Gifts That Give

How can you gift in a way that does not generate waste, that reduces waste, or that regenerates ecosystems? Sara has a fun and practical list in her Yale Climate Connections column, which I have linked to below. It got me thinking of what I would add to her list. Yesterday I reached back to a couple of posts from two years ago when we were preparing to open the Authentica shops, mentioning products we carry from artisan groups that recycle heavy plastics, in one case, and wood in the other. We have other products made from recycled materials, but our best selling product is Organikos coffee, all of the proceeds of which are invested in ecosystem regeneration. Laura’s question about gifting toward climate action is one we all should be asking:

ASK SARA

Eco-friendly gifts for every budget in 2021

Holiday cheer that’s good for the planet, too.

Hi Sara!

I’m trying to find a gift for my mother for Christmas, and I like the idea of gifting toward climate action. Might you have recommendations?

Thank you for your time

— Laura

Hi Laura,

Sure thing. Here’s a list of climate-friendly gift ideas for every budget.

A board game, puzzle, houseplant, or other item from your local “Buy Nothing” group (Price: Free)

Why it’s climate-friendly: Manufacturing stuff requires consumption of energy and natural resources, so it’s better for the climate to reuse products rather than buying new. The Buy Nothing Project, a gift-giving network created by two Washington state women in 2013, encourages neighbors to freely share goods and services with each other. The project’s “holiday challenge” encourages participants to give away (and request) used items that can be repurposed as gifts. To join, download the group’s free app or search for a group near you on Facebook.

Another option: A treasure from your local thrift store

A “voucher” promising to help the recipient take climate action (Price: Free)

Why it’s climate-friendly: With a voucher, you’re offering a gift of your own time. You might promise to draft letters to elected officials on the recipient’s behalf, teach the person about plant-based cooking, or help the recipient install weatherstripping. The voucher is tailored to the recipient’s interests and your skills, making it a one-of-a-kind gift.

Renewable energy credits (Price: $)

Why they’re climate-friendly: Roughly a quarter of U.S. carbon pollution comes from power plants that burn natural gas and coal to produce electricity. With renewable energy credits, you can present your loved ones with the gift of electricity produced from wind, solar, or other renewable sources. For about $5 a month, your friends or family members will receive the right to call themselves “100% powered by clean electricity.”

Where to buy: Through services such as Arcadia Power or other groups certified by the nonprofit group Green-e

Caveat: As David Roberts explains in this Vox column, it’s not clear that renewable energy credits create incentives for additional renewable energy facilities to go online. Still, purchasing the credits helps demonstrate demand for clean electricity products.

Paperwhite narcissus kit (Price: $)

Why they’re climate-friendly: Your friends and family will feel connected to nature even during winter when they grow these fragrant indoor blooms. To build paperwhite narcissus kits, purchase low-cost bulbs from a hardware or garden store, thrifted vases or glass jars, and small pebbles. Recipients will place the bulbs on top of the pebbles inside the vases, add water, and then wait four to six weeks for flowers to emerge…

Read the whole column here.

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