At each party, the guests brought gifts either for the honored guests or for the hosts, or both. This got me thinking.
Many gifts were given at these parties to people who probably didn’t “need” a thing. Yet, the idea of a gift is a very nice thought and people want to give them. I began to think about how people could give gifts without creating more “stuff” in the world or, perhaps a gift that didn’t simply gather dust.
The Consumable Gift
A consumable product is almost always appreciated and is often the “greenest” gift. The gift of a nice bottle of wine is a wonderful gift for those who enjoy it and, when it’s finished, the bottle is recyclable. There are wonderful specialty gourmet foods available that make nice gifts, and all the better if they are organic products. I would put body products in this category also because they get used up and the container recycled. This idea isn’t just for grandma’s hand lotion or lip gloss for the young teenage girl. If the friend for whom you are getting a gift is a gardener, for instance, there are wonderful gardener’s soaps and lotions on the market.
The consumable gift you give doesn’t have to be an expensive purchase at a swanky gourmet shop or from the organic shop located way out of your way. Often the best gifts are simpler than that. Homemade jam, cookies, or other dish along with the recipe that you know the person will enjoy, might be perfect.
Other types of consumable gifts are things like gift certificates to the movies, restaurants, tickets to events you know the person will enjoy or, better yet, that you can do with them. There are a number of places along the North Shore that offer cooking classes (where you can take a specific one-time class) or arrange an in-home wine tasting party as a gift.
Sustainable Products as Gifts
The truth is that no matter what stage of life we are at, there are things we use everyday that inherently wear out over time. Gifts that fit this bill are both terrific to give and receive. If these items were made in a sustainable way, all the better.
One such item that caught my attention recently is a bamboo cutting board. Bamboo is harder than maple, does not need to be stained or painted, and is harvestable in 3 to 4 years. Bamboo has an extensive root system that continually sends up new shoots so it does not need to be replanted. The cutting boards made from bamboo come in a variety of sizes, are beautiful as well as useful. So whether you want a major cutting board for all the kitchen prep work or a small board to cut lemon and limes for summer refreshments, you can find them locally at Dinner at Eight in Wilmette.
Another item that gets lots of use and needs replacement is the kitchen towel. Colorful and fun towels are readily available and make a very useful gift. You can buy towels of organic cotton, without dyes in the Gaiam Catalog (800.869.3446) and at Whole Foods. Tie a colorful piece of fabric around a set of these for a handsome package.
For other sustainable gift ideas look through Organic Style and Natural Home magazines. People want to feel good about the gifts they give; that they are liked, appreciated and useful. Now you may have the added satisfaction of knowing that the sustainable gift you give is a gift to the Earth as well.