Green Gift-Giving, Mississippi Style

Homemade wind chimes made from discarded electrical conduit and fence posts that were headed to the trash.

Ah, the holiday season. A simple time to reconnect with family and friends and refresh for the coming year ahead...right? If only we were so lucky. For a lot of people, the holidays mean crowded stores, expensive gifts and loads of stress. In fact, the average American spends about $800 on holiday gifts.

Even the Earth feels the stress of the holiday season. Every year between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, the United States creates more than 5 million extra tons of trash. That's a lot of perfectly curled ribbons and expertly taped wrapping gone to waste.

But there's hope. This year, consider breaking the cycle. Starting on Nov. 28, help us celebrate Green Gift Monday. To get you started, here are some ideas to help make your gifts a little greener, your impact a little lighter - and your holidays brighter than ever while supporting local businesses—a win-win situation!

Don't sweat finding the latest gadget... Give an experience instead!
Give an annual membership to an organization that interests the gift-getter.

Give the Gift of Fun

  • Lessons (cooking, crafting, painting, music, fly-tying and more)
  • Paint-your-own-pottery
  • Sporting events, seminars
  • An outing for you and the gift-getter to do together
  • Meal certificates (restaurants, made by you, picnics, etc.)

 Eco-friendly Items

  • Consider sending e-cards
  • Potted plant that can be planted in the yard later
  • Solar-powered items or recharging stations for gadgets
  • Recycled or upcycled items
  • Organic articles or foods
  • Locally-produced items
  • Handmade (by you or someone else!) 
    • Craftmen's Guild of Mississippi - They use fallen trees to make their handscrafted bowls and sculptures, dig native clay for pottery and use recycled items in "found art" pieces.
    • Shop your local craft markets
    • Make your own homemade jewelry from ribbon, yarn, beads, wire, seashells and other found items
  • Charitable giving in honor of your gift-getter

Fair Trade Gifts in Mississippi
Giving fair trade gifts means giving a product that promotes sustainability and improved trade conditions for producers in developing countries. You can find fair trade gifts at many retailers, in Mississippi try:

  • Rainbow Natural Grocery Cooperative in Jackson, MS, has many items that are certified fair trade.
  • Fair Trade Green, also located in Rainbow Plaza in Jackson, MS, specializes in fair trade products by small working collectives in over 50 countries.
  • Also, check online for fair trade gift web sites

Skip the crowded mall... Do it yourself!
Find a simple Do-It-Yourself project--like a handmade card or simple cloth napkins--and make one for everyone on your list. Turning your annual shopping day to your annual holiday crafting day is not only way more personal, it's also way lighter on the packaging waste that goes along with most gifts. Have a great DIY project? Tell us about it on Facebook.

  • Frame a photo you took yourself - Make it personal. Take a photo of something you know your loved one loves and frame it in a creative way that means something to your gift-getter. (If it's an outdoor photo, consider decorating the frame with found items from the area. For Example, glue pinecone pieces around the frame or seashells.)

Save money on wrapping paper... Get creative with packages!

  • Instead of newly purchased wrapping paper try using old newspaper, maps or magazine pages.
  • Incorporate part of the gift into the wrapping – wrap a jar of jam in a decorative dish towel or a pair of earrings in a vintage handkerchief.
  • Think of a fabric tablecloth as the wrapping for a picnic set, for example, which is a two-in-one gift!

Share your Green Gift ideas with us on Facebook.