Top 13 Eco friendly Gift Ideas

Top 13 Eco Friendly Gift Ideas || cityhippyfarmgirl

1. Fermenters Starter Pack- scoby’s, sourdough starters etc. Bundle a bunch of your favourite fermented goodies together and some written ‘how to’ instructions.

2. Get baking. Put together a little hand made hamper. Jam’s, biscuits, brownie, cake, pesto, bread, Iced VoVo Cupcakes– the options are endless. If you team that up with a little second hand basket, (always nicer than a gifted pair of synthetic, made in China, novelty boxer shorts…promise.) A little hamper like this is sure to win over your loved ones.

3. A succulent in a vintage teacup I still say is a visual winner. Get creative.

4. Assistent Original– now this is a pricey gift for Christmas, but if you are serious about a kitchen investment that is going to cater for every kitchen whim you have- it’s a worthy investment, as cooking from scratch is a commitment and you want to make it as easy as possible. (For bread baking nerds, look no further… 5 kilos of dough she can handle.)

5. Sign a loved one up for a Milkwood Permaculture course, (or a locally grown Permaculture course in your area.) They will be brimming with inspiration afterwards, and that…is always a good thing.

6. Subscription to your locally based farmer friendly organic fruit and vegetable box.

Bliss honey- south coast NSW || cityhippyfarmgirl

7. A big jar of local honey. Honey can be used as a face wash and natural exfoliant, stirred into your morning chai, or drizzled over toast. Make a list for the recipient of all the things they can do with their sticky prized jar. It really is a sweet idea!

8. Still sweet talking. What about the ultimate gift of a hive of native bees. Your recipient will be beeeside themselves with happiness.

how-to-make-gift-labels || cityhippyfarmgirl

9. Have a peek over at Ecolosophy. They have some wonderful eco friendly, handmade and fairtrade goodies, perfect for all ages.

anzac-biscuits || cityhippyfarmgirl

10. Or you could try… a simple plate, dish or second hand tin from your local op-shop/thrift shop/charity shop. Beautiful one off antique ones can bought for usually just a couple of dollars. Fill the plate with your favourite biscuits and the recipe printed out on the back of the card.

11. Digital Subscription to an inspiring magazine- someone will be jumping up and down with excitement. (Earth Garden Magazine, Great Ocean Quarterly, PiP Magazine, Green Magazine, Slow, Dumbo Feather– they are all wonderful!)

french-breakfast-tea-cityhippyfarmgirl

12. For the tea drinker- love chai, love tea and little ginger bread bites for dunking in. A simple present that is 673 times better than buying something bland in a generic department store.

enamelware || cityhippyfarmgirl

13. For the baker, drinker, eater…errr anything really- enamelware. You can’t go wrong, really you can’t.

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What are some of your eco friendly gift ideas?

 

finding the spirit

speculaas- cityhippyfarmgirl

Nothing says it’s nearly Christmas time, quite like belting out Wham’s Last Christmas at the top of your lungs. While big hair, eighties clothing and a snowy white landscape aren’t really necessary this year; an enthusiasm for all things just a teeny bit cheesy are. With three little people grinning from ear to ear for encouragement, I plan to quietly soak all that Christmassy spirit well and truly up.

I wasn’t going to though, well not yet anyway. It all seemed a little too early still.

However, last years advent calendar was hung, and the boys were keen for the Christmas sticks to be draped and decorated. Pre-school carols were seeping in and had a funny way of sticking in my head all day. I also couldn’t avoid the fact that everyone else was well and truly already on the Christmas wagon.

What pushed Last Christmas on to replay was the very real thought of my little people becoming big people. No longer finding it quite as exciting to decorate some fallen sticks with some brightly coloured baubles and their bunk beds with draped silvery tinsel. The excitement of seeing what might be in the advent calander in the early morning, and the planning of all the things they would do, once the Christmas holidays began. I know that contagious excitement will someday fade, as their limbs get longer and their childhood thoughts and ideas change.

So while their little dancing legs are eager, their air guitars await and theres a willingness to sing all songs Christmassy, then so will I.

And I’ll love every second of it.*

 * In the spirit of Christmas, so will all my neighbours. It’s a well known fact that Last Christmas should never be played quietly; and living in a small city apartment, well playing something with Christmas enthusiasm means everyone gets to enjoy it as well. Now THAT’S the spirit of Christmas.

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speculaas-cityhippyfarmgirl

For added Christmassy goodness, I’ve been making speculaas again. It’s been two years since the intermittent light swearing incident over the little wooden windmill and, this year I thought I’d try my luck again. Alas, still not to a standard I like, so no windmills again this year. However, the dough I’ve tweaked a little and it’s still a happy biscuit to eat.

Perfect for a little dunking, munching or sending of small parcels off to the neighbours.

Speculaas #2

150g cubed cold butter

150g brown sugar

300g plain flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cardamon

2 tbls cold water

Pulse all ingredients except the cold water, until resembles bread crumbs. Turn out to a board, add the water and give a quick knead to bring it all together. You are a after a smooth dough consistency. Roll out between two sheets of baking paper and pop into the fridge to firm up (or roll into a log and freeze for a later date.) Cut out shapes and bake at 180 for 15-20 minutes.

top ten eco friendly gift wrap ideas

wrapping with cloth- cityhippyfarmgirlmap-wrapping- cityhippyfarmgirl

I watched an ad recently where the recipient ripped open their carefully wrapped present to get to the item underneath. I winced, I really did. It seems crazy in todays day, that so many people are still doing this at gift giving time. Sigh… what an incredible waste of paper.

I’ve written about this once or twice before, but here are some wrapping ideas for the festive time of year, (or any old time of year.)

Top 10 eco friendly gift wrap ideas

old maps– I would imagine with technology jumping ahead maps might be a thing of the past in times to come. (I’m still using my old atlas that I saved from the rain on the side of the road.)

newspaper– be selective on your pages used, you can make it look good!

children’s art– if you have a little one at pre-school or just a pint sized Picasso, you may be swimming in craft and paintings- share the love, the grandparents will adore it.

fabric– retro fabrics, tea towels, scarves… the choices are endless. The art of wrapping with fabric goes by the lovely name of furoshiki and you can learn how to do it with these step by step instructions here.

old movie or music posters

how about crocheting a gift bag

chocolate wrappers– yep chocolate wrappers.

maybe a recycled box

or ditch the wrapping altogether and just go with a lovely reusable ribbon and handmade card.

There is no need for sticky tape for any of these options. Wool makes a great pull-it-together-and-make-it-look-pretty gift giving addition if you need to hold things in.

chocolate wrapping paper- cityhippyfarmgirl

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* for more furoshiki instructions, see here.

How about you? Any green tinged wrapping ideas to share?

top 12 eco friendly christmas gift ideas

a little succulent gift- cityhippyfarmgirl

Nearly the end of the year again, which means there could be a little gift giving to be had. I love this time of year, but I don’t like the ridiculous amount of spending that usually goes along with it. You don’t have to spend oodles of money, you really don’t. Here are a few ideas to help with a greener tinged Christmas at your place this year.

1/ Tiny presents of tiny succulents in tiny tea cups, (or espresso cups as this little fella is.) You can easily do this with a little cup that may have a chip or a crack in it- stalk op shops, church fetes, roadside discards for succulent holding inspiration. The options are limitless, (have a peek at google images.) Think green, think succulents.

2/ Something for the inspired reader in your life- Changing Gears: by Greg Foyster

3/ Assistent Original– now this is a pricey gift for Christmas, but if you are serious about a kitchen investment that is going to cater for every kitchen whim you have- it’s a worthy investment, as cooking from scratch is a commitment and you want to make it as easy as possible. For bread baking nerds, look no further.

4/ Digital Subscription to a ‘green’ magazine- inspire someone with some idea thumping pages- There are oodles to pick from, and then even more.

5/ Subscription to your locally based farmer friendly fruit and veg box. Foodconnect– Whole Larder Love– Local Harvest etc.

6/ Sign a bloggy friend up to do Blog with Pip– they will love you to the moon and back, (and probably back some more; this course is AWESOME.)

12 eco friendly gift ideas- cityhippyfarmgirl

7/ If you don’t have a crafty hand yourself, have wander over to etsy– Buy direct from someone who does and support a small time crafter with a passion for handmade goodness.

8/ Sign a loved one up for a Milkwood Permaculture course, (or a locally grown Permaculture course in your area.) They will be brimming with inspiration afterwards, and that…is always a good thing.

gift cityhippyfarmgirl

9/ For the tea drinker- love chai, love tea, enamel cup and a little ginger bread bites for dunking in. A simple present that is 542 times better than buying something bland in a generic department store.

ginger bread gift ideas- cityhippyfarmgirl

10/ Or using the same gingerbread recipe, kid version style.

11/ Put together a little handmade food hamper. Jam’s, biscuits, brownie, cake, pesto, bread- the options are endless. If you team that up with a little second hand store basket (50c church sale thank you very much!) and you’re in Christmassy business, (always nicer than a gifted pair of synthetic, made in China, novelty boxer shorts…promise.)

12/ And if you still aren’t sure of what Uncle Roo and Aunt Bilby would like, make a donation on their part. There are so many charities to choose from in our collective corners of the world- choose one and your recipients will be so very thankful.

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For previous years eco Christmas gift ideas and wrapping see

eight eco friendly Christmas gift ideas

twelve eco friendly Christmas gift ideas

 

packaging, landfill guilt and sweet music

rocket

Collecting all of my kitchen wrappers and packaging for a whole week eh?

On the one hand the idea captivated me, and on the other hand the idea utterly repelled me. Why? Not because I felt our family was particularly overly enthusiastic with tossing out of household garbage. On the contrary, I tried to be incredibly mindful of how much came in and out. However combine our seemingly smallish amount, combined with your smallish amount and their smallish amount, and suddenly that sort of smallish amount was not so damn small at all. All getting joined together and going in as a huge fetid mess into land fill.

Even if everyone was like minded and was particularly mindful of all the packaging that they used,  monitoring all that was entered into the household; on a global scale the sheer amount we are talking, I find that frightening. Hideously frightening.

A few weeks ago I had felt a pang of guilt when my boy wanted to take for recess a small chocolate bar left over from a party. My pang of guilt had meant there would be a wrapper in his lunch box. His first wrapper in nearly three years of school and one year of pre-school. Several weeks later and his school had a “waste free day”. No wrappers to be taken in at all on that particular day of the year*. My pang of guilt seemed laughable.

Looking at all the plastic packaging on bread recently, I was appalled adding up in my head how many packets that would be binned in a year if our family ate regular supermarket bread. My effort in making all of our bread was renewed. Well and truly renewed. Aside from the health, cost, and taste benefits, the fact that I’m skipping putting approximately 208 plastic bags in the garbage a year (that’s 5,200 bags over a 25 year span) is certainly something to think about.

I asked Mr Chocolate what he thought of the challenge of keeping everything we would normally throw away in our kitchen (or repurpose) for a whole week. He didn’t seem overly keen.

robot

I eyed my recycling box off and pondered a little further. Living in a small inner city space certainly has benefits in this regard, but drawbacks in others.

We benefit by having regular curbside recycling trucks come and take our binned empty packaging away, (along with regular rubbish and set council clean up days.)

For bigger items we also benefit by people often leaving unwanted things on the street for others to take if they would like.

Drawbacks are that we have a limited living space. Something that may be beneficial in time to come, and worth considering keeping, quite often is just not possible. When every one centimetre of space is already accounted for.

Another drawback is in fact one of the benefits, we DO have regular recycling trucks that take away our excess packaging, but does that make us blase? Is that enough? Would we be more considerate as a community if this option didn’t exist and instead had to dispose of things ourselves?

And then there was this video, which ultimately just left a tear in my eye and my heart that bit bigger….please watch it.

So tell me, would you be willing to collect all your garbage for a week?

Some teeny tiny ideas that also may help

Keep a cardboard box on top of a kitchen cupboard and slowly add to it with other small cardboard or plastic packaging pieces that can be used for raining craft days with kids. (If you don’t have children see if your local pre-school would like it, they generally have a lot of craft activities going on.)

Repurpose Reuse Recycle Reclaim- Pinterest ideas.

Waste free school lunchboxes

Reduce

Recycle

Re-claim

Repurpose

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* It’s now been rolled out as a once a week, “waste free day”.

Thanks to Living a little Greener for that awesome link.

when four turns into five

robot birthday cake- cityhippyfarmgirl five- cityhippyfarmgirl  It’s the way the little fella likes to plans things you see. The day after his birthday, he starts planning for his next birthday. 364 days of planning and not faltering once from the theme. Robots he wanted this year…and robots it was.

A robot cake, which he excitedly decorated himself. Just leave me the middle, I whispered, not telling him why. The robot and and mini bunting I snuck on last minute. He got the joy of decorating his cake and I got the joy of still surprising him.

Robot party bags to be coloured in by the kids coming over. Pin the glasses on the robot and robot dance moves were a given. I didn’t want excessive waste, plastic or money spent and he wanted to just have fun with his friends. I think just maybe, we might have got the balance right.

robot party ideas- cityhippyfarmgirl

A few simple party ideas

– happy bee garden mix flower seeds (in the party bag.)

– recipe for bubble mixture passed on (in the party bag.)

– bunting decorations I had made. (With three kids, birthday celebrations of some sort are a given each year. Easy, instant, and a green option for decorating.)

– reusable plastic glasses with the child’s name on it, (not plastic one use throw aways.)

– kids get to decorate their own cupcakes.

– invites were retro ones found at Stash and Treasure for 20c a packet of 6.

Food

olive oil bread bites

– gingerbread five’s

– popcorn

– fruit

– chocolate vanilla layer biscuits

– cupcakes

robot cake- cityhippyfarmgirl

clean and green

green cleaning solutions- cityhippyfarmgirl

There is only one cleaning “product” in our household. A made up bottle of eucalyptus oil, washing up liquid, white vinegar and bicarbonate soda.

Cheap, easy on the environment and works a treat for pretty much anything you throw at it.

So how do you make it?

In an old litre bottle container add

about  5-10mls eucalyptus oil

about 100mls dishwashing liquid

and about 750mls of white vinegar

That’s it. GIve it a little shake up and use with a generous sprinkling of bicarbonate soda for cleaning bathrooms, (toilets, tiles, grout.) Use a squirt or two in bucket of warm water for mopping floors. Use undiluted for spot cleaning on carpet. Use as a paste mixed with bicarb soda and rub into stains. Squirt a bit into hot water for soaking really dirty clothes. Or with a small amount, wipe down sticky benches and stove tops.

Easy, cheap and no need what so ever for 127 other varied and excessively packaged “cleaning” products.

“are you some sort of Greenie or something?”

cityhippyfarmgirl

My standard response when buying something in any kind of shop is, “No bag thanks.” I often say it with a slight edge to my voice, as take my eyes off the sales person for a mere second or a distraction from a small child and they are stuffing those goodies straight into that bag of plastic. Far too much enthusiasm round these parts for you to be taking home a little souvenir plastic.

Recently, after buying a few items in a shop I blurted out my standard line and was met with…

“What, are you some sort of Greenie or something?”

I looked around me. Everything seemed to look the same as when I had stepped into the shop, everything still looked very 2013 and yet that comment seemed to come straight from 1983.

I was appalled. Is this how far we had come? That only a Greenie would say no to plastic bag?? I indignantly said yes, yes I was and stomped out. (And for the record the shop in question was also a health food shop….a health food shop!)

cityhippyfarmgirl

So there the comment sat with me, weeks and weeks after. What hope did the planet have if it was still a bloody battle not to get a plastic bag for your purchases? (I had also had another comment in the same week from another salesperson expressing sincere surprise at my lack of plastic enthusiasm as so many of her customers always took multiple bags.)

While my issue with having plastic bags thrust in my hands is small in comparison with all the other environmental issues going on in the world, I can’t help but think it’s still far too easy to put our heads in the sand and pretend nothing is happening.

Too easy to ignore the fact that these seemingly small steps are someone else’s problem.

Too easy to ignore the fact that we are living with a greedy fossil fuel industry, that’s having gaspingly scary consequences.

Too easy to dismiss what will happen in our future as it’s just so unknown… But is it? Is it so easy to dismiss? This is the sort of thing that keeps me up late at night wondering what the hell sort of future I’m passing on to my children.

cityhippyfarmgirl

This week author and environmentalist activist Bill McKibben is in Australia for his “Do the Math” tour. For tickets, dates and places please see here. More reading on 350.org

He will also be appearing on Q and A tonight (if you are in Australia.)

(this movie is set in the United States but has global maths figures that are and will effect all of us.)

eight eco friendly Christmas gift ideas

  

local honey– use as a face wash and natural exfoliant, stirred into your morning chai, or drizzled over toast

box of homemade biscuits (recipe below)

gift tag card made up from a dried pressed flower

lunch date voucher- favourite packed picnic lunch

giant gingerbread person in a crocheted pocket

jar of homemade almond pesto

gift wrapping- I’ve talked about using old maps as wrapping paper before. This particular one was gold, as I had found an unwanted old atlas on the street that someone had lazily put out there. At first I was dismayed at the thought of it sitting out there unwanted and unloved, getting rain damaged. We certainly didn’t need another atlas… then I remembered wrapping paper. Sure it was a bit sad that I was cutting into this large beautiful book, but I was certainly better than just going in the recycling bin which is where it was headed. Team it up with some wool to hold the folding in place, and no tape is necessary.

For more wrapping ideas, have a look at this rather awesome site on furoshiki, other wise known as the Japanese art of fabric gift wrapping.

(For last years 12 eco friendly Christmas gift ideas, see here.)

Coconut Strawberry Hearts

250g softened butter

1 cup (220g) sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp coconut essence

1 beaten egg

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

3 1/2 cups (525g) plain flour

strawberry jam

Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer until pale. Add vanilla, coconut essence and egg, then mix through rest of ingredients. Lightly knead biscuit dough and roll between two sheets of baking paper to about 5mm. Pop into the fridge for an hour or so until firm, and cut out to shapes. If the dough comes back to room temperature while you are still cutting, being tricky to handle, just pop it back into the fridge for a bit.

Bake at 170C for approximately 15-20 mins, a very light golden colour. Allow to cool and then add half a teaspoon of strawberry jam in between the two biscuits.

Eat two immediately to see if they are ok to gift. Yep? Ok, should be good to go.

For a similar recipe see Coconut Jam Drops.

Eco-living Fair

As much as I often think, oh I wish we lived out of the city. It’s days like these, I think… damn I love our city. I love having the opportunity to go to things like this. A community fair in celebration of all things sustainable- it was a great morning out.

The Eco- living Fair just keeps getting bigger and better each year. More stalls, more demonstrations, more information being passed around and most importantly, more people. As without people…well, it’s not going to be quite so good is it.

Some snippets from the day…

 Have you thought about joining Slow Food Sydney?

 Paint your own umbrella for the kids.

 Food Co-op spreading mandarin love

Urban Bee Hive Honey  is all from Sydney urban hives.

A very knowledgable little friend of Monkey Boy’s who explained this (rather awesome) renewable energy concept that is awaiting approval in Australia. Monkey Boy then explained it all to Mr Chocolate a little later, (and that’s how enthusiastic information gets passed on, kids!)

colourful stilted entertainment

 valet bike parking and free bike maintenance

 a free plant for anyone that wanted one from the local council nursery

and everyone needed a hat.

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What have you been up to this fine weekend? 

Any eco-living action?