Q. My college friends are getting hitched, but they registered at the most un-eco store. Is it rude to skip the list and force a greener gift on them?

A. Like them or not, registries are the rage—Americans spend $19 billion on presents from them annually. If you don’t want to put the kibosh on your friends’ wedded bliss, you’ve got two options:

  • Choose the greenest item on the registry. These days it’s hard to throw a stone without hitting something sustainable—bamboo sheets, for example, are greener than their cotton counterparts, and cork trivets are more eco (and less Grandma-ish) than rubber ones.
  • Back away from the list—far away from the list. For most couples, registering is not so much an expression of desire as it is one of fear—a deep, visceral terror of receiving 150 panini presses. Therefore, it’s acceptable to stray from the registry, so long as you don’t buy a green version of something already on it (then they’ll have two). Get something no one else will have thought of—theater tickets, a massage for two or even a community-supported agriculture (CSA) membership. These options produce only a small carbon footprint, and not a single panini press will be harmed in the process.
Story by Kiera Butler. This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008

Eco-etiquette: Give and take
You don't need to sacrifice your inner-green when buying wedding gifts.