Silver, Gold and Green

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Furoshiki How-to
Furoshiki How-to
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It's three o'clock on a Sunday afternoon and already I'm spewing CO2 all over the place. I've driven my car to the store to buy a "natural" turkey (brought my own bags), dropped off my dry cleaning (my own hangers, requested no plastic, and they don't use PERC), picked someone up from the airport (no options for fuel-efficient planes yet) and I've taken out the recycling (massive pile due to holiday junk mail).

Now I've moved on to my holiday shopping list and I'm paralyzed with worry. How will I ever sleep knowing every single gift I give might not be either eco-friendly, fair-trade, sustainable, recycled, organic, made locally, or benefiting some faraway village that needs the money? And even if I do pull this off, what will I wrap it all in? Furthermore, what will we give out to our clients at Cut + Run?

And then it dawns on me. Who do you know that has ever given someone a carbon offset? Have you ever received one? What does it look like? Is it paper? Is it small? Is it a box? Is it tall? I googled my favorite carbon offset company, Native Energy, and found out they sell carbon offsets in a reusable water bottle! The eagle has landed! After a moment of bliss I realized that I needed more options on client gifts; some that are pure fun and some that I could brand with our logo to use as swag. So I made myself a list (using recycled paper), and it ran the gamut: solar universal chargers, reusable or organic cotton totes, eco-friendly skateboards, customized Sigg aluminum bottles, natural rubber yoga mats and custom hats, blankets, and doggie wear made of recycled cotton. There's also biodegradable surf wax; how great would that be with our logo on it? Except I can't do it now, because I've written about it, so then it wouldn't be a surprise. But you can.

I'll wrap it all in recycled or FSC certified wrapping paper, or skip the paper altogether and go with reusable shopping bags. I've always wanted to try furoshiki, the Japanese art of using pieces of cloth to wrap gifts, so maybe now's the time for that (using organic fabric). I may even tag the swag with plantable gift tags made from recycled office paper and wildflower seeds, or just make tags from previous years' holiday cards.

All these gifts have me thinking about holiday parties so while I'm in list-making mode, let me just suggest a few ways to make those a little greener too:

  • Consider consulting with a green event planning company, like Seven Star Events, or dv Green in NY.
  • Eliminate paper. That means electronic invites, buying or renting dishware, and using cloth napkins. If you must use throwaways, try something like Preserve, whose products are made from recycled plastic.
  • Use organic or pesticide-free flower bouquets and plants for decorating and give them away at the end of the party.
  • Decorate with LED holiday lights and/or soy candles.
  • Encourage guests to carpool or offer rides from selected pickup points.
  • Food should be locally grown and organic if possible (including organic wine) and cut down on the amount of meat you serve. Donate leftover food.
  • Ban bottled water, offer pitchers of water with sliced fruit in glasses.
  • Make the party carbon neutral by buying carbon offsets.
  • And, of course, place recycling bins where people can easily find them. You may even want to provide an e-waste bin and encourage people to bring their e-waste to the party, and you can recycle it for them.

So spew less CO2. Reduce your carbon footprint while gift giving and throwing parties. Happy Greener Holidays!

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