Top 17 Sustainable Gifts in Eugene, 2021

 

 

Have you finished your holiday shopping yet?  No?!  Me either.  Despite the fact that we're continually being told to shop and ship early this year, the holiday season has only just begun.  Whether you're just looking for a few more gifts to finish you list or you haven't started yet (that's me!), here are some great gift ideas that support local artists, artisans, farmers, and small business owners in our community while putting very little strain on the environment:  

 

HONEY

There's no sweeter gift than locally produced honey, so if you have a loved one with a sweet tooth, or a foodie friend this is the perfect gift!  Our community has a wide range of honey options and gifts, so you don't have to settle for anything plain-jane.  Check out these options for some fun ideas:

1. Blackberry Honey from Humble Bee Honey - The flavor of this honey can't be beat, and you can rest assured that the honey is produced sustainable and the bees are well cared for.  Find jars of this amazing local honey at Market of Choice, Natural Grocers, and New Season's Market. (Go for the BIG jar.  You won't regret it!)  Find out more about this sustainable honey farm by visiting the Humble Bee Honey website.

2. Queen's Bounty Honey Variety Trio from Queen's Bounty - A fun variety pack of local honey that includes a jar each of Blackberry Honey, Wildflower Honey, and Forest Flower honey.  Order from their website and they'll deliver if you live in Eugene or Springfield!

3. Small Batch Habanero Honey from Glory Bee  - While not made entirely from local bees, this hot and sweet honey will definitely kick up the heat on any holiday charcuterie board, and a portion of the sales are donated to Honey Bee research and Colony Collapse Disorder.  Family run since 1974, Glory Bee is a certified B Corporation.  Order online, or visit their store/warehouse in person at 29548 Airport Rd, Eugene, OR.

 

CANDLES

Who doesn't love the warm glow of a candle during the dark months of winter?  You can support local artisans by buying handmade candles to add that cozy glow to the season.  Here's a few local candle rockstars:

4. Sea Salt + Orchid Botanical Candle from Earth Elements Candle Company - A vegan option for candle lovers, these candles are 100% coconut and soy wax and oh-so-chic!  Choose from many different scents when you shop from their website, or visit their booth at the Holiday Market at the Lane County Fairgrounds every weekend until December 24th.

5. Large Pillar Candle from Little Bee's Candle Company -These hand-poured beeswax candles are naturally scented and keeping it simple- no fuss, no additives, just long-lasting candles.  Shop their website or purchase at Market of Choice, Hiron's Pharmacy (18th Ave), or Sundance Natural Foods.  

 

FLOWER SUBSCRIPTION

Truly the gift that keeps on giving!  The best part about a flower subscription is it's not just something to be opened in December and then forgotten.  It lasts from month to month and extends the initial excitement of opening a holiday gift. Despite the fact that most of the flowers sold in the U.S.A. are grown in Central and South America, Eugene has a lot of options for flower lovers!

6. Pay-as-you-Go Flower Subscription from Foxbound Flowers - With this flower subscription you don't have to pay for a full season of bouquets up front!  You get to choose your price point and frequency, and end the subscription whenever you want.  You don't have to wait until spring, either.  Foxbound Flowers sources all their product responsibly, utilizing local flowers when possible, and sourcing from California and the Pacific Northwest outside the local growing season.  Order from their website. (Foxbound Flowers also offers pre-paid 6 month and 12 month subscriptions at a variety of price points)

7. Spring Flower CSA from Formosa Flowers - Five weeks of sustainably grown local flowers, this CSA starts in early April and may include favorites such as Tulips, Ranunculus and Anemones.  Reserve you CSA spot online.  

 

Unique Experiences

If you live in Eugene, you already know it's unique.  Support local small businesses and give the gift of a unique adventure to someone you love.  Here are a few adventures you may not have heard of:

8. Picnic with Carl the Goat from Fraga Farms -Get a tour of Fraga Farms, then enjoy handmade cheeses while relaxing by the nearby pond.  You don't have to carry the picnic basket- Carl the goat will be accompanying you and carrying the snacks!  I mean, seriously, why would you NOT do this?!  You'll probably need to wait until spring, but I can guarantee the person on your list who has everything does not have this!  Book your Picnic with Carl the Goat online. (While you're there, don't forget to bring home some of their amazing goat cheese!)

9. French Cooking and Farm Stay from AppleTree Farm - Get away from it all without burning a lot of fossil fuels. Enjoy a stay on a small picturesque farm just outside of Eugene- peruse the garden, visit the Gotland sheep, and take advantage of the spectacular scenery of the Willamette Valley.  Add custom options to your stay such as a French Breakfast, wool working activities, or French cooking activities. 

Spices

10. West Indies Rub Seasoning from Mountain Rose Herbs

Spice up your life with a little organic flavor from Oregon's first TRUE Zero Waste Certified (Platinum Level!) business.  Transport yourself to the Mediterranean, spice things up Cajun style, or add some organic Mesquite flavor to your next Barbeque!  Perfect for the foodie on you list, the griller, or anyone who eats food, really.  Check out their website for more seasoning blends, or make your own blend with bulk spices and give them to your favorite people. 

 

Evergreen Wreath

This festive gift is long-lasting and will add color and cheer to any doorstep! Eugene's proximity to evergreen foliage is unparalleled, so take advantage of these beautiful and artistic creations.  

11. Fully Biodegradeable Wreath by Foxbound Flowers -  This biodegradeable wreath is handmade using local evergreen foliage and pinecones, and fasted to a dried vine frame instead of metal so when it's done you can compost it!  (Put it in your municipal yard waste/compost bin!).  Available for delivery by Electric Vehicle.  Order online.

12. Evergreen Wreath by Charles Little & Company - These artistic wreaths are made from evergreen foliage grown right on the edge of Eugene.  Pick out your favorite wreath at the Charles Little & Company Farm Stand located at the base of Mount Pisgah (open Thursday-Saturday 9-5) 

Housewares

If you're not familiar with Marley's Monsters yet, you're missing out!  This Eugene company is proving that style and sustainability can go hand in and when it comes to housewares.  

13. Napkins and Rings Gift Box from Marley's Monsters - This classic set of black and white reusable napkins and napkin rings comes already packaged and ready to ship!  Perfect for the person in your life who loves to entertain!  Order online and have it shipped! 

14. UnPaper Towels from Marley's Monsters - I know cleaning items aren't a sexy holiday gift, but these cute unpaper towels are so easy to use and might be just the thing to break your Aunt's paper towel addiction.  Choose from numerous solids, prints, and even holiday designs.  (Don't forget the holder!)  Order online and have it shipped.

 

Spirits/Wine

15. Pomona Grapefruit Gin from Thinking Tree Spirits - This delightful adult treat is made locally and responsibly sourced.  Add some simple syrup, a dash of lemon juice and some Champagne (recipe available on their website) and you're ready to impress on New Year's Eve!  Order online and have it shipped anywhere in Oregon, or visit their location at 88 Jackson Street  Eugene, Oregon.

16. Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from King Estates Winery - This family operated winery is dedicated to making quality wines using organic and sustainable farming methods.  A Biodynamic(C) Vineyard, the vintner uses owls, kestrels, and beneficial insect species to deter vineyard pests. Order online and have it shipped.

Other

17. Family Membership from Cascades Raptor Center

The Cascades Raptor Center is a community jewel!  Dedicated to the Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release of Raptors, it serves as a community beacon for education and awareness about the native environment of the Pacific Northwest.  A membership helps support education programs, rehabilitation programs, and avian ambassadors while members get to visit as many times as they want throughout the year.  Viewing the majestic and beautiful raptors never gets old, and is a great way to connect with nature and spend time together as a family. Order a membership online. 

 

Do you have a eco-friendly gift idea that's not on the list?  Add it to the comments below, or email kelsey at allears@foxboundflowers.com to add it to the next list!

 

 

 

Kelsey Ruhland
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Seven Biggest Flower-Buying Blunders

Most people are happy to accept flowers as a gift because it's the act of giving that counts more than the gift itself.  Even so, there's no reason you can't make the experience as positive as possible.  Whether you're buying flowers for an Anniversary, Birthday, or just because, make sure your flowers are received well by considering the 7 Biggest Flower Buying Blunders.
Kelsey Ruhland
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coral ranunculus in simple glass vase

3 WAYS TO GET HIGH IMPACT FLOWERS ON ANY BUDGET

If you look closely at pictures of flowers in home magazines, you'll notice something they all have in common -  they're keeping it simple.  Choose only 1 to 3 different kinds of flowers for your arrangement.  Arrangements with less variety will be more impactful in any room or office because
Kelsey Ruhland
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Three principles of Sustainable Floristry

While the floral industry as a whole ignores environmental-consciousness, there's a small but growing movement among independent florists worldwide to practice their art in a way that is less damaging to the planet.  This movement may be divided into three different avenues toward eco-consciousness:

  • Responsible Product Sourcing- the goal here is to use local and domestic product as much as possible to not only reduce the amount of jet fuel consumed by moving flowers around the globe, but also supporting appropriate environmental regulations and labor protections.   Champion of the cause:  Slow Flowers Movement is dedicated to connecting florists and their customers to the source of their flowers, and supporting transparent origin labeling, which heightens the he value of local, seasonal and sustainably-grown flowers.

 

  • Abandoning Floral Foam- Floral foam is widely used in the floral indsutry to style arrangements of all kinds, from wreaths and casket arrangements to wedding bouquets.  Floral foam is basically an open-celled plastic that's  full of toxic chemicals like fermaldehyde and carbon black, not to mention that the dust is dangerous to breathe in.  Florists exposing themselves to these chemicals should take precautions such as wearing gloves, eye protection, and dust masks (when handling it dry).  While the foam may be degradeable (it breaks down into dust), it isn't bio-degradable meaning it doesn't break down into natural compounds, it simply breaks down into smaller pieces of floral foam (microplastics).  Removing floral foam from floral design ensures florist and customer safety as well as the disposal of toxic microplastics into the environment.   Champion of the cause: @nofloralfoam is am Instagram site dedicated to supporting florists who use achieve beautiful flower arrangements without floral foam.  Florists can share knowledge, tips, and tricks and encourage each other to use alternative methods to floral foam while achieving similar results.

 

  • Abandoning Single-use Plastics- The floral industry is rampant with plastic waste.  Plastic vases, plastic and cellophane wrapping, waterproof liners for decorative containers, floral foam, throw-away buckets, cardettes (that stick that holds the card with your message on it), and decorative piques are all on the chopping block although these products are so inexpensive and easy to use it can be hard to break the habit.  (Florists who aim to use less floral foam are often caught in the trap of using plastic poultry netting instead, which the purists don't agree with.)  Champion of the cause: the verdict is still out here.  

While many florists will choose one of the above to focus on, I've chosen to double down on sustainability and go for all three. I think it's possible to have the beauty of flowers in our lives without irreparable damage to the planet.  I've set my own goals and expectations for Foxbound Flowers, listed below.  

Foxbound Flowers Sustainable Floristry Tenets:

Reduce the Waste Stream:

  • abandon single use plastics, especially floral foam
  • reduce the purchase of new items and products as much as possible by reusing or upcycling items (i.e. encourage customers to return vases for reuse, purchase vases/containers from second-hand stores, or repurpose items for floral containers.) thereby reducing the amount of waste added to the landfill, and energy and material consumption needed for the manufacturing of new items
  • compost 100% of organic matter
  • recycle anything that can not be reused or repurposed

Source Product Responsibly:

  • Support local flower farmers- get to know the farmers and their growing practices to make sure they align with sustainability goals (i.e. Salmon Safe growers, bee-friendly growth, etc.)
  • Support domestic growers when local product isn't available (reduce global carbon emissions, enforceable domestic labor laws, etc.)

 

This may seem like a short list of goals, but I can assure you it's not as simple as it seems.  In future posts, I'll dig in to some of these items in more detail.  For now though, it's important to be clear on what I expect of myself, and what my customers can expect from me.

 

Kelsey Ruhland
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How Your Flowers are Affected by COVID19

 

As floral wholesalers across the country close their doors due to COVID19, domestic flower growers are feeling the strain. Many growers, especially those who grow on a large scale, sell the bulk of their product to wholesale businesses, who then sell it to retail florists. Since the supply chain has been interrupted, many growers are scrambling to get their product directly to florists to recoup their lost sales. This may seem like an easy fix, but growers may struggle to change their sales systems and shipping logistics on-the-go.

Tyler Meskers, Vice-President of Oregon Flowers, Inc. in Aurora, Oregon says before COVID19 80% of their sales were to floral wholesalers. The closing of wholesalers and delivery routes leaves Meskers, who specializes in Lilies and Tulips, with a logistical nightmare, and often leaves costly air travel as the only shipping option. When asked what this means for the future of growers, Meskers says, "Only time will tell. Flowers are still in need, and direct selling is a new way for our business to sell our product. We think our quality will set us apart from other growers". 

Kelsey Ruhland
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Dutch Greenhouse in Oregon

If you've ever wondered what the greenhouses of Holland look like on the inside, this is as close as you get without actually being in Holland!  Before I toured Oregon Flowers, Inc.  I assumed that the company tag 'Flowers grown with a Dutch Touch' was a marketing gimmick, but now I know they aren't posing- this is the real thing! 

 

Since Foxbound Flowers is dedicated to knowing where their product comes from, I was excited to see the greenhouses, but I was not prepared for what I saw.  My tour guide was a second generation Lily grower, Tyler, who's parents (the owners) Martin and Helene Meskers moved from the Netherlands to the Willamette Valley in the 1970's, worked for a few years on a bulb farm, and then pursued their own American Dream by opening their own Lily growing operation.

2nd generation Lily growerLilies growing in the greenhouseHarvested Tulips waiting to be packagedLily bulbs growing in bulb crates  

Oregon Flowers, Inc. is a perfect example of technology in the floral industry, and they never miss an opportunity to use it.  The only things done by hand? Planting, cutting and some packaging.  Everything else is done by technology- watering, temperature control, soil sterilizing, composting, spraying, even lifting and stacking bulb crates is ALWAYS done by a machine.  The end result?  Perfection (or as close as you can get when working with a living plant).  A consistent, super fresh product every time.  The quality is second to none.  

There are few things I love more than flowers and efficiency, and Oregon Flowers blew my hair back with both.  You can take your own tour!  Visit their website and  give them a call to set one up!  https://oregonflowers.com/

View more videos (with captions) on our IGTV channel: @foxboundflowers

 

 

 

Kelsey Ruhland
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#001 - The Beginning of Change

My decision to become a 'sustainable' florist was, in part, a reaction to reading Yvon Chouinard's Let My People Go Surfing, in which the author and owner of the Patagonia company shares his philosophies on uniting economic success with environmental responsibility, and proves companies can be successful at both.    After reading the book, I felt inspired to make changes of my own.  As I recalled  the appalling waste which my small shop on the prairie produced, I knew there was endless room for improvement.  The fast-paced days in a floral shop, however, are full of endless tasks to get flowers into the hands of brides, onto the tables of events, and on the caskets of the recently departed.  The required pace made sustainability seem laughable at the time, or impossible.  How could I figure out how to waste less water if I couldn't even figure out how to make time to eat my lunch? I'm no stranger to the many hats a sole-proprietor florist has to wear, all while trying to eek out a meager living on small profit margins. As the owner of a small floral shop in a prairie town, it took me the better part of five years to work my way toward an income I could even admit to, and even when asked I would usually tell others I made a 'teacher's salary'.  The fact that is was more like an Arkansas teacher's salary was a detail that I kept to myself.    After finally reaching a point where I was confident about my income as an entrepreneur, my husband and I uprooted our family from the prairie this spring, and moved to Eugene, OR.  While I was sad to leave my 'child' (my shop) that I had nurtured from it's infancy, I was excited to start a new floral shop in the Pacific Northwest, and embark on a new path in the floral industry.  This time, though, I decided to take a differerent pathway. 

The move across the country gave me an opportunity for a fresh start with my floral career, and as I began planning my next floral shop, Foxbound Flowers, I became determined to make environmental responsibility a priority from the very beginning.  It's easy to preach environmentalism while one is waiting for their business to take off, but much harder to practice when orders are coming in, flowers are flying off the shelves, and deadlines are looming.  Building eco-consious practices in to the business model from the very beginning can help ensure that responsible systems are already in place when the time comes to rely on them.

In this blog, I've used the word 'sustainable' in quotes.  I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not believe I am (yet) a 'sustainable' florist.  In fact, eco-responsible would be more accurate, but this is not catchy, nor would anyone read a blog called the 'Responsible Florist'.  Sustainability is the goal, and someday I hope that I can call myself a 'sustainable' florist without the quotation marks.  It's a long road up ahead, and I'm only at the beginning.   

Kelsey Ruhland
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