I like to do most of my holiday shopping after the actual holidays. Crowded stores have as much appeal to me as taking a cold shower while being shot at with paintballs and there's something special about buying something for 20% to 40% less than if I had bought it just a week earlier.
It can take a little bit of work, but an hour or two of extra time spent hunting can turn up some big savings in post-holiday sales. Here are a few great green things I've found this year worthy of your dollars that are worth tracking down after Christmas.
Coffee lovers will love the Keurig single-cup coffee maker from Green Mountain Coffee. While it sounds counter-intuitive, the single use K-Cups can add up to less environmental impact than drip or pressed coffee- a lot of the overall impact from a cup of coffee comes from the growing, processing, and transportation of the coffee bean itself so in some cases it can actually be the greener choice to go with the single use plastic K-Cups, if you'd otherwise make more coffee than you drink. The plastic cups are an imperfect solution that Green Mountain Coffee has been working very hard to replace. Their new green tea K-Cups are made with paper instead of plastic. Keurigs come in a few different models from their B40 system to the sleek looking B70 system.
Earlier this year I had the chance to review the new Brooks Green Silence running shoe, a new choice in footwear that offers high performance at a minimal environmental impact. I really liked the Green Silence and jumped at the chance to test out a pair of their new black and green style. These new colors look great for stepping out around town and perform just as good as their brighter cousins on the track but come with the updated benefit of better laces. The laces on the older yellow and red shoes were a lot more slippery and were prone to coming untied during a run. The shoelace engineers at Brooks rectified their initial materials choice with a new lace that's thicker with more grab.
Speaking of shoes, how about a resole? Any good greenie knows the phrase "reuse, reduce, recycle", but most don't know how to apply that mantra to their footwear. Resole America is a company that lives and breathes reusing shoes- for well under the price of a new pair of shoes they will take your old boots, sandals, and shoes and refurbish them with new soles, making them better-than-new. They are a great way to breathe life back into a favorite pair of shoes while protecting the investment you made in the first place. In some cases choosing to resole can save you over $200. (Full disclosure: I've been employed by Resole America for the last six months or so helping them with social media marketing. I choose to work with them because I think their product is great, not the other way around.)
You know the old saying- if you truly love someone, give them worms. OK, so maybe that's not exactly how it goes, but close enough. In all seriousness, worms are a great green gift to give someone post-holidays, just as long as you're talking about composting worms and not the kind that live in your intestines. A composting bin can be a great way to cut down on the amount of trash going out the door every week as well as an awesome source for homemade fertilizer for your garden and house plants. Worm bins can be made in your basement with some leftover plastic storage bins or can be bought from companies specializing in designing bins suitable for the kitchen or under the sink. Worms are cool, they poop out liquid gold (if you're a plant), and do a good turn for the environment by cutting down on the amount of solid waste we put into our landfills every day.
Living a green life doesn't mean giving up all the accouterment of modern living. It's just not a realistic goal to get everyone living back in the caves- for one there aren't enough caves to go around. Greener living is about making the greener choice whenever it's possible. It means choosing organic over conventional and buying things like Fair Trade coffee and local free range beef when you need coffee and meat. It means buying electronics and gadgets that are going to last (I'm on my fourth computer in 13 years) and that are made in as environmentally-friendly a way as possible. The Samsung Restore cell phone from Sprint is just that beast- a cell phone that's greener than its peers. 84% of all the materials used in the phone are from recycled sources and it meets Sprint's own eco-criteria which awards points for using less toxic materials like PVCs and Pthlatates, qualifying for Energy Star, making the phones easy to recycle, shipping in environmentally friendly packaging, and including eco-friendly applications, which in the case of the Restore means links to Treehugger. It's not a bad phone and has a nice slide-out keyboard and good-enough photo and video capabilities. It's not the iPhone, but it never was meant to be. If you're looking for a good green basic phone, take a look at the Restore.
I count myself as a lucky member of the car-free club. I cast off the chains of car ownership two years ago and haven't looked back since. I've saved tons of money on gas, insurance, regular maintenance, and the occasional bank account-draining major repair and stayed in shape thanks to the walking, skating, and biking that I do. My greener urban existence is made infinitely easier thanks to my Pedego Comfort Cruiser electric bike. The Comfort Cruiser has class, power (20 mph on flat with just the motor), and, as the name suggest, comfort. It's an amazing way to get around town and comes with a full range of right around 30 miles. At nickels per charge it nearly costs nothing to operate.
That's all my recommendations for today but I'll have another great bunch of greener gear to share tomorrow. Happy holiday bargain hunting!
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