Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, most of us are fully in the throes of holiday shopping. It's hard not to go overboard this time of year, eager to find the perfect gift for our loved ones. I always like to make gifts, but when it comes to shopping and buying gifts, I aim to purchase products and brands with an environmentally friendly angle. Luckily, because being "green" is such an important message these days, it's easier than ever to find great choices. Here are some of my top picks for eco-friendly gifts for foodies.
- Kitchen Compost Crock Those carrot peels and apple cores are way too valuable to throw in the garbage. Instead, stash them in a compost crock until the crock is full, then transfer the food waste outside to your compost pile to make rich compost for your garden. Most have charcoal filters to keep smells at bay, and are made with materials like ceramic or stainless steel that won't absorb stains or odors. There are counter-worthy options that range from $30 to $40 at most gardening and cooking-supply stores.
- Pressure Cooker The ultimate in green cooking equipment, a pressure cooker can cook food in as much as 70% less time than traditional cooking methods. Less time on the stove means less energy wasted. As a bonus, the pressure cooking process can result in more nutritious food, as the vitamins and nutrients are retained in the food, rather than leached out into the cooking liquid. Look for pressure cookers with high and low settings, and a manual steam release for the most versatility. Options are available starting at $50 cooking-supply stores and department stores alike.
- Reusable Shopping Totes for Kids Cute patterns and colors will help encourage little shoppers to consider their environment, especially if they see Mom and Dad using their own reusable bags. They can also be used to tote toys in the car or to a friends' house. Look for adorable versions from $8.50 to $20 at Envirosax, CBH Studio and Four Peas.
- Food of the Month Club The foodie in your life will love a gift that keeps on giving — a subscription to an "of the month" club. Look for clubs that feature products that are organic, sustainable, or otherwise environmentally-responsible. Some options starting at $11.99/month are Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club, the Organic Vegetable of the Month Club and Fair Trade, Organic Coffee of the Month.
- Eco-Friendly Cutting Board Bamboo, recycled wood, or composite cutting boards can be far more environmentally-responsible than the traditional wood versions. Some of our favorites range from $15 to $35 and include the recycled paper and resin boards from Epicurean Cutting Surfaces, recycled plastic boards from Preserve and the bamboo cutting boards you can find at most any department or grocery store.
- Home Soda Maker You can cut down your use of plastic or glass bottles and make sodas with fresh, natural ingredients with a homemade soda maker. They're available for $53 to $90 at most department stores and online retailers.
Whether you choose these gifts or others of your own discovery, this year, make it a goal to shop a little more thoughtfully — do a little research on the manufacturer and the product to see whether the company has an environmentally responsible mission, if the product or packaging is made of recycled and recyclable materials, and, when it comes to food gifts, whether the ingredients are organic or fair-trade (meaning that the grower is treated and paid a fair wage). Taking these few steps will ensure that your gift is one that keeps on giving.
What kitchen tools and gadgets help green your dinners? Share your ideas below!