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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

 

How To Make Food You Don’t Like Yummy

I love chia pudding. It is my belief that the Dairy-Free and Soy-Free Gods and Goddesses came together and concocted this amazing pudding for those who have allergies. It’s genius if you think about it. Seeds chilled overnight and bam, you have something of a pudding like texture! Yup, chia pudding is my jam and I’m not ashamed. However, I do not like mango chia pudding. I enjoy mango just as much as the next person, but pureed mango flavor and chia seeds just don’t mix.

To make a long story short, everyone in my family was really sick and I decided to pick out some chia pudding to soothe everyone’s throat. However, all they had left was the mango flavor, so I picked some up for my mother, who likes the mango. However, once I brought it home, she said it was a big no-no food for digestive tract at the time, so there it sat in the fridge. Fast forward to a week later and the fridge is empty, the only breakfast food there being mango chia pudding. Instead of starving or relying on potato chips to give me energy to start my day, I decided to make it work and turn this food that I didn’t like into some sort of delicacy that would make the French jealous. Okay, maybe we shouldn’t go that far, but you get the point.

Drum roll please…….

I made a fruit and nut filled mango chia pudding instead. Here’s a magazine worthy picture!

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Nature’s Candy That I Used: Mango chunks (yes I’m aware that this an ironic ingredient, but it tasted great), cantaloupe, pecans, dried figs, and a handful of golden raisins. I also put about a teaspoon of coconut sugar in (a natural sugar-free substitute that doesn’t give you that crash. It taste a lot like brown sugar and your mind/body will thank you for using it later).

This turned out to be one of the best meals that I had in weeks and I started to not mind the mango flavor at all because it was melded in with other stuff. Sometimes, you just have to take what’s in your kitchen and make something out of nothing, get my drift? A little bit of creativity can go a long way!

How do you get creative in the kitchen? Is there an instance where you took a food you didn’t really like and made it into something delicious or at least palatable?

 

 

Your Gluten-Free Bagel Doesn’t Have To Be Boring

I am a huge fan of bagels, lox, and cream cheese don’t get my wrong. However, I can’t eat cream cheese anymore because of my dairy allergy. Therefore, you have to get creative!

This recipe is based on a breakfast I had in a restaurant at a ski resort I went to at age 10.  Unfortunately, the ski vacation was terrible because it was too bitter cold to ski (below zero most days) and the accommodations were atrocious. It is somewhat depressing to say that discovering this unique bagel concoction was the highlight of our trip. We loved this bagel so much that we continued to make it at home and modified it throughout the years to both our liking and allergy needs. Without further adieu, here’s how to make “Your Gluten-Free Bagel Doesn’t Have To Be Boring”

Bagel

Ingredients:

Your gluten-free everything bagel of choice (or non-gluten-free bagel if you aren’t gf)

Hummus

Lox

Pea shoots or sprouts of choice

Lox

Cayenne Pepper

This recipe is so easy that you don’t really need step by step instructions on how to do it, it’s pretty self-explanatory :P. My only suggestion is that you put a dab of hummus on your plate and then mix in the cayenne pepper before putting it on the bagel. I also have really enjoyed this recipe with a few red onions in it; however, I did not have any hand.

What’s your favorite way to eat your bagel? Also, let me know if you decided to try this bagel recipe and what the outcome was :).

xoxo

Alex