Vicky Sanderson is a small appliance expert; she tries out all kinds of appliances and gadgets and tells us whether or not they’re a worthwhile investment. If you follow her blog, On the House, or read her Saturday column in The Star, or catch her on various TV programs such as Canada AM, Steven and Chris, or Breakfast Television, you know that she has great, practical advice not only about what appliances are worthwhile and which ones aren’t, but she also shares decorating tips and always does it with her dry sense of humour!

Like many of us, Vicky is concerned about buying things you don’t need or won’t use just for the sake of buying things, which, of course, can be a real problem around the holiday season. So she’s very kindly consented to sharing some of her green Christmas tips and gift suggestions for our readers. If you’d like to follow Vicky’s blog, here is a link to it. Be sure to read the Iceberg Vodka post, not only will you get a great holiday drink recipe, you’ll also read about “other uses for vodka,” like cleaning windows and jewelry…really.

Green Christmas Tips and Gift Ideas — By Vicky Sanderson

Vicky Sanderson

Those of you trying to live lightly on the planet can be forgiven for feeling slightly conflicted at Christmas. You want to partake in the fun of gift-giving, but there’s also a strong desire not to offer presents that will become part of the waste stream by Easter. One solution is to offer practical gifts that will get lots of use, some of which can even contribute to a greener lifestyle. Here are a few ideas to consider.

There’s been lots of attention given recently to the idea of eating locally, and not wasting food, which should be valued as the precious resource that it is. There’s also been a surge of interest in eating less meat and more grains and vegetables. For some, juicing has become part of that switch.

Breville Juicer

Both veteran and neophyte juicers will appreciate Breville’s new Juice Fountain Plus , because it will help them turn such locally-grown produce as beets, cucumber, apples, celery, and carrots into healthful juices that can contribute to a diet that’s respectful of the earth’s seasons and cycles.

At about $180, this easy-to-clean juicer is a great addition to the eco-conscious kitchen.  Another way it can help; instead of throwing out the pulp from, for example, apples, add it to muffin recipes to bump up the fibre content. And use the leftover shreddings from carrots and other veg for additive-free stocks or healthy salads.

I’m convinced that one of the reasons we’ve become a throw-away society is that we no longer understand how stuff works, or how to fix it. So when the car/bike/barbeque goes on the fritz, we’re all too likely to simply think it’s time to buy a new one. You can help reverse that trend by making a commitment to learning how to repair, rather than replace, things that break.

Stanley Mechanic Kit

One way to start? Pledge to make 2011 the year you and your family learn how to do simple car and bike repairs and maintenance.  That will be easier if someone gets a Stanley FatMax Mechanics Tool Set for Christmas. The tools in this 142-piece socket set are made from forged chrome. That means they’re both rust and corrosion resistant. Beginner mechanics will find the markings are easy to read because they’re laser-etched on each of the tools, which are designed to deliver good torque with less slippage.  Best of all, while the set normally sells for about $200, it’s on sale now at Canadian Tire for $99.

Boulclair Reindeer

While it’s always fun to decorate the home for the holidays, you needn’t go out and re-invent the wheel every year. If you want to switch up your holiday colour scheme, refresh old ornaments by giving them a coat of spray paint. Go for an unexpected colour combination, such as aqua and silver, or black and fuchsia, which are very trendy this year. Then fill in your holiday look with one or two small accessories from a stylish but affordable retailer such as Bouclair, whose offering this year includes adorable reindeer with feathery ruffs that come in several shades, including fuchsia and aqua, and cost just $7 each.  If there’s a decorista on your shopping list, consider presenting her with a great –looking lamp from Bouclair. I love the table lamps with clear acrylic bases and linen-like shades that start at about $32. Make the gift greener by adding one of Philips’ new LED bulbs, which last up to 25,000 hours — or as much as 25 times longer — than traditional incandescent bulbs. While you’re at it, treat yourself to something from this line, which includes everything from the traditionally-shaped bulb, to indoor floods — for recessed and track lighting — to decorative candles and vanity globes.

And here’s hoping for a green Christmas — with lots of snow, of course!

BEC Green

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