A green guide to gifts


Buy! Buy! Buy! It’s the holidays, and the ads are calling out with their siren songs (or are they cattle calls?), and the overwhelming sense of obligation to hurry up and get shoppin’ begins. Commercials with bows wrapped around $40,000 cars may make you feel the expectations are pretty high, but before you max out three credit cards just to show your loved ones you care, consider a few different approaches to giving over the holidays that might bring a little more meaning to the season and leave you with a little more in your pocket.

Share your gifts. Avoid the price tag all together with a memorable gift of your talents like knitting or cooking. For the person who has everything but time, give a service like shoveling snow, babysitting, cleaning, helping with yard work, mending clothes, organizing photos, teaching a computer program, etc. Help someone “green up” by going through their home to give it an energy upgrade with CFL bulbs, window caulking, extra insulation, etc. For sharing gifts and other eco-friendly ideas, visit www.newdream.org/holiday/ giftideastaff.php

Choose a used treasure. Who says a gift has to be expensive or “new?” Boulder County is extremely fortunate to have a wealth of “reuse retail” stores full of reused treasures, from furniture to sports equipment. You can find all things reusable at Eco-Cycle Exchange, including consignment shops, thrift stores, garage sale listings and links to online reuse resources. You can also find and post free reusable items. For all things reused, check out www.ecocycleexchange.org.

Revive an old gift. Does your recipient have a gift they already love, but that’s broken? Lamps, window screens, door locks, and garden and power tools can all be fixed at several of our local hardware stores. There are also local repair options for vacuums, sewing machines, textiles, backpacks, shoes, knives, etc.

Give gifts that keep giving. Choose holiday gifts that will help the folks on your list reduce their resource consumption all year long, such as a reusable tote bag or travel mug, potted herbs, a new or refurbished bike, bus passes, a bike tune-up, an energy- or watersaving device, a compost bin, a pack of rechargeable batteries and a recharger, or a case of compact fluorescent light bulbs. Visit www. ecocycle.org/estore to find the best reusable water bottles, recycled paper, safe kids’ products, and much more. While you’re there, check out Eco-Cycle’s Zero Waste Holiday Guide for a full list of green gifts online. Or visit www.greenamericatoday.org/pubs/greenpages for a full directory of thousands of screened and approved green businesses and fair trade organizations offering services and products for everything from accessories to Zero Waste services. Search by “Colorado” to find local companies.

Contribute in a loved-one’s name. For the person who has everything they need, consider giving a donation to someone who is in need through a favorite organization or group. For customizable donations, go to www.tisbest.org or www.justgive.org.

Take them out to the ball game. Give the gift of an activity, such as a movie, museum visit, dinner at an organic restaurant, a massage, a pass to a health center or a Netflix membership. For carbon credit purchasing to offset the greenhouse gases created during your travel, visit www.sustainabletravelinternational.org

Buy local. If you are going to whip out the plastic, support your local economy. Go for gifts like baked goods from a local bakery, shares to a CSA (community-supported agriculture), or gifts purchased from locally owned stores. For a listing of locally owned businesses: www.localsustainability.net or www.boulder-iba.org. For gift baskets with Boulder-based products: Organic Boulder (www.organicboulder.com, 303-440-1295), Boulder’s Best Organics (www.bouldersbestorganics.com, 303-499- 6742), or Basket Kase (www.bbkase. com, 303-543-1405). For gift baskets with Colorado-based products: www.coloradobaskets.com, 303- 664-1401.

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