The Guide for Giving Green

December 18, 2015 by Emily Curran

Is it just me, or did I just hear a rush of this year’s holiday shopping time fly by my ears?  No matter how much preparation and early shopping I get done, I always end up scrambling in the last few days of the holiday season to pick out gifts for people who have somehow escaped my list.  These are also the hardest gifts to purchase, because there is nothing worse than wasting money on some meaningless dust collector that will indefinitely end up in a landfill, just so that your givee has something to unwrap.  The malls are a-mess with traffic and the cashier lines are out the door at this point, and no one has the time to look around in the picked over piles of “great gifts under $20” for their brother’s-kid’s-teacher’s-next-door-neighbor-in-law’s last minute present.

Even worse than the time and futile effort that goes into these gifts, is the negative impact that their waste has on the environment.  I can never decide if I feel guiltier for buying a useless gift just to have, or for buying nothing in the hopes that the earth might last a little bit longer for the people on my list.  So in an effort to organize my gifts in a greener fashion, I have compiled a list of ideas for everyone who made the cut on my crunch-time shopping list.

The Coffee Bean: 
If one of your recipients is big into coffee then head on over to your local coffee shop and load up on some tasty, local beans.  It a win, win gift.  You support local and the recipient gets to try coffee they might have never had before.  

The Fish out of Water:
We all have that friend who never leaves home without their water bottle, and who can blame them?  Even if you have a friend who never leaves home with a water bottle, maybe it’s time to start them on a healthier path for 2016.  Staying hydrated isn’t always easy, but we all stand a better chance with the right, eco-friendly water bottle.  Klean Kanteen is one of the best BPA-free water bottles out there, and comes in tons of different shapes, sizes, and colors to choose from.

The Humanitarian:
Need something for the girl/guy who’s always giving?  Try giving for them!  Another great way to show someone you care without creating more holiday waste is to pick a charity or a cause they are passionate about, and donate.  

The Starving Artist:
Three letters: D. I. Y. Nothing says heartfelt like a handmade gift.  Giving DIY gifts is a great way to upcycle things around the house or outside, and give them a greater life. Another plus to making your own gifts is the amount of flexibility you’ll have to personalize them exactly to the receiver’s liking.

The Busy Bee:
If you haven’t heard by now, wheels are all the rage.  Bicycle and roller blade wheels, skateboard wheels, you know- those toys that used to bring about such joy when you were a kid?  They’re back in.  Especially for a city-dweller like myself, the gift of wheels is a great way to say “I love you, and I don’t want you to sit in pointless traffic any longer.”  It’s also a way to say “I love you, and I want you to stop releasing so many carbon emissions into our mutually-breathed air.”  Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Regardless of where your last minute holiday shopping takes you, I hope that this guide helps to narrow down the field of overdone, generic gifts that are undoubtedly headed for rubble.  While we give and give because it’s the season of giving, we should also stop to think about where all of our giving ends up. Think about it: is it really so much of a coincidence that the month of December surrounds us with green?