Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20, 2013: Environmentally Friendly Gift Ideas

Still looking for a gift or two this holiday season? Hark!  There are alternatives to contributing to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the chemically thick gyre of marine debris that permeates the ocean deep, with a gift laden with plastic or those that seem so fine but were carved with wood from one of the planet’s last remaining boreal forests.

Gift giving doesn’t have to exact an environmental toll or proclaim your net worth. It can be as simple as the gift of time. "Time is where we are. Time is where we’ve been," writes poet Anthony Zeigler. "Time is being lost and found again." 

Here are a few simple ideas:
  1. In the Pacific Northwest gifts can be home-grown plums or mulled wine wrapped in festive ribbons and bows and recycled glass. Even well-scrubbed carrots, parsnips, beets, sun chokes or a mix, become extraordinary when individually wrapped in tissue paper, nestled together, and topped with a colorful card. No garden? Double hark! Many farmers' markets remain open all year long. There are pippin and wine sap apples, red curry and butternut squash, frozen roasted peppers for soups and solar evaporated and hand harvested sea salt from the San Juan Islands. They make terrific gifts, boast the farmers!
  2. Gift certificates from a farmers' market or organizations committed to reclaiming the local food movement are also environmentally friendly.  Take 21Acres, the Woodinville center for sustainable living, growing and eating, which has reclaimed farm land and offers classes such as: "Venturing into the Kitchen," "Right Sizing: Less Stuff-Less Stress," and "Irrigation Water Management."
  3. An overlooked gift idea might be membership in one of the region's parks. Parks foster trees, unsung heroines in capturing carbon as well as habitat which provide refuge for critters and critical ecosystem services in a time of rapid climate change. With state and federal cutbacks, membership draws people in to a park community where they’ll spend money for food, lodging, gas, and sports equipment, and in so doing, ensure the park's longevity. Blake Island Park, for example, a stone's throw from downtown Seattle, is a peaceful beach camping retreat. The southwest corner of the island has a stand of venerable old growth Doug firs for inspiration and solace – say those in the know. Only accessible by boat, there's a small marina and mooring cans around the island. And if you don’t have your own boat, take the Argosy harbor tour boat.
  4. We’ll call this an environmental gift with funk. Boogie down (or up) to the Re-Store in Ballard or Bellingham. Here you'll find salvaged and vintage building materials and home d├ęcor (along with two very friendly cats.) There are door knobs (the "k" is emphasized, say the staff) of all makes and models – natty glass ones are as low as $25 bucks. Wooden cabinet knobs are an even better deal, 25 cents each. Attach them to a 2 by 6 "weather" board at 30 cents a foot and you have a handy coat rack! What gift-longing friend could resist? And there’s more!  Windows at the Re-store – the better to see the light return – can be transformed into a greenhouse, an art frame, a cabinet, a planter. Some cost as little as $5 per frame.
Happy gift hunting. May all your holidays be sustainable and bright.