Your Green Gift Giving Guide
Choosing eco-friendly gifts is not only possible, it's affordable. You don't have to buy trendy (i.e. expensive) gifts to stay sustainable. These green gift giving ideas will help guide you through your shopping whether you're shopping for a Christmas, wedding or birthday present.
But remember: While being gentle on the Earth is crucial, it's equally important to give a gift your recipient will love and use. Giving from a place of generosity and care will accomplish both.
You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. - Kahlil Gibran
Americans tend to spend hundreds of billions of dollars just during the holiday season, on birthdays and for other celebrations. How much of that ends up in the trash in a few months or becomes obsolete is indeterminable. Much of what we give or receive is just not needed or wanted in the first place. Most of us buy out of obligation, without really considering our impact on the environment or our wallets.
Shopping for eco-friendly gifts starts with these questions: Who do you really need to buy for? How much do you really need to spend? Do the presents you're buying have a purpose or meaning? Ask yourself these questions and commit to cutting back.
Search craft shows, swap meets, local listings, etc for a one-of-a-kind and locally-made eco-friendly gifts. Etsy.com makes this easy to do by searching their map for nearby artists.
Quality, Not Quantity
When purchasing gifts, forego lots of inexpensive and poorly made items and opt for fewer quality items that will last longer. The lifespan of the item will soon outweigh any initial cost. For example, instead of disposable razors in the stocking, opt for the more sustainable option of vintage safety razors.
Don't Buy New
Used, secondhand, vintage, antique...call it what you will; a tin Superman lunchbox for your comic book loving brother to take his lunch to work in will sure to be a pleaser. Try a teapot with accessories for a mama in need of some pampering, some vintage handkerchiefs for the business mans suit or old tools for the carpenter in your life. You're saving resources and scoring points for uniqueness.
Can you paint, crochet or knit, take nice photos, make awesome crafts or display some other talent through your holiday gift giving? If not, find someone who can help you make one-of-a-kind eco-friendly gifts!
Green gift giving doesn't have to include anything complicated. Homemade cookies, cakes, and pies are always appreciated by those wishing to cut back on unnecessary gift giving. The activity can be enjoyed by the whole family and can save money (especially with a few tips). Just be sure to check for allergies or dietary restrictions!
As hard as it may be, eco-friendly gifts should avoid plastics, polyesters, hardwoods or any other non-sustainable materials. Many of these materials are not easily renewable and/or may produce toxins either in their manufacturing or during use. Opt instead for cotton, bamboo, wool, etc. Try to find organic when possible. Look for non-toxic paints on things like wooden toys.
Put a spin on green gift giving: Instead of just buying things that are green, try buying things that teach green. Perhaps a vegetable gardening book (my fave) with a few garden tools, or some shade grown coffee and a handmade mug with a "green" message.
Give the Gift of Charity
Any impossible-to-buy-for people on your list? Donate money, plant a tree, support their favorite church or charitable organization in their name. Organizations like Heifer.org or JustGive.org make this easy to do.