This list will probably contain a lot of suggestions that are “old hat” to the seasoned environmentalist, but if I’m doing a rundown of a green holiday season, I would be remiss not to include some ideas for greener, less garbage-y shopping.
Since I know I start each holiday season thinking about shopping first, and since there’s a lot of it to do before the big day, today’s tips are devoted to avoiding the trash associated with buying presents for loved ones.
- Make a list … check it twice … only go the the store once: Yeah, this seems impossible for me, too, but with some planning, combining all our shopping trips into one (or only a few) shouldn’t be too difficult. Not only does this save gas, having a list helps reduce impulse buys on those things we don’t need and regret later.
- Bring your reusable bags to the store: A lot of us are getting really good at bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, but what about to department stores? Home improvement stores? Fast-food restaurants? Use those bags – it’s what they’re for! (And they hold all those purchases so much better than those flimsy plastic bags). If you do end up with a plastic or paper bag, reuse it before tossing it.
- Think about food stops: How many of us stop for a cup of coffee or lunch while out holiday shopping? I know I do. Don’t forget about bringing a reusable coffee mug, utensils, and containers for any food stops.
- Vote with your dollar: Remember that in our capitalist, consumer-driven society, much of our communication with major corporations is through the money we spend. Don’t like the way something is packaged? Don’t buy it! Then, call or email the company and let them know exactly why you didn’t buy their product. If enough of us put our foot down and demand greener packaging and products, eventually we will be listened to.
- Consider homemade gifts or gifts from an antique store: Making gifts from scratch, giving a used item a second life, or buying from a local artisan are all wonderful ways to reduce the carbon footprint of our holiday shopping.
- Gives experiences, not things: Gift certificates to movies, theatre, opera, the aquarium, the local ice cream parlor … all are ways to virtually eliminate packaging. As a recipient, I know I often enjoy these more than new things. Getting a chance to go out on a date and spend quality time with a loved one is a treat for many people.
Have tips of your own, or want to see other topics addressed as the holidays approach? Leave comments below.