We've watched in recent years as organic, recycled, refurbished, sustainable and generally eco-friendly gifts have flooded the market. Consumers looking for green gift ideas can find them now for every person in the family, even that uncle who hates hippies and would rather drink crude oil than wheatgrass. And now we can fool them with gifts that look like regular, everyday products that don't work to save anything. But how do we make it through the lists?
In 2008, green holiday guides have grown out of control, with subcategories for every possible gift recipient imaginable. Others present the information in inconvenient, confusing ways or just repeat products from other sources. Here's our list of the Best "Best Green Gift Guides" on the Net, so you can spend your time looking through the best presents out there instead of trying to find the best sources for them.
While Sprig has a number of top 10 lists, its "Ultimate Green Gift Guide: 50 Presents for Under $100" split up by mom, dad, kids, guys and gals gives a great overview of quality, inexpensive, green holiday giving. Most of the gifts hadn't been seen anywhere else, and even when pared down to less-pricey items, more than a few cost $20 or less.
The frustration comes from the setup. Delivered by slideshow, you need to click away from the list to find out the items' prices. Surprisingly, most of the gifts fall well within the affordable range. If you like something you see at Sprig (and you will) go the extra mile and follow the link. Your friends will thank you for it.
It seems Treehugger tried to find eco-friendly gifts that anyone on the planet could like. Hitting one right after the other feels a little overwhelming, but they do offer some rare finds. That La Chamba Bolivian cookware ($15-$100,LaVidaVerde.com), for instance. Or Big Shrimpy's Whisker-Wide recycled glass bowls ($21, RobinsPetCare.com).
What didn't they offer up? A section just for budget-conscious consumers. True, each category does have a few items highlighted with a green "Under $25" label, but having them in one central area offers convenience for those of us shopping on the quick and cheap.
You might not be impressed by the first thing you see here: bright blue bikini briefs featuring a graphic of Mother Earth (just above the wax line). Give it the benefit of the doubt. Not only can you skip straight to 100 green gift ideas for absolutely anyone on the planet, there's an enormous list of specialized sections, including "Gifts Under $20" and "20 Ways to Give Without Giving 'Stuff.'" Besides organic items and refurbished art, you're given options to support sustainable living through honorary adoptions and carbon certificates.
The kids' section does a great job of addressing multiple age groups, unlike the infant- and toddler-focused blocks and teethers found on other sites. It also covers a range of prices. Those Lions And Tigers Punch-Out Masks ($5.95, AWF.org) will provide kids with hours of eco-minded play while giving something back, but the Recycled Rubber Drum Set ($56,nybgshop.org) screams more "fun" than "earth-friendly."
Most of the environmental charity websites sport a list of "the best of the best" each season featuring stuffed bears or books or "adopt-an-acre" programs. Normally these turn money back toward the organization in some way.
The NRDC added a twist to its "Great Green Gift Guide" by asking its employees to recommend items they own, and already enjoy using. Brilliant. Inoculating greenwashing in one strike, the recommendations do more than list the latest products that have the word "organic" on the label.
With the number of quality green gifts on the market, it's frustrating trying to find that one perfect thing for everyone you know. You have a lot of advice to choose from, too, but you don't have to feel confused. These four choices give you more options than you probably need, ideas you won't find everywhere else, and that people really do enjoy. And who knows? You might even find a few deals.