People- and Planet-Friendly
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Greener, Healthier, Friendlier
Gifts for the Whole Year
(a People- & Planet-Friendly Portal & Guide)


(A) A Christmas That Doesn't Kill
(B) Green Places To Shop
(C) Green, Healthy & Ethical Gift Ideas
(D) Books & Videos
(E) Magazine Subscriptions
(F) More Ideas, Activities & Alternatives
(G) Top Five Gifts Not to Buy
(H) Seven Steps to a Healthier World

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

(A) A Christmas That Doesn't Kill

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace and togetherness. But all too often, greed, haste and superficiality are the hallmarks of the season.

Would you buy a gift if you knew it was made in a sweatshop, or by slave labour? Or a gift that was made by a company that is squandering resources, polluting the planet and paying for neither? What about a gift that could damage the recipient's health and happiness?

There are plenty of gifts that do all of the above. The good news is that there are better alternatives, for those who look. Gifts that go deeper than the shiny paper wrapping. Gifts that respect our neighbours, near and far. And alternatives to gift-giving that can build friendship, community and well-being.

This special edition of the People- & Planet-Friendly offers some alternatives to the unthinking consumer frenzy that is Christmas today. If we only think a bit more about why and what we buy; focus more on services and less on products; and seek more mature ways of showing our love, pride and status – we will all be better off.

Below you will find a wide variety of gift ideas and activities for the whole year, from beeswax to bicycles, from wildflowers to wwoofing. The emphasis is on green, healthy, ethical and fairly traded products and services.

Of course, just because a product is labeled "green" doesn't say much. Be sure to read the label, look for organic or fair trade certification, ask where it came from, how it was made, what the ingredients are. If the package doesn't say or the vendor isn't reputable, don't buy it.

Have a green, happy and sustainable holiday!

– Peter Blanchard (contact)

P.S. While some of the examples below are in Toronto, if you follow the links you will often be able to find them anywhere in North America, especially if you are open to mail order or on-line shopping. Note: the listings in this document are not paid advertising.

Please tell them you saw it at!

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

(B) Green Places To Shop (across Canada, local and on-line)

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

Grassroots. "Behind every product sold at Grassroots is a story. Not only are these stories about the environment, but they are stories about small eco-friendly companies that we are proud to support". Here are just a few ideas. Book Deal: two outstanding books for only $9.99 (original value $42). (1) Get a Life "how to make a good buck, dance around the dinosaurs and save the world while you're at it" and (2) Real Food For a Change "how the simple act of eating can boost your health & energy, knock out stress, revive your community and clean up the planet". Other ideas: great posters and postcards, including "How to Build Community" and "Going Organic" ($2-$25). Lots of great books, including titles on organic gardening, healthy homes, self reliance ($12 & up). VideoActive4, a compendium of fifteen diverse activist films and videos from across the hemisphere ($27). Peace calendar ($23). Also: organic cotton and hemp clothing; beeswax candles; bath salts; unbleached, recycled papers; battery-free dynamo or solar flashlights and radios; cooperative games; much more. Stocking stuffers: bumper stickers ($1-$2); great magazines ($5 & up). Gift certificates are available in any denomination. What else is great about Grassroots? Bulk or packaged non-toxic household cleaning and personal care products; great bulletin board of environmental and activist news & events; bikeshare hub; lending library (books, videos, articles); used battery & Britta filter drop-off; accepts clean plastic bags and containers for reuse; fun, creative workshops monthly (subscribe to their monthly e-mail newsletter). Also on their site: The Christmas Tree Debate: Real or False; gift wrapping alternatives; upcoming events. Grassroots is involved and supportive of the environmental community. Grassroots Environmental Products 372 Danforth Ave. at Chester subway (416-466-2841) and 408 Bloor W. at Brunswick (416-944-1993) or toll free 1-888-633-5833

Green Stores & Products across Canada & USA
Toronto: Grassroots Environmental Products 416-466-2841
Ottawa: Arbour Environmental Shoppe 613-567-3168 (incl. mail order/on-line)
Port Perry & Stratford, Ontario (also Bayfield Apr. 2003); Halifax & Mahone Bay, NS; Moncton, NB: P'lovers The Environmental Store
Across Canada & USA:

Green Shopping (on-line & mail order)
Arbour Environmental Shoppe (Canada)
Healthy Home Services (products for home & garden)
Natural Life (Canada; products, books, articles, magazine) (Canada)
Real Goods (USA)
GreenPeople (USA)
Planet-Friendly Products & Services

Progressive Bookstores across Canada & USA (including mail order & on-line shopping)

Books on organic food, gardening, landscaping & agriculture: (lots more in the section on books, below)

Mountain Equipment Co-op – "Canada's leading supplier of quality outdoor gear & clothing". I cannot say enough about these stores. I would shop there even if the same product was available elsewhere for less. Their commitment to quality greatly exceeds what can be found elsewhere. The staff are highly knowledgeable and are actually there to help you – rather than push some useless product at you. Their products are geared to healthy, environmentally-friendly activities: hiking, cycling, camping, paddling, skiing, etc. What else is great about MEC? Outstanding store warranty. Repairs. Rentals. Buy & sell bulletin board (plus annual swap events). Battery return service. Supportive of local groups & charities. Miles above the competition, who tend to offer the glitz but not the substance. MEC is a consumer co-operative, "driven by our member's needs and values rather than the financial drive to maximize profit". Locations in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal (spring 2003), Halifax, plus on-line shopping. Lifetime membership is $5. Gift certificates $10 to $100. Toronto store: King St., just east of Spadina, 416-340-2667 (To learn more about co-ops, including listings of all kinds of co-ops across Canada, see: ).

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

(C) Green, Healthy & Ethical Gift Ideas

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

Good Food Box or CSA Membership, approx. $10-$30/week (across Canada)
(or a membership in a local food co-op, such as Toronto's Karma Co-op, $16/yr + $70 refundable loan; for more info on co-ops: )

Fair Trade Handicrafts (North America)

Fair Trade Coffee & Tea (Toronto) 1-888-741-5369

Fair Trade Stores & Cafes across Canada
(click "TransFair Canada's Licensees")

Fair Trade Gift Suggestions

Green Events, Outings, Films, Workshops, Courses. Choose an event that is social, educational and fun. Pre-register, buy tickets (if available), or write a gift certificate on a Christmas card). If the event isn't scheduled yet, do it anyway!
Planet-Friendly Calendar (on-line version)
Planet-Friendly Events (e-newsletter version)
Other Progressive Calendars
Learning Centres & Places
Where's the Fun?

Seeds of Diversity – get, plant and save seeds for our future!

Green Garden Visit $50 (Toronto) 416-781-7663

Composter ($15 and up) at hardware stores or

Gardening Books (see section on books, below)

What's Up? South! World Map, Laminated

Green Power – Renewable Energy

Save Energy & Money (across Canada)

Autoshare Membership 416-340-7888
(car-sharing & ride-sharing links across North America: )

Bikeshare Membership $25 (Toronto) 416-504-2918

Bicycles – Used, Reconditioned & New (click "shopping")

Non-Toxic Cleaning service (Toronto)
(related links )

Green Tourism Guidebook (Toronto) $17
Learning Centres & Places

Buy It Used – Yearning after the new, shiny and stylish is a trap, a rat race. Consuming is false economy. It can be fun and empowering to go the other way – buy used! Be proud of used, recycled or handed-down items. ("second hand stores", "bicycles", etc.)

Learning Centres & Places – Directory of organic & environmental learning centres across North America. A gift certificate, paid workshop or getaway could make a fun and unique gift. A diversity of places where people of all ages and backgrounds can gain new experiences, skills and inspiration. Includes ecological farms & gardens, strawbale & solar-powered homes, organic food co-ops, nature retreats, resource centres, environmental education centres, environmental stores, wilderness trips, ecovillages, university programmes, more. Guided tours, demonstrations, workshops, courses, outdoor activities, school programs, volunteer/barter opportunities, apprenticeships, site rentals.

Wwoof Membership – Wwoofing is a terrific, healthy and highly affordable way to travel, learn about sustainable living and organic gardening – or just to have a healthy retreat from the city. When you join Wwoof Canada, you get a fascinating booklet describing over 400 farms, gardens and businesses across Canada ($30). Memberships are also available in many other countries. The basic idea behind Wwoofing is that you help out in return for accommodation, meals and instruction. Each location is unique. Everything is negotiated between you and the host – it's up to you to call prospective hosts, and decide whether your needs and expectations match those of the host. To learn more about Wwoofing around the world:

Sustainable Living Directory – The most comprehensive sustainable living directory in North America. Many great products, services and things you can do, including links to many great gift ideas. Also books, travel, courses & events, health, recreation, much more. Buy a gift certificate or booking, or write your own and give it to a friend.

People- & Planet-Friendly Supporters. Please visit the websites of the organizations that support People- & Planet-Friendly! They offer a variety of great products, services and memberships.

Donate to Your Favourite Group. Here are some links to a wide variety of groups:

People- & Planet-Friendly Donation. For less than the money that you could spend on a night on the town, you can pitch in and support the Planet-Friendly for an entire year. Or, why not make a gift of the Planet-Friendly: give a donation in the name of someone who shares your concerns.

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

(D) Books & Videos

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

Progressive Bookstores Across Canada & USA (including mail order & on-line shopping)

Books on organic food, gardening, landscaping & agriculture:

Green & Progressive Booksellers – Mail Order & On-Line
Natural Life Books*
Sustainable Living Books* 416-410-7581
Detour* (transportation & urban ecology)
New Society Publishing
Chelsea Green Publishers
New Internationalist Books (click "books")
Eco Books
Community Bookshelf
Food & Gardening Books
Permaculture Books
Organic Books
Resources for Radicals* ($12)
Yes Magazine Book Reviews
[Canadian organizations are indicated by an asterisk*]

Specific Books

David Suzuki

The Sacred Balance
Other David Suzuki Books,_David/

Food, Gardening & Agriculture

Eco Foods Guide
Real Food For A Change
Stolen Harvest
Women on the Tomato Trail

Health & Environment

Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood
How To Be Healthy and Still Eat Chocolate

Other Books

Straw Bale Building
101 Solutions to Climate Change
Watchdogs & Gadflies
Natural Capitalism
Toronto Green Tourism Guide

No-Nonsense Guides ($16.00 each)

No-Nonsense Guide to the Arms Trade
No-Nonsense Guide to Class, Caste, and Hierarchy
No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change
No-Nonsense Guide to Democracy
No-Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade (revised edition)
No-Nonsense Guide to Globalization (revised edition)
No-Nonsense Guide to International Development
No-Nonsense Guide to International Migration
No-Nonsense Guide to Sexual Diversity
No-Nonsense Guide to World History (revised edition)
No-Nonsense Guide to Animal Rights 416-535-9914 or 1-800-718-7201

Film & Video

The War Against the Third World ($10 US)
A Force More Powerful
The Great Deception ($30) Barrie Zwicker 416-651-5588.
The Matrix (at video stores)
VideoActive 4 ($27 postpaid)

Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine (across Canada, ongoing screenings).
Special Jury Prize, Cannes Film Festival. Showtimes across Canada (as of Dec. 2002, not yet available on video). E-mail list: [related links:

Bullfrog Films – "the leading US publisher of independently-produced, environmental videos, that point the way to living healthily, happily, and with greater concern for the other inhabitants of this planet, and for our descendants". Order by mail, fax, phone or on-line. 1-800-543-3764 or 610-779-8226

Film & Video Links

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

(E) Magazine Subscriptions

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

Here is an eclectic list of magazines that offer inspiring and informative reading on People- & Planet-Friendly topics. Don't forget to take editions you're finished with to the doctor's waiting room or other public place where they will be read by others. Note that many "print publications" make varying amounts of their content available on their websites. Canadian publications are indicated by an asterisk*. Don't know where to start? Some of the lighter, more general interest publications are indicated in bold.

Print Publications

Back Home Magazine
Canadian Dimension*
Canadian Geographic
Canadian Perspectives* (click on "resources")
Car Busters
Communities Magazine
Corporate Knights*
Covert Action Quarterly
E Magazine
Earth First! Journal
Earth Island Journal
Eco Farm & Garden*
Global Outlook*
Green at Work
Green Living Magazine
Green Teacher*
Grist Magazine
Harrowsmith Country Life* (2) (3) (4)
Home Power Magazine
Momentum Magazine* ...for self-propelled people,
Mother Earth News
Mother Jones
Natural Home Magazine
Natural Life*
National Geographic
New Directions
New Internationalist
Organic Earth Magazine*
Organic Gardening
Orion Magazine
Peace Magazine*
Permaculture Activist
Ram's Horn*
Sustainable Times*
Synergy Magazine*
This Magazine*
Utne Reader
Watershed Sentinel*
Wild Earth Magazine
Wildflower Magazine
Whole Earth
Women & Environments*
World Watch
Z Magazine
Doormouse, "Canada's largest distributor of alternative and special interest publications" (click on "search by category", then "environments")

Web & E-mail Publications

Biodemocracy News
Gallon Environment Letter* 514-369-0230
People- & Planet-Friendly*
Rachel's Environment Weekly
Straight Goods*
Toronto Community Garden Network*

Progressive Bookstores Across Canada & USA (many have great magazine racks)

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

(F) Ideas, Activities & Alternatives to Gifts

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

Here are some thoughts on how to save time and money, build friendships, strengthen community, help each other, and have a great time!

Better Ways to Give

give gift certificates for local services or local, green, ethical retailers
always keep the receipt and try to make it easy for the recipient to return the gift without embarrassment or hurt pride
draw names – have each person buy for one family member only
don't feel obliged to reciprocate when somebody gives you a gift – express your thanks, friendship or love in other ways
make a gift from discarded or re-used items
bigger is not better! (find more mature ways to compete, if you must)

Alternatives to Giving Physical Gifts

give a gift certificate or ticket for a local service, event, outing, film, workshop or course
give a gift certificate for your own skills or services (e.g. massage, tutoring, cleaning, repairing, baby sitting, whatever).
write a letter, poem, song or short story, or make another creative/artistic gift
write letters to the people you value in your life and tell them why you appreciate them
pool money for a shared meal, outing or other purchase
plan activities instead of gifts: games, an evening out together, share personal stories, interview older family members, visit a mutual friend, hold a listening circle, etc.
donate to a local environmental group or charity
hold a family volunteering activity
shop for a family that can't afford gifts – ask them what they need

Better Ways to Buy

If you must buy gifts:

buy locally, from independent services and stores
don't always shop for the cheapest price: be willing to pay a little more for something lasting and ethical
shop in your neighbourhood, if possible within walking distance; bring a cloth bag, backpack, bike bags or other means of comfortably carrying what you buy
avoid "big box" stores: they encourage excess use of cars; they increase urban sprawl and congestion; they are bad for pedestrians, cyclists, seniors and public transit. Compared to more traditional forms of shopping, they are anti-social and bad for the community. In effect, they transfer hidden costs from the store onto the consumer and the community. The result is products that seem cheaper – but that we all end up paying for in other ways. The good news: there are much better altenatives – and people in smart communities are achieving them:

Related Links & Resources

Ethical Gifts (this page)
How to Build Community (poster or postcard) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
Sustainable Living
Learning Places
Simple Living
The New American Dream (more fun, less stuff)
Green Living Shopping
Personal Growth
Holiday Organizing Tips
Questioning Business
Adbusters Magazine
Buy Nothing Day
Consumer Activism

The Planet-Friendly Directory

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

(G) Top Five Gifts Not To Buy

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

Perfume. Many perfumes contain chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions. Perfume is increasingly cited as a trigger for asthma, allergies and migraine headaches, including potentially serious reactions. Anyone in your building or vicinity can be affected. There is no mandatory disclosure of perfume ingredients. "Natural" perfumes, including "essential oils" are not necessarily any better. There are plenty of other ways to make oneself attractive, rather than falling for marketer's appeals to our fears of inadequacy, vanity and discomfort with our own bodies. Many other products also contain perfumes – buy unscented products whenever possible. For an excellent article this topic, see Natural Life Magazine's "Spraying Yourself With Toxic Chemicals is Not Sexy": ,

Clothes That Need Dry Cleaning. Most cleaners use a controversial chemical called perchloroethylene. It is potentially harmful to their staff, customers and neighbours. It's also a waste of time and money. So stop trying to keep up with the Jones and wear something more healthy!

Battery-Operated Toys. The ingredients of batteries are highly toxic. They should be disposed in a toxic waste site. Most people don't bother – this can lead to contamination of drinking water and crops. For the most part, there's simply no need for it. There are often more healthy, creative and intelligent things for kids – and adults – to do without batteries.

A New Car. Cars are traps: they are bad for your health, your finances – and your children's chances of survival. The average Canadian spends over $7,000 per year on personal automobile transportation, all expenses included. The time you spend working to pay for your car, maintain it, insure it, etc., is a waste of your life. For urban dwellers at least, there usually are better alternatives, even in today's car-dominated society. Be creative: try a combination of public transit, walking, cycling, car-sharing, car-pooling, renting, telecommuting, flex-hours, job-sharing. Work as close as you can to where you live, and choose or create recreational activities in your area. If more of us did this, lots of alternatives would arise as the market began to respond.

Television. Televisions sedate people. They turn brains to tapioca, bellies to mush. They turn entire lives into missed opportunities. TV's are a cheap escape, a controlled hypnosis. Like any addiction, the more we do it, the worse things get and the more we feel we "need" the thing we're addicted to. Things that once were natural for us to enjoy – reading, conversation, exercise, thought – no longer are. Even in small doses, TV alters one's perceptions and behaviour and steals time from the more important and enjoyable aspects of life. It's not so much a matter of the quality of the programming. The medium itself is hypnotic, non-interactive and socially unbalanced. Tired? – sleep. Bored? – read a book. Stessed? – take a hot shower. Energy to burn? – go for a walk. Lonely? – call a friend, or make plans for tomorrow. There's almost always something better than TV ...if only you don't turn it on! Do not give a television to anyone you wish to see thrive and grow.

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

(H) What Are The Alternatives?
Seven Steps to a Happier, Healthier World

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

Physical & Mental Health

Healthy Community

Sustainable Living

Learning, Growing, Participating

Finding Good Work

Rights, Citizenship & Activism

Corporate Accountability & Green Economics

People- & Planet-Friendly Events & Resources

People- & Planet-Friendly Events, Resources, Jobs, Fun!
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