Monday, December 6, 2010

Greening the Christmas Stocking

Stocking & stuffer ideas from the Greenhabilitator...

At the risk of sounding smug, I'm really pleased with the evolution of our Christmas stockings over the past 5 years. We're certainly far from perfect and I enjoy getting new ideas each and every year from green sites, bloggers and crafters. There is just so much talent and creativity out there!

The first thing we did to green our Christmas stockings was to downsize. Going from stockings that were almost 2 feet long from top to toe (!) to ones that were closer to 14" meant buying less to go in them.

I have to admit that I spend more now than I did when I was filling a stocking twice the size, but with less environmental impact and a clearer conscience. With large stockings -- and prior to starting our green journey -- I found myself raiding the dollar store trying to find enough cheap crap to stuff a stocking to its gills. Cheap crap with a high environmental impact that often got tossed in a junk drawer, broke, was given to Goodwill or sent to the landfill.

These days I don't have a specific formula or criteria for what goes in our stockings but I'm drawn to things that:
  • Are homemade by me
  • Are handmade by someone else
  • Are useful
  • Will last for a long time
  • Help support those in need, like mothers in a third world country
  • Support a small business
  • Are made sustainably
  • Aren't plastic
  • Help the recipient to be more green
Here are a few things that my family members will be seeing in their stockings this year (Oh -- and I do have to admit to filling my own stocking. That way I get things other than fuzzy slipper socks!):

Flip & Tumble

My reusable shopping bags are far from matching or chic (they were all actually free or thrifted), but who says they can't be? I would never spring for a set of adorable matching bags for myself, but I think they'd make a great gift. One of the Mamapedia (it's like Groupon) deals last week was $16 worth of bags for only $8 (I can't promise that's still available) from Flip & Tumble, plus 5% of your purchase goes to a school of your choice.

Essential Journeys

Essential Journeys is a small business close to my own hometown in Asheville, NC. Driven by creativity and her love of the outdoors, owner Kimberly Masters developed a line of Lube for the Lips, Soap by the Slice and Lotion for the Body all made from natural ingredients.

Making the switch from shower gel in a plastic bottle to bar soap was one of the first steps we took in our green journey. To encourage that change in others, I love to give beautiful bars of soap as gifts. I'm doing a giveaway this week on my blog for a package of goods from Essential Journeys, so be sure to stop by.

Divine Chocolate

What could be more divine than chocolate in your Christmas stocking? Helping farmers in Ghana!
"Divine Chocolate is made with only the finest quality, fairly traded cocoa beans from Kuapa Kokoo, a cooperative of smallholder farmers in Ghana. The cocoa is grown in the shade of the tropical rain forest, and slowly fermented and dried in the sun by farmers who take great pride in the chocolate company they co-own. Choosing delicious Divine gives you guaranteed pleasure -- and the farmers a guaranteed fair deal and chance to invest in a better future."
For the chocolate lovers on my list,  I'm betting that this will be a big hit!


Jewelry doesn't have to be expensive to mean a lot. I purchased the necklace above at our local Alternative Gifts Fair a few weeks ago from a group of sisters who do aid work in Ethiopia. One of the sisters lives there with her husband and children and brings jewelry made by Ethiopian women back to the US for her sisters to sell. I guarantee that a higher percentage of the profit from this $15 necklace feeds a hungry family than that of a $150 necklace purchased at a mall jewelry store.

While these sisters are not selling online at this point, you can find many similar pieces at Global Girlfriend. From $3.50 bracelets beaded by women in Kenya to $24 sterling silver earrings handmade in Nepal at a vocational training institute that provides impoverished women with craft skills, there is something for every style and price range.

Global Girlfriend also sells many other things including clothing, bags, bath and body products and their less tangible Gifts that Give More.


With the exception of my husband, we are all big tea drinkers in our family. Even the kids like a cup of hot tea in the morning! Celestial Seasonings is one of my favorite tea companies because they're local to me here in Colorado and because they do great things to support the community and the environment. A box of Celestial Seasonings tea makes a perfect inexpensive stocking stuffer.

And, thanks to Celestial, I'll be GIVING AWAY boxes of tea to THREE lucky Booth readers. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a stocking stuffer idea of your own. Winners will be chosen at random and announced next Monday. Be sure to leave us a way to get in touch with you!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few things I'd love to see in my stocking this year... :)

Spa Day in a Box by opheliasapothecary ~ $38.00

I'm in love with these stacking rings ~ $15 each ~ from cinnamonsticks. Mr. Greenhab and I have cheap "traveler" rings we bought on our honeymoon in Thailand because we didn't want to bring our real wedding rings. I'd love some of these to replace our travelers, and well, I'd probably wear them all the time. I'd love one of these with our names and one with each child's name too.

I am truly coveting this necklace ~ $29.50 ~ from Bella Mei Designs. The color combinations she uses are just perfect. Someone point this one out to my husband, quick!

Come back next Monday when I'll be showing you some of the handmade gifts I've whipped up so far this season.


Condo Blues said...

I love shopping for Christmas stockings. I also like to think that I'm making up for my Husband's childhood Christmas trauma of Santa filling stockings with unwrapped hard candy that got fuzzy from their wool stockings :)

I've made sugar scrubs, peppermint bark, and put small jars of dried herbs from my herb garden. One year my husband filled my stocking with all sorts of fancy Fair Trade chocolates and the movie Chocolat. Our dog has a Christmas stocking too. For him I fill it with jars of organic baby food (for med or to later make treats with it), a jar of peanut butter (because he likes to double dip) or a bag of treats from our local pet store.

Please don't enter me in the drawing. It's not that I don't like tea (I love it!) It's just between last year's gifts and such I have almost a year's supply to drink already!

Tab said...

Christmas stockings are a bit of an indulgence in our house. I'm fairly rigid about our diet so my boys (ages 14, 11, & 10) don't get a lot of commercial foods. So Christmas is the time that they will get their fav candy (Kit Kats, Andes candies, snickers, toblerone) or snackfoods (CheezIts, whales, bunnies, [yep, all cheese ones, but they each prefer a different brand] garlic stuffed olives,& poptarts) It's the one time of the year I would ever consider getting this stuff for them.

Everyone gets a new toothbrush, a tube of lip balm, an orange, an apple, peanuts/pistachios in shells, a sweet (see above,) a snack (see above,) some local organic beef jerky, a fresh pack of pencils for school, usually a book, and something fun (this year it's lego mini figs).

We then only give the boys each one gift besides this, which usually falls into the 30 - 50 dollar range.

It is hard, most years I have to really fight to not buy more, but it's simple, and doesn't focus the holiday at our house on the gifts as much.

Earthdrummer said...

Love tea! And all the ideas!! My family always gets socks in their stocking! Always. One year they didn't, and talked about it forever!! sheesh!! So, socks, sweets, play things (light sabers for the entire family! Because it is so fun!!)
Must organize my stash though...I can get ahead of myself and forget!!



kelly said...


Eco Yogini said...

I ADORE my flip and tumbles, WAY easier to ball up and fit in my purse and i find that i use them much much more frequently than my hemp envirosax.

Also, a friend of mine made an old t-shirt flip and tumble... so it is possible to make a homemade version...

3 Boys and an Old Lady said...

Lip gloss and lip balms, socks, candy canes and LifeSaver Storybooks are some of my fave stocking stuffer items.

Tclarkusa at gmail dot com

Kate said...

I have a stocking that's at least 18 inches long too. However, it was hand embroidered for me when I was born by my Granny who passed 10 years ago so I will not be getting rid of it. Growing up our family was hardly thinking about 'green' gifts but one thing we did which I appreciate even more now was that we got apples and oranges in the bottom of our stocking. It filled it up quicker and had compostable packaging. ;-)

jennifer gibson said...

We often put magazines in the stockings - it's a big hit with everyone. The ladies it's often about fashion or home decor (Hello Canada), the guys it's usually about woodworking or tools (ie: Lee Valley). For the kids, Chirp magazine.

Twitter - @charmedchickJG

Robbie said...

My inlaws have a tradition of an apple and an orange in the stocking, as well as other items. I think it's a southern thing. But you can't get much more waste free than that! :-)


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