November 30, 2011

Boulder & Beyond: Eco-friendly Gifts For the Holidays. ~ Lauren Baity

Locally Made Ornament from Two Hands Paperie.

Eight of our favorite Boulder spots to shop for fun, eco-responsible Holiday + Hanukkah + Children’s Day + Christmas gifts.

The holy-days are here, and with that comes the madness of trying to find the perfect gift.

Fortunately, elephant’s hometown of Boulder, Colorado is overflowing with amazing local places to buy mindful, eco and fair labor gifts (many of which have wonderful stories attached to them, making them fun to give).

Here are eight places to shop around the city, most of them conveniently located on Pearl Street Mall.

Shop local and independent first!



Muse is proof that good things can come in small packages. Tucked in behind The West End Gardener on Pearl Street, Muse is a tiny flower shop bursting with all kinds of goodies. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was how good it smelled. Muse specializes in floral arrangements grown from a local greenhouse in Boulder (most flowers are heavily sprayed with poison (sorry, polite word is “pesticide”—and flown in from abroad).

Muse also sells local art and jewelry, but my favorite part was checking out the custom baskets. The baskets are made from reusable galvanized tins, and bursting with locally sourced coffee, teas, chocolate, and other treats (all I could focus on was the coffee and funky Chocolove chocolate flavors like Crystalized Ginger). They’ve got baskets for all budgets, and best of all they’re customizable. So if you have some weird person in your life who isn’t addicted to coffee, you can swap that out for something they would like better.

777 Pearl St.  musefloral.com

Two Hands Paperie.

I could have spent hours in Two Hands Paperie looking at their wide array of paper products. There are a treasure trove of gifts here for any bibliophiles on your list. Notecards, locally-made notebooks, and handmade papers.

While not all of the Paperie’s products are locally made, they do specialize in ethically made products. Owner Mia Semingson (who we’ve known for years, she’s great) showed us an array of papers made by women’s co-ops in Nepal or from scraps of old t-shirts in India. Sometimes the best part of a gift is the story behind it, and these gifts certainly have a story to tell.

Two Hands Paperie also has a variety of local ornaments to decorate that Christmas tree.

803 Pearl Street. twohandspaperie.com


University Bicycles

Whether you’re buying a big ticket item or have a more limited budget, University Bicycles is a great place to shop for any experienced or aspiring bicyclists in your life. Bikes are everywhere in this place: the floor, the walls, and even the ceiling.

Uber-helpful salesman Paolo certainly added some things to my wish list. In the words of Paolo:

“The best way to go green is to go from being a recreational cyclist to a commuter. People don’t want to bike to work because they have a bunch of stuff to put in their car, or they don’t want to get to work sweaty, or it’s too cold. The right kit [gear] can fix all that.”

Paolo then showed us a great selection of cold weather biking gear, racks you can fix to your bike, and panniers (which I learned is a fancy word for bike bag). You attach these panniers to the rack you just bought and carry all that stuff you’d normally shove in the back of your car. They’re detachable, so you just carry them inside with you. Easy and elegant.

839 Pearl Street. ubikes.com


Boulder Bookstore.

I’m not going to lie: I would live in the Boulder Bookstore if I could.

Three floors stacked to the rafters with new and used books, from bestsellers to the most obscure titles imaginable. Give me a book, or just a gift card so I can spend several delicious hours perusing the thousands of volumes inside this treasure trove of a bookstore.

1107 Pearl Street. boulderbookstore.com

Snap Man


If you’ve got someone fancy to impress, buying a gift from Peppercorn is a solid choice.
This kitchen gadget store has been in Boulder for over 30 years and can sell you anything those big chain kitchen stores can. You can also order from them online if you want to beat the hassle of holiday shopping.

Tip: best pottery ever? We also love the local artists’ co-ops, also on the downtown Mall.

1235 Pearl  peppercorn.com



If there’s someone in your life with a love of the East, look no further than Ziji. They specialize in meditation supplies (cushions, incense, gongs), Zen garden items, and everything you could need for an authentic Japanese tea ceremony this side of the Pacific. A retail shop for 30 years in Boulder, they’re now 100% online. You can also buy everything on their site, and you’ll be certain of getting a ‘ziji’ (Tibetan word for confidence, splendor, or elegance) gift.

9148 Kerry Rd. ziji.com

Temari 09

Yoga Pod

Stretching it out at Yoga Pod is worth the money just to see how many times Billy can use the word ‘coccyx’ in one class. The teachers are friendly and knowledgeable, and the studio is gorgeous (showers, lockers, the works).

A 10-punch pass will run you $140, but for any newbie or veteran yoga fans in your life, it will be well worth it.

1750 29th Street #2020.  theyogapod.com


Trident Cafe

The Trident is Boulder’s oldest café, and still our favorite (though we frequent Atlas, Innisfree, and the new Boxcar. We also love the Goat, but they play such loud music in mornings…we’re getting old). Anyways: Trident offers a heavenly chocolate croissant, and paired with a cafe florentine it’s a chocolate-lover’s paradise. A gift card to Trident would be a fantastic present, especially with the added stipulation that the recipient must spend it on people they love and put away (most) electronics for an hour and buy and read one of their countless great books or just enjoy an old-fashioned, 3D conversation. No smartphones. Just coffee and amazing people.

940 Pearl Street. tridentcafe.com

 Our other favorites:

> Businesses: remember to print your Christmas Party invites, holiday cards, photos, posters at local, green-minded 8 Days a Week on eco paper.

> Momentum is a fair labor paradise of fun gifts with fascinating stories behind them. Vote with your dollar!

Note: we love Ritual Chocolate, only truly locally-made chocolate. It’s also fair labor. It’s buyable online.

> give your favorite pup a yearlong “subscription” to local healthy dog food.

> Bouldering at the Spot Climbing Gym (especially great for children, they have lots of training groups and camps etc)

> A gift certificate to The Kitchen.

Also: family in town?

Here’s 10 Things to Do in Boulder, Colorado. We’d add that you should check out Bitter Bar, cozy up to their fire and check out their award-winning cocktails.


Lauren Baity is an elephant journal intern. By night she plays roller derby with the Denver Roller Dolls and skates under the name Shadow Cat.  She loves dark chocolate, good coffee, and dreams of owning a house full of books. She writes a wildly inappropriate blog here.

Read 3 Comments and Reply

Read 3 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant journal  |  Contribution: 1,375,590