Sunday, December 02, 2007

Gift Wrapped in Green

From simple to high-tech, eco-friendly gifts make sense and save money

Whether it's reusable grocery bags or hybrid cars, going green to help the environment may be the way of the future. For some it might just be a trend.

This holiday season there is a greater selection of environmental-minded.

Sure you can buy HEPA filter vacuum cleaners or energy-saving light bulbs, but how about something you feel good about buying that will brighten up the recipient's holiday, something other than a low-flow toilet.

The RSVP International Stainless Steel Compost Pail

is perfect for the kitchen counter in large homes or small apartments. This nifty little can measures 11 inches by 7.25 inches and it holds about a gallon of the bits and pieces that can be used to feed the backyard compost bin and eventually your garden. This compost pail is small, so the smells are kept to a minimum. It doesn't get full enough to reek. A charcoal filter helps too. Available at for $25.

Nightstar CS Flashlight

Never think again about checking flashlight batteries. You'll still be ready for the power outage during the next windstorm with the Nightstar CS Flashlight, a perfect stocking stuffer. Not only are there no batteries in this flashlight but there is no bulb either. Electricity is created when the light is shaken and high-power magnet strikes a coil. The Nightstar CS Flashlight retails for $20 and is available at REI and other camping stores.

Brita On Tap Faucet Mount

No need to buy bottled water again. The Brita On Tap Faucet Mount System reduces sediment, chlorine and odor from tap water. It has a sensor light to let you know when to replace the filter. The system attaches to the faucet without tools and the filter has an added layer to trap sediment. The Brita On Tap Faucet Mount System is available at many stores including ACE Hardware Stores and Lowe's. The price ranges from $25 to $40.

Grow Lights

There's also something to be said for bringing the outdoors in, especially for those who don't have a garden to grow anything in. The Hydrofarm Jumpstart Fluorescent Grow Light System is energy-efficient and comes with Agrobrite grow tubes. This product works well for growing indoor plants and seedlings. The Hydrofarm retails for around $60 and can be purchased online or at Eco Enterprises in Shoreline. Call 800-426-6937 for more information.

Organic Linens

Organic sheets, bed covers and towels add a splash of color, quality and warmth to your home. OK organic kitchen accessories are made with organic cotton that has not been exposed to pesticides and chemicals. Dyes used to color these products are natural and organic. Sets include kitchen towels and oven mitts. Linen 'n Things offer these gifts that range from $4 to more than $100.

Wind Generators

Wind generators are not that hard to find online and make a great gift for those trying to cut their power bills. Both and Target offer 400-watt wind generators. The turbines are weatherproof, lightweight, and maintenance free. Wind generators produce energy that can feed small sheds or shops, and make little noise. These outdoor items helps create power for indoors and sell for approximately $600.

Green Company Products

There are many products from green companies, such as Method or Odoban at Home Depot, that safely and effectively get rid of stains and odors from furniture and living areas. But you could also give the gift of a service that will clean a home using nontoxic, environment-friendly cleaning products and vacuums with HEPA filters.

House Cleaning

Local companies such as The Maids Home Services at 888-301-0498 and 888-336-2138 offer gift certificates for cleaning services throughout Snohomish County. Buy the gift certificates over the phone and use as another great stocking stuffer.

Junk Mail

You can save trees and water and stop junk mail from cluttering up a home. charges $15 to $46, depending on which plan you choose, to cut out 90 percent of junk mail going to an address. This is a great gift for those people who have everything, and for those who grimace every time they go to the mail box.Greendimes takes your friend's or family members' names off major direct marketing lists, monitors registration of direct mailing lists monthly, and plants 10 trees with a nonprofit partner. Checkout to learn more and to look at the counters that tell how many thousands of gallons of water has been saved, and trees planted in the United States since Greendimes began its mission in September 2006. Then cheer yourself with the thought that you've helped keep more than 2.5 million pounds of junk mail out of landfills.

Low Flow Toilet

And if you really can't help yourself, you can purchase a low-flow toilet, which typically uses 20 percent less water than a regular one. Two product leaders are TOTO USA, a Japanese company with U.S. headquarters in Morrow, Ga. and Kohler Co. of Wisconsin. Typically, their modes use about 1.3 gallons of water per flush. Plumber Terry Love of Bellevue likes TOTO USA. "These things are like a hammer -- they work every time," Love said. One of their popular models is the Aquia, which costs about $400. Info: or Love's personal reviews:

Christina Harper is a Snohomish County freelance writer. She can be reached at

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