The holidays are a time of giving. This means giving kindness. Giving love. Giving time to your family. Perhaps giving to a charity that you care about. But unfortunately, the holidays also often mean giving a lot of extra garbage to the landfill. So why not give a gift to the planet Earth this year by making an effort to go green beyond just your Christmas tree. Let’s look at three ways that you can get creative and have a merry Christmas while also being environmentally friendly.
ReGifting that Unneeded Present Regifting is an age old tradition of taking a new item that you received, yet have no use for, and giving it to someone else as a gift. While some people use this term in a negative way, there is really nothing wrong with it as long as you do it thoughtfully. For example, perhaps for your birthday a few months ago you received an umbrella with your favorite sports team on it. It’s a nice umbrella, but you have two already, and really you are just as happy to get wet in the rain. So, there is nothing wrong with giving that brand new, untouched umbrella to another sports fan on your list. It would, of course, not be in the holiday spirit to give the umbrella to someone who is not a sports fan, or who roots for a different team. But there is nothing wrong with regifting this appropriately.
For office parties regifting is often called a “white elephant” gift exchange, where everyone does a gift exchange using a new, unwanted item that they already have. By regifting you make good use of an existing item, without using valuable resources to make a new gift. Also, you avoid the inevitability of you throwing away the gift because you didn’t need it in the first place. Similarly, regifting can be an act of charity. For example, if our child gets a book for their birthday, but they already have that book, you can donate it to Toys for Tots. This organization takes new, donated toys and gives them to needy children around the country at Christmas time.
Making Charitable Donations in Your Recipients Name Speaking of charitable donations, these can be a great way to give an eco-friendly gift. Regifting a new item to a charity is one way to donate. Of course dropping some change into a bell ringing Santa’s pot is a great choice, but there are other green ways to give. Heifer International (heifer.org) is one great way to give to someone in need and a recipient on your list at the same time. With Heifer you can purchase crops, farm animals and other things for families in need around the world. With Heifer there are no shipping fees, no wasteful packaging and no returns. And, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. You can make a donation to Heifer, or a variety of other charities, in the name of someone on your list. You can also adopt an animal at your local zoo or aquarium and get a nice adoption package to put under the tree. It’s unique, exciting and green. Another fun way to give and be charitable is through donations where you get to write a message that is posted in a favorite spot. For example, many zoos sell bricks where you can have a message imprinted on them, then have your brick used to pave a new road or build a new wall. This can be an exciting gift that lasts indefinitely as the recipient can visit their special brick or tile for years to come.
Recycle Paper and Cards If you are the crafty sort you can minimize your holiday carbon footprint by reusing various materials. For example, have you ever received a package of sample Christmas cards in the mail from a non-profit organization such as the humane society? Do not throw them away; use them to create your own cards. First, take the donation envelope and send back at least enough money to help the charity cover the cost of their donation solicitation; if you do not want to get on their list of givers, send a money order anonymously. Then, use the sample cards to make your own cards by cutting out pieces of them and turning them into beautiful, original, homemade cards.
You can also get green and creative by using last year’s Christmas cards in the same way, cutting out pieces of them to paste onto new, original works of art. Or, use an old card to create a unique photo mat. Perhaps merge some old card pieces with some used wrapping paper and you have a beautiful scrap book page. The options to reduce, reuse and recycle are endless at this time of year.