gifts

These are some recently published books that you may want to consider reading and/or giving to someone as a gift:

The Overstory, by Richard Powers  
(This is a novel, and it won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize.)

Erosion: Essays of Undoing, by Terry Tempest Williams

Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?, by Bill McKibben

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken

Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution, by Peter Kalmus

Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country, by Pam Houston

The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry

Renewal: How Nature Awakens Our Creativity, Compassion, and Joy, by Andres Edwards

Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator, by Gregory Jaczko

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays), by Rebecca Solnit

Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life, by George Monbiot

Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis, by George Monbiot

Our Wild Calling: How connecting with animals can transform our lives—and save theirs, by Richard Louv

Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, by Carl Safina

I’d also recommend taking a look at other books written by the authors listed above, as well as books by Rachel Carson, Elizabeth Kolbert, John McPhee, Annie Dillard, Bernie Krause, Joanna Macy, and Barbara Kingsolver.

And check out the books published by Chelsea Green Publishing and New Society Publishers and Island Press, for a wide selection of titles on green/sustainability topics.

Another book I would recommend is the following [disclosure: it was written by a family member]. Though it is not directly related to environmental issues, it does impart important lessons on non-violent dissent (and the folly of violence) that all activists and social movements (including environmental activists and movements) can benefit from:

Looking for Revolution, Finding Murder: The Crimes and Transformation of Katherine Ann Power, by Janet Landman (2019)

 

Note: Please try to buy books from independent bookstores (or Barnes & Noble), rather than from Amazon. There are probably over a dozen compelling reasons not to buy anything (but especially books) from Amazon. Also avoid choosing one- or two-day shipping unless it’s really necessary; overnight/airplane-based shipping has an enormous environmental footprint as well as a serious cost to worker safety.

Do you have favorite books or authors to recommend? Please mention them in the Comments.

Related Posts:

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November 25, 2019
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To make your gifts more meaningful, mindful, beneficial, and green (and avoid contributing to: mindless material consumption,* exploitative corporations & sweatshops, excessive resource use, and waste), consider opting for the following types of gifts. (You could also let family members know that you prefer to receive these types of gifts if they are struggling to figure out what to get for you or they tend to get you things you don’t want or need.)

  1. Charitable donations to non-profits, on the recipients’ behalf
  2. Experiences (e.g., events, concerts, shows, activities, day trips, memberships, parks pass, dining out)
  3. Time, assistance, services (e.g., meals, child care, rides to appointments, housecleaning, home repairs/maintenance, etc.)
  4. Homemade, handmade, or homegrown goods (e.g., art, crafts, foods, knitted items)
  5. Trees planted in someone’s honor or in someone’s memory (via One Tree Planted, The Nature Conservancy, 8 Billion Trees, Cool Earth, the Green Belt Movement, etc.)
  6. Locally made or locally grown goods
  7. Goods bought from small, local, independent businesses
  8. Fair-trade goods (or “Made in the USA” goods)
  9. Goods from socially and environmentally responsible companies (e.g. B Corporations, benefit corporations, 1% for the Planet businesses)
  10. Green goods, e.g., Organic, non-toxic, recycled, natural, and/or energy-saving or water-saving
  11. Books (ideally from small/independent bookstores) or music
  12. Subscriptions to online media (newspapers, magazines, etc.)
  13. Eminently useful items (e.g., foods, emergency kits/supplies, socks/clothing, organic seeds, solar generators, money) or things you know the recipient wants and needs
  14. Durable items (not cheaply made or disposable)
  15. Re-gifted or lightly used items; family heirlooms; or antique/vintage goods
  16. Socially responsible investments (e.g., fossil-fuel-free stocks, green bonds, etc.)

* A study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology shows that the stuff we consume (buy) is responsible for up to 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and between 50 and 80 percent of total land, material, and water use. And people in the U.S. consume much more, on average, than any other country.

Also avoid buying or using wasteful, disposable packaging or wrapping items. I often put gifts in gift bags, which can be readily re-used, or I just put a nice ribbon around some gifts (and use no wrapping). If getting gift cards, try to select electronic e-cards or paper cards rather than single-use plastic cards.

As for product gifts, a few of my favorite product companies include: Patagonia, Coyuchi, Earthkind, Bees Wrap, Indigenous (clothing), REI, Pact (clothing), Real Goods, Good Light candlesand Lifekind(Wherever you get gifts from, please try to avoid making purchases from Amazon and Walmart, which are exceptionally exploitative companies.)

Lastly, if you’re planning to get a Christmas tree for the holidays, consider some alternatives to the usual chopped-down tree, such as buying or renting a living (potted and replantable) tree (do a web search for the words “living Christmas trees” or “live xmas trees” and your county name to see if there are places near you that offer these; or just go get a live, plantable tree from a nursery). Alternatively, you could put ornaments or lights on a tree that’s already growing outside in your yard. Or get creative and make (or buy) a wreath or a table/mantle garland decoration from evergreen trimmings, and forego having an xmas tree at all (gasp!). In a climate crisis (which is what we are in now), and with millions of trees being destroyed by wildfires, drought, deforestation/development, logging, disease, and climate-driven pests every year, I think it’s entirely fair and appropriate to question and reconsider some traditions (such as our Great Annual Xmas Tree Massacre) and start up some new ones; don’t you? Regardless of what you choose to do for Christmas, you can always make a donation to a reforestation group or a local tree-planting group, have trees planted as a gift in someone’s honor, or plant a tree (or three).

Useful online resources:

 

Relevant posts from the past, for additional suggestions:

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November 21, 2018
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If you want to avoid buying clothing that was made in sweatshops (characterized by unsafe conditions, unethical labor practices, and poor wages); and/or you want to buy clothing that is made from natural and organically grown fabrics, rather than from synthetic, petrochemical textiles or from fibers grown with toxic pesticides, you should probably—at least for the time being, until the industry shifts—avoid buying most of your clothing from major retailers, especially those that sell clothes for super-low prices. Those “fast fashion” clothes are not just cheap in price. In most cases, they’re also cheaply made (so they’re not durable), and the people who make them aren’t making a living wage. As President Benjamin Harrison said, “I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.”

Furthermore, those workers work long hours in dangerous factories: facilities without proper health and safety standards, audits, or enforcement. (For example, in recent years, more than 1,800 garment factory workers have died on the job in Bangladesh, mostly due to unsafe buildings that collapsed on them. Some clothing retailers, such as Walmart and the Gap, have so far resisted signing onto a new building safety agreement, and instead have proposed weaker initiatives of their own.)

Look for well-made and durable, certified Fair Trade or domestically made (Made in the U.S.) clothes, made of certified organic, natural materials (such as organic cotton, wool, hemp, bamboo) or recycled materials, by ethical and sustainable brands [follow the links below to find some]; or buy clothes second-hand. And most importantly, don’t buy way more clothing than you need, and be sure to donate your unwanted/extra clothing.

Apparel Product Assessments and Vetted Brand Listings:

Check the Apparel section of GoodGuide (which also has a mobile app):

…and look for clothing labels that indicate certification with the Global Organic Textile Standard, as well as Fair Trade Certified,

…as well as clothing companies that are Certified B Corporations.

Also check out the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and its preliminary Higg Index, which aims to measure the environmental (and, in a later phase, also the social) performance of apparel products. In addition, there is Greenpeace’s international Detox fashion campaign, which has challenged major clothing brands to get their suppliers to make non-toxic clothes and to eliminate their release of hazardous chemicals, especially those that are contributing to water pollution.

Selected Companies/Brands:

These are a few brands that take the environmental and social impacts of their products more seriously than most other brands. Most of the following companies offer organic and/or Fair Trade clothes. Be sure to check out their “Sale” (or “Specials” or “Clearance”) pages to find discounted products.

If you know of other relevant brands and you would recommend their products to others, please mention those brands in the Comments section.

 

For further information on this topic, you might want to read this book:

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, by Elizabeth Cline. (Also check out the author’s Shopping Directory.)

 

Other recent posts on green products:

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October 31, 2013
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There are a number of large and well-known environmental organizations (e.g., NRDC and the Sierra Club) and other broad-based sustainability groups that do good work. But there are also many lesser-known, smaller, local, or more issue-specific environmental organizations that I believe also deserve attention and financial support. You might not have heard of all of these groups before, but they’re worth knowing about. They include:

  • A local Land Trust / Conservancy (or state or regional parks; or other local land conservation or wildlife protection group)

It was difficult to narrow down my long list of favorite organizations to this small set; there are so many other effective organizations and initiatives that deserve support, as well. If you have a favorite organization to recommend, please mention it in the Comments section.

Remember that you can always give a donation to a group or a cause in honor of someone else—as a gift. It’s a wonderful type of gift to give for the holidays or any other occasion. You can also give someone a charity gift card (such as the TisBest Charity Gift Card) that allows the recipient to spend the funds on a charity of their choice.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to mention a few other non-profit groups that you might want to learn about, though they are not directly/explicitly related to environmental issues. I hope you will look into and support some of these groups, as well:

Also consider making donations to local organizations that serve your community (e.g., food banks, homeless shelters or affordable housing groups, senior centers, child abuse prevention or foster care groups, veterans support groups, animal rescues/shelters, rural/volunteer fire departments, disaster response/relief groups), as well as to local and nationwide public radio/TV programs and other user-supported media outlets.

Also see:  Non-Profit Organizations of Note

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December 7, 2012
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More than a dozen of the Green Spotlight’s previous posts have referenced green products. Below is a list of many of those posts, which have covered everything from building- and home-related products to films, chocolates, books, and other types of goods. Many of the products mentioned in these posts would make good and useful gifts (for holidays, birthdays, etc.).

At the bottom of this post, I’ve also added links to some books for eco-minded readers.

Home/Building Products

Other Products

Books

The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places, by Bernie Krause

Or if you’re interested in books on green business, check out the book listing at the bottom of our Green Business post.

You can find a wide selection of books on sustainable living from Chelsea Green Publishing and from New Society Publishers.

And here are a bunch of other books on sustainability topics.

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November 26, 2012
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