Let’s face it, holidays and birthdays just wouldn’t be the same without the giving and receiving of gifts. But that doesn’t mean you need to go overboard or buy gifts that go against your conscience. In fact, you may not need to buy anything at all. The best gift is one that is perfect for the recipient and gentle on the environment, because nothing says, "You Rock!" better than the perfect eco-gift. The marketplace for environmentally friendly goods has exploded in the past few years so that now there is an eco-savvy alternative for just about any purchase you need to make. Buying green gifts reduces pollution, conserves resources, promotes fair treatment for workers, sends a powerful message to businesses about the importance of environment, and doubles the love of the gift you are giving. Here’s how to find great green gifts for everyone on your list.
- Give Consumables: Everybody needs to eat, right? Consumable gifts such as cookies, organic teas, or fresh flowers make a thoughtful gift for almost any occasion and produce very little waste. And besides, who doesn’t love a batch of gooey, fresh baked cookies or a crispy loaf of fresh baked bread?
- Offer Up Your Services: Skip the material gift and offer your services instead. Offer to baby-sit, shovel snow, make dinner, develop a website, weed the garden, wash the dog, or run an errand (the possibilities are endless).
- Offer Up Someone Else’s Services: No time to do it yourself? Give a gift certificate for a service such as a massage or a green housecleaner.
- Support A Cause: What do you buy for the friend who has everything? Consider donating to a charity that is near and dear to the recipient’s heart.
- Make It Yourself: If you have the skills, consider making a handmade gift that is much more likely to be cherished (and retained) by the receiver. Put together a scrapbook, make a photo frame, burn a DVD, or sew an apron for an easy low-impact gift.
- No-Waste Gifts Gift cards to a favorite restaurant or store are easy to give and popular to receive. Other no-waste gift ideas include tickets (movies, theater, or sporting events), club memberships, or charitable donations.
- Buy Preloved: Hit your local thrift shop, flea market, or vintage boutique to find a wide range of unique and time-tested gifts. If necessary, refurbish the item with a new coat of paint or a well placed ribbon to turn it into a gift the receiver will treasure.
- Buy Local: Look for gifts that are produced close to home. Whether it’s a basket of fresh vegetables from a local farm or a ceramic bowl made by a local potter, locally produced gifts reduce the emission and packaging involved in shipping.
- Buy Recycled: Look for items that contain recycled content, rather than virgin materials. Recycled content is used in a myriad of eco-friendly products from pencils to notebooks, jackets to sneakers, and even dog beds. Purchasing these products reduces the consumption of new materials, reduces landfill waste, and supports the market for recycling.
- Unplug: Try to avoid giving gifts that will continue to produce waste or require electricity. If you have to give a power-hungry gift, throw in a package of rechargeable batteries and a charger to eliminate waste.
- Buy Green: Look for fair-trade, organic, or locally grown options whenever possible. If it’s appropriate, consider giving a gift such as a low-flow showerhead or a basketful of compact fluorescent light bulbs to get a friend started on the eco path (this makes a great wedding or housewarming gift).
- The Wrap Up: Regular wrapping paper costs a bundle and lasts but a few minutes before it hits the trash bin. Consider a green alternative such as a reusable bag or basket, a scarf, or recycled materials such as newspaper or brown paper bags. You can make your package beautiful with natural adornments such as flowers or pine cones. If you need to mail the package, replace plastic bubble wrap and Styrofoam peanuts with eco alternatives such as crumpled newspaper, pine needles, or straw.
Green Shopping on the Web The Internet is absolutely saturated with "green" stores hoping to relieve you of some of your hard earned green. But how can you tell which ones are really true to their name? Co-op America operates two websites to assist green shoppers. The National Green Pages provides a directory of green business throughout the country while Responsible Shopper provides detailed information about the social and environmental impacts of major corporations. Some of my favorite sources for green gifts are Gaiam, The Green Home, and The Green Store. Another cool tidbit…the website I Buy Different is an excellent resource for teaching your child about the environmental, economic, and social pitfalls of consumerism. Surf the site together to help her learn how the products she buys (or begs you to buy) make an impact on the environment.
This post was submitted by TheGreenParent.com. Visit them for kid-friendly guide to earth-friendly living!