Stuff we dig

The 'Never Amazon' holiday gift guide

| 03 Oct 2019 | 04:22

Are you one of those independent souls who craft your own gifts or haunt thrift shops? Who manage to keep that click-finger in check, and refrain from handing your hard-earned money over to corporate conglomerates? We applaud you long and loud, and encourage you to skip this section. Then perhaps write a self-help book. For everyone else, we know the holidays have a way of sneakign up, leaving you scrambling for those harder-to-buy-for members of your tribe. Here's what we liked in 2019.

Toothpaste 'bits'

Bite down on a tablet and it froths into a satisfying foam. “Bits” come in a glass jar; subsequent orders in compostable baggies. Frequent flyers, now you can ditch these travel sized toothpaste tubes which are officially the worst. The woman-founded, year-old company has thought through everything, from minimizing their shipping footprint by using existing postal routes and paper tape, to ideas for re-using the glass jar (make a bathroom candle!).

$12 for one-month supply; $7.50 a month with subscription,

Gentle facial cleanser

A paper bottle? On the floor of the shower? This first-of-its-kind, 100 percent recycled bottle has overcome our skepticism: after months, the facewash still stands. Inside the bottle is a thin recycled plastic liner, but the amount of plastic comes to about one-third as much as a regular bottle. You can send the pumps back for recycling, free. The Pennsylvania-based company is devoted to preserving seed diversity – and has partnered with Hudson Valley Seed Company, our regional seed champions in Accord, NY. They return what’s left of the seed back to the farmers to use as animal feed. The Gentle Facial Cleanser made with sunflower oil and camelina seed oil is subtle and refreshing. We haven’t gotten there yet, but there’s a gift pack of seeds, a sort of cracker jack surprise, at the bottom of each bottle.

$38, Whole Foods; Harriman Commons, Monroe NY or

Bar soap

Forget the dispensers and the body wash: bar soap get you just as clean and come in minimal or no packaging. We’ve got lots of artisanal soap makers in the area, like Third Day Naturals out of Washingtonville, NY ($5 par bar at Freedom Hill Farm in Otisville). The grand poohbah is Rosner Soap in Sugar Loaf, where a pair of artists have devoted their careers to crafting soap. Buy soap by the loaf and save 15 percent. Shave off a sliver for a guest or a hunk for the family, and feel like a soap-maker when you cut it to size yourself.

$44/soap loaf; $5 bar, Rosner Soap, Sugar Loaf NY,

Eze wrap dress

Designed and founded by a pair of sisters from Los Angeles, this new clothing line is made primarily of micro-modal, a renewable fabric derived from fast-growing beech trees. These sunny, sophisticated pieces cling just enough to compliment your curves, but feel cozy enough to sleep in. They’re manufactured in the USA and arrive in a reusable, compostable bag with no plastic.


Glass straws

Nothing says party like a pretty glass straw (and nothing kills the mood like a plastic one.) These dishwasher-safe, super durable straws, handmade of melted Pyrex, work in hot and cold beverages, and come with a cleaning brush and cute carrying case. The different colored glass accents help you remember which drink is yours.

$20/pair + $5 shipping,

CBD hemp mints

Slide a tin in your back pocket, and pop a refreshing mint whenever you’re looking for that Friday feeling. Fusion CBD is located in Warwick and works with local growers. Supporting your farmer has never been more relaxing.

$34, or Pennings Orchard, Warwick

Whipped wonder butter

This quick-absorbing, organic luxury for thirsty winter skin is infused with calming, anti-inflammatory CBD. Reviewers say they use it for anything from healing scars to relieving arthritis. We love the nourishing way it feels as it sinks in, leaving behind a rosy glow. Made in small batches on a Vermont homestead, it’s shea butter-based and completely free of all the yucky stuff like parabens and sulfates.


Mommy and me garden bags

What better way to encourage and empower a budding gardener than with her own cool bag where she can keep all her tools at her hip? And that it matches Mom's is the cherry on top. Stash scissors, seeds, clipper, trowel, whatever you each need in your cross-body tool bag, so you don’t have to keep running back inside. Bags are made in the Hudson Valley and have pockets are varying depth, are machine washable and come in fun colors, including a striped jean material for kids' bag.

$16-$28 single bag; $40 Mommy-and-me set,

Steeped coffee

Sometimes you don’t want a pot of coffee. You just need a cup to get you through the afternoon. Instead of driving to Dunkin, now you can steep yourself a single cup. The Santa Cruz-based company Steeped Coffee makes coffee-in-a-teabag: submerge in hot water for five minutes and have yourself a potent cup of Joe. The teabag is staple-free and, along with the packaging, fully compostable. Organic is the tip of this iceberg: the ink on the packaging is water-based, the coffee is ethically sourced in small batches in Santa Cruz.

$39 for 30-pack box; $30 for 30-pack with subscription,