Protecting the Planet During the Holidays

iStock_000021012342XSmallIt’s nearing the end of October and we all know what that means – the holidays are right around the corner. And if your mail delivery is anything like mine, you have already started receiving ads, coupons, circulars, and even packages of return address labels decorated with pine trees, snowflakes, and holiday lights. Next, the 1,000 page catalogs will start showing up, filled with tons of plastic doodads that your friends, neighbors, and family members will give to each other only to see them thrown away by February 1. The holiday season is a wasteful period of the year, where the most well-intentioned behavior leads to environmental destruction. This year, why not try something different?

While it’s all too easy – and who doesn’t like easy this time of year – to pick up a “made especially for quick gift giving” type present for someone, there are many ways you can make gift recipients feel loved while doing your part to help protect our one and only planet. To get the ball rolling and get you talking about all your options for this year before it gets to late, here are a bunch of ideas you can try out for yourself this year.

Buy an Experience

Have someone who always wanted to go skydiving? Get them a learner’s package at the local airport. Your teenage son like to drive fast? How about a day driving a race car down at the track? And for that sports-obsessed husband or wife, why not pick up a four pack of game tickets for his or her favorite team? Sure beats getting another bag of funny socks, and the memories will last a lifetime (unlike the socks).

Make Something by Hand

If you can paint, sculpt, work wood or leather, or even just draw caricatures really well, those kinds of gifts have a lot more meaning behind them then the cheap pedicure machine you can pick up while standing in line at Marshall’s.

Cook a Meal

Believe me, everyone likes a good meal or a box of their favorite cookies. In fact, I would venture to guess that most people would prefer that over (yet another) Chia Pet in the shape of a dog or cat. Homemade cookies and other deserts are always a sure-fire hit, and although they won’t last till the next day they carry a lot of meaning. Taking the time to make something for someone shows them you care more than just enough to click “Buy Now” on Amazon.

Spend Some Time Helping Out

Elderly or disabled neighbors and family members could probably use some help around the house, whether it’s doing a little cleaning or removing dead tree branches from the back yard. Why not offer up some of your time to truly make a difference for someone this season? Would mean a heck of a lot more than another dumb coffee mug and can help you really connect with someone in your life.

The holidays don’t have to be the trash-filled season that companies and ad agencies shoot for every year. By making small changes in your behavior, you can make the holidays more about people than stuff. I am willing to bet that if you only choose a few of the above to try, you’ll feel much better about giving gifts than if you simply carried home a bag from the mall full of cheap stuff made in China.

And for those of you already doing these types of things each year, what can you add to the list to encourage others to do the same? 


Protecting the Planet During the Holidays — 8 Comments

  1. I do all of those things. I hate all of the packaging and waste around the holidays. I also quit buying for most of my family members a few years ago and I asked them not to buy for me.

  2. I have a series of foil covered boxes in 2 different colours. One colour for each son. They look pretty and sit empty under the tree until Santa comes and fills them.

    My sons are in their 20s now and the boxes are more than 15 years old and they still look forward to opening their boxes.

  3. I would add to the list: Making a donation in someone’s name to a cause that is dear to them. It shows that you know what is important to them and it helps support a cause in need. Beats a trinket that will sit on a shelf collecting dust!

  4. One thing that I’ve always been conscious of during the xmas holidays is how much food gets thrown away.
    There was a piece in one of our local papers saying that supermarkets throw away tonnes and tonnes of fresh fruit and veg over the xmas period.
    When you think that in modern times food is transported across the globe to reach local markets – its an incredible waste

  5. I popped over from CanadianBudget Binder, but I am making my grandson some mittens this year, one pair down and started the second pair!! I’ll be looking for a hat pattern to make him from the left over yarn as well. There’s a couple of other things I will be making him too. I bake a fair bit at Christmas and give some of the baking for gifts. I have my Dad and uncle here for dinner Christmas Day and send leftovers home with them. I collect Christmas fabrics and have a nice pile of fabric Santa Sacks I use every year, they are awesome for those oddball shaped things!! Ever tried to wrap a set of wrenches???? I keep watch all year for things I know some would love and get it on sale when I see it and hide it in a bin in the bedroom….. These are some of the things I do to save the environment and save money at the same time and have been doing for years…

  6. When the months of “BER” comes my daughter already hang a Santa sock in the doorknob of our room. She always thinks that Santa will visit her and put the gift for her. In my own simple way I know that my daughter would be happy to see the gift even if it’s not expensive. And I don’t need to wrap the gift because it’s in Santa’s sock.

  7. I really like the one about helping someone out. I did that once and it was the best things ever. It is kind of sad that I only did it once thinking about it.

  8. My wife always makes fudge using a recipe from her great grandmother. She hands out small cartons of the fudge to friends and family, and that’s pretty much it for the adult giving. We still give fun presents to the younger crowd, although as they age, meaning reach adulthood, we eventually just give money to our adult nieces and nephews. We figure they can use cash to help with their college spending or in their early careers.

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