Monday, December 14, 2009

Green Gift Ideas

Finding holiday gift ideas that please the recipient and are also consistent with being kind to our environment can be a challenge, but there are options that will satisfy both criteria that are also economical and original.

All manufactured items require material and energy to be produced, and production and transportation of merchandise translates to some level of pollution, so this year consider shopping for presents at thrift and resale shops. Buying secondhand items is also easy on your bank account, and you can often find new items with the tags still on them at a fraction of the original cost.

There are several thrift shops nearby where you can find great bargains. Check out the Church Mouse in Berlin, the Sheppard’s Nook in Ocean Pines and Used to be Mine in West Ocean City. All three are run by non-profit organizations and profits often go back into the community.

Although this next practice has been frowned upon in the past, don’t be afraid to shop in your own home for things that you no longer need but that are still useful and can be passed along to someone else. That great book you read last summer or that decorative bowl that doesn’t fit in with your new d├ęcor might make great presents for friends. And don’t be ashamed to re-gift. That two sizes too small sweater that your old boyfriend’s aunt gave you that has been sitting in your drawer since Christmas 2007 might still be in style and fit your niece perfectly.

Food makes for a great gift any time of year, but delicious treats are particularly festive during the holidays. Although not inexpensive, filling a basket with organic coffees and chocolates is a great idea for someone who might not typically buy organic items. It’s also a great way to reuse that basket you’ve had in your closet since last Easter. For a more personal touch, add some homemade goodies such as cookies, quick breads and cookies, or buy some at a local bakery.

Consider giving services instead of merchandise this year. Pay to get your mom’s house cleaned, or your sister’s haircut, or purchase tickets to movies, plays or concerts for your friends. Buy some local artwork or give gift cards for dance, cooking, martial arts or yoga classes, or pay for a meal at a local restaurant.

Donating to a non-profit charity or organization, such as the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, can be a great gift idea for the person who already has everything. A donation to the MCBP will benefit many and the recipient will know that they are making a difference, helping to ensure that our wonderful natural resources will continue to provide joy for future generations.

Donations are gifts that endure and continue giving long after the holiday season is over. To give a monetary gift from yourself or in someone else’s name, go to the Coastal Bays Program website at and click on the donate button.

In-keeping with the donations theme, this is a good opportunity to thank Ocean City’s Vera McCullough – our Queen of the Bays – who recently gave a generous monetary gift to the Coastal Bays Program. Thanks to Vera and others like her we will be able to continue working toward preserving and protecting our watershed.

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