Thursday, December 16, 2010

10 Things Thursday: 10 Random Things

For most of us there will be some level of gift shopping to do in the coming weeks. On each of the 10 Thursdays from October 21, up until the day before Christmas Eve, it is my goal to present 10 ideas (at least), in 10 different themes, for eco-friendly gifting. Many suggestions will be places I know or products I've purchased or received. One hundred ideas by no means makes a comprehensive list. But it's a start. Suggestions for future lists are most welcome. Random Things are great items that simply didn’t make the cut on my previous 8 lists. There should be something on this list for everybody. Many of these items are made in the USA and sold locally. I offer up List 9.

10 Random Things
  1. The Weekender eTech Convertible Bag sold by eBag. This amazing bag is my find of the year! Its dimensions make it a legal carry-on. Since it has no wheels, there  is a large interior volume for packing stuff. Stow-away straps allow for easy conversion to a backpack if you discover you need to walk any distance. This bag is durable and lightweight with many zippered compartments and a contrasting lining, making it easy to locate a particular item. This bag holds a lot. With careful planning you can easily pack for a week under most circumstances (one level of dress, no temperature extremes). The savings on the checked baggage fee at each end will just about pay for the bag. There are over 2,000 reviews of this bag on the E-Bag site; 97% of reviewers would buy this bag again. Here is a sample: “It is more than a weekender. I travelled to a casual week in northern California with this as my main carry-on luggage bag…It easily fits into the overhead storage bin and, because it is missing the wheels and extendable handle it is much lighter and compresses better in smaller spaces. It has an end grip which works best when you are boarding a plane and about to throw it into the overhead. It has a side grip which is best for walking through the terminal or on an escalator. The back-packing straps, which are comfortable and easy to put on, came in handy, too, for hands-free walking. It comes with zippered pockets that help organize your stuff or keep things at-the-ready if you need them… My luggage before this is no longer a carry-on and, had I taken it it on this trip, the fee for checking it would have cost more than my Weekender eTech Convertible. I know someone who needs one of these.” I wish I could add that this bag is made in the USA, but I just heard from the company rep that it's made in China.
  2. Hula Hoops are back! Devotees of hooping include Marisa Tomei (and Michelle Obama who, according to the Caucus blog at the The New York Times, did 142 swivels at the Healthy Kids Day she hosted at the White House. You can burn calories with any hula hoops for serious exercise are very different form the colored plastic ones introduced by Wham-O in my youth. The updated ones are weighted and come in a wide range of prices. Many are collapsible to save space (the diameter on these is quite large); some come with instructional videos. Marisa Tomei has put together her own complete package. Philo Hagen, the founder of, has hooped at the Burning Man Festival and is no slouch as you can see in this video. For more on the exercise benefits of hooping check out this article at
  3. Calendars to support a cause. My perennial favorite is the Wilderness Calendar the Sierra Club publishes each year.
  4. Souvenirs from “home.” Caps, mugs, a new book, hoodies, or a t-shirt… I once sent a t-shirt packed in one of Modern Pizza’s signature boxes. For those of you who might not know, New Haven’s Modern Pizza is favored by most locals and is now on Playboy’s A-List for best pizza. 
  5. Naturopathic Remedies. I am no fan of flying, but sometimes it’s the only practical way to get there. I am prone to motion sickness and discovered Sea Bands after an unfortunate on-flight experience (yes, some people still do use those little bags). These comfy bands seem to work and are not that noticeable. They are also good when riding in the back seat of a car. For those who suffer from migraines, I have been told that lavender eyeshields are an effective remedy. Last year I gifted a handmade one purchased at the CitySeed Market. Its scent is activated by a short stint in the microwave. The site for the Lavender Bee Farm in Petaluma, California discusses the medicinal properties of lavender and provides instructions for making your own eye pillow.  
  6. Beeswax Candles. These cost more but last longer than paraffin ones, which are made from petroleum products. They don’t drip, burn cleaner, and have a pleasant natural scent. More importantly, they are a natural and sustainable product. Save the remnants for unsticking old fashioned drawers, doors, and windows. You can read more at this candle company’s site. Check out your farmers’ market or online at the LocalHarvest site to see if you can purchase these locally. 
  7. A Rotary-style Cheese Grater or a Microplane (also known as a “kitchen rasp”). Say “no” to grated cheese in a jar. And remember to collect and save your parmesan rinds for cooking.
  8. Micro-fiber Cleaning Cloths. This is not a sexy-sounding gift, but these cloths virtually cut out the need for paper towels, good both for the planet and the wallet. Easily laundered. Readily available in the supermarket.
  9. Tickets to a play or concert. Give someone you love a night (or afternoon) out on the town while supporting the arts in your community.
  10. A Harvey’s Bag. One of these bags (a bright red one) caught my eye in the window of Idiom on Chapel Street in New Haven. I looked closely and then saw that it was made from seatbelts! Harvey’s bags are rather pricey, but they are very stylish and look like they would last forever. Check out the Stella line at the site: these are real beauties! Harvey’s was started in 1997 by a husband and wife team in Santa Ana, California. The idea came to them as they were installing seatbelts in their old Buick. Take a virtual tour to see where the bags are “built” and who builds them. They are on Blogger, just like me! You can shop online, but there is also a store locator on the site.
I have two more bonus suggestions for you:
  • Give something you have to someone who would love it more. I am not talking about simple “re-gifting” here. Make it something good.
  • Keep a memory alive. Brighten up the holidays by buying a gift for someone who needs one in memory of someone you loved and for whom you used to shop. This year my dad is “giving” LEGOs and KNEX to some special needs kids.
Look for me next Thursday. Just one list to go…

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