It's easy to become apathetic in today's world. Global warming, petroleum leaks in the oceans, high energy consumption, carbon emissions are all things that can become mind-boggling and downright depressing.
Sometimes you may think, "What can one person do to make a difference?" If you were that one person, and I another, that's two people that can make a difference. Then if everyone reading this did something, that's a lot more. It is through a number of individuals all working toward the same goal that can, and will, change the world.
Every step taken by one individual is one step closer to living in a greener world. We have some big holidays coming up, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa cover it for most people.
With some help from Treehuggers.com, here are my Ten Commandments for Green Gift Shopping:
1. Consider buying locally whenever possible. Not only does it reduce transportation (as opposed to mail order or internet) but it will benefit your community, as well. Have you ever thought about giving antiques? They are the epitome of recycling and reuse. How about passing down a true family heirloom.
2. Make a list of items you intend to purchase and at which stores they are located. This will help you reduce the number of trips you make, reducing your gas, and will help you reduce impulse buying. Remember to bring along your own tote bags!
3. If you're sending your gifts by mail, try sending small, lightweight items, rather than heavy ones.
4. Wrapping paper! I've made it my personal pledge this year to never again purchase wrapping paper. As soon as I run out of what I have, I will switch to used paper bags. If wrapping paper is shiny or sparkly, it can't even be recycled!
5. Every year, about 2 1/2 billion holiday cards are sold in the United States; consider sending eCards instead. For several years I have saved the cards sent to me, cut them with decorative scissors, and re-used them as gift tags.
6. If you put up lights on the house or tree, switch to LED lights. LED lights use up to 95 percent less energy and produce less heat, making them safer (their color is actually brighter and more intense). They cost more initially, but they last 10 times longer.
7. If you are decorating with candles, soy wax or beeswax are both made from renewable resources. Paraffin is made from petroleum.
8. For holiday parties, if the group will be too large to use your own place settings and flatware, rent them. Avoid using disposable.
9. If you're planning to travel just to have a vacation (rather than to visit family) consider staying home and save your carbon budget (gas money) on high-emissions travel.
Page 2 of 2 - 10. Get crafty! Get in touch with your creative side; dig through your closets, go through your drawers, basement, and attic. What items do you have hiding there that you can craft into a wonderful gift? Old ties, belts, cigar boxes, sweaters (cut them up and make mittens!) quilts, blankets, and all sorts of things can be re-worked into a very personal and unique gift. Best of all, it's free (except for your labor) and the recipient will probably cherish it more because you made it.
Holidays don't have to be expensive, nor do you have to give up unique, quality, fun gifts to be ecologically-wise! With a few adjustments here and there, your gift giving can be one of the more rewarding things you do for your family, friends, yourself.
– and, the planet! Happy Holidays Earth!