Tips for a socially responsible Christmas

First published on November 26, 2007

Shake those winter blues and have a personally socially responsible (PSR?) Christmas this year!

Don’t use traditional wrapping paper as it cannot be recycled. Instead, the Winter 2007 edition of Granville Magazine suggests giving gifts in reusable shopping bags (such as those by Solegear Design). It also suggests looking into furoshiki, which is origami-meets-fabric art. The Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan has a even posted a PDF guide on how to wrap presents, furoshiki style. Or hey, just use paper bags or shoe boxes and decorate them — at least they provide more of a blank canvas than newspaper! For the even more adventurous, why not use a cereal box (a friendly Cheerios bee?) or a tissue box (a nice floral pattern)? And it’s what’s inside that counts anyway, right, both inside the wrapping and inside the person :P

Give the “green” alternative to the Entertainment Book: Green Zebra Vancouver. There are savings in the book for places with sustainable food, clothing, service (like spa stuff), and other (like paint) initiatives.

For the friends who appreciate benevolence, donate some money to a worthy charity in their names. Or, convince each other to check out, an innovative setup where you can give interest-free micro-loans to entrepreneurs in the developing world.

Get a solar charger for your friends’ cell phones or read GoodCleanTech for other cool ecotechnology tidbits and gifts (like a solar charger backpack).

Spend your free time expanding your vocabulary while donating rice. At FreeRice, whenever you get a vocabulary question right, corporate sponsors donate 10 grains of rice through the United Nations to hungry people. I wish the corporations would just donate the rice regardless, but hey, if this is what spurs generosity, I won’t complain.

Putting up Christmas lights? Put both indoor and outdoor lights on a timer. Do people need to see your lights at 3am? (Submitted by Julia).

Failing all of that, just donate to your local food bank or give some jackets or socks to those who need them!

Got any other tips? Let me know!

Or, if none of these tips appeal to you, just be nice to everybody! Give hugs and tell people you miss them!


10 Responses to “Tips for a socially responsible Christmas”

  1. julia says:

    Great tips Peter thanks. What about the wrapping paper situation? I’ve been starting to think about the waste of this issue, but at the same time want gifts I give to look nice (ie: not be wrapped like junk in newspaper). Have you come across any useful tips for this?

  2. Peter says:

    I’ve now updated the post with some wrapping paper tips :D

  3. Melissa says:

    What a strange idea, that rice thing. I guess whatever gets people food, right? I like the reuseable gift bag idea! I never knew that you couldn’t recycle regular wrapping paper! :(

  4. Derek says:

    Hey that green zebra book is kinda cool… good find.

    As for wrapping – I really hate wrapping gifts. Period. This sounds like an easy way I out. I think this year I’ll just hand people their gift unwrapped with a sticky note attached that reads:

    “Your gift is wrapped with eco-friendly invisi-wrap! No paper to throw out, no non-recyleable material to clog up our landfills. Merry Christmas to you and the environment!”


  5. Peter says:

    Is that sticky note really necessary?

  6. julia says:

    Another eco tip for christmas is putting your christmas lights (indoor and outdoor) on a timer. No one needs to see your christmas lights at 3am. I’m suprised how many people just leave there lights on on all the time – no need to buy up LED lights if you simply use a timer for the lights you already own.

  7. Peter says:

    Great tip, Julia! I’ve added it to the body of the post.

  8. Leah says:

    I like Derek’s idea, invisi-wrap! OR you could hide the gift and give them a clue as to where it is! A present and a game all in one!

  9. John Santic says:

    Peter, nice post. I have been exploring alternatives this Christmas as well. How about buying from 10,000 villages? they are a fair trade company that support artizans in developing countries. I have made a trip through there already…

  10. Creative Christmas Solutions » Inspiration Bit says:

    [...] to more laughs, check out Simonne’s warnings on choosing presents. But if you like some more tips for a socially responsible Christmas be sure to check Peter’s post about [...]

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