Green for the Holidays

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Our consumer-driven culture has trained us to think of the holidays as a time to give generously. Fortunately, gifts don’t always have to involve ribbons, tape, and wrapping paper. 

We buy big, shiny boxes with the trendiest new toy or tech gadget inside because sometimes it’s easier to give an exhilarating new thingthan to sincerely express appreciation for someone using words. It brings us joy to celebrate our friends and family, but what if we placed greater emphasis on the value of what we already have?

My father is talented. Nearly all of my childhood memories unfolded to the tune of his acoustic guitar playing. Each Christmas he gives me thoughtful gifts that he’s collected throughout the year, but nothing brings me greater joy than escaping my busy schedule for a night on my parents’ couch with a cup of tea and the sound of his guitar lulling me to sleep.

My nieces and nephew have a playroom overflowing with toys. I always text my sister a few days before Christmas and we share a long, complicated exchange about what the kids have, what they need, and what they want. I watch them tear the wrapping paper off of a new doll. Their eyes are bright with wonder. A heartfelt, “thank you,” a flurry of excited play, and a pilfered Christmas cookie later, the doll joins a rainbow of others on the floor. I watch them run to take a turn riding on my husband like he’s a horse, and that’s when the real laughter starts.

Before you join the crowds in shopping for trinkets that may wind up in the trash by New Year’s Day, consider the core intention of gift-giving: to express gratitude. Give a written promise to go on a hike complete with dates, pictures, and ideas for games to play along the way. Make a donation to One Tree Planted as a symbol of a love that grows. Create a photo album of warm memories, or a blank, recycled sketchbook to fill with new ones. Ask your relatives what activity truly inspires them, and schedule a date to try it yourself.

If tangible giving is a must, take some time to research eco-friendly products like the ones featured in our “gifts” marketplace. These products are often vegan, recycled, and GMO-free, allowing you to give guilt-free.

Give love and connectivity throughout this season and the next. Most importantly, give with the goal of leaving the health of the environment and the hearts of your loved ones better than you found them. Happy holidays!