The greenest holiday gifts are free

| by Melissa Rappaport Schifman
The greenest holiday gifts are free

During holiday time, it's hard not to notice the shopping spirit in the air. Commercials scream at us to hurry up and buy while supplies last. Stuff is everywhere! But if you are thinking green, you might want to give your loved ones something else this year. Do they really need yet another trinket, ornament, tie or sweater? Why not think creatively and give them something that is a great gift and better for the planet? Here are my top three:

1. Give the gift of an experience. For my father's 70th birthday, I took him to Taylor's Falls for a walk, then we canoed down the St. Croix River. With the exception of having to drive a car an hour away, what could be greener? We are enjoying the outdoors, which continues to instill a sense of wonder for the earth's beautiful waters and landscape. And, instead of getting a thing that he may not want, he (and I) will have a memory that lasts forever. Other ideas for experiences include an adult "play date" where you go to a movie or an art gallery, a gift certificate for a massage, or a trip to the indoor rock climbing gym!

2. Give the gift of homemade food in a glass, reusable container. The label should include the ingredients and the recipe, so if the recipients like what you made, they can make it themselves. And the reusable container encourages people to shop in the bulk section of the grocery store, which reduces waste compared to pre-packaged food. Ideas we have done in the past include homemade organic almond butter or nut-free granola.

3. Give the gift of yourself. Are you really good at something, like organizing closets, cooking pancakes, or taking care of plants? Give a gift certificate for your services. It's another way of showing your love, and it only costs you time, not money.

It's difficult to not shop for things during this time of year, but just remember: it's your choice what you do with your time and money, and there are other ways of giving than buying stuff.

For more holiday gifts ideas, see the full feature story.

Melissa Rappaport Schifman
Melissa provides sustainability consulting services for businesses in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Melissa is also the founder of Green Intention LLC, where she writes and blogs about her experience in getting her own home LEED Gold certified--and then trying to live more sustainably in the home. She chairs her congregation’s Task Force for Sustainability, has her MBA, Master's in Public Policy, and is a LEED AP for Homes. www

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