Crafty Mart

Hippo plantShopping at craft fairs is a great way to support local art and find cool gifts for others or a few treasures for ourselves. Crafty Mart is one of Akron’s finest and, fortunately for me, it’s held twice a year. I’m so inspired by our local artists. This year, I got a fun hippopotamus planter to keep at work, and a few catnip wantons for the kiddos. They love ’em!

Keep up with Crafty Mart by joining their Facebook page.


Mother’s Day and Mother Earth

If you get mom some flowers for Mother’s Day, look for Fair Trade Certified flowers, or flowers that are sustainably grown.

Buying Fair Trade and sustainably grown flowers ensures that all of Mother Earth’s creatures are treated well. Most flower workers are women (or children) and buying Fair Trade certified means that the workers are paid a living wage, and their working environment is healthy and safe.

VeriFlora sells certified sustainably grown flowers. You’re likely to find VeriFlora at your local grocery store. Make the right choice for your mom, and the workers who picked her flowers.

Visit FairTradeCertifiedFlowers to learn about the workers who pick the flowers, the farmers who grow them, and where to buy.

Plantable Paper

cardsMost people save greeting cards because they treasure the gesture behind them. RecycledIdeas has created greeting cards that you can plant in your garden! These greeting cards are really special because you can plant them in your garden, and remember the sentiment every time you smell the flowers! They will grow all sorts of beautiful flowers or herbs. There is a whole range of sprouting paper products at her Etsy store.

If you need something more professional, check out these Sprouting Business Cards.

Give up carbon for Lent

“Two senior Church of England Bishops have called on people to give up carbon rather than chocolate for Lent,” according to the Telegraph of London. Christians usually give up chocolate or sweets. These bishops are encouraging people to reduce their energy use, and see how easy it is to live carbon-less.

Here are some of their specific suggestions:

* avoiding plastic bags
* giving the dishwasher a day off
* insulating the hot water tank
* checking the house for drafts with a ribbon and buying draught excluders

Another great suggestion by the bishops is to remove one lightbulb from their home, and live without it for 40 days. Perhaps on Easter, they can replace it with a CFL. Replacing just one regular bulb with a CFL saves 60lbs of carbon per year.

This idea is part of a Tearfund initiative. Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency working with a global network of local churches to help eradicate poverty.

Bishop James points out “It is the poor who are already suffering the effects of climate change. To carry on regardless of their plight is to fly in the face of Christian teaching.”

(P.S. Another Valentine’s Day gift idea… pink reusable bags. Pink!)

I brought this back to the top because I think it’s a great idea. What light could you give up?

Share the love on Valentines Day

I’d like to share some Valentine’s Day gift ideas with you. Thanks to Annie’s V-Day 101 post for the reminder that Valentine’s Day is coming up.

Flowers
If you must buy flowers, look for Organic flowers. It seems like everything “has to” be organic these days, but this is not only for your benefit, but for the workers’ as well. Most flowers we buy in the US come from South America, where 20% of the flowers are picked by children. To preserve our flowers and keep them pretty, they’re soaked with pesticides, which the children breathe while they work (and while their lungs are developing). Many of the pesticides used are banned in the US, and 2/3rds of the workers in Columbia and Ecuador have pesticide-related health problems.

Trader Joe’s and Safeway (west coast) sell flowers from VeriFlora, which are sustainably grown. Another good idea is to buy flowers grown organically in the US. You’ll help a local farmer, and show your loved one that you care about the planet too.

Be original

Get your sweetie something they will really enjoy. The New American Dream has suggestions for making a meaningful holiday, while living within your means. Here are a few of their ideas:

  • Give fruit, or dates!
  • Go to a community theatre, or something community. Cook a homemade dinner before.
  • Stroll through a botanical garden.
  • Set up a scavenger hunt for your sweetie to find special treats at each location, or reminder her/him of special days in your history.
  • Give something that will help someone else. Adopt a manatee, provide clean water for Sudanese refugees. Include a home-made card to show how your loved one inspires you …
  • Make a mixed cd. This oldie-bu-goodie still works. It’s so special, and can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Share the love with the planet and your fellow citizens too.

Happy Birthday Pets

Those of us who have pets instead of kids miss out on planning birthday parties, and seeing the joy on our little ones’ faces as they open gifts. Sure, Christmas is fun, but what about birthdays? I have not yet held a cat or dog birthday party, but I’ve been inspired by a great idea… My mom’s pup is having a birthday party this weekend, and all the gifts are going to the dogs. Not the birthday dogs, but to their less fortunate 4-legged friends.

Instead of loading the birthday dog up with raw-hides, bones, or chew toys, the party hosts ask that doggie friends bring supplies for the local humane society. If you host a pet birthday party, consider having the gifts donated to a local pet organization.

Summit County’s Humane Society is overflowing with wonderful animals who desperately need a home. The staff also need supplies to keep up with the ever-growing population.

In Akron, One of a Kind Pets recently opened a low-cost spay and neuter clinic for strays, which also needs donations and supplies. They are also a rescue organization with plenty of pets for everyone.

These are 2 of my favorite pet rescue groups in Akron. There are many more. Check Petfinder.com to find rescue organizations near you.

The list of needed items is usually the same, and is generally inexpensive:dog bday

Dog Biscuits
Leashes and Collars
Sheets, Comforters, Blankets
Cat liter
Cleaning supplies such as…
Paper Towels
Sponges
Bleach
Vinegar
Latex Gloves
Laundry Detergent
Stamps
Heavy Duty Trash Bags

So while it may sound goofy to have a birthday party for your pets, donating the gifts to a local pet charity makes it worth it!

(photo: that’s not my dog)

Buy Nothing New

A few people in San Francisco have formed a “Compact” to buy nothing new for the whole year (except food and underwear, of course). They can buy refurbished furniture, electronics; secondhand dishware and clothes. It’s a challenge they believe in, and are enjoying.

We can follow their journey on their blog, The Compact. Here’s their summary:

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

The purpose of reusing items is to reduce the strain and waste on the planet. And it saves a ton of money. How long can you go without buying anything new?

Thanks to The Compact for the inspiration!

Cliche New Year’s Post

I don’t like lists or resolutions, but it’s fun to reflect on what we’ve learned and look for new goals. I like to do this throughout the year, but New Year’s Day is as good as any, so here are a few lists and resolutions or something. These are some off-the-top of my head ideas, in no particular order. I’m sure I’m leaving stuff out, so please add your ideas in the comments.

5 Best Things for the Environment
1. Reusable bags, bottles, etc
2. Bikes
3. Locally grown food
4. Know and reduce energy consumption
5. Reduce your water use

5 Worst Things for the Environment
1. Cars
2. Meat
3. Plastic – bottles, bags, everything
4. Sprawl/bad land development
5. Apathy/ignorance/invented needs like “disposable” everything

Best Christmas Gifts
1. Long Way Down
2. Wind-up L.E.D. headlights (thanks mom)
3. Knitting needles
4. Flashing dog collar

My Goals
1. Take shorter showers
2. No cookies
3. Pay cash, not credit card

I think education is our best tool to save energy (and money).

I’m not thrilled with the “green” label because now companies can slap the word “green” on anything and people will buy it. How about eco-responsibility? Something like that.

Now I’ll get back to the purpose of this blog – sharing things that other people are doing to save energy, money, resources and reduce our impact on the planet. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. I’ve been off work and it’s been so nice to not work on the computer for a few days.

Black Friday goes Green (the terra not terror gift guide)

treeI wrote about Green Giving a few weeks ago, and since today is “Black Friday,” I thought I’d review some perspectives on giving green gifts.

What Would Jesus Buy? is a new movie warning about the over-commercialization of America. Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping suggests a few ways to save Christmas. Choose Fair Trade gifts for your green friends. Remember to visit The Market Path in Highland Square for some beautiful, inexpensive Fair Trade merchandise.

If you’re looking to go green this holiday season, check out TreeHugger’s How to Go Green gift guide. There are ideas for new parents, DIYers, gardeners, fashionistas, and just about everyone else. Don’t miss the Holiday Tips, which will help you save energy and money by buying local, what kind of Christmas tree to get, and how to decorate with green in mind.

Ideal Bite also has some excellent gift ideas. Use the search box at the top to find green gifts of all shapes and sizes.

A gift of “experience” is always nice – give your loved ones a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, tickets to a play, or think outside the box and buy them a day at a “paint your pottery shop.” Experience gifts are special because people don’t often treat themselves to a good time, so now’s your chance to show them they’re special and deserve the best.

Everyone in my family can look forward to Fair Trade gifts, or things that will help them reduce and reuse! Give something your loved one will enjoy, and that will be kind to the planet at the same time.