Green Holiday Gifts: A little early to be thinking holiday shopping? Maybe a bit, but at some point you're going to have to head out in search of Christmas gifts. Here are a few tips to help you celebrate the holidays with gifts that will be both unique and eco-friendly. This guide to Green Holiday Gifts offers straight-forward suggestions for thinking outside the box when choosing gifts for the home, school or office. These simple tips will help you find the best in reusable, non-toxic, organic, and sustainable products and will tweak your regular buying patterns into ones that will make an impact on family and friends, as well as Mother Earth. This holiday season, look for:
Tip # 1. Natural products rather than ones made of chemicals:
For beauty and health products, you may want to head to the health food store rather than the perfumery or drug store. Synthethic-based compounds, which are derived from petroleum, make up the majority of our cosmetics and fragrances. Not only are these substances resource-intensive, but they've also been linked to cancer, hormone disruptions, allergic reactions and other harmful effects.
Instead, try natural perfumes made of essential oils or beauty products for both men and women that are made of organic ingredients. What is especially important is to look for products that are phthalate-, paraben- and sulfate-free.
Tip # 2. Long lasting products instead of “single use” products:
A gift is nicer if it is quality-made and eco-friendly. Steering clear of disposable or one-time use items will help reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfills, and take a step closer to a greener culture. Reusable items such as mugs, drinking containers, lunch boxes, bags and other items made out of durable materials make for great gifts, as long as they are PVC-, BPA- and lead-free.
Tip # 3. Foster a green thumb or love of the outdoors:
We simply spend too much time indoors. Encourage the great outdoors with gifts that celebrate nature and our stewardship of the earth. A stainless steel composter, a season’s pass to the local parks, outdoor gear and sports equipment are all great ideas for the outdoor enthusiast. Or, bring a bit of nature indoors with indoor plants (Boston ferns are beautiful, hearty, and help purify the air!).
Accessories for the garden or patio, such as chimes, planters, a bird bath or outdoor candles and lanterns will also delight those who love the outdoors.
Tip # 4. Services, or non-material gifts:
For those who would be appreciative of a non-material gift, giving a donation or service in lieu of a material gift is one of the best ways to reduce our impact during the gift-giving season.
Consider giving the gift of an experience (the theatre, a local restaurant, a certificate for the farmer's market or local artisan shop), or a donation to a favorite environmental or humanitarian charity. No gift wrap and ribbons necessary.
Tip 5. Products made from more sustainable materials:
Bamboo is quickly becoming the sustainable material of choice when it comes to wooden items (think bowls, serving platters and serving utensils) and cotton items (think pjs, bathrobes, blankets and bedding).
Organic cotton items avoid all the chemicals used in traditional cotton crops.
Avoid PVC (the ‘poison plastic’) by looking for toys made of natural materials like wood, cotton and wool, with non-toxic dyes, paints and finishes. This will protect children, especially those who put toys in their mouths, and give them a few non-plastic toys under the tree.
There you have it - five tips to keep in mind when shopping for Green Holiday Gifts. Whether the presents you give this season are reuseable, sustainable, outdoorsy, or non-material, your choice of a uniquely eco-friendly gift will help us all go a bit greener for Christmas.
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