Holiday Gift Ideas Abound in the Golden Gate National Parks

September 3, 2008


Go easy on the planet—and your wallet—this year with eco-friendly gifts

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—To truly make this “the most wonderful time of the year,” go green this holiday season. Choose from a wide variety of gift ideas that are sustainable, economical, and environmentally minded at, where your purchases support conservation and education efforts at one of America’s premier national park sites.

With green gifts ranging from Alcatraz soap to elephant poo paper and from birdhouses made of license plates to doormats made of flip-flops, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy feature a unique line of eco-friendly items at its online and park stores.

All your purchases directly support the Parks Conservancy’s work in the Golden Gate National Parks—80,400 acres of parklands north and south of the Golden Gate, including Alcatraz, Muir Woods National Monument, The Presidio of San Francisco, and 30 other sites renowned for their natural beauty and historic value. By holiday shopping with the Parks Conservancy online and in our stores, you give back to one of the most visited and cherished national parks. Since 1981 the Parks Conservancy leads programs and projects that preserve the parks at the Golden Gate, enhance the experiences of visitors, and build a community dedicated to conserving the national parks for the future.  

Here are five pocketbook friendly gift ideas that help support the parks, celebrate a sustainable planet, and delight your family and friends:

  1. Recycled bird houses: These unique birdhouses, with enough charm and character to match our fine feathered friends, are created by Marin county artisan Bob Balley. He handcrafts each handsome home from used license plates, discarded golf tees, and old roofing materials. Each birdhouse is one of a kind. California plates in stock; other states available upon request. $36 ($30.60 for members).
  2. Elephant Poo Paper: Yes, it really is elephant poo! Washed and cleaned into a fiber filled pulp, which is used to make large sheets of paper and other gift products ranging in price from $7.95 to $16.95, by The Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Company. Plus, a percent of all profits are allocated to welfare and sustainable efforts around the world. How is that for a fun, creative—and natural—gift idea this holiday season?
  3. “I Am Not a Paper Cup” Cup: Finally an ultra sleek, clever, modern to go cup! Except this one can be used over and over again. “I Am Not a Paper Cup” ($20) is a double-walled porcelain, dishwasher safe container with a soft silicone lid designed to keep drinks piping hot—and paper cups out of landfills.
  4. Folding Chopstick Baskets: Recycle, reuse, and renew! Make this your holiday mantra this year and offer your family and friends Kwytza folding recycled chopstick baskets ($12 $24). Each basket, crafted of sturdy and adaptable chopsticks, is the perfect foundation to serve holiday fruits, vegetables, or candy—and makes a stunning decoration (and conversation) item.
  5. Flip-flop Doormats: Made from retired flip-flops rescued from landfills, this item ($19.95 each) is a great example of breathing new life into our discarded products. Plus these doormats will remind you of balmy beach days every time you cross the threshold.

All the items mentioned above are available at The Warming Hut, a park store located in a sustainably designed building at the west end of Crissy Field in The Presidio of San Francisco. Other items are available online at and at park stores on Alcatraz Island and in Crissy Field Center at 603 Mason St. (at Halleck) in San Francisco. For directions to all Parks Conservancy stores, click here.

Another simple—but unusual—idea is to pick up a couple of Alcatraz themed stocking stuffers to add that extra punch to your gifts this year. Options include the Alcatraz baseball ($8.95) with historic photos of prisoners playing ball on the island, or Alcatraz soap bars ($4.95)—a natural, locally made soap that highlights prison rules and celebrity con Mickey Cohen’s hygiene routine. Sure to tickle film noir fans on your list.