Shop Green This Holiday Season

The following post is from Emily of Live Renewed:

source: Okayu

For many people, this weekend kicks off the holiday gift buying season. We’re making our lists and checking them twice, trying to find the prefect gift for each person we get to buy a gift for.

And while it is certainly more blessed to give than to receive, and many of us love the act of giving gifts to others, maybe we can take a step back this year and think about how we could make small changes in our gift buying that could make a big impact – either on our wallets, on other people around the world, or on our planet.

Here are some of my thoughts on how to shop green this Christmas.

1. Buy Used

This one may seem to fly in the face of all gift giving etiquette, but honestly, buying used gifts is one of the greenest ways to shop. When you buy used, you not only save that item from ending up in the landfill, you also save the materials and resources needed to make that item new, along with the packaging and shipping of that new item.

The other great thing about buying used? You will mostly likely save yourself money too. I, personally, am happy to receive second hand items for gifts – and you better believe we buy used gifts for our kids — who don’t even know the difference!

2. Shop Local

Seek out local businesses and artisans to purchase gifts from and let your gift dollars support your community’s economy and cut down on the effects of shipping and transportation of products from across the world.  Every dollar you spend locally will have three times the economic impact that a dollar spent at a chain retailer has. In response to Black Friday, this Saturday, Nov. 26, is the second annual Small Business Saturday, to encourage people to shop at their local small businesses. 

source: heifer.org

3. Give Gifts that Give Back

Two years ago we gave all of our extended family gift certificates to Living Water that they could then choose the water project where their gift would be sent. Sometimes it’s important to step back from the excess that can become so rampant during the holidays and realize how blessed we actually are, and remember that there are people all over the world who lack the most basic necessities and struggle for their daily survival. 

There are so many options available for gifts that give back and can make a difference in the life of someone you may never even meet. 

If you want to give an actual gift to someone you can find jewelry made by women that are rescued from exploitation, necklaces made by women in Uganda that supports local ministry there, shoes that give a pair of shoes to child in poverty, or coffee that provides clean drinking water in Uganda or supports orphans in Bolivia.

Another option, if you want to cut back on the amount of actual stuff that you’re giving, especially for those of us who already have everything we could need or want, is to purchase a gift for someone else in their honor. There are so many organizations that offer these types of gifts, such as Living Water, Heifer International, and World Vision.

4. Give Experiences

We all know that our homes are all ready filled with so much stuff, and this becomes even more apparent during the holidays when we think about even more stuff coming into our homes. Giving a gift of an experience is clutter-free and will create meaningful memories that can last a lifetime.

For kids, gifts like dance or sports lessons, a zoo or museum membership, or even tickets to a favorite concert will mean more to them than a toy that will be forgotten about in the weeks after Christmas. For a spouse, friends, or other adults – sports or show tickets, a weekend getaway, or even a restaurant gift certificate and the offer of free child care is more meaningful than a trinket that will clutter up their shelf.

5. Buy Green

If you want to go the traditional gift giving route, do some research and see if you can find an organic, fair-trade, or recycled option of the gift you want to give. Check out the Green Gift Guide, and The Best Green Gifts for Kids, that I put together for Babble to get some ideas, and there are also tons of great options on Amazon and Etsy. Some of my favorites are Green Toys, Patagonia, and Magnolia Organics.

6. Buy Less

I know this sounds shocking in our culture of over-indulgence, but when it comes to gift giving, truly less can be more. Whether you limit the number of gifts that you give your children, or you set up a name exchange instead of buying for each person in your extended family, giving fewer gifts is better for the planet and for your wallet.

And with the money you save, maybe you could go back and get one of those gifts that give back. Check out Advent Conspiracy for more about buying less and giving back.

With a little planning and thinking ahead, you can buy gifts that will delight the recipient and be kind to the earth, at the same time!

How do you shop green during the holidays? What is your favorite green gift to give or receive?

Emily McClements strives to live with compassion and caring for creation in a way that will impact the world. She is a blessed wife and mama to three young children, and blogs about her family’s journey toward natural and simple living at Live Renewed.