Green giving (Day 84)…

There’s nothing more heart-warming than a truly thoughtful gift, whether you’re giving or receiving it. My friend Meghan is good at this: for my birthday, she gave me something that not only reflected what’s important to me but what’s important to her, too: a stylish tote bag full of homemade, nutritious goodies, all stored in reusable mason jars, wrapped in some funky crinoline she found in her apartment, leftover from a bridesmaid’s dress. It satisfied both the eco-nerd in me and the health-geek in her, all while being stylish (Meg does have a degree, and a gold medal, in fashion after all, but that’s a whole other story).

So my next challenge is to make sure I always incorporate some “green” element into my gift-giving, whether it’s a tote bag, some cake from a local farmers market or contributing to a good cause on their behalf. When I first started this blog, one Thistle reader (was it you, Shawn? I can’t remember!) said he always hands out CFL light bulbs in place of loot bags at parties, which is another great idea.

But the key is to make sure that the gift is still something my friend or family member wants, as opposed to something I feel they should want. Because while I, personally, would love to get a solar-powered battery charger or the latest in composting technology, not everyone is so into that. My first green gift was to my mum recently: I copied Meghan and went for the tote bag, but got one with a nice artsy photo of my sister and me screened onto it rather than one with a slogan like “I’m not a plastic bag” on it, because that’s just not her, as well as some body wash.

Anyone got any other green gift ideas? Remember that I’m not using my oven or fridge anymore, though, so homemade cookies are unfortunately not an option.

19 Responses to Green giving (Day 84)…

  1. Evan says:

    I love green gift ideas, too. I recently gave Co-op America subscriptions to lots of friends. How about a trial membership to a CSA? A market basket filled with local produce, or farmer’s market goodies? I’ll be checking back, too, since I need some more green gift ideas. Peaches are in season here in Texas so I took a neighbor a peach care package. You can always tuck in a recipe.

  2. gettinggreen says:

    Haha, I just love the sound of a “peach care package”! Who wouldn’t want that? (On a related note, I actually have a small tattoo of a peach, that’s how much I love peaches) What’s the CSA?

  3. LimeSarah says:

    CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. You sign up with a local cooperative farm, pay them in mony and/or farm labor, and get a share in the vegetables every week. A trial membership would be a really cool gift, but I’d make sure you know how much vegetables you’re going to be giving the person — storing and processing a whole share each week before it goes bad can be more of an undertaking than you’d want to give someone unexpectedly 🙂

    How about homemade cookie *mix*? All the flour and sugar and chocolate and such artistically layered in a jar, and they can add the milk and stuff themselves and bake it.

    Maybe a gift certificate to a local organic restaurant or grocery?

  4. Karla says:

    For my sisters wedding I purchased some pottery from which has all eco-friendly products, though some of it is a little pricey. I also like to give out my gifts in tote bags from Whole Foods and then I make my friends promise they will take it to the grocery store at least once!

    CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. My husband and I just joined one this year and we are very excited about it. They are local (usually organic) farms where you purchase a share in the crop and ever week you go and pick up produce from the farm. So not only are you supporting a local farmer you are helping out the environment. is a good resource if you live in the US to find local farms, CSAs, Farmer’s Markets, eco-friendly restaurant’s and Co-ops.

  5. mega says:

    How about a charitable donation in that person’s name? It can be done online (no paper waste), and you can spread joy beyond the person to whom the gift is being given. We don’t need more stuff here in North America, but those in some under-priveledged countries do. Oxfam lets one give the gift of farm animals (chicken, goat, etc.) to women in need, it helps them become independent and provides them with an on-going income. The beauty of it is that you can give in quite small amounts or large, depending on you.

  6. Lori V. says:

    This is such a good idea, Vanessa! My mom & sis are coming to visit next week… maybe I’ll put together a “green goodie bag” for them… they are pretty darn right-leaning and not terribly environmentally thoughtful… YET… 🙂

  7. besweet says:

    I got my mother a gift subscription to a gardening magazine for Mother’s Day, and I put in some organic seed packets with her card so she’d have something tangible to open. I figured it was a good way to get something I was interested (the organic seeds) and mesh it with her interests (gardening), and I think there’s lots of things you could do around gardening for someone who likes that without being too preachy, if there not green-inclined to begin with.

    I think a gift pack of environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies is a nice present for a housewarming. You could also go for organic wines, or the ingredients of a meal — for example, noodles, spices and sauces for a stir-fry packaged in a nice wok.

  8. Chile says:

    CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Members buy a share in a farm’s harvest, paying upfront for a season (or some established time period) and then get fresh produce from the farm weekly. If the farm has a tough season, the shares may be a bit skimpier than usual. If the farm has a great season, members reap the benefits too with excess produce.

    Find one in your area at

  9. Pal says:

    My favourite green gift is a gift certificate for a massage. No junk, no packaging, nothing to throw away, just a recyclable piece of paper, and you can support a local business. Plus everyone loves and needs a massage. I also like to give cards that have seeds embedded in the paper, they just plant the card. It’s kind of like giving them a bouquet of flowers but just takes awhile.

  10. Rhett says:

    There’s always the “gift of an experience”. Tickets to a local museum or show or a gift certificate to a restaurant that has good, sustainable practices are things I just love. As apartment dwellers, Amy and I are already saturated with “stuff” and really can’t take on any more without getting rid of things, so the opportunity to experience something new or luxurious is wonderful for us.

    Personally, anyone who gave me season tickets to the local hockey team would win my heart, even though my local team is the Florida Panthers and are more a skating circus than a hockey team.

  11. GreenYogini says:

    I agree with the gifts of “experience” or the homemade goodies ideas. More specifically, TIME is the greatest gift we can give – especially to loved ones who likely don’t need any more stuff in their lives. A visit to the local museum or a walk in the woods are my favorites. As for the homemade goodies, there are a ton you can make on the stove-top, including cookies (no-bake cookies, remember?) and candies. A fruit salad or fruit cut up and skewered in flower shapes is pretty and reduces waste – AND if you use locally grown (and organic!) fresh fruit, it’s an ultra-green gift!

    Other ideas include donations to various non-profit organizations (eco-related or other), plants or seeds that can be planted in the recipient’s yard (yay for more trees!!!), and handmade gift items made entirely of reused materials (knitted socks from reclaimed wool).

    While I have little trouble finding gifts to give to relatives and close friends, I find that selecting “green” gifts for weddings and baby showers is much more difficult. I am totally anti-wrapping paper (and reuse the stuff from the previous year or use newspaper if I use it at all), but I feel obligated to use it to wrap the gifts I’ve purchased from a friend’s registry. I’d love to hear other ideas/opinions about this particular green etiquette issue. 🙂

  12. Sandy says:

    (smack to the forehead)

    I love this idea! Why didn’t I think of this??? I love the idea of giving people CFL lightbulbs! What a great stocking stuffer idea for Christmas! (That and DivaCups. See Crunchy Chicken’s blog today.)

    Green Yogini: I get tons of gift bags from people, and I always hang on to them. I reuse the tissue paper and the nice gift bags for times, like weddings, when you need to formally wrap something up.

    I just made a gift basket for friends of mine that got engaged, and I put all the food items in mason jars. They loved it. I’m not sure that they will reuse them for food storage, but at least the idea has been put out there for them.

    Thanks always for the great ideas.

  13. So glad you loved the gift… were all those compliments intended to get me to cook more for oyu since you no longer have a fridge or overn to use? Gladly. Any day.

  14. Gwyn says:

    Google environmetal or recycled jewellery – there are some amazing jewellery artists around using all recycled material!

  15. King County (Seattle area) has a program during December or thereabouts called Waste Free Holidays.

    A bunch of local restaurants, museums theatres and others (check out the link for more ideas) offer discounts. So, you give people “experiences instead of stuff”. The same concept works great for birthdays and other holidays.

    Anyway, I know this was sort of mentioned above, but checking out their list might give you some ideas…

  16. LimeSarah says:

    For eco-friendly wrapping paper, you can wrap it in something that is itself a gift — give them a sweater in a small tote bag (with a reusable fabric ribbon bow or something on it), or cookies in a nice airtight tin, or wrap a sewing-oriented friend’s gift in some pretty quilt scraps or something like that.

  17. z says:

    Homegrown dried herbs and tea like mint or chamomile or whatever. You can even sew little teabags if you get motivated.

  18. steph says:

    You can’t go wrong with heifer international at i got my friends a chicken for their engagement, and we bought my grandma (or memere, if anyone knows what i mean) a cow in memoriam of my grandfather’s birthday. You can print the card out yourself, and either get a figurine (like we did for my memere) or a silly thing to go with it (like the rubber chicken who’s neck i tied the card around for my friends)

  19. Ara says:

    There are many ways to express our love, its either a form of material things, time-for our love ones, and good deeds such as making donations to charities, helping in need, etc. Its up to us to decide how we can share our blessings. If we go for material things, I think we should be more practical and choose an eco-friendly products. You may visit Happy Tiffin the site offers valuable stainless steel tiffins which are environmentally friendly and safe.

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