All I want for Christmas

December 1, 2008 at 1:56 pm 2 comments


12 Green Days of Chirstmas was the theme of one of Barneys decorated windows last year.  Picture from wallyg via Flickr.

12 Green Days of Chirstmas was the theme of one of Barney's decorated windows last year. Picture from wallyg via Flickr.



Allrighty kids.  Thanksgiving is done and I managed to have less than 1 bag of garbage, filled mostly with Kleenex from the string of bubonic plague going around my family.  On to the next hurdle of the holidays with creating less trash: purchasing presents.

While the folks at adbusters advocated the 17th annual Buy Nothing Day last Friday, shopping on Black Friday was up around 7% from last year.  I wasn’t a part of it though, as were many other people that I have talked to.  It seems most of the people I know are cutting back on their holidays for either environmental or economic reasons.  Despite the stores lauding the best deals ever, prices are rising because of a variety of issues.  This year the ubiquitous 12 Days of Christmas costs $86,609 (up over 10% from last year).  While some like the folks at Adbusters advocate having a gift-free holiday, even suppling certificates you can distribute to people to explain that you don’t want anything for the holdidays, this is a little too drastic for many in my circle.  

As I wrote last year, finding the perfect gift is a family tradition that probably pre-dates the actual holiday.  As the greenest of my family members, I try to promote an easy route to go green without having to move to a hippie commune and use a composting toilet.  While looking back at my efforts last year I decided they were a nice place to start.  Good for a beginner.  I made sure that gifts were usable and reduced waste through wrapping items in creative ways.  However, this year I really want to green up my gift-giving up an extra notch.

One great group I have been looking at for inspiration is the local girls at Every Shade of Green.  This year they are looking to have a holiday season with great memories and traditions while only spending $100.  Some of the coolest things they got from local craft fairs.  While I am not going to hit the $100 mark this year, I love the idea of supporting sustainable, green companies or local companies with my presents.

To review the rules:

  1. Everything must be useful.  No wasteful gadgets, gift wrap, or one more item of clothing.  My dad has plenty of coffee mugs and my mom is full up when it comes to smelly lotions.  I don’t need to wrap stuff in paper just to have it tossed.  My goal is 99% useful. (I figure the gift tag is a fair exception)
  2. Everything has to fit the person.  No more useless gift emporium for me.  Last year I vowed to get gift cards or make a charitable contribution to an organization in the persons name.  This year I am going to do my best to avoid gift cards because they really are not as personable as I wanted.  
  3. The new rule: Use the gift to encourage a green lifestyle or support a local business.
  4. The other sort-of-new rule: For immidiate family I am using reusable boxes for wrapping items.  I semi-started this last year and it worked out really well so I am going to run with it.

O.K. So here’s what I came up with:

The hubby:  A gym membership and a mp3 player.  I have a couple of weaker ideas.  Unfortunately this is one of them.  Despite the fact that gym memberships are not eco-friendly when you can be excersizing outdoors sans electricity, we just got our first bought of snow last night and that puts a kabosh on all outdoor excersizing for a few months.  However, I made sure to go to a gym where I can get a membership that I can ‘pause’ when the weather gets nice and he can again run around town.  Also, I am going as eco-friendly as possible with the MP3 player, making sure that there are fewer toxins than your average electronic device and that there is a plan to recycle it when he can no longer use it.  

The sister:  Organic pancake mix.  This probably sounds quite odd and is once again, not the most environmentally friendly sollution.  You see, my sister moved to Belgium this past year to get her degree (same sister that had previously lived in Africa for those following from last year).  In Europe they have different flour and the last time she lived in Belgium the thing she missed most was pancakes because the flour doesn’t work quite right.  This site provided insights to green my shipping.  I am also coordinating with other family members so we ship in one box to cut down on packaging.  I am stuffing a really cute scarf in the box as well.  Lightweight, usable, local craftsperson.  Wunderbar.  

The ‘rents: I got them a compost bin for their birthdays and they love it, even thought they were somewhat skeptical at first.  It worked so well, I decided to go with a rain barrel.  They are so green and don’t even know it — hehe!

The ‘rents-in-law: A retractable line for drying clothes.  They used to dry everyting by line but then had issues with neighborhood children using line as a toy when it wasn’t in use that ended up causing damage to the house.  This is the perfect way to solve a problem and encourage a truly green behavior!

The grandma: Framing.  She has quite a few pictures that she has wanted framed for a while and then needs help putting them up on the wall, so I went all Mcgyver and got the pictures and will frame them and then take a day to hang out with my grandma to help hang them up.  Pretty cheap, something she really has wanted, and an excuse to hang out.  Perfect.

The grandpa:  Currently undicided.  Last year went with a gift to PBS and that went over really well.  He also has re-taken up gormet cooking so I might go with a local/ organic gift basket or (gulp) a gift certificate for this endevor. 

The co-worker:  For the office pool my husband noted for gift suggestions that a charitable contribution in his name woudl be wonderful and as far as I know he is planning on doing that for whomever he draws.

Looking for more ideas?  Visit Waukesha County’s site and do share your ideas!

Recycle More,

recycle raccoon


Entry filed under: Holiday Waste, Little Action, Shopping. Tags: , , .

Thanksgiving: Like Norman Rockwell Imagined with Less Trash Recycling a fire extinguisher

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. GreenSara  |  December 5, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Great ideas! We just posted a Green Toy Guide but didn’t delve into adult gifts…it could go on forever! Love the ‘rules’ too, we won’t hit the $100 mark either but can definitely do our part to reduce, reuse, recycle and promote healthy living. Some ideas I’ll be using this year for our adult gifts:
    *Handmade shampoo/lotion/scrub sets (recipes at naturemoms.come)
    *Picture Magnets: Don’t toss those magnets from local businesses-cut out photos and adhere to magnets.
    *Homemade treats (with as many organic, local ingredients possible)
    *Handmade Recipe book filled with family favorites (using recycled or repurposed paper, of course)

    But we’re thinking of new things every day!

  • 2. It’s a wrap « Easy Going Green  |  December 8, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    […] that we are home with the items I previously mentioned purchasing, I have to decide how to dole them out in a way that does not create any extra […]

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