Sneaky Green Gift Guide: 10 Great Gifts They Won't Know Are Good for the Planet

2011 Green Gift Guide

As Cambria noted in her Thanksgiving post, the holidays can often include those oh-so-awkward, though well-intended debates over lifestyle choices. This year, instead of running headfirst into awkwardness, why not quietly inspire friends and family through incredibly great sustainable gifts? And you don't even have to delve into the greenness of your gift. Unless, of course, they ask.

TOP ROW

1 Recycled Wine Glass Vases ($12), West Elm. These elegant vases could also be used with a small spray of winter flowers or greenery for a great host gift.

2 Set of Felt Coasters ($22 for set of 6), Moufelt. Cool little coasters that come in bright hues and hip designs. The secret is that they are handmade in Oregon using pure wool felt.

3 Screenprinted Organic Cotton Tea Towel ($8), Oh, Little Rabbit. Oh, Little Rabbit carries a wide selection of towels that are completely charming and look far too fun to be as eco-friendly as they are.

4 Starburst Red Basket ($39), Ten Thousand Villages. Consider buying a fairtrade gift this season, like this handwoven basket made by Ugandan artisans. Fairtrade merchants like Ten Thousand Villages sell handcrafted home décor, jewelry, and ornaments while paying a fair price to artisans. These gifts offer the same price points and look of items you'd find at trendy chain stores but with a back story you as a gift-giver can be proud of.

5 San Francisco Poster (part of the Travel Series) ($30), The Heads of State. Check out the Travel Series posters, which not only exude style and celebrate local cities, they are also printed using water-based inks on 100% cotton.

BOTTOM ROW

6 Reclaimed Redwood Picture Frame, ($18 4x6 frame), bambeco. If you have a special photograph you're thinking of giving as a gift this year, consider framing it in a rustic, eco-friendly frame. A frame such as this one just looks beautiful, but it's actually putting to use wood scraps that would otherwise wind up in landfills.

7 One-year membership to a local botanic garden (e.g., Chicago Botanic Garden is $70 for a 1-yr. individual membership) or museum, or a gift certificate to a locally-owned restaurant or tickets to a local performance. You'll be encouraging the recipient to support their local community, and the only thing being consumed will be a great time.

8 Graphic Pillow, ($45-$62), Inhabit. A great gift for design lovers, these pillows come in a wide selection of gorgeous covers and are handmade in the US from 100% certified PET recycled polyester from pop bottles. I think I might pick up one of these as a sneaky green gift to myself this year...

9 Selection of local beers, such as these from Mad River (if you live in California), or a bottle of wine from a local winery. These are great gifts alone or, for an extra special gift, pair some wine or beer with locally-grown produce and locally-made cheeses for a sustainable gift basket.

10 Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet (12-in.), ($20.97), Lodge (via Amazon). Cast iron skillets are recognized as a kitchen essential for their natural, non-toxic, non-stick properties. A great way to help a cook create a non-toxic cooking environment.

2011 Green Gift Guides:
10 Fantastic Green Gifts under $100
11 Gifts for the Artist, Crafter, or DIYer
10 Green Gifts for Green Thumbs
Green Gift Guide for Chicago
Green Gift Guide for Design Lovers
Green Gift Guide for the Techie
Green Gift Guide for Home Cooks
20 Gifts Under $20
Green Gift Guide for Kids
10 Hostess Gifts for Friends who Love to Entertain
Green Gift Guide for the Home Renovator

(Images as linked)