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Presence is the Best Present for People and the Earth

Presence is the Best Present for People and the Earth

by Nancy DeVault

During the most wonderful time of the year, we may notice iconic green and red hues everywhere. But, in reality, the holidays can be far from green. Think about all the waste that accumulates during the season and harms our plant. Global warming will impact the temperature of the North Pole, so we’re “making a list and checking it twice” for ways to truly embrace being green. Here are some ideas.

Double-click on card sending. This digital greeting of e-cards via social media is eco-friendly, plus it’ll save both time (with the elimination of penning cards/envelopes) and money (no need for postage stamps). Receiving Christmas cards snail-mail style is still nice, so use cards made from recycled paper or go with a photo card that could be kept as a keepsake. Plus, cards can be repurposed into homemade gift tags.

Do good with decorations. Don’t just toss old decorations, explore donation options. Pass them along to a friend, secondhand store or nonprofit.

center to see if area programs convert used Christmas trees into mulch.

Curtail excessive wrapping paper use. Gift bags may be a better choice compared to wrapping paper because bags can be reused, whereas paper is commonly ripped and tossed. And don’t shy away from using household alternatives like newspaper and paper grocery bags.

Don’t leave a paper trail. More and more stores offer receipts via text or email. This decreases paper copies that end up trashed.

Become a sustainable shopper. We’re in control of our purchasing power. Choose brands that use eco-friendly materials. When applicable, gift homemade presents crafted with love.

Gift no gifts. We all like giving purposeful gifts on occasion and receiving them, too. But holiday shopping can be all-consuming; evaluate why we purchase so many gifts. We may buy for our partner, children, colleagues, neighbors, relatives, friends and household service workers. It can be a lot, in every sense

of the word. One popular alternative is charitable giving instead of gift giving. Each person contributes whatever amount they see fit to a chosen nonprofit. Each year, a different person gets to choose the organization. Do-good/ feel-good gifts are amazing.

Reason for the season. People exchange gifts for many reasons, including obligation, tradition and joy. Maybe we really don’t want to get anything for the boss, and backing out of the family secret Santa swap could seem rude, but finding the perfect gift for a loved one can be priceless.

Good Tidings of Time. Holiday gifts can connect us to the time when three wise men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus to celebrate his birth in the manger. It is said that Saint Nicholas gave gifts to the poor. Today, Santa Claus rewards children that have behaved well. We are not necessarily being a Scrooge without material presents. Distributing fewer presents can actually grant us the opportunity to be more present during the holidays than ever before. For many busy people, time is much more valuable than stuff that comes with a receipt. Instead of spending hours shopping for loved ones, we make more time to experience jolly jubilation together. Rather than spending hours in big box stores, we can spend quality time marveling at neighborhood Christmas lights, attending holiday happenings and building gingerbread houses.

Seasonal Sanity. Holiday stress can bring out the worst in people, such as Black Friday stampedes and parking lot

Festive Fun.Instead of investing in gifts, invest in one another by embracing old traditions and making new ones. On Christmas morning, for example, without time spent opening gifts, we can enjoy lounging in matching pajamas, making Santa-shaped pancakes and listening to little ones sing carols. We’ll be able to get to the family party earlier too, which will increase opportunities for more connecting. Limit the number of gifts and be conscious of the nature of the gifts (large plastic toys) they give. Research indicates that experiences make us happier than things do because they create bonds and memories. For example, children love getting a membership to the science center; and adults may indulge in a Christmas-colored mani-pedi with gal pals.

Frosty Financials. According to the American Research Group, shoppers around the country spend an average of $1,000 on holiday gifts. Couples may decide to redirect funds from stocking stuffers to connective date nights, enriching vacations and necessary home repairs. As for group gift exchanges, consider setting clear guidelines about budget and gift types.

Nancy DeVault is an award-winning writer/editor contributing to local and national publications.