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Green Christmas Gifts - Giving Green With Ecofriendly Christmas Gifts

Updated on August 24, 2015

The amount of money and waste that is associated with the Christmas holidays in both the EU and North America is truly staggering. In the North America, nearly 2 billion Christmas Cards are sent each year; citizens of the EU send even more. Nearly half the batteries sold leave the store in the last two months of the year and the average credit card expenditure for Christmas topped ₤1,500 for the first time in 2007.

Time for a Change - Give Environmentally Friendly Gifts

Environmentalists and fiscal conservatives have agreed since the 1990s that the levels of Christmas giving that ballooned during those years could not be sustained. What is shaping up to be the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 may be the nudge that many people didn't even realize they were waiting for to really get serious about their spending. As a lucky coincidence, many of the practices that will save people money will also save the planet.

The Key Components of a Green Christmas

Creating your own Green Christmas involves cutting waste and overall unfriendliness in several key areas:

  • Carbon-emitting travel
  • Direct and indirect energy consumption
  • Material waste and landfill potential
  • Toxic materials
  • Social inequity

The tried and true principles of “reduce, reuse and recycle” (in that order) don't mean that you'll have to give up anything that most people associate with the Holiday season. It's simply a matter of making a few small changes in how you go about it.

Not only are you likely to find that you don't miss all the expensive “stuff,” but you'll probably find yourself spending more quality time with your loved ones. Spending that time allows you to create the family heirlooms of the future.

Green Christmas Gifts and Purchasing

It's Quality, Not Quantity, That Counts

One way to reduce your outlay of stuff is to agree with the adults on your list to reduce the total number of gifts you're expected to give. With extended and intentional families, the typical Christmas list can swell, requiring you to stock up on a bunch of knick-knacks that no one really wants or needs. Try drawing names among the adult members of your family or workplace to narrow things down a bit.

While it is great fun to give children presents for the Holidays, they really don't need a mountain of expensive toys to be happy. Just because they want everything doesn't mean that a few really well-chosen gifts can make them just as (or more) happy. Try conferencing with all the adults to go in on one really special gift for each child.

Choose Local Gifts

Many gifts today come from halfway around the world, and this transportation contributes significantly to both greenhouse emissions and global warming.

Each town or region has artisans and manufacturers of just about every sort who can make wonderful gifts that don't have a large amount of “embedded carbon.” That means steering clear of the “big box retailers” and many commercial shopping centres. Most communities have local markets, with more popping up every year. The money you save on transport can be spent on quality. Such gifts are also highly prized example of “local flavour” that you can send home to far-flung relations.

Recycle Old Gifts

The once taboo subject of “re-gifting” is now considered perfectly reasonable. In fact, there are even markets that pop up on Boxing Day to help people trade their unwanted gifts. Online forums also allow you trade those “white elephants” with local folks, no matter where you are.

Green Wrappings

In the UK alone, it is estimated that nearly 75 cubic kilometres of Christmas gift wrapping paper ends up in bins each year. Most of this is virgin paper with inks of varying toxicity. Even recycled paper represents a huge waste, though the pollution and energy savings can still be significant.

There are, however, many alternatives to using rolls and rolls of new paper to wrap your gifts. One way is to make your own wrappings, by decorating used paper sacks or converting old maps and other interesting scrap paper for use as wrapping. Another method is to give reusable bags or to wrap the gifts in nice scarves or napkins that are part of the present.

SEE THE GREEN WRAPPING HUB IN THIS SERIES FOR MORE INFO.

Batteries

Battery Free gifts

According to the EPA, around 40% of all sales of battery takes place during the Festive season. We all know that used batteries are an environmental hazard. Even rechargeable batteries find their way into the waste stream eventually. If you want to use batteries, why not bury them in your own vegetable garden. Now so keen on that idea, are you? So why give battery-filled gifts, encouraging others to pollute the planet?

Last Minute Green Gifts

Crafts

Even the usual old crafts are making a comeback, as people realize that everything they're accustomed to purchasing can also be made at home, depending upon your ability and inclination. Knitting, for instance, has become fashionable again, with updated versions of all the old favourites remaining popular gift choices. And, it turns out to be true that home-made gifts do often mean more to the recipient than a gift card to a local restaurant.

Upcycling

There are many ways to take an old item and use some creativity to make it something different and better. Do-it-yourself (DIY) magazines are full of projects that can turn junk in your attic into a prized treasure. For instance, old slides from a decades old family trip can be turned into a stylish and unique lamp shade.

Green Giving Video For Green Christmas Gift Ideas

Charitable or Non-thing Gifts

Not all gifts are things. You can also give gifts of experience or a personal coupon for services rendered. These gifts often include donation made to a charitable organization in the recipient's name. While this may not be appropriate for people who don't know each other very well, they are ideal for families.

THIS HUB IS PART OF A SERIES OFFERING A COMPLETE GUIDE TO A GREEN CHRISTMAS (ECOFRIENDLY CHRISTMAS)

For other hubs in this series, please visit the index hub where you will be able to see all topics in this series and navigate between them.

This hub brought to you...

by Julie-Ann Amos, professional writer, and owner of international writing agency www.ExquisiteWriting.com

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This work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ or send a letter to CreativeCommons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California94105, USA.

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