My friend and fellow Eco Woman Warrior, Jen, is back today with some easy steps to make your holiday gift giving a little “greener”.
This holiday season, as you are making your lists and checking them twice, here are five ideas to help you be a little greener and earth-friendly:
#1 — Come up with a plan. Don’t go shopping without one or else you’ll end up making some bad choices, such as getting your diabetic cousin a kit to make funnel cakes. Having a written plan will also ensure that you don’t forget anyone on your list.
One year, I actually forgot to finish shopping for my father and didn’t realize it until Christmas morning. Oops. I now keep a shopping list on my computer all year. On it, I list every single person we need to buy for, including my children’s teachers and a tip for the newspaper carrier. I also list my gift ideas for each person as I come up with them and, later on, I list what I actually got everyone and check them off when I’m done.
#2 — Don’t buy cheap plastic stuff that will end up in a landfill by Valentine’s Day. Seriously, your nephew might adore his remote control car collection, but how many does he really need? Instead why not get him something that will last longer? For example, this year four of my nephews are getting good quality wind-up LED flashlights that don’t need batteries and will last for years. You might also try shopping at locally-owned stores in your town, as well as supporting artists and crafters. Etsy.com is a great place to find handmade goods for nearly everyone on your list.
#3 — Cut back. There’s no reason to go overboard with your giving. Give reasonably and not in excess. My husband and I force ourselves to stick to a prescribed number of gifts for our children (two girls, ages 8 and 10), even when there are more things we want to give them. We’ve learned that more is not more — it overwhelms our kids and they don’t appreciate each gift as much.
#4 — Think disposable. This may sound odd, but you could also give something that’s neither lasting nor permanent. No, I’m not talking about plastic crapola; I mean things that are meant to be used up. Some examples, are baked goods for your neighbors, stationery and stamps for your grandmother, and art supplies for your niece.
This year, my husband and I are building a house and we’ll be giving the construction crew — three guys we’ve gotten to know pretty well in the past nine months — a themed-assortment of local organic treats. I’m going to put everything in canvas shopping bags and will tie festive ribbons on the handles so that the gifts are eco-friendly from start to finish.
#5 –You don’t have to give STUFF. There’s no reason that you have to hand out beautifully-wrapped boxes of sweaters, books, electronics and more. There are other options. Last year, my older daughter got to spend a day baking with her aunt, which was far more memorable for both of them. One year, I gave my retired neighbors heirloom daffodil bulbs AND I planted them. My in-laws co-founded a nonprofit in their small town that they actively support, so my husband and I make gifts in their honor for their birthdays and/or Christmas.
There are a lot of ways to be greener with your giving this holiday season. You just have to stop and think about what you can do. Even if you don’t follow these guidelines for everyone on your list, just making a few changes will help Planet Earth.
All images courtesy of Flickr.