News, music, movies & restaurants from the editors of the Silicon Valley's #1 weekly newspaper.
Serving San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, Campbell, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Fremont & nearby cities.

News and Features

home | metro silicon valley index | features | silicon valley | feature story


GOOD KNIGHT: Co-owner Dan Stafford-Scott suits up with fun stuff from Treehouse in the Glen.

Green Gifts

"Greener gift giving is an opportunity to create new, richer holiday traditions," says Cecile Andrews, the author of Slow Is Beautiful. "If you decide to live differently for the well-being of people and the planet, I think you'll have much more fun." While Seinfeld gave regifting a bad name, Andrews suggests passing along things you've treasured but aren't using. Here are some more suggestions for keeping gift-giving local and green this year.

The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition is the place to start to get giftees out of cars and onto bikes. "When you give a SVBC membership or help someone start biking, you're giving the gift of a whole new way of living," says Corinne Winter, SVBC's executive director. Their $35 sliding scale gift membership is offered online at You get tons of information for new bike commuters and discount cards. Membership services include access to bike experts, equipment help, website forums, commute information and free food and beer at SVBC events. Their next freebie is a Winter Party, Dec. 11, 6–9pm at the Adobe Building, 157 Moffett Blvd., Mountain View.

Cyclists can also use gift certificates for tune-ups or gear like jackets, helmets, lights, gloves and panniers. Full service independents include San Jose's Hyland Family Bicycles, Bicycle Express and Willow Glen Bicycles. If you want to splurge on a custom art bike, definitely check out Shorty Fatz, 315 Brokaw Road, Santa Clara.

Gifts that get coffee drinkers to brew their own will save money and the planet. Bodum's 32-ounce French Press is $45. Planetary Designs has a French press mug for brewing on the go. Go paperless with a Swiss Gold filter, $45, in a $35 Cilio porcelain holder. Barefoot Coffee Roasters Cafe has all of these, plus gift certificates, fair trade organic coffee beans and $15 mugs that benefit the Sunnyvale CSA Full Circle Farm.

The toys at Treehouse in the Glen are made sustainably from nontoxic materials. Their shelves are filled with wooden arks, dozens of critters, trucks, boats, toddler pull toys, puzzles, dolls and clever low-tech gadgets that don't need batteries. For family fun, check out the all-ages noncompetitive board games, priced from $9. Because owners Dan and Stacy Stafford-Scott look for local, they're growing a green South Bay toy industry. Sand box playsets, indoor garden kits and tea party and cookware are manufactured in San Jose from recycled milk jugs and are priced from $20. They've even found a Morgan Hill woman who's making their authentic old-school sock monkeys. Fair trade dolls, stuffed animals and puppets are made by cooperatives in Peru, Kenya and Bolivia, but most of the toys are made in the USA. They have big wooden trains from Michigan and kid-size stoves with matching refrigerators from Minnesota. Gnomes, their houses and castles complete with fencing, livestock and noble persons, are carved in California, and the Waldorf dolls and walnut baby rattles are made within blocks of the store.

Domus stores in San Jose and Los Gatos have cookie cutters and baking pans in all sizes for cookies, cup cakes, banana breads and Bundt cakes. Wrap the goodies in waxed paper, scrap cloth or napkins and deliver them in kooky vintage plates and baskets from the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

Make and give certificates good for baby-sitting, meal preparation, pet watching, theatergoing and skill sharing. Go to A Work of Heart Studio for supplies and help. If you already have knitting needles and the time, you can knit an iPod case, hats, scarves, laptop bags or a kitty toy for under $10. Communknity has free advisers, pattern books, eco-friendly fibers, needles made locally from sustainably harvested woods and sweet places to sit and knit gifts. The Sawdust Shop in Sunnyvale is a do-it-yourself woodshop with woodworking classes.

Shop Local

Hyland Family Bicycles

1515 Meridian Ave., San Jose

Willow Glen Bicycles

1110 Willow St., San Jose

Bicycle Express

131 E William St., San Jose

Barefoot Coffee Roasters Cafe

5237 Stevens Creek Blvd., Santa Clara

Treehouse in the Glen

1275 Lincoln Ave., San Jose


40 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos

1395 Lincoln Ave., San Jose

A Work of Heart Studio

2194 Lincoln Ave., San Jose


1345 The Alameda, San Jose

The Sawdust Shop

452 Oakmead Pkwy., Sunnyvale

Send a letter to the editor about this story.