Biofriendly Giving for the Holidays

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Presents under the tree
Image by di_the_huntress (via Flickr)

When you made your list of family and friends you are giving presents to this holiday season, what kinds of gifts did you put on your list? Did you include anything on your list that is used? What about recycled? Anything you made by hand?  Do you have any charities or individuals in need on your gift-giving list?  If not, I hope that you will take a moment to revise your list and see if you can do some biofriendly giving this holiday season.

I’m not talking about being cheesy or anything, I’m talking about being creative.  I’m talking about not wasting perfectly good items or in some cases brand new items and either re-using them or gifting them to people who can and will use them.  Let me give you a few examples:

1) Take those toys your kids don’t play with anymore and donate them.  My kids have a number of toys they have either outgrown or just lost interest in.  Instead of throwing those toys away, we’ve been going through them and putting bins together to donate them.   We also have boxes of clothes they have grown out of that we are donating to a local charity.

2) Re-gift.  Yes, sometimes re-gifting is frowned upon, but think about it….is it better to have a gift sit on your shelf for years until you finally throw it out or better to give it to someone who will use it?  If you don’t feel right about re-gifting or you can’t remember who gave you the gift and don’t want to inadvertently give it back, then donate the gift.  There’s really no reason to clutter up your home with items you don’t use.

3) While you might be in a crunch to get last minute gifts, shopping online might not be your best option.  It might be the most convenient in terms of avoiding the post office at this time of year, but is it really the best choice in terms of environmental impact?  Believe it or not, there are companies who waste materials when they ship, so if you do resort to last minute online shopping, please request minimal packaging, i.e. there’s no reason for them to ship a small rattle in a huge box.

Image by dullhunk (via Flickr)

4) Give a simple gift to yourself and the environment, by recycling over the holidays.  Make an early resolution that from today until the end of the year you will see how many cans, bottles, etc you can recycle.  Then take them to a local recycling center and see how much you “saved”.  Not only will it prevent those recyclables from being put into a local landfill, but you will be able to earn a little extra cash for your efforts.

5) If you have some talent like baking, drawing, writing, singing, etc then consider giving simple, handmade gifts to your family that represent your talents.  I have kids and one of the things that their grandparents want more of are photos….so, I’m trying to put together a scrapbook for each set of grandparents this year.  (Hmmm…hopefully this will be one post my mom won’t read or else I’ve spoiled the present, but I think she’ll forgive me.)

6) When it comes to friends and co-workers, think twice about this one.  If you really do “need” to give them something this holiday season, then be smart about it.  Find something they can truly use.  Also look around for gifts that use recycled materials – they are much easier to find this year than years prior. Another option is to give them a card or even a gift card….have you seen Best Buy’s gift cards this holiday?  The card is made from recycled materials.

Basically, what it all comes down to is think before you give and please don’t forget to donate this holiday season to those less fortunate than you. I can pretty much guarantee there are at least two things in your home that you don’t really need or use.  Take a look and either re-gift or donate them.  There is no reason you can’t do some biofriendly giving this holiday season!

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