With Christmas around the corner and people rushing around finishing off their Christmas shopping, we thought we’d ask our voluntary team of ‘Energizers’ here at Dorset Energized to share their top eco xmas gift ideas…
…So here they are! We hope they will inspire you to find or to give something a bit different and special this year, and we’ve given links to places you can buy online but of course if you can support your local retailers, bookshops or garden centres instead then even better!
Stu’s Eco Xmas List (Illustrator/Designer)
1. Wind Up Tiger Torch
Stu stumbled across this little stocking filler through the National Gallery as part of their Tiger range which is inspired by the main character featured in artist Henri Rousseau’s ‘Surprised Tiger in a tropical Storm’ painting. This ingenious wind-up tiger torch with carry strap uses no batteries at all – just harness your child’s (or big child in Stu’s case!) energy to pump the tiger’s arm and trigger the dynamo mechanism that will keep it shining in the dark. Useful, fun and definitely cute, this is a great, eco-friendly toy that simply won’t run out of steam. The wind-up torch is made by Ecotronic toys whose battery free products are also packaged in recycled, biodegradable cardboard.
2. Upcycled Apple iMac Computer Pet Bed by Atomic Attic
This is pure genius and the ultimate in up-cycling!!! It’s a converted old imac computer turned into a cosy pet bed for cats and small dogs. Stu and Anna are holding onto their old blue imac in the hope it will appear on the Antiques Roadshow one day (!) but luckily for now they can buy one of these for their pussy cats to cat-fight over in a choice of colours from Atomic Attic’s handmade shop at Etsy.
3. Logitech wireless solar powered keyboard for Mac
Wireless keyboards are brilliant, especially since these days so many of us are watching films and TV online – now we don’t need to be chained to our desk. But they eat through batteries. This smart design from Logitech puts pay to that, charging itself with lamplight or sunlight, outdoors and indoors. And on a full charge it works for at least three months, even in total darkness! The keyboard is only 1/3 of an inch thick, and boasts the traditional Mac layout we’re all familiar with. Plus, its advanced 2.4 GHz wireless connection virtually eliminates delays, dropouts and interference. Now we just need one for PCs and solar powered tablets too!
4. Solar or Hand Crank Powered AM/FM Radio
Stu’s got this handy AM/FM radio on his wishlist! Powered by the sun’s rays it will play for seven hours when fully charged. Or use the hand crank on rainy days. Turn it for just one minute and the radio will play back for about thirty minutes. The Solar Radio measures just 3.25″ x 3″ x 2.25″ which makes it extremely portable. Perfect for camping, doing the dishes or working in the garden. Batteries not included because no batteries or plug-in required!
Anna’s Eco Xmas List (Web Designer)
Anna says “I’ve got loads of things on my wishlist so maybe I’m just greedy (!) although some things I got last year for xmas and highly recommend! As an animal lover and vegan a lot of them revolve around animals or food (as Stu pointed out to me!), but then what girl doesn’t love a good cookbook, some chocs, smellies or a cute cuddly animal?!!!”
5. ‘Melting Away’ Polar Bear T-Shirt by Threadless
This design by Jana Misheva was voted as the winning design at supercool t-shirt shop Threadless in their WWF Design Challenge so 25% of sales from this tee will go to WWF to protect natural species and habitats across the world. This tee is certified organic cotton and printed with water-based inks.
6. ‘The Comforter’ Bath Bubble Bar by Lush Cosmetics
This isn’t called ‘The Comforter’ for nothing! This has a warming, comforting and reassuring scent to give the same sense of safety and calm that your favourite teddy, your comfort blanket or a snuggly scarf gives. At times when you feel you need to protect yourself from the world – immerse yourself in this pink bath (but don’t have too many baths of course, it does use a lot of water!) and allow the familiar oils to envelop you in a comforting berry scented embrace. Anna says: “I love all of Lush’ stuff and they are one of the most ethical companies plus they started here in Dorset! But this my absolute favourite – its the most amazing smell in existence, its like berry bubblegum, you could eat it it smells so good!”. Lush, who support many charities and green causes, say that by using a solid bubble bath like this, you are eliminating the need for packaging on your product. Plus liquid products need preservatives, but solid products like this don’t. So it’s better for you and better for the environment; what a comforting thought!
7. Hazelnut Crunch Chocolate Truffles (and/or Champagne Truffles!) by Booja Booja
Anna says that Booja Booja make the most delicious scrumptious chocolates ever – fact!!! (And she has many years experience in these things!). You can buy from your local Dorset health food shop such as Naturalife but they are also available from many resellers online and also at Holland & Barratt. As well as being yummy and vegan friendly, they are also organic.
8. River Cottage ‘Veg Everyday’ Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a writer, broadcaster and campaigner. His series for Channel 4 have earned him a huge popular following, while his River Cottage books have collected multiple awards. River Cottage started out here in Dorset but has now moved to nearby Axminster, Devon. This books contains so many inspiring mouth-watering recipes that are nearly all suitable for vegetarians as part of Hugh’s (and many people’s) belief that we must all eat less meat to improve farm animal welfare and support sustainable farming for the sake of our health and the planet, so this book really is a must-have for any kitchen!
9. Dorset Wildlife Trust / Wildlife Trusts Membership
A great gift for Dorset friends or family and nature lovers – protect local wildlife and take part in events and receive their fantastic magazine and guide to all their local reserves. To find your local Wildlife Trust visit www.wildlifetrusts.org.
10. Compassionate Dorset Prints – 10% off until 31st December when you quote ‘XMAS2013’
Okay, we are biased on this one as these gorgeous prints created and made here in Dorset are by Compassionate Dorset which is a completely voluntary group run by Dorset Energizer’s Anna and Stu to raise awareness and funds for UK animal welfare charities, but several of their prints are on the wishlists of their friends and family and we believe that taking care of animals and nature is an important part of being green for our planet too!
11. Rapanui Organic T-Shirts at Ecotopia
‘Cross Top’ www.ecotopia.co.uk/organic-clothing/womens-clothing/organic-t-shirts/cross-top-white
‘Peace Top’ www.ecotopia.co.uk/organic-clothing/womens-clothing/organic-t-shirts/peace-top-black
‘Green Is The New Black’ www.ecotopia.co.uk/organic-clothing/womens-clothing/organic-t-shirts/green-is-the-new-black-organic-womens-t-shirt-white
Anna says “I think one of the best eco t-shirts ever was Rapanui’s ‘Wind Turbine’ tee which sold out a while ago but these tees are pretty cool too and all on organic cotton – cool ethical clothes for the eco-conscious!” If you buy through Ecotopia you will also be supporting renewable energy generation here in the UK.
12. Book: ‘The Lorax’ by Dr. Seuss – available at the Woodland Trust Shop
So it looks like a film has been made of this but it’s the first time we’ve stumbled across it and looks like a great fun read! Apparantly, the Lorax is the original eco warrior in this Dr Seuss fable about destroying the forests. Packed with zany humour and silly rhymes it delivers an important message – “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
13. Give a Hen a Home (but not just for Christmas) – Adopt an ex-battery chicken (or 2, or 3…)
Everyone knows that a dog (or any pet in fact) is for life and not just for Christmas, so whatever you do please do not get anyone a pet as a gift unless you know they are fully committed to the responsibility and cost it entails and have actually asked you for one! Also make sure you get any pets from a rescue centre – there are thousands of animals waiting for a loving new home including from the RSPCA and Cats Protection who are completely inundated. But Anna’s top tip is to adopt some chickens to keep in your garden and enjoy fresh eggs every day the free-range way! The British Hen Welfare Trust rehomes thousands of commercial laying hens destined for slaughter that deserve loving homes and can still lay enough lovely fresh eggs for you and your family for years to come. Anna says “I know so many people here in Dorset who absolutely dote on their ex-batts and say they make great pets!”. Alternatively you can buy some lovely hen related gifts in the BHWT shop too!
Sophia’s Eco Xmas List (Carbon Strategist)
14. The Alternative Christmas Tree : Christmas Tree Wall Hanging
Not something to necessarily buy as a gift but if you haven’t got your Christmas tree yet Sophia says “We bought one at IKEA last year – it’s a prined cotton xmas tree that you hang up on the wall! Use over and over and practical if short on space or if you have a puppy which would chew up the real tree!” There is a whole range available on Not on the High Street for something a bit different!
15. Book: ‘Ecohouse’ (4th edition) by Sue Roaf
Sue Roaf is famed for her approach to design and her awareness of energy efficiency. In this book she reveals the concepts, structures and techniques that lie behind the realization of her ideals. By using her own house as a case study, Roaf guides the reader through the ideas for energy-efficient design or ‘eco-design’. Now in its fourth edition, the bestselling Ecohouse continues to be both a technical guide and an inspiration for thousands of architects, designers and eco-builders all over the world. Ecohouse provides design information about the latest low-impact materials and technologies, showcasing the newest and best ‘green’ solutions. Revised and updated, this edition also includes new case studies inspiring readers with more real-life examples of how to make an ecohouse work.
16. ‘Seedboms’ by Kabloom at Ecotopia
Small start up garden kits, seeds (like these ‘Seedboms’), how to cultivate your own veg-guides and the like, make lovely gifts for aspiring eco warriors or just for anyone who enjoys lovely flowers in the garden or wants to grow their own veg!
17. Animal Habitats / Insect Hotels for the Garden
There are lots of insect, bee, bird, hedgehog homes and more at Ecotopia and hopefully at your local garden or DIY centre. Sophia says “These are really good for biodiversity – we bought one in wood made by the learning disabilities groups in Salisbury and they are decorative too”. Another great gift for nature lovers or gardeners.
18. Book: ‘Guide to Bees & Honey’ by Ted Hooper
Sophia’s partner Piers is doing a course in 2014 to help save the bees – which of course is vital to sustain bio-diversity and hopefully they’ll get some nice organic honey too – so this handy book is on their xmas wishlist!
Theresa’s Eco Xmas List (Sustainable Projects Manager)
Theresa’s partner James has selected a Wonderbag as his eco-gift of the year. Its an extremely well-insulated cooking bag that keeps anything – from meaty stews and vegetable curries to simple rice and soups – cooking for hours without using any power, saving time, money and reducing energy use. Wonderbag’s clever insulating properties allow food that has been brought to the boil to finish cooking without extra heat. This greatly reduces the use of additional energy, and means you can cook appetising, hot meals while saving time, energy and money. Wonderbags were originally created for poor families in Africa, to cut down the amount of costly firewood they need for cooking. It’s ideal for home cooked hot dinners, camping, outdoor festivals and picnics, as it keeps food warm for up to 12 hours.
20. ‘Kelly Kettle’
Theresa has a Kelly Kettle on her xmas wishlist which she hopes to be able to use at her off-grid community garden here in Dorset. It claims to be the most reliable ultra-fast Camping Kettle & Camp Stove for the outdoors!
21. Freeloader Solar Powered Charger
Theresa recommends this Freeloader Charger Pack which takes power from its own solar panels or via a supplied charge cable that plugs into a computer’s USB. Freeloader is an advanced portable charging system that can power any hand held device anywhere, anytime. What more could you want? (And it’s even available in pink for girls!).
Simon’s Eco Xmas List (E-Bike Enthusiast)
22. FreeGo Eagle Electric Bike
Simon’s No1 fave Ebike is his own Electrified Recumbent, rust an ‘all, but as it’s no longer for sale, Simon says: “I met a couple out on a ride the other day, both with electric bikes and the chap a lifelong road cyclist had done some serious distances on his – and it was a Freego Eagle which he’d bought in Dorset with the 16ah battery – he’d often done 60 miles plus in a day on a single charge on the bike and he loved it – and he was very pleased with the service from the bike shop, Hants and Dorset Electric Bike Co. Two more of his friends had the same bike and were equally as pleased so I would recommend the Freego Eagle as a a top of the range e-bike that is good and reasonably priced bike, and with a good local dealer.”
23. Have a Tree Planted by the Woodland Trust
An unusual and long term sustainable gift that goes on and on for nature and tree lovers! By contributing to plant a tree at one of the Woodland Trust’s beautiful sites, you will be helping to create a big impact for new woodland throughout the UK. Your donation will contribute to the initial planting of the sapling and also the careful nurturing of the tree and the woodland over the next 12 years, transforming the land into a flourishing forest in just over a decade. The newly planted tree can be dedicated for you too, and you or the recipient will receive a confirmation certificate by post or email.
24. Book: ‘Cows Save the Planet’ by Judith D Schwartz
Simon reviewed this book for Dorset Energized back in October and says it is “A fascinating book with many practical examples of how some farmers are working to bring back health to the soil (and thus create healthy plants, and interestingly helping the soil itself absorb atmospheric carbon – which improves the microbial health of the soil, assists in retaining water and of course works to reduce the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide emitted as a result of burning fossil fuels)… It’s a book I’d recommend for anyone interested in the environment, farming, horticulture, or food and health”.
25. Book: ‘The One Straw Revolution’ by Masanobu Fukuoka
Simon recommends this book too – originally published in 1975 but still relevant and an absolute classic. Simon says “Perhaps one of the books that got people worldwide thinking about and more importantly trying out methods of agriculture and horticulture that are based not on tradition, nor science (though not ignoring either), but rather seeking to work with nature. Masanobu Fukuoka used this approach and got yields equal to the most intensive (modern scientific style) farms, while using methods based on minimal intervention where nature is allowed to do what it does best – grow abundantly. The book also has a spiritual side – Masanobu Fukuoka being a contemporary exponent of zen in action”.
We could go on forever recommending more top eco gifts but we hope we’ve given you some interesting ideas for now and for this season of good-will… Please do send us your recommendations too please!