Sustainable Gift Giving
By Jessica De Lasaux
Reduce packaging, reduce shipping emissions, save money, and get back in touch with the spirit of the holidays! All in one step: A present-free holiday!
Try this: before the holiday happens, before expectations can get out of control, speak to your family. Explain how tight money is for all of us, explain how every item purchased has an effect on the environment. Ask each family member what they are thankful for. Tell them you are thankful for them. Talk to each other about what really makes you happy.
I know it goes against what the TV advertisements, banners, billboards, the internet and the radio tend to say all the time: Buy! Spend! Ship! Order now! But I’m telling you; once you commit to realizing that family and togetherness are better, more valuable gifts, more precious and more renewable than anything else on earth, you just may have the happiest holiday ever.
If you decide that you would like to continue purchasing gifts for your friends and family, please shop conscientiously and consider the global implications of your gift selection. Every purchase you make is essentially a vote for the world you want. We all need to look at the people behind the products that we purchase. Are our dollars supporting organic, fair trade, sustainable materials and ethical companies?
Below you will find a few words of advice for enjoying an environmentally responsible holiday season:
- Cut the consumption in your family. Have your kids pick their top five or fewer gifts. It’s a lesson in saving $ and cutting the consumption in your family. Cutting back is even better than buying green gifts because no energy is expended to produce nothing.
- The biggest trash generators are gifts. Help by reducing “stuff’ purchases – like big packages with extra packaging. Items like theater tickets and gift certificates do not require a lot of packaging. They are usable but don’t create the environment of trash.
- Charity is really one of the best ways to celebrate the holiday season. Instead of gifts, why not make donations to your favorite eco-organizations for whatever cause you feel the strongest about? For more information visit redefinechristmas.org.
- If you have your heart set on wrapping your gifts, look to see if the paper you buy is made from recycled paper. You can also purchase beautifully decorated gift boxes and bags and add ribbons, the ribbon and box are both reusable. Save bows, ribbons, holiday cards, and other decorations to reuse next year, old Christmas cards can be cut up and used the following year for gift tags.
- Skip the paper Christmas cards this year. They can be costly and they waste tons of trees in addition to the fossil fuel it takes for delivery. Save dough and time by sending out your Christmas cards via e-mail.
- As you upgrade new computers and electronics donate your old equipment to a non-profit that will refurbish it and re-distribute to a school or needy family. Always recycle your electronics, never throw them in the trash.
- It is certainly quicker and easier to serve prepared foods, but the containers they come in will be here forever if they aren’t recycled. When you are entertaining this year, try to make dishes from scratch or ask people to bring just one dish that’s homemade.
- Don’t over feed your family and friends this holiday season. Make enough for the upcoming meal, but not so much that you have tons of leftovers and end up having to toss it.
- In order to save energy, consider writing out a shopping list. Plan your shopping trip. Head toward where you need to go and purchase as many products as possible the first time – instead of going back and forth to the store and wasting gas because you forgot something.