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2014 Holiday Giving Guide
 

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“You give but
little when you
give of your possessions. 
It is when you
give of yourself
that you
truly give.”

—Kahlil Gibran,
The Prophet

“The manner
of giving is
worth more
than the gift.”

—Pierre Corneille,
Le Menteu

 

 


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2014 Holiday Giving Guide


quick links to areas on this page
gifts you give
| gifts that help others | gifts you make
gifts of experience | gifts of yourself | gifts that help conserve | the big day

Holiday Giving GuideAn Approach to Eco-friendly Gift-giving

by Mary K. Robertson, Eugene Contributing Editor

Did you know that Americans produce 25% more trash than usual between Thanksgiving and Christmas? This is a lot of extra stuff. Do we really need all of it? Let’s look at some ways to make our gift-giving this year easier on the earth. Although we’re focusing on holiday gifts in this article, these principles apply all year long.

There are many factors to consider when choosing gifts that are environmentally-friendly. A minimalist model might be to not exchange gifts at all. And buying gift cards online and emailing them to the recipient is certainly fuel- and resource-efficient. But most of us still love to give and receive gifts—from the anticipation of choosing just the right thing, to trying to guess the contents, tearing open the wrapping paper and seeing what’s inside! How can we reconcile the sheer fun of gift giving and receiving, with making things a little easier for the earth and those on it? (Hint: just by reading this online, you are already taking a step in that direction.)

First, think about the gift itself. Who made it? What is it made of? How far did it travel to get here? How far does it still have to go? Will the person truly use the gift? What is it packaged in? How did you order and pay for the gift? Where does the money you pay for it go? Looking at these issues will help you choose gifts that matter.

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Going Green's Holiday Giving Guide: Gifts You GiveGifts you give people

Sometimes a sweater is the perfect gift for your niece. Look for clothing and accessories made of recycled, reused or organic fabrics—especially those produced without harsh chemicals. It’s amazing what you can find made of recycled tractor tires these days! Used bookstores are a great spot to find one-of-a-kind gifts.

Most everyone has access to a local craft fair or market, or even a year-round gallery devoted to local artisans. Buying locally not only makes environmental sense, it keeps money circulating in your community. Helping your local businesses thrive helps your region keep its distinct flavor. When you find that perfect gift, talk to the craftsperson and find out your item’s unique story: it will make it that much more special to the recipient.

Going Green's Holiday Giving Guide: Making GiftsOne of my most cherished gifts is a small basket my father bought from a streetside vendor. Dad stopped and chatted with the maker, and inside the basket is a photo he took of the weaver with a short note she wrote to me. How much more personalized could this be?

Shop for kitchen accessories made of quick-growing bamboo, reusable cloths to replace paper towels, or muslin bags to buy and store produce. For the cook, how about a share in a local Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA) or a gift certificate to the local farmer’s market? Or lessons to encourage home cooking of all those yummy local items? A visit from an eco-friendly cleaning service, one that doesn’t use harsh chemicals, might be just the thing for Grandma.

Kids will always want their toys. But each year there are more versions made of recycled and non-toxic materials. Or how about a kid-sized microscope to examine that bug up close, or a star chart and a pair of binoculars to get the whole family outside and looking up? School music programs have been cut drastically in recent years, so make music at home. A drum or maracas are fun for the younger kids, instrument rental and lessons suitable for the older ones. While you’re shopping, look at how heavily the toy is packaged, and whether it will need regular infusions of battery power. A third of the waste Americans toss each year is packaging.

Going Green's Holiday Giving Guide: Locally produced food itemsPlastics have revolutionized many industries. But growing concern over the sheer volume of plastic in our environment—whether it be the growing morass swirling in the ocean or the compounds leaching into our food and water—means rethinking some of our basics. Just because an item can be used in the microwave, doesn’t mean it should be. Folks of all ages might appreciate a kitchen makeover. Stainless steel water “bottles,” or a set of glass kitchen containers to house and reheat those leftovers, can cut down on our daily plastic load. A sturdy reusable grocery bag is always helpful and will help reduce the number of plastic bags we bring home each year.

When giving food items, look for locally-produced items. Every region has its specialties, and deep in the winter the range of colorful jams, jellies and pickles is stunning! For items we don’t grow domestically, such as coffee or chocolate, consider fair trade versions. Visit www.fairtradeusa.org/ for more on why fair trade practices matter.

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Gifts that help other people

Regardless of your political or social views, you have to admit that we live in one of the richest societies on earth. The rest of the world doesn’t. Aunt Ellen might not appreciate a bunch of chickens in her back yard…but how about giving a flock in her name to help feed a Guatemalan family?

Numerous organizations allow you to buy animals, equipment, or training to help families be self-sufficient. You can give anything from a sewing machine and lessons to a pair of milk goats to a well-drilling service for fresh water; the organizations send a card to the recipient or provide one for you to send. Try www.heifer.org or www.alternativegifts.org for ideas.

Going Green Publications: Gifts that Help People Going Green Publications: Gifts that Help People Going Green Publications: Gifts that Help People Going Green Publications: Gifts that Help People

Microloans and the internet are changing the way we connect with the world. Even $25 can make a huge difference to a small entrepreneur. Sites such as Kiva make it easy to match “loaners” with needy entrepreneurs—you can even track their progress online. Gift certificates allow your gift recipient to pick who they’d like to help. Visit www.kiva.org/ for details.

If you prefer helping those closer to home, how about a donation to your local food bank or energy-share program? Or commit to helping one afternoon a month repackaging food or delivering meals to shut-ins. Animal shelters need supplies and volunteer help as well as donations all year long. Donate supplies or a bag of kibble in the name of a loved one. No matter what the gift, you can still design a wonderful gift card to mark your commitment.

The economic downturn has left many service providers struggling. Even a small donation can help them: donate a book to the local library in a loved one’s name, or contribute to the local Community College’s scholarship fund.

Going Green's Holiday Giving GuideMore people are asking, “where does my food come from?” Community and school gardens are great places for people of all ages to learn how to grow food and care for the earth. If you are not able to dig and weed, how about donating materials: soil amendments, lumber for raised beds, for example. Check with your local extension office or school district for gardens needing support.

With the “slow money” concept becoming more prevalent (see vol. 4, issue 2 for more) it is easier to find local businesses worthy of your donation or investment.

Programs like “Empty Bowls” www.emptybowls.net/ and www.feedingamerica.org work to fight hunger across the country.

JustGive.orgIf you’d like your gift recipient to have more choices, it’s now easy to buy all-purpose charity gift cards that the recipient can designate for any of dozens of causes. See www.justgive.org/ and www.charitygiftcertificates.org/ for examples.

Gifts you make

It’s not just those ashtrays you made your parents in second grade. Most people love to receive personal gifts—make your own, or visit local craft stores and buy one-of-a-kind locally made gifts. Visit www.instructables.com/group/gifts/ or www.pinterest.com to get great ideas.

The “eating local” movement has helped make it easier for us to consider the source—and how much closer can you get than your own workbench?

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Gifts of experience

Going Green's Holiday Giving Guide: National Park ServiceNot all gifts are “things.” Some of the most meaningful can be those that open up new vistas for the receiver. How about a National Parks Pass?  It admits the holder to the wonders of our National Park system. Visit www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm or stay closer to home and give a membership to a local park, arboretum or museum.

Encourage the “do-it-yourselfer” in your life by giving a course at a local community college or home-improvement center.  How about an art class? Or music lessons? They can be stimulating and just plain fun for folks of all ages. For example, www.makingmusicmag.com offers ideas for recreational music. A skein of yarn and knitting lessons from Mom might open the door to a lifetime’s pleasure.

Going Green's Holiday Giving Guide: Gifts of ExperienceAlmost every community has theater, music, and art groups that would appreciate support. Tickets to the local symphony or university drama department’s season make a wonderful gift for new residents who are eager to explore the area. Tickets to a garden or solar home tour might suit those planning some home improvement in the coming year.

Who couldn’t use lower blood pressure, reduced stress, more restful sleep and a strengthened immune system? These are the proven health benefits of several eastern practices like tai chi, Qigong and yoga. Check community centers, YMCAs, and senior centers for beginners’ classes. Many instructors allow you to visit a class first to make sure it’s a good fit before registering; take the class with the recipient to share the fun and the health benefits.

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Gifts of yourself

The “Information Age” has not carried everyone with it. Offer to help a loved one transfer that box of family photos into digital format to share with others. Or set a routine date to help them clean and organize computer files and back up data. A gift certificate for an online webinar or training session might help them enjoy the new technology more. And don’t forget the simple communications. Stop by a retirement home and offer to read to a resident an hour each week, or bring stationery and stamps and write letters on behalf of the residents. It may be the only avenue they have to stay in touch.

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Gifts that help conserve resources

Going Green's Holiday Giving Guide: Rain barrelHow about a low-flow showerhead, or LED lighting? A tankless hot water heater? These may not sound glamorous, but their design will help save the recipient money while helping save the world. A reusable lunchbox can save dozens of trees otherwise destined for paper bags and encourage healthful, homemade meals. A subscription to a movie-rental company such as Netflix can save an awful lot of trips to the video store. There’s even a “smart” power strip that turns things off when you forget to.

Perhaps your mate has been thinking about biking to work. A bike tune-up at the local shop, or a set of panniers, light, and a good rain suit might help make this a reality in all weather.

Every item we choose to repair rather than replace is one less thing to stuff into our overcrowded landfills. How about a gift of an auto-maintenance class at the local community college? Or a coupon for half a dozen maintenance items such as oil changes, carpet cleanings, or gutter and roof repair to help make the most of what we have?

Maybe you know someone who wants to be “greener” but doesn’t know where to start? Head down to the local library, bookstore or county extension office for ideas. Gardening continues to be popular as more folks discover the satisfaction of growing one’s own food—how about a class in growing vegetables, making compost or beekeeping? Even apartment or dorm room dwellers have space for container gardens or a new worm bin. There is a group or club for almost any interest. A membership in a local plant or wild animal support group might be great gift for a new enthusiast. Learning about using native species in one’s garden will not only open up a whole new world, it will help support wildlife and cut down on residential water use.

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The big day

Going Green's Holiday Giving Guide: The Big DayOn Christmas morning, especially with kids in the house, it is tempting to just rip into the gifts under the tree. But a little preparation can make clean up easier. At our house we have a bag for recyclables, one for ribbon and paper that can be reused (my Mom makes the best bows) and one for “trash:” bits of ribbon, Mylar and other materials that can’t be recycled.

After the holidays: what to do with the stuff? Recycle or compost cardboard and paper. Check plastic packaging for recycle codes. Block Styrofoam? See if your area recycles it. If not, lobby your town for a one-day gathering up of block Styrofoam. If enough people request it, it can be done. Check packaging “peanuts;” if they crush easily or dissolve in water, they are made of cornstarch and can be easily composted or just thrown on the garden bed and watered in. If not, then reuse them or offer them to a local packaging store.

Holiday greenery or trees can be reused in the yard: they provide excellent shelter for birds and other overwintering small animals. Or chop or grind to use as mulch or compost.

Should you end up receiving gifts you just know you cannot or will not use—think of those who might. Internet lists such as Freecycle and Craigslist make it easy to find an eager taker for that …well, whatever it is!

The options are as endless as your imagination. Give of yourself this holiday season, and there will be more for all of us.

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World & Local Resources


Environmental Groups:

Many area environmental groups sell items to help fund their efforts: see our Tips and Resources page for a list of area organizations. You can also buy someone a membership in one of these organizations, to support an existing interest, or to open the window to new experiences such as nature hikes.

Audubon Society –
Cape Fear Audubon Society

Conserving & restoring natural ecosystems
910.409.5160 www.capefearaudubon.org

Cape Fear River Watch
Rain barrels, books, and boating trips.
617 Surrey Street
Wilmington, NC
910.762.5606
www.capefearriverwatch.org

North Carolina
Native Plant Society –

Southeastern Coastal
Area Chapter

Field trips, workshops and plant propagation guides
www.ncwildflower.org

North Carolina State
Beekeepers Association

Beekeeping information and local training programs
www.ncbeekeepers.org

North Carolina
Coastal Federation

Advocacy and coastal habitat restoration projects, nature gift shop
910.509.2838
www.nccoast.org


Local Art & Crafts:

Buying locally-made items is always a greener option, and it helps support members of your own community. The shops at the Cotton Exchange and Chandler’s Wharf are good options.

Kids Making It, Inc.
Woodworking mentoring program for at-risk youth builds entrepreneurs
617 Castle Street
Wilmington, NC
910.763.6001
kidsmakingit.org

Cameron Art Museum
3201 So. 17th Street
Wilmington, NC
910.395.5999
www.cameronartmuseum.com

New Elements Gallery
201 Princess Street
Wilmington, NC
910.343.8997
www.newelementsgallery.com

Homegrown Handmade:
Art Roads & Farm Trails
of North Carolina
www.homegrownhandmade.com

Etsy
Listing of handmade crafts from USA, click “shop local” button to find local products
www.etsy.com


Museums & Attraction Shops:
Museum shops offer classes, exhibits and volunteer opportunities and their gift shops are a fantastic place to find gifts that reflect the nature around us.

Cape Fear Museum
Educational toys, games, books. Memberships include jazz series tickets.
814 Market Street
Wilmington, NC
910.798.4370
www.capefearmuseum.com

Aquarium at Ft. Fisher
Educational and aquatic-related items.
900 Loggerhead Road
910.458.8257
www.ncaquariums.com/
fort-fisher.htm

Airlie Gardens
Local nature photos and gifts.
300 Airlie Road
Wilmington, NC
910.798.7700
www.airliegardens.org

Children's Museum of Wilmington
Gift memberships or tickets to events and field trips.
116 Orange Street
Wilmington, NC
910.254.3534
www.playwilmington.org


Helping People:

Food Bank of Central and Eastern
North Carolina –

Wilmington Branch

Donations help the hungry in four counties.
1314 Marstellar Street
Wilmington, NC
910.251.1465
www.foodbankcenc.org

Good Shepherd Center
Serving the hungry & homeless
811 Martin Street
Wilmington, NC
910.763.4424 x113
www.goodshepherd
wilmington.org

Progress Energy’s
"Energy Neighbor Fund"

Donations help those having temporary difficulties paying their power bill.
bit.ly/11qPq9Z

The Ability Garden

Gardening as therapy
New Hanover County
Cooperative Extension
6206 Oleander Drive
Wilmington, NC
910.798.7660
http://newhanover.ces.ncsu.edu/
site-newhanover


HelpOthers.org

Additional creative ideas for helping others
www.kindspring.org


Helping Animals:

Area rescue groups need contributions of money, supplies and volunteers to help transport and care for animals.

Adopt an Angel
Rescues and fosters adoptable
pets from shelters; runs Fix a Friend Spay Neuter Clinic
910.392.0557
www.adoptanangel.net

PawPrints Magazine
Links to groups helping animals.
P.O. Box 4834
Wilmington, NC 28406
910.264.3647
www.pawprintsmagazine.com

Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center
Adopt-a-turtle program. Turtle-theme attire available online
loggrhead@aol.com
910.470.2800
www.seaturtlehospital.org


Helping Birds:

Cape Fear Raptor Center
Provides compassionate and aggressive rehabilitation services to injured raptors with the goal of release back to their natural habitat. Educates the public on the importance of raptors in our ecosystem.
Rocky Point, NC
910.602.6633
www.capefearraptorcenter.com

Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter
Cares for injured or orphaned birds. Once a bird is able to care for itself, it is released back into the wild.
Oak Island, NC
910.278.7871
seabiscuitshelter.blogspot.com

Skywatch Bird Rescue
Rescues and rehabilitates injured, orphaned, abused, and misplaced wild birds in and around Wilmington, NC. Once healed, birds are released back into the wild if possible.
910.274.8479
www.skywatchbirdrescue.com


Consignment & Resale Shops:
Buying second-hand can make a lot of sense, for you and for the planet. Stores often use proceeds to fund a variety of community services.

Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity
ReStore

1208 S. 3rd Street
Wilmington, NC
910.762.4793
7330 Market Street
Wilmington, NC
910.686.9800
www.wilmingtonrestore.org

Vintage Values Stores

609 Castle Street
910.762.7720
413 So. College Road
910.793.4411
5226 So. College
910.350.8918
www.domesticviolence-wilm.org/the-open-gate/
vintage-values.aspx

The Bargain Box of Wilmington
4213 Princess Place Drive
Wilmington, NC
910.362.0603
www.bargainboxilm.org

Old Books on Front Street
249 No. Front Street
Wilmington, NC
910.762.6657 www.oldbooksonfrontst.com


Greener Living:

Local resources include recycling programs, workshops to increase your home's energy efficiency, classes and supplies for growing your own food.

Progressive Gardens
Supplies to help you grow your own food, indoors or out.
6005 Oleander Drive
Wilmington, NC
910.395.1156
www.progressivegardens.com

Cape Fear Provisional Branch, USGBC-NC
Programs to promote environmentally responsible building approaches.
www.cfgba.org
www.usgbc.org

Recycling
Recycling programs in North Carolina vary by county; some cities, towns, and authorities have their own programs. Find information on services in your area by clicking on the map at the site below
http://p2pays.org/localgov/
ncwaste.html

New Hanover Country has expanded its recycling facility. Visit their website to learn the best place to dispose of your unwanted items:
recycling.nhcgov.com

Web site design by: DesignEdgeStudio.com

2014 Holiday Giving Guide
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