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recycled newspaper dogs

Looking for an unusual and unique gift for the dog lover in your life? Look no further.

One look at these recycled newspaper dogs, and we were in love! As soon as we saw these cute little guys, we instantly thought of several people on our gift list that would go crazy for them. VivaTerra has just released these two critter in time for the holidays, and we’re sure they will be top sellers.

Rover and Rascal are made from tightly woven and corded recycled newspaper thats been shredded and rolled into these perfect eco-friendly puppy pals. To make them even more festive, the company also makes antlers made of scraps of fabric (also super-eco-friendly) which you can attach to Rover or Rascals head, or your own for that matter.

Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

Tis the season of waste! Every year millions of people buy non-recycled virgin wrapping paper to wrap their gifts up. Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you are looking to change this seemingly harmless habit.

If you’ve had a chance to read my post on Eco-Friendy Christmas gift giving then you’re already on track to lowering your holiday carbon footprint. Next, to wrap those crafty home made or battery-less gifts, here are a few ideas to ensure you are being as sustainable as possible.

Reuse, Recycle, Re-purpose

Sure, buying recycled gift wrap is a step in the right direction but don’t forget that anything that is commercially recycled still has to be collected, processed, re-printed, packed and then shipped, most likely in a gas guzzling truck, to your local store. Why not do that recycling locally in your own home and reuse existing paper and packaging supplies. Here are some quick recycled wrapping ideas:

• Reuse packaging from previous gifts you’ve received. It’s not re-gifting if it’s just the box, tin or canister it came in!
• Old magazines are great as wrapping paper. Use old music or fashion magazines that your teenagers have given approval for reuse and I guarantee they will love them more than little elves or Rudolph.
• The relatives will love wrapping paper made from the kid’s coloring books or daily drawings brought home from school. Of course be sure to clear this with the kid’s so they don’t feel like you don’t appreciate all their hard work! Once you explain the benefits of green gift giving I’m sure they will be more than happy to help out.

Reusable Tote Bags

We all can agree wrapping paper looks beautiful under your brightly lite (with energy saving LED lights) Christmas Tree (sustainably harvested or homemade recycled Christmas tree) but you can also find some very beautiful, or holiday themed, creative, or just plain witty recycled tote bags which are always a great replacement for wrapping paper. The wrapping now becomes a gift in it self that they can use in the future in replacement of plastic bags.

Eco-Friendly Kids Building Blocks

In my opinion Christmas gift giving has become insane! For the most part people overspend money they don’t have to buy things that people don’t really need. Don’t get me wrong, I think giving a gift or two is fun and exciting, especially if you’ve made it yourself. But it has just gone too far commercially and there is too much pressure to spend, spend, spend. Even if you aren’t crafty enough to make your own gifts, you don’t need to spend a bunch of money to give a wonderful gift.

First we need to rethink our gift giving and look for gifts that:
• Are non-material objects
• Use natural resources in a sustainable fashion
• Have an extended shelf life

Here are some common gifts from some common gift categories that I consider to be eco-friendly:

Clothing

Basically anything made from organic cotton, bamboo, hemp or recycled fleece would do. T-shirts, PJs, sweaters, long-johns, hats all come in these eco-friendly materials, you just have to source them.

Candles

Recycle all your old wax and make some cool custom candles for your friends and family for gifts. Or if you don’t have any spare wax lying around to recycle then you can purchase some beeswax candles with all cotton wicks or rustic pebble candles. Just be sure to avoid conventional fossil fuel based candles.

Kids toys

Avoid the plastics, which I know really narrows down your choices, but there are still the staples, the toys we grew up on as kids before all the G.I. Joe’s and a million different Barbie dolls. I’m talking about hardwood blocks and building sets. If you are handy enough you can make these yourself from scrap wood around the house, otherwise you can get FSC-certified blocks. Or art supply sets, books, a membership to the museum or local aquarium. Basically anything that doesn’t require batteries to run it.

Sweets and Wine

This one is an easy one, to make the switch to a more eco-friendly stocking just be sure to buy organic or fair-trade when it comes to your treats like chocolate or coffee beans. You can source out organic vineyards for your wine choices as well. If you have the time be sure to do a little deeper analysis of the companies you are choosing to buy from; just because it says “organic” on the package doesn’t always mean they are using all the best green practices rather just trying to jump on the organic band wagon.

Eco-Friendly Decorations

As many (most) of you, my favorite time of the year is Christmas. A time where family and friends come together to share good food, conversation, sometimes gifts, and bragging rights about decorations exceeding expectations. Though this time is precious with loved ones that doesn’t mean we can’t be aware and minimize the costs of celebrating to the environment and our own pocket. Below are some very simple ways to reduce your energy use, bills and overall carbon footprint.

1. Use Fiber Optic Decorations

The best way to reduce your carbon footprint over the holiday season is to decorate with fiber optic lights, even more so than energy-efficient light bulbs. Fiber optics only require one light source that is illuminated down the cables, drastically reducing energy needed compared to multiple bulbs each requiring current.

2. Timing Christmas Lights

A simple notion – Only turn on the lights when needed. There is no point in turning on your Christmas lights during the day but so many people do this. Some out of sheer ignorance but most due to the fact that they just forgot to turn them off from the night before. Using an inexpensive timer will allow you to ensure the lights are off during the day when the bulbs will be using unnecessary energy competing with natural light and automatically turn on the lights only during the peak evening hours when needed.

3. Use LED Christmas Lights

Costing on average only $10 a strand and consuming 90% less electricity compared to regular Christmas lights and regular incandescent bulbs, LED Christmas lights are a no brainer for the holiday season.

4. Use Candles to Light the Room

In my opinion rustic candles are more beautiful than a strand of Christmas lights any day of the week. Candles are a great way to light up a room during the holiday season and have the added bonus of emitting heat to help keep the furnace use down. Negligible some might say, but I say every little bit helps and in my small 580 square foot loft it makes an undeniable difference in temperature. If you really want to push the envelope you can be sure to recycle the wax from the candles!

5. Turn the Tree On, Turn the Lights Off

If your beautifully decorated tree that spent that whole afternoon on is lit up is there really any need to have the lights on? No. Not only will you be saving the energy use from unnecessary lights on but you will be enhancing the Christmas atmosphere.

6. Turn Down the Thermostat

With all those candles burning you can surely turn down the thermostat, especially once all your family and friend arrive and share their natural body heat!

7. Eco-Friendly Energy-free Gifts

Did you know that 40% of all battery purchases are made during the holiday season? Take this into consideration when you are doing your Christmas shopping this year. Buy energy-free gifts that don’t require power or gifts that make use of renewable sources such as solar. At the very least, if you can’t avoid a gift that requires batteries be absolutely sure to include rechargeable batteries.

eco friendly candles

The first thing I like to do on a chilly fall night, is light a few autumnal scented candles around my house. I love the warm and comforting light they give off, and the delightful scents that permeate by little home for hours. Of course, I want to make sure that I’m choosing the best candles for the environment, so I did a little research on which ones are the least harmful.

But are regular candles actually harmful? Some are! Candle soot is a form of indoor air pollution. The US Environmental Protection Agency has found that paraffin candles release carbon soot, which in addition to blackening walls, ceilings, and furniture, can contaminate ventilation ducts and add potential carcinogens to the air. Never use candles that have metal wicks and look carefully at aromatherapy candles – as they are notorious for serious soot. Another candle ingredient – paraffin – is a petroleum product, which is not a renewable resource and is a polluting material.

For the green home, I recommend three kinds of candles: Beeswax, soy and palm oil. Beeswax candles smell wonderful, they are nontoxic, soot-free, and non-allergenic. They’re completely renewable and they burn much longer than regular paraffin candles. Candles made from soybean-based wax are often vegan, they do not create and they are biodegradable. They also super slow burners – so they will last longer, making them far more economical! Palm oil candles get their wax comes from coconuts so they are wonderfully renewable. They burn super clean and they last a really long time.

Read the label carefully, especially if you are vegan. Many candles are made with stearic acid, which is an animal-derived fat that comes from meatpacking plants.

God Hates Bags Organic Tote

god hates bags

We absolutely love the two-fold message of this handy little tote! First message: Save the environment by taking your own re-usable bags out shopping! Plastic bags are one of the most wasteful by-products of our plastic obsessed society, and their use should be illegal! (Plastic bag bans are becoming more prevalent.) The other message that we love about this bag, is it’s satirical jab at homophobic bigt, Fred Phelps, whose God Hates Fags campaign spreads its hateful message all across the country. This God Hates Bags bag, by Revel & Riot, points out just how ridiculous Fred Phelps and his mindless followers are, and it points out that plastic bags are pretty evil too!

teardrop-vessel-crafted-systems

The simple teardrop vessel from Crafted Systems is the kind of eco-friendly item that looks great anywhere. Beautifully crafted and designed, the =interlocked wool squares are elegant without being over-designed. The vessel is made by women at the YWCA shelter in Portland, Oregon, to “economically enabling and empowering them.” The bowls, vases, and rugs are made from natural wool using die-cut and water jet-cut technologies — and no two are exactly alike.

Writersblok Bamboo Notebooks

bamboo notepad

We are always on the hunt for eco-friendly stocking stuffers, and we think we’ve found a winner with these Writersblok Bamboo Notebooks. Made with 100% sustainable bamboo, these notebooks come with a cover that is waterproof and washable, and as an additional handy feature, the last 8 pages are perforated. As an inexpensive, attractive and eco-friendly item, these notebooks make a great gift for your green-minded friend or family member. They come available in large, medium or small, and in plain and ruled.

eco friendly wine stem markers

I was at a party this weekend and I really could have used one of these wine stem markers. Incredibly simple and innovative, these food-safe translucent silicone stem markers help keep track of your glass while you imbibe. Each pack of six comes in retro or solid colors. Forgot your color? No worries. Use a ballpoint pen to scribble your name, initials or the type of wine you’re drinking. Wipe with a damp cloth and reuse. The storage box fits cleverly on the neck of a wine bottle making it a perfect gift to be remembered even after the wine is gone.

Modern-twist products share a common goal in respecting the environment, workers and consumers. With a steadfast commitment to making goods for a more sustainable world, Modern-twist donates a percentage of the proceeds of all products to environmentally & socially conscious organizations.

Recycled Hockey Stick Storage Box

recycled hockey stick storage box

If you’re looking for a unique gift item for a crazy hockey fan in your life, this Recycled Hockey Stick Storage Box might be just the ticket. Made out of vintage hockey sticks, this storage box will be sure to charm anyone who loves the game of hockey. Making use of recycled materials really is the future and it’s great to see it used in this fun little product. Even the handle is made of a reclaimed faucet knob.