Ask Extension

Recent Articles


Monday, December 13, 2010

Sustainable Gift – Giving

By: Ramona Madhosingh-Hector, Urban Sustainability Agent

As the holiday season kicks into high gear, many of us feel pressured to purchase items that we may not need for ourselves because the bargain is too good to pass up. Sometimes, we feel pressured to purchase and exchange gifts with friends or family even though we know they may never use it. Spending money is good for the economy, but is it good for the environment?

When making a purchase in the store, ask yourself some simple questions.

If it’s for yourself -
Do you need the item?
Can you afford the item?

If it’s for someone else -
Does this person need the item?
Is it a practical gift?
Can I afford it?

To avoid purchasing new items that consume natural resources (trees, fuel, water) and produce greenhouse gas emissions, consider the following low cost or no cost gift giving ideas.

1.Re-purpose old clothing into handbags, quilts, snazzy magnets, tote bags or mittens. The possibilities are endless with different colors, textures and fabrics to choose from.

2.Make home-made gifts like bath soaps, salts and candles using a variety of different containers (glass bottles or jars). This allows you to personalize each gift and each will be unique.

3.Reuse everyday items to make holiday decorations – rag wreath or a wine cork wreath. Let your creativity shine through.

4.Have a white elephant gift exchange at your office or church. There’s only one rule with this gift giving idea – nothing new must be bought. These exchanges allow you to trade unwanted, practically new items in your house. These are often gifts that you received that you couldn’t throw away because of the associated guilt or because they have no useful value to you. Remember one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

5.Purchase vintage items or antiques – no new resources or emissions will be produced with this gift idea!

6.If you must purchase a new item, consider purchasing at a local craft shop or market. This will reduce transportation costs which will reduce emissions.

7.Make a contribution or donation in honor of your loved one to mark the holiday, or to recognize a special achievement or dedication. There are a wide variety of groups to please even the pickiest gift-giver.

8.Provide “home-made” coupon services to friends and family – possibilities include coupon for dinner, massage, lawn service or car wash.

Although gift giving during the holidays can be a very stressful event it is important to remember that the best gift of all is the gift of time and memories. Instead of purchasing new “things,” enjoy what you already have, spend time with your loved ones and take advantage of the great many events that are available in your local area for free.



Post a Comment