Category Archives: Green your Christmas

Green Gifts Under $100

This is my list of great green gifts for Christmas 2010. I have to admit, I used a couple of my faves from Jennifer Grayson’s list.

1. kyler by joy o – sustainable fashion jewelry
2. C5 Company – sustainable fine jewelry
3. Mama K’s Aromatic Play Clay – gluten free, 100% natural and biodegradable
4. Sapothecary – all natural, handmade soaps
5. Kiss My Face – natural body care with labeling you can trust
6. Mother Love -herbal care products for motherhood and babies
7. Sacred Grounds – sustainable fair trade local-to-California coffee
8. Klean Kanteen – one of the best, sustainable H2O bottles out there
9. NRDG Green Gifts – save polar bears, wolves, baby buffalo and more
10. Patagonia – a pioneer in sustainability with great style and quality
11. Love Bottles – glass water bottles with a message
12. People Towels – personal hand towels
13. TetraCycle Speakers – upcycled, foldable cardboard speakers
14. Make Love Not Trash – sustainable, upcycled bags and clothing
15. Coco Zen – fine chocolates and candy made in Pacifica
16. Citizen Eco Drive watch – runs on solar, not batteries
17. Recycled Typewriter Cufflinks – just what they sound like
18. BoGo flashlight – buy one and another will be donated.
19. Tom’s Shoes – a pair of shoes is donated for every pair purchased.
20. Upcycled gloves – handmade in Colorado
21. Recycled fire extinguisher vases – by Valentino Llegada
22. highball glasses – made from windshields
23. slate chalkboard clock – from recycled parts
24. Kris Nations – fabulous jewelry from reclaimed metals
25. New Leaf Paper – eco-friendly papers
26. O’Bon – eco-friendly school supplies and support programs
27. Dawes Design – gorgeous sustainable jewelry
28. Honeybee Gardens – Non toxic water-based nail polish and cosmetics
29. Antique Spoon Art – This stuff is really fun: garden markers, ornaments, not your typical spoon ring stuff

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The (Green) Little Black Dress: For Yourself Or For That Last-Minute Gift

So you’ve been to six Holiday parties already, you have five more to go and you stand in front of your closet thinking, “I really don’t want to wear any of this.” My first suggestion is to borrow or buy something vintage or second-hand, but sometimes we just want a new, (Green), Little Black Dress. I’m here to help you out with my fave five Little Black Dress picks for the season.

1. She-Bible’s Little Black Scarf Dress is one hundred percent organic cotton and made in San Francisco. Find it at BTC (Be The Change) Elements.

2. Eco Citizen carries this gorgeous little 100 percent silk number, by Sara Shepherd. Made in  San Francisco.

3. Beau Ariel by Anne Salvatore Epstein at Beau Soleil.

4. The Edie Dress by Melissa Baswell of Mountains of the Moon.

5. The Coco Dress, also by Melissa Baswell. It was too sweet, timeless and pretty not to include.

Not that I’m playing favorites here, but Mountains of the Moon also offers a gift certificate through December 24. So for all of you men out there who still haven’t bought something for your girl, know that she always wants new clothes and you can’t go wrong with that a last-minute gift.

-Jocelyn Broyles

LED Christmas Lights – Buy Them On Sale For Next Year

So you have light envy: All those pretty, hazy, ultra-bright-but-somehow-not-glaring LED lights your neighbor has up around the house. Well, so do I, and I am determined to do something about it. For next year.

Sales abound this time of year and especially for Christmas lights. Nobody, but nobody, ever thinks to buy them in the spring. So take yourself on a little shopping trip and be able to tell all your friends that you’re already Green for 2011.

Here’s a list of local and online retailers likely to have LED Christmas lights on sale:
(Don’t be mad if they’re all out, you’re not the only one who reads this blog.)

1. Holiday LEDs (Whatever could they sell?)
2. Amazon (They have about a gazillion choices from as low as $7.99 per strand)

3. Overstock (They have some fun options: snow balls and solar powered lights!)

4. ACE Hardware (Palo Alto’s store has all sorts of Christmas stuff on sale, but it’s going fast)

And just because it’s so pretty and completely takes care of that cut down tree/living tree/fake tree argument, here’s my tree for next year, the Wrought Iron Christmas Tree and best Christmas tree alternative I’ve seen yet.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Christmas Cookie Recipe, Egg Nog and A Green Holiday Craft Project

I’ve been remiss on the recipes for Christmastime and so I intend to make it up to you in the next few days, which is handy, since that’s all the time I have left.

My favorite holiday cookies are German Pfeffernusse. They are rather like a gingerbread, but less gingery and with a glazed sugar coating. I’ve read that the true Pfeffernusse cookie is very hard and is usually dipped in a hot beverage – rather like a biscotti, I would think. But I have grown up on the Americanized version, which is soft and chewy, mildly spiced and delicious. Some like to pair these cookies with egg nog.

Holiday Egg Nog Recipe from The Charmed Seed
(Greened up a little for our purposes)

2/3 cup organic sugar
4 organic, free range eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
8 cups hemp milk (or organic, free range, small dairy cow’s milk)
2 tsp. organic vanilla extract
1-2 oz. local Rum (like St. George Spirits Agua Libre)
fresh ground organic nutmeg to taste

Separate the egg whites and yolks and set whites aside in the refrigerator.  Mix the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a large pan until smooth.  Add milk to yolk mixture slowly, stirring or whisking constantly.  Heat slowly!  Once heated, set aside to cool.  Make meringue with egg whites and 6 tablespoons of sugar, if desired.  Serve with a dollop of meringue and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Pfeffernusse Cookies – original recipe from allrecipes.com
(Also greened up)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup organic molasses
  • 1/4 cup local raised, corn-syrup free (ask!) honey
  • 1/2 cup organic butter
  • 2 organic, free range eggs
  • 4 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup organic white sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons organic ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon organic ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon organic ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon organic ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons organic anise extract
  • 2 teaspoons organic ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon organic ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup organic confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions

  1. Stir together the molasses, honey and butter in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until creamy. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the eggs.
  2. Combine the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, anise, cinnamon, baking soda, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Add the molasses mixture and stir until thoroughly combines. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Roll the dough into acorn-sized balls. Arrange on baking sheets, spacing at least 1 inch apart.
  4. Bake in preheated oven 10 to 15 minutes. Move to a rack to cool. Dust cooled cookies with confectioners’ sugar.

While this isn’t a recipe, it is a really lovely quick project that’s so pretty and festive, and so easy to make green, I couldn’t pass it up. Go round up some fallen branches, two if you want it to look like the picture, about 5-6 feet long. These branches look like driftwood to me, so if you’re by the beach or a river, fabo! If not, don’t despair, after this weekend’s storm there should be plenty of fallen branches in your neighborhood, and they’ll do just fine. Use LED lights, available most anywhere they sell Christmas lights: ACE Hardware, Home Depot, Amazon and the like. The original idea is from REMODELISTA.com.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Sustainably Made Jewelry: A How To, Just In Time For Holiday Jewelry Shopping

Stackable Rings by http://www.dawes-design.com

 

Chrysoprase ring by http://www.dawes-design.com

I’ve been asked a couple of times this season about sustainable jewelry; how to buy it, where to buy it; how to know what you’re buying. As a jewelry designer and metalsmith, (my moonlighting gigs are many and random) I have a soft spot in my heart for independent jewelry designers and manufacturers, so that’s what you’ll see here. Then again, I have yet to discover a major-chain jeweler who’s going sustainable.

First and foremost in the advice I give all of my clients: Think out of the De Beers’s diamond box! Most people don’t know this, but diamonds as engagement rings, or symbols of status, are something solely created by Ernest Oppenheimer, who controlled De Beers in the 1930s. He and his son, Harry, created the “Diamonds are Forever” campaign and advertised everywhere from high schools to Hollywood. Prior to this, engagement rings were made from small, precious stones other than diamonds, especially rubies, emeralds and sapphires. For more information, read The Times (London) Why Diamonds Don’t Cut It Anymore and Marketing Campaign Case Studies on one of the most successful pull-the-wool-over-their-eyes marketing campaigns. Or try Janine Roberts’ Glitter & Greed: The Secret World of the Diamond Cartel and learn how DeBeers buys up mines and hides them to drive prices up (diamonds are neither rare, nor dear) to control the market.

But enough about not buying diamonds because De Beers is a great marketer. Diamonds are pretty, but there are so many gorgeous stones out there:

Garnets in green, orange, red and sherry-brown.

Aquamarine from pale/nearly clear to deep sky blue.

Citrine in rich golds and yellows.

Topaz from multi-colored to champagne, to oceany grean-blue to crystal clear blue to pink.

Touramaline in pinks, browns, greens, and golds.

Now that you’re drooling over the choices, where should you buy them and then where should you get your ring made?

There are two types of stones, naturally

Sapphire in pinks, star, yellow blue and really blue.

occurring (these are mined from the ground and often dyed or heat-treated to enhance or sustain color – so how natural are they exactly and what impact does their extraction have on the earth, the miners and the environment?) and lab-grown. Don’t let anyone fool you, ANY mining is bad for the environment, but for years, lab-grown have had a bad reputation as being of lesser quality, but they are the same exact chemical makeup as the kind in the ground and are gaining popularity as an eco-friendly alternative to mining.

So you have your stone or stones. Maybe you bought them while traveling, maybe you bought a ring in a jewelry store, but want to reset it, maybe you have a family heirloom stone; however you came by it, now you need to set it.

There are myriad options in design, but a good designer can create just the look you want, no matter what their general style is, so don’t discount them just because you don’t see exactly what you want in their current collection, display or online catalog. Here are my picks: Designers made this list because of their commitment to the sustainable manufacture of their jewelry: The two major components of which are using reclaimed or recycled metals and using either fare-trade or lab-grown stones; or even better – stones from other pieces of jewelry.

1. Alkemie – 100 percent recycled materials – If anyone wants to buy me a present, buy me Alkemie jewelry. Located in Los Angeles
2. Brilliant Earth – Canadian-sourced ethical diamonds, recycled metals, located in San Francisco
3. C5 Company – environmentally responsible in all company aspects, recycled metals, ethical stones, located in Oakland
4. Dawes Design – recylced metal, conflict-free stones, located in Northern California
5. Green Karat – recycled metals, lab-created diamonds, located in Houston
6. Kyler by Joy O – recycled metals and company-wide sustainability practices, located in San Francisco
7. Kris Nations – recycled metals, located in San Francisco
8. Kirsten Muenster Jewelry – recycled metals, reclaimed and family-owned and mined-stones, located in San Francisco
9. McFarland Designs – recycled metal, fair trade stones, located in Humboldt County
10. Okomido – all jewelry uses only reclaimed materials, located in Northern California

Just in case you’re wondering, my ring is platinum (probably recycled, but I don’t actually know) and aquamarine. I had it made at a small jeweler in Saratoga and many jewelers re-use materials to cut down on cost. I bought the stone already set in what I thought was a hideous gold wavy-ribbony design that totally hid the gorgeous stone beneath. If I can find a photo of it, I promise to post.

-Jocelyn Broyles

San Jose, CA, Bans Single Use Bags, Including Paper! Read The Treehugger Article Here!

Wow. San Jose doesn’t usually strike most of us here in the Bay Area as forward thinking. (I’m allowed to say that, as I grew up in Almaden Valley.) But San Jose has just put every other plastic-bag-using city to shame with their new and exceptionally strict legislation.

Bags in San Diego from the Christian Science Monitor http://www.csmonitor.com

Going into effect January 1, 2012, stores in San Jose will no longer be able to give away bags; plastic or paper, with exception of some restaurants and thrift stores. San Jose is the largest city in the nation to ban plastic bags.

For all the great details, read Treehugger‘s, The Mercury News‘s, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal‘s or The Contra Costa Times‘s take on the ban.

So do your part this Christmas and take your own bags to the stores.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Mechanized Insects, Please Buy Me Something Green and Rent A Living Tree

Grasshopper by Mike Libby

Plaid pants aside, I really have found the perfect gift for the man who has everything. Because he most certainly has never had, doesn’t currently have and should definitely have one of the amazing creations by Mike Libby. In Libby, I have found yet another genre-bending artist who takes design, creativity and reuse to an entirely new level. Libby takes real (not live) insects and crustaceans, intact, and mechanizes them. Yep. Puts moving parts in and about and on them to make them, well, really cool. Read an article on his work from 1800recycling.com, where I learned about Libby, or check out Insect Lab and his entire collection and read more about his extensive body of work. I think he and Edouard Martinet should have a show together. In my living room.

Speaking of my living room, there is a sweet little *plastic Christmas tree in its corner, thanks to the generous offer of my neighbor. But I know some of you don’t have tree-giving neighbors and haven’t yet done the one thing everyone expects you to do: (besides go to college, get married and have kids) Put a Christmas tree in your living room. Here’s a new find, a place out of San Jose, where you can rent a living Christmas tree, and if you are so inclined, they’ll tag your tree and you can get the same one year after year. How cool is that?

Now, you’ll need presents to put under that tree. Treehugger, inhabitat, 1800recycling, The Daily Green, and uncommon goods all have fabulous green gift lists, so check them out. Jessica Bates of 1800recycling.com gives us a few tips on eco-friendly gift wrap and Green Halloween made a video on wrapping with fabric, that quite frankly, makes me think twice about ever using tape and scissors again – and I like tape and scissors.

For a gift that needs no wrapping, give a tree dedication from treepeople.org: “A Tree Dedication gift starts at $25 for one tree and the recipient will receive a personalized greeting card. Multiple trees can be dedicated, or for a gift of $100 a special certificate announcing a grove of trees will be sent to the recipient.” I want a grove of trees in my name!

For gifts that give back: often times a buy one and one will be donated scenario. How can you not?

For gifts that don’t require wrapping or the giving of stuff. This is a Jocelyn favorite.

For the kiddies: Green gifts for children from Treehouse gifts in Berkeley.

*Remember how I said that living trees and even cut-down trees are better than plastic? Well, they are, but anything second-hand trumps anything new.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Green Gifts Under $25, Green Homemade Gifts, Green Christmas Trees and Green New Year’s Eve

Photo by Nick Dor, http://www.ndphoto.com

Somehow, the days keep rolling by and it’s now December 8. Clearly still the beginning of the month, but if you don’t have your tree yet and you haven’t started shopping yet, you’re likely feeling as though managing your month is somewhat similar to holding onto a live fish with your bare hands. In an effort to help (you and me both), I’ve compiled some great ideas for shopping, wrapping and giving.

Photo by Nick Dor, http://www.ndphoto.com

Christmas trees: Where to get a living Christmas tree, and now that you have one, how to take care of a living Christmas tree. Don’t want a tree at all? Here’s how to enjoy them in nature.

Presents, gifts, goodies, stocking-stuffers, swag: So you want to be a little more environmentally conscientious this season, but don’t really know what that means as far as gift giving? Green Your Decor gives us some insight, and now that you’re mulling over the different

ways in which gifts can be eco-friendly, try any of these amazing Green gifts under $25 from Jennifer Grayson on Huffington Post, Care2’s suggestions for handmade gifts, and Green Talk’s ideas for green wrappings, ribbons and trimmings.

After the 25th: Now that you’ve got Christmas all wrapped up, here are some tips on how to green your New Year’s Eve party from Planet Green.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Home For The Holidays: California-Made Vodka, Gin, Rum and Whiskey To Help Make It Go Down Smoothly

 

So you’re home for the holidays and you’re trying to go green (and stay sane) during all the hoopla. In an effort to help you along with both of those goals at the same time, I have compiled a list of California-made vodka, gin, rum and whiskey. So next time you need to take someone a hostess gift or find yourself wondering what to order in a bar (or what to put in your flask for the trip to aunt Caroline’s), go green and ask for one of these locally-made spirits:

VODKA:
1. Roth California Vodka, by Roth Distilleries
2. Hangar One, by St. George Spirits
3. Charbay by Charbay

GIN:
1. No. 209 by Distillery No. 209 – The story here is intriguing, take a break and read it.
2. Junipero by Anchor Steam

RUM:
1. Charbay by Charbay
2. Agua Libre by St. George Spirits
3. Eurydice by St. George Spirits and exclusive to San Francisco’s Smuggler’s Cove
4. Sergeant Classic by Essential Spirits Alambic Distillery of Mountain View

WHISKEY:
1. St. George’s Single Malt Whiskey by St. George Spirits
2. Old Potrero by Anchor Distilling, the makers of Anchor Steam beer
3. Charbay by Charbay

And to answer your next question: All scotches, bourbons and whisk(e)ys are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are scotches or bourbons. Are you feeling like you’re in a gray area the color of charcoal? Never fear, I’ll explain it here so that you can actually remember (or at least have somewhere to go look it up and sound smart next time someone asks you the difference). First off, the spelling thing. Whisky is from Scotland only. WhiskEy is from anywhere else. Whiskey (since I’m American, I’m going to spell it with an “e”) is a spirit made from distilled, grain mash, usually barley, rye wheat or corn. Scotch whisky comes only from, you guessed it, Scotland, and Kentucky and Tennessee whiskeys from their respective states. Bourbon whiskey has to be made from at least 51 percent (and no more than 79 percent) corn, must be no more than 160 proof and must be aged for at least two years (most are aged for at least four years) in a charred oak barrel. That’s it. Simple as pie. There are myriad differences in each type of whiskey, based on proof, age, malt and type of barrel, mix of grains, etc. If you’re interested, Wikipedia has the most comprehensive article on the differences between Scotch and Whiskey and Bourbon I found.

Now that you know what kind of booze to order, what drink should you put it in?

GIMLET RECIPE:

“A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else,” declairs Terry Lennox in Raymond Chandler‘s The Long Goodbye. Today, the standard is 3:1 – three parts gin to one part Rose’s Lime.

HOT BUTTERED RUM RECIPE:

Three measures dark rum, two measures spiced light rum, 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie seasoning, 1 lemon twist, 1 cinnamon stick. Boil water. Into a glass mug, pour rums and spices. Stir. Add six measures hot water, a tab of butter and the cinnamon stick.

MARTINI RECIPE:

a la James Bond in Ian Flemming‘s Casino Royale:
“Three measures of Gordon’s [gin], one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.
Got it?”

HOT TODDY RECIPE: Six ounces organic apple cider, two ounces whiskey. Heat the cider, pour into glass mug with handle, add whiskey.

If you’re looking for another type of green drink, you might have a good time at San Francisco’s Green Drinks, a monthly meeting of green-minded folks who come together in a social setting to talk about cool green stuff. Order yourself a gimlet with No. 209 and start a trend, or at least do Marlowe proud.


Green Gifts Galore: Coffee, Soap, Play Clay and More!

Image from sacredground.com

It’s gift time, and while some of you out there did your shopping back in June, so you could actually relax before the Holidays, some of you (and all of me) didn’t.

Image from sapothecary.com

Here’s my first 10 green gifts in a series of great green gift ideas!
kyler by joy o
– sustainably fashion jewelry worn by the likes of Anne Hathaway
C5 Company – sustainable fine jewelry worn by the likes of Jorja Fox
Mama K’s Aromatic Play Clay – gluten free, 100% natural and biodegradable
Sapothecary – all natural, handmade soaps
Kiss My Face – natural body care with labeling you can trust
Mother Love -herbal care products for motherhood and babies
Sacred Grounds
– sustainable fair trade local-to-California coffee
Klean Kanteen – one of the best, sustainable H2O bottles out there
NRDG Green Gifts – save polar bears, wolves, baby buffalo and more
Patagonia – a pioneer in sustainability with great style and quality

While doing my research (read: looking at really fun Holiday gifts and crafts) I came across two fabulous ideas for handmade advent calendars – one of my favorite parts of the Holidays.

Image from naturalsuburbia. blogspot.com

This advent calendar from Linda at Natural Suburbia, made me smile with delight. I may make one for myself!

Image from theredthread. blogspot.com

And then there was the advent tree from the red thread blog that reminded me so much of things I used to make while living in Costa Rica (there was an abundance of tree branches just waiting to be turned into art) that I may just have to make two advent-calendars-that-aren’t-really-calendars this year!

-Jocelyn Broyles