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Gifts that Give Back
By Justen Walker   View more articles by this author
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November 24

The holiday season is fast approaching. It’s time to get creative and think about what you’re going to give everyone on your list. Why not give a gift that gives back to our environment? Green giving is a great way to spread joy this season while also spreading the word that you care about our environment and encourage others to care too.

There are a lot of “green” products on the market today, and making a choice can be difficult. You have to look closely at the products and weigh your options. There are always pros and cons when considering any purchase, and not all earth friendly products are created equally. You have to think of a product’s entire life cycle from factory production to what happens when it reaches the end of its life cycle. Is it biodegradable, recyclable or will it eventually end up in a landfill? There is a lot to consider and it can be overwhelming. The fact that you are thinking about the effects of products on our environment is a great start. There’s also the cost factor since environmentally friendly products can sometimes be more costly than their non-environmentally friendly counter parts. It’s a balance and you have to trust your research and judgment as to which product is the best choice environmentally and economically.

I know that personally I’ll definitely be spending less on presents this year. But, I enjoy giving gifts that are thoughtful, personal and something that the recipient will actually use. Here are a few ideas to get you started in your quest for economical green gifts.

Alternative Gifts International specializes in humanitarian and environmental causes. A sample of their projects supporting environmental sustainability are promoting solutions for safe water in Africa and equipping tribal families with solar power in the United States. Gifts start as low as four dollars and there are a variety of price ranges and projects. This is a gift that you can feel great about giving.

Last year everyone on my list received a Chico Bag. They come in a variety of colors, sizes, shapes and some of the bags are made of recycled plastic bottles. It’s a great re-usable grocery bag; it’s lightweight and stuffs into itself. Mine is always in my purse, so no matter what store I’m shopping at, I always have a bag. They are much easier than lugging around canvas totes. While they promote the use of re-usable bags, unfortunately the bags are made in China and the cost to the environment of production and shipping should be factored in. Again, it’s a trade-off.

A few more ideas:

  • Get crafty: Homemade gifts are always appreciated. Learn how to make a quilt or potholders with fabric scraps or old clothes. I reuse last year’s Christmas cards as gift tags.
  • Re-gifting: It’s economical and earth friendly! Instead of sending that thing that wasn’t quite right for you to the landfill try, try to think of someone you know who might like it or use it. I feel that re-gifting is only appropriate when you know that you won’t offend anyone.
  • Eco-cleaner or eco-bath gift basket: We all need to clean our houses and bathe, but sometimes we don’t buy the more expensive but environmentally friendly products for ourselves because it doesn’t fit into our budget. Consider giving a friend a green care package of cleaning or bath products.


Wrap it up. You’ve made the effort to purchase an eco-friendly gift, please think about an alternative to the traditional wrapping paper and ribbon. I cringe when I think of the waste created on Christmas morning. This year you can save wrapping paper and ribbons to re-use next year. Newspaper comics, magazine pages, paper bags, and fabric bags are a few alternatives. I’m sure you can come up with some more! Happy Holidays.

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