Can you really be serene AND green? Is it possible to live an eco-friendly lifestyle and still enjoy the finer things in life? Niki Fountain, former government regulator and founder of an all-natural bath and skin care company thinks so. Read her column Be Serene & Green to get tips and ideas on how to live mindfully with respect to the planet and our environment.
Green Gift Giving This Holiday Season
By Niki Fountain
With the holiday season upon us, it’s the perfect time to think about eco-savvy gift giving. There’s no reason we can’t carry our green efforts into the holidays. And while not everyone we exchange gifts with is on the green bandwagon, there are plenty of green options that will delight even the most finicky of recipients.
Many people I’ve talked with recently about gifts say they are trying to downsize and clear the clutter from their homes and therefore don’t want more stuff. For those recipients a great green option is to give a gift in their name to Heifer International. Heifer International is a global nonprofit organization who has been working to end world hunger and poverty in a sustainable way for more than 65 years. They empower millions of families, helping to lift them out of poverty and hunger to a life of self-reliance through gifts of livestock, seeds and trees and extensive training, which provide a multiplying source of food and income. You can spend as little as $10 for a share of a sheep (struggling families use sheep's wool to make clothes or sell it for extra income), $20 for a flock of ducks (ducks add protein to the diet by eating eggs, money in their pockets by selling eggs, and better crops in the fields, as ducks remove weeds and bugs and add fertilizer), or $120 for a Gardeners Gift Basket which includes everything a family will need to start a sustainable farm – tree seedlings, rabbits to generate organic manure, chickens to eat pests and a hive of bees to pollinate crops and increase yields. This is a gift both you and your recipient can feel good about.
Another option for those who prefer a virtual or non-material gift is a gift card from TisBest Philanthropy. This is a great organization that allows you to purchase a gift card which then allows your recipient to choose the charity they want to support. They can choose from hundreds of charities that range from supporting human rights to animal welfare to environmental causes. Your gift card can be sent directly to your recipient or can go to you so that you can personally deliver the card. You can even have a custom card created with your own personal picture or artwork.
For those who prefer a tangible gift there are many options for green giving. Nest is a great place to shop for everything from jewelry and accessories to clothing and home décor. Nest is a nonprofit organization that empowers female artists and artisans around the world. Using a unique combination of interest-free microfinance loans, mentoring from established designers, as well as a market in which to sell their crafts, Nest helps its loan recipients create successful small businesses.
Another eco-friendly place to shop is Viva Terra which is an online store whose motto is Eco Living with Style. This is a great place to find beautiful gifts like hand-embroidered organic cotton pajamas from India, flower vases made from recycled glass, and inspirational décor.
It doesn’t have to be difficult to stick to your green guns during the holiday shopping and gift-giving season. Even doing something as simple as using recycled gift tags and wrapping paper from woman-owned Fish Lip Paper Designs can make a difference to the environment. And remember, while giving and receiving gifts can be lots of fun, the holidays are really about spending time with friends and family and giving thanks for all that we have in life. Happy Holidays!