Best holiday gifts for the eco-friendly (and all under $40)

Categories: Holidays

For the chef
When Libby Macdougall retired, she had to find a way to stay busy. Her solution: Outback WoodWorks. Macdougall makes chickadee and blue bird nesting boxes for the casual nature
aficionado ($20 - $25) or worm composting bins for the die-hard ($12). But our top pick is her solar food dryer, which comes in small ($25) and large ($40). Instead of shelling out for costly dried goods like fruits and sundried tomatoes, or using an energy-intensive electric dehydrator, with Macdougall's box, you can harness the drying capabilities of the sun. Unfortunately, the box isn't quite powerful enough for dried meats like jerky -- its peak temperature is about 140 degrees, and meat demands 165. But are you eco-warriors really eating jerky anyway? (Doubly friendly: Macdougall donates all her profits to local food shelves and animal rescue groups). [].

For the zen
Linda Newman swears by beeswax candles: They drip less, smoke less, emit a faint honey scent, and purify the air. And, of course, beeswax candles are as natural as they get as they're a product of flower nectar that goes straight "from the hive to the candle." Newman's candles are "a passion," and made in her Watertown, Minnesota studio. Her candle production will soon be solar-powered, and she packages with sustainable material. Prices vary from $2 for 10 ounces of raw beeswax to $40.50 for an 18-pack of votives. []

  For the flu-stricken or lunchbox-packing
Ann Kreider is bringing back the handkerchief, and she's doing one better than cotton: flannel (one for $2.50, four for $9). You know those tissue commercials that talk about how gentle their tissue brand is? Flannel is like the best of those, times 10. "Some people think they're gross, but it's like wearing underwear again," she says. Kreider's hankies come in cute prints, and she also makes mini lunchbox napkins out of equally charming patterns (four for $6). Throw them in the wash, and save a few rolls of paper towels -- and trees. []

For the music-lover
When Hymie's Records has vinyl that's broken, warped, scratched, or generally unplayable, instead of immediately tossing them, the store calls Paul Burnham, who then repurposes the album art. Burnham's creations range from coasters ($2) to notebooks and sketchbooks in different sizes ($15). Most in-demand artists or albums? "Who you'd expect," he says. "Everyone always wants The Beatles." []

For the designer
In June, Ann Larkin and Pamela Mayer officially launched their business, Tesoro Mio (Italian for "My treasure!"). Since then, they've been churning out lovely soy wax candles blended with essential oils like lavender or basil, and poured into Pellegrino bottles and mason jars. They also do custom containers, like a special wine bottle, and will refill the beautiful jars with another candle for just $1 an ounce. []

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