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A Gift of Hope

I know it’s two days before Christmas  but if you’re feeling the urge to make a difference this holiday season, I’ve compiled a few ways you can help people directly:

• Heifer International is an organization that lets you (or a group of folks making smaller donations) buy gifts that will continue to help the recipients such as cows, sheep, bees, chickens, goats, trees etc. These gifts provide the recipients with eggs, wool, milk, honey, fruit and more plus proper training so that they can become self-reliant and in turn, sustain their families and communities for the long term.

• Give Naked uses microdonations to help people in dire need of help. 100% of your donation will join the donations of others to fill an urgent need of a specific individual or family. If you like to know exactly how someone has been helped by your donation, Give Naked is a good choice.

• Kiva is an organization that lets people make microloans of $25 to help entrepreneurs around the world, many of which are women, become self-sufficient. Loan repayment is part of the deal so when the loan has been satisfied, you will be repaid.  A small amount of money that many of us would spend on dinner out without a second thought could change someone’s life for the better and, for what it’s worth, Kiva was endorsed by Oprah on her 2010 Oprah’s Favorite Things show.

Bonus: If you give before January 1st, you can also take advantage of charitable deductions for the 2010 tax year!

This article has been updated

The updated article can be found here

Upcycled Vintage Silverware

What: Upcycled vintage silverware by Sycamore Hill

Features: Gorgeous vintage silver utensils are engraved with clever phrases and words. There are so many to choose from so make sure you look at everything—they would make great gifts (a hint to my husband)!

Green Factor: Sycamore Hill gives new life to old silver pieces by upcycling them into these fun, eclectic, one-of-a-kind conversation pieces!

Bonus: You can make custom requests!

Find It Here: KK Designs by Sycamore Hill

This Week’s Giveaway: Kill A Watt EZ

Kill A Watt EZ

What: Kill A WattEZ

Features: Kill A WattEZ shows you what appliances really cost to operate and which ones cost you the most! Simply connect an appliance to the Kill A WattEZ and the large LCD display will count consumption by the kilowatt-hour just like your local utility.

Green Factor: Once you know precisely how much things cost to operate, you’re less inclined to waste electricity, which is good for your wallet AND the planet.

Bonus: Kill A WattEZ lets you calculates cost and forecasts by week, month and year.

Find It Here: Amazon

Win It: We’re giving away one Kill A WattEZ to one randomly selected winner! Just leave a comment telling us which of your home appliances you’re most interested in testing and why. Giveaway ends at midnight on 12/20/10; $60 value. Open to residents of the continental US only. Official Rules

Extra Entries: Tweet about this giveaway (be sure to include @greenmomreview in your tweet) and note in a second comment that you tweeted the giveaway (include your Twitter name) to receive an extra entry.

This giveaway is sponsored by Geothermal Genius. Geothermal heat delivers a 400% efficiency rating and can lower your bill up to 70%.

Giving Pillows

What: Pillow covers

Features: 18″ square pillow covers decorated with embroidered artwork and positive social/eco-conscious designs and messages. They come in 13 different designs.

Green Factor: Pillow covers are Oeko-Tex certified and made of 100% organic cotton.

Bonus: When you purchase a Giving Pillow cover, PB Teen will donate $5 to the charity associated with that pillow such as St. Judes Children’s Hospital, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, DoSomething.org and others. Some select pillows will have a tree planted by Trees for the Future.

Find It Here: Pottery Barn Teen

Giiv = Easy and Awesome

What: Giiv

Features: Enables you to give someone a gift (like a gift card) via text message or email. It’s GENIUS!

Green Factor: Think of how many plastic gift cards are purchased each year—millions! That’s a LOT of plastic. Giiv cuts out the plastic and just leaves the gift with no waiting, shipping or mailing—it really couldn’t be easier or greener!

Bonus: You can use Giiv to donate to charities OR even regift a Giiv gift!

Find It Here: Giiv

Kutti Avatar Tees

What: Kutti Avatar tees for babies, toddlers and kids

Features: Kutti Avatar means “little manifestations” in Tamil and their avatar design tees feature fun, kid-friendly representations of Hindu gods and goddesses.

Green Factor: Tees are made of certified organic ring-spun cotton and phthalate-free, low-impact water based pigments.

Bonus: Kutti Avatar tees are made in compliance with CPSIA standards and child labor/sweatshop-free.

Find It Here: Kutti Avatar

Tavern Puzzles

tavern puzzlesWhat: Metal disentanglement puzzles

Features: Tavern Puzzles are repro- ductions of a type of puzzle traditionally forged by blacksmiths to amuse patrons at country taverns and inns. All the puzzles are handcrafted and mechanical in nature; removal of the object piece does not rely on force or trickery, just brain power.

Green Factor: Free of plastic and batteries, Tavern Puzzles are made of solid steel and not likely to break so they can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Bonus: Tavern Puzzles come in multiple levels of difficulty so players can continue to be challenged!

Find It Here: ThinkGeek

Green Gifts for Tweens and Teens

green gifts for teens and tweensTweens, they’re not little kids anymore but they’re not teens yet either, which is exactly what makes it so hard to find eco-friendly, non-toxic holiday gifts for this age—and actual teens are not much easier! I know I can’t be the only parent in this position so we’ve put together a mini tween/teen gift guide. Hope you find it helpful!

Digital Gifts: Digital media is here to stay and tweens/teens are all about it. Consider iTunes gift cards for a variety of digital media and Amazon.com gift cards for e-books that can be read on an iPad or digital book reader. For teens, check out a Netflix subscription so they can download movies right to their computers, phones, etc.

Lessons or Classes: Does your tween/teen have an interest in something specific like cooking, sports, photography, crafts, writing, art or dance? Give the gift of learning with pre-paid classes in their area of interest! My daughter is in interested in improving her tumbling skills for cheerleading so I’m considering a couple months of prepaid back handspring classes at a local gymnastics school.

Movie Gift Cards: Have you been to a movie recently? It’s no longer the el cheapo grande form of entertainment that it once was so a gift card to a movie theater chain in your area will be much appreciated by teens!

Non-Toxic Nail Polish Sets: Most girls love nail polish but conventional polishes and removers are full of toxic chemicals that can and do find their way into their developing bodies. Instead, consider a set of nail polish from ZOYA. It’s vegan friendly and free of chemical bad actors like toluene, formaldehyde, DBP (phthalates) and camphor. ZOYA offers a mindblowing 300 colors to choose from and has been awarded as the longest wearing natural nail polish by an independent panel in Women’s Health Magazine.

Arbor Skateboards and Snowboards: The Arbor Collective uses environmentally friendly, natural materials to produce snowboards, skateboards, and bamboo apparel. Even the basics are incredibly important to Arbor—they print on recycled paper only, use soy-based inks; recycle all office waste; and build out retail/office space and point of purchase displays with recycled and/or sustainable materials. Locate a retailer here.

Solar Lamp from IKEA: This funky Sunnan work lamp comes in a range of colors and best of all, it runs on solar power—a steal at $19.99!

Teens Turning Green Personal Care: Typically once the teen years hit, kids suddenly become a lot more interested in personal hygiene. Make sure they’re doing all that cleaning and scrubbing and deodorizing and moisturizing with safe, sustainable teen-approved products from Teens Turning Green

Upcycled Sweater: The cool thing about upcycled gifts like this sweater is that they are unique—every third girl at school isn’t going to be wearing the same thing! If that doesn’t suit her, do a search of “upcycle” at Etsy.com and see all the neat things that come up. Just make sure they’re non-toxic and eco-friendly!

Blank Nesting Dolls Kit: If you have an artistic, crafty tween/teen, these are super cool—blank nesting dolls created by Russian artisans that you can paint/design however you like. Imagine the possibilities! (Be sure to pick up some non-toxic waterbased paints and varnish if recipient doesn’t already have some).

Eco T-Shirts with Attitude: These cheeky certified-organic cotton tees are cool but probably better suited to the OLDER teen or young adult on your shopping list.

Dreambank: Does your tween or teen have a dream? Something special they want to do or achieve? Instead of giving them stuff, friends and family can contribute to their dream fund and do good at the same time because Dreambank contributes 10% of all net transaction revenue to six worthy charities.

The Urban Picnic Box

What: The Urban Picnic Box

Features: This picnic “box” is made from cardboard and sports a retro boombox graphic. Inside is everything you need for a picnic except the food!

Green Factor: The Urban Picnic Box includes 4 compostable trays, 4 compostable large bowls, 4 compostable small bowls, 4 compostable utensil sets, 8 recycled napkins and one compostable trash bag.

Bonus: The Picnic Box comes in two other nifty designs and a replacement set for the inside components is available for just $10

Find It Here: Boxsal

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