Here are five tips to make your gift giving a bit more earth-friendly.
1. Because gift wrap and tissue paper are NOT recyclable, consider forgoing wrapping paper for reusable options. Gift bags, decorative tins, cloth bags and scarves give your gift recipient a twofer: a gift-encased present. The thrift store is gold mine of those items. If your littles like to draw, wrap presents in recyclable paper bags then let them pretty up the plainness with their imagination.
Another twofer for the recipient.
2. Recycle your old holiday cards into gift tags. Another opportunity to enlist your littles and work on their fine motor skills as they practice cutting the cards and ribbon, tying as well as using a hole punch. Here’s a bunch of other super creative ways to reuse holiday cards.
3. Instead of buying physical gifts that may be forgotten in a month, consider buying yearlong experiences like memberships to the Nelson or Science City. Another bonus of such gifts is oftentimes your hometown membership will get you a discount (or even free admission) at similar establishments in other cities.
4. Akin to the above, consider gifting your child-or anyone, really-with a month’s worth of classes in something he or she has shown interest in. I like to give these gifts to our children so they learn to value what we do together and the opportunities they’re exposed to. I don’t know about you, but when I reminisce about my childhood, I’m recalling experiences, not specific toys.
5. You may have noticed I avoid buying new anything. This has turned into a quirky family tradition. The five of us go to the thrift store then split up to find gifts for each other. The challenge is getting the gifts into the cart and through checkout secretly. It’s silly, funny and since we trash an extra 5 million tons of resources during the holidays, I feel OK about this indulgence because we don’t have the packaging of new products to landfill.
6. OK, so maybe that last tip isn’t for you. Here’s a bonus, then. How about gifting the atmosphere? If you must put up holiday lights, please use LED bulbs. They last longer and use less energy thereby saving you money. Plug them into a timer so they turn off in the wee hours when no one’s awake to enjoy them anyway. This saves you even more money and extends their lifespan. Then recycle them when they’ve expired.
Whether for secular or spiritual reasons we celebrate the holidays because they give us an intangible something. In the particulars of how we go about accessing that intangible, we engage in concrete actions.
The details of our choices are very much the gift that keeps on giving through fossil fuel emissions and resources consumed then thrown away. Will our holiday choices support the planet or degrade it? That’s a gift-giving opportunity.
About the author: After having taught English for 10 years, Mary Silwance became a stay-at-home mom in 2002 when her oldest child was born. She says, “at that time, my sweet sister-in-law gave me a subscription to Mothering magazine which focuses on natural family living. The well-researched, in-depth articles shaped my parenting and spurred my interest in environmental and social justice issues.” Now that all three of her children are in school, she works as an environmental educator with Green Works and serves as the farm-to-school coordinator for DeLaSalle High School. Mary started her blog, tonic wild, to explore the intersection of spirituality and environmentalism.