A Festivus For the Rest of Us

IMG_1502I always find the holidays a difficult triangulation between the desire to give in the ‘holiday spirit,’ the fear of contributing to environmental destruction, and the glittering temptation of mass produced holiday consumptionism.

And I’m not alone: According to RecycleWorks.org, waste per household increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Americans throw away 4 million tons of gift wrapping and shopping bags annually, buy 2.65 billion holiday cards, and spend an average of $800 per person on gifts.

IMG_1493This year I opted for a homemade gift of soy candles (thanks to supplies from Etsy) with eco-friendly dyes and scents, reusing cards from my wedding last year for the candle tags. While the design was a little homespun, watching friends examine the candles and incredulously asking ‘You made this? How?’ was worth all the effort.

Despite my occasional holiday scroogeness (the overplayed music, the garish lawn displays, the constant advertisements) nothing is more satisfying that combining meaning and eco-consciousness with generosity (and here’s a great list of how to eco-ify your holiday). In the true spirit of the holiday season, I’ve compiled the following Cold Mountain Collective gift guide this year, although anything homespun (knitting, anyone?) is also on my list:

For Home

il_fullxfull.396319810_jkzyNothing says the holidays like a wreath. I’ve been known to leave my wreaths up well beyond their shelf life, but with this one, I wouldn’t have to worry! A succulent wreath may last you a few holiday seasons! Want an eco-friendly Christmas tree? Inhabitat has some unconventional suggestions, including these LED indoor/outdoor lights. Etsy is always my go-to for everything locally produced and eco-friendly: try these bamboo tree ornaments for the kids.

For the Littles

large_216_110007-lApparently, I’m of the age where babies are springing out of strollers like that overflowing popcorn at the movie theatre. I’m always seeking out eco-friendly baby gifts for friends, so here are a few of my favorites: an Eco-Friendly Mobile, organic Made in the USA baby clothing by Adooka Organics and Baby Soy, and making art from nature as instructed by Nature’s Art Box (I don’t know if kids still do these kinds of things, but my childhood was full of repurposing fallen leaves, rocks, shells, etc. into artistic gifts).

P_500For Friends and Family

    • I don’t know how green any laptop computer actually is, but this bamboo version by Asus is probably as good as it gets.
    • Reduce, Reuse, RECYCLE: 1st dibs is chock full of vintage clothing, jewelry, furniture and art.
    • Portable eco-speakers? What now? You heard me.
    • Sustainable snowboards and snowboarding pants. Yup.
    • Forget leather: a hemp wallet to keep all your cash money in one spot.
Just a little something found on 1st Dibs

Just a little something found on 1st Dibs

  • For the cook in the family, opt for bamboo products by suitably named Bambu.
  • Earthy, eco candles that smell of fallen pine needles.

For Good

Remember that holiday episode of Seinfeld where George donates money in colleagues’ names to benefit a fictional organization called “The Human Fund”? Do that. But make sure the charity is a real one.

A gift that keeps on giving

A gift that keeps on giving

Some great options include:

  • Gifted carbon offsets at Terra Pass
  • Recycled key pendants (from The Giving Keys) that benefit individuals transitioning out of homelessness
  • TisBest Charity gift cards that benefit the charity of your choice

Now go and celebrate the Festivus Miracle.


About Kaitlin Solimine

Kaitlin Solimine was raised in New Hampshire but has considered China a second home for the past two decades. She is the author of the award-winning forthcoming novel Empire of Glass and co-founder of Hippo Reads, a media start-up connecting academic insights with real world issues. She lives in Singapore.
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