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An Eco Conscious Holiday Guide

Make It Yourself, And If That Doesn’t Work, Check Out These Presents

‘Tis the season to be shopping. And even amidst the consumption fever, there are plenty of ways to let principles of sustainability and ethical consumption guide you. Here’s some ideas for to buying “green” gifts on a budget for everyone on your list.

photo of a whale skeleton in a museumphoto by Flickr user Franck ChicotExperience a museum this holiday season.

The most wallet and eco-friendly way to give gifts this holiday season is to avoid buying anything new. A gift that you make yourself or one that reuses already finished products is almost guaranteed to have a smaller carbon footprint than anything you buy new. Bake treats with local and organic ingredients. Use old letters, magazines, scrap paper, and pictures to make meaningful and personalized cards. Take your friends shopping at a local thrift store and buy them something they choose. Or buy concert, museum, theater, or movie tickets. Experiential gifts can be enjoyed together and come with a free bonus of memories.

There are also plenty of ways to buy affordable green gifts that brand spankin’ new. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

  • The gift of inspiration. Books can be a portal to wild ideas and international adventures. 2011 saw the publication of two nonfiction works perfect for a hungry mind.
  • The gift of style. These chic gold tone earrings made from recycled materials could turn any woman into a treehugger. Just $25.
  • photo of patterned cloth napkinsThe gift of cleaner air and less schmutz on the face. Cloth napkins are the most convenient way to save trees. These sport a floral design and were made using chemical-free dyes. Produced in the villages of Bagru and Sanganer, well known in Rajasthan, India for their wood-block printing heritage. $6.50 each.
  • The gift of water. BPA-free, stainless steel, and indestructible, the Klean Canteen comes in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. They are the perfect gift any human, since our bodies are made mostly of water. From $14.95 to $32.95.
  • The gift of life. Idiot-proof, grow-it-yourself kits from Olive Barn are a perfect way to give loved ones something they can grow, admire, and eat. Edible flowers are eight seed balls for $6.95. The herb garden comes in a variety of herb combinations and goes for $ of a folded t-shirt with a circular design on it
  • The Chanukah gift. Chocolate gelt from the first farmer-owned chocolate company in the world. Both fair trade and kosher. Need I say more? $2.79 per bag (approximately 12 coins).
  • The teenager gift. The yellow bird project sells t-shirts designed by indie music groups like the Shins and Wolf Parade with proceeds benefiting charities such as Greenpeace, Nature Conservatory, and Glass Casters Union, a non-profit organization that raises funds to serve the poor by selling ornaments made out of recycled glass.
  • The gift of not having to share. The World Wildlife Fund animal adoption kit (options range from primates to frogs) solves the dilemma of gift giving for multiple kids with one swift click. Each kit comes with a photo, adoption certificate, and three to five stuffed animals. $50. Getting the parents a pair of recycled beer glasses for $15 guarantees that everyone has a little something of their own.
  • The gift of plenty. Many organic farms have Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)photo of fruit in a basket programs that deliver fresh produce to your neighborhood. Some farms have a variety of plans to suit flexible budgets. You could buy your loved one a month of delicious fruit. Websites such as Local Harvest can help you to locate a CSA farm near you. Or if you’d rather get them a basket for all the plenty, has stylish options for $32 made from recycled chopsticks.
  • A Gift for Yourself. Want to start the New Year off right and know that your are helping to build a more local, sustainable economy? Move your money out of the big banks like Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo and put your hard-earned cash in a community bank or credit union. You know that your savings will go toward supporting homeowners and small businesses right in your community. And that’s a gift that will keep on giving.

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