Krista Bailey & Mike F. Keen
‘Tis the season of generosity: We give gifts, we host parties, and we cook and bake delicious treats to enjoy with our friends and loved ones that we only make at this time of year. As the nights get long, we lean towards the warmth of sharing and giving to help brighten our days and the days of those we love.
This year, extend the spirit of generosity across the “triple bottom line” as you care for the people in your life. Oftentimes when we give, we take away valuable gifts from the environment, people, and from our local economies. During this season of giving, let’s gift ourselves and others a sustainable future. This season, instead of giving by taking, give and be socially responsible, environmentally sound, and economically smart.
Conserve Resources & Give the World
Instead of buying some thing for a gift, invest an excursion or experience. How about passes or memberships to museums, parks, zoos and aquariums, gyms or pools or rec centers, climbing gyms, spas and hot springs, campgrounds, or entries in running or bike races? What about season tickets to the civic theater? These fun experiences keep your loved ones active, healthy, and thinking of you with each experience they have throughout the year. In addition, these activities connect them to where they live so they can explore, learn, and discover their community.
Give the Gift of Giving to Others
A donation in a loved one’s name is often accompanied by a card or picture which explains the gift made for them. Consider what has impacted or touched the lives of your friends or family, and give so that others may receive. After making a donation, contact the agency to see about a group volunteer opportunity to help make the donation real and doubly impactful, and to extend the time you get to spend with friends and family building memories and making an impact.
If you feel you must offer an item, consider fair trade items and extend the joy. These companies support workers at home and abroad, and allow you to provide the gift of giving others a meaningful and valuable job in a safe and secure environment.
Strengthen the bonds of kinship and friendship by giving of yourself and your talents. Give a handmade or homegrown gift like a recipe book, baked goods, homemade meals, or homemade jams or pickles or give your talents to teach or coach.
Invest in a Better World
The most expensive gift is not necessarily the best, and a pile of presents does not always make for a happy holiday. Select locally crafted items from locally run shops and bazaars featuring local artists and crafters and know that your locally spent dollar will continue supporting the local economy. Invest in College Choice 529 Savings Plans to help a young friend or relative build a better future. Have fun exploring local wineries or bakeries or farm markets so you can assemble custom gift basket of beverages, baked goods, soaps, candles, handcrafted ornaments, or honey for a taste of your region and to support small business and a thriving local marketplace.
Finding or creating gifts that will add joy to your celebrations while being socially responsible, environmentally sound, and economically smart will create lasting memories and a meaningful impact n the lives of your loved ones and on the planet. For more ideas to celebrate sustainably, visit the Center for a Sustainable Future’s Sustainable Celebrations page at tinyurl.com/SustaintheHolidays and follow our tips and thoughts on Facebook (facebook.com/sustainthefuture). Feel free to share your ideas on our this post – let’s talk sustainability!