Over the next month or so most of you will be inundated with gifts - both giving and receiving. While it is undeniably fun to exchange presents, rarely do kids or their parents think about the impact those gifts will have on our planet.
Plastic toys, textiles (clothes), and electronic gadgets and trinkets take tremendous resources to produce, package, and transport and then typically end up in a landfill after a season or two of use (if they get used at all). In fact the textile/garment/fashion industry is the second most polluting sector on our planet with number one being the oil industry! Anything made of plastic is no better: every piece of plastic ever produced still exists today and will be around long after we are all gone to pollute our waters and poison wild creatures.
With that (downer) in mind, here are the top five gifts to give this season with our planet Earth in mind.
- Your time/company
- Instead of a tangible gift why not plan and commit to a trip, meet-up, getaway, or a weekly hour of time that you get together with friends or family to relax, eat, talk, or see a movie? Must-have gift fads are fleeting but quality time is precious. Disconnect and enjoy good company!
- Handcrafted (wood) Gift
- Unwrapping a box is half the fun over the holidays but that does not mean the surprise inside should be a thoughtless commercial item. Wood is a renewable resource that sucks up carbon while it grows and then becomes our homes, furniture, and a variety of fun items. My ski poles are made of (super) renewable bamboo that I built with a DIY kit from Soul Poles. Coach Ryan's favorite game is Kendama which campers have surely seen him playing with at camp. You can also add that extra touch and build something yourself to give away. Wood is easy to work with and building with someone is an extra bonus as you learn new skills and enjoy some quality time (see #1).
- Donate to a charity
- What better way to show someone you really know them then donate to a charity or nonprofit that exactly reflects their passion. There are organizations for every cause from the environment to wildlife to child welfare to cancer and disease prevention. Even better, give to a local animal shelter or food pantry to keep the benefits where the gift recipient lives.
- Online subscription (Netflix / Hulu / Spotify)
- Setting aside the pollution endemic to the modern internet, a gift of a subscription service can be a lasting and awesome present that eliminates a plastic DVD or CD (if those even exist any more). Streaming services provide limitless entertainment as well as knowledge through documentaries and podcasts. This is a gift that will get the recipient to think of you every time they log in...which is likely every day.
- Sorry for the shameless self promotion. Giving the gift of camp is something that a kid will go crazy for. I listed all of the reasons in a previous post so I will not go into detail here but suffice to say camp is worth way more than the price of tuition.
I hope you enjoy the holidays and if this post gets you to replace one 'traditional' gift with something more environmentally responsible then I have accomplished something this year!