A new era in gift-giving is here and the Eco Gift Expo, held December 15-16 at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, ushered in what is slated to become an annual event, “the first large-scale holiday gift show for eco-conscious people.” For two days, exhibitors displayed environmentally conscious wares ranging from natural wood furniture to hand-woven clothing and jewelry made from found natural objects.
Of course, the gifts at Eco Gift Expo can be given all during the year. For those who haven’t finished their holiday shopping yet, for those who want information on eco-conscious gifts for next year, or for those who might want to buy a sustainable gift for a birthday or some other occasion, here are a few suggestions gleaned from the Eco Expo.
Dana Miller’s Herban Body Care products are “all natural and handmade by me.” Miller uses essential oils and herbs to make a line of cleaners, exfoliants, and moisturizers. A major ingredient in her products is shea butter. “It’s a nut,” she explains. “It gets cracked open and crushed,” yielding a creamy substance not unlike peanut butter. To this are added fragrant oils to create scents like vanilla-orange, sweet ginger, sandalwood, jasmine, patchouli, lemongrass, and spearmint-rosemary. Herban Body Care products are available by calling Miller at 818.692.8728 or going to herban.net.
For a gift that will continue to enrich the mind and soul, one can join an environmental film club. Earth Cinema Circle (EarthCinemaCircle.com, 866.284.8058) and the Spiritual Cinema Circle (dvdsthatmatter.com, 888.447.5494) both offer memberships similar to Netflix, with DVDs of environmentally conscious films mailed to the member (every other month for $17.95 introductory price at Earth Cinema, every month for $21 at Spiritual Cinema).
Dr. Karl Wald’s Mr. Ellie Pooh is a company that makes paper goods out of – get ready for this – elephant dung. Wald and his brother, Eric, were blissfully informing visitors to Eco Gift Expo of their wares – notebooks, pads, cards, stationery, all made with 20 percent rice paper and 80 percent elephant dung – and the products smelled fine, believe it or not. Karl Wald, a microbiologist, spent time in Sri Lanka, one of the places where indigenous elephants live, and where the inhabitants have long made things from the elephant’s leavings. For a truly unusual gift from our pachyderm friends, go to mrelliepooh.com.
On a sweeter note, Theo Chocolates from Seattle are chocolate bars made from organic and fair trade cacao. Theo’s Chief Trade Ambassador Pamela Hinckley explained that the bars are either “Theo Bars” named for the cacao bean’s country of origin (such as Ghana Panama Ecuador 75 percent cacao), or “3400 Phinney” bars, named for the street on which the business is located, with added ingredients like bread or cacao bean nibs. Buy Theo products at theochocolate.com.
Local businesses were also represented at the Expo. Arbor Skateboards (arborsports.com) is nearby in Venice. Showroom manager Andrew Jacobson described the skate and snowboards on display as being made from renewable wood sources (bamboo, Hawaiian koa, Canadian hard rock maple). Arbor’s aim is to use environmentally friendly materials “to improve performance and style.” Arbor also has a clothing line made from a combination of bamboo and cotton fibers.
And Ananda LA is familiar to many, located on Main Street, just down the road from the Civic. Ananda, which means “bliss or divine joy” in Sanskrit, is more than a yoga center. It offers free Thursday night lectures, classes in meditation and advanced yoga paths, healing services, seminars, special events, and a “lifestyles boutique” with spiritual gifts that can be purchased year-round. For more information, go to anandala.org.