For the environmentally friendly and anti-consumerism folks, the holidays present quite the dilemma. Sure, I’d like some newly minted items, but at what cost to the environment? What does Wal-Mart have that I can’t live without anyway? And even if you couldn’t care less about leaving a light footprint, I’m sure everyone is with me in a mutual desire to avoid the hellish scene at the mall during the next six weeks. (True materialistic mall rats wouldn’t get caught reading this anyway.)

This year I want green gifts. I want items that can help me reduce my impact on the environment. But much like eating vegetarian comes with a higher price tag, so does saving the world. Here’s what would help out.

At the top of the list is a kit to convert my 1976 diesel Mercedes, an art car in progress, to run off waste vegetable oil. It’s not for everyone, but at least I won’t continue to be a major force in depleting nonrenewable fossil fuels. It’s economical at $495, when considering the free oil gathered from local businesses. Veggie Fuel Systems in Hernando (352-476-8697, www.veggiefuelsystems.com) also installs the 6.5-gallon tanks and miscellaneous parts for Central Florida residents in the event it’s not as easy as it looks. With my ineptitude around cars, that’s a very real possibility.

Next up is the Can-O-Worms composter ($185 at Evolve, 604 N. Thornton Ave., 407-595-3731, www.evolve-store.com). I admit that the idea of a small “worm condo” crawling with a pound of worms in my kitchen makes me slightly squeamish. However, my hesitation to house dozens of creepy crawlers doesn’t outweigh the positive impact – kitchen scraps and junk mail turned to garden fertilizer, keeping organic waste out of landfills. Bring on the worms.

Since you’re already there at Evolve picking up gobs of unseemly worms, how about customizing an Orenda herbal gift set for me ($15-$50) to smooth over the worries? A variety of recycled and hemp bags are available to stuff with bath, body, face and home organic herbal products. The generic girlie bath set with the pink pouf is inevitable, so why not at least make it an organic (not pink) one that was created locally?

Energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs ($4.49 and up) may not sound like a sexy holiday gift, but they are too damn expensive to buy in a single pass (at least on a writer’s salary). There are so many light fixtures in my hall bathroom that it cost $25 just to replace them, so you can imagine how much it might take for the whole house. Going green definitely isn’t cheap. But the effects are significant. The bulbs use 75 percent less energy, last 10 times longer and if everyone used just a single bulb for the next year, it would prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to 800,000 cars.

After I’m done replacing all these light bulbs, I’m going to be mighty tired. That’s when I was thinking that a gift certificate to the Little Green Spa (620 N. Thornton Ave., 407-254-0010, www.littlegreenspa.com) might come in handy. Sipping a cup of tea while enjoying a facial, manicure, pedicure or any one of the many services they offer using holistic and organic products seems like the perfect way to end the chaos that is the holiday season.


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