It’s so easy in our society, and especially during the holiday gift-giving season, to believe that bigger, shinier and faster is better, and that material things will make us happy. But deep down we all know that the best things in life aren’t things at all, it’s our relationships that determine the quality of our lives. And that includes not just our relationships with other people, but also the quality and richness of our connection to nature – animals, plants, food, our own bodies and the earth itself.
If you’re looking for a more meaningful way to celebrate the holidays, share your generosity and express your love for others, here are a few ideas for gifts that are truly enriching – good for you, the people you care about, and the planet:
6 Green Holiday Gifts
1. Give the Gift of Trees
What better, more beautiful and lasting gift is there than planting a tree or an entire grove in someone’s honor? Trees provide shade, help prevent soil erosion, and fight climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. The National Forest Foundation will plant a tree for every one dollar donated, with a $20 minimum donation. For donations of $25 or more, your loved one will receive a subscription to Your National Forests magazine, published twice a year. American Forests likewise plants one tree for every dollar you donate, with a $5 minimum gift amount. Annual memberships, including a subscription to American Forests magazine, start at $25. The nonprofit Tree People offers “Tree Dedications” for $25, and will send a holiday card for you. The Arbor Day Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service also offer tree-planting gifts.
2. Plant-Based Cookbooks
Have your friends and family noticed how good you look and feel lately?
They’re probably curious about what you’ve got going on! A plant-based cookbook is a perfect way to introduce them to the health benefits and culinary delights of a plant-based diet. And, of course, since a plant-based diet is good for you and the planet, it’s about as green as it gets when it comes to gifts. There are many on the market but here are a few of my favorites:
“How Not to Die Cookbook,” by Dr. Greger from nutritionfacts.org
“The Blue Zones Solution, Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People,” by Dan Buettner. Includes 77 easy recipes.
“The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot,” by Kathy Hester
“Plant-Powered Families,” by Dreena Burton
3. Organizational Donations and Memberships
Is the person you’re shopping for passionate about a particular issue or cause? Perhaps they’re especially concerned about children and youth, the environment, women’s rights, civil rights, healthy living or the world situation? Consider making a donation in their honor to an organization that represents their concerns, or better yet, purchase an annual membership for them with a membership-based organization such as Greenpeace or the Humane Society of the United States.
This is a gift that keeps on giving all year long. Not only are you showing your support for what your loved one cares about, but often annual organizational memberships include a subscription to the organization’s magazine or newsletters, such as the Sierra Club’s Sierra Magazine. Memberships and donations should be tax deductible.
4. Fitness Gift Certificates
With so many people out there wanting to get in shape and reduce stress, what better way to love and support them than with a gift certificate to a local gym, YMCA, recreation center or, of course, yoga or dance studio? The great thing about this gift is that it truly enhances your loved one’s health and life and it generates no waste. Consider supporting your local economy by choosing an independent, locally-owned business rather than a chain, if at all possible.
5. Culture and Learning Gift Certificates
For friends and family who love reading, music or the arts, consider a gift certificate to a locally-owned book, music, paint-your-own-pottery store or cinema. You could also check with local arts and cultural centers and organizations, such as the ballet or orchestra to see whether they offer gift certificates as well. These gifts are win-wins, enriching the life of your loved one while supporting local community culture.
6. Indoor Home Gardening Kits
What better way to brighten up the dark days of winter than by growing beautiful fresh vegetables indoors at home? The Miracle-Gro Aerogarden Heirloom Salad Greens 6-Pod Seed Kit sells for $15.99 online at Kohl’s. Prices go up from there with more elaborate kits and units ranging into the hundreds of dollars, such as the Compact 3-Tier Sunlight Garden, available for $489.00. A Google search will yield lots of options, with something in every price range and options for kids.
Gifting Outside the Box
And if one of these five suggestions doesn’t fit for a particular person, it’s a great opportunity to think outside the box. What truly brings that individual joy and wellbeing, and how can you creatively support that? There’s definitely a life-enriching, wholesome, green and healthy gift out there for every person on your list this holiday season.