Environmentally Friendly Christmas Gifts

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This article was published by PristinePlanet.com Newsletter, issue #14, 2005-12-10.

For people concerned about protecting the environment from its continued degradation from human activity, the holiday season in the United States can easily appear to be the most ecologically irresponsible time of the year. The consumption orgy isn't limited to the crass Christmas advertisements going up during November, nor does it stop when millions of overfed Americans reluctantly push away from their Thanksgiving dinner tables. It really gets into full swing the day after, aptly known as "Black Friday", because that's when countless retailers throughout the nation switch from operating in the red to being profitable. The same dark title might apply as a result of the millions of gallons of gasoline (refined from liquid "black gold") burned in order to transport frantic shoppers to the consumer meccas known as malls, where they typically trade wads of green paper for shopping bags filled with colorful pieces of plastic packaged in various forms of clear plastic, further enclosed in colorful gift wrap — most of which will end up in landfills, closets, or storage units.

But that's not to say that there's anything wrong with purchasing and exchanging Christmas presents per se, nor that there aren't sensible alternatives that are far gentler on our planet's diminishing resources. Fortunately, there exists an incredible variety of eco-friendly products that are ideal for holiday giftgiving, just as there are environmentally friendly methods of packaging those gifts attractively, choosing wrap and bags made from recycled paper and plant-based inks, as well as reusing those materials for future gifting. Furthermore, the fuel and time consumed by driving from one store to another, can all be saved by shopping online, and having the items delivered by the USPS, whose carriers would make their delivery rounds to every mailbox, and burn their fuel, whether or not any particular package was sent.

Choosing appropriate gifts for the people on one's list can be challenging enough, but some people incorrectly assume that limiting oneself to environmentally sensitive products, would make the process nearly impossible. Yet nothing could be further from the truth, as there is a tremendous variety of such gifts available and easily ordered over the Internet. Many websites now exists that exclusively offer "green" products, at a wide range of prices, which can fit anyone's Christmas budget, as well as any recipient's merit.

For instance, why give your favorite nephew another videogame cartridge, when a more mentally stimulating option would be a puzzle made of replenishable wood? For an angelic niece, forget about the plastic doll that looks "surgically enhanced"; treat her to a more huggable soft doll crafted from hemp, organic cotton, seed hulls, and recycled plastic. Your always-helpful and always-hungry uncle would be better off not receiving a slab of steak cut from a cow on steroids, but instead a big box of healthy energy bars to power him along, as he shovels snow or vegan ice cream. Even your wicked aunt won't be improved by receiving the ancient and hardened fruitcake that gets passed among the relatives every Christmas. Take a deep breath and treat her to some organic chocolate. After all, it might sweeten her up a bit, and it's possible that she's the one who made that fruitcake a decade ago, and might recognize it… well, maybe.

So this holiday season, leave the turbocharged "sleigh" in the garage, cozy up to a glowing computer monitor, and spend some fun time exploring the many ecological product websites that can make your Christmas shopping a little less black, and a whole lot more green.

Copyright © 2005 Michael J. Ross. All rights reserved.