By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

There are many ways to celebrate Mother’s Day. Cut flowers, breakfast in bed, brunch at her favorite restaurant, a chick flick night. All these fit the day — and you can even take your mom along!

A magnolia looks and smells great. (Your tree won't be this big.) (Photo: Green Right Now.)

But let’s say you’re looking for something fresh to make this year’s celebration meaningful and fun. Here are a few ideas that will make mom smile and help sustain her world.

1 – Plant or Buy a Tree

A tree, the symbol of life, could be the perfect gift for mom. Maybe she’s been wanting a crepe myrtle or a sturdy oak tree anyway. Or if her yard doesn’t have room, perhaps a Bonzai tree would be more her style, and good for Zen moments after a harried day.

Either way, big tree or mini, you’ll be offering a living testament of your love for her — and helping mitigate carbon pollution!

If you’re buying a real tree, try to make it native or adapted, improving its chances of survival and assuring it will have lasting impact. A shade tree could help reduce your home’s energy consumption.  A flowering tree or one that produces berries supports birds and enhances your backyard ecology. We don’t think it is stereotyping moms to say that many of them would want their tree to nurture the ecosystem.

Another option: Buy a tree for a national forest or urban canopy effort.

  • Arbor Day Foundation lets you print a certificate at home for event-related donation to its “Trees in Celebration” or “Trees in Memory” Each dollar donated plants one tree in US forests. Read why you might want to help.  Arbor Day also offers affordable packages of seedlings for your own yard.
  • Many local preserves or parks have planting programs. San Francisco, for instance, has a “Tree Tribute” project that would work as a Mom’s Day gift.  In Texas, you can give to the Texas Trees Foundation, which is planting 3 million trees to help replace just a portion the many millions lost to the 2011 drought.

2 – Go with a Shrub or Perennial Potted Flower.

Get mum a native plant to attract and feed butterflies or bees. Pollinators need the help, and the season is now — a happy convergence. Get a vine or potted perennial with tubular flowers and it may just lure hummingbirds. Bright blooms attract butterflies. Daisies and many other varieties support local bees, important for the ecological health of the yard and beyond.

Find online advice about the native flowering plants best suited for different areas at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website, one of the most extensive archives on native plants. Based in Austin, the LBJ Center’s archives have information on more than 7,000 species from across the US. Use their finder tool to locate native plants for specific regions.

3 –Help other Moms while Honoring Yours.

Another uplifting Mom’s Day gift can be found at the International Rescue Committee, where there are many opportunities to support moms in need around the world.  Donate to the IRC  to assure a safe delivery for an expecting mom in a war-torn or disaster-impacted region ($24) or to send a girl in Afghanistan to school for a year ($52). These life-affirming, tax-deductible donations come with an e-card acknowledgement.

4 – Spare a Farm Animal – Donate to Mercy for Animals.

Universal, maternal love. (Photo: Mercy for Animals)

Maybe mom’s a vegetarian, maybe not, but perhaps she loves animals. Many moms do. If she supports more humane treatment of farm animals, she may respond favorably to a gift in her name supporting better lives for farm animals, including better mother-child bonds for farm animals.

Don’t know what the heck we’re talking about? See this Mercy for Animals Mother’s Day blog. It’s just so…apropos. See that adorable baby pig, getting nuzzled by his mamma?

5 – Make her an ethical brunch.

OK, this is awkward. Now we’re going to talk about food. But not meat. We’re thinking mom may appreciate an eco-friendly brunch.

Tofu scramble (Photo: PETA)

You can start with an omelet made with cage-free, local eggs, or go the vegan route and serve a Soyrizo, tofu scramble. (Sauteed onions, then brown Soyrizo and add an equal amount of firm tofu crumbled up like scrambled eggs. Scramble in a frying pan until it’s all hot, while being careful not to pulverize the tofu. Add a dash of brown mustard if you want.) Serve with hash browns and toast and fresh organic orange juice. Ymmm.

Even better, use an actual recipe for that vegan scramble. See the Breakfast Scramble detailed in Mercy for Animal’s vegetarian starter kit magazine, which also got instructions for dairy-free waffles and pancakes. Or try this PETA recipe.

We’re not advocating that you harangue mom into becoming a vegetarian, we’re just proposing one solid veggie meal, which lightens the load on a planet stressed by livestock production. If she’s already an Earth Mama or even trying to improve her health profile, she’ll appreciate. ‘Course if tofu’s out of the question, go with waffles.

6 – Get mom a naturally fragrant soap or body lotion.

Hey, we know mom needs pampering beyond just one measly meal. Especially if you burned those hash browns, you will need another offering.

Just shop wisely for whatever sweet-smelling foo-foo you’re getting, so you don’t load her down with chemicals.

Perhaps your farmer’s market has an artisan soap maker or you have a friend of a friend who makes natural bath salts. If you haven’t found a solid local lotion or soap maker, now’s a great time. Buying locally helps keep the money in the community (duh), and you’re likely to find products that aren’t loaded with a mash-up of preservatives and phthalates.

Look for natural botanical fragrances, but nothing too heavy, even lavender or rose oils can set off allergies. Just avoid the hard stuff, the synthetic fragrances, Mom’s already got enough endocrine disruptors in her environment. You want to reduce her body burden. (Remember this story’s about life-enhancing gifts.)

7 – And yes, there can be chocolate.

It’s true, a smidge of dark chocolate is good for you, uh, your mom. And you can buy ethically raised and produced chocolate from many places. We even know a Methodist church that has opened a Fair Trade shop to support small farmers and artists around the globe. They’re selling chocolate, cocoa mix, coffee and teas. It makes a lot of sense.

When you purchase ethically sourced and crafted chocolate, (or cocoa or coffee) you’re supporting living wages and decent work conditions for families.

Arbor Day has just added a line of chocolate from Equador that comes from shade-grown cocoa beans raised by Amazon-area farmers who are helping preserve their ancestral rainforests. It’s all part of the Rain Forest Rescue project. You can choose from milk, hazelnut and dark chocolate.

Wherever you shop, look for Fair Trade chocolate by brands such as Equal Exchange and Divine and AlterEco.

It’s not always easy to find these brands, but you’ll probably luck out at a natural or organic food market.

Copyright © 2012 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network