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.

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HOST OPEN: 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.

NAT SOUND: Bells ringing as door opens at WildCard

MORRIS: These necklaces are recycled liquor bottles, there's wine bottles, you can see Absolut bottles on some of them. She basically takes and cuts out different interesting shapes, hearts or teardrop shapes, and puts them onto a chain...

YERGIN: Rebecca Morris likes to stock recycled goods as much as possible in the boutique she owns in Pittsburgh--named WildCard.

MORRIS: 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.

YERGIN: WildCard sells journals made out of recycled paper and magnets crafted from old books and security envelopes. But it carries more than stationery and jewelry. Hula hoops made by a local artist and decorated brightly colored metallic tape hang over the store counter. 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. WildCard's on the main street of the Lawrenceville neighborhood, where many shops boast handmade products from regional artisans.

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

NAT SOUND: Pulling sheets of wrapping paper off the stack.

MORRIS: Some of our wrapping papers use recycled material. Some of them indicate that, and some of them use soy-based inks as well.

BUCCHOLZ:That is $157.91
YERGIN: Stores like WildCard aren't cheap. They're based on the idea of paying local artists a fair wage for their ingenuity and their work. For example, the Pittsburgh onesie costs $16 at WildCard where the same one without print is on sale from American Apparel for six. A hula hoop--newly named the fitness hoop--at WalMart is 20 bucks whereas similar sized ones from artist Stef Moser sell at WildCard for $40. But assistant manager Matthew Buchholz says:

BUCCHOLZ:A store like this isn't just something where we're buying something and taking a profit. Local artists and crafters and people who make things right here in Pittsburgh also get a share of that money, so it benefits everyone for you to buy things locally.

Across the state, Philadelphia has several options including Loop and the Big Green Earth Store, where you'll find gifts for everyone from the newest addition in your family to man's best friend. Store clerk Dominic Kaanaana's top recommendation for gifts this year? Moso bags.

KAANAANA: There's one product called the Moso bags and what it is is a natural bamboo air purifier and it basically uses charged carbon to clean out the air.

YERGIN: These little bags might be perfect for that friend who loves to burn scented candles because in addition to keeping the air cleaner, they're also supposed to make it smell fresher. A small bag, meant for a 90 sq foot area, is $10. Many of Big Green Earth's products are also available online.

And if you really want to go green this holiday season, and save yourself some green, too in the process, take a look around your own house for gift ideas. With a personal inscription, your copy of a favorite book becomes a gift.

For The Allegheny Front, I'm Ilana Yergin.