For people concerned about protecting the environment from its continued degradation from human activity, the holiday season in the United States can easily appear to be the most ecologically irresponsible time of the year. The consumption orgy isn't limited to the crass Christmas advertisements going up during November, nor does it stop when millions of overfed Americans reluctantly push away from their Thanksgiving dinner tables. It really gets into full swing the day after, aptly known as "Black Friday", because that's when countless retailers throughout the nation switch from operating in the red to being profitable. The same dark title might apply as a result of the millions of gallons of gasoline (refined from liquid "black gold") burned in order to transport frantic shoppers to the consumer meccas known as malls, where they typically trade wads of green paper for shopping bags filled with colorful pieces of plastic packaged in various forms of clear plastic, further enclosed in colorful gift wrap -- most of which will end up in landfills, closets, or storage units.
But that's not to say that there's anything wrong with purchasing and exchanging Christmas presents per se, nor that there aren't sensible alternatives that are far gentler on our planet's diminishing resources. Fortunately, there exists an incredible variety of eco-friendly products that are ideal for holiday giftgiving, just as there are environmentally friendly methods of packaging those gifts attractively, choosing wrap and bags made from recycled paper and plant-based inks, as well as reusing those materials for future gifting. Furthermore, the fuel and time consumed by driving from one store to another, can all be saved by shopping online, and having the items delivered by the USPS, whose carriers would make their delivery rounds to every mailbox, and burn their fuel, whether or not any particular package was sent.
Choosing appropriate gifts for the people on one's list can be challenging enough, but some people incorrectly assume that limiting oneself to environmentally sensitive products, would make the process nearly impossible. Yet nothing could be further from the truth, as there is a tremendous variety of such gifts available and easily ordered over the Internet. Many Web sites now exists that exclusively offer "green" products, at a wide range of prices, which can fit anyone's Christmas budget, as well as any recipient's merit.
For instance, why give your favorite nephew another videogame cartridge, when a more mentally stimulating option would be a puzzle made of replenishable wood? For an angelic niece, forget about the plastic doll that looks "surgically enhanced"; treat her to a more huggable soft doll crafted from hemp, organic cotton, seed hulls, and recycled plastic. Your always-helpful and always-hungry uncle would be better off not receiving a slab of steak cut from a cow on steroids, but instead a big box of healthy energy bars to power him along, as he shovels snow or vegan ice cream. Even your wicked aunt won't be improved by receiving the ancient and hardened fruitcake that gets passed among the relatives every Christmas. Take a deep breath and treat her to some organic chocolate. After all, it might sweeten her up a bit, and it's possible that she's the one who made that fruitcake a decade ago, and might recognize it... well, maybe.
So this holiday season, leave the turbocharged "sleigh" in the garage, cozy up to a glowing computer monitor, and spend some fun time exploring the many ecological product Web sites that can make your Christmas shopping a little less black, and a whole lot more green.
Several years ago, Ben Lynch began studying naturopathic medicine in Seattle, Washington, at Bastyr University, an institution that focuses on the natural health sciences. He set up a small table selling unique health products to the students, professors, and physicians at the school. The positive response made it clear that there was a strong demand for such items, and that people were truly benefiting from his offerings. Thus was born HealthE Goods, which officially became a business in 2003, and now reaches worldwide via its Web site.
His company specializes in hand-picked health products that are used and recommended by naturopathic medical doctors. The variety of items is quite attractive, including eatables such as fruit spreads, energy bars, therapeutic teas, and dozens of nutritional supplements. In addition, visitors to the site will find books, CDs, DVDs, water bottles, and supplies for hydrotherapy, skin care, and therapeutic moor mud.
Even after expanding his business onto the Internet and increasing the number and type of products sold, Ben and his staff provide their customers with a genuine personal touch, such as including a friendly thank-you note in every outbound order. He noted that he is well aware that some of his customers are ordering his health-promoting products to help alleviate sometimes debilitating health problems. From his medical background, he knows that a warm, human gesture can raise the recipient's spirits, and help promote healing.
HealthE Goods' business operations reflect Ben's commitment to protecting the environment. Reuse and recycling are practiced diligently, with special emphasis upon the former, as it requires no processing energy. For instance, all shipping materials received by the company are given a new lease on life by being utilized to send orders out to customers. In addition to reusing packing peanuts, newspaper is employed for packing items safely, since newspaper is easily recycled by recipients.
With his background in medicine and a desire to help others, Ben has authored many articles on health and nutrition, 19 of which can be found in the Information section of the Web site. He has an active blog featuring natural health news and research, and also provides a free information service whereby anyone can ask health-related questions in complete confidence.
While his business has grown tremendously, Ben still maintains a caring philosophy, and invites you to visit his online resource, HealthE Goods.
Business owners are increasingly becoming aware of the impact of their commercial ventures upon the lives and environments of people all over the world, particularly in this era of globalization and distributed manufacturing. Some companies are on the forefront of adhering to and promoting sustainable business practices, using organic components in their products, and reducing their ecological impact by recycling and reusing wherever possible. A terrific example of such a company is Cottonfield, which sells men's and women's clothing, as well as blankets, towels, and pillowcases -- all made from organic cotton.
The Cottonfield story got started in 1999, in Brookline, MA, which is on the outskirts of Boston. The founder, Yeumei Shon, is a woman who, at the time, already had two decades of experience in the textile industry, as a designer, teacher, and pattern maker. She was partly inspired to develop Cottonfield as a result of her awareness of the negative environmental impact of conventional cotton farming. In addition, she wished to create and offer to others clothing that promoted a holistic lifestyle, within the framework of an ethical and green company that embodies her values of supporting organic farming, quality merchandise, environmental responsibility, and healthy global communities.
The use of organic cotton was a logical choice, because it is a fabric superior to conventional cotton, being more soft, readable, hypoallergenic, and resistant to perspiration. Consequently, clothing made of organic cotton feels more comfortable, in addition to providing greater warmth or cooling, as appropriate for the temperatures inside and outside of the garment. Cottonfield's garments are crafted with care, both technical and social, and are designed for men and women of all shapes, sizes, and ages, using classic and flattering styles. Customers often comment that the items they receive fit perfectly, demonstrating impeccable workmanship. This is largely a result of Yeumei Shon's mastery of wardrobe design and the company's commitment to quality.
PristinePlanet.com welcomes Cottonfield to our growing membership roster, and we invite you to explore their Web site and experience firsthand the comfort and stylish beauty of their exquisite garments -- the culmination of the expertise, dedication, and ecological thoughtfulness of Yeumei Shon and her friendly staff.
Letters and guest articles posted in the Newsletter section of the Forum or sent to the publisher become the property of PristinePlanet.com, and may be edited for brevity or clarity prior to publication.
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