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Imagination. Creativity. Joy

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10  Island Parent Magazine

Green Gift Ideas E arth-conscious parents are under a lot of pressure during the holiday season. We want happy kids, but we know that everything we put under the tree or beside the Hanukkah lights has an environmental footprint. The lead-up to the great unwrapping can turn into an extended self-cross-examination: did I get too little, or too much? Who made these gifts, and under what conditions? What play or other value will they bring my children? From cradle to grave, what’s their impact on the planet? I’m always looking for green gift ideas— gifts that have minimal resource and carbon footprints, or whose quality and value make their footprints worthwhile. Here are a few ideas I’ll be using this year: Handmade. When you make a gift from scratch, you give a little bit of yourself to your recipient. And if you rely on found, salvaged or leftover materials, you can minimize the footprint of your finished gift. Always check what you have in your stash before choosing a project. Beautiful bookmarks can be made with paper or fabric scraps for teacher gifts or stocking stuffers. Rice bags for heating or icing injuries or for lap or bed-warming are a practical gift for almost anyone, and can be sewn in fun shapes or designs using leftover or reclaimed fabrics. Pinterest has all kinds of inspiration for simple dolls or stuffed animals for younger children. Searching “twig art” or “wood crafts” will also generate some very cool, low-impact gift ideas. Gently Used. Quality toys and books never go out of style, and can be passed on and enjoyed again and again. Facebook, shop-and-swap sites and consignment stores are a great source for pre-cherished gifts. If you’re searching for a particular picture book or novel from your own childhood, is the place to look. Young children couldn’t care less if a toy arrives in its original box, and older kids can learn to appreciate the economic and environmental value of embracing second-hand. Connect with Nature. I’m a big fan of gifts that encourage my kids to explore and connect with the natural world. This year’s possibilities include binoculars, magnifying

glasses, plant and animal field guides, LED headlamps and sketchbooks. Survival and backpacking gear would be great for your older, more experienced adventurers. If your budget allows it, a canoe would make an excellent whole-family gift.

Rachel Dunstan Muller A Lighter Footstep Encourage Creativity. I’m also a fan of anything that encourages my children to be creators rather than simply consumers, so age-appropriate tools and open-ended craft materials are always high on my list. It’s easy to put together a simple hand-sewing or woodworking kit. Add some fabric to the former gift and some wood scraps to the latter, and your child is set for their first project. Green Living. For the adults on your list, consider gifts that encourage low-impact living. Useful bike gear is great for those who cycle as transportation. At the more modest end of the spectrum, think reusable grocery and produce bags, reusable containers, or even a few LED bulbs for your spouse’s stocking. A vegetarian cookbook or dryer rack would be good for an ecoconscious friend. Wool socks, slippers, and cozy sweaters are great family gifts if your goal is to turn down the thermostat. Experiences. When it comes to longterm happiness, psychologists agree that investing in experiences is better than investing in stuff. In other words, your kids are more likely to remember a great family adventure (for example, snowshoeing at Mount Washington, caving at Horne Lake, or trail riding almost anywhere on the Island) than whether they got the trendy plastic toy they wanted this year. Gift cards or certificates for your local pool, skating rink, bowling alley, mini-golf course, zipline park, theatre, or fun restaurant also make excellent green gifts.

Island Parent December 2016  

Gift & Book Recommendations