Green Holiday Giving

Tis the season for giving!  According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday season can represent anywhere between 25-40% of annual sales for some retailers.

That’s a lot of incentive to make gift giving green!  From your choice of gifts… to how you wrap them… to earth friendly follow through, the holidays can be fun and festive–and still good for the planet!  Here’s how!

First, start with a green gift.  Here are some ideas:

A Gift Tree, Growing Up

Give a green gift (literally)  If you truly want to be remembered consider a living gift.  A few years ago my boss gave everyone on his team a tiny potted evergreen, studded with stars and ornaments for Christmas.  When spring came, I planted mine in the yard, where it has thrived. I think of him every time I look at it!  This type of gift keeps on giving—to the recipient and the planet.

Give a consumable gift .  I just read The Story of Stuff and, OMG, we seriously need to reduce our consumption!  But there are lots of items your friend and family will be using anyway like coffee, guest soaps, body lotion, and chocolate, so why not treat them to something especially nice.  Daughters and women teachers will think you rock with products like nail polish (go natural to avoid the noxious odors and chemicals) or organic body polish, and everyone loves something edible.  Socially responsible coffee, local food products, or homemade items are great ideas.  My kids loved the “cookies in a jar” mix that I used to get annually and the edible “projects” were lifesavers pulled from the cupboard on a rainy day or if a play date was getting slow.

Share a piece of yourself.  Certificates for services like babysitting or help with errands can be low impact on the planet and high value for the recipient.  And they are a great option for anyone who is cash-strapped.  I think my husband’s favorite gift ever was the set of “mow-the-lawn” coupons from the kids!  If you offer to cook local foods, do green cleaning, or help with yard work, the gift can be doubly green.

Next you wrap your gifts, trying not to tap an oil well…

Reuse bags/give up gift wrap.  According to the Carnegie Mellon Green Practices initiative, “If every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.” Consider wrapping your presents with  kitchen towels or t-shirts that will be used again–or use gift bags, which can also be reused.  This year I took the mission one step further and saved all of our gift-style shopping bags for the year.

In early December, I took a sheet of wrapping paper that came in the mail (one of those freebees requesting donations), cut it up and glued it over the company names.  Instant Christmas bags, out of all reused materials!  Here are my pics:

One enterprising blogger even makes her own from newspaper!

And when it is all over…

Wash New Clothes before Wearing Them.  I don’t even like to think about the chemicals that may be lingering on brand new clothes.  Formaldehyde is sometimes used to keep things looking fresh in the store and there may be residues from “processing” the clothes, especially in wrinkle-free garments.  Play it safe and wash before you wear.

Remember the new three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).  When it’s cleanup time, reuse or recycle everything you can.  And don’t forget to start saving gift shopping bags to decorate next year.  I think that counts as reduce and reuse.

30 thoughts on “Green Holiday Giving

  1. Hotly Spiced

    That’s a good tip about washing new clothes. I’d never thought about the chemicals that might be on them.

  2. yummychunklet

    What a great idea to re-use the graphics from the shopping bags on wrapping paper. And using natural bodycare products is safer and gentler on my skin.

  3. mama3

    They are safe for my body, the planet, and those who make them. They feel good and smell good and I know I am helping the earth instead of taking from it.

  4. [email protected] green living blog

    Hello Artofnaturalliving,
    I take your point, Are you looking for green gift ideas for holiday giving because you want to rethink giving and receiving gifts that are really not needed (and often not wanted)? That’s great, because here are 7 green gift ideas that will really make a difference to the person receiving them and to the environment as a whole.

  5. Lindsay

    I like natural bodycare because natural products don’t irritate my skin as much!


  6. Laurie

    Natural body care makes me feel so much cleaner in a good way. I love it!

  7. Katelin

    I like natural body care because its free of chemicals.

  8. Kelsey

    I like natural body care because it’s chemical free– awesome for sensitive skin!

  9. AnnMarie

    I use natural chemical free because they are better for my body. Thanks for the entry into the contest.i love trying new safe products!

    I will let my readers know about your giveaway. 🙂

  10. Danielle

    I love natural body care because I don’t want to use any products that are harmful to the environment. Plus, I’ve found that natural products just work so much better than mass-market ones.


  11. Sandy

    I like natural body care products because I have eczema and a lot of the chemicals in other products irritate my skin.

  12. Brittany

    I love natural body care products because I love a lot of allergies and very sensitive skin.

  13. Karen

    I love natural body care products because they are free of chemicals.

  14. Annie E

    I like the chemical free aspect, and I also just like supporting manufacturers of all-natural products in general. I like to think it’s a way to help sway the market towards a more eco-friendly mindset!

  15. Vee

    I like natural body-care because it has less irritating chemicals, many are cruetly-free, less carcinogens, are more biodegradable, and I like supporting smaller businesses. I feel better putting it on my skin and I know I’m not hurting our earth.

  16. Kathy Davis

    I would like to win this giveaway for my daughter Katie. Katie is expecting after many long years of waiting for this little miracle. She is trying to use only natural and organic products to provide the best environment for herself and her baby- our 1st grand baby. Plus she deserves to be pampered! Thanks, Gramma Kathy

  17. Ashley

    I like natural products because I’m trying to reduce my exposure to toxins.

  18. Ashley

    I would like to try these products because I recently moved to the gorgeous central coast and adopted a green life style. However, many of my personal care products have not yet made the adaption….I love this blog and its truly an inspiration…I could go on and one, but you probably get a lot of those comments…but thanks for this opportunity and have a happy new year!

    ps-thanks to your frequent visitor Julia who told me about this contest ; )

  19. Laura K

    I like that you don’t have to worry about what kinds of weird chemicals is in their products.

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