I like to pick up things here and there throughout the year, long before cardboard Christmas trees, blue Hanukkah stars, red tinsel bells and cartoon snowmen with green scarves decorate every aisle of every store.Β  I find things on sale and if I buy a few things each month, it’s easier on our budget than doing all of my shopping over a few weeks in December. I’m going to be telling some secrets in this blog so I hope my family doesn’t read this.

In past years, I’ve given my sister and mother re-usable bags for grocery shopping but that was the extent of my “green gifting. This year, as I’m making more and more efforts to be Earth Friendly, I ordered some reusable produce bags for myself and my family. It’s so silly to bring in reusable bags and then fill them up with plastic produce bags. The bags are of a super lightweight mesh and fold up very small for transport. I ordered them from a popular website that sells high quality hand-made items and I felt like the price was more than fair.

As most of you know, I’m also working on making my own non-toxic cleaning products from everyday household products like baking soda and vinegar. On a whim, I also decided to make some home-made anti-bacterial hand-soap after I found some old glycerin bars from my old soap making days. Over ten years ago, I started making soap as a craft with an eight year old I was babysitting. Back then I wasn’t worried about being non-toxic and we were adding all kinds of scents and colors and we did made some cute, though not all-natural, soap. This time I just used the pure glycerine (melted in a bowl in the microwave), stirred in some Tea Tree Oil for it’s anti-bacterial properties, as well as some quick-cook plain oatmeal. I used the oatmeal for it’s soothing properties (my daughter with eczema takes oatmeal baths to help heal her itchy, dry skin). I liked how the oatmeal gave my soap some color and texture too. I’d love to add some fun essential oils next time if I remember to pick some up at the store. My favorites are peppermint and orange. Instead of buying more plastic molds, I wanted to use things I already had on hand. I poured the soap in small plastic snack-sized plastic cups for big bars and used the lids for smaller bars. (The soaps in the picture are from my first batch).

Lastly, I’m giving both my mother and sister a box of soap nuts because I really like mine–all-natural, compostable and re-newable. I sent a trial bag of five nuts back with my mother after her recent visit and she reports that she’s very pleased with the results–clean, soft clothes and no artificial scent. I’m glad you like them, Mom, because you’ll be getting some more!

I know not everyone would appreciate these kind of practical, no-nonsense and no-frills gifts, but like me, both my parents and my sister and brother-in-law are environmentally conscious and extremely practical. They take pride in being frugal and resourceful and I’m glad because frankly, I’m having fun with this and hopefully, making a small difference in the health of the planet.

Do you ever or receive give home-made or green gifts? Happy Holidays!


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