05 December 2016

Green Your Holiday

'Tis the season... of frantic shopping, and of appeals from "green" companies to shop with them rather than the other companies.

Maybe you want to put the brakes on all that consumption. I'm not suggesting you just say "no" to all gift-giving, but there are ways to make it more productive.

1. Give food that you know the recipient will enjoy that's maybe a little fancier and more environmentally friendly than what they'd have consumed anyway. Organic chocolates, fair-trade coffee or tea, a gift certificate to a farmer's market, a month's pick-up from community supported agriculture, a gift certificate at the neighborhood health food store.

In New York, some greenmarkets sell "wooden nickels." You pay with a credit card (there's a small fee that goes to their overhead) and you can buy wooden tokens worth $5 each to use later or give as gifts. Other cities have similar programs.

2. Give time. Commit to helping a friend or family member with cleaning, maintenance, a special home project, or a home-cooked meal.

3. Give donations in people's names, to charities they (and you!) support. Or commit an amount, and have a conversation about where they'd like it sent.

4. If you want to give material gifts, make them yourself or think hard about where you buy them. As with other purchases throughout the year, try to limit shipping, packaging, and other kinds of waste.

5. Recycle wrapping paper: easiest to do if you use bags and tissue paper with no tape. Or buy or make reusable cloth wrapping bags, or use the comics pages from the newspaper, or re-use cardboard boxes and decorate them.