Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas — For the Cook

Spice Rack Eco Friendly Gift Ideas    For the CookLooking for a green gift idea for the eco-chef in your life??  Check out these kitchen spice racks available in bamboo. Bamboo is a great wood to use because it grows extremely quickly with little water and no use of pesticides required at all.  Bamboo has been known to grow as much as 6 or 8 feet a day!!  This renewable resource is perfect for daily use because it is extremely hard and durable as well.

A spice rack makes an extremely good gift because they are constantly in use.  Even the most amateur wall rack Eco Friendly Gift Ideas    For the Cookcook will have a wide range of spices on hand to help concoct their dishes.  You can get spice racks that sit on the surface of the counter or a wall spice rack for kitchens without any extra counter top space available.

Whichever version you choose, it would be a nice touch to have some of your home-grown, organic dried spices on hand to fill the jars with.  This gives the gift a personal touch not available in big box retailers.

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Beads For Change

earrings Beads For ChangeAre you looking for an eco-friendly product for the fashionista on your shopping list this year?  Check out Beads for Change.  This program employs women of Uganda who live in hillside slums.  They are refugees after decades of war in northern Uganda.  Their only previous means of supporting their families was to crush rocks for approximately $1 a day.  Imagine having to feed, clothe and house your entire family on a dollar a day…  I simply can’t.  Their reality is completely unimaginable to me.

necklaces Beads For Change

This program teaches their employees to make beautiful beads out of used paper that would otherwise end up in a scrap heap.  They make these beads into necklaces, earrings and bracelets that can be purchased and worn worldwide as a way of supporting women and the environment.

bracelets Beads For Change

This program not only provides training and employment for the women involved.  The crafters receive a professional wage and training on financial management for long-term success, budgeting tips, savings tips, entrepreneurship training and micro-finance training.

Each piece of jewelery comes with a tagged picture of a woman who’s life you are helping to change.  You can pieces individually, have a house party to promote the products to your friends or even do a fundraiser for your child’s school or team activity by purchasing these beads.  It’s amazing how a purchasing decision can make such a huge difference!!

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Oil Town Living

4654535617 7bf499dc5e Oil Town Living

Courtesy of Flickr User That Angela

I’ve got to admit that I live in the middle of a city fueled by oil.  Make no mistake about it, Calgary is definitely an oil town.  We’ve got a terrible reputation as red necks with out Stampede and a myriad corporate offices full of planet polluting, pipe line building, suit wearing “cowboys”.  However, there really is room in this city for even a major tree hugger like myself.  Even the never ending construction boom builders are beginning to realize it.  Us greenies are here to stay!

There are now starting to be more and more Calgary apartments for rent that take eco-living and social responsibility into account.  The Calgary Homeless Foundation movement is finishing renovation construction on 16 apartments downtown that will welcome homeless veterans an affordable housing option. These apartments will be provided with minimal rent to veterans who have served our country bravely and have suffered from long term problems of homelessness.  Although I couldn’t seem to find any articles about it online, there were clearly energy star appliances in these renovated apartments.

Green building technologies have soared in the last few years and this oil town has embraced them with both arms.  Everything from dual flush toilet kits, low flow shower heads, energy efficient furnaces, solar panel technologies, composters, rain water barrels and even gray water systems are extremely popular both in new builds as well as renovations on existing apartments and homes throughout the city.  We may have been one of the last cities in Canada to have gotten curbside recycling programs in place but they are finally there and being utilized.

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Penguin Sweaters

Penguin Sweater Penguin SweatersTo be clear, this post is about tiny sweaters for penguins such as pictured on the left.  I am not writing about sweaters for humans with penguins on them such as this one from Chanel pictured on the right.  It’s cute but not exactly an environmental call to action!To be clear, this post is about tiny sweaters for penguins such as pictured on the left.  I am not writing about sweaters for humans with penguins on them such as this one from Chanel pictured below.  It’s cute but not exactly an environmental call to action!

Penguin Sweater2 Penguin Sweaters

 

 

Of course the real question is why would a penguin need a sweater?  A recent oil spill in New Zealand (check it out in the Guardian here) has left the penguin’s habitat in shambles.  At least 50 tonnes of oil have been jettisoned into the waters absolutely destroying the area for the more than 85 species of seabirds.  The oil gets all through the penguin’s feathers which the penguin then tries to clean off by preening.  Unfortunately, these cleaning efforts can prove fatal because of the ingestion of oil.

Hence, the sweaters.  There is a call to action for knitters worldwide to make these tiny sweaters in 100% wool.  I’m not a knitter but urge anyone who is to get involved in these efforts.  The New Zealand yarn store Skeinz is organizing efforts and has a “how-to” guide on their site to help create these adorable, life saving sweaters.  Apparently these types of sweaters are very useful in oil spill situations involving the penguins and have been used in other instances.

Penguin Jumper in 8ply – Must be 100% Wool Yarn
1 pair 3.25mm , 1 pair of 3.75mm needles , 1 set of 3.25mm dpn’s or circular
Cast on 36 stitches using 3.25 needles.K1, P1 to end of row. Repeat this row 7 times. Change to 3.75mm needles and K2, P2 rib. Work 4 rows increasing at each end of every row. (44 sts)
Continue until work measures 15 cms.
Decrease 1 st at each end of every row until 28 sts remain.
Decrease 1 st. in middle of next row (27 sts.)
Leave on needle.
Make second side the same.
Transfer the 54 sts from both pieces to 3 of the set of 4 3.25mm needles.(18 sts on each.) and work a round neck in K1 P1 rib for 10 rows.
Cast off.
Stitch up sides to decreasing to 27sts (opening for flipper). Add elastic to the top and bottom to prevent the penguins getting out of them. Top: 15cm of elastic; bottom 17 cm (knots allowed). Flat elastic okay.

For more details, visit Skeinz’s website.

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Getting In Bernie Madoff’s Pants

Bernie covers Getting In Bernie Madoffs PantsThey say you can’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes so can you judge him after using his pants??  Check out the Bernie Madoff collection on Fredrick James for a cool selection of Ipad covers made from the ponzi schemers seized wardrobe.  These functional covers include pants and shirts of Bernie’s but are unfortunately all sold out at the moment.  You can put your name on a waiting list to get your hands on Bernie’s seized wardrobe but remember that the supply is very limited.

Jungle Getting In Bernie Madoffs Pants

 

 

It’s definitely worth considering some of their other collections available including The Jungle collection made of rescued fabrics reminiscent of the sights and sounds of the jungle.  These ipad covers are made of vintage polyester, vintage silk organize and vintage polyester burnout chiffon.  I’ve also got to point out that the prints are much more lively than Bernie’s wardrobe.

Red Lodge Getting In Bernie Madoffs PantsIf you’re looking for something a little more hunter-esque made of high quality cashmere, consider The Lodge Collection.  These cashmere fabrics are all inspired by ski and hunting lodges.  Maybe you could be a lumberjack and be okay carrying one of these 100% cashmere covers.

Regardless of the  pattern you choose, these covers are all made of rescued materials.  That means that these are made of essentially garbage — things that were “rescued” from landfills.  So regardless of the colour of these covers on the outside, they’re all green at heart!

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The Ultimate Solar Light

Here in the Western world, solar lights are a novelty not a necessity.  It’s easy to forget about people living on other places of our small planet that aren’t going green to save the world.  They’re simply living hand to mouth doing whatever they can with what they have.  Part of being a peace loving tree hugger, in my opinion, is learning to think about how everyone lives on a global scale and doing whatever we can to help.

Light bottle The Ultimate Solar LightOften, money is not what is needed.  Rather, it’s ingenuity, skills and ideas that are required.  That’s what I really love about this simple project — it takes something common (an empty pop bottle) and brings light with little to no cost to anyone, anywhere who needs it.

The idea is simple.  Take a dark room and drill a hole in the ceiling.  Insert a two liter bottle half full of water with a little bleach in it to kill anything that might tend to grow and murky up the water.  Voila, when the sun is up — there’s light.  Natural, free, light in a space where there was previously none.  The water refracts the light and produces a glow that puts even the eco-friendly LED lightbulbs to shame with it’s energy savings.  Definitely check out the video below to get a real feel of what I’m talking about here.

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Etsy Find: Talking Squid Recycles Tees

avocado Etsy Find: Talking Squid Recycles TeesTalking Squid is not just saving the planet by recycling t-shirts, they’re also helping you save money with their huge 50% off summer sale.  Yup, half off!  So, what could you spend half as much on??  Well, they’ve got an outstanding assortment of rugs and pillows made of hand dyed old tees that are hand sewn onto canvas.  I’m totally digging this green number that is so reminiscent of grass that it makes me swoon!  Talk about bringing the outdoors in…  I’d love to have this rug for right in front of the kitchen sink.  Soft and cozy on mama’s tender tootsies after a long day of chasing those kiddos.

pompom Etsy Find: Talking Squid Recycles TeesTheir pom pom pillows can really help spruce up a boring couch as well.  I can only imagine how soft and comfy these pillows would be — just as soft and comfy as your old favorite tee that’s perfectly worn in.  They’d also be great in a reading nook, bedroom or kid’s playspace.  Can anyone say pillow fight??  lol  My kids would be fighting over who would get the pom pom in the great continuing saga of Pillow Fight Wars 2011.  Yup, we are rampant pillow fighters around here.  Only to be interrupted by the occasional tickle fight.

These are a great way to repurpose all of those old tees that clog up vintage clothing stores and even worse, landfills.  Stylish, classy, soft and fun…Definitely worth checking out for your Christmas shopping this year!!

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Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the best things that you can do for the health of the environment and yourself.  Cigarette butts make up about 80% of litter commonly found on streets.  The exhaled fumes from cigarette smoke are a contributor to air pollution and contain many toxic chemicals which make both the smoker and anyone who comes into contact with the fumes ill.  Second hand smoke is a major contributor to illnesses including asthma, lung cancer and emphysema.

Okay, so we all know that smoking is a problem but cigarettes are very hard to quit because of the addictive properties found in nicotine.  Have you ever heard of the e-cigarette as an alternative to smoking or perhaps help in quitting?  It gives users the same look and feel as traditional toxic cigarettes without the harmful fumes to worry about.  You also don’t have to worry about what to do with the hot cigarette butts without an ashtray to put them in because there is no flame necessary for the e-cigarette.

These e-cigarettes are definitely worth taking a look at if you or someone you know is trying to break the habit.  Check out this fun quiz below to learn more about e-cigarettes and how they can help you.

 

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