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Have a holly, jolly sustainable holiday
If you’re reading this, it means one of two things.
One: You’ve slept in, enjoying the last effects of tryptophan, and are now pulling leftover stuffing and cranberry sauce from your refrigerator to concoct a post-Thanksgiving snack. Next, you’ll tip-toe over Uncle Al, who’s still asleep on the living room floor, settle into the La-Z-Boy and turn on some football, all in the comfort of your own pajamas.
Two: You woke before dawn to join the crush of consumers at any area box store, snatching gift deals while swerving shopping carts. You’ve avoided long lines, ducked overzealous bargain hunters and infused your bloodstream with caffeine.
Somehow, you’ve managed to make it out of the mall in one piece.
You, Early-Bird Shopper, we commend.
But if 4 a.m. wake-up calls aren’t your style, then like the rest of us, you’ve got 28 days to buy, wrap and deliver your holiday cheer.
This year, we’d like to recommend you do it in sustainable style. And it might be easier than you’d think.
Make it an experience to remember
Remove material items from the Christmas equation. Can it be done?
Naomi Maasberg, administrative director of Kingston’s Stillwaters Environmental Center, said absolutely.
“I think the best things are experience things,” she said. For example, buy your music lover tickets to the local symphony, take the grandkids to the zoo, go ice skating, or put your in-laws down for passes to the Bloedel Reserve. Gifts like these mean you’re not investing in an item that will eventually take up residence in a junk drawer.
Along with this tip, Maasberg recommended giving a donation in someone’s name, whether it be to a charity of your choice or a non-profit they support.
And if you want to stick with something more traditional, Maasberg suggests there are plenty of need-based gifts (sweaters, kitchen sets) so that you don’t resort to the type of thing that will be sold at this summer’s garage sale (treadmill, Robert Pattinson bobblehead.)
Keep ‘em moving and give ‘em green (and second chances, too)
Toys that encourage activity are sustainable as well, Maasberg contended. Games that keep kids up and moving around — or learning, for that matter — can be non-guilt gifts.
Greenery, perhaps the grown-up version of an outdoor toy, also adds to a person’s surrounding ecosystem, along with giving them a reason to get up from the couch.
While we’re in the great outdoors, here’s a reminder that pets in need of homes, like those at the Kitsap County Humane Society, can be great gently used buddies for the kids, as novel as any new puppy.
Humane Society Director of Development Dana Lerma said gift cards work well, allowing a dog recipient to choose their own companion when they are full prepared to make the commitment.
Stay home, sweet home
Consumers spent $26 billion online last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. If you haven’t jumped on the Web wagon, now is as good a time as any. A simple Google scour will pull up the environmental pros and cons of ordering stuff on the Internet. Point-and-click purchasing (even old-fashioned catalog orders) save you drive time, meaning you can simultaneously reduce your carbon footprint and stay clear of congested parking lots. Online shopping also allows you to easily compare prices. To counteract that extra cardboard coming in the mail, be sure to recycle.
Guess what? Shop local!
You’ve probably heard the phrase a dozen times, but hear it once more. To wrap up this gift guide, here are three reasons we think buying local is a great way to stamp sustainability on those packages beneath your tree.
1. It lets you interact with your fellow community members.
2. The less distance an item has to be shipped before hitting store shelves, the less of a negative impact it has on the environment.
3. What keeps them in business, keeps you in business. Money spent locally stays locally.