More often than not the only things “green” about Christmas are the trees and wreaths. For most it’s a season of excess, much of which is wonderful, but much is wasteful too and not really essential to creating the joy that is Christmas.
If you’re aiming for a Christmas with all of the sparkle and without the hefty carbon footprint consider giving gifts that help the recipient make their life a little greener. Below are a few suggestions for easy-to-find gifts that have an eco-friendly twist. They’re practical, but fun.
Help wean someone off microwave popcorn with the gift of a hot air popcorn popper and a bag of Speerville Four Mill organic popping corn. Visit your nearest hardware store for the popper (Home Hardware has them for $19.99) and the natural food section of the grocery store for the popcorn. You could tuck in some popcorn recipes.
Make it easy for someone to get rid of their non-stick fry pan (and the environmental toxins in it) with the gift of a cast iron pan or a sturdy stainless steel pan. Splurge on a copper fry pan if you have a true foodie in your life. Cooking with cast iron helps to add iron to your diet and once well-seasoned requires little oil to keep food from sticking.
Fill a stocking with non-toxic personal care products like Green Beaver toothpaste and deodorant and Aubrey Organics or Kiss My Face shampoo and conditioner. It’s a fun, practical gift that will help the recipient eliminate parabens, phthalates, SLS and other chemicals common in most personal care products. Naturally for Life The Eco Store, The Feel Good Store and the natural food section of grocery stores carry a good selection of these products.
Good old shaving soap is getting popular again and makes a great gift for the man in your life. Olivier Soap offers non-toxic eco-friendly shaving soap made with olive oil, cocoa butter, beeswax and fragrant oil. It costs $9.95 the shaving brush costs $11.95. You can buy both at the Olivier shop in the City Market or order online.
Give the gift of stoneware baking pans to someone looking to get rid of their non-stick bakeware. Pampered Chef has a great selection of baking pans, muffin pans, pie plates and more. They’re made with lead-free clay and come with a three-year warranty.
Help someone get back to baking from scratch, and incorporate more organic food items into their diet, buy giving ingredients for homemade cookies. Package together organic chocolate chips (or organic chocolate bars that can be chopped for baking), organic cocoa, organic sugar and Speerville Flour Mill flour (whole white, whole wheat or spelt). I have a great recipe for double chocolate chip cookies below that you could include too.
Practical gifts don’t need to be boring and are as thoughtful as any other gift you might choose to give (perhaps more so).
Double chocolate cookies
These cookies are deliciously soft if you’re careful not to bake them for too long. They’re also great for homemade ice cream sandwiches. Make a more grown-up version by adding candied ginger or orange zest (see below for more ideas).
½ cup butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup canola oil
2 t vanilla
2 cups flour (mix whole white with whole wheat or spelt)
2-4 T ground flax or chia
½ cup cocoa powder
½ t salt
½ to 1 cup chocolate chips
Mash butter with sugars. Add oil and egg and beat. Mix in vanilla.
In a separate bowl combine flour, flax, cocoa and salt.
Add flour mixture to wet and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment-covered baking sheet.
Bake @ 350 for 10 – 12 minutes
Some great variations:
Add ½ cup chopped candied ginger
Add ½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
Add grated zest of an orange
Add 1 t instant espresso powder (add with the oil & egg)