Monday, December 22, 2014

Hundreds of Last Minute Gift Ideas with a Conscience

Here are a number of last minute green gift suggestions that range from renewable energy costing thousands of dollars to small donations to environmental groups. Here are hundreds of gift ideas from a wide range of sources including:

- Huffington Post
- Renewable Energy World
- Triple Pundit's B Corp
- Inhabitat
- NRDC
- Climate Reality
- Gaiam

Huffington Post Green

Here is a list of green gift ideas from the Huffington Post Green.

Gifts That Help Conservation

World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy, The Sierra Club and many more will allow you to adopt an animal or buy gifts that benefit the organization and its conservation work.

Minimalist Gifts

Friends don’t want more stuff? You can give experiences like a wine tasting, bike tour, pottery class, cooking class, movie tickets or show tickets. A lot of people (not just minimalists) prefer these to physical gifts!

Recycled Or Upcycled Goods

If you’re going to buy something, see if there is an upcycled or recycled version of it (Uncommon Goods or Etsy are good sites to start looking). These goods can often have more character! Flattened wine bottle trays, bottle glasses or vases, upcycled clothes turned into bags or other clothes, reused fabrics, fleeces and jewelry are all options.

Gifts That Will Help Cut Down On Waste

There are lots of thoughtful gifts that can help people cut down on using single-use containers or food waste. For example you can give bento boxes, salad containers or reusable snack bags for lunch, along with a bamboo utensil set or nice chopsticks. For the kitchen, a sleek compost pail, nice cloth dish towels or a water filter are all good ideas. And everyone can always use a reusable water bottle or a good coffee thermos.

Gifts That Will Help Cut Down On Energy Use

You can give all kinds of water- or energy-saving tech that's fun to use and green. Learning thermostats or smart light switches can be a good choice for people who love gadgets.

Gifts You Can Make Yourself

Get crafty with homemade candles, paper, lip balms, jewelry, photo prints or hand-knitted scarves. Friends will love the personal touch.

Food Gifts

There are endless ways you can give edible gifts around the holidays. Homemade jams or preserves, syrups, infused liquors or homemade extracts are all cool gifts, especially for the culinary minded. You can also make baking jars or homemade candy. If you know the person likes to cook, a subscription to a local meat or cheese club or CSA can also be fun.

Growable Gifts

Even during the winter, giving plants can be fun. Seedlings, herb plants, a terrarium, tree planting kit or seed paper are all cool ideas. Remember to include instructions on how to keep the gift alive!

Gifts That Help You Get Outside

Help your loved ones get outside this year by giving them a good reason to go! Some ideas include: membership in an outdoors club, sailing club or kayaking group; rock climbing lessons or climbing gym membership; a deluxe tune up for their bike or entry into their favorite kind of race.

Renewable Energy World

RenewableEnergyWorld.com (REW) wanted to give you some ideas for holiday gifts that you might not have thought of yourself. Below please find some ideas to inspire you to give the gift of renewables. These ideas mostly consist of “big ticket” items, but there are some that can be broken down into increments that you could easily give a friend or family member. Hopefully these will inspire you to think outside the box with your own gift giving.

The Gift of Bioenergy

If you are looking for a way to green up your home, this home biogas system seems pretty cool. You simply drop in your organic waste and out comes renewable biogas that you can use for cooking. The gas can be fed directly to your gas-powered cooktop or your outdoor grill. I talked with the inventor Warren Weisman who explained that you just dump in any organic waste that you have and the digester turns it into methane gas. You can feed it every day, and grass clippings, leaves and other table or cooking scraps are all fair game. Actually grass clippings produce the most gas of all. “One of the big ironies of biogas is that you could very easily run your lawnmower with your glass clippings,” he joked. Weisman said that most households generate about 500 lbs of grass clippings per year (a number that seemed a bit high to me until I looked at my compost pile this morning). He said that amount of trash would produce enough gas to do all of your cooking with. Once a week or once every couple of weeks, you empty the slurry in the back and use that as fertilizer for whatever you are growing at home. Weisman explained that the system works in all temperatures but I wonder how it would fare in the northeast where cold and ice come into play. Weisman suggested that a covered location would be best in that situation. Safety is not an issue because the gas is not compressed and because the amount of gas that can be produced is limited to 2 cubic meters. Once that much gas has been collected, the digester it will automatically relieve the pressure. The units cost $3,995 including shipping.

The Gift of Solar Energy

You can find all sorts of solar-powered device chargers, mini-lamps, backpacks and more, but what about giving the people you love some money that they can put toward the purchase of an entire rooftop solar array? Residential solar power prices have dropped dramatically over the years and if someone you know has been thinking about going solar, your gift of just a few hundred dollars toward a new array might just push them over the edge. Many of the major solar installers have partnered up with big box retailers to sell or lease their systems. Earlier in 2014, SolarCity teamed up with 60 Best Buy stores to offer its services in several U.S. states. In addition, and depending on where you live, Lowes, which has a partnership with Sungevity and Home Depot can sell you a home solar array or at least a gift card that your loved one can put toward the purchase of one. Outside of the U.S., IKEA sells solar panels to customers in the U.K. and recently announced plans to sell them in eight additional countries including the Netherlands and Switzerland. Residential solar power is expected to explode in the coming years — give the gift of rooftop solar to your friends and family and urge them to get ahead of the pack and go solar now.

The Gift of Renewable Energy Education

What’s that great expression? If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, if you teach him to fish, he will never go hungry. Why not give the gift of renewable energy education this holiday season with a gift certificate for an online educational course from Heatspring? RenewableEnergyWorld.com has partnered with the educational organization to offer a course on Microgrids with our renowned contributor Mahesh Bhave. We’ll be adding additional courses to our lineup in the coming months. You can purchase a gift certificate for a class in any amount and Heatspring is offering a 10 percent discount to RenewableEnergyWorld.com readers who use the promo code: REW.

The Gift of Wind Power

Residential wind power only makes sense if you have the right location. While this idea probably won’t work for my dream home, if you or your friends and family live in a in place that has a great wind resource most of the time, then a residential wind turbine could be a great way to generate power and save a bundle on electricity costs. Earlier this year, United Wind announced that it was now offering a lease for its consumer-scale wind turbines. I talked with Aaron Lubowitz in May about distributed wind and he explained a bit about the company and its vision. Check out the video below to hear more.

The Gift of Geothermal

What’s not to love about highly efficient fossil-fuel-free heating and cooling? I’ve been thinking hard about what type of heating system to put in my new home. I know it will have radiant floor heating, but I’m just not sure how I will produce the energy to get those pipes warm in the wintertime. I love the idea of ground-source geothermal. It uses the constant temperature of the earth (between 45-55°F) as the base temp from which electricity either warms a circulating fluid (for heat) or cools it (for A/C). The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association has a great description of how these systems work, here. Our podcaster, Barry Cinnamon, recently did a show on how geothermal heat pumps and solar work perfectly together, although he explains that the match is not necessarily a great one in the coldest climates. Have a listen here and, if you are so inclined, reach out to an accredited installer to learn more about how you can help your friends and family use geothermal to ditch their use of fossil fuels for heating and cooling.

The Gift of Energy Storage

Do you have a friend of family member that wants to go completely off the grid? If so, they’ll need some kind of energy storage backup to run at night or when the wind isn’t blowing. A battery is the perfect choice. Even if they aren’t looking to get off the grid, more and more people are turning to batteries as generators of electricity instead of the gas-powered varieties. I will never forget our 2008 ice storm when we lost power for eight days and were wishing we had a generator, like all our neighbors did. For me, though, the problem with those diesel-powered generators — apart from the fact that they run on fossil fuel — was the noise! They are as raucous as a chainsaw (another noise we couldn't get away from during the eight days after our ice storm) and spew exhaust, which is one reason that we never bought one for the home that we occupy now. We hope to have some type of quiet battery storage in our new home to go with the solar PV we plan to use.

The Gift of Hydropower

This comes from our friends over at Hydroworld.com, and while this “gift” is not something that most of us might purchase for our friends, it certainly is a “giftable” product — especially if you routinely celebrate the holidays in a mansion or a castle. “There have been several estates in the United Kingdom that have installed Archimedes-type turbines over the past years — mostly as part of the UK National Trust's efforts to increase its usage of renewable energy at its historical sites,” explained Michael Harris, associate editor in PennWell’s Hydro Group. He pointed to a couple of great articles that he has posted on the HydroWorld.com website, including one describing how the Craigside Estate in Northumberland, England has just begun using hydropower for electricity, again. Interestingly, the estate, which is surrounded by five lakes, actually began using hydropower for electricity all the way back in 1870. The announcement this year was that it is using hydropower again with the use of an Archimedes screw. Explains Harris in his article: “Water for the new Archimedes screw will be drawn from Tumbleton Lake, which is the lowest of the estate's reservoirs. The water will turn a 17-meter long galvanized turbine that will produce about 12 kW of energy, or, the National Trust said, enough to power all of Cragside's 350 light bulbs over the course of a year.”

Triple Pundit's B Corps Stocking Stuffers

Here is Triple Pundit's last minute stocking stuffer suggestions from the B Corp community

Vacuum Insulated Beverage Bottle

Help your friends and loved ones ditch disposable beverage packaging for good. Whether it’s a skinny chai latte or a tall drink of water, this insulated beverage bottle from Kleen Kanteen will keep it at optimal temperature for hours (six hours for hot coffee and 24 hours for cold drinks, to be exact). Price: $27.95

Organic Fair Trade Gift Set

This gift set from Badger Balm fits perfectly in a stocking and lets your lucky recipient test out a range of the organic, Fair Trade goodies the brand offers. Each set contains one cocoa butter moisturizer and four lip balm varieties for a luxe holiday treat. Price: $29.99

Naturalist Candle

Help a loved one bring the outdoors in with one of these nature-inspired candles from United by Blue. Choose from three scents — woods, sea and moss — all of which are made from 100 percent all-natural fragrances. Hand-poured in small batches in Philadelphia, these candles feature soy wax and cotton wicks for a truly natural touch. Even better: For every product sold, UBB removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways through company organized and hosted cleanups. Price: $28

Sea Salt Truffles

Who doesn’t love a little something sweet in their stocking? To make things even sweeter, these truffles are organic, Fair Trade certified and contain only eight ingredients. No mystery chemicals here! And you can even track each ingredient right to the source using Alter Eco‘s online tool. Price: $7.99

Bixbee Animal Pack

The little ones on your list are likely dreading the end of holiday break, but these fun backpacks from Bixbeemay just change their minds. Each bag is PVC free, phthalate free, lead free and BPA free to please moms. And with a range of adorable animals to choose from, kids are sure to love them too. Price: $31.99

All Good Essentials Gift Set

For that friend who loves trying new products, this stocking-ready gift set from All Good is just what the doctor ordered. Featuring four of the brand’s best-selling herbal products, it’s a great way to show her you care and possibly introduce her to a new favorite. Price: $24.99

BlueAvocado Lunch Bag Kit

The folks at Preserve teamed up with BlueAvocado, a fellow B Corp, to create this grab-and-go lunch kit that’s perfect for your busiest buds. Each kit includes two Preserve sandwich containers, made from recycled #5 plastics, and a BlueAvocado lunch bag made from BPA-free, Repreve certified, recycled polyester fabric. You can also choose from one of six colors and prints to suit your loved one’s style. Price: $14

Lightweight Merino Crew Socks

Ordinarily, socks aren’t exactly the most exciting gift. But these merino wool socks from Patagonia, arguably the most well-known B Corp, are the exception. They’re specially designed to be comfortable in all conditions, with shaped cushioning in the footbed for extra comfort over long mileage. So, whether your loved ones are camping, biking or going for a long run, these socks are sure to keep up with them. Price: $22

Organic, Fair Trade Texting Gloves

Help your favorite smartphone addict keep her hands warm and her fingers free with these organic, Fair Trade texting gloves from Indigenous. Ethically made in Peru, these gloves feature free-range baby alpaca yarn for a soft touch that’s guilt-free. Price: $44

Recycled Sketchbook

For the art-lover on your list, pick up one of these urban woodsman inspired sketchbooks from Ecojot. Made from 100 percent post-consumer waste and printed with soy-based inks, it’s the perfect way to sketch away without the environmental impact.

Inhabitat

Inhabitat's Green Holiday Gift Guide!  The 2014 guide is full of unique, fun, useful and eco-conscious presents for everyone on your list, from the gals to the guys, the big kids to the wee ones, the green thumbs to the gadget geeks, and everyone in between. They also have affordable offerings under $20 and under $50, and for those who choose to avoid consumerism altogether, we’ve got clever DIY tutorials for goodies you can make yourself and buy-nothing gifts of time.

NRDC

Here are some green gifts ideas from the NRDC. This holiday season shop smarter than your average bear and help save one too. Conveniently purchase NRDC Green Gifts online and we’ll send a beautiful print or e-card to your gift recipients. It couldn’t be easier!NRDC’s Green Gifts are a great way to give back to the planet with more than 30 great gift ideas all aimed at saving the environment. From defending polar bears to saving elephants from extinction ... from reviving rainforests to promoting renewable energy ... you will find the perfect gift for a friend or loved one who cares deeply about our planet’s future.Browse our most popular Green Gifts to get started: Buying a Green Gift is easy: Choose Your GiftPick from our collection of perfect holiday gifts. Send Your CardEvery Green Gift comes with a beautiful print or e-card sent right to your gift recipient. Write a personal message and choose exactly when it is sent. Help the PlanetEach Green Gift provides much-needed funds that allow NRDC to protect our planet’s threatened wildlife and wildlands. Start your shopping now at nrdcgreengifts.org. The mission of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. Your tax-deductible gift will delight your loved one and help save the environment.Every NRDC Green Gift purchased reflects our mission to safeguard the Earth -- its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. The purchase of NRDC Green Gifts will support all of NRDC's far-reaching work to protect the environment in the most effective way possible; it is not a donation to a specific project.

Climate Reality

Consider donating to Climate Reality which supports action on climate change in the US. We're on the verge of having the EPA pass our first limits on carbon pollution from power plants. We just saw the US and China reach a historic agreement to reduce emissions. However, these victories, like the EPA's Clean Power Plan are already under attack from a hostile US Congress and governors supported by Big Polluters. A generous donor has given $100,000 to match your year-end gift and help us raise $1 million for climate action. Help Climate Reality to raise $1 million online by December 31 so they can continue to make sure the US shows it's serious about addressing climate change. Be a hero today with a tax-deductible gift in this matching-gift. Your donation will be used to keep fighting for climate solutions and to mobilize millions of people in demanding our leaders commit to the global climate agreement we need.

Gaiam

Gaiam has a wide assortment of gifts. They knows that positive change comes from within. Their focus on personal development, health & wellness and global consciousness shows us this path to transformation. Since 1988, their mission has been to reach those who share their values of commitment to the well-being of people and the planet.

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