Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Annual Green Holiday List!

Can you believe it? The jolly time is just around the corner and now with global warming we can expect a greener Christmas in more ways than one.

Now some of you may be dreading the festive holiday. My goodness why? Is it the inability to move in shopping malls that you fear so much? The road rage and incivility of normally mild-manned people? The stress of investing your hard earned cash on something that will be recalled for toxicity? Or could it be the horrendous bills from your credit cards that you can expect in January?

If you are nodding vigorously yes yes and yes - nod no more. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time for…

The Annual Green Holiday List
Take control of the holidays. Give (and receive) meaningful gifts on a low-carbon and low-budget diet. It’ll be the best Christmas ever. Here are some green ideas on giving and spreading the green love…

The Gift of a Great Experience
Forget stuff – give the gift of a good time or help kick start a hobby….

  • Tickets to sporting events, theatre, opera, ballet, film, concerts, lectures of favourite speakers, art galleries and museums. It’s a great way to support local culture.
  • Lessons for the friend who always wanted to sing, act, dance, play music, skate, etc.
  • Gift certificates to a favourite organic restaurant, organic spa or registered massage therapist.
  • Babysitting services for the parents desperate for a night out.

Green Product Gifts

  • Arrange with those on your list to give recycled gifts – a favourite book, a once-loved toy, clothing, CDs, DVDs, etc.
  • If people are going to gorge on chocolate and cheese this holiday season, ensure that at least some of it is organic &/or fair trade!
  • If clothes are on your list, put ‘organic’ beside them. Order online – the most convenient way to buy green threads and avoid the mall. The carbon savings don’t end there. If sending your organic gifts to loved ones in another city, order from the outlet closest to them to reduce carbon miles!
  • Organic bedding, paper, cards, underwear, lip balm, soap, candles, etc. etc. await you at an eco-friendly shop (or website) near you. I like to throw in favourite green cleaning products for the uninitiated.
  • Eco-friendly stores include: Thousand Villages, Grassroots (Toronto), Mountain Equipment Co-op, IKEA, the Body Shop, Cotton Ginny.
  • Magazines like Utne, Resurgence, Yes! Magazine make great stocking stuffers – as do subscriptions. Not only do they provide great green coverage, they are printed on paper from managed forests.

Gifts for Kids
Why give your kids big-box-store-bought toys when they are only going to be recalled due to some horrendous toxin? Given that kids sometimes have more fun with the box than the toy itself, how much imaginative appeal do these toys really have…?

  • Avoid quantity. Quantity just means a pile up of toys that quickly lose their appeal.
    Give a tickle trunk with a few costumes (such as clothes you don’t wear anymore). It’s a great way to get your kids active and stretch their imaginations.
  • Get the kids out playing! Sport is a great way to get them active and socially engaged. You can buy fair trade soccer and footballs at Fair Trade Sports.
  • Arrange a toy exchange with your friends or co-workers. Remember to donate some of your used toys to kids in need. Craig’s list and Freecycle are other great recycling sources.
  • Greenpeace has a report card on toy companies and toxicity. Thumbs up to Brio, Chicco, Evenflo, Gerber, International Playthings, Lamaze Infant Development, Lego, Sassy and Tiny Love.
  • Avoid toys that require batteries (a landfill hazard). Click here for naturally powered toy ideas.
  • In your child’s name buy a goat or mosquito nets for families in need or a polar bear. To do so visit Oxfam, Nothing but Nets, or WWF – Adopt a Polar Bear.
  • Treat your youngsters to the Nutcracker or other holiday performances.
  • For more green gift ideas for the little ones, visit Treehugger’s How to Green your Kids’ Toys.

Buy Nothing
This is not for the faint of heart. It smacks of Scrooge but it’s not all bah humbug….

  • Make your gifts. Whether it be organic fair trade truffles, CD compilations or scarves this is a great way to devote quality time for the people you love. Challenge yourself to learn to make something.
  • Invite your friends or family over for a brunch or dinner. In lieu of a gift, gather all your friends together for a skate or skiing party, depending on where you live.
  • Ask folks to give a gift to your favourite charity in your name.
  • Ask for no gift.
  • Remember – Buy Nothing Day is November 25.

That’s a Wrap
According to Earth Easy, if everyone wrapped just three gifts in reused paper or fabric gift bags we would save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey rinks. Let’s do our bit….

  • Your granny did it/does it – so can you! Save that paper and those lovely bows and reuse them.
  • Cloth gift bags. Expensive but reusable.
  • Recycled paper or hemp paper. Very difficult to find. You can pick it up at the Grassroots store in Toronto. Ask your local green store if they carry it.
  • Buy large sheets of white recycled paper and have your kids decorate them with a Christmas theme.

Be sure to check out the film – What would Jesus Buy, scheduled for wide-release on November 16th – just in time for the holidays. It’s a hilarious and sober look at our spending habits over the holidays.

For a good chuckle, click here for Big Box Mart.

Green Happenings

Green Design in an Urban Setting - Lecture by David Moses
Brought to you by Architecture for Humanity and my friends Liz and Dave (which means it’s guaranteed to be great!)
November 26
6:30 – 9:30 pm
Gardiner Museum, Toronto

Rally Around the Earth for Climate Justice and a Safer, Healthier Planet!
Rally on December 8

In the News

Grandma’s Hunger Strike Continues…
Donna Dillman stopped eating to raise awareness on uranium mining in Sharbot Lake

CLIMATE CHANGE: The Worst Can Still Be Avoided
Reassurances from scientists and government officials as the 27th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began Monday in Spain. But we must act!

Energy-ecology dilemma is like a ticking time bomb
More warning that we must step up efforts to mitigate the upcoming energy crisis and global warming.

Voter Anger May Free Up Energy Bills
From the New York Times. Nothing like expensive oil to kick start conservation.

Other News

BBC – The Greenroom

Ecoshock Radio

Green Bloggers

Grist Magazine


My Green Element

New York Times – Environment

Tree Hugger

Zerofootprint Blog


Sarah said...

Do you have any suggestions as to where to buy organic/fair trade boxer shorts? I'm looking for them for a Christmas gift, and I'm not having any luck!


Cheryl McNamara said...

Hi Sarah,

I did some window shopping at some of the organic/fair trade online stores. You can buy organic & official and unofficial fair trade boxers at...

Rawganique (USA) - they claim no sweatshop/child labour but I don't know if they are Fair Trade certified:

Cottonfield (USA)
Organic cotton and harvested/made in the USA

Organic Lifestyle (Canada)
Committed to Fair Trade,

Have you thought of bamboo? Bamboo is great because it can be harvested after three years when planted, and it feels great on the skin. Because bamboo is so hardy, pesticides tend not to be used:
The Bamboo Company (USA):

I hope that helps! Happy holidays!