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Environmentally Friendly Gifts

Published on: 8/19/2015 4:36 PM

Just the ticket for the Environmentally-Friendly holiday


Did you know that an extra one million tons of waste are generated each week between Thanksgiving and News Year's Eve? This holiday season, give a gift to the environment by choosing package-free gifts. Instead of all the boxes, paper and bows, give a decorated envelope containing tickets to a sporting event, concert, stage play, movie or airline. How about a gift certificate for a restaurant, movie, health spa or a special weekend away? The possibilities are almost limitless. By giving an "experience", you can enjoy the holidays knowing that you are doing your part to reduce holiday waste. For year-round waste prevention tips please call the Santa Clara County Recycling Hotline at 1-800-533-8414. A message from the Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission and your City. Below are more suggestions for environmentally-friendly gifts plus alternatives to traditional wrapping paper.


Give Gifts of Time

Prepare a Homemade Dinner as a special gift and deliver to a friend's home, or serve at your home.

Create a special gift certificate for a gift of service. For example, you can:

  • Baby-sit
  • Clean/Polish the car
  • Wash the dishes
  • Clean the house (The garage? A room?)
  • Take out the garbage and recyclables
  • Weed the garden
  • Plant spring flowering bulbs
  • What would be appreciated by your grandmother, dad, friend?

Create a special gift certificate for Trips/Outings, such as:

  • Museums
  • Parks
  • Beach
  • Hike
  • Full moon walk
  • Winter picnic
  • Or ??? Your options are unlimited!

Create a special gift certificate for a family night party, such as:

  • Game Night
  • Movie & Popcorn Night
  • Read A Story Night
  • Or ???

Create a Hand-Made Gift, such as:

  • Basket filled with baked goods
  • Collection of favorite family recipes
  • Holiday bouquet from fresh greens, holly, etc.
  • Christmas ornaments made from family photos
  • Videotape family members telling favorite family stories/memories
  • Or ???

Give Gifts that are Sure to be Used:

  • Tickets:  Movie, Concert ,and Sports or tickets to visit a relative or friend.
  • Gift Certificates for Restaurant, Record store, Book store, Video rental store, Department store, or Grocery store.
  • Memberships: Health spas, Swim clubs, Museums, or Parks.
  • Subscriptions to Magazines, Book clubs, Flower of the month, Fruit of the month.
  • Lessons:  Sport, Language, Musical instrument, Cooking, Arts or crafts.
  • Compost, Compost bin, worm bin, thermometer, wingdigger, kitchen containers Link
  • Financial Accounts:  Savings accounts, Mutual fund shares, Stocks or bonds. 

Give a special gift to Children:

  • Create a "Dress-Up Box" containing costume jewelry, scarves, hats, aprons, ties, etc. Some costume shops will sell their left-over odds and ends at a discount.
  • Cooking equipment or a recipe with ingredients
  • Blank journal or diary
  • Blank scrapbook, scissors, and tape
  • Flower seeds and pots
  • Tools box and supplies to build a simple bird house
  • Supplies and instructions to create an art or craft item

Give a Gift to the Community

  • Make a donation to a non-profit organization in the name of a loved one.
  • Give a membership to a non-profit organization.

Give a Gift to the Environment:

  • Send e-greetings to family, friends and business associates who are on-line.
  • Buy a living Christmas tree and plant it after the holidays.
  • Give live plants and gardening tools.
  • Give a battery charger with rechargeable batteries.
  • Give bus/lightrail/train passes.
  • Give a bicycle or walking shoes.


Alternatives to Traditional Wrapping Paper

  • Instead of Wrapping Paper, use: Sunday comics, Old maps, Decorated grocery bags, Scarves, Cloth napkins, Kids artwork, Old wallpaper
  • Instead of Boxes, use: Baskets, Tins, Gift bags, Fabric bags, You can make the wrapping part of the gift!
  • Instead of Ribbon, use: Hair ribbons, Yarn, Dried flowers, Shoelaces

Tie a bow around oversize gifts, such as bicycles, instead of wrapping them.

Create reusable gift boxes by wrapping the top of a box (or the top and bottom) separately, so that gifts can be opened without tearing the wrapping paper. Save boxes to use year-after-year. Between holidays, you can use these special boxes to store ornaments or ribbon. This could become a special tradition: the "Family Surprise Box."

When wrapping children's gifts with Sunday comic paper, tape a quarter or two to the box to show children how much you saved on wrapping paper. The children will be happy to receive the money, and you will help to teach them that recycling makes cents!