November 15, 2012

Dreaming of a green Christmas?


More “stuff” is coming your way, needed or not. Experts predict that Americans will spend more than $586 billion on Christmas gifts this year. Retailers generate 20-40 percent of their annual sales during this shopping frenzy.

Recycle gifts?  I don’t mean re-gifting, although that’s not a bad idea if it’s not an ugly tie. I am referring to things you can make with your own ingenuity. Check out hipcycle.com  for some creative repurposed gifts.

I made cork Christmas wreaths for a few family members last year. The one I made for my 94 year old mother was a big hit in her assisted living community. She told fellow residents, “It was made with decades of Communion wine.”

Shop online? Is it greener to shop online and leave your gas guzzler in the garage? Yes, no—and maybe. When you buy online, your product ships from a warehouse and goes right to your house. Greener? Not if it arrives in a box that is ten times too large, and packaged in googads of bubblewrap.

Some studies do support e-commerce, but inconclusively. A Carnegie Mellon study found that shopping online led to 30 percent less energy use and carbon emissions. Another study found online shopping greener—but only if it replaces 3.5 trips to the store. So what is the answer?

Plan ahead — So you don’t have to “overnight” a single overpackaged item, or cluster shop. Bundling your shopping—at any time—is a more efficient use of your car and time.

Most folks appreciate homemade gifts. What is not to like about homemade fudge, cookies or a pie? Most older relatives will appreciate that more than a new sweater.

Click here for Treehugger's VERY comprehensive 2012 Green Gift Guide. No matter who you are shopping for, you should find unusual green gifts here.

Or how about an affordable membership gift to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation or the Virginia Chapter of Sierra Club for a green friend?