We're so excited when we hear how many schools today are integrating aspects of environmental education into the curriculum and taking steps to make buildings and campuses more eco-friendly and sustainable. That's why we think that graduates of all ages will appreciate earth-thoughtful gifts. Here are some of our favorite ideas.
- While we realize the market is in the doldrums, you're thinking long term when you put the graduate's values to work by purchasing shares in a socially responsible investment fund. You can find funds and trained specialists to handle transactions by doing an internet search, and of course performing due diligence before you invest.
- A Donors Choice gift certificate allows recipients to choose from a variety of classroom projecsts that are seekign funding around the United States. Teachers write a proposal addressing a classroom need such as "Green Technology Fuel Cell Solar Hydrogen Technology Kit, so students can have hands-on experience with the energy sources of the future." The gift can fund all or part of a project.
- For the college grad, trips are always in style. But consider contributing to an eco-trip by checking with Green Globe to find socially responsible eco-travel organizations.
- For a fascinating learning experience, the high school or college grad might like to try "wwofing," (from the phrase "working weekends on organic farms"), the recently-coined term for an organic farm stay. You can find hundreds of prospects around the world by going to Wwoof.org.
- If you know your graduate's values, you can give a volunteer travel experience via Voluntourism.org. Travelers are matched with potential sites and activities by assessing their values. Once choices are made, the site walks the traveler through trip preparation, processing the experience post trip, and preparation for future adventures.
- If your graduate is going to travel, a hemp backpack or purse will come in handy. You can even purchase wheeled luggage made of hemp, an environmentally friendly fabric.
- Fill a reusable bag with organic products in small sizes for travel. Remove the packaging and recycle. The bag can be used for carrying groceries, laundry or souvenirs.
- For the backpacking grad, a small stove to cook meals from locally grown ingredients, a solar powered radio or water purifier, would be welcome gifts.
- A gift for a grad of any age, is a digital camera. Photos that are viewed online, turned into online scrapbooks or slide shows, cost nothing and are more eco-friendly choices than printing photos.
- Treefree paper gifts like travel journals and interesting pens made from sustainable or recyled materials, make terrific gifts for the traveler or aspiring writer.
- Depending on the grad's age and preferences, a variety of organic, shade-grown coffees or chocolate, packed in a reusable bag, instead of a basket.
- Digital music players and/or a gift card for downloadable music.
- Any graduate might appreciate an inspiring book (look for those printed on 100% recycled paper or if your grad owns a Kindle or other reading device, purchasing digital books certainly is an earth-saving alternative). By doing a search on any book site, you'll uncover books addressing finding green jobs, starting green businesses, and living green.
- If you want to gift with flowers, be sure they're organic. You may have a local source, but if not, try Organic Bouquet. And speaking of flowers, if your grad is interested in gardening (flowers or food), why not gift him with a starter kit including heirloom seeds, hemp garden gloves and sustainable gardening tools.
We know there are many other choices. It doesn't matter how much you spend or the age of the graduate, you'll find the perfect item if you just remember to plant green in your mind when you shop. And if you're got other ideas, please leave them in the comment section.
Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are a mother-daughter team and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at www.CelebrateGreen.net.