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Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Science Environment

Green Holiday Gift Ideas

If you're shopping for the eco-conscious on your holiday list, your first instinct might be to reach for the keyboard and go online. But in larger cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, several shops are offering a growing number of products considered green — from regional artists' recycled jewelry to air cleaners. The Allegheny Front's Ilana Yergin plays the elf this week, and checks out some stores.
(Ilana Yergin/Allegheny Front)
Eco-friendly items on display at WildCard in Lawrenceville.

If you’re shopping for the eco-conscious on your holiday list, your first instinct might be to go online. But in larger cities like Pittsburgh, several shops are offering a growing number of products considered to be “green.”

These necklaces are recycled liquor bottles. There’s wine bottles, you can see Absolut bottles on some of them,” said Rebecca Morris. “She basically takes and cuts out different interesting shapes, hearts or teardrop shapes, and puts them onto a chain.”

Morris likes to stock recycled goods as much as possible her boutique, WildCard in Lawrenceville.

You can think about where the item came from, and I think it’s just a great way to reuse things and make them into something new,” she said.

WildCard sells journals made out of recycled paper, and magnets crafted from old books, and security envelopes and hula hoops made by a local artist. Screenprinted baby onesies with an image of an old typewriter and the words “Dear Pittsburgh: I love you” sit on a shelf near the door.

And if you want a classier look than the Sunday comics to wrap your gifts, Morris has that covered, too.

Some of our wrapping papers use recycled material,” said Morris. “And some of them use soy-based inks as well.”

Stores like WildCard aren’t cheap. For example, the Pittsburgh onesie costs $16 at WildCard, where the same one without print is on sale from American Apparel for $6. A hula hoop — newly named the fitness hoop — at WalMart is $20, whereas similar sized ones from artist Stef Moser sell at WildCard for $40. But assistant manager Matthew Buchholz says that in shopping at stores like WildCard, you’re supporting more than just the store. You support local artists, as well.

Also on Lawrenceville’s Butler Street is Pavement, a high fashion, and equally high priced boutique. It bills itself as socially conscious and carries many local and eco-friendly shoes and clothing. Owner Alissa Martin thinks people appreciate knowing the history of their apparel.

For example, Pre-Loved makes scarves and mittens made from old flannel shirts and sweaters. The Secondary Materials and Textiles Association (SMART) believes that repurposing clothes like this is an important form of recycling. According to the EPA, the average consumer throws away about 70 pounds of textiles a year, 95 percent of which could be reused. It all gives the concept of holiday re-gifting a whole new meaning.