No one wants to give up on the holidays or the sense of abundance that the season bestows. The only question is how to be generous without bankrupting the earth. Here are some thoughts.
Give things people need and can use, rather than products plucked from the shelves simply because they look good.
Choose gifts made of sustainable materials — bamboo rather than wood, hemp, organic cotton and wool, fleece made from recycled soda bottles, post-consumer recycled paper, natural cosmetics and organic, fair-trade chocolates and coffees.
Buy locally made products, as the energy used to transport goods to the stores is one of the huge, hidden environmental costs of the holidays.
Look for used things with a good story. Old books and maps, retro clothing, antique jewelry and the like are one-of-a-kind gifts that collectors will appreciate.
Give things that reduce energy usage, such as commuter bicycles, solar-powered products, battery rechargers and carbon offsets.
Avoid excessively packaged products. The packaging wastes resources without adding value and, if made from plastic, can release toxins after being discarded.
Give tickets for concerts, shows, museums, sporting events, outdoor activities or parks.
Give a party rather than presents — and tell your guests that the party’s gift-free.
Give of yourself. Promise a shift of babysitting or dog-walking or a service that uses your special talents or skills, such as a webpage, a bridge lesson or home improvement help.
Swap contributions. Set up a registry listing your favorite non-profits and suggest to your friends that they register, too, so you can give to their causes while they give to yours.
Most important, remember that the greatest gift of the season is the holidays themselves. It’s the one time of year when society permits you — indeed, encourages you — to escape from the daily chores and experience the meaning and poetry of life. Don’t miss the chance.
Source: Natural Resources Defence Council http://www.nrdc.org/thisgreenlife