Sustainable Holiday Shopping
The Holiday Shopping season is here again. Everybody is out looking for that elusive perfect gift. Unfortunately, we often end up buying junk that gets returned to the store, or sits on the shelf forever adding to the clutter.
For those of us who want to go green with our gift purchases this year, it's especially important to select a present which will be used. Even the best environmentally friendly product is bad if it's simply sitting on the shelf and getting no use.
Green Gift Ideas
A good thermostat will save a lot of energy that usually goes wasted on climate control when we are not in our homes to use it. Leave the AC on at night, or forget to turn off the heater when going to a vacation - up goes the carbon footprint (and out goes that extra money in the wallet, too).
There are options for any level of sophistication. A basic one will set you back about $20. On the other end of the specter, there is the slick new Nest Learning Thermostat ($249), which will impress the most style-conscious.
Travel coffee cup
Do you know somebody who gets coffee on the way to work every day? They probably get it in a paper cup, which costs energy to produce. Sometimes, if recycling is not available, that cup goes into the landfill and sits there for hundreds of years. All this can be easily avoided by giving them a good travel mug as a gift. Make sure to pick one that looks appealing, so that they feel proud handing that mug over the counter in the coffee shop.
A good place to shop for the mugs is Starbucks; they always have several stylish options.
Solar powered products
Many companies are now releasing solar product products. These products are great because they don't need any energy from the wall plug. Instead they use the most renewable and sustainable energy source - the Sun. Check out the cool new Logitech Solar powered keyboard, many choices of solar-powered watches, and, of course, versatile solar chargers.
Nothing beats the personal touch of a handmade gift. This season, you can make it extra green by incorporating some recycled products into the gift. Do you have some old magazines about to hit the bin? Instead of throwing them out, cut out the pictures and re-use them in a scrapbook. Whatever your approach, handmade gifts are always winners in the "Reduce Reuse Recycle" category.
It's a simple biological fact: live plants remove carbon dioxide from atmosphere. Some of them come with great-looking flowers as a nice bonus, too. Of course, that lonely orchid you give to your mom may not fully reverse the global warming, but at least it helps.
An E-Reader is a fantastic environmentally friendly present because it reduces the amount of paper that is required to satisfy our reading needs. Most books and magazines now have electronic versions. As a nice bonus, they are often cheaper in this format.
There are many options in this category. You can go for a gadget specifically designed for reading, like Amazon's Kindle. For more of a multi-purpose device, you can look at large-screen tablet like the Apple's famous iPad.
A bike is a two-for-one emissions reduction and weight loss superstar. It's great for anybody who is now commuting under 5 miles in a car. It can also be used as a substitute to driving for local neighbourhood errands. However, even if it's only used for riding in the park on the weekend, it can still help the environment by saving the car drive to the park.
You are probably asking yourself: "Why is a gym membership good for the environment?" The answer is simple - virtually no raw materials or energy went into producing it.
There are other options in this category: movie tickets, museum membership, dinner at a fancy restaurant, or anything else that may suit your fancy.
Local wine and organic artisan cheese
Consumable items make a great eco-friendly gift for several reasons. First of all, they leave almost no trash when they are used. They often replace food items that would have been used anyways. Finally, by choosing a local organic product, you can support sustainable agriculture practices in the local businesses.
As a nice bonus, this gift will make a fabulous addition to the Holiday dinner table.
Efficient light bulbs
This is probably old news for most environmentally conscious readers, but the item too important to leave it off the list. According to wikipedia, "approximately 90% of the power consumed by an incandescent light bulb is emitted as heat, rather than as visible light". If you know somebody who is still using the old inefficeint ones, head over to that hardware store and get them the energy-saving efficient light bulbs.
The most eco-friendly gift
There is one thing that is important to remember when doing the environmentally friendly shopping this season. The greenest gift of all is the one which get a lot of use. So, if you know something that your recipient will really enjoy, but it doesn't feature in the list above - don't worry! Something that gets used every day deserves to be the #1 item on your personal green gift list.