By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
If you’ve got a bird lover on your holiday list, there are many great ways to feather their nest this season.
And we’re not just talking about bird motif coasters or dust-collecting figurines. No, there’s much more you can do to satisfy the bird lovers desire to honor and save our avian friends. Here are a few ideas:
Buy a bag of gourmet, Fair Trade shade-grown coffee, like that sold by Strongtree Organic Coffee Roasters in Hudson N.Y. (available online). When you buy from American coffee roasters who source their beans from ethical suppliers, you are supporting a style of farming that preserves the tropical forests that song birds and other animal life depend upon.
Strongtree’s coffee is freshly ground in the U.S., and conscientiously sourced in Africa, Central and South America — and it carries the certifications to prove it. A 2.5 pound bag of "Bulk Uprising," a shade-grown Viennese roast blend certified by Transfair, is a reasonable $30.
Traditional farmers grow coffee plants beneath the tropical canopy because the plants thrive there, the soil is regenerated and the forest preserved. Industrial methods clear forests to grow more crops, risking the health of the soil and wildlife in their pursuit of maximal yields. One method is sustainable, the other goes for short-term profits.
The Audubon Society supports shade-grown coffee, because it retains sanctuary for vast bird species, including many North American song birds that winter in Central and South America.
The venerable advocate for birds also reminds us that shade-growing is good for humans as well: “Savoring a cup of certified sustainable coffee can improve livelihoods for farm families and conserve wildlife and tropical ecosystems – a rare “win-win” opportunity. So the next time you see a Baltimore Oriole, Sharp-shinned Hawk or other Neotropic migrant, raise a mug of shade-grown joe and celebrate the at-home contribution you’ve made to their survival.”
Eco-Friendly Bird Feeders
Gourd Bird Feeder. This is eco-ethical gifting at its best. The bird feeder is made of a natural gourds by artisans in Peru. It is constructed to resist weather, but at the end of its life cycle, it’s more likely to degrade than the plastic used on so many other bird feeders.
It’s also a reasonably affordable gift you can buy from Sanyork Fair Trade, via Amazon $21.95
For durability you can't beat the many bird feeders made from recycled milk jug plastic. Here's just one example, the Fly Through Cardinal feeder featured at Bird-House-Bath.com. Buy it at Duncraft Supply's online store for $39.95. Duncraft, based in New Hampshire, also sells a variety of seed mixes for feeding birds in winter.
If you’re shopping locally, look for similar bird feeders made from recycled plastic at your local nursery. We found several at The Natural Gardener in Austin.
Bird motif Fair Trade items
Bird lovers generally don’t mind bird motif gifts, but to avoid overloading them with useless trinkets, focus on art with a purpose.
This hand-painted glass tray ($80.99) suitable for wall art or as serving tray, comes from World of Good at Ebay by way of Novica, a program that brings traditional art and craft works to market. Novica typically features Fair Trade items or buys from native collectives, so the profits get back to the artisans.
This tray, made in Peru by Edmundo Contreras Aquise, showcases a traditional Andean art style. It’s certified by World of Good and Green America as exceeding fair wage standards, supporting family life and sustainable practices.
Nepal artisans hand hammer the designs on these Fair Trade, sterling silver bird earrings ($30), using traditional crafting methods cultivated by generations of a clans involved in jewelry making. They are similarly certified by the Fair Trade Federation and Green America.
World of Good also features earrings from Mexico and many other bird-related items many of metals, carved wood or blown glass.
Many of these items honor nature in ways that are worth sharing, like this table carved into the shape of the Ghanaian symbol, the Sankofa bird ($127.95). The Sankofa is known as the “reach back” bird, because it can look back into the past for values that can help people now.
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