Thursday, December 31, 2009

So Long For Now

The time has come for me to embark on a new adventure. This journey does not entail traveling anywhere, but rather exploring the place I have come to be, in a new way. I have decided that in 2010 I will try to become as unplugged as possible. In order to do this, I am disconnecting home internet service (Goodbye, Facebook), using a cell phone for emergencies only (Gasp! No texts!), and taking a step even further away from television.

I have come to find that my very favorite parts of my life can not be plugged in or turned on. I am hoping by disconnecting from the technological, I will be reconnecting to the real. Unfortunately, this adventure also includes putting Green Gracious on an indefinite hiatus. I hope that you will not find this as an abandonment. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you reading and participating in this blog for almost a year now. I hope that you will take whatever you have learned and continue with it in your real lives, and know that I am doing the same.

While I like to believe that Green Gracious is a special little corner of the internet, I have (thankfully) never been alone in my quest to save the planet. You can continue to find green guidance in many places. Here are a few of my favorites:

I will miss all of you very much. I hope that if/when I return, it will be with renewed passion and more lessons to share.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

17 Things

I promised a little while back that I would share more with you about the 17 things that have been found could make a very big difference if every household engaged in them. Turns out, this information is harder to find than I would like. National Geographic covered it a little bit on their blog. And if you are in for some exciting (please sense the sarcasm here) reading, you can peruse the journal article that was published on the subject.

And this all brings me back to the idea that I suggested earlier this year of 9 in 2009. As we look forward to New Year's resolutions, I ask that you look at this list again and try to find 10 for 2010. Doable?

What did you do to become kinder to the Earth this year? What are you planning for next year?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The "Key" To A Great Present

I know I have shared with you before that my husband and I don't really exchange gifts-and we don't. But this year I came up with an idea to brilliant to ignore. I wanted to give my husband a key of some sort to symbolize how he is the key to my happiness, success, etc... Has the key to my heart. And how together we can unlock the mysteries of the universe. But when I went looking for a great key, there wasn't much out there. What I could find wasn't an actual key shape, was far too expensive, wasn't made with the environment in mind, wouldn't last, or any combination of these things.

So I went back to an old standby. To be honest, I don't know why I didn't head to Etsy first, since most of what is good, I have found on there. And I hit the jackpot with Savage Salvage's Shipwrecked Relics pendant. This beautifully masculine creation consists of a salvaged vintage key (protected) and layered on top of an old ivory piano key hung on a vintage brass chain.

To make things even better, it shipped quickly in reused packaging including a darling little box gift wrapped in old sheet music! My husband loves the significance and the piece and it makes me happy every time I see it on him.

If you are in the mood or market for something unique, I would suggest keeping Savage Salvage (and Etsy in general) in mind.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Green Gift Guide: The Final Installment

I feel like now that I have done my due diligence in sharing our family gifting ideas, I can share with you the final installment of the Green Gift Guide. After all, I know a lot of people still have names to cross off the list and if you order soon, everything should arrive in time!

A previous gift guide mentioned my love of the concept of wrapping in reusable. Here is another great way, especially for the crafter, quilter, or seamstress in your life. Use these fabric wraps to literally add a little something to your beautiful present.

An alternative to the cardboard sleeve, this handisleeve allows for a reusable option, a handle, and a little bit of a fashion statement at the same time.
Cloth napkins-A. Fair trade cloth napkins-A+. Beautiful fair trade cloth napkins-yes, please! And just a thought, you could also use these to wrap small treasures!

I just listened to a radio program the other day on the lost art of letter writing. There is something so quaint and sentimental about staying in touch through written word. And if you use this wax seal with soy wax and recycled paper, you are a charming green relic of times past.

A new (and useful) take on the reusable bag, these two sided totes are helpful for the planet and those stylish shoppers on your list.

Oh, how I love upcycling. Have I mentioned this? How adorable are these upcycled, handcrafted clocks? That one is my favorite!

I love a beautiful snarky shirt. I really love this one from Kitten in the Engine. Go visit and pick out your favorite design for the clever girl in your life.

This cute (and BPA + Phthalate free) lunch box encourages creativity and environmental awareness for kids. A great gift for the hungry little ones in your life.


I have tried a few products from Bubble & Bee and am always amazed by the diversity of their skin and body care. I love the idea of receiving (or giving) this sleigh full of personalized organic body care. Now 25% off!

This handcrafted light fixture from Brazilian artisans could definitely make my list and a couple of my rooms. Check out the whole collection.

I hope you enjoyed the Green Gift Guide series. I certainly loved sharing them with you! So now, please share...what are you gifting this season???

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Our Holiday Giving

There is a lot of chatter out there in the green interweb about gifting. Where to buy? What to buy? If to buy? There are so many opinions and perspectives out there to consider...and as this is my blog...let me give you a few more. Here is my take on our family holiday gifting.
  • Probably our most controversial gift policy by far is our policy for the kids. We only get the kids 3(ish) things. 1. Is a fun gift of their choice. I try to get this fair trade/recycled/handmade if possible. 2. Is an educational gift-sometimes of their choice. Same story here. 3. A gift to a charity or gift of volunteering-eventually of their choice as they get old enough. Our thinking here is that our kids will get plenty of gifts and will inevitably have the most fun with the box. We feel the gift of sustainable thinking every year is one in and of itself.
  • On the topic of regifting: I do it. I think it's a good idea if it is done with thoughtfulness. So if you are on my gift list, you may be regifted. But please know I do it with the very best intentions for you and the planet. If I can't regift it and I won't use it/love it-it gets consigned to someone who will. No offense.
  • We have taken to giving all our extended family, photographs for Christmas. The year we started, we gave a nice frame with them and each year we refill the frame. This allows us to keep to a budget and be environmentally conscious at the same time we bring joy (hopefully) to our family.
  • If you read regularly, you know that I don't like to buy new, but I realize sometimes it's the "best" option. When I have to do it, I try to do good with it. I buy local, handmade, organic, recycled, or from someone like Ethical Superstore, or through something like igive which allows you to make a donation with each purchase.
  • This is the first year we have done an advent calendar and the boys LOVE it! I really adore the idea of advent calendar but hate the idea of purchasing nick nacks for each day. So I was thrilled when a friend gave me the idea to put a fun family activity in each day. So far we have had hot cocoa with peppermint stirrers, gone Christmas light spotting, send holiday cards to our friends, watched a Christmas movie, gone to a holiday parade, etc...Not only are we not buying more stuff, we are creating quality time and memories with our family.
I would love to hear from you on some of your creative holiday ideas that are great for your family and the Earth! What are you doing to have true spirit this holiday?

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Preserve New Deal

I have raved about Preserve (Nothing wasted. Everything gained.) in the past. They are great for toothbrushes, kitchen ware, and now, tableware, all made out of recycled material. And now they have gotten even better with the launch of their new website. Easy to navigate, it features new products and helpful information on how to recycle through Preserve. And to make it even better, they are offering free shipping through the end of the year with the coupon code, "HOLIDAY09".

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What Do You Feed Your Skin Every Day?

As I mentioned, we were at my mother-in-law's for the Thanksgiving holiday. While there I was reminded of how many toxic chemicals we have eliminated from our home and how many are still in the homes of others. As I stood in the bathroom getting ready, I looked around at all the products and couldn't help but think about how many chemicals people put on them every day just in the beauty department. Then I thought about all my friends who insist that it's not that much/it can't matter that much. So I thought it might be a helpful exercise just to take a look at how many beauty products the average person uses in a day.
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap/body wash
  • Shave cream
  • Lotion/After shave
  • SPF
  • Face cream
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hair product
  • Cosmetics
  • Perfume
  • Facial Cleanser
What am I missing? Then you add that all together and multiply it by every day of the year. Just think of all the chemicals that could enter your body! Sometimes when we look at the change one product would make, it doesn't seem like that much. But as we can start to trade up many of these for ourselves and our families, we can really start to make a difference in what we are doing to/for our bodies and our health.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How Crafty

I am not a crafty person (Believe me, I've tried. I have the hot glue gun burn scars to prove it). But I was reminded this weekend how much I enjoy craftiness when I engaged in the annual post-Thanksgiving craft show with my mother-in-law. She has been going for 20 years or so and I have joined her the past couple to bask in the creativity of others. She has one vendor she makes sure to hit first every year. These three sisters take old items and paint them to upcycle them into adorable and one-of-a-kind Christmas decorations. The globe above and "Dear Santa" wall hanging below are both from these crafters. I also had the opportunity to meet a local Michigan artist who upcycles old magazines, art papers, and books into beautiful purses. Someday when I don't have to carry a diaper bag, I am getting one. Most of all, this craft show reminded me how cool it is to get something unique and special to pass down through generations. Even cooler is meeting the people who made these things with their own hands, often using recycled materials. If you get a chance this holiday season, try to do some of your shopping with crafters and artisans. It's a warm fuzzy feeling.