For years you've been gift-giving and -receiving, all the while trying to do best for people and planet.
This year, take into consideration more than just the cliché green-tag retailers are trying to push on you and do your homework.
We've compiled this not-so-green list for you with examples of what you'll need to be careful of this gift-giving season.
Greenwashing is going to get a major whooping this year thanks to you.
Photo: Digital Vision/Getty Images
A Hybrid Car
Ah, the yearly commercials with music building up and up to an unveiling of a gigantic red-bowed car in the driveway of a minimalist home. True, we’ve yet to see one involving a hybrid car (are they just not sexy enough?) but gifting anyone a hybrid is cause for thought.
According to Curiousity.com, three kinds of batteries are used in hybrids: lead-acid, nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and lithium-ion (Li-ion). Do your research on the batteries to see how toxic and carcinogenic they actually are. Though millions are being spent in an attempt to create better batteries for hybrid cars, like those used in laptops and MP3 players, and hybrids do use less gas, we suggest a year’s worth of Metro Cards or a brand spanking new bike instead.
Photo: M 93/Creative Commons via Flickr
Gourmet Food (From a Vending Machine?)
That foodie in your life has everything, and it’s Christmas Eve and you didn’t give yourself enough time to shop. If you’re anywhere near Burbank, California, you could hit the Burbank Town Center Mall for some Beverly Hills Caviar from an ATM-style vending machine, but come on, that’s just gross. Call us crazy, but anyone touting the “world’s finest selection” of caviar, truffles, escargot, bottarga, blinis, oils and gourmet salts, out of an automated machine, is pretty skanky and so not foodie worthy.
Grab a card and throw some green inside so they can get their own gift. They’ll love you more.
Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Disreputable Green Charities
Want to plant a grove of trees, support a cancer camp for children, or help the expansion of a Civil War museum? You could just make that donation blindly and hope most of your money goes to the charity and not just to company expenses, or you could go to the Charity Navigator and find out more about the organization and see reviews from fellow supporters.
Using the tagline, “Your guide to intelligent giving,” Charity Navigator pretty much nails the idea this holiday season.
Photo: Jeffery Coolidge/Getty Images
Giving a round-trip airline ticket to a loved one seems pretty amazing. Who wouldn’t want that? After all, the more we see of the planet and all her ecological awesomeness, the more educated and open we are to protecting it. However, there’s something to consider: the New York Times reports that “aviation is responsible for about 3 percent of overall carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects domestic aircraft emissions to rise 60 percent by 2025.”
There are lots of domestic eco vacations you can choose from instead to bypass air travel and utilize something more carbon-friendly, like train travel. And because you’ll be making your carbon footprint even smaller and walking everywhere once arriving at your destination, see the next gift….
Photo: Puddy_uk/Creative Commons via Flickr
A gym membership
Not everyone has access to a place like The Green Microgym in Portland, Oregon; but according to the Daily Mail, since a typical half-hour workout generates enough power for seven hours of energy-saving lighting, 10 hours of laptop use, and 35 mobile phone charges, we can dream.
Until that day comes and your area gym has more energy-saving machines, you might want to see if you can swap out the membership for a new pair of eco running shoes.
Photo: Abbas Momani/Getty
That Holiday Razor for Dad
While a company like Schick offers the Xtreme 3 Eco to help “keep plastic waste out of the landfill by using 100% recycled plastic in the production of the razor handles,” and boasts packaging made with 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper, we have to scratch our heads and ask, “WHAT?!!! How is something that’s ‘disposable’ eco-friendly?!"
The Art of Manliness has lots of ideas for the man in your life this holiday season, from buying and restoring vintage shave gear to how to grow a handlebar mustache. While they offer a holiday gift shop with all things manly, ebay has lots of great ideas too.
Amy DuFault is a writer and editor whose work has been published in EcoSalon, Huffington Post, Ecouterre, Organic Spa, Coastal Living, Yahoo!, The Frisky and other online and print publications. In addition to being a former co-owner of an eco-boutique, she coaches and connects the sustainable fashion community to feed her soul. She also dreams of singing in an all girl punk band even though she has stage fright. @amytropolis | TakePart.com