Buy green holiday gifts
Buying eco-friendly gifts for friends, family, and colleagues can be stressful and costly, especially if you want to keep your earth-conscious principles in mind. With a bill totalling nearly $1,000 per American, it’s no wonder holiday shopping occupies so much of our mental and emotional energy during the latter part of the year. So this year, whether you’re celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, why not make things easier on yourself by putting those dollars to good green use by buying eco-friendly gifts?
What to look for when seeking out eco-friendly gifts
We’ve got green gift giving ideas that’ll surprise, delight, and inspire every person on your list, but as you’re browsing online or in store, keep some essential earth-conscious advice in mind:
- CO2-conscious businesses: Make informed shopping decisions that support companies involved in the fight against climate change. Climate Counts, an organization working to bring consumers and companies together to fight climate change, has ranked dozens of companies against 22 different climate-related criteria. You can download a summary of their findings in their convenient pocket guide, or simply text “cc” followed by the name of the company you’re interested in to “30644” and you’ll receive information about them directly to your mobile phone while you shop!
- Recycled content: You’d be surprised how many recycled-content options are now available—everything from shoes to gardening tools, jewelry to furniture, books and magazines to stationary.
- Green certifications: Whether you need trendy clothes, tasty treats, or tantalizing spa products, you can green-up your gift purchases by choosing certifiably-green options you can trust to be more earth-friendly. Here, too, GreenYour’s got you covered with an array of cruelty-free soaps and makeup, Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee and chocolate, Forest Stewardship Council Certified pencils, crayons, paper, and toys. You can also look for low-toxin items such as Green Seal Certified furniture, EPEAT Certified computers and electronics, and GreenGuard Certified desk chairs.
- Energy- and money-savers: Wanna lighten the load for your gift recipients? Then why not look for products that’ll help them save money by cutting energy consumption? Stuff stockings with simple CFL or LED light bulbs, wattage monitors, and power strips. Help them power up sustainably with a solar battery charger or power down with battery-free toys or a flameless solar oven. Make it easier for them to create a more energy-efficient home with window film and light timers. Or get them saving money and reducing waste by making their own soda, wine, beer, compost, or soap.
- Renewable, biodegradable materials: Rather than polyester and other synthetic fabrics, choose bath and bed linens, bathroom and spa accessories, baby clothes and toys, as well as T-shirts and underwear made from bamboo, hemp, or silk—natural fibers that are rapidly renewable and biodegradable.
- Pesticide-free: In the realm of Certified Organic products, there’s a whole array of options with something for everyone—personal care products (body scrubs, bath gels, perfumes and colognes); baby items (crib sheets, clothes, bibs); food and beverages (wine, chocolate, coffee); and clothing (jeans, sweaters)—all which are healthier, more natural choices compared to pesticide-laden conventional cotton options.
Of course, a great way to avoid purchasing something that has the potential to break, get lost, or be stolen is to give intangible gifts. They require minimal wrapping (if any at all), avoid packaging, require few fossil fuels to ship, and result in long-lasting memories. Here are a few ideas:
- Green travel and events: Forgo gifts that can break or be misplaced and send your loved ones on an eco-adventure instead by giving them gift certificates for travel by super efficient train, bus, hybrid car, or eco-cruise ship to sustainably-managed hotels and sustainable destinations. And don’t forget the local, organic dining options!
- Treat them to eco-friendly services: Spoil your friends and family by giving them gift certificates for eco-friendly services such as green landscaping, organic catering, a home energy audit, or a day at an earth-friendly spa. Alternatively, you can give “donations of time” by offering gift certificates for back rubs, lawn mowing, baking, and house chores.
- Donate to environmental causes: Make contributions (Hanukkah gelt in the form of Tzedakah for you Jewish folk) to a worthy environmental organization, or buy carbon offsets in the names of your gift recipients.
And as you shop, combine your earth-minded purchases with some good buying principles, like shopping locally to support local businesses and cut your carbon emissions; shopping online when you’re not in a rush for things to arrive; carrying your own reusable shopping bag; opting for the eco-friendly packaging option when all else is equal; and charging your purchases to a green credit card to support earth-friendly organizations.
Find it! Unique, green holiday gifts
Need even more holiday gift giving ideas? Don’t settle for uninteresting last minute gifts. Instead, try some of these green giving ideas:
Make it easy for your friends and family to keep their tires properly inflated (and save gas!) with this fun gadget. You can program it with the factory-recommended tire pressure for both front and rear tires, which makes tire check-ups a breeze! It even comes with a 5-year warranty.
Give a Gift of Green® from BeGreen and you’ll have one tree planted in an ecosystem restoration project in the US. The recipient will receive a special memento, too—a plantable ornament (cilantro, daisies, chilli peppers, or Forget Me Nots), a sticker, or a reusable bag.
Eclipse offers a full line of solar charging carrying cases including backpacks, camera bags, bike bags, tackle bags, and messenger bags geared toward energy-conscious urbanites and in-need-of-a-charge outdoor adventurers.
Want a replacement for your dimmable light bulbs? Look no further. These CFLs fit most standard medium base bulb fixtures, replace your energy-wasting 100W bulbs, are ENERGY STAR qualified, and warranted for 5 years.
Cool-to-the-touch, these super efficient little bulbs last 100,000 hours and come in a variety of fun shapes and colors (as well as frosted white). Use them for parties and special occasions, or every day lighting.
A simple press of a button turns the light on for a pre-set period of time: 2, 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Perfect for lighting in storage or cleaning closets, individual bathrooms, and illuminating other electric devices.
Pick up one of these for the cyclist in your life and they’ll be charging portable devices as they go! It can be purchased with a variety of phone adaptors as well as other fun accessories, like arm bands. They even carry mini solar panels and hand cranks.
Bid adieu to piles of paperbacks, newspapers, and magazines and say hello to Kindle from Amazon.com. This innovative e-book reader gives you easy access to over 110,000 books, magazines, and newspapers (auto-delivered automatically) in one compact gadget.
Save space, save energy, and save money with one of these out-of-the-way laundry drying racks. They raise up to 30 pounds of wet laundry out of the way, making it easier than ever to skip the dryer.
Make compost indoors with this compact unit. Just put in your food scraps and the composter automatically mixes, heats, and aerates them, creating usable fertilizer in just two weeks. Using a carbon filter to control odor, this composter is made entirely of recycled and recyclable materials, and only uses as much power as a typical night-light.
Organic Bouquet ships flowers nationwide that are certified both by the USDA and by Veriflora. Organic Bouquet also offers organic chocolates and other gourmet food items, as well as a monthly gift club. Earn Eco-Points on all orders for use toward future purchases.
Bring a sustainable touch to your Hanukkah celebrations with these USDA Certified Organic chocolate coins. They’re made with healthy ingredients like organic cocoa butter, vanilla, and milk powder, and are cover, too!
The set includes one white front-facing and one red back-facing light that uses LED technology and high-power neodymium magnets (non-friction) in an innovative self-contained electrical system. Lights flash on and off as you pedal and stop when the bike stops.
The Tulsi-Hybrid Solar Oven uses the sun's energy to cook all types of food, reaching temperatures of over 400 degrees. It also features a built-in energy-efficient, low-wattage electronic heating backup unit so it can operate even if the sun's not shining. To use, place food inside the oven, position the reflector toward the sun, and let it bake.
Send the skier or snowboarder in your family on an eco-friendly adventure by choosing a resort that practices earth-conscious resort management. The Ski Area Citizen’s Coalition is an independent assessment system that gives outdoor enthusiasts information on the resort’s impact on roadless areas, logging of old growth forests, use of clean, renewable energy, and more so that they ca make an informed decision.
This handmade paper stationery is made from naturally dried elephant dung collected from elephant conservation parks. Natural fibers are added to thicken and strengthen the paper. A portion of proceeds from sales goes to elephant welfare and conservation.
This aerator comes in 0.375 gpm, 0.5 gpm, or 0.7 gpm models, allowing you to cut water use by 80 percent or more. Features a vacuum booster valve that boosts the intensity of the aerator stream flow by 2.5 times over conventional aerator streams.
Now you can take your ducky into the shower, too (although these timers come in other shapes as well). Set this little timer for anywhere from one to 99 minutes and then wait for the beeps to remind you that your time is up.
Buying green gifts helps you go green because...
- It reflects your commitment to living green and supports eco-friendly businesses.
- Buying energy-efficient, sustainable, recyclable products helps your gift recipient achieve a smaller eco-footprint.
In 2006, Americans spent nearly $32 billion dollars on holiday gifts, decorations, and festivities, with $21 billion spent online. Gift giving, which makes up a large portion of total holiday spending, is an enjoyable way to celebrate the season, but the resulting waste can be a real downer for those concerned about the environmental impact of their generosity. Not only do gifts entail oft-wasteful wrapping, they also require the extraction of new natural resources during production, and energy for transport from extraction site to manufacturer to recipient, much of which can be wasted in no time when a gift doesn’t suit the recipient’s tastes or needs.
Whether or not a gift is desired, many will inevitably end up in the trash. In 2005, over 245 million tons of garbage were produced in the US. Each American resident generates approximately 4.5 pounds (a little over 2 kilos) of garbage every day, and much more during the holidays. In fact, US residents generate more solid waste than the residents of any other country. Canadians generate the next largest amount of waste, about 3.75 pounds (1.7 kilos) each per day, whereas Germany and Sweden produce less than 2 pounds per day (less than 1 kilo) per person, the least of all the industrialized nations.
Buying gifts made of eco-friendly or recycled materials (ones that are recyclable, too!) is good for the environment for a variety of reasons. Choosing products made with natural, renewable materials means less land, water, and chemicals are used to produce the finished item. Recycled content products also require much less energy, water, and virgin resources. And recycling programs even play a role in reducing emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases—they’re estimated to have kept the equivalent of 39 million car's worth of carbon out of the atmosphere in 2005.