Christmas Week: Getting the Greenest Gifts

TreeHugging mantras like “do more with less” and “waste not, want not” can be difficult to keep up during this holiday season typically marked with excess and extravagance. This is especially true with gift giving; we buy things from exotic locales around the globe and do a lot of shopping online, which adds up to extra shipping, and then wrap them in fancy, glittery paper that just gets tossed when you’re done with it. To help you wade through this conundrum, and give meaningful gifts that don’t all come with huge carbon footprints, TreeHugger has put together a thorough and handy (we think) guide for finding a greener option for everyone on your list.

This year, in addition to a handful of categories, we separated the guide into three “shades” of green — light, medium and dark — to help you decode and decide how green to make your gifts. For the Epicurean [] section features gifts for the food lover in your life, from fun cookie cutters, to organic wine and cheese clubs to a handy gadget that helps you recycle at home.

We’ve got ideas for both the pint-sized [] and new parents [] — two groups that typically go through lots of stuff — that’ll not only make your little ones’ eyes light up, but will lighten their load on the planet. Other industries and lifestyles often associated with disposability — fashion and jet-setting — get green treatment with our picks for the fashionista [] and for the jet-setter [], and, for those who prefer to stay closer to home and “down to earth,” there’s 15 ideas for the green-thumbed [] and for the DIYer []. Animal lovers [], yoga fiends [], outdoors lovers [] and green geeks [] are also covered; and, of course, even The Person Who Has Everything [] likes to get gifts; we’ve got green goodies galore, from gift certificates, to experiences and donations, for that special someone who doesn’t go for more traditional gifts.

In lieu of (or in addition to) gifts, many people make contributions to charitable causes this time of year, which is something TreeHugger wholeheartedly supports as a meaningful, waste-free way to give this year; we made a list [] of worthy green organizations that will put your donation to good use in their efforts to protect biodiversity or land, build (or re-build) sustainable communities, or otherwise save the world.

Once you’ve got your gifts picked out, there are more ways to reduce their impact this holiday season According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans, on average, increase their garbage amount by 25% between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s an awful lot of garbage, especially considering it’s only a few weeks period of time. With that in mind, we’ve created a list of holiday tips [] that includes ideas for wrapping and packaging gifts to sending cards and throwing parties. No matter what you do this holiday season, know that your choices for buying, gifting, traveling and more make a difference, and that it never hurts to make each of them a little greener.