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Green and Simple: Green Giving Guide for the Holidays

Think green gift giving is too big of a task to tackle? Think again! We've got tips and strategies to help get you started.

Some believe if you can’t do a thing 100 percent, it’s not worth doing at all. That certainly doesn’t apply to greening your gift giving. No matter what you celebrate or when, there are many small things that you can do to have a positive impact.

Small steps start the shift. Momentum builds and confidence grows. Before  long, you’ll have formed new routines and shopping habits that will serve as the foundation for building a sustainable lifestyle.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Replace one physical gift with an experiential gift. Forgo the clothes, the video games and gadgets and give an experience instead. Buy a membership to a local museum or aquarium. You could even give a membership to community supported agriculture program (CSA). Group buying discount voucher sites have some fabulous deals for just about any kind of excursion you can imagine. In addition to Living Social and Groupon, check out Certifikid for family friendly local deals.
  2. Buy at least one gift from a local small business (you have oodles from which to choose in the Old Town Boutique District and the diverse shops that line Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray). As a mom of three, I can appreciate convenience and cost savings of shopping at retail chain store. But, carve out a little extra time to support our small business owners and our local economy.
  3. Replace one gift card with a coupon offering the gift of your time: take someone special on a hike, to play a game of soccer, or go for a long Sunday drive. Sometimes, with certain special people, the gift of your time can be the best gift of all.
  4. Pick one item on your gift list and buy it used or refurbished. From Amazon to Craig’s List to Ebay, used items are easier to find than ever. Manufacturer websites often offer refurbished items, some with warrantees. Local consignment shops and thrift shops also often have great finds.
  5. Replace one electronic gift with one that encourages outdoor exploration. Instead of that mp3 player or electronic book reader, give hiking boots, a tent, a telescope, or a registration for a bird watching (or other) class at a nature center.
  6. Request that a gift be made in your name to a charity that you love. What issues are you passionate about? Pick one and ask a gift giver to make a donation to that cause in lieu of a gift to you.
  7. For help in finding green options for gifts already on your list or for some fresh ideas, consult sources like Green America and Earth 911.
  8. For whatever physical gifts you do buy, skip the wrapping paper. Instead, wrap your gifts in comics, newspaper colored with crayons or decorated with stamps. Use pillow cases and sheets tied with ribbon for larger gifts. Instead of putting those new socks in a stocking, use them to wrap small gifts instead. Check out these neat alternatives to gift wrap.

What have you done to green your giving? Tell us about it in the comments section.

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