Holiday gift guides are chock full of ideas on what to buy for Christmas this year. How about some eco-minded gifts for your loved ones?
Here's my personal list of eco-friendly gifts for this holiday season, available online or from local businesses. If you have some good eco-friendly gift ideas, send them to me for this blog. I have room for three more, to bring the list to 10.
Remember to wrap your gifts "green"— using recycled gift bags, calendar paper, a piece of fabric, Furoshiki-style or better yet, inside a reusable bag which becomes part of the gift.
Nilma Hunter Creations makes these handmade pieces of jewelry from reclaimed silver — melted down from older pieces of jewelry, scraps and old electronics.
This one in the photo is called "Lip of the Wave" ($36) but there are other designs, including a plumeria flower and monstera leaf. Hunter is a self-taught jewelry maker. She's making her rounds at various craft fairs this holiday season. You can also find her at Haleiwa Farmers Market on Sundays or visit www.nilmahuntercreations.com.
2. Bamboo Utensil Set.
Support a Honolulu-based non-profit group, Beach Environmental Awarness Campaign Hawai‘i (B.E.A.C.H.) while reducing single-use plastics with this bamboo utensil set as a gift this Christmas ($18 for non-members, $15 for members).
Single-use plastics, like disposable plastic forks and knives, are only used once and then tossed into the trash. Many of them also end up as litter on Hawaii's shorelines and beaches. You can help reduce this plastic from our landfills and oceans by bringing your own utensils.
With these bamboo utensils, you'll be set for your next meal anywhere. The sets come wrapped in blue, green, light green, red or black.
3. Melissa & Doug wood toys.
Melissa & Doug wooden toys are an alternative to ubiquitous plastic toys, and these are usually a hit.
I found a wooden toy train set and wooden shape sorter cube by Melissa & Doug at a discount at Ross Dress for Less ($10).
You can also find plenty of handmade wood peg puzzles, ranging from colorful shapes to farm animals, the alphabet, numbers, sea creatures, dinosaurs and planes, trains and automobiles ($8 to $20).
You can find Melissa & Doug toys at various outlets, including boutiques, toy stores and Macy's.
4. Native Hawaiian Plants.
Give a "green" gift that keeps on growing. Hawaiian plants never go out of style and should grow well in your yard here in Hawaii (where they were naturally designed to grow, after all).
You can find native Hawaiian plants (like this low-maintenance pohinahina) or others (kokios, or native Hawaiian hibiscus plants, come in red, yellow, orange and white) at Home Depot or direct from native Hawaiian nursery Hui Ku Maoli Ola (From $5 to $20).
When you put a native Hawaiian plant into the ground, I think it's nice to have some symbolic meaning to it. You can plant one for every member of your family to commemorate birthdays (or the birth of a new one) or a certain milemarker for that person (college graduation, for instance).
5. Ecohashi Chopsticks.
True, anyone can bring their own pair of chopsticks out to eat, saving the world's forests, but here's a fashionable way to do it.
Every year, 63 billion disposable chopsticks are manufactured, using 25 million trees. Honolulu-based ecohashi offers reusable chopsticks wrapped in fun and colorful print fabrics.
For every pair sold this year ($10 each), ecohashi, in partnership with Red Pineapple (at Ward Centre), will donate $1 to the Hawaii Food Bank.
There are all kinds of solar-powered gadgets these days — solar flashlights and solar rechargers for your iPhone and iPod and solar-powered watches.
This Citizen Eco-Drive men's watch charges in natural daylight or indoor light, so you won't have to worry about replacing the batteries. How cool is that? I got this watch as a gift for my husband last year.
Browsing online, it seems as if the number of choices in solar-powered watches has expanded. The prices range from as low as $27 to $300. You can compare prices and read reviews at www.solarpoweredwatches.org.
Check out all the choices in solar-powered watches available on Amazon.com.
7. Soy-based crayons.
I think the sea turtle-shaped ones ($12 for a set of six) are adorable and will probably get them for my little one this Christmas. The site claims the crayons are paraffin-free and biodegradable.
There are also hearts, butterflies, fish, Christmas trees and other fun shapes.