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November 15, 2012 / Tracy Fernandez Rysavy

Green Your Holidays: Gifts to (Secretly) Encourage Green Living

Win this sweet little build-it-yourself solar hopping frog by commenting on this entry or last week’s anytime between now and Thursday, Nov. 22nd!

Our latest issue of the Green American celebrates simple, meaningful holidays—and often, that can mean foregoing gifts or making your gifts to avoid crowded shopping centers, unnecessary spending, and resource waste. But if you are buying a few gifts this year, it could be an opportunity to introduce your loved ones to the joys of green living in a positive, uplifting way. (No getting all up in someone’s face required!) For example, you could consider giving a small solar gift to encourage your loved ones to take a step away from destructive coal-fired power.

“In many ways, the holiday season celebrates light” writes Green America online editor Andrew Korfhage. “The Winter Solstice marks the lengthening of daylight as the season passes from autumn into winter. Christmastime reminds us of the guiding light of the Star of Bethlehem. And Hanukkah celebrates the miraculous “renewable energy” of the oil lamps in the Jerusalem Temple that failed to run dry.”

Andrew’s Web and e-edition exclusive article details ten great options for solar gifts. My favorites on the list include a solar battery charger from greenbatteries.com (encourages reusable battery use), a solar cell phone charger from solargoose.com (encourages solar power over coal-fired power), and the cute little build-it-yourself solar-powered hopping frogs from fatbraintoys.com (teaches little ones about solar energy).

Looking for something a little more cutting edge that also encourages sustainable living? “Check out the new pedal-powered bike light from EcoXGear,” Andrew advises. “More expensive at $100, the EcoXGear system powers your front and back light, and simultaneously can charge a handheld electronic device, such as your GPS.”

If you want to follow our advice in the Green American to embrace an “alternative gift,” there are some available that encourage solar proliferation. Alternative gifts, if you haven’t gotten to that article yet, are simply charitable gifts made in honor of a loved one.

Andrew points out that via Alternative Gifts International (AGI), “you can purchase a share of a solar heating panel for a Native American family in South Dakota ($22-$600). Lakota Solar Enterprises produces these innovative solar heating systems that save tribal families 20-30 percent on their energy bills while also offering renewable energy training to tribal youth.” AGI will send a gift card to you or to your loved one that includes an insert with information about the project, but does not list the donation amount.

Andrew’s ten solar gift ideas article is already in your issue of the Green American, if you have a digital subscription. If not, you can access it online here.

Another way I like to secretly encourage green living habits with my year-end gifts is to package my DIY presents in reusable shopping bags. I’m a big fan of ChicoBags, which collapse down to the size of two golf balls, so you can shove one in a purse or briefcase and never be caught without your bags at the store. While ChicoBag doesn’t have a winter holiday collection up just yet, it does have a variety of lovely patterns and colors to choose from, like this cute little penguin.

Do you have a favorite gift-giving strategy that secretly encourages green living habits? We’ll be talking more about DIY gift ideas in the coming weeks, but feel free to share your favorite low-impact DIY gift ideas here, as well.

GREEN HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY: Win your choice of the build-it-yourself solar-powered hopping frog (pictured above) or a copy of the book Celebrate Green! by leaving a comment on this blog or on last week’s herbal-themed blog anytime between now and Thursday, Nov. 22nd. We’ll have sustainable giveaways donated by our members every Thursday from now through December, so visit often!

13 Comments

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  1. jdspikes / Nov 15 2012 11:33 pm

    OMG! That frog is so cute and perfect for the two youngsters on my list this year (so if I win… send info on how to get more please!). I try to give gifts that are earth friendly but fun to the people on my list (WWF donations and those book/stuffed animal/audio combos you can find this time of year), and homemade goodies from the kitchen. Additional great ideas here!

  2. krisme / Nov 16 2012 6:54 am

    I have a kid who hops like a frog all over the place. She would go nuts for the little guy. SOme really fun ideas here – I’ll have to explore more!!

  3. Blanche Marriott / Nov 16 2012 7:35 am

    I would LOVE to add this frog to my collection of solar garden articles! And the grandkids would get a kick out of it.

  4. Walt Marriott / Nov 16 2012 7:37 am

    My wife likes anything solar to add to her garden…this would be great.

  5. H Fuhrmann / Nov 16 2012 10:13 am

    I love the green tips. I try to incorporate some new greeness to my life every year. This year, we installed a rain barrel and started replacing our recessed lights with LED’s. They’re too expensive to replace them all at once, but as one burns out, that’s what we go with. We also expanded our organic garden this year and we’re buying local whenever possible. (I found a new egg man, and just bought 50 lbs of potatoes from a local farmer!) I’d love to convert my front yard’s gas lamp (that we turned off) to a solar lamp. If you have any hints on where I can get a conversion kit, I’d love to hear!

  6. nancygoldberglevine / Nov 16 2012 4:55 pm

    That frog is so cute! Would love to have it, but I’m not sure how great I’d be at putting it together. My friend’s hubby could probably do that for me. Thanks for the informative blog!

  7. mia downing / Nov 17 2012 12:26 am

    The solar frog is so cute! We do a lot of composting here for green living. My FIL makes the best soil in town!

  8. janemp / Nov 17 2012 2:06 pm

    I had no idea this sort of thing was even possible. Thanks for encouraging us to BE GREEN!

  9. Bronwyn Jamrok / Nov 18 2012 11:29 pm

    Hi Denise! I met you at the Green Festival–you took a picture of my baby with the “I’m a Green American” sticker on his carrier. Thanks for putting on a great event! – Bronwyn

  10. Roberta / Nov 19 2012 11:07 am

    My grandkids would have a blast with that frog! They live off-grid (as do we) and their house is built of rammed earth and tires, with a glass south-facing wall so it practically heats itself. Needless to say, they are into solar powered stuff. My idea for green-friendly gifts is this: I think someone should put together a catalog showing over-priced designer goods paralleled with economical akternatives, where you can buy the inexpensive one and donate the difference in price to a worhty cause. I got the idea when I saw a designer shower curtain for sale at a totally outlandish price. I thought, why not buy an inexpensive but good-quality cloth-backed shower curtain, take it to some African village that needs a water pump, have the kids decorate the curtain with indelible markers and sign it, and then sell it to someone who is willing to sponsor installation of a water pump? They would have the shower curtain as a constant reminder of all the children they have helped. There are all kinds of products that you could do that with, and I’ll bet there are people who would willingly dish out the money. They would end up with a decent quality product with a unique design that proclaims their commitment to worthy causes, instead of merely a product that proclaims they are rich enough to waste money. Anyone want to produce a catalog like that?

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