Happy Environmentally Friendly Holidays!

With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to break out the decorations, fill your favorite reusable mug with egg nog and spiked cider, and hang up the LED twinkle lights! That’s right, this year, consider taking an eco-friendly route to your holiday routine; make your gift-giving and personal wish lists, holiday decor and (new) traditions a little more environmentally friendly with these 5 tips. 

Organic Foods_Image by Ryan Michelle Scavo_1066x696

1) Make it from scratch and keep it organic

Hosting a holiday party? Joining in on the office potluck? Prepping for the annual family holiday dinner? Consider going organic and making (most of) your dishes from scratch with those tasty organic ingredients. 

I love food and I love to cook, but I didn’t always buy organic or make meals from the ground up. For years, as Thanksgiving and Christmas approached, I would make it a point to grab a few cans of that wiggly, cylinder-molded, gelatinous so-called cranberry sauce from the grocery store shelves because it was my family’s tradition; it’s what I knew to be “cranberry sauce”. It didn’t know what I was missing until riding the bus one day, a fellow commuter told me about her family’s “famous” cranberry sauce. Authenticity is hard to beat and a homemade dish is a testament to that fact. While that gelatinous sauce is tasty, a heaping spoonful of made-with-love, slightly-sweet-yet-deliciously-tart cranberry sauce hits the spot every time.

And while not all your ingredients and food choices need to be organic, transitioning to organically grown/raised foods is a sustainable, environmentally-friendly choice. Thanks to growing consumer interest, we have more organic options than ever before right at our fingertips. Vegetables, meats, wines, beers, breads…the list goes on. Organic foods are free of synthetic-based fertilizers/pesticides, so eating and drinking organic means fewer pollutants in your system and more nutrients remaining in the land/water, keeping you and the planet a little happier and healthier.

Christmas Tree Hunting 3_Image by Ryan Michelle Scavo_1066x696

Christmas Tree Hunting 2_Image by Ryan Michelle Scavo_1066x696

2) Skip the plastic; go natural with holiday decor

Plastics are a big part of our culture. We find them everywhere: plastic bottles, plastic utensils, plastic packaging, plastic this and plastic that. If you’ve already transitioned your everyday items (bottles, utensils, etc.) to reusable, why not do it with your holiday decor? No matter what holiday you and your friends and family celebrate, if you love to decorate, there are a plethora of natural options. 

For those of you celebrating Hanukkah, consider natural, beeswax candles for the menorah. Often, they’re handmade and they always smell lovely. If Christmas is your holiday of choice, picking a real one is your best choice for an eco friendly Christmas tree. “Friendly fur” trees are softer to the touch while spruce tree needles are a little less forgiving. Of course, whatever species of tree you find, keep it watered and indulge in the natural piney fragrance!

You can also decorate your space with pine bows, grapevine wreaths, pine cones and dried flowers. If you go the dried flower or pine cone route, make them especially festive by spraying them silver and gold with a non-toxic paint. 

3) Buy local, share sustainability-minded gifts and skip the wrapping paper

A lot of factors go into calculating our carbon, including where our food and goods come from. If you have the option, shop locally for gifts this year. Ride your bike, walk or take public transit to local stores – and don’t forget to bring your own bag!

If you can’t find what you want locally (and even if you do), choose to buy sustainably-made gifts. Meaning, look for natural materials and fibers (wood, wool) and ethically-sourced materials in the goodies you’re gifting. 

And finally, if you’ve checked out the shipping practices at Toad&Co, you might be surprised to read that “roughly 165 billion packages are shipped in the U.S. each year, which equals more than 1 billion trees and 140 billion gallons of water used”. There’s no denying it, that’s a lot of resources being used. So whether you order online or purchase gifts at stores, choose companies that offer recycled, no-plastic packaging and skip the wrapping paper altogether. To wrap smaller items, consider using a bonus gift, like a scarf or organic cotton tea towel to keep the surprise alive (here’s a step by step tutorial for wrapping gifts in cloth). For bigger items, larger colorful towels, paper bags, and even foldable maps are great repurposed resources!

Get Outside and Ski_Image by Ryan Michelle Scavo_1066x696.jpg

4) Gift experiences

If you want to take a different approach to gift-giving this year, consider gifting experiences, rather than stuff. How many pairs of socks does your partner really need? For the cocktail lover, gift a “mixologist 101” class. Wildlife enthusiast? Take them birding at the nearby refuge or city park! Lover of all things snow? Sounds like a backcountry hut trip would be a perfect option! 

Experiences create memories and make great eco friendly gifts, especially for the people on your list that are difficult to shop for or seem to already have everything.

Get Outside_Image by Ryan Michelle Scavo

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5) Celebrate outside

Just because it’s getting cooler outside, doesn’t mean you need to lock yourself up inside. ‘But how is getting outside eco-friendly’, you ask? Easy! 

First, let’s start with saving energy. Throwing a layer on and getting out of the house or apartment means you don’t have to turn the heat (i.e., your thermostat) up in your home. By keeping your energy use down, you’re saving resources and money. 

Second, staying connected to the outdoors by going for walks around town, longer hikes at parks and on trails or skiing (among other activities) reminds us how important outdoor spaces really are to ourselves and hopefully to others. If you care about a space, you tend to want to protect it! Making and maintaining a connection to the outdoors is a great way to live a more environmentally conscious life all year long.

It might be the end of the year, but the holidays are a great time to start new traditions to carry into the new year. These 5 eco friendly holiday tips are just the start – try them and then find your own ways to celebrate and live more sustainably!

Get Outside_Image by Sam Scavo_1066x696.jpg

A Pennsylvania native and Colorado transplant, Ryan is a proud mountain mama to two wild outdoors-loving kiddos and a couple of equally wild cattle dogs. She’s also a photographer, writer and outdoorswoman. When she and her husband aren’t wrangling the pack – and more often, when they are – you’ll find them fly fishing, skiing or biking somewhere around their home in southern Colorado.

Photography by Ryan Scavo and Sam Scavo.

Apple Cider Donuts

Makes: A dozen
Time: 35 mins
Listen to: Rock the Holidays Playlist
Recipe from: Daisy, Copy Editor & Donut Enthusiast

Every year on Christmas morning we spike our coffee, settle into our respective couch/chair/floor positions, and dig into heaps of homemade Apple Cider Donuts. It’s a tradition that goes back to my Pennsylvania roots – where my grandmother proudly made her OWN apple cider in the fall and these donuts were her way of reminding us of the feat well into winter. We’ve since relocated to Southern California and substituted grandma’s homemade apple cider for the local farmer’s, but the tradition – and sugar rush – are still going strong.

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup apple cider, organic or local is best

 

Pre-heat the oven to 350° and lightly grease two 6-doughnut pans (or a 12-cup muffin tin). In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment (or a bowl with some serious elbow grease), cream 10 tablespoons butter (or 1¼ sticks), brown sugar and ¼ cup granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy ( about 3 to 4 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time mixing until well after each egg, scrape the bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract. Switch to low speed and add the flour mixture. Keep the mixer running and add the apple cider in a slow, steady stream. Scrape the bowl to make sure all the batter is mixed thoroughly – no weird bumps!

Spoon (or pipe) the batter into doughnut pans, filling them about 2/3 of the way full. For Donuts: Bake 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through, until evenly golden brown. For Muffins: Bake 15-20 minutes, rotating halfway through ,until evenly golden brown. (For both, do the toothpick test: insert pick into the center to see if it comes out clean. If not, cook for a few more minutes).

While the doughnuts bake, whisk together the remaining ½ cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Let the doughnuts cool for 5 minutes after baking, then pop them out of the pan, brush with melted butter, and dunk in cinnamon sugar – all while they’re still warm.

Serve immediately with spiked coffee and holiday tunes.

TOAD & CO FALL WINTER 2018

Need PJs? We got you covered for dudes and dudettes.

DIY Pumpkin Keg 

You say Jack-o-Lantern, we say Pumpkin Keg. With a love of beer and a handful of random kitchen supplies, we looked at a pumpkin and saw opportunity. Advancements were made, limits were pushed, and the results were beyond our wildest dreams: a more sustainable, more portable, more festive keg. Follow these steps to make your own Pumpkin Keg. Medium size pumpkin holds a six-pack.

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Step 1: Cut out the stem of the pumpkin in a hexagonal shape, with a slight tilt to the knife (you don’t want the top to fall in). Cut an opening large enough to fit your hand.

Step 2: Remove all of the pumpkin innards. Be diligent! The more seeds and insides you take out, the less floaties you’ll have in your beer!

Step 3: Carve a hole for your spigot* on the lower half of the pumpkin. The hole should be slightly smaller than the spigot diameter. Shove the spigot in the hole with as little adjusting as possible. Should be nice and tight.  (*We used a spigot from an old punch dispenser. Waste not, want not.)

Step 4: Pick your poison (or your favorite adult beverage) and fill up your pumpkin keg. “Tap” your keg and cheers to your ingenuity. Happy Halloween, kids!

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Shop the Men’s and Women’s Indigo Styles and BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin.)

Day 25 Advent: Thank You Note Template

 

And at the end of our 25 Days of Toad Advent Calendar, we’re helping you kick off  your good habit of 2017: Writing Thank You notes. Consider this your first good habit of 2017. Here’s a template that will work for any person and any gift – even if it was a fruitcake! Be genuine and share a few things about what you’ve been up to and what you’re up to in the new year! Happy Holidays, from our family to yours!

Willarde Carlson, known locally as "Sunny-Man", uses a branch to whip seaweed from his fishing nets. Local fishermen claim that increased river temperatures are causing more seaweed to appear than they have ever seen before. It must be cleaned daily or it will alert salmon to the presence of nets in the water.

 

Dear ____________,

Thank you so much for the _______________. It’ll be absolutely perfect for _____________. Really, you nailed it! I hope you had a great holiday – this year celebrated ______________ with _____________. It was a great way to ring in the holidays and kick off the new year. Speaking of the new year, hope to see you soon! Perhaps I can persuade you to _____________? Could be fun! Thanks again and Happy New Year!

Love,

Your Name

Sustainable Gifting: Eco Wrapping Tips

 

 

Investing just a little thought into your wrapping can help our planet and up your  gifting game. Everybody knows the old newspaper trick when it comes to sustainable wrapping. And we’re not knocking it – who doesn’t love a present wrapped in the comics section? But if that’s been your M.O. for the last few years, it’s time to change it up. Jumpstart your eco-friendly creative juices:

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Make your own  reusable bags. The traditional Japanese art of wrapping cloth, Furoshiki, is a great alternative to wrapping paper and ribbons. Use some beautiful fabric that you’ve found or even a silk pillowcase. Check out a few different techniques here. 

Sew up paper bags. No ribbon or tape required. Just take a paper grocery bag and flip it inside out (carefully). Then stick your gift inside and sew up the open side.

Who says the gift isn’t wrapping? If it’s clothing you’re gifting, get crazy and wrap a box with the clothing itself! If that ruins the mystery, use some old fabric or pillow cases as wrapping “paper”. 

Use old maps or calendars. Don’t let good paper products go to waste. Tape together a few calendars or old subway maps and cover up a small package. Bonus points if you can make a bow out of paper, too.

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Borrow from nature. Instead of plastic bows, use objects you’d find on a walk around the neighborhood. Springs of oak, pine cones, dried flowers, seed pods, ferns… see just how creative you can get.

Collage on brown paper bags. Ok, you still have to wrap a gift in a paper bag but decorate it with more than just ribbon. If you’ve got old National Geographic magazines lying around, cut out some neat images and place in the corner. Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like a leaping gazelle.

typeo-featureTypographic Gift Wrap – Again, wrap a present in brown paper bags, but instead of using a name tag, cut out people’s names in big letters from newspaper or other types of paper. Just make sure you’ve got your spelling correct – it’s trickier than you think to cut out letters!

If you must choose wrapping paper… Choose vegetable based inks, wrapping paper made from recycled paper, or paper that doubles as seed for wildflowers. Most wrapping paper cannot be recycled because it’s dyed, laminated, or contains non-paper additives. So choose wisely – we like these recycled (and recyclable) options.

Best Holiday Performances

From classic SNL skits to MTV’s Christmas Specials, great holiday performances abound. We culled together a few of our favorites the other morning while commiserating in the kitchen in the wake of our company holiday party (tequila was a bad choice). Grab your coconut waters and get your groove on.

Bing & Bowie, “Little Drummer Boy” 1977

There has never been a sweeter meet-cute than when Bing and Bowie met to sing Little Drummer Boy. Perhaps this performance really is the key to peace on earth.

Hall & Oates, “Jingle Bell Rock”, 1983

It’s so kitschy you cant help but love it. Daryl Hall and John Oates host a Christmas party, complete with Santa and the whole band dressed as rockin’ old people. Grandma can shred!

Frank & Bing, “Jingle Bells”, 1957

The holidays aren’t complete without some classic croons from ol’ Blue Eyes and Mr. White Christmas himself. Watch the two share a few laughs over what looks like very strong punch…

Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, 1984

Recorded by English artists as a fundraiser to aid the Ethiopian famine of 1984, the hope was that “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” would raise £70,000 for Ethiopia. It raised £8 million within twelve months of release. That’s the spirit of the holidays at its finest.

Mariah Carey, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, “All I Want for Christmas is You”, 2012

You either love or hate this Mariah Carey Christmas hit. But there is no question that Jimmy Fallon and The Roots make this song 10x better by using classroom instruments. Everyone needs a kazoo this Christmas.

Twisted Sister, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, 2006

The holidays suffer from a lack of head banging. So thank goodness for Twisted Sister. In case you need more, they also do amazing renditions of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Silver Bells”. Killer.

Ray Charles, “Merry Christmas Baby”, 1979

In an old church in Germany, Ray Charles may take the fruitcake as the King of Christmas. Soulful, spirited and jolly, but in that cool, Ray Charles kinda way.

Day 11 Advent: Best Letters to Santa

 

Ahhh the classic letter to Santa. The blank canvas on to which children can paint their hopes and dreams, air some grievances or beg forgiveness for the “naughty times” (no judgement, we’ve all been there). But make no mistake, writing letters to Santa is important business. For Day 11 of our  25 Days of Toad Advent Calendar we’ve gotten a few letters back from the big man himself, just to share some of our favorites. Check back tomorrow for more advent fun and don’t forget to put your letters in the mail!

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Day 10 Advent: People Pleasin’ Gift Guide

 

 

The best gifts are the one’s you’re excited to give. Like eco friendly gifts – things made of organic cotton or recycled wool. Or gifts that give twice – like Toad&Co products, where a portion from each sale goes directly toward creating opportunities for adults with disabilities. Whatever you gift, give it with gusto! Need some suggestions? Here’s our People Pleasin’ Gift Guide for Day 10 of our 25 Days of Toad Advent Calendar Check back tomorrow for a new goody as our advent nears the halfway point.

Gifts Under $75 for Her

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Gifts Under $75 for Him 

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PJs for Her 

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PJs for Him 

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Day 9 Advent: A Christmas Story Drinking Game

 

What’s the holidays without holiday movies and booze? For Day 9 of our  25 Days of Toad Advent Calendar we’re turning an innocent viewing of A Christmas Story into a good old fashioned drinking game. So our yourself a cold one (beer or Ovaltine) and get in the holiday spirit with leg lamps, frozen poles, dorky glasses and a pepto-bismol-pink bunny suit. Check back tomorrow for a new goody as our advent continues!

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Take a drink…

… Every time Ralphie says he wants a Red Ryder BB Gun. Pace yourself. He REALLY wants that BB gun.

… Every time someone tells Ralphie that he’ll shoot his eye out.

… When you see the Bumpus Hounds.

… For every dare. Again, pace yourself. These kids know how to peer pressure.

… For every “+”  Ralph gets in his school fantasy.

… Every time Mr. Parker curses in gibberish.

… Every time Ralphie curses in gibberish.

Hop on one leg and finish your drink when Ralphie wears the pink bunny suit. Then refuel. Or switch to water. Hydration is key during the holidays.

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