With Thanksgiving out of the way its time to start Holiday shopping! Want to make sure your gift giving is as friendly to nature as it is to the receiver? Well we at AP have put together some suggestions on green gift giving for the 2008 season!

There are many items out there on the market that are great gifts and easy on the environment, including a ton of websites that host these gifts. A great resource for all things green including green gifts is Co-Op America’s Green Pages. Also try SustainLane, as they do product reviews, as well as listings of Green gifts. Another great resource is ECOnsciousmarket for great gift ideas and purchases . Lastly, World of Good hosted by Ebay is a market where you can purchase Eco friendly and Fair Trade products.

There are thousands of smaller websites that sell gifts such as Taraluna and Treehouse Green Gifts. You also might want to keep it local and find some shops in your area . We don’t know about your area but we know in Boston both Greenward and Cambridge Naturals carry wonderful eco friendly gifts for the holidays! To find places in your area check out Co-Op America’s Green Pages.

On top of where to buy great green gift ideas we thought we would put together a list of green gift ideas for your family or friends who don’t know much about the environment but want to make a change, or even for the seasoned green veteran.

1) Green Living Books: For the person in your life who wants to make an eco change but isn’t sure how, this is a great gift! There are hundreds of books out there that act as a guide to living green. Some great ones are It’s Easy Being Green: A Handbook For Earth Friendly Living and A Guide to Living Lightly. These book and others like them will help show your friends and family how living green is the way of the future!

2) Eco Products: Many of the websites we listed sell reputable green gifts. The best way to show a new eco friendly person that living green is easy is to give a traditional product turned green. For instance these candle holders made from recycled bike parts. Or for the pampered woman in your life how about some organic bath and lotion products? You may even want to give someone an item they would never think could be green such as Ethletic Sneakers by AP or handbags. Giving an eco-friendly product for a gift may open your family or friends eyes to how easy it is to shop green and how many products there really are out there!

3) Green Home Starter Packs: A great gift idea for a green newbie is to put together a Green Home Starter Pack which could included items such as Energy Saving Light bulbs and Green Cleaning Products. This is great for someone who wants to make the change at home but hasn’t quite done it. You could also include one of the books mentioned above!

4) Green Company Subscriptions: Purchase a subscription to a green company that you feel they wouldn’t purchase for themselves. Some good ideas are a membership to their local food co-op, a membership to an Organic Food delivery system like Boston Organics, a subscription to a green magazine or organization.  Or maybe even an Organic Wine of the Month subscription! Any wine lover will be pleased to try many different types of wines, but put a twist on this holiday gift with the addition of green wines!!

5) Donate in their Honor: If you want to skip all the materialism and consumerism this season, donate to an Eco-friendly cause in your loved ones honor. This is an easy and simple gift to purchase and will make you and your loved one feel great! There are plenty of organizations to donate to for instance through the Nature Conservancy you can adopt anything from the Rainforest to the Rocky Mountains. Also, you can Give the Gift of Water to those who need it, Plant a tree in their honor, adopt an endangered species, or even make a Micro Loan for them. Check out these other donation gift ideas at the Daily Green.

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Summer is a time for relaxation and vacations. Eco-tourism or Green Travel has been around for a long time, but with the Green Movement taking hold, it is now a part of the mainstream traveler’s mind. So what exactly is Eco-Tourism and how do you take part?

Most people think of hiking through the wilderness or sleeping a tree fort when the words Green Travel are used. This is just simply not true! Although, hiking and camping out is a great way to spend a vacation, it is not the only way to travel the world and still be environmentally friendly! Eco-tourism is defined by a vacation or trip that leaves minimal impact on the environment and culture one and is traveling to. There are plenty of hotels, resorts, and tour companies that boast their Green Travel attributes. But there are a few things you can do to minimize your own travel footprint and still enjoy your dream vacation. Below is a simple 5 step guide to making your summer or year round travels just a little more helpful for the environment!

  1. Alternative Transportation: Instead of the traditional summer road trip or the long flight across the world, try taking an alternate and more environmentally friendly mode of travel such as biking, train travel, bus, or sailboat. Of course if you do decide to drive you can always rent a hybrid or drive a veggie fuel car. Not only will you be helping environment, you will be saving yourself some sweet cash by dodging those ever-rising gas prices. Finally, if you are traveling somewhere by air, try offsetting your carbon impact with one of these companies.
  2. Stay Local: If you really want to make an impact, travel locally. Explore the exciting culture inside your own city or town. Or for a bit more excitement, adventure in the natural habitat close to your home. A good resource for local travel is your city or town’s local paper, chamber of commerce or the National and State Park System. It may seem boring to stay local, but you would be surprised by what your own backyard has in store for you!
  3. Choose Eco-Friendly Companies: When booking a lodging or tour company, make sure to research their environmental practices. You can always contact the particular company yourself or there are a number of websites that do the work for you! Check out these helpful websites when booking hotels, bed and breakfasts, tours, and restaurants. And if you really want to be sure the lodging company you are choosing is in fact Green, there are a number of Green Certification websites, that will assure you are making the greenest choices. Also, a great resource for finding green hotels is IStayGreen.Org, suggested by reader larryvance. This site not only lists hotels, but rates them on their “greeness” and provides social networking between travelers.
  4. Volunteer: Instead of just traveling to exotic locations, try combining your getaway into a experience that will not only help the social or ecological environmental you visit, but will also make you feel involved. There are a ton of organizations that will put you to good use while you explore the world! Instead of just rewarding yourself with just a vacation, reward your soul with a Volunteer Getaway!
  5. Be Responsible: Remember to be responsible when traveling in your own backyard or abroad. Take reusable items such as water bottles and always recycle. You can also conserve energy in your room, by turning out all lights and shutting off electric devices when not needed. Also, you can conserve water and energy by not using hotel laundry service everyday. And lastly, NEVER litter whether you are in a city or out in the wilderness.
Please keep these tips in mind as you plan your next holiday and rest easy as you ride off into our ever greening world. Bon Voyage!

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