Does Christmas creep up on you every year? Do you find yourself struggling through the mall with an ever-increasing armful of gifts, trying desperately to find the right thing for everyone? In the midst of a present-buying frenzy, most of us don’t stop to think about green issues. You could save yourself some time and hassle, though, by some savvy planet-saving shopping. Plus, even grumpiest relatives will struggle to find fault with gifts are designed to bring a little extra good into the world. So this Christmas, make sure it’s not just your tree that’s green…
For several years, charity gifts (also known as “good gifts) have been popular. Essentially, you donate money to charity on behalf of your friend or relative, and you get a card to give them to explain what the money’s being used for. In an age where we all have too much stuff, charity gifts are a great way to make sure that your gift budget is making a real difference in the world.
When choosing charity gifts, try:
- Selecting a gift which will be meaningful to the recipient. For example, many charities let you buy school supplies, which could make a great gift for a teacher.
- Don’t use Christmas as a time to push your own political, moral or religious agenda on relatives — select gifts that are appropriate for them.
- Bearing in mind the age of the recipient: children may not understand the concept of “their” gift going to someone else.
Where to buy:
A large number of charities offer this sort of gift, so check out any which you already support. A few large gift suppliers include:
- The Good Gifts Catalogue
- Oxfam America Unwrapped (search for “Oxfam unwrapped” to find your nation’s equivalent)
- Heifer International (not just heifers!)
Admit it, you’ve got a geek or three in your life (or perhaps you’re a bit of a geek yourself). Some geek hobbies can be quite power-intensive, so rather than giving yet another gadget, try looking for something that’s got that geek cachet — and that helps out the environment. There are plenty of sites selling geeky gifts, and many of these fit the “eco-friendly” bill.
Just try to resist buying too many nifty toys for yourself while you’re browsing…
Look out for products which:
- Involve renewable energy sources, such as the sun or wind-power
- Ideally, which are fun! Although energy-saving power strips are great inventions, they’re not the most exciting thing to find in your Christmas stocking…
Where to buy:
You may have a tacit agreement to exchange small gifts, or to donate money to charity in lieu of gifts, when it comes to adult friends and relatives. If you have your own kids, grandchildren, nephews or nieces, however, you may be struggling to find something that’s not yet another plastic toy or computer game. There are loads of fun, kid-friendly gifts that are also kind to the planet.
If you have your own kids, get them involved in choosing presents — especially if you’re giving charity gifts. It’s a great way to help them understand how worldwide issues tie in with your individual choices and actions.
Go on the hunt for:
- Gifts which will get kids enthused about environmental matters. Don’t focus on “educational” gifts, but on ones which will spark an interest.
- Age-appropriate presents: being eco-friendly isn’t an excuse to get sloppy. If you don’t have much experience with children, simply ask the parents what would suit.
- Fun colors and designs. Even if you’re buying recycled notebooks or school supplies, you can get some gorgeous stationery — don’t settle for beiges and browns!
Where to buy:
- My EcoStore — Gifts for Kids
- Progressive Kid Store (closing soon — so get there quick and enjoy the sale!)
- Kate’s Caring Gifts — For Kids
And don’t forget your own Christmas list: are there eco-friendly items you’d like? Would you prefer relatives to donate to a favorite charity on your behalf?
(Image by queercatkitten)