We’re sure that you — like us — have been trying to Simplifyyour life. Perhaps you’re simplifying because of the economy. Perhaps you’re simplifying because you’ve become aware of the burden that excess consumption is placing on our planet, and on people in third world nations.
This holiday season, we invite you to join us in this different, more meaningful approach.
One of the most important green purchasing strategies actually costs you nothing:
Before buying anything, ask yourself …
· Do I really need and want this? Can I get by without it?
· Is it made from renewable or nonrenewable resources?
· Is it made of recycled materials and is it recyclable?
· How long will it last and how will I dispose of it?
· Can it be maintained and repaired?
· Could I borrow it, rent it, or buy it secondhand?
· Is it overpackaged?
· Is it worth the time I worked to pay for it and its cost to the environment?
The Tools of Transition
Make it easier for your recipient to join the path toward future lifestyles.
· Give a garden: vegetable seeds or rooted clippings from your own garden. Garden tools or a gorgeous art trellis. Food gardening books like John Jeavons’ How to Grow More Vegetables or Yana-Shapiro’s Gardening for the Sake of the Earth. For an apartment or condo dweller, make it Guerra’s Edible Container Garden and include a terracotta pot. Add an article about why local food is so important.
· Cloth napkins or canvas bags, to encourage Reuse. Include a printout of our article “Dispense with Disposables.”
· Take a friend off junk mail: Generate forms with your recipient’s name and address at www.newdream.org/junkmail Present the forms in stamped, addressed envelopes ready to sign and mail. (idea thanks to New American Dream)
· Give a membership to a local community-supported farm, commonly known as a CSA. This one makes a long-lasting gift for the whole family. You can find CSAs through the Local Harvest interactive site. http://www.localharvest.org/ (idea thanks to Eco-Home Network)
· Bicycles: If your friend doesn’t have a bike, chip in with other friends to buy him one. Try Craig’s List for reuse. Give a gift certificate to Bikerowave community bike repair shop or similar in your local area. Or a LACBC Bicycle Resource Guide.
· Functional Handcrafts.If you enjoy crafts, make something the donor will use over and over. Make a cute door draft snake, a tool to help your friend in winterizing her home. Give a sock-knitting kit: needles, yarn, and a great how-to book.
· Education: send your friend to a workshop to learn valuable skills for a survivable future. Ecology Action, The Ranch at the Huntington offer sessions on how to grow food. Permaculture educators offer an integrated world view. Tai Chi and yoga instructors convey skills of balance and harmony which will last a lifetime.
· Change-Making tools from the Environmental Change-Makers’ Etsy store www.etsy.com/shop/EnviroChangeMakers
Change your gift-giving traditions
· Perhaps the adults in your family would agree to only give gifts to the children this year.
· Extended families could give one gift to each household (such as a board game, tennis set, museum membership, or tickets to a play), instead of multiple gifts to each person. (ideas thanks to New American Dream)
Sustainable Gift Wrapping
· Make your own wrapping paper – newspaper with painted or crayoned designs on it. Tie with natural jute twine or grasses you’ve collected and dried. Add a sprig of pine, rosemary, holly, toyon or holly berries. (idea thanks to Eco-Home Network)
· Try Furoshiki … traditional Japanese package wrapping uses REUSEABLE cloth rather than single-use paper. Use a bandanna or a thrift store tablecloth. The secret: the wrap must be square; a rectangle won’t work. How-to www.env.go.jp/en/focus/attach/060403-5.html
Make a charitable donation
in honor of the person, rather than giving physical gifts of consumer items. We recommend the following worthy causes:
· Heifer International. Operating on the concept of “teach a man to fish,” your $20 donation gives a flock of geese, your $10 donation gives a share of a goat, together with training in animal husbandry, to a needy family in a third world country. www.heifer.org
· Ecology Action. Your donation helps educate community organizers from least-developed nations in sustainable mini-farming – how to grow healthy food for their people while saving the world’s resources. www.growbiointensive.org
· TreePeople. For $25 you can plant a tree in L.A.’s urban forest in honor of your loved one. As well as beautifying our environment, trees help counteract the effects of global warming. www.treepeople.org
· Local causes. Perhaps there is a group in your local neighborhood that is trying to build a community garden, or trying to raise awareness of the need to transition our lifestyles. Donate to Environmental Change-Makers to support our projects including Transition Los Angeles.