Turn Your Valentine’s Day From Red To Green

Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to express your love and affection for others – but what about our love for the planet? Valentine’s Day ranks just behind Christmas, as the second biggest card-sending occasion of the year, allowing us to send our love, in secret or otherwise, to the people that matter most. Indeed, according to the American Greetings Corporation around 1 billion Valentine’s cards are sent around the globe each year.

Of course, it doesn’t stop at greeting cards. A further 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are snapped up by amorous consumers, while red roses quickly follow suit, as the most popular choice of fresh flowers for loved ones. Valentine’s day is clearly big business, but it also has a significant impact on the earth’s natural resources. So how can you show your love and affection for others, without causing undue damage to the environment?

Here’s some of our favorite ideas for greening your Valentine’s Day:

Send an e-card

There are so many e-card suppliers who can help you send a personalized electronic Valentine to the one you love. If you prefer to send a card, always buy cards made from recycled or tree-free paper. A new line of recyclable greeting cards also have seeds built into them, so when you’re finished with the card, you can simply plant it in your garden and watch the flowers grow!

Go fairtrade

If you’re buying chocolates for your loved one, choose a fair trade variety, which will ensure that the cocoa farmers who helped to produce your chocolate goodies get a fair price for their beans. You can customize your chocolates by melting different fairtrade varieties together – simply pour your melted chocolate into an ice-cube container and pop in the fridge to set!

Buy a rose bush

If you’d like to give the gift of flowers, why not buy a rose bush or potted flowers that will last for many years? Alternatively, if you prefer fresh flowers, look out for organic flowers which do not rely on chemicals or pesticides, or find some locally grown flowers which have not used excessive air-miles to import them.

Support organic restaurants

If you’re taking a loved one for a meal, find a local organic restaurant. You’ll hopefully enjoy the taste-sensations so much that you’ll go back for more! Alternatively, why not cook a romantic organic meal in the comfort of your own home?

Lovely lingerie

If you’re planning to make a lingerie purchase, there are now many suppliers of organic and eco-friendly lingerie. Check out Green Knickers in the UK, Blue Canoe in the US, and if you want something extra-special from the designer range, why not check out Stella McCartney’s latest collection.

Planning to pop the question?

Around 10% of all marriage proposals take place on Valentine’s Day. So, if you’re planning to propose this Valentine’s Day, pay a visit to Brilliant Earth, a Canadian-based supplier of conflict-free diamonds, set in recycled gold and platinum. That way, you can be sure that your sparkler originates from ethically and environmentally responsible sources – it’s sure to make your partner say YES!

Hopefully you’re inspired to take small steps towards a greener Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!

Advertisements

DIY Christmas Gifts

If you’re on the countdown to Christmas and you’re already breaking a sweat about all the gifts you need to buy for friends, family and loved ones then fear not. We’ve got some top tips, ideas and inspiration to help you create our very own green gifts that will inspire and delight your nearest and dearest.

The first rule is that you don’t actually need to spend any money at all. When we’re shopping in a rush, the first thing we tend to do is reach for our wallets, buying something expensive to compensate for the lack of thought we’ve put into our gifts. But expensive is not always best, and most people prefer something creative and personal which reflects your relationship with them.

The list of ideas below is designed to inspire you to think creatively about how you can make, create and personalize gifts which don’t involve damaging or spending the earth! Good luck.

1. Knit someone a scarf
Knitting is a great skill and a wonderful pastime, especially if you commute into work everyday. There are plenty of knitting circles around, and if you don’t fancy knitting a scarf, how about an ipod cover or a pair of socks?

2. Chocolate magic!
If you’re a chocoholic, why not try your hand at making your own signature chocolates? You can attend short courses or download recipes from the web to create your own unique combination of tastes and flavors. Or you can simply melt down some varieties of organic chocolate, pop them in an ice-cube tray and then in the fridge to re-set.

3. Love your old photos
Old family photos can be a wonderful surprise gift – why not pop into your local charity or thrift shop, where you can find some beautiful, original picture frames. Or better still, if you have an artistic friend, why not ask them to paint an artist’s interpretation of the photo to present to your loved ones? A unique and original gift that will bring wonderful memories flooding back.

4. Make a fairytale come true!
If you’ve got children to buy for, why not make them a personalized fairytale book, replacing the lead character/hero/heroine of the story with them? Alternatively, frame a picture of their favorite fairytale character which they can hang in their bedroom.

5. Personalized recipe book
If you have some top secret recipes that are admired by others, then it’s time that you wrote your very own limited edition recipe book. You don’t have to give away all your secret ingredients of course, and you’ll be guaranteed a delicious meal every time you visit the recipients!

6. Teacup candles
Your local thrift store is likely to stock pretty teacups and saucers for less than a dollar. Choose a matching cup and saucer and then create a candle in a cup! Melt the wax and pour into a cup, adding fragrance if you wish (cinnamon sticks are great at this time of year), add the wick and leave to set. A gorgeous, personalized gift for any home!

7. The gift of you
The most important and special gift you can give others is the gift of your time. So if you have a friend who needs a babysitter or a gym buddy or someone to help them redecorate their kitchen or fix their PC, why not give them a personalized gift certificate – sharing your time and talents to make a difference.

There are literally hundreds of ways to personalize your Christmas gifts – all it takes is a little time, some creativity – and a sprinkling of elf dust! Happy holidays!

How The Greeting Card Trade Fuels Your Carbon Footprint

These days, there seems to be a celebration of some sort popping up every week. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, birthdays, anniversaries, engagements… the list is endless. Each one of these special occasions needs to be marked and celebrated in style, and it’s unthinkable to imagine not acknowledging a special day through a great greetings card.

Sending cards show that you are thinking of the people you write to, and offer a really personal and thoughtful way of sharing in someone’s special occasion. The problem is, the tradition is not one which supports green behaviors, and many people are growing more and more aware of the environmental impact of sending cards.

Is it possible to be environmentally friendly and still send a card?
Until recently, the lack of consistently good quality recycled paper and board products meant that it was hard to be an environmentally friendly publisher. However, in recent years more board and envelope merchants have been adding quality recycled materials to their portfolios and the price of recycled board and paper has become more comparable to non-recycled. This means that it is easier than ever before to source ethical products in the greeting card industry, knowing that you are buying green recycled products which can then be recycled again to maintain a cycle of sustainability.

Paper mills are more environmentally-conscious than they have ever been before when it comes to their production processes, and the majority now develop boards that have been certified under the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Classification). Both the schemes promote sustainable forest management, providing us with reassurance that paper products originate from well-managed forests or recycled sources.

Sourcing ethical greetings cards
There’s a small company in California called Two Piglets that designs and print greeting cards. All the cards are pressed using soy ink onto paper that is 30% post consumer recycled fiber. The scrap cards are shredded and used as packing materials, shipping cartons are re-used boxes from local retailers and even the presses are cleaned using ordinary vegetable oil. Two Piglets also sells invitations and in the future they’ll be making custom invitations. Order online or check out what stores carry them near you.

Switch to e-cards for a modern alternative to the traditional classics. There are a wealth of online card sites where you can select great designs, personalize them through the site and ping them off instantly. This saves forests, cuts down on the postage and carbon footprint associated with sending the cards and also helps you to remember birthdays and get something off on time! Check out sites such as Ecards or Blue Mountain for more information.

Five Green Books For Your Christmas List

Each year, Americans generate a staggering 25 million extra tons of household waste between Thanksgiving and New Year. That’s a pretty good reason to think about how to increase your green during the holiday season. And since it’s also a time for gifts and giving, we’ve got the perfect list of eco-friendly books to pop in the festive stocking for your nearest and dearest. Enjoy!

1. Green Christmas: How to Have a Joyous, Eco-Friendly Holiday Season, by Jennifer Basye Sander & Peter Sander, with Anne Basye
Based on a number of key principles including family involvement, entertaining without waste, improving energy efficiency and supporting local business, Green Christmas is a wonderful way to enjoy a more ethical Christmas. From throwing greener parties to eco-friendly Christmas decorations, this book reminds us of what the holidays are all about – enjoying time together as a family while doing our bit to protect the environment. So, if you’d like a fun, stress-free and more economical Christmas, check out this guide to a greener holiday!

Green Christmas

2. Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home, by Renee Loux
If you’re keen to make more ethical lifestyle choices for you and your family, this book is a great place to start. Renee Loux covers everything from green cleaning to personal care, lighting and home furnishings to interior decorating. Loux encourages readers to take small steps towards greener living, by focus on how we can all make simple, healthier and more sustainable choices, which are good for us and good for the environment. A great book to help put your greener new year’s resolutions into action.

3. Easy to Be Green: Simple Activities You Can Do to Save the Earth (Little Green Books) by Ellie O’Ryan
If you’re interested in inspiring your children to think green, this great little activity book could be just the thing. It’s packed with lots of information about global warming and why it’s important to act now to help reduce our carbon footprint. With chapters on trash and landfill, endangered animals, recycling and composting, there’s plenty of practical ways to encourage your children to take action. Each section is also accompanied by games, activities and puzzles to reinforce learning and raise awareness of the environment and how we can protect it.

4. Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet, by Elizabeth Rogers
Packed with practical tips to help you save money and save the planet, Shift Your Habit helps you make simple new choices about the way you life your life. There’s loads of great ideas including brewing your own beer, reducing food waste and bringing food back to life, disposing of disposables (forever) and natural recipes for cleaning products – definitely something for everyone! And the best news is that these eco-friendly ideas can save you hundreds of dollars. Good for your wallet and good for the environment!

Shift Your Habit

5. The Green Body Cleanse, by Dr Edward Group III
If, like me, you’re inclined to over-indulge during the holiday season, this is the book for you. Dr Group provides a range of tools and techniques to help you detox your home, your office and your body. Packed with tips, recipes and ideas for living a toxic-free life, this book is a great way to feel better about yourself at the same time as taking care of the planet!

The Eco Gift Guide

The weather has turned colder, the nights are drawing in, and many people are turning to thoughts of Christmas and Thanksgiving, and buying gifts for friends and family. As soon as the TV adverts commercials start to feature Santa, you know it’s time to write your Christmas list and work out what you are going to buy for people to open on the big day.

A great way of helping the environment and supporting the people around you to do the same is to buy green gifts for everyone. This helps to highlight awareness of the environment, and also makes sure you can buy ethical products which bring added value to the people who sell them, as well as supporting your friends and family to be environmentally friendly.

The good thing about buying in this way is, that people are cottoning on to the huge market out there for green gifts, and this means there is a huge range of beautiful products out there that will suit your budget and needs without compromising on quality or the pleasure your recipients will get from your gift.

Choosing the right green gifts for those you care about
There are a huge number of green traders available to browse online. Start with Miki, a cool and green site designed to help you find the latest organic, recycled or innovative eco gifts. Your next port of call could be Good Green Gifts which features some beautiful gifts including recycled glass products, and a range of lovely items ordered by which room in the house they are designed for.

If there is someone you know who is a gadget enthusiast, look no further than www.gadgets.co.uk/category/green-gifts, which features every imaginable kind of green gadget from solar chargers right through to power meters. If you are looking for something a little unique, why not head over to Project Concern, where you can purchase a gift of life – supporting people to live well, and be healthy, through green sponsorship and support.

Other gift ideas include supporting people and the environment by sponsoring a family in a third-world country, adopting an endangered animal or simply donating to great causes on behalf of your friends and family.

The best things come in green packaging
There are a number of ways you can counter the environmental impact of the festive season when it comes to wrapping your gifts. Try using recycled paper to wrap your gifts, with some organic ribbon for an original and visually-appealing twist on a traditional gift wrap. Instead of using cards which have been made from unsustainable sources, check out the recycled options available, or consider donating to your favorite green charity instead of sending out expensive, and environmentally-harmful, options.

When all this is done, you can feel proud of your contribution to the environment without letting your friends and family down – a thought that will make you feel smug as you head off to recycle your Christmas cards!

The 10 Best Green Toys For Kids

I’m at that age now where everyone seems to be having kids so am constantly having to buy presents for them. Luckily there’s a lot of good stuff out there that’s eco-friendly, good quality and affordable. Here are 10 for you to have a look at:

Solar car

1. Organic Farm Playset. Made by Ever Earth from FSC certified renewable wood, this will teach children about crop diversity and farm animals. Available from By Nature, it’s the most expensive on the list at £40.

Veggie crate

2. Solar Powered Racing Car. Every boy (and some girls) love a racing car. This one will teach them about solar energy too. It costs from £24 Nigel’s Eco Store

3. Organic Veggie Crate. A soft carrot, mushroom, green bean and tomato made with organic cotton. £24.95 from By Nature. They’ll get cheaper I promise!

4. Horse Puppet Kit. From Nigel’s Eco Store, this good looking horse is made from recycled materials and costs £11.99.

Dinosaur

5. Pull Along Dinosaur. The cutest dinosaur in the world costs just £14.50 from By Nature. It’s made from FSC-certified wood and comes in recycled packaging.

6. Cardboard Playhouse. All kids want a playhouse sooner or later and this cardboard one from Nigel’s Eco Store is perfect for little ones. Well, you’ll need to keep it indoors when it’s raining obviously but it folds up and packs away easily. Also you can paint it yourself – or maybe let the kids do it… Priced from £32.95.

Clown

7. Stacking Clown. A classic from By Nature, this clown costs just £8.95 and is made with non-toxic paints. Check it out, I love the simplicity of it.

8. Wind Up Monkey Torch. Also available in dog, panda, penguin, tiger, cow, chick, pig err Santa and vampire bat ‘flavours’, this is a must for all kids. They just wind it up or give it a shake and then squeeze it to light the way. Only £5.99 from Nigel’s Eco Store.

9. Bamboo Baby Rattle. I haven’t forgotten babies, who can? They’ll love an ultra soft rattle made from bamboo. The bunny, bear or frog rattles cost £7.99 each from By Nature.

Truck

10. Eco Toy Dump Truck. Okay, I admit it this has been a liseof my favourites and this is a classic toy. Made from Sprig – a new material which is a combination of pine and recycled plastic – it’s strong enough to cope with any kid. And it’s bright yellow. Available from Nigel’s Eco Store it costs £15.99.

Environmentally Friendly Father’s Day Ideas

While it’s a bit early for Father’s Day gifts (it’s the 20 June in the UK), Nigel’s Eco Store emailed me with some gift ideas so I thought I’d share a couple of them with you. An who knows, you may stumble upon this post in a couple of months just in time. They’ll even wrap your gift in recycled paper, very nice of them.

Belt Card Holder Wallet
For the trendy dad this designer wallet has a cover made entirely from recycled leather belts, with interiors made from leathers used for saddles. Each wallet is designed from personally selected mixed leather belts, which means no two are identical.

Bird box

Mrs Birdbee Bird Box
If you’d like to see more birds making their homes in your garden, put up Mrs Birdee bird box and add a touch of style at the same time. Award-winning designer Etienne Esmenjaud has created this delightful nesting box that will have Britain’s small garden birds flocking back. Produced in the UK using wood from sustainably managed forests, Mrs Birdee has been especially designed for garden tits.