It may seem like every website on the internet comes out with a green gifts guide every single year, full of products that may look great, but aren’t really that green. I’ll tell you why: although a product was “responsibly crafted” with “recycled materials”, they’re still going to have to ship it a great distance to get where it’s going. Nothing against the products- they’re usually wonderful and unique gift ideas. But those who really want to go green for the holidays need to be a little more creative.
Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to shop for somebody that seems to have it all? An environmentally friendly solution to this common dilemma is to forego the traditional gift altogether. That sounds crazy, right? Instead of actually wrapping a present this year, a great alternative is to purchase tickets to a local event, or a gift card to a nearby restaurant.
Not only will these experiences last much longer in the memories of the recipient but the travel required for them to get to their destination will take a load off the environment compared to the shipping and manufacturing resources consumed with a traditional gift. This could be a great chance to stimulate the local economy while showing support for grassroots businesses of the area! Local businesses are already hard-hit during the holiday season, when consumers choose to buy from lower-cost mainstream retailers.
From the Heart
Hand-made gifts have a bad reputation for being cheesy, but that’s only because of the immediate mental images that depict macaroni-postcards and popsicle-stick picture frames. These gifts are cute coming from a kid and unfortunately that’s not the impression that most of us want to make. Instead of going the craft route, try a more thoughtful idea. Collecting pictures of the recipient and making a scrap book using recycled scrap paper, or creating a gift basket full of candles, homemade candy, and dried aromatic local flowers may be a great choice.
Don’t forget the power of words: instead of sending out the usual Christmas card, make your next batch personal and special. Even if you can’t write poems or draw, a funny story or anecdote from shared experiences may make the recipient smile with a gift from the past. A checklist of favors that can be claimed at any time, including babysitting, lawn care, or dog-walking duty, can really mean a lot to busy working couples or the elderly recipient of the family. Those who haven’t broken into the green lifestyle yet may appreciate a few seeds and a little equipment to start a garden.
If you just can’t avoid purchasing a store-bought item as a Christmas gift, at least make the giving experience a little more green. Wrapping paper often contains harmful dyes or foils that can pollute the environment in the case that any escapes the dump. Recycling paper is always possible but why not recycle something that you already have instead? The comic section of the newspaper is a great idea for young ones, but any other section can be spiced up with a little bit of ribbon for a nostalgic effect.
Don’t be afraid to urge your family and friends to use this advice when buying for you as well. Many environmentalists don’t know how to handle receiving a totally un-green gift, so save your friends and family the wasted money. Of course a gift can never go unappreciated, but why not give a little something back to the environment while you’re at it?