My hoped-for Mother's Day gift from my children this year is the same as most every year: a plant. Something I can put in the ground and enjoy season after season. After all, what could be "greener"?
What other goodies for mom are also good for Mother Earth you may ask? How about a few of the more traditional choices turned "green."
Yes, those beautifully packaged perfumes, lotions and other sweet-smelling potions categorized as beauty products may be a lovely choice for mom. Beware, however, the possible toxins in these elixirs. Consider all natural, eco-friendly products with organic ingredients, and perhaps in recyclable packaging.
Where to find these concoctions? Many so-called natural cosmetic lines are available online as well as in local cosmetics and local drugstores CVS Personal Touch these days, but be sure to read the labels. Not all product claims are true. A great resource for information about specific products is put out by the non-profit watchdog, Environmental Working Group. Its searchable Skin Deep Database details the ingredients in some 55,000 perfumes and other bath and beauty products. A nice shortcut is to download and print out the group's pocket-sized Shopper's Guide to Safe Cosmetics, attached here.
Few of us would dare to go as far as offering mom recycled clothes from a thrift shop or revamped with our tie-dyeing or sewing skills, but style can come in smaller packages also - in the form of reclaimed, vintage or antique gems or jewelry. Consider Nature's Museum Store or Austern's Antiques, or even local flea markets as sources.
Lavender may be lovely. Cinnamon may be comforting. Candles, and the soft glow they offer, may make a scent-sational gift. Ah, but beware of what some may do to the air. Many candles as we know them contain petroleum byproducts, synthetic fragrances and, sometimes when imported, lead wicks.
Nature-based candles may be a better idea, those made from soy or beeswax with organic cotton wicks, for example, and scented with plant-based dilutions of essential oils. Keep in mind, however, that fragances of any kind may be a trigger for allergies or asthma in some, so remind mom to light all candles in a well-ventilated area. Consider visiting Illuminescence or Eternal Lites.
Fine (for the planet) Wine
Wine is made from grapes, right? So how could wine not be a good-for-the-planet proffer? Turns out that only a handful of wineries around the world run things in a carbon-neutral manner, and few wines are pure.
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau requires that wine labeled "100% Organic" must contain 100 percent organically produced ingredients using organic processes; wine labeled "organic" must contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients and must not contain added sulfites, and wine "made with organic ingredients" must contain at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients. Again, it all comes down to reading labels.
Last time I checked there were no vineyards in Bellmore (although there may be more than a few residents making wine in their basements or garages), but Long Island's own sustainable vineyards include Laurel Lake, Jamesport, Shinn Estate, and Wolfer Estates vineyards.
Cart it in Cotton
To cart home the candles or the wine you buy mom, reusable cotton or jute bags make great sense, and as a gift in themselves. Every store these days it seems has a display of these washable, recyclable replacements to the unsightly, anti-planet plastic bags, from Home Depot to PC Richards and all the smaller stores in between, but more decorative, logo-free choices abound, online and on foot. Check in almost any local gift, variety or grocery store.
Life's a Picnic or a Beach?
For young children and low-on-funds teens, the truest and earth-friendliest idea might be to just plain spend some time with mom on her day. Take a stroll through a local park or visit a nearby beach. While there (or even in your own backyard), plan an eco-friendly picnic – sit on an old blanket, use washable, reusable utensils and recyclable paper plates, and feast on some yogurt or fruit and veggies, keeping your purchases as fresh and local as possible.
Back to Me
(You know us moms, we are just so self-concerned...or, uh, actually good at eliciting guilt maybe just one day a year!) Getting back to my first choice, buying mom a plant. I still say nothing can be greener. Oh, and why not do a little of the gardening gruntwork for mom to help her put in that flower garden or vegetable patch (hint, hint; as if my boys actually read this column).
Is your business taking steps to be green? Let the Go Green Gal know!
(The Go Green Gal is a new column that will be featured on Bellmore Patch periodically. A long-time environmental enthusiast and community-minded Bellmorite, Nancy Hiler is currently corporate communications/marketing director for local solar energy company, Built Well Solar Corp.)