Green Gift Giving

Environmental Action: I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas

  • Imagine a holiday season where the main focus is on time spent with family and friends – a holiday season that celebrates your close connections to the people you love and the planet you treasure.
  • Ok, back to the present reality.
  • Anyone feeling a sense of dread at the upcoming holidays? Looking for a way out of the frenzied hyper-commercial holidays? 91% of Americans polled feel that the holidays are too commercial and the idea of “peace on earth” has been forgotten by too many people.
  • Just say no! Don’t participate in the commercialisation of the holidays which emphasizes gift giving over quality time spent with loved ones.
  • Do celebrate the holidays in a way that honors your relationships and shows greater concern for the environment.


  • Number of extra tons of trash produced in the U.S. each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day: 5 Million
  • Number of trees cut down: According to the Christmas Tree Growers Association over 30 million natural Christmas trees become a part of our throwaway society each year. An estimated 10 million artificial trees are bought each year. The natural trees are cut, sold, decorated, and discarded all within an eight-week period.
  • Wrapping paper: Tons and tons of wrapping paper, much of it containing metal, goes through the same throwaway cycle. Reducing the number of presents bought will have a corresponding effect on wasted paper.
  • Holiday cards: This year, Americans will send more than three quarters of a billion Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa cards, according to the National Greeting Card Association. If Americans sent just one out of every ten holiday cards electronically, it would save over 30,000 trees.
  • What about those energy and time drainers that are hard to measure like:
    All the time wasted in lines at stores and in traffic;
    All the stress;
    All the non-perishable and non-consumable gifts kept in their boxes and never used.


  • Gifts: Give only gifts that can be consumed like food, beverages, mixes, sweets or gifts that can be re-cycled like books or magazine subscriptions. Other “consumable” items like candles and natural body creams and soaps are great to give and great to receive. Related gift ideas:
    Favorite recipes with ingredients – maybe even a cooking lesson
    Dictionaries, an atlas with word or geography questions/games
    Sierra Club Membership
    Book: 50 Things you can do to save the Earth
    Gift certificates (either personal commercial)
    Movie tickets
    Donations to a favorite charity in recipient’s name
    Bird feeding supplies
  • Trees: Buy a live tree and re-plant it. Cut your own from a specialized tree farm, this protects natural forests. The Sierra Club or a local nursery can give you advice about using a live tree for Christmas.
  • Wrapping and Cards: Make your own wrappings and cards. Decorate scrap paper or brown bags, or try potato printing on newspapers. Save and decorate shoe boxes, cookie and coffee cans to put gifts in, pieces of leftover material could be batiked, tie-dyed, or embroidered and used for wrapping gifts. Don’t use foil or mylar ribbons – they never decompose. Avoid glossed, glazed or wax papers, they mess up the re-cycling process. Use cotton yarn, twine, or decorative shoelaces instead of plastic ribbon. If you do buy paper and cards, only buy those made from recycled paper.
  • Decorations: Make your own. Set aside time for the whole family to make holiday decorations and ornaments: colorful wall-hangings, pine cone wreaths, menorahs, advent calendars, garlands of flowers or colored paper, dried nuts, seeds, or seashells. Lids to tin containers can be made into ornaments by fringing and cutting shapes with scissors and pliers.
  • Energy: Try making this a — low energy — Christmas by refraining from buying anything which uses electricity, by leaving the tree lights and spotlights in the attic and decorating with popcorn and cranberries.

Suggested Green Sangha Actions:

  • Discuss issue with friends/share simplifying gift ideas with friends
  • Tell everyone that may get you a present that you would like only things that can be consumed or recycled
  • Give everyone that may get you a gift the Gift exemption card
  • Send an “I’m dreaming of a green Christmas /holiday season e-mail to many in your address book
  • When sending your homemade holiday cards, include info on simplifying holidaysHere’s to a wonderful holiday for everyone. Hopefully your holiday will be filled with joy and wonder.

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  1. Pingback: Resources To Simplify Your Holiday Gift Giving

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