Dear Lazy Environmentalist,

Where can a cash-strapped, eco-minded soul find good gifts?

This holiday season budget-minded, lazy environmentalists can do some serious gift shopping without going to great lengths, spending a lot of cash, or pumping up their carbon footprint. Several green gift-giving strategies will help you find presents that will bring smiles to your friends and loved ones without compromising the planet or your wallet.

Go digital

Your iPhone, smart phone, PC or apple computer can do double-duty as a digital e-book reader. While Lazy Environmentalist books are always printed on recycled paper, most publishers have yet to make the switch from virgin paper sources. So instead of chopping down trees just to have something nice to read, download eReader’s free reader software and then download books from the and enjoy them wherever and whenever you like. eReader also works on recent versions of iPods, and’s Rewards Program helps you save 15% or more on the cost of book purchases. Giving digital books as gifts is good for the mind, good for the wallet, and good for the planet.

Zinio will take you and your loved ones into the age of digital magazine subscriptions and also reduce the need for all that paper. At you can subscribe to more than 500 titles, like BusinessWeek, Cosmopolitan, Car & Driver, Men’s HealthDwellOutside, and Yoga Journal. Download the Zinio Reader and read the magazines on your computer or access your subscriptions online from any computer at iPhone owners get to access entire magazines through their phones. Zinio’s recent partnership with Barnes & Noble lets you find great deals on digital magazine subscriptions which are available directly through


Buy refurbished

If these digital possibilities have you amped about giving some new electronics as gifts, do your wallet and the planet a favor by looking into refurbished items. These are usually products that were returned to stores within 30 days of purchase, had damaged packaging or a slight cosmetic defect, were used as in-store display items, or were simply overstocked. Many are still covered by their original warranties. And before they can be resold in the marketplace they go through rigorous defect testing. Best of all, they frequently sell for less than 50 percent of the retail price. Online shops like, and offer deals on everything from refurbished iPods and Blackberries to name-brand computers and flat-screen televisions.

Swap goods

An excellent way to get your hands on terrific merchandise at bargain prices without consuming new products (which, of course, raises your carbon footprint) is to enter the world of online swapping and trading communities. For example, gamers will love, an online community featuring more than 2,400 of the most advanced and feature-rich video games that members are willing to trade with one another. So instead of spending lots of money on new games, Goozex charges you just $1 each time you receive a game from another Goozex member. Whether you’re partial to Xbox, Wii, Nintendo, or other gaming platforms, the Goozex online trading community has got games for you. Gift them to your friends, enjoy them together, and then trade them again for new games whenever you like. Other swapping and trading sites to explore are for DVDs, for baby goods, and for designer fashion.

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Excerpted from Josh Dorfman's latest book, The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget.

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Where can a cash-strapped, eco-minded soul find good gifts?
You can go digital, buy refurbished and swap your way into goodies everyone will love.