Everywhere you go, you can't escape it. The commercials, the radio ads, the plethora of coupons falling out of your Sunday newspaper. It seems that every year, the holidays bring forth a season of hyped-up consumerism and emphasis on the material gifts, mainly plastics and presents that aren't meant to last for a long time.
Just consider all that paper and plastic. The hounding commercials that proclaim big savings make it seem next to impossible to make environmentally friendly alternatives to the typical "hustle and bustle" of the holidays. However, I had the good fortune of being given a list of "environmentally frugal" gifts to consider — helpful for avoiding overpackaging and plastics. The items/ideas on this list may surprise you!
1. An experience (hot air balloon ride, picnic, day at the beach, etc.)
2. Season tickets to a sporting event
3. A house plant
4. Membership to a museum or organization
6. A solar watch or calculator
7. For people with children, an evening of free babysitting
8. Donations to the needy in your friend's name
9. A tree or plant
10. A recording or compact disc
11. Food or confections that you cooked
12. A gift certificate for auto repairs, oil changes, etc.
13. A magazine subscription
(Source: "Environment and Society: Human Perspectives on Environmental Issues")
It is challenging to be green in the face of consumerism, and sometimes it is easier to stay on the treadmill of shopping for new things than to make gifts or be creative about reusing materials. I know I like to shop around Christmas time, that's for sure! I also like to do a lot of baking during the holidays, and when I do, I try to make cookies and pies using organic and locally grown fruits. When it comes to wrapping gifts, I like to use newspapers and wrapping paper from Christmases past. I am still learning creative ways to spread holiday cheer without the heavy carbon footprint
of consumerism. It is all about making conscientious decisions about what we want to buy for our loved ones, and these choices we make can add up to make substantial differences in the local community.