Give a Green Gift for the Holidays

During the holidays shopping for gifts can be fun, but also a bit overwhelming at times. What do you buy for your picky Aunt Bea or the wealthy relative who already has so much? How about your young nephew whose closet is already stuffed to the brim with games, stuffed animals, and other toys?

In recent years, there has been a trend in gift-giving that supports a more minimalist approach by celebrating gifts that are earth-friendly. There are many amazing gifts that do not add to our environmental footprint.

Give An Experience

Create lasting memories with your loved ones by giving them tickets to a concert, play, or sporting event, signing them up for a cooking or craft class, or paying their registration for a race or membership to a club. You could also give them a ski pass or movie tickets. This type of gift is my favorite, because whether I give the gift or receive the gift, I get to spend time having fun and building bonds with my loved ones.


This is probably the easiest green gift idea. You can make a donation in the name of the recipient to his or her favorite charity, or you can go a step further and donate to an organization that has conservation as its main goal. Some of these earth-friendly organizations include The World Wildlife Federation, The National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and The Sierra Club.

Eco-Friendly Tech Gifts

For all those techies on your list, there are gifts that help conserve energy and the environment. You can stuff their stockings with wooden headphones made and packaged with recycled materials, solar gadget chargers, or a cell-phone charger that shuts off its energy-sucking capabilities once your phone is fully charged.

My all-time favorite eco-friendly tech gift is an e-reader. A book is a great gift for all age groups. An e-reader will allow the recipient to collect an endless library without amassing a huge footprint. There are also household tech gifts like smart light switches and energy-saving thermostats that can lessen energy use and make great eco-friendly gifts.

Do It Yourself

Another recent trend in gift-giving is DIY. You can whip together a batch of your favorite treat, package it in a recycled box or re-gifted vessel, and attach the recipe. You can also crochet a scarf, make a digital photo book or any other photo gift, or even write a personal letter or memory book. The gift-giving options are endless with DIY.


Plants and Flowers

A gift back to the Earth is probably the greenest gift idea of all. Plant a tree in the recipient’s name, give an avid gardener some gardening tools made with recycled materials, or gift someone with seedlings, an herb garden, or a terrarium.

Clearing Out

In the months leading up to the holidays, I also like to clear out my home to make room for holiday gifts. To keep from filling my local landfill with all of my discarded items, I sell or donate as much as possible. Selling items online is a great way to earn some extra holiday cash. Donating items to your local thrift store, church, or shelter is a great way to benefit those in your community, too.

Lastly, you can always re-gift items.  I like to follow a few guidelines when doing this:

  1. The item is in new (or excellent and unused) condition.
  2. The item is something the recipient would like or could use.
  3. You received it within the last six months.
  4. The recipient would not be able to tell that it is a re-gift.

Now that you have some good green holiday gift ideas, check off that list!

FTC Cracks Down on Labeling

One of the luxuries of being an American consumer is that we have many choices. Should I choose a 4-door sedan or an SUV, a wool sweater or a cotton sweater, organic food or non-organic food? Information displayed on products and in advertising can affect the decisions we make as consumers. Many consumers trust that the information provided on the labels of products they purchase is correct, but how can we know for sure?

The FTC recently mailed letters to five certifiers and 32 businesses warning them that the certification seals displayed on their products that claim the products are “green” or “eco-friendly” did not provide consumers with enough information and do not meet the FTC’s environmental marketing guidelines.   We, as consumers, deserve to know what we are buying. We deserve to be provided with correct and thorough information on product labels.

The main concern is that the companies mentioned above are displaying “green” certification seals without providing information about how the product is “green” or “eco-friendly.” These graphics and seals are easy to obtain.   I quickly found the logo above by using a popular search engine. According to the online press release on the FTC website, Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, explained, “…if the seals’ claims are broader than the products’ benefits, they can deceive people…”

The FTC publishes “Green Guides” that help to explain how to better communicate a product’s “green” attributes. Click on the link below for more information and to see a comparative example between a good seal display and a bad seal display.

Reeducate/Recycle: What is Truly Recyclable?

In an August 21, 2015 Wired Magazine article, “Listen Up America: You Need to Learn How to Recycle. Again.”, author Nick Stockton wrote that though a majority of Americans recycle, the recycling industry is hurting. He explained that pricing for second-hand commodities is down, and that the cost of sorting through too many “non-recyclables” that get thrown into the bin by overenthusiastic people has risen. Certain things are just not recyclable. Just because a product has metal or plastic parts doesn’t mean it is recyclable. Even if a product is made entirely of plastic, it doesn’t mean that that specific plastic is recyclable, or that your local recycling center is accepting it.

The problem is not that people are lazy, but that they are throwing anything and everything into their recycle bins, hoping that maybe the broken parts of their mirror and their food-soiled pizza boxes will magically turn into new products. The article quotes Susan Robinson, director of public affairs for Waste Management: “The single biggest problem material at recycling facilities are plastic bags.” Plastic bags get caught up in the sorting equipment and can slow or completely cease sorting machinery for hours.

So let’s reeducate ourselves. What can we recycle? What items should never be put into our recycle bins?

Aluminum and Steel Products

Aluminum and steel cans, aluminum foil, and aluminum bakeware are all recyclable. According to Waste Management’s website, “Americans only recycle 49% of the aluminum cans they use.” The website also stated that “Recycling steel and tin cans saves 74% of the energy used to produce them.” If we are saving that much energy, we should definitely make an effort to recycle all the cans we use. Energy-saving tip: Make sure to rinse off any food residue from recyclable products before throwing them into the bin. Many recycling centers will not accept products with food residue. Clean products also increase efficiency at the sorting facilities.

Newspaper, Magazines, and Other Paper Products

Newspaper, magazines, catalogs, and magazine-type ads (like grocery inserts) are easily recycled and accepted at most recycling centers. Items that are usually, but not always, accepted are corrugated cardboard, paper, and paperboard. Cereal boxes and non-styrofoam egg cartons are good to recycle. Used pizza boxes and milk cartons are not accepted because of oils and food residue that are not easily removed. Drink boxes lined with wax are also not recyclable.


Know your plastics. Non-recyclable plastic products are one of the biggest problems for recycling centers and sorting facilities. Unless the plastic has a three-arrow recycle symbol on the bottom, it is not recyclable. Additionally, just because the product has a recycle symbol on the bottom doesn’t mean that your local facility accepts it. If your recycling center accepts plastics (not all do), they most likely accept products labeled PETE 1 and HDPE 2. Some centers accept other types of plastics, but always contact your local center for a list of the products they accept.


Glass is another product that is not always automatically accepted at recycling centers, because they need to have specific equipment to process it. If your local center accepts glass, make sure to ask that they specify if they accept colored glass, and if so, which colors.

Mirrors, Pyrex, light bulbs, and ceramics are never recyclable. Broken pieces of these products pose a danger to sorting-facility employees.

The best thing to keep in mind when deciding what to throw into your recycle bin is whether the product in question would be easily processed into a raw material or if it is just a part of another product that would have to be disassembled first (i.e., garden hose, shovel, etc.). Recycle centers are processing raw materials into raw materials to sell. In order to do business efficiently, they need consumers to be educated to save time and reduce the cost of processing.

Meet the OrganicPedic™ Terrene


The OrganicPedic Earth™ Terrene is an ultra-plush, 12” sculpted-surface pillow-top mattress made with 100% natural and GOLS-certified organic natural rubber latex. It starts with a 3” core of medium, supportive latex.  The core is joined with two inches of soft latex on the top and bottom and covered in our signature certified organic cotton and wool quilting. A removable two-sided pillow top (3 1/2” deep)—also made of 100% natural rubber latex—is then placed on the mattress. The pillow top is made with two surface options: our exclusive sculpted surface on one side, and a flat surface on the other. This provides sleepers with maximum comfort and flexibility. The pillow top is fully covered with our signature certified organic cotton-and-wool quilting, and is attached to the mattress using our exclusive “button-down” process.


Features and Benefits

  • Sculpted surface offers pressure-point relief and increases air circulation
  • Button-down pillow top can be used on either side
  • Motion-absorbing construction
  • Naturally mold-, mildew-, and dust-mite resistant


  • Firmness: Ultra-Plush
  • Depth: Approximately 12”
  • Core: 100%-Natural & Certified Organic Rubber Latex
  • Cover: Certified Organic Wool & Certified Organic Cotton
  • Foundation: Wood Slat Padded with Sanitized Organic Cotton
  • Sizes: Twin – King
  • Warranty: 20-Year Limited Warranty
  • *All dimensions are subject to a slight variance due to being custom made.

MSRP (mattress only): twin $4,299 • full $5,799 • queen $6,799 • king $8,599

Foundation sold separately.

For more information on the OrganicPedic™ Earth Collection or OrganicPedic™ products, click HERE.

Fall Into Beauty: Four Natural DIY Beauty Recipes


Fall is near. The days are getting shorter, the air is getting cooler, and that lovely crisp, spicy aroma of autumn is all around. Many people like to use this season to get outside to hike, garden, or explore a pumpkin patch or two. Others enjoy preparing their home and wardrobe for the shorter days and cooler nights. Still others use fall as a time to slow down, cozy up with a hot drink and a good book, and store their energy for the winter months ahead.


I think fall is a great time to reevaluate your beauty regimen. You can get outside and work up a rosy-cheeked glow with a nice hike through the mountains or woods or do a few sun salutations on a crisp and sunny afternoon. There are so many natural ingredients that are available and in season from September to November. Why not use some of them to whip up a deliciously smelling pumpkin-spice body mask, toning coffee scrub, cranberry-apple facial mask, or pomegranate lip balm?

Anti-Aging Pumpkin-Spice Body Mask


 Pumpkins have some great skin-nourishing nutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and zinc, all of which have skin-healing and anti-aging properties. Cinnamon acts as a natural exfoliant and antiseptic, while honey provides soothing and healing benefits.


  • 2 cups canned pumpkin or one small pumpkin, cooked and mashed
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ tsp. olive or jojoba oil


  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Apply to your body and face, avoiding the eye area.
  3. Wrap your body, excluding your face, with plastic wrap or, for a more natural option, reusable beeswax cloth – the pumpkin enzymes are most active when moist.
  4. Leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes, then unwrap and rinse it off in the tub with warm water. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Toning Coffee Scrub

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Coffee is not traditionally considered a fall crop, though one of the harvests is from November to December. One of the best things about the cooler temperatures is the reintroduction of hot beverages into my daily routine, coffee being one of my favorites. Its rich aroma makes it the perfect ingredient for a cozy morning indoors.

The caffeine in coffee soothes inflammation, evening skin tone, and dehydrates fat cells, reducing cellulite. It contains antioxidants that attack and eliminate free radicals that cause premature aging of the skin, and has been shown to reduce the growth of skin-cancer cells. With this list of skin benefits, I just couldn’t exclude it. I found the following recipe on the blog Gimme Some Oven.


  • 3 tablespoons finely-ground coffee (I used recycled grounds)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used melted coconut oil)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (I used turbinado sugar)
  • (optional) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Stir all ingredients together until combined. Store in a sealed jar for up to 2 months.

Renewing Cranberry-Apple Facial Mask


Cranberries and apples are two of the best-known fall fruits. Cranberries have many skin-nourishing antioxidants, such as Vitamins C, B3, and B5, which work to stimulate cell renewal and combat wrinkles, redness, and uneven skin tone. The enzymes in cranberries, along with their acidic nature, also act as a natural toner. In this recipe that I found on, the apple cider vinegar acts as a toner to keep your skin ph-balanced and clear of blemishes. The aloe juice will balance out the acids of the cranberries and vinegar, so this recipe is safe for all skin types.

By Cecilia Wong, founder of Cecilia Wong Skincare


4–5 whole cranberries
1 tsp raw honey
2 drops apple cider vinegar (I recommend the organic, undistilled version to receive all benefits)
A dash freshly ground cinnamon
2–3 drops aloe juice


Crush the cranberries. Mix all ingredients together. Apply for 15 minutes to face and rinse with tepid water. Follow with moisturizer.

Moisturizing Pomegranate Lip Balm

An_opened_pomegranatePomegranates are my favorite fall fruit. They are tart and sweet, and have a wonderful fruity aroma. They have many of the same beneficial qualities as cranberries. The juice and the oil are also great moisturizers.

By: Dr. Axe


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. bees wax
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 7 drops pomegranate oil
  • lip balm tins or lip balm tubes


  1. In a small pot over medium low heat melt beeswax, coconut oil, and olive oil. Use chopstick or other small, long stick to stir.
  2. Remove from heat and add honey and pomegranate oil. Whisk well with chopstick and try to distribute oil throughout the mixture.
  3. Pour quickly into tins or jars. Let cool on counter until hard.

Now that you have a few fun fall beauty recipes, you can be sure that your skin will be ready for the crisp, cool air of autumn!

Ways to Start the School Year Off Eco-Friendly

7327146800_b2e65d6bf3_oSummer is coming to a close. That means it is time to prep for the new school year. which means back to school shopping for supplies, backpacks, lunch pails, clothes, and the list can go on and on. Before you head out to the store to purchase everything, here are some great tips to keep those back-to-school purchases as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible.

  1. Take Inventory

    4588535631_486542047c_oClean out those desk drawers, dressers, and closets and you may find hiding treasures like packs of pencils, notebooks, or clothes you bought on sale that haven’t even been worn yet. Now that you have gone through all that you have, you can make a list of what items are needed. The list will guide you. When you hit the stores, so you won’t buy duplicate items or spur or the moment purchases.

  2. Reuse What You Can

    5093615082_3df15d285f_oLook through what you have to see if any items can be reused. Often there are many items that are still in good condition and can be used for another year. The backpack from last year may be in great shape and just need a quick cleaning to be school-worthy.

  3. Healthy Lunch Options!

    9350757417_4bf3167767_oA bento box makes a great reusable and waste free lunchbox option- no plastic baggies required! Many bento boxes have multiple dividers or containers that allow you to pack a healthy and fresh lunch. If a bento box doesn’t suit your needs, there are many other great reusable containers that allow you to pack delicious and nutritious options.

  4. Reusable Bottles

    6959989243_b5a94e95a5_oRather than packing bottles of water or juice boxes daily, send your child to school with the healthy drink of choice in a reusable bottle. There are many great designs; no need for juice boxes!

    There are many great options when it comes to reusable containers, bbut be sure to check that they are made with recycled material and are BPA-free.

  5. Buy Recycled or Sustainable When Possible

    creative-desk-pens-schoolMake your list so you know the school supplies you need, now it is time to buy. Most retailers now offer many options of recycled and sustainable materials, such as pencils made from certified sustainable-harvest wood or pens, paper and notebooks. made from recycled materials. Every little bit helps eliminate waste!

  6. Eliminate Paper Waste

    apple-desk-working-technologyRather than having many pieces of paper float around ask to be emailed important notices from the school. Every bit helps and this will save many sheets of paper that get lost in the bottom of backpacks. This also allows you to put important dates in your digital calendars rather than keeping stacks of paper around the house.

Here’s to another great school year!