By Ranae Lenor Hanson

We want to celebrate; we want to give. Sharing small, thoughtful gifts is one of the joys of the holiday season.

And those gifts can be even more meaningful if they carry an Earth friendly message.

So, pause before buying those individual cookie packets or colorful tubes of hand cream. Single use plastic is convenient, but it’s also a scourge on oceans, wildlife and humans. The plastic you purchase today may be regifted to future humans thousands of years hence.

Lasting forever, plastic disintegrates into smaller and smaller pieces that enter bellies and lungs and soils.

Humans celebrated without plastic before. We can again.

Encourage a plastic-free life

How about giving gifts that nudge your loved ones to switch to life friendly practices?

A dental technician told me of a trip to Central America where she walked in horror along beaches strewn with washed-up plastic toothbrushes, maybe some she had handed out in Minnesota.

To protect those beaches, you could give a bamboo toothbrush from the shelves at Hampden Park Co-op. Or a rechargeable electric toothbrush made almost entirely of bamboo, available online. A round cardboard box of toothpaste tablets fits nicely into a small cloth gift bag. (I like the ones with fluoride from The Humble Company.)

Found at Hampden Park Co-op: Lip balm in cardboard tubes made by Booda Organics. The co-op also carries bamboo toothbrushes and floss. Photo source: Boodaorganics.com

Compostable silk dental floss in a refillable glass canister makes a pleasing sight on a bathroom counter. Consider the old-fashioned wooden toothpick or buy bamboo interdental brushes or floss picks made from cornstarch. Your recipient might first be surprised, then delighted!

Based in St. Anthony Park, the HiBAR Company makes shampoos and conditioners for all hair types in solid bars, shipped plastic-free. Visit hellohibar.com or find them at Seward Co-op, Fresh Thyme or other local stores.

Hibar’s care products are plastic free. It is one of the sustainability oriented enterprises based in the Wycliff building in south St. Anthony Park. Photo source: hellohibar.com

More sources for hair and body care (solids and powders) include Lush, Grove Collaborative, Zero Waste Store, Booda Organics, Mighty Nest and No Tox Life. (No one is paying me to say this; there are options I don’t know. Explore!) You’ll find body wash, deodorants and face creams with minimal packaging.

Have you walked in dismay down a store aisle of laundry products, each encased in plastic that will last forever? Consider gift alternatives instead: Check out Dropps. Laundry sheets are convenient, though some have polyvinyl alcohol; Blueland laundry tablets come in refillable metal tins (no PVA in those).

Want something bigger? Give a laptop bag made of hemp and cotton from Lifewithoutplastic.com or order hemp yoga pants from Etsy. A world of options awaits.

What about the kitchen?

A St. Paul friend recently gave me a woven cotton Vejibag for storing vegetables. I’m hooked! You wet it, wring it and fill it. Refrigerated food in this bag lasts much longer than in plastic. When a Vejibag gets dirty, you throw it in the wash.

Use a woven cotton Vejibag for sorting vegetables. Photo source: Vejibag.com

If you give glass, metal or beeswax food containers, your friends will look snazzy at lunchtime while moving toward a no-plastic life. When giving Bee Wrap, include the tip to crumple the sheet first for the best fit.

Give your voice

If, by chance, you purchase something that comes with plastic padding, give us all a gift — complain to the seller and shipper! Mention alternative packaging products like cornstarch nuggets, shredded paper, folded cardboard and (soon) seaweed or hemp or mycelium (fungal threads that can be used in packaging). Tell the people you buy from that you want no plastic around your purchases.

For whatever efforts you take, thanks from us at Transition Town–All St. Anthony Park … from the oceans … from all the living of Earth. 

Ranae Lenor Hanson, author of “Watershed: Attending to Body and Earth in Distress,” is a member of Transition Town–ASAP. To learn more about Transition Town at TransitionASAP.org.

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