Dreaming of a Green Christmas or an energy conserving Chanukah?  There are dozens of gifts in stores or on the Internet to move the message. 

Gift are available in all price ranges, but in this age of austerity, we will concentrate on gifts for all ages that start under $150.  Here, on Black Friday, are a few picks for family and friends and the promise of a running list of other suggestions over the 26 shopping days to Christmas.

A canvas shopping bag is not only a practical gift but can serve as a container in which to assemble a "basket" of other small energy saving gifts.  Grocery and other stores like Home Depot are selling logo-emblazoned small bags starting at $1.50 (they have a vested interest in cutting back on the purchase of paper and plastic too).  Larger, sturdier, and advertising-free bags (generally called boat or tote bags) are available from L. L. Bean, Lands End and other merchandisers starting at about $17.00 and many stores will personalize or monogram for an additional $5.


Plastic bag sleeves hang in a closet or cupboards and hold dozens of plastic shopping bags, encouraging their reuse around the house (wastebasket liners, clean-up bags for conscientious dog walkers) or making it easy to return handfuls of the bags to the store for recycling.  These are often found in dollar stores or can be made by the most amateur of seamstresses out of 1/3 yard of fabric, elastic tape, and a piece of ribbon.  In either case the price should be under $3.  A fancier stainless steel holder that screws to a wall sells for $12 at www.Simplehuman.com.

Aluminum can crushers reduce size of soda and beer cans, saving storage space.  These mount on a wall in a closet or the garage and some can hold and crush up to 10 cans at a time.  Various models are available at hardware stores or on line at Amazon.com for prices ranging from $13.95 to $30.

You might have to explain the reasoning behind a power strip with a switch as the recipient unwraps it, but these little items put an end to "vampire appliance" energy drain where ever they are used by those willing to make the effort to flap a single switch to shut off the juice to monitors, printers, cell phone chargers, televisions, and other electronics that continue to pull power even when turned off or not in use.   They are available at virtually anyplace that sells hardware and are under $10.

This won't be the most glamorous gift under the tree, but a green gardener will appreciate a stainless steel compost keeper.  Available from Norpro or Amazon.com for $55.74 (ships free from Amazon) the countertop pail contains a replaceable charcoal filter to control odors.  One complaint from a user however, was that the large ventilation holes in the lid were "a fruit fly magnet."

A little higher on the chic sale is stuff made from Bamboo.  This is the hottest sustainable material around right now and both the bamboo wood and fabric made from it are becoming widely available.  The fabric is supposedly much softer than cotton and has antibacterial qualities.  It is now being widely used for children's clothing, T-shirts, and decorator fabric.  For the home there are bamboo bed sheets which are outside of our self-imposed price limit (around $200) but Breakstone.com carries towel sets in a variety of colors that range from $7.95 for washcloths to 24.95 for the bath size.  Placemats made of small strips of the wood itself are widely available.  One economical choice would be a set of 12 multicolored striped mats for $24.95 at http://www.bambooplacemats.net/

A particularly nice gift for older folks, but also appreciated by people who love cozy and hate high energy bills are lap robes.  There are a multitude of styles and fabrics available ranging from lightweight polar fleece throws (polar fleece is made from recycled plastic soda bottles) sold by mass merchandisers such as WalMart, Target, and Bed Bath and Beyond for as little as $10 up to those made of fake fur, chenille, or cashmere which can cost hundreds of dollars. 

A solar gizmo charger is probably more fun and symbolic than truly energy-saving.  This palm-sized solar powered device recharges cell phones and other electronic devices using sunlight or indoor light.  Regular price $59.99 but they are on sale at Lands End for $39.99.