The Holiday Organic Adventurer

Sofia Paoletti, Elle Scruggs, Maggie Tarpley, Nicholas Paoletti, Allie Smotherman, Michael McClain, Jennifer Maurer.
far left: Rachel Day as Maria, at rear, Michael Elliott as the Captain.
Photo by Genny Wynn

Although I beg to differ, a friend maintains that “upcycling is sooo 2008.” Just goes to show that there are many different approaches to conscious consumption. That variety is a good thing, though, because it means that there are many ways to give creative gifts this holiday season that are beneficial not only to the environment, but also to your community and the people who will receive your gifts. Here are a few light-on-the-planet gift ideas for contributing to the well-being of a friend or family member and putting your dollars back into the local economy at the same time.
Instead of buying the latest iThing at the big-box store this year, consider going local. Aside from all of the fabulous independently owned shops in this town, Jacksonville also has market options. The Beaches Local Food Network is hosting their second annual “Buy Local for the Holidays” event during the Green Market on Saturday, December 10. You’ll find handmade organic children’s clothing and bibs, holiday collar bandannas for dog lovers, make-your-own recycled jump ropes, yummy treats like local raw goat’s milk fudge and holiday cookies, handcrafted holiday soaps, infused vinegars, organic T-shirts, and, my favorite, gift certificates to the Green Market! Not only will you be able to find eco-friendly gifts, you’ll be buying them from local entrepreneurs as well.
Speaking of entrepreneurs, this town is full of them. Kerri created a line of reusable cloths, called Bird-E towels, as an alternative to paper towels. You really do have to see them to know how pretty and useful they are- great for the stylish kitchen, the nursery and so much more. Check out her Etsy page at Jennifer makes fantastic soy candles and can even create a special candle using antique glasses and other vessels. You can find her Sublime Scents at Riverside Arts Market or Check out Christianna and Jonathan’s solar bags and toys at Jane ( and Frances ( are local authors whose children’s books have great educational and environmental themes. There are so many more amazing locals with great gifts ideas waiting for you! Meet them at markets, the endless bazaars that crop up before the holidays, or just Google whatever you’re looking for and add “Jacksonville.”
Purchasing services for those on your gift list is a helpful option that doesn’t involve plastic packaging and can also contribute to the local economy. Please your favorite parent by purchasing or contributing to tutoring for their child. Tutoring Club of Jacksonville ( owner and Mandarin resident, Dana Edmonds, says, “Tutoring is a great holiday gift because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. The help that a child gets to improve in school, the change in attitude toward learning- those are things that can really change that child’s life and will stay with that child forever.” Know someone who would really like to eat healthier? Consider buying or contributing to their purchase of a share in a Community Supported Agriculture farm like KYV Farm ( Your special someone will not only get delicious, local, organic produce, they’ll get a relationship with their farmer, which is another gift that keeps on giving. Other gift ideas for services include cleaning, massage or other spa or salon services, and lawn service. An eco-friendly and local version of each of those and more can likely be found with, again, a quick internet search. Or how about helping someone else make eco-friendly choices and changes? A green lifestyle consultation ( could be just the right gift.
Finally, people these days are inclined to return to simple pleasures such as just being with the ones they love. At the same time, spending money can be hard to find, so consider giving the gift of an experience. A trip to a nature center like Tree Hill (, an outdoor adventure with the likes of Kayak Amelia ( and learning the skills from First Coast Outfitters ( to stay safe during that adventure, discovery of our area’s natural beauty at places like Cumberland Island ( these are the kinds of gifts that will create lifelong memories.
With a little thought (And isn’t the thought what gift-giving is all about?) you can delight everyone on your gift list this year with something that they, the community and the planet will all appreciate. Happy holidays!