Curb Your Consumerism

How to avoid the mall and enjoy a merry, green Christmas

| December 7, 2006

'Tis the season for giving and spending. Instead of pushing through throngs of shoppers stuffing carts with the season's must-have items, consider your alternatives: giving homemade gifts, donating funds to charity, or not spending at all. Regardless of your preference or the state of your pocketbook, here are some solutions to make this gift-giving season merry, bright, and green.

Gift Guides
Of the holiday gift guides available, TreeHugger offers a comprehensive collection of ideas sure to solve any shopping snafu. The guide is divided into useful sections, like those for moms-to-be or green thumbs, as well as categories such as household goods, online retailers, and shopping malls. Below each pictured grouping is a convenient set of lettered descriptors. Choose from recycled glass ornaments, natural beeswax Hanukkah candles, a garden-in-a-bag, and more. Current print issues of Plenty and The Green Guide also offer helpful gifting resources.

Charitable Donations
Plenty of your favorite organizations can put a donation made in a loved one's name to good use. Check out 'Giving Till it Helps' -- a primer on charitable giving that Utne Reader recently culled from WorldChanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century -- for some great ideas on how to make small donations make a big difference. For those as worried about receiving as giving, take a cue from Heifer International and create your own gift registry so friends and family can donate to a cause instead of giving you yet another scarf you won't wear.

Do It Yourself
You don't have to be Martha Stewart to craft homemade gifts. In Herbs for Health, Kim Erickson's recipes for herbal packages are the perfect remedy to soothe gift-giving woes over what to get for pets, athletes, and gourmets. Mother Earth News also offers a list of ideas you can parlay into presents. Freeze your own pesto in ice cube trays, piece together a seasonal floral arrangement, or try your hand at home-brewing beverages. The more tech-inclined out there might peruse Make 's 'Open Source Gift Guide' for ideas on DIY software and hardware gifts.

Season's Savings
For non-spenders, Regiftable, a project of the nonprofit Money Management International, has created a 'Regifting 101' tutorial with tips on how to avoid the embarrassment of surprising grandma with the macram? plant holder she gave you four years ago. And if you're just not ready to navigate the ethical quandaries of regifting, the site provides an alternative service: a template lets users design printable holiday coupons for a few hours of yard work or a pan of baked goods. And finally, Adbusters takes spending sparingly one step further with its Buy Nothing Christmas campaign -- an effort to curb materialism and promote meaning -- by buycotting.

Go there >> TreeHugger Holiday Gift Guide

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