Uncommon Goods

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Editor’s Note: Each Tuesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living toThe Christopher Gabriel Program.We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Tuesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Christmas doesn’t have to be a drain on our planet. We can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season with a little effort and imagination.

Here are some tips to help you celebrate the season while caring for the environment:

Greener Gifts

  • Look for locally made gifts. Many products you find in big box stores come from halfway around the world, and the impact of transportation contributes greatly to greenhouse emissions and global warming. Local craft fairs and artisan shops are a good source for gifts that come without the added costs of transportation. And they are a way to give back to your local community.
    • Eco Chic Boutique – a green boutique specializing in eco-friendly, locally made, vintage and re-purposed items.
    • Unglued Christmas Market – a pop-up boutique featuring handmade items from the best local and regional artists, crafters, and makers. Enjoy hot chocolate while you shop and take part in a gift workshop with one of their master crafters. Located at 68 Broadway, Fargo.
  • Look for gifts made from recycled sources. Many individuals and small businesses have developed great products using recycled materials. Supporting these businesses helps reduce the waste stream while promoting the concept of making best use of available materials. Some ideas:
    • The Green Glass Company – the largest producer of reclaimed glassware in the world, located in Wisconsin.
    • Uncommon Goods – an online marketplace offering creatively designed, high-quality merchandise at affordable prices including many handmade and gifts with recycled content.
  • Look for battery-free gifts. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 40% of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard. Even rechargeable batteries find their way into the waste stream eventually.
  • Look for gifts that help make living green a little easier. For example, an awesome canvas bag for the man in your life like this one from www.fashionablenotes.com which reads, “Real Men Don’t Carry Paper of Plastic”.

Greener Holiday Lighting

The house with the most lights used to be the ‘best’. Times have changed. The cost of electricity goes way beyond the utility bill. Electricity drains natural resources.

  • Reduce the size of outdoor lighting displays. A smaller presentation of lights can still be attractive, and more appropriate in the ‘season of giving’.
  • Use LED lights for house and Christmas tree lighting. LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. LED holiday lights use .04 watts per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holiday lights will cost you about $18.00 while the same number of LED lights costs only $0.19. As an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.
  • Turn tree lights and outdoor house decorative lighting off at bedtime. It’s a waste of energy to leave the holiday lights on at night after everyone has gone to sleep.

Remember, never install lights with the power on. Test lights first, then unplug to install.

Source: Eartheasy.com

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Ecoki. com
is a wonderful site dedicated to bringing you up-to-date information on living a sustainable lifestyle. Some of the great stuff you can find within their pages includes the latest in scientific research, the newest eco-fashion fad or an update on organic foods.

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This is the season for giving and it’s easy to get caught up in buying gifts just to get them. Take a deep breath and make your Gift Giving List based on sustainability and thoughtfulness. The planet will thank you and so will the people on your list.

Here are some of the eco-fabulous gifts I’ve found:


  • Consider giving an the gift of an experience. Would she love a facial, a massage, a trip to the theatre? Be creative.
  • Vintage Dictionary Rings
    These adorable rings are handmade of oxidized, recycled sterling silver and feature paper from vintage dictionaries from all over the world. Pile them on one finger to create a wide band or wear them as singles for a more delicate look. Set includes five rings: two dictionary bands and three plain bands. Handmade in North Carolina by Betsy Carr.


  • GreenSmart Messenger Bags
    This company is awesome and I love their products, incidentally, I’ll be reviewing the Narwhal Messenger Bag later this week. Their bags are made from recycled plastic bottles and they’re so cool looking. They come in fabulous colors and all their products are named after endangered animals. And just when you think it can’t get any better, they donate 10% of their profits to the World Wildlife Fund and other organizations helping to create a greener planet.


  • Eco-Dough Tube from Creative Kidstuff
    This is an all natural modeling compound handmade with flour, salt, cream of tartar, organic rosemary oil, vitamin E oil and extracts from beets, oranges, turmeric, paprika, blueberries, red cabbage, carrots, spinach and limes. The compostable, 100% post-consumer waste Eco-Dough Tube contains five 4-oz containers of Eco-Dough – one each pink, orange, yellow, green and blue. Eco-Dough doesn’t dry out and become crumbly like other play modeling dough, and a few drops of olive oil will return it to its original consistency if it is left out over night. Ages 2 & up.
  • My First Organics Seed Starting Kits
    I purchased the My First Organic Classroom Bundle for my daughter’s kindergarten class last year and a Homeschool Bundle for us to use at home. They are fabulous tools to teach kids early about the origins of healthy food and why it’s so good for them and the Earth. Everything in My First Organics seed starting kits is Earth-safe. Each kit is made up of a reusable or recyclable mini-greenhouse complete with organic seeds, soil and biodegradable pots that can be placed directly into the soil. Step-by-step, kid-friendly guidance and illustrations are also included, making each step simple.


  • Recycled Windshield Wine Goblet
    What a beautiful way to recycle car windows and windshields. Made by artisans in Colombia. Ideal for indoor, outdoor, and casual entertaining. Residual tint from its sun-shielding days adds character with a cool, green hue. Sold as a set of two. Due to the reclaimed nature of this item, each will vary.


The Soft Landing has great gifts for babies, children and adults. It’s the first store of its kind to offer only products made confirmed to be free of BPA, PVC and phthalates.

Check out Retro Housewife Goes Green’s Green Holiday Guide for more Green Gift Guides, Recipes and more.

Visit our 2009 Green Shopping Guide from My Green Side.

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.~Kahlil Gibran

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