Green Gift Holidays REthink the Holidays Tue, 26 Nov 2013 19:51:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Green Gift Holidays Partners Wed, 20 Nov 2013 21:11:43 +0000 Bambeco wreath

We love companies that give back, especially during the holidays. See which partners are giving to The Nature Conservancy this year.

Shop, download, click and give back to nature!


AmazonSmile Foundation
The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of your Amazon purchase to the Conservancy.

bambeco will contribute 10% of sales from its Holiday Gift Guide to Conservancy projects in the U.S., China and Mexico between Nov. 21, 2013 and Jan. 15, 2014.

Blue Q
Blue Q will contribute 1% of sales of bags, stainless steel water bottles, mugs, paper lanterns and table lamps to the Conservancy through June 2015.

Bank of America
Apply for the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Visa® card benefiting The Nature Conservancy, the only credit card that allows you to help support our work with the purchases you make. Apply today to be part of a program that has already generated over $13 million to help protect nature. As a thank you for becoming a cardholder, you will receive a $100 cash back bonus after you make at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days† and Bank of America will contribute an additional $100 to The Nature Conservancy.

Charity Miles
Help support the Conservancy while burning off those holiday pounds! Charity Miles, a new iPhone and Android app, enables people to raise money while getting active. Choose the Conservancy as your charity and walk, run or bike for conservation. Charity Miles tracks your miles and makes a contribution, walkers and runners raise 25¢ per mile while bikers raise 10¢ per mile.

Want to search for cool holiday gifts this season and protect the Amazon rainforest? Ecosia, a popular search engine in Europe, is contributing 80% of its advertising revenue to rainforest protection — every search made between Aug. 22, 2013 and 2015 will drive contributions to support the Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees program.

[Image: bambeco Organic Three Herb Wreath. Image source: bambeco]

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For the Kids: Eco-Friendly DIY Holiday Decorations Wed, 06 Nov 2013 19:57:07 +0000

Are you in a holiday decorating rut?

Erin Crisley, age 7, teaches us the “Four P’s” of decorating: Paper, Plants, Pine cones and Popcorn. These natural and recycled materials are better for the planet, and more fun for the family!

Watch the video for some kid-friendly holiday decor ideas. View now »

[Video source: Kerry Crisley/TNC]

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DIY: Naturally Dyed Yarn Wed, 06 Nov 2013 16:44:18 +0000 DIY: How to Dye Yarn Naturally

Written by Megan Latour

I am such a huge fan of the holidays. I’m a sucker for tradition (and thankfully, so is my husband), and we go full-tilt with the sights, scents, gatherings (and, of course, FOODS) that mark the season.

I also love to give. I take great pride in my gift giving and I often lean upon my own knitting skills to create a unique item tailored specifically for the person in question. My relatives love receiving something made just for them, and I love that I can give them something that doesn’t come from a big box store. My knitting friends are especially appreciative, since they understand first-hand the time and effort spent on its creation.

Whether you’re a knitter or not, if you have a crafty person on your list this year, consider giving them something truly special: yarn naturally hand-dyed by you! It’s a green gift that you can boast was made especially for them. Talk about being a holiday superstar! Now, have no fear: it’s fun, easy, doesn’t cost much and is a great craft project in and of itself to do with kids.

I’ll walk you through it! Learn how »

Megan Latour is a Marketing & Communications Manager for The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire.

[Image: Naturally dyed yarn. Image source: Lori Johnson]

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Green First Christmas Wed, 06 Nov 2013 15:56:12 +0000 First Green Christmas

Written by Adrienne Egolf

Last year, I got the best Christmas gift of my life: my son, Sam, was born on December 25, 2012. It was truly the most memorable present I could have asked for — and he definitely didn’t come wrapped under my tree!

This year, with a one-year-old in our family, I’m betting that Santa Claus is going to be making a stop at my house.

Here’s how I’ll make my son’s first Christmas (and birthday) as green as possible:

Give Small

Since we first got married, my husband and I have always enjoyed a less-is-more approach to gift giving. We plan to continue that tradition now that our family has grown. We’re going to skip the wrapped packages under our tree and instead fill our son’s stocking with a few of his favorite things — a book, Cheerios, a banana. For the birthday part of our celebration, we’ve chosen one big gift that we know will get a lot of use by our family for years to come. (It’s a sled. Shhh, don’t tell him.)

Buy Used

When it comes to kids clothes and toys, I’m a big fan of shopping at consignment stores. The fast turnover of kids’ clothes makes it easy to find used duds that look like new. And a little soap and water (and sometimes new batteries) go a long way to refreshing a previously loved toy. When I shop at my favorite consignment store, I check clothes for small holes, fraying at the seams and look for fabrics that are not very faded or worn thin. I always double-check toys to make sure they don’t have any missing or loose pieces, and stick to items that I can easily wipe clean with diluted bleach to disinfect.

Wish for Green

As much as I say we don’t need any new toys for my one-year-old’s first Christmas and birthday, I know that his very loving and oh-so-generous grandparents will hear none of this, which is why I made a wish list on Amazon. By identifying items we actually need, we can gratefully accept gifts from family knowing that we aren’t  creating an unnecessary surplus of “things.” And building the wish list has given me an opportunity to steer potential gift givers toward the most sustainable products available. Many of the toys we’ve wished for are 100 percent recycled materials, made in the US and come in streamlined packaging.

How will YOU green your holidays? Share your eco-friendly tips »

Adrienne Egolf is a marketing specialist for The Nature Conservancy in New York City.

[Image: Baby’s first Christmas ornament. Image source: nettsu/Flickr via Creative Commons license]

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DIY: Fall Leaf Garland Mon, 04 Nov 2013 19:44:46 +0000 Green Gift Holidays: DIY Fall Leaf Garland

Written by Madeline Breen

Love fall foliage? Now you can bring fall’s vibrant colors indoors with this easy DIY project, perfect for Thanksgiving decor! This craft project uses beeswax to preserve the color and shape of fallen leaves, allowing you enjoy fall color throughout the entire holiday season.


DIY Fall Leaf Garland

-Fallen leaves with stems in-tact in a variety of colors and shapes
-String for hanging – we used raffia ribbon
-Clothespins or glue gun


Fall Leaf Garland: Prep the Beeswax

1) Prep the beeswax. If we’re being honest, cutting the block of wax may be the most challenging part of the project! We started with a serrated knife and ended up using pure muscle to break it in half. You’ll only need about ¼ of a pound.

DIY Fall Leaf Garland: melt the wax

2) Melt the wax. Your first instinct may be to microwave it, but a double boiler will keep the wax melted throughout the process. Careful not to boil it.

DIY Fall Leaf Garland: dip the leaves

3) Dip the leaves. Once the wax has melted, holding the stem, carefully dip the leaf in the wax.

DIY Fall Leaf Garland: drying wax leaves

4) Dry the leaves. Hold the leaf for about 30 seconds to dry and then lay flat to continue drying. Once dry, we recommend double-dipping to ensure the leaves are coated enough.

DIY Fall Leaf Garland: attach the leaves

6) Hang. Now you’re ready to hang! Using either clothespins or a glue gun, attach your wax-covered leaves to the string or ribbon.

Green Gift Holidays: DIY Fall Leaf Garland

7) Enjoy! Hang, stand back, and admire your work! The garland looks great along a mantle or in a window.

Madeline Breen is an editorial manager for The Nature Conservancy. She thanks her mom — and Martha Stewart — for the help and inspiration for this craft project.

[All images © Madeline Breen/TNC]

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Skip the Stuff, Give an Experience Mon, 21 Oct 2013 19:04:48 +0000 Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

By Jessica Keith

Not to be unappreciative, but I really don’t need any gifts at the holidays. And by “gifts,” I mean “stuff” — clothing, kitchenware, electronics — stuff that I don’t really need and stuff that puts a strain on our environment to produce.

I decided this after college when I found myself relatively financially secure. With needs met — a decent shelter with everything I need in it, moderately fashionable clothes (please say they are), good food, and yes, even some fun “extra” stuff not essential for my well-being on Earth — I was set. And I still am.

I’m pretty proud of my efforts to cut down on the amount of items I accumulate. And I try to stick to my guns, even during the holiday season when everyone and their mother (hi, mom!) delights in surrounding loved ones with twinkling packages full of stuff they just know they’re gonna love.

But “sticking to my guns” has taken on a few shapes during the years. At first, I tried to request no gifts at all. Too much, too soon! Then I tried to reroute my gifts to charities. But darn it, the nice people in my life who love me just wanted to give to me.

Enter the “experience” gift. It turns out, people can deal with this. They know they’re giving you something you want to do, they’re helping you make memories and they’re doing their part to leave a lighter footprint on our planet during the holiday season.

To each their own when it comes to enjoyable experiences, but I’ll get you started by sharing some of my favorite ideas:

1) Lecture tickets. Fill your brain and impress your friends.

2) Campground reservation. Too much for you? Upgrade to a cabin. Need camping tips? We’ve got you (and your little ones) covered.

3) Bowling gift certificate. You know you love it. Don’t be embarrassed.

4) National Parks pass. Many states have a national park. If yours doesn’t, check out the next state over — road trip!

5) Zoo or museum membership. Year-round fun; this is the gift that will keep on giving.

6) Fill-in-the-blank class. Painting, cooking, photography (or that weird, new fitness class you’ve secretly been wanting to try!).

7) Concert tickets. Rock. On. We have a few suggestions.

8) Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership. A gift for you and the local farmers you’ll be supporting.

9) Restaurant gift certificate. May I suggest one? Check out these Nature’s Plate winners!

10) Massage. Ugh. The holidays can be rough. Go relax.

What experiences will you add to your wish list? Let us know in the comments section on the right!

Jessica Keith is a Marketing Manager for The Nature Conservancy in Ohio.

[Image: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio. Image source: discopalace/Flickr via a Creative Commons license]

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Hosting the Perfect Green Holiday Bash Fri, 07 Dec 2012 16:56:01 +0000 Handmade fabric garland

By Sarah Hauck

’Tis the season for entertaining! This year, you can throw a great party and keep it green at the same time. Follow these simple tips to impress your friends with a creative, low-cost and environmentally conscious holiday bash.

Getting the Word Out

If you’re still considering sending expensive paper invitations, it’s time to make the break and go virtual this year. There’s no shortage of free, online party invitation services that you can use. Not only are they guilt-free, but they also send an eco-friendly message to your guests right off the bat. And with some services, you can add your own flair by personalizing your invitation with music or video.

Setting the Scene

Ambiance can make or break a holiday party. One easy way to set the mood for an evening get together is to dim those lights – or turn them off altogether – and hang a few strands of LED holiday lights. Sustainable candles placed strategically around the room will also create a festive atmosphere. Not sure which candles classify as sustainable? Look for ones made of beeswax, soy or palm oil.

For decorations, skip the trip to the store. You probably already have everything you need to dress up your party space. Start by taking a look around your yard to see what you might be able to transform into holiday décor. Garlands, pinecones and holly are all obviously great choices if you happen to have some on-hand. But even if you don’t, don’t be afraid to be creative! Here are just a few ideas to get you started brainstorming:

–Garlands are one of the easiest decorations to make. Just string together cranberries, popcorn or nuts – and once the party is over, your edible garland won’t go to waste!

–Homemade wreaths are a great holiday accent, and they don’t have to be costly or time consuming. Laura Bracis demonstrates how to make a colorful wreath out of old books, but there’s no limit to what you can use to create your wreath.

–Cut flowers are beautiful, but let’s face it, they’re not very eco-conscious – and they’re costly and short-lived to boot. So, this year, bypass the flower stand, and dress up your potted plants with reusable or homemade ribbons tied around them to add a little holiday spirit.

The Best Part: Food & Drinks!

The heart of a good holiday party is the food and drinks – but it can also be the most challenging part to keep eco-friendly. Do your best to make an effort. After all, every little bit helps, and with each green choice you make, you’re sending a subtle statement to your guests that you care about the planet!

Food and snacks: Shop local and use fresh, seasonal ingredients whenever possible. If you’re catering, check into local businesses to find organic caterers and ask whether they can offer sustainably grown dishes.

Drinks: This is a great excuse to check out local beer and wines. Every state in the United States, and many countries around the world, produce wine. Find out which ones are produced close to you and give them a taste. Biodynamic wines and organic beers are another great option. For cocktails, use organic ingredients when possible. And don’t forget to buy local, organic milk for the eggnog!

Dishes: It’s soooo tempting to go disposable in order to avoid the dreaded post-party clean up. If you absolutely must (and I won’t judge), buy 100% recycled/ eco-friendly compostable dinnerware. But before you start Googling to see where you can buy low-guilt disposables in time for Saturday night, at least consider using your reusable dinnerware. Or go one step further and get out the good stuff – grandma’s silver, the wedding china, the crystal champagne flutes. It’s the holidays after all, and your friends are probably worth it.

Keeping It Clean

Even the most well-intentioned guests may slip an empty bottle into the trash bin if they don’t see a recycling container within reach. Make it easy on your guests by placing clearly marked recycling bins at a couple of strategic (obvious) locations.

If there are any leftover dishes at the end of the party, send some *doggie bags* home with friends or donate uneaten food to a local charity organization.


Celebrating the holidays with friends and families is what it’s all about, and doing it in a green way isn’t impossible. If you have any other green party tips, let us know! Happy Holidays!

[Image: Handmade fabric garland. Image source: emilyonasunday/Flickr]

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Busting Out of the Gift Rut, the Green Way Fri, 16 Nov 2012 22:25:13 +0000 Written by Kerry Crisley

I’m in a gift-giving rut.

I pulled out my holiday gift list the other day and the realization hit me: it’s so much stuff. And much of it is very similar to all the stuff I bought for people last year.

I can do better, can’t I? There must be a way to give gifts that are meaningful, enjoyable and useful, but that don’t take up so much space or materials. So here’s my holiday gift list, Take Two.

For the Athlete: A Trail Pass or Lift Ticket

There are so, so many benefits to being outside. We know this. And yet, too often we let life get in the way of our time in nature, especially in winter. Not this year. I’m slipping a cross country trail pass into my husband’s stocking. It uses next-to-no wrapping paper and doesn’t require storage space. And since it’s already paid for, it provides that extra bit of encouragement to get outside and use it.

Pattee Canyon, Montana

For the Smart Phone Addict: “Green” Phone Cases and Ear Buds

Let’s just accept that everyone has a smart phone (except me, it seems).  Rather than fight it, this year I’m going to help people prolong theirs with protective cases made from recycled plastic or aluminum, like the ones made by Case Mate. And when my friends plug in to rock out, they can use ear buds made from bamboo or recycled plastic.

Bamboo earbuds

For the Fashionista: Recycled Yarn Goodies

As December approaches every year, many of us lie awake gnawing at that age-old philosophical question: where do holiday sweaters go to die? I have discovered the answer, my friends. These expanses of yarn stitched into snowflakes, twinkling lights, holly and reindeer undergo a metamorphosis and emerge, renewed, as… mittens! And scarfs, and hats. This phenomenon can be found at many of your local craft/gift shops, or online at sites like Uncommon Goods and Etsy.

Recycled mittens

For the Summer Party Host: a Greener Outdoor Wine Glass

Not that I’m counting, but it’s six months until Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer and the official start of wait-don’t-take-that-glass-outside season. But instead of stocking up on disposable cups (The horror! The waste! The disrespect to vintners!), my buddies will enjoy their poolside/beachside/fireside cabernet in style. These eco-friendly cups come in stainless steel or BPA-free copolyester (with stems or stemless, too!) and can be found at most outdoor stores, like REI.


For the Kids, Part 1: A family Membership to Our Zoo or Aquarium

The scene: my home on a chilly, overcast Saturday. As the day wears on, the boundaries of the playroom grow smaller. Then, inspiration strikes. Hats, mittens and coats are donned. The car is started. Excitement builds unity between siblings. We arrive at the place where my kids know they can run free, greeting the hosts by name like the old friends they are. We arrive at… our local zoo. By now, my kids know every inch of it, but they’re still enthralled. Will the snow leopard be out? How many flamingos have laid eggs? Has the baby spider monkey grown? Each visit gets them outside (a benefit in itself), and further solidifies the bond they’ve developed with the animals that live there. And since a membership often pays for itself after just two or three visits, I save hundreds of dollars in the course of a year.

Kids at the Philadelphia Zoo

For the Kids, Part 2: Eco-friendly Crafts and Toys

Yes, they love the zoo, but I’m a realist, too. I know that my kids – like most – still want to rip open brightly-wrapped boxes and start playing right then and there. For my daughter the craft-maker, I’m getting a set of paint-it-yourself wood crafts (nesting dolls, birdhouses and more) made from sustainable bamboo. For my son the inventor, a science kit full of do-it-yourself experiments and a kid’s cookbook. These and other great green toys can be found at your local toy store or online at sites like Growing Tree Toys.

Earth Lab Science Kit

I like this new list. I like that I’ll be getting the people I love outside more, and even though there’s still some “stuff” on here, I like that I’m supporting businesses (be they in my hometown or online) that are making the effort to go a little greener. It’s a bit of gift to myself, really… although I’m still planning to slip a ski trail pass into my own stocking as well.

[Image: Pattee Canyon, Montana. Image source: Ted Wood. Image: Bamboo earbuds. Image source: Betaroomega. Image: Recycled mittens. Image: JewelrybyJayne/Etsy. Image: Eco-friendly wine glasses. Image source: gophodotcom/Flickr. Kids at the Philadelphia Zoo. Image source: fPat/Flickr. Image: Earth Lab Science Kit. Image source: Growing Tree Toys]


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Give Charitably Thu, 08 Nov 2012 04:00:37 +0000 Young tree huggers

Written By Amy Bridges

The holiday season is upon us! All you have to do is turn on the television any time after Halloween to see images of holiday consumerism. Although it seems the holiday season grows longer and starts earlier each year, we think it is the perfect opportunity to approach your gift-giving a little differently. Philanthropic gifts are a great place to start.

Something that inspires the recipient, helps our community and makes our world a little bit better is a wonderful gift to give to your family and friends.

We pulled together a list of five charitable gift ideas for the holiday season. Happy holidays

1) The Gift of Time:  We live in a very fast world. What would it feel like to give an hour of your time to help someone else? Volunteering at your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen is a great year-round activity. You could also donate a free hour to the single mother in your apartment building so she can run errands or offer to do some light housework for the elderly couple in your neighborhood.

2) A Gift for the Planet:  You can do your part to improve our planet by giving the gift of nature. Here at The Nature Conservancy, we have many different ways to give. For someone passionate about the rainforest, plant a few trees in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. For the birder in your family, create a habitat for hummingbirds. For the SCUBA diver, help protect coral reefs in the Bahamas, or select from our complete gift guide.

3) A Gift to a Child:  There are several wonderful organizations that are focused on helping children across the world. Toys for Tots spreads lots of holiday cheer by collecting unwrapped toys to distribute to needy children. Shoes that Fitmatches sponsors with local schools, which distribute new athletic shoes to their needy students. You could also donate eyeglasses to New Eyes for the Needy or support Books for Africa, which collects and distributes library and reference books to African communities to bolster their education systems.

4) The Gift of Light: For a child’s education in Zambia, giving them light is the difference between learning and not learning. Sungevity, a home solar energy company, has a philanthropic partnership with Empowered by Light called “Every Child Has a Light” that delivers solar lighting kits to rural schools without electricity. This gift of light enables schools to stay open past dusk, and reduces the dependency on toxic kerosene lamps. The result is healthier air quality, and better educational opportunities for children.

5) The Gift of Giving:  The gift of philanthropy can be given locally or globally. I’ve highlighted a few different ways to give with a few different organizations, but you don’t have to take my suggestions.  What tugs at your heartstrings? What is your family passionate about? Make the connection with what matters to you and seek out ways to give back. You’ll improve your community, inspire those around you and feel great, too.

[Image: Young tree huggers. Image source: Greg Anderson]

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DIY: Holiday Book Wreath Wed, 07 Nov 2012 22:56:37 +0000 The Nature Conservancy’s Laura Bracis spent $5.48 on all materials, including buying used books to upcycle, and made a gorgeous holiday wreath. We loved it so much we asked her to share her secrets. Find out how she did it and learn how you can make one for your front door.

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