November 20, 2008

A Green Christmas

I am forever thinking of ways to incorporate more sustainability into my life and as I mentioned in my last post, I've been thinking of Christmas lately. Christmas shopping, presents, present wrapping, handmade Christmas?, travel, music, etc. All of it running through my head like reindeer on crack. Every year I think about how much is wasted; don't you? The toy that isn't played with, grandma's 237th sweater, Dad's 93rd tie, the expensive wrapping paper thrown out after it's torn to shreds, the little twistie ties and packaging that requires an xacto knife and a machetti to get through? You SO know what I mean.

So I did some digging this morning and found some great tips to share with you about greening your Christmas. Most of them are super simple and can be accomplished very easily. All of them should give you much to think about this holiday season.

Green Gift Giving Tips

  • Be sure your gift will get used - A gift that the receiver does not use is simply wasted. Give material possessions only if you know the recipient well enough to pick out something they were on the cusp of getting for themselves, or which they really need and will certainly enjoy using. This is particularly true for babies and children; don't buy what they don't really need.
  • Give a consumable gift - Consider organic teas, fair trade coffee, fresh flowers, fresh or dried fruits and nuts, or another consumable gift. It's a guarantee it won't end up in the back of their closet.
  • Give yourself - Avoid material consumption altogether. Instead, offer your services to baby-sit while your friend enjoys a cozy date with their partner, give a gift certificate for a relaxing massage, or a winter’s-worth of driveway shoveling. You've saved money and given a gift worth more than money can buy - your time. I also like the idea of writing out Gift Certificates for "20 minutes of 1 on 1 time with Mommy" for my kids this year.
  • Give a service - Consider giving a service of any kind, like humanitarian services, in-home care for an elderly friend.
  • Give a gift where it is Needed - Give a gift on behalf of someone better off by adopting a child through a reputable third world food or care agency, sponsoring an animal through the local zoo, or donating time or items to your local mission center.
  • Make a gift - The baby sweater you knit yourself is more likely to become a family heirloom, extending the life cycle of the materials in your gift. Save money by using your yarn stash or ask friends for their yarn castoffs.
  • Buy a local gift - Your locally-sourced gift will save the environment from the emissions involved in shipping. Pay attention to the labels and if you're in the US and can't find something in your hometown to give, buy "Made in the USA."
  • Try flea markets or vintage and second-hand shops for quality goods you can afford - Find that cabinet your mother has been hunting for and then clean it up (using eco-friendly cleaners like homemade vinegar and warm water) to make the gift “new.”
  • Think about your packaging - Use packaging that will not go to waste. Your packaging may be part of the gift itself, such as wrapping the gift in a scarf or enclosing it in a box that can be reused for collecting life’s odds and ends. Reusable wrapping, such as a gift bag, will pass on the fun. For family and close friends, consider the Sunday funnies instead of commercial gift wrap.

Adapted/expanded from Planet Green here.

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