12 Days, 12 Ways To Go Affordably Green
These days, who needs ten lords a-leaping? Here's a host of more affordable, greener gift choices for the holidays.
One Water-Efficient Showerhead The average four-person household uses 146,000 gallons of water per year. If you replace a standard 4.5-gallon-per-minute (GPM) showerhead with a 2.5-GPM head, you'll save 20,000 gallons of water per year! 2.5ers range in price from about $5 to the deluxe, super-efficient Oxygenics Showerhead, which starts at $29.95. Available at www.old-fashioned-values.com and www.smarthome.com.
Two Certified Organic or Humanely Raised Chickens
Unlike conventional birds, the following were not confined in cages or fed growth hormones and antibiotics. Diamond Organics: $5.95/lb. (www.diamondorganics.com), Murray's Chicken: $2.59/lb. (at grocery stores), Whole Foods: $4.50/lb. (www.wholefoods.com).
Three Organic Fair-Trade Coffees and Teas
In 2003, Americans spent nearly $3 billion on coffee, our largest food import, of which we consume more than the citizens of any other nation. By buying "Fair Trade Certified" coffee and other products, we help farmers receive fair prices and protect worker welfare.
Choice Black or Green Tea: 1 box (16 bags) $3.10-$4.10 (www.choiceorganicteas.com) or 1 box (24 bags) $4.00 from Equal Exchange Choice Herbal Tea: 1 box (16 bags), $3.10-$4.10
Four Sustainably Harvested Wood Kitchen Tools
Worldwide, 680 billion board feet of wood are harvested annually. Sustainable practices help preserve forests and communities. These hand-carved kitchen implements are made from sustainably harvested madrone by the Tarahumara Women's Cooperative in Cusarare, Chihuahua, Mexico: serving spoon ($12), bowl ($30) and bean masher ($12) (www.nativeseeds.org). Give or get a handmade Smartwood-certified maple cutting board 10 X 10 in. $30 (www.citilogs.com, 877-CITY LOG).
Five Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs)
CFLs use one fourth of the energy and last up to 10 times longer than conventional bulbs. Replace five incandescent bulbs with CFLs and you can save about 50 percent on your annual lighting bill. If every U.S. household did so, it would prevent the release of as much greenhouse gas as removing 8 million cars from the road for a year. Many states have price-incentive and/or rebate programs; check with your local utility company. The nonprofit Energy Federation sells EnergyStar-rated CFLs for less than most retailers, at $3-$10 each (www.energyfederation.org).
Six Recycled Glass Drinking Glasses
Each year, Americans throw away approximately 12 million tons of glass, 38 percent of which is recycled. A growing number of glass artisans are now turning recycled bottles into mugs, wineglasses and candle holders. Recycled Glass Mugs in green or cobalt ($3.25 each, www.greenfeet.com) Recycled Glass Tumblers ($25.95/set of six, www.abundantearth.com) Williams-Sonoma Vert Glassware, hand-blown in Spain, with a green cast ($42/4 wine goblets; www.williams-sonoma.com, 877 812 6235)
Seven Personal-Care Products
Consider a few cosmetics made with truly natural and, yes, even pronounceable ingredients. The following five do not contain petroleum derivatives or other synthetic preservatives, stabilizers or surfactants. We've added two eco-friendly grooming aids.
1) TerrEssentials Organic Lip Protector, $3.75 (www.terressentials.com)
2) Kiss My Face Active Enzyme Deodorant, $4.29/1.7 oz. (www.mothernature.com)
3) Kingfisher Toothpaste, $3.99/6.6 oz. (www.mothernature.com)
4) Vermont Soap Aloe Castile Bath & Shower Gel, $5.99/8 oz. (www.newenglandnatural.com)
5) Tom's of Maine Natural Shaving Cream, $5.49/3.6 oz. (www.mothernature.com)
6) Nature's Gate Dental Floss, $2.82/50 yd. (www.shopnatural.com)
7) Recycline Preserve toothbrushes, handles made of 100 percent recycled plastic, $13 including postage-paid mailer for recycling them (www.recycline.com). Check out their new, recycled-plastic razors too.
Eight Household Cleaning Supplies
Of course you want household cleaners that clean, but wouldn't it be great if they weren't toxic to boot? The following products contain no phosphates, no animal ingredients, no chlorine, no petroleum and are never tested on animals.
1) Life Tree Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, $3.79/15 oz. (www.mothernature.com)
2) Seventh Generation Free & Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent, $6.80/50 oz. (www.shopnatural.com)
3) Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner, $5.99/16 oz. (www.mothernature.com)
4) Oxy-Drain (enzyme drain unclogger) $8.95 1 lb. (www.home-environment.com)
5) Ecover Auto Dish Powder, $5.58/48 oz. (www.shopnatural.com)
6) Earth Friendly Products Toilet Bowl Cleaner, $3.59/24 oz. (www.veganessentials.com)
7) Heather's Natural Oxygen Bleach Cleanser, $3.29/14 oz. (www.mothernature.com)
8) Substitute a solution of white vinegar and water for conventional glass cleaner.
Nine Safer, Greener Plastic and Paper Household Items Not all plastic is the same. Reynolds Wrap is made from PVC, which can leave traces of phthalates on your food. The products we recommend have not been shown to leach any carcinogens or hormone disruptors. As a rule, stick with products marked #2, #4 or #5 and avoid #3, #6 and #7. Available at most supermarkets and natural-foods stores.
1) Plastic Wrap: BestYet, Glad Cling, Saran Cling Plus
2) Plastic Bags: Ziploc bags, Glad Freezer bags, Ziploc Double Guard freezer bags
3) Sandwich Bags: Glad sandwich bags, Hefty OneZip bags
4) Trash and Kitchen Bags: Recycled Seventh Generation plastic trash bags,$4 ; kitchen bags, $3-$4
Choose these recycled, chlorine-free paper products:
Landfills are approximately 40 percent paper. The newspapers alone that are thrown away each year are equivalent to 30 million trees. Help save them and reduce chlorine bleaching, which releases toxic dioxins into the environment. Available at natural-foods stores.
5) Napkins: approx. $2.50 for 250, Seventh Generation (www.seventhgeneration.com)
6) Paper Towels: $1-$2 per roll, Seventh Generation or Whole Foods 365 brand (www.wholefoods.com)
7) Bathroom Tissue: $3-$4 for a 4-pack, Seventh Generation or Whole Foods 365 brand
8) Facial Tissue: about $2 a box, Seventh Generation
9) Coffee Filters: $2.50-$3.50 for 100, If You Care
Ten Local or Organic Products in Season
Buying locally supports small farms. As organic produce gains ground nationally, chains like Whole Foods, where we found these products and prices, are beginning to offer local produce in season at prices that give conventional foods a run for their money. Even more reasonable: The farmstands at your local green market. Here are some late-autumn foods to buy fresh and locally now:
Organic Potatoes, $1.49 lb.
Organic Carrots, 2-lb., bag/$1.79
Organic Bartlett Pears, $1.98/lb.
Local Apples, $0.98/lb.
Organic Parsley, $0.98/bunch
Organic Onions, $0.98/lb.
Organic Celery, $2.49/bunch
Organic Kale, $1.79/lb.
Organic Yams, $1.69/lb.
Organic Turnips, $1.49/lb.
Eleven Organic Staples
Since the packaging makes up much of the cost of food, you can buy organic for less money when you buy bulk and reduce packaging waste as well.
1) 1 lb. Organic Rice (bulk), $1.25-$2
2) 1 lb. Organic Flour (bulk), $.60
3) 1 lb. Organic Oatmeal (bulk), $ .75
4) 1 lb. Organic Peanut Butter (bulk), $3-$5
5) 32 oz. Unrefined Organic Sugar, $2.89, Florida Crystal
6) 1/4 lb. Sea Salt, $7.50, Fleur de Sel de Guerande (www.splendidpalate.com)
7) 16 oz. expeller-press organic canola oil, $2.69, 365 Organic
8) 1 qt. Organic Mayonnaise, $4.99, Spectrum
9) 1 can Organic Tomatoes, $1.99, Muir Glen
10) 16. oz. Organic Pasta, $2.19, Bionature
11) 1 loaf Organic Whole Wheat Bread, $2.89
Twelve Organic Cotton Napkins
These napkins, a bit of a splurge, will add elegance to your holiday table, just as their day-to-day use will save money as fewer paper napkins are consumed. 3 sets of 4 Organic Cotton Sateen Napkins, $42 (www.chemsenlvng.com) 3 sets of 4 napkins, $42, Natural American Home (shop.store.yahoo.com/naturalamerica)
- By Vincent Standley for The Green Guide