|Tips for Sustainable Giving|
|Here are some ideas for giving without taking from the planet.|
|It's the thought that counts, and the personal touch makes any gift more meaningful and memorable. You can give more while spending less.||
|Services instead of Goods|
|Gifts of service require little or no use of natural resources, and are very personal and memorable. The gift of You - your time, energy or expertise are as 'giftworthy' as anything you can put in a box. Massage, music lessons, childcare, car wash, dogwalk, lawncare, tutoring, cooking, gardening, a book of coupons for household chores....|
|Experiences to enjoy and remember|
|Giving the gift of an experience can bring fun, learning and memories that hold value for years. For example, tickets to a show or concert can offer lasting value with minimal impact on resources. Sports events, local attractions, rock-climbing centers, ice-rink memberships, and museum memberships are other examples. Experiences can be other than 'entertainment' - for example, a membership to a car-sharing club in your city, or a garden plot in a local community garden.|
|Antiques and Collectibles|
and appeal don't always have to mean 'new and shiny'. Antiques and collectibles
have time-earned intrinsic value as well as the added appeal of history and sentimental value.
Personal gifts are appreciated and remembered because they tell a story. And because they're "re-used", there's no impact on the environment.
all have our little treasures, our discoveries from nature. An unusual shell,
crystal, wood burl, arrowhead, bone, shark tooth..... Over time we get used
to seeing them and our interest wanes.
Once you've enjoyed your special discoveries long enough, pass them on as gifts and they'll be "rediscovered" with enthusiasm, and impart their wonder again.
is heartfelt. Your time and energy, and culinary creativity, are just as valued
as that store-bought gift which they may not really even need.
Your time spent in the kitchen is probably no more than the time spent gift-hunting online or at the mall. And the gift of food is personal, easy on the environment, and not likely to go to waste.
|Grow your own gifts. Unique floral varieties can be raised in your small home plot, and make interesting, appealing gifts which anyone can appreciate. Homegrown cut flowers or potted plants make great gifts - the result is the same: eye catching, easy on the environment and rich with sentiment.|
|If you prefer to buy flowers as gifts, choose from 'in season' locally grown varieties. The maintenance of greenhouses and long-distance transportation to provide summer flowers in winter can involve significant expenditures of energy, coming from fossil fuels.|
|"Old" Gold Jewelry|
|The cost of gold jewelry
goes far beyond the price tag - when you consider the cost to the environment.
Cyanide is a toxic chemical; one teaspoon of 2% cyanide can cause death
in humans. Today this dangerous chemical is used in gold extraction operations
worldwide. Left over cyanide waste is stored in ponds with thin liners
that can leak or break. It is not unusual to have spills of cyanide solution
and heavy metal-laced water that can contaminate ground water, kill fish
and waterfowl, and contaminate drinking water.
Approximately 78% of newly mined gold each year goes toward jewelry fabrication - rings, bracelets, earrings etc. It takes 30 tons of ore to produce a single new gold ring. In the US, demand for gold continues to rise at record levels, with many unsuspecting consumers wishing to fit the image of wealth and status as portrayed by the media.
With over 35,000 tons of gold reserves in the world's central banks, there's enough gold to cover demand for primary metal at the current levels of use for more than 14 years. If our consumption of gold jewelry was significantly reduced, the gold stored in reserves could last us for close to a century. We simply don't need to mine any new gold, let alone with the use of cyanide leach technology.
"Old" gold looks just as good as new. Look for used gold jewelry at antique shops, swap meets and jewelry stores. Many jewelers can also recast new designs with gold supplied from antique or out of style pieces you may have at home.
|It's time to look at "used"
in a new light.
Giving a used gift was once out of the question - it made the gift-giver feel cheap. And no one wants to risk offending the recipient. But used gifts are the kindest of all to the environment, as no energy or resources are expended.
There are some areas where used items can be appropriate as gifts, however, and the list grows with the steady accumulation of goods in our consumer society. Used computers, for example, can be refurbished and upgraded. Or consider vintage clothing, books and CD's, bikes, sports equipment, tools, cameras, children's toys and clothes. Used musical instruments are especially appropriate in this regard, as they often hold their value and appeal for a long time.
If you're still a bit uneasy with the concept, write a note on the gift card. "We know how you love nature......this gift comes to you at no expense to the environment."
I was reading your suggestions about giving second-hand or used items for gifts and was reminded of a family who came through a garage sale we had last Fall. They seemed to be having so much fun and when we remarked on this they said they were Christmas shopping. I was impressed by their being so organized (this was in August) but was also intrigued that they would be going to garage sales to do their Christmas shopping. So in the ensuing conversation they told us that their family had some years ago made a rule that all gifts must be under $20.00 and either hand-made or used. This has provided so much enjoyment for them that we're going to suggest this same idea to our family for next year.
Dan Taylor, Alberta Canada
|Hi- I just wanted to comment that I gave a co-worker a Xmas gift this past year of a pair of earrings she had once seen me wear and said she really liked. At first, I felt very strange about giving her them as a gift, but reasoned that I would rather give her something I knew she liked than go out and buy a useless trinket. I am glad to see that others practice re-gifting in a positive way. She was not offended in the least and the act made me feel good that I wasnt throwing away money or a pair of earrings. Thanks- Cindy in New Hampshire|
|You've heard it before, but it bears repeating. Batteries are a villain in the effort to reduce toxic solid waste, and in the long run they take far more from the environment than the energy they give. True, they are indispensable in many situations, but gift-giving is "non-essential" and a good place to consider alternatives to battery-powered toys and gizmos.|
when buying souvenirs: Ask before buying gifts made from any animal species
which may be endangered, including animal hides, tortoise shell, ivory, or coral.
Some of these products are illegal, but still find their way to the marketplace.
If you're travelling and buying these as souvenirs, they may also be seized at Customs upon your return.
|Gifts of Social Service|
Now in its second decade, the Seva
Foundation uses your donation to perform the service you select.
Their "Gifts of Service" program includes the gift of sight by restoring
sight to blind people, clean healthy water, and education.
Heifer International helps impoverished families feed themselves, earn income and care for their environment. You "give" by donating a llama, goat, flock of chicks or rabbits. Thanks to your gift, one more family is on the road to self-reliance.
outside the box. Or use the box.
Not every gift has to be store-bought. A little imagination can go a long way. For example, a large cardboard box can be a lot of fun to a small child. The bigger the better. Give them markers and stickers to decorate their box creation; help them by cutting openings where they suggest.