Most of us have way more things than we need. And while we love to give gifts for the holidays to people we care about, many of these people would probably say they, too, have more things than they need. So what do we do? We go shopping, of course, for the perfect gift or for one that will, at the very least, cross another name off our endless list. Throughout the holiday season we repeat this process with utter disregard for the energy and resources used in that gift’s production, for the waste accrued as a byproduct, for the pollution created by transporting it and for the landfill where it will eventually spend years, well beyond the years it spent being enjoyed by the person you care about.
Say for a moment, that person you care about is a child; one who has a lifetime left on this planet and who will have children and grandchildren needing to call this only Mother Earth of ours “home”. Essentially, we have robbed Peter to pay Paul. We have, without permission, taken precious resources from this planet which holds limited resources to begin with, and given them as a gift which will ultimately consume more resources. This, my friends, is not sustainable. According to Vanderbilt University SustainVU, “Sustainability is achieved when the needs of the present population are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” I repeat, “without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Now before you throw you hands up screaming ,”Spunky Bah-humbug!”, let us share with you some ideas which will allow you to continue to shower those you love with thoughtful gifts (or better yet, experiences), that you, your loved one and Mother Earth will appreciate.
For the Person who has Everything: Don’t waste precious time racking your brain trying to think of what to buy for the person in your life who has everything! In lieu of a physical gift, make a monetary contribution to a charity that aligns with your loved one’s interests. Consider donating to organizations that support sustainable living. Occasionally, when a monetary contribution is made, the organization may send a “thank you” gift (oftentimes the eco-friendly organizations send eco-friendly products or food-stuffs) to either the donor or to the person for whom the donation was made. You can search most charities in www.charitynavigator.org to view their financial, accountability and transparency ratings. Listed below are just a few eco-friendly organizations to get you started. Just click on one for more information:
- The Hunger Project
- World Wildlife Fund
- The Lunch Project
- Sierra Club
- The Edible Schoolyard Project
- Save The Children
- Pollinator Partnership
- Environmental Working Group
- charity: water
For the Aging Parent/Friend/Relative: A physical gift for this person is quite possibly more of a hindrance than a blessing. After many years on this planet, they have likely accumulated more things than they want at this point. An alternative to giving a physical item would be give them some of your physical labor, something that is probably much harder for them to do at this point in their life. A few ideas to get you started could be to clean their home or car, cook some meals and stock their freezer, mow their lawn, maintain their landscaping, help them to de-clutter, paint a room or complete some home repair projects.
For the Adventurer: This free spirit wants to be out and about. They too, probably have every shoe, shirt and gadget needed for their many excursions. Odds are, they have already figured out that experiences bring them more joy than any physical item ever could. They might enjoy amusement park passes, a zip-line tour, tubing or paddleboarding excursions, annual passes to a state or national park, lift tickets for skiing or one-day or season passes to an indoor or outdoor adventure hub, such as US National Whitewater Center (for you local Charlotte folk).
For the Aspiring Chef: We believe that for anybody and everybody, experiences always trump possessions. A cooking class is a gift that will keep on giving! Groupon in your city may offer cooking class specials or you can ask for instructor recommendations at your local farmer’s market. If a material good is in order after carefully considering other non-material options, we give these gift ideas a thumbs up for cooking healthy grub and being environmentally responsible: bamboo cutting boards, stainless steel cookware, ceramic baking stones and good ol’ fashioned cast iron pans. For the aspiring chef with a green thumb (or who wishes they had a green thumb), they might enjoy an indoor herb garden kit or even an aeroponic Tower Garden for their back patio. Some out-of-the-box ideas would be canning supplies or “how-to” book or a kefir or kombucha starting kit. No shortage of ideas for this lucky person!
For the Bookworm: Simple…e-books and audiobooks.
For the Music Lover: Again, in the spirit of promoting experiences, concert tickets or tickets to any musical show or symphony would certainly be appreciated. An iTunes gift card can be a Plan B.
For the Foodie: Since this person enjoys food, treat them to a healthy and eco-friendly meal at a restaurant that serves organic, locally-sourced food. Enhance the gift experience by accompanying them to this delicious meal and spending some quality time together. Your treat!
For the Sports Enthusiast: Individual tickets or season tickets to a sports game. Think professional, semi-pro or even college-level games.
For the Treehugger: This person likely has a passion for some environmental cause. Why not pledge to support their cause? See “Gifts for the Person who has Everything” above for some ideas…or maybe just ask them! Buy tickets for both of you to attend a benefit show. If only a physical gift will do, consider a starter kit for essential oils or a basket (or reusable bag) stuffed with eco-friendly bath, cosmetic or cleaning products.
For the Kids: Family memberships to a science museum, zoo or amusement park are always a hit. Indoor or outdoor adventure centers can provide hours of fun, too. Even movie passes make for a fun, family outing (but you might want to sneak in your own snacks and drinks…shhhh). Kids always enjoy a treasure hunt, so consider gifting them with a day of geocaching. How about some lessons? Do they like music, art, sports or something different? And if you haven’t been able to shake the bug of feeling like they “need” something to “open”, let us suggest supplies for a favorite non-digital hobby or even a new eco-friendly lunch kit or reusable water bottle?
For the Art Lover: Depending on where this person lives, they may have more options than others, but tickets to a musical, ballet or museum would certainly be appreciated. Or if they want to try their own hand at pottery, painting, upcycling clothing or photography, a gift certificate could be in order.
For the Exercise Enthusiast: This person feels best when they are moving, so why not give them more options? They might enjoy a month’s membership to practice yoga, kickboxing, barre or something different. We bet they would be thrilled if you joined them (and paid their registration) for a 5k or a mud-race.
For Everyone: Whether they are trying to go green or haven’t really thought about it yet, here are some practical and eco-friendly gift ideas that can be used by almost anyone and will help to eliminate the use of disposable items; thereby stretching out our precious resources and time on this planet. Here are just a few of many eco-friendly options available:
- organic cotton mesh produce bags
- MY ECO 4-in-1 Bag Sets
- Envirosax reusable bags
- reusable water bottles
- food pouch squirters
- reusable sandwich bags and wraps
- stainless steel lunch containers
- Abeego way muslin wrap (plastic wrap replacement)
- Silpat baking mats (parchment paper/wax paper replacement)
- Silicone lids for cups, bowls and cookware (plastic wrap replacement)
- stainless steel grill pan (foil replacement)
- eco-friendly household cleaners
- eco-friendly body soaps