We would like to think warmly about this season of giving, but we're often disheartened by a culture that promotes over-indulgence and crazed consumerism. So our version of a holiday gift guide includes tips and suggestions that are less extravagant and more eco-friendly. You won't have to enter a mall for any of these gift ideas, either.
If you want to give a book or movie, we have lists of Green Books and Green Films recommended by our staff members. And we also believe that giving a gift membership to Global Green USA to help support us and the work we do is a mighty fine idea, too. Below, favorite green gift ideas from staff members of Global Green, along with some stellar wrapping alternatives.
IT’S REUSED AND RECYCLED
"I traditionally buy used books from Amazon as gifts. And, now with e-books, it’s even easier to give books, old or new, without needing transportation, paper, or postage." -- Lily
"Sometimes I give something I already have if it is unused or in good condition and I believe the person will truly appreciate it." -- Linda S.
"Dig up family heirlooms to give as gifts." -- Nina
"I think cooking gifts is a nice idea -- whether it's fudge, your own special Chex mix, or candied nuts. And you can give it in reusable tins or storage containers." -- Jeannine
"I give my parents a gift certificate to a fancy dinner." -- Gina G.
"I enjoy going to the farmers' market and buying fresh, local fruit to make preserves or apple sauce as gifts." -- Ali
"I like to give locally-themed drink kits. For example, the fixings for Autumn Mojitos: Old New Orleans Rum, Steen's Cane Syrup (made in Louisiana), locally-grown mint and limes, and either an organic ginger ale or Blenheim's Ginger Ale (brewed in South Carolina). It makes for a tasty and seasonal gift." -- Laney
"I plan to make infused olive oil (organic, of course) with herbs from the garden (rosemary, lemon verbena) and put it in a cleaned-out wine bottle with a cork stopper." -- Stef
"I like to go a local market and fill one of their reusable bags with gourmet treats. Also, if you have any kind of a cooking gene, homemade food is always a winner. I make my brother ginger bread men cookies (his fave) every year. Better than almost anything I can buy him." -- Mary
IT’S AN EXPERIENCE
"My brother gave his girlfriend a great gift last year. He planned an entire day -- went to the farmers’ market, made breakfast from food they bought, then had a local hike picked out, and packed a picnic to eat at the top. He wrote all of this out in coupon, which was the 'gift.' " -- Sarah
"I have given concert and comedy show tickets for an experience gift." -- Ali
IT’S HANDMADE AND LOCAL
"I like to buy all my holiday gifts from the various arts and crafts markets around town. Because I’m in New Orleans, we aren't limited to just kitschy handicrafts -- lots of local vendors sell handmade things created from salvaged materials, CDs of their music, and re-purposed items." -- Becki
"I like to give pottery. It is a connection to the earth -- as it is from there -- and you can easily buy local. Also, it is useful and long-lasting. Cups, pitchers, tea pots, planter pots." -- Richard
"I like to buy jewelry from the thrift store, take it apart, and remake it into multiple pieces to give to all my girlfriends." -- Hagu
"Subscriptions to online magazines or newspapers are always a winner and are completely waste-free." -- Lily
IT SMELLS GOOD
"I have made sachets of herbs wrapped in fabric and also filled vintage jars with floral water I’ve made with rose and lavender." -- Michelle
“I like to give the 21st century mixtape -- a playlist, transferable by USB. It’s personal, creative, and waste-free.” -- Lily
"Give the gift of a living tree." -- Ruben
IT HELPS GLOBAL GREEN
Check out the list of friends of Global Green who support us with proceeds from sales of goods and services.
IT’S A WRAP
"I have been known to wrap gifts in silk scarves or articles of clothing that are also part of the gift." -- Lily
"My father always wraps our presents in newspapers -- he also has come up with more elaborate pretty bows (also made out of newspaper) over the years." -- Jeannine (her magazine bows are pictured above; check How About Orange for a tutorial on making a magazine bow and Instructables for making paper flowers)
"Wrapping in my family is ALWAYS in Trader Joe's bags or newspapers, with a little bit of painters or masking tape. Or, wrapped in some tweed string. Or, we just have people close their eyes, and we hand them their gift and make them guess what it is." -- Sarah
"I wrap the gifts creatively, sometimes with saved wrapping paper, sometimes in the pages of a beautiful old calendar or the funny pages. I also make my own cards." -- Linda S.
"An easy way to green your gift giving is to make the wrapping a part of the present. A scarf around homemade beauty supplies, a printed dishtowel around organic wine, or a fair trade woven basket with farmers' market finds can make the present prettier and more sustainable!" -- Laney
"I used to paint and instead of throwing them out, I have used those paintings as wrapping paper." -- Michelle
"Recycle newspaper as gift wrapping and have the kids draw something special or write a special note on each wrapped gift. Adds a special and more meaningful touch to your gift wrapping, plus it gives 'bored' kids a chance to color, paint, draw, etc.!" -- Vanessa