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Green Gifts with Style!

November 28, 2007

Greetings Folks!

I am pleased to introduce you to Charles Redell, a fantastic writer who specializes in green living! We hope he will be writing for us once a month on green living topics.


This month, in the spirit of the gift buying season, he addresses ways you can give greener and not get the poo-poo look from your family because they got some “crunchy green gift.” He may even get some happy dances – these are some pretty cool gifts, which just goes to show you, you can be green – and still maintain your style! Thanks Charles!


Giving Green for the Holidays

It’s the holiday season and you know what that means. Those of us who look at the world through green-colored glasses are again faced with the age-old question: How do I give the expected presents without adding detritus to the waste stream because let’s face it, telling people you won’t give (and don’t want) more stuff, never goes well.


A few years ago, I tried this tactic. Instead, I wrote loving notes on tree-free paper for all my friends and family and avoided giving presents to anyone outside my immediate circle. Even though each piece was designed and hand made by me and they looked beautiful, with a very few exceptions, the whole experience was a total failure.


Most of my family just never understood why they got just one envelope on one night of Hannukah instead of the traditional one present on each of the eight nights.


Living green may be in vogue, but people just aren’t ready to let go of the joy of giving (and receiving) presents. As a post on Small Failures pointed out recently, they don’t have to.


Here’s how I figured out my conundrum.


I divided my list into two parts. The first, and shorter part, is made up of the people I feel closest to in my life. My mom, sister and closest cousins are on it. So are my wife and those few close friends that I know will always be in my life.


The rule for their presents is that they either have to be sustainable or use as few physical resources as possible.


Among the items on this list are:

  • A copy of the Chinook Book for my mother who loves to shop and find bargains.

  • For my music-loving cousin, I bought a wealth of Itunes credits. It doesn’t promote green living, but he’s the least green member of my family. I think this passes my test since it doesn’t use much in the way of resources and it makes him happy. After all, that’s why I give presents.

  • Since she’s been expressing interest in raising her family in a more sustainable fashion lately, I’m sending my sister a guide to living green.

  • For my best friend who is starting her own business, I am buying her six months worth of a supporting membership at Biznik. Not only is this completely online and so uses almost no resources, it’s a sustainable gift because it promotes community building.

  • There are also a few clothes-horses in my family so I’m trolling sustainable clothing companies to find things like beautiful hip fashions at Nau, awesome shoes at Worn Again and an array of urban gear at Hip & Zen so I can give funky green wear that doesn’t look crunchy.


The second part of my list includes those people I have to do something for (the boss, further-flung friends) and all of those last-minute, oh-jeez-I-forgot folks, like people who throw holiday parties and the various service providers in my life.


For this group, I’ve decided on one catch-all present that allows me to give something without consuming and that actually helps the world: Green Tags from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to offset their energy use.


I know. A certificate that says the electricity you use is powered by renewable resources isn’t exactly funky (and is pretty crunchy), but as green living continues to be the rage, having one of these adds a certain flair to an already well-appointed home or office. It’s also an easy present to have on hand for those times when you need to give something at the last second.


The world’s not a perfect place and neither is my strategy of gift giving, yet. I still consume resources and succumb to the pressure to give presents as a way of showing love, but my holidays are greener than ever this year and hopefully next year, I’ll reap a bunch of green presents as well.


Happy Holidays!


Charles Redell is a freelance writer who covers environmental and sustainable issues. He is also starting a business to help independent business owners market themselves online. His Web site is

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