Here are some sustainable living Holiday Gift ideas from our friends at the Ecomall:
* Alternative giving: Rather than purchasing a gift from a store, come up with a handmade or creative gift that costs little or nothing. Here are some ideas that are both meaningful and useful to the recipient: gifts of time with creative gift "coupons" for services such as babysitting, massage, raking, weeding or cooking (or customize to the people you are giving it to: what would they most appreciate?) Consider also a priceless, personalized gift, such as writing a poem or song, making a collage or other arts and crafts projects, or putting together a family book or photo album, a hand-knit scarf or mittens, or pass along a family heirloom or jewelry.
* Eco-friendly cards: Send e-mail cards or recycle last year's cards by cutting pieces out of them and gluing them to new paper.
* Forgo wrapping paper: Don't buy wrapping paper this year - save trees and money by being creative and making your own using newspaper, magazines, scarves or leftover wallpaper to wrap gifts, or enclose presents in a resusable box or bag. Hide big presents under a sheet or towel and make a treasure hunt game out of it for your kids!
* Be creative when decorating: The greenest holiday decorations are those you make yourself, such as stringing popcorn and cranberries together, or get the kids involved making the decorations out of leftover construction paper or last year's holiday cards. Better yet, let your children discover what nature has to offer: take a walk with them around your backyard to find decorative items such as pinecones, leaves, berries, and flowers (many natural decorations have the added plus of being compostable after the holidays!).
* Get a live, replantable tree: A live, potted tree can serve your holiday needs and then beautify your yard for years into the future. A live tree provides an ongoing remembrance of the holidays, as well as cleans our air and helps protect the planet from global warming. The tree will survive indoors for about a week with ample watering, and then when you're ready, transplant it outside in a spot you have already prepared, or donate it to a school, park or community center.
* Think practical: Buy and ask for practical gifts or presents that save money and resources for you or the user in the long term: a stainless steel water container, a beautiful reusable mug to bring to coffee outings, a cloth grocery tote bag to use for shopping. When buying appliances or products like computers, look for the Energy Star label, which ensures it is energy efficient and will save you money over the long term. Rather than frivolous presents, buy and ask for presents that you or others truly need.
* Give back: It is especially important to think of others less fortunate this holiday season - donate gifts, clothing or leftover food to a homeless shelter (or volunteer your time) and feel the meaning of the true holiday spirit!