Our modern notion of “Holiday Giving” can really be Hell on Mother Earth, as I’m sure many of you know. But there are many ways to reduce your holiday eco-footprint and still find great gifts! For loved ones of any age who feel burdened by material gestures of love, there are always bequests, or gifts to others: Heifer International is one well-known organization where you can, for instance, buy a villager a farm animal in someone’s name that will sustain a family for years to come. For smaller, more tangible gifts, of course buying local crafts or handmade confections is an option.

And if you can’t or don’t want to go out shopping in stores, there are good (and not-so-good) internet and catalog options. Although has become somewhat flooded by the same flow of cheap mass-produced junk that now clogs, there are still actual craftspeople there supplying handmade, ecologically responsible gifts. Eco-friendly creative kits are another way to provide memorable experiences.

A few points can help make your choices for gift-buying better for the planet:

  1. Avoid plastic – everything ever made from plastic still exists, much of it clogging our oceans, and perhaps even more of it in microscopic particles that find their way into every living thing, with unpleasant consequences. Look for natural materials instead, preferably sustainable ones. Unique recycled or upcycled creations can also be found.

  2. Think about how far something has to travel to reach your destination – transportation of goods has a big effect on our carbon footprint

  3. Look for USEFUL as well as fun, beautiful, or meaningful gifts. That might mean one less thing that ends up in the waste stream.

But there’s really no need for me to continue to “reinvent the wheel” - a simple Google search for eco-friendly or earth-friendly gifts will turn up pages of links with similar points and more gift ideas than anyone could possibly need. Just be mindful, and choose wisely.