One of the ways to trim your carbon footprint is to buy less—but is that any fun during the holidays? This isn’t Lent! Can’t we say ‘I love you to the moon and back’ while still loving the planet?
Well, sure, and here are a few ideas. Farm-Way in Bradford VT, a solar-powered emporium of everything country, sells clothing and gear from Patagonia, a highly ethical company. Another Farm-Way option could be a solar-powered lantern. These inflatable lights can charge up on a window sill and act as an emergency light, flashlight, or just a gentle way to illuminate early-morning coffee making. Some brands, such as the Luci Light, donate lanterns to people in developing nations for each light bought here, so this is a double gift.
Also, in the spirit of the season of darkness, how about a box of LED lightbulbs to help a loved-one transition their household in a sustainable direction? Be sure to include a colored string. Not just for Christmas trees, these make festive night lights and add a welcome twinkle to the house.
Need something in a bottle? Choices from Appalachian Gap, the solar-powered distiller of fine spirits, including Mythic Gin and Ridgeline Whiskey. The bottles and labels are quite beautiful, which makes the gift even more special. AppGap is available on-line and in Vermont liquor stores.
Vermont Soap is solar-powered and only uses organic ethically-sourced ingredients to make bar and liquid soaps, bath salts, air fresheners, and green cleaners. You can shop by product, scent, or skin type, on-line or by visiting the warehouse in Middlebury, VT. A basket from Vermont Soap could also include some of their beautiful, sustainable bath accessories. (See ad on p.38)
Catskills Comfrey makes organic, artisanal comfrey, calendula, and CBD ointments available in many New York stores or on-line. Their website also provides links to scientific articles about the benefits of their ingredients. (See ad on p.20).
Maple products ship well and are always welcome to displaced northerners. Choose your closest producer, or one using environmentally sound methods, such as Fresh Track Farm.
Local cheesemakers have snared multiple national and international awards this year. These high-quality gifts can also be shipped. I’ll put a plug in for Vermont Shepherd: David Major has been grazing sheep sustainably, building soil and sequestering carbon, and making award-winning cheese since the mid-80s. Full disclosure: he’s my neighbor and hay guy. We grew up together, and I set my most recent middle-grade novel, Rescue, on his farm. Vermont Shepherd cheeses are sublime and can be shipped anywhere.
Books are wonderful gifts. Buy them at a local bookstore, of course. You can also support local publishers. Storey, in North Adams, MA, and Chelsea Green, in White River Junction, VT, offer titles on everything you need to learn about farming, gardening, crafts, and nature. Request their catalogs, make a list, then ask your local bookseller to order for you. Support local authors, like Mary Holland, author of several nature books including Naturally Curious Day to Day. This is a perfect book for anyone who loves outdoors, whether they are active or house-bound. I’ve given it to two elderly loved-ones who found great joy in immersing themselves in the natural world they could no longer access directly.
You can’t find a more beautiful, empowering, muscularly optimistic book than Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken, which lays out the 100 best solutions to reverse global warming. We’re engaged in a giant tug-of-war to maintain the climate in which our species and its civilization arose. There’s a place on that rope for everyone to take hold. Drawdown will show you where your opportunities lie. Drawdown affinity groups are springing up all over the world; you might get inspired to join or start one.
For the person who doesn’t need one more thing (other than a livable planet), you could give an experience. Many local venues have added solar and other energy-saving features in the last few years. Tickets to an event at the very energy efficient Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury, VT or MoCo Arts in Keene, NH would make a wonderful gift.
Or give the gift of trees. One Tree Planted, based in Vermont, allows you to give any number of trees, and to choose among several areas worldwide where they will be planted. Notification of the gift arrives in the recipient’s email in-box. Other tree-planting programs are available through the Arbor Day Foundation and The National Forest Foundation.
Speaking of trees, the Queen and my mom salvage and re-use wrapping paper. Be like the Queen. Be like my mom.
Jessie Haas has written 40 books, mainly for children, and has lived in an off-grid cabin in Vermont.
Links: vermontsoap.com, freshtracksfarm.com, appalachiangap.com, catskillscomfrey.com, vermontshepherd.com, onetreeplanted.org, vermontgear.com, arborday.org, nationalforests.org/tree-planting-programs.