I’d like to pass along some holiday tips from the the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and New American Dream. Though consumerism can run rampant during the holidays, there are a number of ways to ensure that your gifts are as sustainable as possible.
The NRDC’s November ’06 issue of This Green Life is packed full of suggestions for a ‘green’ holiday. Though they do urge readers to buy less, don’t despair! The NRDC reassures us, “But enough of this grinchiness. 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.”
Some of their ideas include:
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 provenance. Old books and maps, retro clothing, antique jewelry and the like are one-of-a-kind gifts that collectors and aficionados 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 at www.whatgoesaround.org and suggest to your friends that they register, too, so you can give to their causes while they give to yours.
Do be sure to check out the latest issue of This Green Life (available here) for more eco-friendly holiday advice.
Also of interest: the NRDC’s Green Gift Giving Guide, which features a number of green presents and vendors.
The New American Dream’s most recent newsletter also focuses on environmentally conscious holiday tips.
Visit their website, and
* Download a free Simplify the Holidays Organizer Kit (The bad news: registration is required. The good news: totally free!)
* Celebrate Buy Local Day (Hint: It’s tomorrow!)
* Find an Alternative Gift Fair