Sustainable Gift Guide

Christmas is right around the corner, which means you are probably in the process of purchasing gifts. Finding the right gift can be stressful, however supporting local businesses and purchasing sustainably-made products has never been easier. Since what you spend your money on is essentially the type of world that you support, let’s start supporting a healthier planet. It sounds difficult, however it is really simple! Some key points are to avoid plastic items, resist fads and fast fashion and invest in products that are high quality and will have a long lifespan. Remember to bring reusable bags and avoid plastic bags while shopping!

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Shopping sustainably can be done easily, even here in Saskatoon. There are multiple stores and local businesses that provide many opportunities to shop smart, buy local and minimize your negative impact on the environment. Buying for a beauty lover? Green Tree Beauty offers sustainably made and natural cosmetics! The Farmer’s Market is a gathering of many local businesses which can help you to invest your money back into the province, rather than into large corporations. Locally owned stores like Hazlewood Vintage, Better Off Duds or 33rd Street Vintage Market, for example, are stores that offer high-quality vintage items for sale. These vintage items are very well made and still have many more years of life left in them – not to mention they are uniquely crafted! Second hand does not mean poorer quality. Most vintage items are made from natural fibres, real wood, glass, or metal, meaning that they will all naturally decompose when thrown away or that they can be safely recycled. Also, by purchasing an item second hand, you are saving a perfectly good item from the landfill, and promoting less wasteful manufacturing of new products.

 

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Another great idea is to purchase your friends or family natural products that will replace every day items that are usually made of plastic. This will not only be healthier for them, but for the planet as well.

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Some Christmas gifts do not need to be expensive at all! You can hand make your gifts! If you have some glass jars or little tin containers lying around (and if you don’t, Value Village is a great place to look) and simple ingredients found from the kitchen, DIY body scrubs, lip scrubs, lotions and other natural products are easy to make and give – Pinterest is full of recipes! Another great idea is to sew or knit something! Below, I have a picture of the reusable cotton makeup remover pads that I sewed! A handmade gift shows that the giver put some thoughtful effort into making the gift for the recipient. A promise of spending time with a friend or making special treats for someone is another way to make the season happy and memorable.

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Another important aspect about Christmas is the gift packaging. Most wrapping paper and gift bags cannot be recycled. This ends up with an unnecessarily large input going into the landfill. This can be easily avoided by switching to these following methods. Have extra pillowcases, sheets, scarves or tablecloths lying around your home? Wrap your gifts using the “furoshiki” practice. You can knot the fabric, or secure it with a broach! Fabric can be continually reused to wrap presents over and over! Another way to wrap gifts is with newspapers, paper bags, or old road maps – just insure that they are recycled afterward!

Need a stocking stuffer idea? I keep my hands looking holiday ready using natural lotions from Dad’s Organic Market and the Seche Vive Topcoat from Nail Polish Canada! I apply this topcoat initially and then 2-3 days after as well and it is the only top coat I’ve found that keeps the polish on for a week (and on my hands, that is saying something… usually I chip my nail polish in 2 days). This top coat also keeps my nails very shiny and strong! This polish offers a gel nail look without the need of a lamp. Nail Polish Canada also offers nail polishes that are toxin free, found here!

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I hope that this article helps you to make this Christmas season more sustainable and inspires you to bring that level of sustainability into all the other aspects of your life. After all, we only have one planet.

– Tiara

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Natural Body Skincare Products

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Natural products are more beneficial for our personal use and for the environment – so why not make the switch? I’ve been using natural products for almost a year now and it has been the best decision I’ve ever made. My main focus is purchasing products that are made locally, are not packaged in plastic and are composed of natural ingredients.

Remember that REUSE (from reduce, reuse & recycle) is listed before recycle because reusing is more important and crucial in being more environmentally-friendly! Purchase products that either have no packaging, or that have packaging that can be safely reused for years to come. (Hint: Plastic is not something you want to be reusing – this is why I stress that we need to reduce our purchases of plastic altogether).
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In the Shower:

Lush Solid Shampoo & Conditioner

  • Purchased from LUSH
  • 1 shampoo bar can last up to 80 washes
  • NO plastic! You can also purchase reusable tins!

These bars do not have any packaging and smell so wonderful! I know they are not 100% natural, however I have not had success with any completely natural shampoos and conditioners – I am still experimenting – but the shampoo & conditioner bar pros outweigh their cons. Just make sure to let them completely air-dry before you close the tin lid! There are tons of different options to choose from as well, at a very reasonable price.

Uncle Mike’s Body Scrub

  • Purchased from Uncle Mike’s
  • Made in Saskatoon
  • Comes in a reusable tin container!

This body scrub is completely natural & smells so good! This product slowly dissolves while exfoliating and leaves the skin moisturized.

Assorted Bar Soaps

  • Look for bar soap that has natural ingredients that are sustainably sourced and that does not have any packaging – I personally hate when natural bar soap has plastic packaging all around it – as it is not needed!
  • Ensure that the bar soap you’re purchasing is not made from sneaky chemical ingredients
  • Comparable products, like liquid body washes, contain petroleum-based detergents and added chemicals which are hormone disruptors and also pollute water systems – natural-ingredient bar soaps are safer!

I rub my bar soap into a loofa and wash my body – providing some extra exfoliation. Also, bar soap lasts so much longer than liquid body soap – which is better for the environment and also saves you some cash!

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Body Lotions & Oils:

Northlore Lowlands Body Oil

  • Purchased from Green Tree Beauty (ps: every time you purchase something from Green Tree Beauty – they plant a tree)!
  • Packaged in reusable glass container
  • Made in Saskatchewan

This body oil has a wonderful smell, it has a light citrus scent which is musky at the same time – so both men and women can happily use it. I apply this all over my body and let it absorb before I put on clothes. I need to reapply this oil daily.

Lush Massage Bars/Body Butters

  • Purchased from LUSH
  • No packaging!
  • Finished product is not tested on animals

I love these lotion bars because there is no packaging which eliminates all the resources and energy that would usually go into creating packaging and there is no garbage! Also there is no waste with these bars, as you can use every last bit of them and not be concerned that any product is going to waste, like when you get lotion in a plastic bottle and you know theres still half a cup lurking in the bottom that you cannot get to!

Avocado Oil/Grape-seed Oil

  • Easy to buy in bulk
  • Easy to find in grocery stores
  • Cheap but great for your skin

Ensure that the container you are purchasing the oil in is not a plastic container! I pour the desired oil into a little glass container and use it in place of a lotion after dry-brushing and after a shower.

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Facial Masks:

Redmond Clay

I mix this clay with water, honey, coconut milk or coconut water and apply it as a face mask. This clay draws-out toxins from the skin and it is safe to use on eczema patches! I am searching for some that I can purchase in a glass container – in the mean time I will make sure to recycle this container.

Northlore Plains Mud 

I mix this mask with either honey, coconut milk, or green tea. This powder mask smells amazing and is really good to use once every 2-3 weeks to help to maintain clear skin!

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Scents:

Uncle Mike’s Natural Deodorant

  • Purchased from Uncle Mike’s
  • This product is 100% natural
  • Made in Saskatoon

On my (long and smelly) journey in finding a natural deodorant that actually works, I always come back to this product. This is the best natural deodorant I’ve used and the smell is great for men and women. 1-2 swipes of this product last the entire day, and any slight oil stain left behind on clothing will easily wash out.

Wood’s Body Goods – Peppermint Breeze Natural Deodorant

  • Purchased from Green Tree Beauty 
  • Made in Canada
  • Cruelty-free, gluten-free, chemical-free
  • Uses simple ingredients from Canadian suppliers

This deodorant smells incredible and works well against body odours. However, I have to be careful to only use one swipe of this product, as it tends to leave a yellow oil stain on my shirts.

Saje Essential Oils & Perfumes

  • Purchased from Saje
  • 100% all natural ingredients
  • Pure essential oils
  • Saje uses ingredients that are derived from safe and renewable resources, and their packaging is reusable or recyclable.

I am obsessed with Saje products, I could spend my entire paycheque in that store. I love their products and I love how their products not only help me to smell great but also help to boost my mood, help with mental illness and my overall health. The chemicals that make up perfume are incredibly toxic to your health – this is why I made the switch to essential oils. You can customize your own personal scent by mixing essential oils as well – the possibilities are endless!

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Everything Else: 

Dr. Dronner’s Pure Castile Soap

  • Purchased from Dad’s Organic Market, and is also easily ordered online!
  • 100% natural ingredients, certified organic, fair trade and vegan
  • Is every concentrated – a little goes a long way!
  • Can replace every toxic cleaner in the household
  • Can be used for dozens of uses

These soaps come in rose, eucalyptus, tea tree, almond, citrus, lavender, peppermint, and baby mild scents. This soap can be used for shaving, shampoo, dental hygiene, body wash, bathing, hand soap, laundry wash, pet wash, fruit and vegetable cleaner, plant pest spray, household cleaner, and so much more! Yes, this stuff is packaged in pesky plastic – but now I buy it in bulk and it lasts me for almost a year, and the container is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, however I’m still waiting for a better alternative!

I hope this helps you to make the switch over to natural products!

    – Tiara