RENEW IOWA: Ideas to help you give green this holiday season

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The Christmas countdown is on. You only have 16 shopping days left to find the perfect present to put under the tree. This year, two local shop owners say it's easy to make the gift green.

Jule Dirksen gives green. She says, "It's looking at that person and saying, what are they interested in?"

Dirksen owns Be the Butterfly in Ankeny. She says stainless steel bottles and mugs make a great present for the adult always guzzling water or downing a cup of coffee. She says stainless steel and glass straws are a sustainable stocking stuffer. And, what kid wouldn't love a wagon under the tree? She says, "It's a Radio Flyer Limited Edition Earth Wagon, and it's made of 230 recycled milk jugs that are diverted from the landfill."

Dirksen says it's getting easier to find green gifts because more local shops are specializing in sustainable products. She says, "But, I'm finding even people who don't know about those stores are able to find them in places such as Barnes and Noble. I was in there the other day and they have a section of green gifts. Some of your local grocery stores are starting to carry small green items."

Sharon Hicks of Green Goods for the Home in the East Village says you should ask questions when shopping for sustainable items. She says, "Where did it come from, what makes it green?" Hicks says she's confident every item in her store is sustainable because all the items have a story.

She says, "All of these purses are actually made from recycled innertubes and tires. These are a fair trade item that come from El Salvador."

Hicks says her hottest item is the Envirosak, which can be used to carry groceries or other items. She says it makes a good present, or even serve as the gift wrap. Both ladies say wrapping with a reusable bag is a great way to make any gift green. They also say to look at the packaging. Less is more when it comes to being eco-friendly.

And, they say to look local. Hicks says, "What I'm really proud of are some of my Iowa made products." Hicks carries natural soaps, organic lip balms and soy candles made by a woman in Mason City. She also has melted bottles made by woman in Des Moines. She says, "It's local, it's fun and it's recycled."