Greening the Holidays: Shopping Angst, Tips and Gifts

T’is that time of year again, but quite honestly I am not sure how it snuck up so quickly! I feel like I am beginning to sound like my grandmother, who used to love to tell me how time marched on soooo much faster as she got older. So blame it on age, busy life, mild weather, whatever the reason or excuse, panic is now starting to set in as the holidays are fast approaching and my “shopping list” is still missing many check marks.

Every year, I agonize over where to “draw the line.” It is as the saying goes, “wonderful to give”…but how best to balance giving in the consumer goods focus, pressure packed, “buy, buy, buy” world which commands us to “shop till you drop” culture that we live in, versus my own growing concern and fear for our environment. As my children grow older and have now entered their teens, and as my “eco-consciousness” pervades our home life, family discussions, and everyday purchases, I feel that the pressure to buy “a lot” of “stuff” is off and quality over quantity is recognized as a redeeming virtue.

So, now that I have that “off my chest” and “on the table,” what can I suggest to you to help make your shopping and gift giving more sustainable this year? I offer up 3 general tips, followed by a few specific “gift choices” that I would recommend, and one final Climate Mama “family tradition” holiday gift tip!

As a general rule,

1. Try to shop local, support local businesses, buy locally made products and services.
2. I personally do most of my “shopping” on line, from the comfort of my office or home; saving on gas and for me the frustration of going to the mall and all that that entails.
3. Wrap thoughtfully! Most of us love things that are wrapped, but remember that the average American throws out 4.5 lbs of garbage a day, most of it in packaging and this is on an average day not even during the holidays. Do you need a big box to put your present in? Won’t that box just go straight into the garbage? Can you wrap the gift with something that is reusable?

Now more specifically, for those lovers of books, here are my current top 3 climate change focused books, in a variety of categories:

1. Mousenet, by Prudence Breitrose – for the 8-12 set. Mice evolve and become computer-literate. They make an alliance with a ten-year old girl whose mother is a climate scientist, and who writes a treaty between the species: she will help them all get mouse-sized computers, and they will use their brilliant brains and their secret presence throughout the corridors of power to slow down the rate of climate change.
2. The Climate War, by Eric Pooley – For your “grown up” children. This is a true story of a group of people who set out to save the planet—or, more precisely, to preserve the planet’s habitability—through political action, and the story of those who stood against them. Their battleground was the American political system, which gave a natural advantage to the opponents of climate action.

3. Bothered by My Green Conscience by Franke James. For all kids, big and small. Written as a graphic novel, this book “contributes to greater understanding, respect for and positive action on the changing worldwide environment.”

Final Tip: A family tradition to share with you – giving a “gift from nature” that each family member creates for one other person in the family “secret Santa” style. Family member assignments are made ahead of time (but not too long ahead of time as the gift is meant to be simple, and while made to be kept, it also must be fashioned in a way that it can also go “back to nature” too, not into the landfill!)

As an extended family we spend the holidays together in a place where the sun shines most days and it is warm outside, so nature abounds. For my friends in snow covered climes, maybe a homemade creation from things found inside, would serve this idea just as well. This gift exchange, which takes place after the more traditional presents are given, brings laughter, tears and real joy to our celebrations as well as stories and memories shared again and again over the years!

This post is written in support and solidarity with the GreenMoms Carnival, hosted this month by Citizen Green. Check in to see what other “green moms” recommend and how they cope around the holidays!

Happy Holidays and here is to YOU and your lasting family traditions! We would love to hear about them, please share!


Climate Mama!

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2 Responses to Greening the Holidays: Shopping Angst, Tips and Gifts

  1. Someday I’d love to do a homemade Christmas (all gifts made by the giver), but not being the craftiest set, it’s a bit daunting. Love the idea of giving at least one homemade gift, esp. one made of natural materials!

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