Dreaming of a Green Christmas....
Margaret Wente of the Globe & Mail has the Christmas spirit...
What we need is a virtuous, low-carbon, guilt-free holiday experience that is kind to Mother Earth. With that in mind, here are some tips that even Al Gore would approve of.
Gifts for her: Forget the white gold Tiffany key necklace ($1,200). If you really want to warm her heart, give her a box of Red Wrigglers ($125). It can fit right under the sink. These frisky little critters will thrive on your organic, shade-grown, fair-trade coffee grounds. They make perfect household pets. They don't bite, they don't shed, and they are very quiet. Who needs gold and diamonds when you've got Red Wrigglers to produce homemade compost that will be the envy of your friends?
Gifts for your son: Boys will be boys, and it's hard to deprive them of Grand Theft Auto and other video games. This year, try choosing ones that are less violent and encourage socially responsible thinking. We recommend Food Force, a game created by the United Nations World Food Program in which players act as aid workers and face the difficulties of delivering food to needy parts of the world.
Gifts for your daughter: Instead of a stuffed animal, get her a real one to donate to impoverished villagers in Africa. Goats are a popular choice. Cuddly, cute and only $35.
Gifts for your best friend: The Global Warming Mug ($10.49) ingeniously shows the world heating up and land mass disappearing under rising oceans when you fill it with hot liquid, according to Salon. You only have to use it 294 times to make it more eco-friendly than drinking out of paper cups.
Gifts for your grandchildren: Be aware that the vast majority of toys are a minefield of moral and health hazards. Their prices often fail to reflect the hidden environmental and social costs of their production, notes Ethical Consumer magazine. According to one foreign-labour watchdog, the U.S.-based National Labor Committee, even Sesame Street 's Ernie is made in a Chinese sweatshop, where underage workers are forced to work long hours under horrid conditions. (It doesn't say where Bert comes from.)
Many common toys are also a health hazard. They are made with PVC, and may contain toxic additives such as phthalates, lead, cadmium and mercury. If you don't want to run the risk of poisoning the little tots, stick with wooden toys made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified sustainable forests, preferably in developing nations, that are managed by small worker-owned co-operatives established with the aim of alleviating poverty and empowering workers.
Closer to home, another option for your eco-conscious little one is the Green Toys Recycling Truck, made in the United States from 100-per-cent recycled plastic milk containers. She'll have a blast sorting bottles, cans and paper as she learns recycling basics.
Wrapping paper: Commercial wrapping paper is wasteful and expensive. Wrap your ethically thoughtful gifts in old rags, instead. You can also use plain brown paper (undyed with toxins), or make your own organic paper from banana fibre.