Sustainable Gift Giving Guide 2019

There’s nothing I love more than giving gifts. I’m one of those people who prefers to give gifts rather than receive them. I just love to see the smile of a loved one light up when I give them something that is meaningful. However, a lot of people don’t love the holidays because of the emphasis on consumerism rather than time with friends and family. I don’t believe that gift-giving in itself is bad, but that they should be given with intention, selectivity, and consciousness in mind. The majority of products today are made using toxic chemicals, low-wage labor, and are not made with longevity in mind. Even if the product is made sustainably, it still takes a lot of resources to make because we are all still reliant on the fossil fuel industry whether we like it or not. Therefore, we should look for gifts that will be meaningful, useful, and last beyond next Christmas/Hanukkah. Here are my top picks for sustainable gift giving!

 

Alter-Eco Chocolate:

This certified B-Corp is sustainable from the inside-out. They use 100% organic and GMO-Free ingredients, invest in the well-being of farmers, source from small-scale farms, and piloted the world’s first compostable stand-up pouch. I also love how their co-ops practice dynamic agroforestry, which according to Alter-Eco, “…strives to mimic the natural evolution of the forest.” Agroforestry enriches the soil, supports a variety of plants, and manages pests without the usage of pesticides. My favorite product of theirs is the cherry and almond butter coconut clusters. If cherries or almonds are not your gift-receiver’s thing, you can also choose from other cluster flavors, truffles, and chocolate bars.

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 5.16.29 PM
Image is not my own and comes from the Alter Eco website.

Anything from Tamga Designs:

When you purchase something from Tamga, you are wearing a work of art. Not only are Tamga designs some of the most unique I’ve seen, but the company is also dedicated to using fashion as a force for social good. They pay their workers a living-wage and are very transparent on their website about the factories they use. Tamga uses sustainable materials such as Modal from sustainable beech-wood forests, Tencel that recycles 99.8% of water and solvents, GOTS certified Organic Cotton, and OEKO-Tex 100 dyes free from harmful chemicals. I would highly recommend a scarf or headband as a gift. Here’s a pic of me wearing the Nila Scarf Toba, as well as an up-close picture of the pattern.

48388457_1658620947617927_967095458168045568_o48369964_1658620890951266_4235673223779319808_o

Ten Tree Clothing:

Do you want to shop and fight climate change at the same time? For every item you purchase from this company, ten trees are planted. Ten Tree has a goal to plant 1 billion trees that will sequester carbon from the atmosphere by 2030. They’re already well on their way by having planted 30 million trees in 8 different countries. I find that a lot of sustainable clothing brands just sell basic solid colored items, but Ten Tree clothes feature neat designs such as constellations and woodblocks. Best of all they use sustainable materials such as organic cotton, hemp, tencel and recycled polyester in their clothing. If purchasing an article of clothing is out of your budget, you can also purchase socks, hats, and towels from Ten Tree.

 

To-Go Ware Bamboo Cutlery:
If you want introduce your loved ones to the concept of zero-waste, this is a great gift to give. Not only does the bamboo look chique, but the set is lightweight and I love that To-Go Ware has a holder to put the utensils inside of. The zero-waste lifestyle can be overwhelming and this is a great first baby step for anyone interested in being more conscious of their waste. 

Honeybee Gardens Eyeshadow Palette:

Out of all of the eco-friendly eye-shadows I’ve tried, Honeybee Gardens is my favorite. They are by far the most pigmented and durable eyeshadows I’ve tried and don’t crease after an hour of wearing. Their palettes are my favorite because they choose colors that go together well. Honeybee Gardens is also one of the more affordable green-beauty brands, with the palette costing $27. This unfortunately can be the price of one eyeshadow color for many green beauty brands. I love how they work with the National Resources Stewardship Council to obtain ethically-sourced and child-free mica and regularly test for heavy metals in their cosmetics. The palette is also recyclable and refillable. I highly recommend the Canyon Sunset Eyeshadow Palette, which won the Delicious Living 2018 Beauty & Body Award.

Here’s a pic of me wearing the eyeshadows

857BEAB0-6379-4D56-82B4-1552697262B5.JPG

Pela Phone Case:

This is the world’s first and only compostable phone case. This phone case doesn’t look like someone stitched hemp and elephant poop together, but rather is elegant and sleek. They come in a plethora of colors with cute designs featuring honeybees, turtles, mandalas, as well as a more classic design. Pela phone cases are compatible with most cell phone brands such as the Iphone, Samsung, and Google. Pela uses renewable materials such as starch, natural fibers, and flax shive. When you’re done with your Pela case, you can either compost it or can send them your case through their Pela-Cycle program to be recycled again.

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 5.33.33 PM
This photo is not my own and comes from the Pela Case Website

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed:

Okay, so this book doesn’t have anything to do with environmental sustainability, but this has seriously been the best book I’ve read this year. This is a collection of letters that Cheryl Strayed received while working as “Dear Sugar” for The Rumpus and her responses to them. The problems that these people are dealing with are raw and real and have no easy solution, if any at all. I love Cheryl Strayed’s compassionate but yet direct advice that she gave. This book is like wearing a sweatshirt blanket on a cold day with a cup of hot chocolate in your hand, except in the form of a book. Tiny Beautiful Things is guaranteed to light anyone up and I would especially recommend giving it to those going through a difficult season in their life.

BuymeOnce Gift Card: Do you have a family member or friend who’s tricky to shop for? Instead of buying them a gift card to a big-box store, get them one for BuymeOnce. BuymeOnce is an online shop that fights against planned obsolescence by finding the highest quality products on the market. They sell a wide range of products including, but not limited to, clothing, technology, kitchen appliances, home décor, and so much more. Many of the products sold are made out of sustainable materials and even if the product you’re buying isn’t eco-friendly, it will at least be guaranteed to last for years to come.

The best part about eco-friendly gift-giving is that it’s an excellent way to introduce loved ones to conscious consumerism and for them to see that sustainably made products can be chique, cool, and fun.

What’s on your eco-conscious wish list? Let me know in the comment section.

 

Movie Reflections: Now and Then

Hello there! I can’t believe it’s been over two years since I’ve written on this blog. I’ve been aching to write on it again for a while now, but college has kept me preoccupied. I plan on writing on this blog more frequently because I enjoy it immensely as a creative outlet. I know I usually write about sustainability/the environment, but I want to do something a little different. I love movies and love analyzing them, so I hope you enjoy this reflection on an old favorite movie of mine, Now and Then. Thanks for reading! I promise to write more again soon.

Warning: There are some spoilers in this review, so if you care about that, you might not want to read it.

**

Screen Shot 2019-11-10 at 2.26.43 PM.png

Last night, I watched a childhood favorite movie, Now and Then. I don’t think I’ve watched it since I was about 12 years old, the same age I was as the main characters in the movie. To give some background, Now and Then is about 4 girls who grew up in the small town of Shelby, Indiana who reunite as adults when Chrissy, one of the main characters, is days away from giving birth to her first child. As adults, they reflect on a transformative summer they had in the year 1970 when they were 12 years old.

Despite Now and Then having a cult following, it got poor reviews by critics. Critics say that it’s too similar to Stand By Me, that the writing is poor, and that the script is too cheesy. Albeit, I’ve never seen Stand By Me, but I think that when movies are made about the experience of growing up as a teen girl, people dismiss it as “chick-flick,” “unoriginal,” and “sitcom-like.” Now everyone is entitled to not like a movie, but I can’t help but think that the patriarchy in the movie industry has influenced the perceptions of critics. Do you know how many action movies are similar to each other? People don’t criticize action or “male-oriented” movies, the way they do movies about women. Rant aside, I believe there is so much for everyone to gain from watching this movie, young and old.

Watching this is as an adult, I felt much more of an emotional impact and understood the movie in ways that I hadn’t before. As a kid, you live in a make-believe land and have trouble accepting the harsh realities of life. This comes out in different ways throughout the movie. Roberta lost her mom when she was 4 and to cope with this tragedy, she keeps faking her death. Sam’s parents got divorced when it wasn’t common, so she keeps it a secret from her friends and immerses herself in the mysterious death of Johnny, a boy who died at 12 during 1943.

Now and Then captures that transition of being a child to being an adult in a unique way. The moment you become a girl to a woman isn’t when you get your period, but rather when you stop make-believing. The 4 girls wanted to believe that Johnny had risen from the dead, but when they found out that his tombstone was broken by accident by graveyard keeper, that was the moment they stopped believing, which was a harsh reality for them all.

One moment that stands out to me in the moment is when Sam meets “Creepy Pete” who comes out only at night. In a pivotal moment, she learns that Pete is actually Johnny’s father and that his son was brutally murdered. One of the pieces of advice that he gave Sam was that even though horrible things happen to you in life, you can’t shut out the world. As an adult, she reflects that she didn’t realize the meaning of those words until later in life.

When I watched this movie as a kid, the emotional impact of these words went completely over my head. Now that I’m older and have lived through some pretty harsh realities, I understand exactly what he means. It’s easy to believe that the world is against you and that there’s someone in the sky cursing you with awful situation after awful situation. Even if everything is going smoothly in your personal life, you can get angry at all of the suffering happening in the world. But you can’t shut the world out. Because in between the awfulness is love, family, friendship, delicious food, connecting with strangers, the simple act of getting dressed in the morning and how good that feels, feeling proud of a small accomplishment, laughter, comedy shows that almost make you pee your pants, learning that trees can talk to each other through mycelium fungus, new age music, and countless other things to live for. Life doesn’t care about timing or spacing out bad events. Life is brutal. Not everything happens for a reason and often shit just happens. But you can’t become indifferent and stop living. You have to keep working towards a better tomorrow. That tomorrow might not be tomorrow. It might not be next year. It might not be in 10 years, but as long as you keep working for it, that tomorrow of peace and tranquility you’ve been waiting for will come.

I highly recommend watching this movie. And if you watched it as a kid, watch it again as an adult, because you’ll get something new out of it.