Green gifting: Simple acts keep winter “green”

Green gift giving means shopping used, re-gifting, giving back, consuming less, unplugging and being mindful.

While folks in counties south await sufficient snow to warrant using new skis that magically appeared under the ornament-ladened fir, barren maples and oaks across the winter landscape seem a bit gray and bleak. The good part about this time of year is that it is acceptable to “think green” no matter what the weather forecast.

Seasonal shopping, gift-giving traditions and habits can extend well into the winter and new year. By adding a little green in the mix, one can help to give back to the earth and pay forward for future generations. Here are some ideas on how to approach shopping and enrich gift giving in a way that contributes to sustainability.

  • Be mindful. We live in a consumption economy that creates waste and fills landfills. Through energy choices and manufacturing processes worldwide, households and businesses contribute to the release of greenhouse gases that hasten climate change. Pause before making impulse purchases that will turn to waste soon after first they are opened.
  • Buy used. Many secondhand and consignment shops carry high-end clothing, goods and unique pieces that make for useful household necessities and interesting gifts. Those white elephant gifts you received from someone else may be dusted off and given proudly this year.
  • Give experiences. Instead of purchasing a commodity, consider offering family and friends an experience together. Go to a museum or park together; try skiing or snowshoeing with the kids.
  • Give back. Make a new tradition of volunteering at a nonprofit organization on a regular basis. Michigan State University Extension has a number of opportunities for volunteerism in its youth and family programs.
  • Turn down the lights. Reduce the quantity of outdoor lights you use. Switch from lights that are on all night to motion sensors lights. Shop now for sale deals on LED (light emitting diode) holiday lights that last longer and use less energy than the larger traditional multi-colored holiday bulbs. Turn outdoor lights off at bedtime.
  • Unplug. Give gifts that do not need batteries. While rechargeable batteries seem like a good alternative, they too must be recycled at some point.

Remember it is the thought that counts, and thoughtfulness extends to respecting natural resources so they are available for future generations.

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