Green Goes Simple: Conservation at Home

By Marisa Belger

Summer is all about weekend escapes — to the beach, to the lake, to the mountains and beyond. And while getaway accommodations can take many different forms, they often involve the hospitality of friends or family.

If you’ve ever been on the hosting end, you know that opening your home to guests is a great act of warmth and generosity. This year, try acknowledging the gift of a cozy bed and wonderful company with an eco-savvy hostess present that shows how much you appreciate being welcomed into someone’s home. Hey, think of all the money you’re saving in hotel costs!

Emily Anderson, author of Eco Chic Home, recommends giving gifts that are thoughtful — without being showy. “When I give a hostess gift, I want it to be a nice gesture of appreciation, but not something over-the-top,” she says. “I’m also sure to think of something that my hosts will put to good use.”

While a bottle of (organic) wine or a pretty (soy-based) candle are classic options, Anderson also likes exercising a bit of creativity in her gift-giving. The results are meaningful and earth-friendly:

A Home for Lonely Cups
“I’m always collecting orphan pieces of china at the thrift store,” says Anderson. “Creamers, sugar jars and, of course, teacups, which all make excellent hostess gifts.” To complete the gift, Anderson fills the piece with a small satchel of her favorite organic fair-trade tea and ties a ribbon around to hold it all together.

The Artist Within
“I happen to think that everyone could use a little more art in their lives,” says Anderson. She suggests pairing nontoxic watercolor paints with a small pad of recycled paper. Tie a ribbon around the package and you’ve got an instantly creative hostess gift.

Practical and Pretty
To assist your hosts in living green, Anderson suggests giving the practical gift of dishcloths. “You can never have enough dishcloths,” says Anderson. Make it a pretty present by rolling up three new cotton towels — bonus points if they’re organic — and tying them together with a ribbon.

Grow a Green Thumb
“Just because someone doesn’t have a green thumb doesn’t mean they can’t learn to become a gardener,” says Anderson. She suggests giving your hosts a small bucket filled with a few seed packets and a pair of gardening gloves.

Marisa Belger’s work has appeared in Travel + Leisure Family, Natural Health, Prevention and TODAYShow.com, where she wrote a column about eco-friendly living. She was an editor at Lime.com and collaborated with author Josh Dorfman on his bestselling books, The Lazy Environmentalist and The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget. She is the managing editor of and frequent contributor to Green Goes Simple.

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