With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.
When you have people and the planet on your mind, holiday shopping can be kind of a drag. Sure, you want to brighten your loved ones' holiday season, but not with yet another mass-produced trinket that's destined for the landfill before Valentine's Day.
Skip the trip to the big-box store, and gift your friends and loved ones with durable, useful items that align with your own values. To save you some time sifting through the ever-growing -- and often greenwashed -- list of "eco-products," this week we rounded up 15 sustainable presents that are sure to please everyone on your list. Holiday shopping = done.
1. Vegan cork tote
If you're in the mood to splurge for the ethical fashionista on your list, consider a stylish tote made of cork with vegan leather piping from Pelcor
. The ladies of TriplePundit put this one through the test with a trip to the beach, and the straps even got a turn as a teething toy when it was carried as a diaper bag. This bag stood up elegantly even when it was packed to the gills, and the vegan leather is soft and pliable.
Price: Starting at $168
2. Levi's Commuter Jeans and Jackets
Stumped for the bike-lover on your list? Look no further than Levi's Commuter jeans and jackets
, which are made to be worn while cycling city streets. Designed for and by cyclists, these stylish duds boast bike-ready features like waterproof protection, reflective outseams and adaptive technology that adjusts to the current climate and body temperature, so your favorite cyclist will always remain comfortable.
Price: Starts at $88
3. Wally One Living Wall Planter
Plants have been proven to boost indoor air quality
and increase productivity
. For an unusual and decorative way to bring the outdoors in, check out these clever living wall planters from Woolly Pocket
. Made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles, these planters are soft-sided, breathable and guaranteed not to harm your walls. If you're feeling generous, pick up a few so your favorite green thumb can arrange their planters in a modular design.
4. The ultimate rechargeable battery
For a smart stocking stuffer or white elephant gift, this rechargeable battery from USBCell
is just what the doctor ordered. Just pop one of these batteries into your favorite gadget. When the power is tapped, simply charge it up at any USB port for an easy, on-the-go solution to disposable battery waste. Genius!
Price: $17.99 for a set of two
5. Nest Learning Thermostat
Help your favorite gadget-lover use smart technology to save energy all year round with a Nest Learning Thermostat
. We've raved about the Nest
more than a few times over the past few years, and for good reason. This smart little thermostat allows you to track your energy use and adjust the temperature remotely via Web or mobile.
6. Conscious Box
We love the super-convenient box subscription trend, and now there's a box that's tailor-made for the conscious shopper. Every month, your recipient will receive a box full of hand-picked, sustainable food, bath, beauty and household products. There are even vegan and gluten-free options available to suit everyone on your list. (There's no shame in subscribing yourself, too. After all, who doesn't love snacks?)
Price: Starts at $7.95
7. Recycled leather soccer ball and bag
After a major cabin retrofit, Southwest Airlines
was left with beautiful leather and did not want to harm the environment by contributing to the growing corporate waste problem or destroying the textiles.
Enter Project Luv Seat, which took Southwest's old leather and partnered with conscious labels to turn it into brand new products. This ingenious idea is versatile enough to fit the kids, athletes and busy ladies on your list this holiday, and the creation of these products helped provide on-the-job training for disadvantaged workers.
Soccer ball price: $25
Bag price: $150
8. Bye Bye Standby Wireless Energy Control Starter Kit
Hate vampire power
? So do we. And we're guessing the geek on your list does too. Give them a helping hand by complementing that fancy new gadget with this starter kit that lets energy-savers remotely cut power to any outlet. That's right: No more climbing behind furniture or tripping over power strips. (You're welcome.)
9. Evil Eye Arrow Bracelet
This pick is trendy enough to please every style-stalker on your list, and it also lends a helping hand to those in need. Sold in the Toms Marketplace
, launched by Toms Shoes earlier this year
to highlight other conscious labels, this bracelet funds a safe way to school for an orphan in Mexico for six months.
10. Home Gardener's Heirloom Seed Collection
Give your favorite foodie something sustainable this holiday season with this heirloom seed collection from Baker Creek Rare Seeds
. Each set contains 20 full-sized packets of seeds and a helpful garden planner — all packaged in an attractive burlap bag with a drawstring closure. Varieties in are chosen to be productive in both Northern and Southern climates.
11. SunBell Solar Lamp and Phone Charger
You know that friend who can't seem to put down her smartphone? Now she'll never have to. The SunBell from Norwegian brand BRIGHT Products
allows that serial status-updater to easily charge phones and other small devices while on-the-go using nothing but the sun's rays.
Each unit consists of a lamp shade and a removable fixture that holds the battery, the input/output for the solar cell and mobile phone, and a small lamp as an added bonus. 3p correspondent Tina Casey tested out the SunBell earlier this year and was pleasantly surprised by how easy, versatile and effective it was. "From now on, my cell phone is going to charge with 100 percent solar power," Casey wrote. Sounds like a win to us!
12. Aquazinger Infusion Water Bottle
Help your friends ditch fizzy drinks and bottled water all in one shot with this infusion water bottle from Zing Anything
. Simply unscrew the bottom of the Zinger, add any combination of fruits, veggies and herbs, fill with water, and shake it up.
Seriously, infused water is the new soda. Do a simple Web search, and you'll find literally hundreds of options that are sure to help your recipients kick the sugary drink habit for good. As an added wellness bonus, each of these bottles is free of BPA and phthalates and comes in two designs to suit your recipient's busy lifestyle.
13. Trade as One Monthly Subscription Box
Give the best of Fair Trade every month with the Trade as One monthly subscription box
. Each box contains a selection of 12 to 15 ethically-sourced pantry products that are as good for your recipient's health as they are for the people who made them. Delivered every three months, Trade as One boxes are seasonally themed and include a broad range of items from everyday staples to fun discovery items.
14. Handmade bow ties
It can be a challenge to surprise the hipster who has everything: He already owns a pair of thick-rimmed glasses and a beard comb. He even bought himself a pour-over coffee brewer last month. What's a holiday shopper to do?
These handmade bow ties from Dapper+Dash could be just what you're looking for. Handcrafted in Phoenix, Arizona from upcycled vintage clothing and other textiles, they're the perfect marriage of style and sustainability.
Price: Starts at $48
15. Offgrid Solar Backpack
Perfect for your busiest buddies, the Offgrid Solar Packpack makes solar charging so simple, there's no excuse not to do it. Voltaic Systems
offers a full line of portable solar cells, as well as backpacks and messenger bags, but the Offgrid is its most versatile design: The solar pocket is removable and can be attached to other bags or anything else as it charges.
The Offrid can charge handheld devices like smartphones, MP3 players and tablets. If you're willing to splurge, the slightly pricier Array Backpack puts out enough juice to power up a laptop, too.
Featured image by via Flickr
Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a senior editor at TriplePundit. She is also a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Her work has appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands, Earth911 and the Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.