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Dear Wally,

I’m trying to do a “green” Christmas with gifts that will not increase my carbon footprint. I know thrift stores are great eco-friendly places to shop, but that’s just not my thing.  Any ideas for what else I can do?

Green but not a Grinch


Dear Green,

As my friends know, my favorite gifts are experiences with people I love. Give gifts of movie tickets (and a reusable popcorn bucket if the theater allows), activities like ice-skating, or a hike that you can do together.

For other gifts of experience, consider the recipient’s hobbies, interests and aspirations to find thoughtful gifts like classes, season passes or lift tickets.  

If someone you know could use a little pampering or helping hand, they may appreciate a spa treatment, housecleaning, babysitting, or car wash gift certificate.

Homemade treats are a hands-on way to show your love. Whether it’s tasty jam, baked goods, luscious fudge, or an herb infused olive oil, they’ll love that you made it yourself and think of you with every bite! If you’re not so handy in the kitchen, stop by the Farmer’s Market to gather some locally grown and sustainable goodies, and package them in a reusable box, bowl or bag.

Re-Buy!  Re-Buy doesn’t have to mean second hand; it can be a new item created from recycled content. Check for recycled content on the label, and shop local whenever possible to reduce your carbon footprint from shipping and packaging.

Go green literally with a plant. Living gifts can bring life, beauty and flavor to the recipient every day of the year. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, a stylish container (can you reuse something?) with artfully arranged succulents could be a welcomed low-maintenance addition to any home or office. Your friend who loves to cook may appreciate a windowsill herb garden. A flowering perennial will bring smiles with every new bloom.

Shop your closet(s) to create a “new to you” gift. There’s no shame in re-gifting if you are quite certain that the recipient was not the giver, and that they would appreciate and use it. Creative kids will love a dress-up kit with funky clothes and jewelry, an idea-box for young inventors with tools and gadgets, or a crafting kit with art supplies, fabrics and notions.

Pay the green forward with gifts that encourage others to use less stuff, or create less waste. A book about making crafts from reusable items, a cookbook for leftovers, reusable shopping bags, or a reuse-to-go kit with take-out ware they can grab for their grub on the run. The coffee lover may appreciate a new thermal cup and a pound of fair-trade beans or a gift card for their favorite café.

Any way you choose to celebrate, the best gift you can ever give is yourself so be present and create memories instead of waste! Happy Holidays!