Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Take a Break: Create Green and Memorable Gifts

This past Saturday, I blogged about balancing giving and receiving this holiday season. Following with the “giving” theme, today’s “take a break” is about making gifts that have meaning, are affordable and help the planet.

Green Cleaning Products: While no one needs the harsh chemicals used in household cleaning, it’s even more true for those living with a chronic condition. Study after study has shown how household cleaners can make people sick, cause asthma flare ups etc.

A simple, but very welcome gift, are cleaning products that you make yourself. Pick up some squirt bottles from the Dollar Store, or recycle ones you may already have. Make simple labels for each bottle, that include directions for use as well as the recipe for remaking when empty.

The basics are generally things you have in your house- baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, salt, washing soda, liquid soap. You can make a simple all-purpose cleaner by combining 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/2 gallon water (8 cups). Mix, pour into containers and use. You can add a few drops of essential oils.

Want to get rid of the bleach? Use 2 cups of water, 3 Tablespoons of liquid soap and 20-30 drops of tea tree oil. You can make your own Oxi Clean solution. It’s just hydrogen peroxide (1 cup) and washing soda (2 tablespoons-note this is not the same as baking soda). Pour the hydrogen peroxide into the spray bottle, add the washing soda. Let it sit for a day. Give it a gentle shake before each use and use as you would oxi clean.

Check out the following links for recipes:

Green Cleaning from Pink Pistachio
Non Toxic Home Cleaning from Eartheasy
The Easiest Green Cleaning Recipes You Can Make at Home

The Dollar Store is a good place to also pick up cleaning clothes. Microfiber ones can reduce your cleaning time.

Give Experiences They’ll Enjoy and Remember: Research shows that experiences bring about more happiness than things. Below are some ideas to consider:
• Tickets to a sporting, concert, play or some other event.

• A weekend get a way, a day at a spa, a massage

• Membership to museums, public TV or radio, community garden , local historical society etc.

• Fees for a special class or workshops, such as car mechanics for dummies, beginning piano, yoga class etc. All the better if you have a special skill that you are willing to share.

• If you have a special skill that you are willing to share via a workshop, pick the date, make up invitations and send. While it’s nice to try and coordinate everyone’s schedule, it’s going to be a lot easier if you pick the date and time and limit the size of your “class” to what you can realistically manage.

Food: Known the person’s taste and special needs (e.g. salt restricted, gluten free etc.) and make or purchase wholesome food accordingly. If you can afford a “fruit of the month” program great, but you can also achieve the same thing by doing something like making soup the first Monday of the first three months of the new year. As much as people like sweets, there is enough of it around to rot everyone’s teeth.

Go Junking: We use to call going to second hand stores, yard sales and the occasional antique dealer, “going junking.” We would paw through a lot of items before we found “treasurers. “Pick up items that will either amuse your friends and family or is part of a collection they may have.

Natural gifts: I happen to love stones, so I enjoy it when friends return from vacations and bring me items they found on the beach. Consequently, I have a lovely collection of beach stones. Consider what's in your natural environment that may appeal to a friend.

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