Changing the Present: Choosing Eco-Gifts This Holiday Season

11/13/2012 08:27 EST | Updated 01/12/2013 05:12 EST
Courtesy of Night Owl Paper Goods

Instead of careening madly around stores desperately purchasing gifts this holiday season (translation: possibly useless stuff that is not needed or wanted), make the getting and giving of gifts smart and easy -- change the present this year!

The "new" present is one that inspires people to live healthier lives, makes the world a better place, supports good people and companies, doesn't create excess waste... and of course, makes your getters really, truly, very happy! Remember that your money is your power and every penny you spend is a vote for something. Buying made-in-China, lead-laced toys or buying an organic piece of clothing made in Canada tells the maker to make more... what do you want more of in our world? Spend wisely, and buy from your own local businesses that support good values.

It's obviously important to take your "receiver" into account. Your eco-freak friend will appreciate that you adopted a snowman (who lost their family at sea due to global warming) in her honour, but your colleague who takes a plastic bottle to the gym everyday and upgrades his cellphone and computers perpetually will probably appreciate concert tickets more.

Aside from the many wonderful online eco-focused stores, there are many local retailers featuring smarter products these days -- so think outside of the giftbox and wrap it up the conscious way!

You can find gift ideas for everyone on your list in the Borden Communications, Good Gift Guide -- hopefully it inspires you in your quest to give the perfect eco-happy present.


Great Eco-Presents for the Holidays

Some gift inspiration:


If you have great taste and talent (or are just creative), have a good time putting these gifts together -- they will be truly appreciated.

• cook or bake something and deliver it once a month

• knit mitts (scarves sound much easier though)

• offer up what you're good at (babysitting? handywork?)

• put together a photo album or make a video

• collect your favourite recipes and put them into books or boxes

• create a masterpiece -- photography or art


These are our favourite to receive (and if you are a really good friend, you can tag along, too!) It's also a great way to support the businesses you already appreciate.

• a membership -- art gallery, zoo, gym

• a night out at the movies, tickets to a show or concert

• an experience (a weekend away, spa services, day trip)

• a session with an "eco coach" or green cleaning service

• a donation to a favourite charity

• downloadable music certificates

• cooking class or go out to dinner (local and organic, of course!)


Items in this category can soothe the soul and be luxurious yet not take a huge toll on our world.

• fair-trade chocolate, coffee or tea

• organic, toxin-free cosmetics and personal care products

• organic bedding or bathrobe

• local, organic wine


We know these do not seem as indulgent or as romantic as some other gifts may be, but they are useful and will save time, money, health and the planet, so consider them!

• reusable (safe) water bottle or mug

• stuff to make a home really clean & chemical-free

• safe toys -- no plastic!

• non-petroleum crayons -- beeswax or organic soy

• tree-free paper goods

• Local, weekly fruit and vegetable boxes

• books for inspiration + enjoyment

• set of organic cloth napkins

• reusable bags (foldable AND washable)

• litterless lunch products

• eco-fied first aid/emergency kit

• solar or crank powered gadgets

• a tree to plant


The last time we checked, wrapping gifts was not on people's fun things to-do list (We personally use unwrapped gifts as an opportunity to be both lazy and eco-responsible...see how it all works out?)

• use reusable containers or bags to package

• use old newspapers, magazines or comics to wrap did you know that newspaper strips curl like ribbon?

• use tea towels, microfibre cloths or clothing to envelop

• use scarves, bandanas, belts or shoelaces to tie

• use fresh herbs, old buttons or cut up textiles to adorn

• use tree-free cards or make your own (even from other cards!)

"Two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take; the larger kind we feel for what we give." -Edwin Arlington Robinson