Afterglo 11/18/14

Your green gift guide

By Caroline Shannon-Karasik’s


The perfect gift can sometimes be a tough find. Will she like the color? Does he even like to read? And what size was her 5-year-old, again? But whether it’s a holiday, birthday or “just because” occasion, it’s important to consider a present that is eco-wonderful. Whether it’s a locally crafted necklace or art sculpture made from reclaimed artifacts, a green gift ranks high on the unique and Earth-friendly scale.

Here are a few ideas for choosing a gift that will knock the made-from-recycled-materials socks off the guy or gal who is lucky enough to do the unwrapping.

For BFFs

Snag a few bars of Shaman Organic Chocolate ( and help support three Huichol villages in Mexico. The chocolate is Fair Trade Certified and comes in delicious flavors, including Dark Chocolate with Green Tea & Ginger and Dark Chocolate Ruby Raspberry. The chocolate’s beneficiaries have included the first Huichol to attend college – a young woman who aspires to be a lawyer. Other projects include building schools and supplying beads so the Huichols can continue creating visionary artwork.

For kids

The name says it all: Green Toys ( specializes in authentic, high-quality gadgets for kids, such as baby’s first “keys” and toy cars made from 100 percent recycled plastic milk jugs, that save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You can also bet your booty these toys are free of harmful BPA, phthalates, PVC or external coatings. Even the packaging is made from recycled materials and printed with soy inks!

For Mom

Whether it’s her birthday or Mother’s Day, she deserves a little something special, right? I say give her the gift that any mom would love – a bag that can do it all. Try Rickshaw Bagworks ( for totes made from eco-friendly fibers and in a variety of fun colors and textures. I especially love the City Tote, a stylish bag that can hold on-the-go essentials and even a small laptop.

For the fellas

Let’s face it: even though you’re unlikely to convince him to indulge in a spa day, every man enjoys a solid shave every now and then. Pamper his face with some Fair Trade Organic Shaving Gel from Dr. Bronner’s ( The formula is available in yummy scents, including tea tree, spearmint, lavender and lemongrass lime.

For the animal lover

A painting of an elephant by an elephant – wait, huh? That’s right! The Fair Trade Elephant Art ( cause was initiated after Hong, an 8-year-old female elephant, painted a picture after undergoing a bit of artistic instruction in her Thailand home. All proceeds are donated to keep Asian elephants in their native habitats and take care of those in sanctuary.

For the new homeowner

Share a bit of peace, love and harmony with Core Bamboo’s Bamboo-Ceramic Zen Entertainment Set ( The serving dish is not only chic and functional, but the perfect way to serve your favorite hummus recipe with crackers or fresh cut veggies. Bamboo is a 100 percent renewable resource and does not require extensive irrigation, pesticides or fertilizer.

For companion animals

Pooches and kitties alike will love Olive’s ( environmentally friendly, ethically made and all-around awesome toys and goods. The store works to discover items from around the world that are green, safe and often handmade and deliver them to our favorite furry friends. Best bets include pillows with bold lettering that have removable and washable slipcovers, handmade chew toys that are designed to hold empty plastic water bottles (your dog stays busy plus you repurpose a plastic bottle) and adorable coats and sweaters made from sustainable materials.


Want to give ’em something practical while still putting your DIY skills to work? Danny Seo (, author of “Upcycling Celebrations: A Use-What-You-Have Guide to Decorating, Gift-Giving & Entertaining,” says he loves getting crafty by using a repurposed, empty Altoids tin as an “envelope” for gift cards.

Design your own by covering the outside of a tin with decorative origami paper, using white glue and scissors. Hide the seams of the paper by running strips of white glue along the edges and sprinkling with glitter. Allow the glue to dry, then place the card in the container or fill the tin with holiday candies and lay the gift card on top (see photo).

I’m curious: What are your favorite green gift ideas? Send me an email with your tips!

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About Caroline Shannon-Karasik

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