Photo by Alan Cleaver
Even if you’re planning to simplify your gift giving as we talked about last week, the reality remains that you will still probably purchase some gifts for others this Christmas season.
Although the idea of a frugally green gift guide may seem like a contradiction, more than the actual gifts themselves, I think that it is important for us to be conscious consumers this time of year. Thinking about where our gifts come from, who is making them, and how they impact others, and not just about what to get.
Frugally green gift giving can take all different forms, so I’m going to include as much information here as I can, and link to other great articles, information, products and companies to help you as you seek to give gifts that are not only meaningful, but also thoughtful.
(In the interest of full disclosure: I will be including some affiliate links in this post – it is definitely not going to be only affiliate links, but also links to companies that I believe in, and have bought or used their products myself.)
Live Renewed’s Guide to Frugally Green Gifts
I think the best way to start off is to remind you that buying used items is always the most frugal and green way to go. You can find lots of treasures at garage sales, church rummage sales, thrift and consignment stores. It might be a little late this year, but if you keep your eyes open throughout the year for great gifts while shopping at these types of places, you may be able to give all gifts that have been previously owned. Save money, save resources, save packaging, and save the planet by considering giving used gifts this year.
Buy Green Products
- Stainless steel water bottles – Great for adults, or even sippy cups for kids, stainless steel water bottles are the best alternative to throw away plastic water bottles. Make sure that your getting high quality stainless steel though, and not aluminum.
- Safe, non-toxic body and beauty products – This is a great idea for moms or sisters (or dads or hubbies too) who like to be pampered and could use some safer products. I plan to get my kiddos some California Baby body wash and bubble bath* for their stockings. I love this brand of products, but can’t always justify splurging for it. Be sure to check out the Cosmetic Safety Database before buying.
- Organic clothing or bedding – If you’re going to be buying new clothes or bedding anyway, you should consider buying organic. Cotton is one of the largest pesticide dependent crops, so every purchase of organic fabrics helps to keep pesticides out of our environment. I love the organic pjs from Hanna Andersson. We get new jammies for our kiddos every Christmas Eve and I am so tempted to get these – maybe if I can’t find any used ones.
- Cloth Diapers or Accessories* – If you have a younger baby, they won’t know any better if you get them cloth diapers for Christmas. Build up your stash, or buy a new style or type of diaper you’ve been wanting to try. Even better, ask extended family to buy cloth diapers for your little one!
It is important to remember to be careful and discerning when thinking about giving green gifts. Because green living is a fairly trendy thing right now, there are lots of companies that are trying to profit by jumping on the green bandwagon. Watch out for “greenwashing” of products – which is labeling or describing something in such a way that it makes it seems like it’s a green and environmentally responsible choice, when it may not actually be at all.
Socially Responsible Gifts
There are so many great companies that are not just making great products, but also using their products to give back. Seek out companies that sell fair trade products, or products made to help people out of their current situations, or that give back to others with every purchase.
- Starfish Project – My sisters and I bought my mom a necklace for her birthday from this organization that helps to rescue exploited women. The jewelry is high-quality and reasonable priced.
- Ugandan Magazine Bead Necklaces – Working with women from the Karomajong tribe in Uganda, these necklaces help them receive sustainable income to feed their children. Profits from the sales are given to Amazima Ministries. I think these necklaces are so beautiful and would be a great conversation starter.
- Toms Shoes* – For every pair of Toms Shoes that are sold, they give a pair of new shoes away to a child in need. What a great philosophy and great company to support! Get $5 off Toms Shoes using the coupon code: AFFTM5, Expires 12/31/10*.
Gifts that Give To Others
I spoiled the surprise to my family last week when I told you about how we are giving Living Water gift certificates to our extended family. There are lots of organizations that offer similar types of giving opportunities such as Heifer International, charity:water, World Vision, etc. For the person on your list that you don’t know what to get because they already have everything, give them a gift that will help give a better life to others.
Other Great Gifts Ideas
- For the book lover – E-books are great gifts because they are all electronic and don’t require paper or printing. There are e-books on just about every subject imaginable, but some of my favorites are: Real Food on a Real Budget, Healthy Homemaking, Healthy Snacks To Go, Simple Blogging, Tell Your Time, and Herbal Nurturing: A Family Healing and Learning Guide*.
- Handmade or Local Items – Of course, Etsy has way more super cute gift ideas than you could ever want or need, but I love the idea of supporting handmade items that often come from mamas working out of their homes, like my friend Lauren of Adi & Ellie Designs. Or seek out local artisans at arts and craft fairs and support local businesses.
I just came across this post which has even more great ideas for giving gifts that are so much more than just a gift. Makes me want to un-simplify and go crazy buying stuff like this for everyone that I know!
Do you know of other great companies, or ideas for giving gifts that are green, socially responsible, or give back to others? Please leave them in the comments – I’d love to add your favorite resources for giving meaningful gifts this year!
And on a somewhat unrelated note, I’m over at Green…Your Way this week talking about what you can do when others around your might question or criticize your choices to live a more green and natural lifestyle: Going Green When Others Don’t Understand. Head over to Green…Your Way to read more!