6 Ways to Green Your Gifts This Holiday Season

This blog was written by SACE Communications Intern, Kelsey Adler, and SACE Communications Coordinator, Jeannie McKinney.

In past years, we have mentioned the importance of being mindful of your energy use and your carbon footprint during the holiday season. In particular though, environmentally conscious gift-giving during the holiday season can get pretty tricky. There are numerous factors that go into a product’s carbon footprint, such as how far it had to be shipped, recyclability, energy used during the manufacturing practices, any excessive and wasteful packaging… you get the idea.

To give you a better idea of how you can lower your carbon footprint a bit this year, we’ve put together a guide to help you through the gift-giving season.

Go local.

Buying someone local food or produce shows that you care not only about the recipient, but also about your community and the environment. And what better way to celebrate the holidays than with food that you—and everyone else —can feel good about?

Canning is much easier than you think!

1. You may be surprised to know that, even during this time of year, most farmers markets are still up and running, with great produce to be had! Visit your closest market, and pick up some local and in-season produce. Try making jams and preserves! If jam-making isn’t your thing, a seasonal basket of fresh fruits and veggies is always a good option.

2. Know anyone with a sweet tooth? Support your local bee farmers and purchase honey! Aside from use as a delicious sweetener in your holiday (or anytime) cooking, honey also has medicinal qualities and can be applied topically to burns, wounds, and ulcers. Consuming local honey can help prevent allergies to native plants—and boy, do allergies abound in our region.

Go green (no, really).

Most people appreciate a little extra life in their lives, especially during the dreary winter months. Bringing some green into the vast winter grayness may cheer up their holiday season more than you’d think.  When in doubt, plants will always trump bouquets. Not only will their beauty last longer, but your loved one will think of you every time he/she sees it, for years to come!

Source: Design Sponge

Hanging your plants (upside-down or not) is a fun way to spruce up a room. (Source: Design Sponge)

3. Potted herbs – like rosemary, basil, and sage – are not only beautiful, but useful! Not to mention they smell heavenly and taste incredible. Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow, and maintenance is a cinch. Pick up a packet of seeds (or buy the whole plant!) at a local market or co-up, like Three Rivers Market in Knoxville, 10 minutes from our SACE headquarters. Hang them in the kitchen or perch them on a windowsill; they look beautiful everywhere, guaranteed.

4. For the friend who works through most of the holiday season: Consider a beautiful office plant. Having a plant in the office reduces stress and fatigue, sharpens focus, and improves air quality. Know of anyone whose office could use a good detox? Indoor plants can remove most of the toxins in the air, namely formaldehyde (found in rugs and vinyl), trichloroethylene and benzene (present in man-made inks, fibers, and solvents). Overhill Gardens in Vonore, Tennessee specializes in native plants—they have over 500 species!

When in doubt, go intangible.

Everyone has a friend or loved one who suffers from incurable clutter and just simply has too much stuff. A great gift idea for this person is of the nonmaterial sort. And what’s more—pollution from transportation is of no concern, and there’s no packaging to be worried about so there’s nothing you’d have to throw out or recycle.

Persimmon Point accommodates up to 5 people—perfect for a family excursion! Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center

5. Give the gift of an experience, like eco-lodging at one of the solar powered retreat facilities at Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center. Narrow Ridge is a nonprofit, sustainable organization in Grainger County, Tennessee, and they offer a huge array of activities and opportunities for personal growth. And, they are “off the grid”—a nice getaway for the holiday season. Be sure to carpool!

6. Perhaps your loved one needs a bit of balance in their lifestyle. Purchasing carbon offsets is a great way to support renewable energy projects or methane capture and storage, effectively reducing one’s carbon footprint. Go online and check out companies like Carbonfund, Native Energy, and Terrapass.

These are gifts that might benefit your recipient, your community, and your planet – a great way to celebrate this season of thankfulness and appreciation!

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