Whether you're looking for the perfect gift for your favorite tree-hugger or just trying to keep the "green" in Christmas, there are plenty of choices out there -- from carbon offsets to bamboo lingerie.
The selection of green gift ideas has grown along with public interest in Earth-friendly, or sustainable, products and practices. Alison Worthington of the Hartman Group consumer research firm said 88 percent of consumers claim they support sustainability and a third say they're buying more green products despite the economic downturn.
For the hardcore greenie who has everything, how about something to stop global warming?
-- New York's Adirondack Council (www.adirondackcouncil.org) is offering carbon allowances that it bought at a greenhouse gas auction staged by 10 northeastern states in September. The states are requiring power plants to buy allowances for every ton of carbon they spew into the air, with a cap on the total available for sale. By buying and "retiring" some of the allowances, the Adirondack Council reduced the total amount of carbon power plants are allowed to produce.
For $25, you get a moose-adorned certificate suitable for framing that indicates you retired three tons of carbon dioxide pollution.
-- The Environmental Defense Fund markets renewable energy certificates that subsidize green energy projects, and carbon offsets to support projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For $10 a ton, you can buy carbon offsets linked to specific projects -- say, elimination of landfill methane or clean energy from cow manure -- through its Web site (www.carbonoffsetlist.org).
Carbon offsets allow you to make up for some of the carbon you produce -- say, by driving a car -- by supporting projects that reduce emissions from other sources.
Looking for something that's easier to wrap up in recycled paper and all-natural raffia ribbons? The EDF has some stocking stuffer ideas with links to Web sites that sell them: A national parks pass or membership to an aquarium or botanical garden; free-trade organic chocolate Santas; energy-efficient light bulbs; or jewelry made from recycled materials.
-- The Alternative Consumer (www.alternativeconsumer.com) also offers an eco-friendly gift guide with prices ranging from about $20 to $3,000 and links to sellers. Its suggestions include the energy-efficient and recyclable new MacBook Pro laptop; an aluminum Sigg water bottle to replace plastic or disposable ones; a hemp messenger bag; the Planet Earth series on DVD; and a vegetarian cookbook.
-- LocalHarvest, which supports small farms and locally grown products, offers an array of items ranging from the exotic -- rabbit-meat sausage, quail eggs, buffalo jerky and elk burgers -- to more common things like handcrafted soaps, herbal teas, artisanal cheese, and fresh and dried fruits. A search by zip code on its Web site (www.localharvest.org) helps you find local producers to avoid energy-wasting, air-polluting long-distance shipping.
-- Looking for something a bit more luxurious for that special, planet-loving lady? The folks at Eco-Boudoir (www.eco-boudoir.com) whose slogan is "Luxury with a conscience," may have just the thing. How about a bamboo bra ($66) and hemp silk lounge pants ($156)? Or perhaps an organic lavender-filled, hemp silk pillow?
-- Gift ideas abound for organic gardeners. From Agriculture Solutions there's the "Can-O-Worms" composter, which can sit right next to the kitchen chopping block. The cylindrical, multilevel worm condo produces rich, organic fertilizer as thousands of hungry red worms devour your garbage. It includes a spigot on the bottom to dispense "worm tea" -- a drink for plants, not people. Worms are sold separately -- about $35 a pound on the company's Web site (www.agriculturesolutions.com).
And to wrap it all up, there's recycled paper, reusable fabric, or cloth tote bags that can later be used to haul groceries.