Eco-Friendly Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mors Dag cakes, photo courtesy of Pinterest

Mors Dag cake, photo courtesy of Pinterest

Mother’s Day is coming up and that means it’s time to think about how to show the moms in your life appreciation for everything they do.  Although quite commercialized now, I think we would all agree that a day devoted to Moms is a very worthwhile celebration.  Mother’s Day was created by a woman named Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. Anna Jarvis held the first Mother’s Day service in memory of her mother, and then made it her mission to create the holiday on a national level.  Jarvis’ version of the day involved wearing a white carnation to signify the virtues of motherhood and visiting one’s mother or attending church services in honor of her.

The tradition of Mother’s Day has spread to other countries, where the holiday has been infused with local cultural influences. For example, in Denmark, Mother’s Day (or Mors Dag) has been celebrated every year on the second Sunday of May since 1929. Originally meant as a way to collect money for war widows and mothers who lost sons in the war, the day is currently celebrated with flowers, breakfast in bed for Mom, and special Mors Dag cakes.

Spain only recently started celebrating Mother’s Day in May – until 1965, Día de la Madre was observed along with the day of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. Today, children make gifts and cards for their mothers in school and present those gifts on the first Sunday in May. Cuba, along with most other Hispanic countries, celebrates the holiday on the second Sunday in May. Since 1928, Cubans have presented their mothers with flowers, cards, and cakes. This day is so important to the people of Cuba that the government has taken flour from the country’s emergency food reserve to allow cakes to be made at reasonable prices during times of economic hardship.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Argentina has its own date for Mother’s Day, to coincide with the celebration of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the third Sunday in October. Argentina is the only country in the world to celebrate on this day. Australia celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May, much like the U.S., but instead of carnations Aussies gift their mothers with chrysanthemums, since the flower is naturally in season in May and the name ends in “mum.” Men will wear these “mums” on the lapels of their jackets as a sign of respect and appreciation for mothers everywhere.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Here in the U.S., we’ll be celebrating Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 10. I’ve put together some ideas for locally-sourced, organic, and fair-trade gifts to help you show your appreciation for Mom in an eco-friendly way:

Organic/Sustainable Flowers

If you want to go the traditional route and give flowers for Mother’s Day, Gardenia Organic provides high-quality, healthy flowers with a 100% sustainable supply chain. You can order a bouquet online or buy your mother a ticket to a flower class. If you need to send flowers outside of NYC, Organic Bouquet delivers their sustainably-grown blooms nationally, starting at $49.95.

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Photo courtesy of

All-Natural, Sustainable Beauty Products

Treat Mom to some all-natural, vegan beauty products from Brooklyn Limegreen. Multi-use soaps start at $9, and monthly boxes start at $36. New York company Kiehl’s uses all-natural ingredients and recyclable packaging, with gift sets starting at $52. Caru Skincare, dedicated to transparency in ingredients, sourcing, and sustainable packaging, offers soap gift sets starting at $18. If your mother is more into perfume than soaps and makeup, LURK perfume oils are created right in SoHo, NYC and made only with pure essential oils in a base of organic jojoba. The 1/8 oz bottles start at $55, and are best used within one year of purchase.

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Photo courtesy of

Local, Fair-Trade Chocolate

Chocolate from Mast Brothers is made right in Brooklyn, with ingredients from family-owned, organic coop farms around the world. Collections start at $45 and can be purchased online or in stores such as Dean and Deluca. Taza Chocolate, located in Massachusetts, makes stone-ground chocolate from ethically-sourced cacao. Taza goes a step above Fair Trade and pays a premium above the Fair Trade price for their cacao – a practice pioneered by Taza and known as Direct Trade. The “Mom’s Day” gift box is $55, and there are many other sets and chocolates to choose from.

Hand-made, Sustainable Jewelry

Jewelry that is hand-made and sustainable has the advantage of being unique as well. Erica Weiner’s namesake collection has pieces made from vintage and recycled materials for under $200. All of her packaging is recyclable, and the jewelry is handmade in NYC. You can also browse the Chelsea Market for pieces from sellers like Jewels by Atlantis, a NYC-based family company, and Marina Pecoraro Jewelry, whose nature-inspired designs are made with natural stones.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Eco-Friendly Spa Packages

While spas and salons are often associated with products using harsh chemicals, there are some environmentally-friendly options in NYC. Great Jones Spa uses organic products for their facials and all-natural ingredients for their body treatments. You can purchase treatments starting at $45, and passes to the Water Lounge are $55 – there, your mother can enjoy a plant-filled atrium, a hot tub, cold plunge, sauna, and chakra-light steam room.

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Photo courtesy of

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