You and your loved ones love the planet. You also love the Christmas holiday season. How do you honor and respect the environment in a season that has become known for mass, crass commercialism? Here are five helpful tips to get you started.
Tip number one: Go green in your giving, literally. Give live plants to friends and family members. The best choices are those which can later be transplanted outdoors, thereby producing life-sustaining oxygen for the earth’s animal life. Even indoor plants are helpful, as they act as natural air purifiers. Remember if the recipient has pets or small children to research the toxicity of any plant you choose to give. Two excellent choices are small living Christmas trees and potted rose bushes or trees. Consult a local nursery to find out the best type of plants for the climate and environment of your intended recipient.
Tip number two: Re-use and/or recycle. Shop thrift stores, re-sale or consignment shops, flea markets and antique barns to find the perfect gift for that hard to buy for person on your list. These types of vendors are especially useful for locating gifts for collectors of all sorts. You’ll find a wide variety of merchandise, and much of it very reasonably priced when you shop second hand. Do you think your friends will feel slighted presented with a “used” gift? Don’t just pick up any old book or garment that they might like. Instead, keep your eyes open for unique items especially suited to each person’s preferences. They are bound to feel honored that you gave time and thought to your gift.
Tip number three: Re-gifting. A variation on the re-use/recycle theme, sometimes re-gifting really is a reasonable option. If you’ve received a gift that doesn’t fit your body, décor or lifestyle, you are doing yourself and the landfills a favor by passing it on to someone who will appreciate it rather than quietly disposing of it. Remember that some of the earth’s precious resources were used in its creation and they are simply going to waste if it stays tucked away in your attic or back bedroom.
Tip number four: Reducing. You knew this one was coming if you have any claim to being an environmentalist. There are a number of ways to implement this tip. You can simply reduce the number of gifts you buy, especially if you are giving to several casual acquaintances or giving several gifts to one or more loved ones. Another method is to be discerning in the gift choices you make, so that you are giving items which have the smallest possible impact on the environment, both in their production and in their use. Also, it is important to be aware of the amount of packaging which may be part of the gift. Excess packaging is one of the larger contributors to the earth’s landfills.
Tip number five: Give services rather than goods. Instead of just another small appliance or decorator item, give gifts of your time. Offer an evening of free babysitting to friends with small children. Present an elderly person with a homemade “gift certificate” for yard work or window washing. Send your college student back to school with a postcard, pre-addressed to you that reads “Please redeem for a care package of Nana’s molasses cookies”
Following any or all of these five tips will ensure that you are enjoying a festive holiday season while still doing your part to keep the earth a vital and healthy planet.