Eco Wise

Five Sites for Planet-Friendly Holiday Gifts

A Dancing Alligator toy made from rubberwood is $19.95 at
A Dancing Alligator toy made from rubberwood is $19.95 at (Plan Toys)
Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Web, like everything else these days, is going green, which means there are more ways than ever to avoid the shopping crowds this holiday season. Here, five standout sites for planet-friendly gifts to please everyone on your list.

Etsy. Sort of like an for all things artisanal, this site offers made-with-love gems that you won't find at the mall, many fashioned from organic or recycled materials. Click on "Shop Local" to search for goods by artisans in this area, such as Rockville-based ChrisCreatures's adorable magnets made from felt scraps ($4 to $10) and Manassas-based OfNatureDesign's delicate rings made from guitar strings ($13).

Discovery Channel Store. The locally based media company's Internet shop has an "Eco-Friendly" section that's a gold mine for mindful children's gifts. Plan Toys, for example, makes chemical-free musical instruments and toys from rubberwood trees that have outlived their usefulness as latex producers ($17.99 to $139.99). The Discovery Paper Recycling Studio, for pressing scraps into stationery, would be fun for the young at heart ($19.96).

Gaiam. This holistic lifestyle emporium and media company (known for yoga videos and gear) sells some of the most innovative eco-gifts out there. The site's solar-powered accessories, such as a camera gear bag for $149, are functional rather than gimmicky. For the ultimate in eating locally, give a mushroom-growing kit, which allows your favorite gourmet to cultivate shiitake or pearl oyster mushrooms in his or her own kitchen ($39).

The Nature Conservancy. There's a lot to be said for giving stuff that isn't stuff. This Arlington-based nonprofit organization offers more than just water bottles and tote bags: With a donation starting at $25, you can choose a location and a cause to support in your loved one's name, whether it's protecting a coral reef in Palau or adopting an acre in the Appalachians.

Organic Bouquet. The bouquets, plants and wreaths on this site are certified organic, as is the tempting array of holiday wines, cheeses and other edible goodies. Plus, the company buys credits to offset its carbon emissions from shipping. Consider a peace-sign-shaped wreath made from certified organic pine from the Pacific Northwest for $64.95.

-- Eviana Hartman

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