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Eco-friendly housewarming prezzies!

(don't forget to scroll down to find out how you can win a green housewarming prezzie made by ME!)

My colleague Kristy Snell sent in her favourite housewarming gift idea:
I love the tradition of giving a package containing:
flour - so that the house will always have plenty of food...
candles - so that there will always be the light of love...
salt - so that there will always be the spice of life...
and wine - so that the house will always be full of good times.
Everything is useful and has some meaning.

One Montrealer, Alayna Wallace, turned this need for green into a business opportunity.
She's opened up a Mile End boutique called EcoDarling
Her mission is to bring out the pretty (and pretty-smelling) side of being green. So she sells vases, plates and votive candle holders made of recycled glass; baby clothes and accessories from fairtrade organizations in Nepal; recycled one-of-a-kind couches and armchairs; bath and body lotions and potions including those from Honeyflower; recycled tea cozies and much much more!

Yeah yeah, you're no doubt thinking, but what about the prices?
Actually, that's the best part. For sure these are not things you're going to find at Walmart. Most of them are handmade and one-of-a-kind. But prices actually compare favourably to stores like Stokes, IKEA and Home Sense.
For example, here are some of the prices you'll find at EcoDarling:
(All these products are recycled glass--The drinking glasses are made from old wine bottles and are laser carved!)

Votive candle holders: $8
Plates: $18 and up
Vases: $18 and up
Glasses: $20 each

So, instead of getting stuff that's common and made in China, you can have treasures with history (and save them from the landfill)

So here's my list of low cost ($5 to $15) housewarming gift ideas:
1. Baby plants: Make a clipping from one of your houseplants. It's ridiculously easy (even a dunce like me can do it): just snip off a branch (a section with leaves). It's better if you make the cut on a slant like a fountain pen nib (which allows the plant to "drink" faster rather than cutting it flat (leaving the stem with an exposed surface that resembles a tree stump). Leave your cutting in a vase of water (preferably one that's light coloured so your plant gets lots of light). Within weeks you'll notice little roots growing. Voila! You have a brand new plant to put in a pot and gift to someone. Of course, if you haven't done this yet, you're only going to be able to gift this baby in late August. Otherwise you can always go to a local market and simply buy a nice houseplant.

2. Bake a cake! You can make magic using free run eggs and organic flour and sugar. Play to your subject's cravings and bake something decadent and unforgettable. And if you're anything like me, chances are you already had all the ingredients in your fridge!
And since it's often hard for friends-of-vegans to bake something appropriate (and yummy), here's a deelish cake recipe that I found online.
Obviously, it goes without saying that you find a way to transport said cake without plonking it onto styrofoam and smothering it in clingfilm. A portable cake or muffin carrier is SUCH a great investment.

3. Flowerbox: For folks who have limited floor space but lots of light, this makes a gorgeous (and green) gift. It's a twist on the traditional plant theme--it sort of uses plants as wall art! Flowerboxes can get pricey depending on what you buy, but you can get a little plant to add to an existing flowerbox for as little at $6.50 plus tax. Or go in with a couple of friends and buy the $20 box that's ready for wall mounting.

4. Dishcloths! You can buy made-in-Canada cotton at your local Zellers (look for Bernat Organics brand) and if you're at all crafty, teach yourself (or get a knitty friend) to knit or crochet you some dishcloths. I've done several work exchanges with friends who can't knit or crochet but have other talents (often involving food). I knit, they feed me! It's wunderbar! These things are wonderful (scroll down for why...and a chance to win one of these babies that I handmade!)

5. Shop at Ten Thousand Villages!
Check out Dixmillevillages online or in person on St Denis. They sell gorgeous fair trade things for body, home and soul. You can buy bamboo baskets and gorgeous carved boxes and photo frames for under $15 and know that you're supporting artisans and their kids by providing money for fair wages, social programs and healthcare. Yay!

6. Homemade Bath and Body products: Pamper a beloved friend with a homemade spa kit. You can easily make delicious body butters, lip balms and bath salts. Just check out this previous post for recipes. And don't stop there: help your friends make the transition to green cleaning products by making them some. Again, you can find all that information right here on Be Green!

So are you convinced to go green this moving season? I sure am.
To prove it, I'm going to put my creativity where my mouth is and offer YOU, my wonderful blog reader, something that tops my list of handmade gifts.
(drum roll please)

The reasons they rock:
1. They're pretty
2. They are easy to use and easy to clean (just machine wash)
3. They last for YEARS! And switching to these will save your $$ and prevent all those synthetic sponges from ending up in landfills
4. They're made with organic cotton (which is kinder to the environment, your health and that of cotton labourers)
5. They were hand crocheted by MOI! (C'mon, that counts for SOMETHING!)

Here's what you have to do to get one of these babies: Email me with YOUR favourite eco-friendly housewarming presents. The first three (legit and creative) responses get a dishcloth each.
You can also call our talkback line: (514) 597-5626

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