Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace and togetherness. But all too often, greed, haste and superficiality are the hallmarks of the season.
Would you buy a gift if you knew it was made in a sweatshop or by slave labour? Or something made by a company that is clearcutting forests, poisoning our water or causing climate change? What about a gift that could hurt your loved one’s health and happiness? There are plenty of gifts that do all of the above, but disguised by deceptive marketing, shiny packaging and greenwash.
Ideas for a green Christmas:
- Buy local or Fair Trade if possible
- Buy from eco-friendly stores such as Arbour, terra20, bike stores, and other Ottawa green businesses (2)
- Buy local food, natural snacks or treats from a natural food store, Ottawa Farmers Market Christmas Fairs, or other Ottawa Farmers Markets. Better yet, purchase a weekly organic food box from a local CSA farm or garden.
- Second hand is not second class! Buy used from Ottawa second-hand stores or online.
- Buy a book and pass it on once it’s been read. Check out the eco-books at Arbour Environmental Shoppe or Octopus Books, both in the Glebe. Or visit other independent bookstores or used book stores in Ottawa. (More Ottawa bookstores)
- Give a thought-provoking magazine subscription like Yes! or Grist, and donate them to the doctor’s office when finished
- Give a membership to a local environmental group or charity
- Choose battery-free toys
- Give gift certificates for local services or stores, or your own personal service (massage, fixing something, gardening, whatever)
- Pay for a course at an Ottawa Recreation Centre, high school, college or university (more)
- Draw names – have each person buy for one family member only
- Bigger is not better. “The bigger the toy, the smaller the boy…”
- Write a letter, poem, song or make something else creative
- Pool your money together with other family members for a shared meal, outing or other purchase
- Plan activities, indoors or outdoors, instead of gifts. Or how about a season pass to Gatineau Park or Ottawa-area conservation areas?
- Shop for a family that can’t afford gifts — ask them what they need — or make a donation to the Ottawa Food Bank.
Top 5 Gifts NOT to Buy:
- Perfume or other scented products
- Battery-operated toys
- An airplane ticket
- A new car — get a Vrtucar membership or other alternatives instead