In my article from a couple of weeks ago, I championed the idea of a simpler Advent season that shifted the idea of giving Christmas gifts to the needy rather than those with plenty. That idea tops my gift-giving list, but I also include alternatives that come with small(er) carbon footprints:
- My top suggestion remains donating to a worthy charity in your loved one’s name. Candidates include charities ministering to the poor such as Catholic Charities, Unbound, St Vincent de Paul, Doctors without Borders, International Rescue Committee. Other worthy causes include those working for climate action and justice, including Catholic Climate Covenant, the Laudato Si movement, 350.org, Climate Reality, and Project Drawdown. Or perhaps an animal shelter like Pigs Peace Sanctuary or the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Google any of these to find their website.
- Digital subscriptions are great ideas. This could be a subscription to a newspaper (e.g., NY Times), online learning, streaming music or movies (e.g., Netflix or Spotify), a virtual cooking class, or perhaps a virtual gym or meditation service.
- Of course, it doesn’t have to be virtual. You can also give a gift of an in-person gym membership, cooking class, or gardening class. Or maybe the gift of a massage from a local massage therapist.
- Do you have a talent in some field or can provide a needed service? If so, how about a gift of your services? For example, perhaps you can help people with computer classes, cooking, or gardening, or provide baby-sitting, house-sitting, or dog walking.
- Gift card to a local (i.e., not a chain) store such as a local bookstore (e.g., Phinney Books), coffee shop (e.g., Diva or Herkimer coffee), or local restaurant.
- Breakfast in a mason jar made from rolled oats or other whole grains, seeds, and dried fruits. Just add water and let sit overnight in the fridge for a healthy breakfast in the morning.
- Previously-owned (used) items have a smaller environmental impact than new items. How about a used bike for a kid or even an adult who wants to exercise more? Or maybe a gift card to or a neighborhood thrift store or Goodwill.
The key to keeping your gift low carbon is to have it be local, handmade, or virtual. Working together, we can help take care of our common home.