Gift Ideas for 2011

I've put together some fun and unique gift ideas focused on innovative, local, sustainable, fair trade and ethical options. These gifts can not only cut down on all the useless, unwanted "stuff" that accumulates this time of year, but may also contribute to the well being and health of the recipient, community and environment.

Give someone a gift that will change lives. A gift certificate for a Kiva loan will allow the recipient to lend money to entrepreneurs around the world and help them work out of poverty. Another charitable gift option is Heifer International. View their gift catalog and choose a single animal, a flock, honeybees, or trees! These gifts help struggling families around the world receive training and animals that help them become self-reliant. These are gifts that keep on giving...

With the current interest in food security, localization and the homemade/handmade movement, it seems like everywhere you look you can find innovative classes, workshops, community projects and seminars focusing on things like urban gardening, composting, local foraging, food preservation, beekeeping, and the list goes on and on... Give a set of classes or a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership this holiday season - a thoughtful, educational and forward thinking gift that won't go unappreciated. Here are some great resources in the Bay Area and beyond:

The Institute of Urban Homesteading
Studio For Urban Projects
18 Reasons

A quick Google search using relevant keywords is a good way to find classes/events in your area, and here are some great sites that have done a lot of the work for you! Get connected and buy gifts from local artisans, retailers, restaurants, farmers, co-ops, CSA's and farmers markets:

Local Harvest
Local Dirt

Here are some eco-minded gift ideas that highlight independent designers, as well as Fair Trade goods from around the globe:

Kirsten Muenster Jewelry -
Facets Ring $250
This image features the Facets ring from my recycled, cast silver collection. All pieces are cast locally, hand finished and signed in my San Francisco studio. Read more about the work in the About section of my site.

Loup Charmant -
Organic Cotton Short Nighty and Bloomer Set $145
Loup Charmant (charming wolf) is a Brooklyn, NY based company founded by Kee Edwards, who's guiding principals are "First, Do No Harm, and Second, Live in Beauty". They create romantic, seasonless pieces that are perfect for layering under your favorite winter sweaters and wraps. These beautiful, light as air basics are made with fairly grown, organic cotton.

MoHop -
High Cherry Wedge Platform Sandal $148
Annie Mohaupt’s line of handmade, customizable sandals are great for winter too - just wear them with a thick pair of wool tights or thigh highs for a super cute look. The style featured here is composed of solid cherry from sustainably managed forests in Potter County, Pennsylvania. It features durable black soling composed of natural rubber and rice husks, and a padded footbed with a hand screenprinted motif. Each pair comes with five sets of ribbons and a "how to tie" booklet so you can create an infinite variety of looks with just one pair of eco-friendly soles.

reMade USA -
Sonoma Bag $375
Great recycled leather bag by reMade USA, founded in 2009 by Shanon South. Each piece is hand-crafted in San Francisco, California using leather that is recycled and salvaged from thrift stores and furniture and automotive upholstery industry scrap. The bags are lined with unique vintage scarves. You can also supply your own jacket, and they will take $20 off the bag style of your choice. Makes me wish I had saved that vintage blue suede jacket all those years ago... it could have been reborn into a little clutch!

in2green -
Blue Ikat Throw $125
I love the knitted pattern of this recycled cotton throw by in2green. Each one is made from pre-consumer clippings cast off during the cut & sew process (all the cotton on a bolt that isn't used in the making of mass-produced t-shirts). A brilliant way to reduce waste!

Ascension -
Luma Baskets $127.25
Great for storage, these handmade baskets are produced by a collective of women's self help groups from the North Karnataka region of India. They are made entirely by hand with naturally dyed, hand spun and woven jute.

VivaTerra -
Poncho $219
Hemp Bag $69
VivaTerra is a catalog retailer focused on earth-friendly goods. Their products reflect a commitment to ecology, organic and sustainable sources. This cozy poncho is made with buttery soft lambs wool. The hemp and silk bag comes with two silk ribbons, one blue and one ivory for added versatility.

Darko Wallet $65
Kenner Bag $255
Who knew vegan leather could look this good? It's a simple, straightforward wallet for a great price. And any man would be comfortable carrying this masculine and sturdy gray Kenner Bag made from 100% recycled materials and faux suede lining.

Aveda -
Shaving Ritual for Men $55.50
Sunscreen $17.50
I've used Aveda products for years. They source natural, organic and sustainable ingredients, and give back to the indigenous communities they work with. This shaving kit makes a great gift - and I'd also include some sunscreen - a life saving habit that's easily incorporated into anyone's morning routine.

To-Go Ware -
Utensil Set $19.95
Another great habit to get into - BYO utensils. Stephanie Bernstein founded To-Go Ware in 2004, and the company has been committed to social, economic and environmental justice from the start. They create products that provide more innovative, healthy and sustainable utensil and food storage options. This utensil set is made of sustainably harvested bamboo and the recycled plastic holder is produced by CONSERVE, an NGO project in Delhi.

Apolis Activism -
Field Jacket $370.
Love this classic jacket from Apolis Activism - an independent contemporary brand that was founded in 2004 by three brothers from Santa barbara, Raan, Shea, and Stenn Parton. They have created a unique bridge between commerce and sustainable development. You can literally view the entire supply chain and learn about the people involved in every aspect of production, creating a more personal connection to the object.

Vegan Heather

Blue Herringbone Stitchout $68.
Padrino Corduroy Upper $54.
Shoes for everyone! These are my favorite styles for men, the vegan friendly canvas and the wintery corduroy. TOMS Shoes was founded Blake Mycoskie in 2006. With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One. Using the purchasing power of individuals to benefit the greater good is what they're all about.

Kirsten Muenster Jewelry -
Recycled Silver Cuff Links $285 per pair
I love French cuff shirts and cuff links. They are a great way to upgrade his holiday wardrobe and make the perfect groomsmen gift. This image features the Arcs, Petals and Facets cuff links from my recycled, cast silver collection. All pieces are cast locally, hand finished and signed in my San Francisco studio.

Token -
Lafayette Canvas Duffle Bag $240
Token's pieces blend elegant workmanship and durable design. This piece utilizes WaxWear weatherproofed canvas, a unique wax finish that is free of hazardous solvents. Definitely a bag that will look even better with age and use.

Zanisa -
Acacia Wood Platter Set $42
Hand-carved from renewable acacia wood, this set of platters is perfect for display or serving.

Domestic Aesthetic -
Spice Block $48
This piece evolved from a lesson in resourcefulness. When Domestic Aesthetic found out a nearby window company threw out hundreds of pounds of wood, they repurposed the discarded mahogany into these beautiful spice servers.

Halcyon Tea -
Halcyon Tea is a small, family/friend run tea shop located in San Diego, CA. They offer a beautifully curated selection of quality teas and provide a thoughtfully-designed experience built on a foundation of authenticity, artistry, and sustainability. They are dedicated to fair, respectful business practices and a strong community focus. Check the blog for classes and events that celebrate the history, origin and processing methods of this compelling beverage.

McEvoy Ranch -
Organic Olive Oil $22
McEvoy Ranch is the largest producer of organic, estate-grown olive oil in the nation. Their gorgeous ranch is located in Petaluma, CA - email them to arrange seasonal tours of their organic groves and gardens.

Viva Terra -
Wine Barrel Stave Bread Bowl $95.
I love when things are thoughtfully repurposed and given another life. This recycled oak wine barrel makes a striking server or table display.

OVOPUR Water Filter $799
Water filters are not always attractive... that's why I love this new system from AQUAOVO. It's a beautifully designed, gravitational water filter that utilizes an Aquacristal filter, made of activated carbon, quartz, copper and zinc. It's made of white lead-free glazed porcelain and recyclable, non-toxic parts.

Kor Water -
Hydration Vessel $30
These sleek bottles are made of BPA-free plastic, and they donate a part of the proceeds to water driven causes – each color supports a different organization.

Klean Kanteen -
Reusable Water Bottle $18.50
Clean and simple, these bottles are body- and earth-friendly and made from 100% recyclable, high-quality, food grade stainless steel that’s toxin and BPA-free.

Thermo Bottle -
Reusable Glass Bottle $42
This is one of my favorite reusable glass containers - just don't drop it... It's double walled to insulate beverages and comes with this great carrying case and strainer for tea.

Flora Grubb -
Spy Emerson Sculpture
I've posted about these beauties before here. I really do love Tillandsia. They are easy to care for, grow without soil and need minimal amounts of water. Flora Grubb Gardens always features creative ways to display them in your home. I love these sculptures made by local artist Spy Emerson - she uses reclaimed wood, glass, tools and string.

Obleeek -
Concrete Planter $45
I love clean, modern planters. These are individually poured and utilize a custom blend of volcanic ash and powder cement that is 40% lighter than standard concrete.

Eva Solo -
Self-Watering Flowerpot $56
A great gift for the frequent traveler or lazy, not so green thumbed person on your list. The flowerpot reservoir holds extra water so the plant can be watered less frequently and you'll also know when it's time to water again.

Viva Terra -
Air Plant Garden $79
This striking Tillandsia display comes with four air plants, river stones and recycled glass vase.

Heath Ceramics -
Vases $235 for three
Ahhh Heath Ceramics... a beautiful and clean aesthetic - I truly believe I enjoy my food more when using these dishes! And yes, the vases look just as good sitting empty. Edith Heath founded Heath Ceramics in the mid-fourties. In 2003, Heath was purchased by husband and wife team, Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey and they continue to honor the founder's strong design legacy and ethical business practices. I highly recommend visiting the studio because their selection of "seconds", offered at a discount, are often perfect.

Wooley Pocket Garden Company -
Wooley Pockets $39 - $350
A new favorite for my deck - Woolly Pockets. They are made of 100% recycled plastic bottles that have been industrially felted. These flexible, breathable, modular gardening containers are great for creating urban gardens.

Flora Grubb -
Succulent Wreath
Another great find at Flora Grubb Gardens. This wreath is alive(!) with flowering succulents. You can either replant them after the holidays or enjoy them just as they are for months/years to come.

Small Stump & Studio Choo -
Birch Bark Set $45 set of 5
These birch bark cylinders make beautiful vase covers or can stand alone as interesting objects. The bark is harvested in Canada from trees that have fallen from storms and lightning.

Books are always a perfect gift. I urge everyone to support independent publishes and book stores. One of my local favorites is Chronicle Books - they have a huge selection of cookbooks, art, design and eco titles, children's books, craft kits, stationery, gift packs, and more.

Quick Pickles
Easy Recipes for Big Flavor By Chris Schlesinger, John Willoughby and Dan George

Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea By Alice Waters
Edible Schoolyard is at once a visionary model for sustainable farming and childhood nutrition, and a call to action for schools across the country.

Simply Organic
A Cookbook for Sustainable, Seasonal, and Local Ingredients By Jesse Ziff Cool

From the Earth to the Table
John Ash's Wine Country Cuisine

In Defense of Food
An Eater's Manifesto By Michael Pollan

Fields of Plenty
A Farmer's Journey in Search of Real Food and the People Who Grow It By Michael Ableman

Fresh from the Farmers' Market
Year-Round Recipes for the Pick of the Crop By Janet Fletcher

Anna Getty's Easy Green Organic
Cook Well—Eat Well—Live Well By Anna Getty

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas
Gifts, Decorations, and Recipes that Use Less and Mean More By Anna Getty

Style, Naturally
The Savvy Shopping Guide to Sustainable Fashion and Beauty By Summer Rayne Oakes

The Green House
New Directions in Sustainable Architecture By Alanna Stang and Christopher Hawthorne

Eco Dog
Healthy Living for Your Pet By Corbett Marshall and Jim Deskevich

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