It’s slightly past the prime gift-giving season, but Wise Bread has a good post up about green gifting strategies. It’s a nice basic overview, but two of my favorite strategies didn’t make the list.
I’ve found that most of the people I feel obligated to gift (friends, family, coworkers) are happy to sign up for a “gift pact.” Pick a rule that makes sense, like a dollar limit or a theme, and require that all gifts follow that rule. If you’re clever, you can get everyone to give green gifts without even talking about it! For example, your theme could be “an experience,” which encourages people to get services rather than goods. Or, you could make a rule about “nothing new.” Several members of my family have swapped lightly used items for Christmas in the past several years. For his birthday, I gave my brother an old video game that he wanted but that I’d already played through twice. He was just as happy as if he’d gotten a new game and I now have slightly less clutter.
For large groups, you can also cut down on consumption with a gift exchange rather than individual gifting. This might not seem literally as green, but even if there are only five of you, a gift swap means 15 fewer new items purchased! The actual act of swapping is also a lot of fun. Maggie’s family now has a tradition that involves unwrapping new presents or stealing already unwrapped ones and everyone loves it.
And if none of these strategies work, you can always get things that will help your recipients go greener. This year, Maggie and I got my brother and his fiancee an Earth Aid Kit. Not only will it reduce their footprint, it’ll also cut down on their utility bills. And that’s a present that any young couple would be happy to get!