GREEN: Green Gift Giving

Credit: Flickr / Dano

Holiday seasons are hectic, and I’ve entered December at warp speed. Tinsel, lights, sparkle, and bobbles appeared as the clock struck midnight to welcome December 1. The next morning, I was ambushed by twinkly-shiny-Yule-tide-caroling-cheer as I stumbled sleepy eyed into my favourite coffee shop. It was shocking, but I’ve made a full recovery, and now I’m warming up to the holiday season.

Christmas will be a little bit different this year. Most of my family has opted-out of gift giving, so I haven’t been pushed into the holiday shopping fervor. I’ll probably end up shopping at the last minute, but when I do, I’ll be sure to keep my silly green gift giving mantra in mind – Create. Donate. Locate.


Next Thursday is my official holiday cookie bake-off. It’s a very exciting event, and the results will be amazing. The last time I was on Salt Spring Island I picked up some locally milled organic flour, and I’ve got a few other organic ingredients to throw in there. Cookies and treats are a great gift because everyone loves to eat, and there is no waste (unless you forget to test drive the new vegan-raw cookie recipe).

This year’s cookie bake off will be a little bit different. Instead of a week-long event that produces five different kinds of cookies and flour encrusted eyelashes, it will be a single evening. Anyone who bakes at Christmas is probably shaking their head at the thought of making a spectrum of holiday treats in a single evening. Fear not—the cookie swap is here! A group of us will each make a different type of cookie and then get together to share the goods. Brilliant!

I avoid malls on Boxing Day at all costs. Unfortunately, that means that I am left restlessly recovering from a full belly at home with nothing to do. Lindsay Coulter, David Suzuki’s Queen of Green, has a great do-it-yourself video and recipe for making paper out of the yards of Christmas wrapping paper about to be thrown out. It seems easy and would make a fun Boxing Day activity. It’s important to note that this isn’t just any old DIY paper. Not only is it reusing wrapping paper, but it also grows! You can add seeds to the paper, so when you’re finished writing notes all you have to do is throw some soil and water on top, and Voila! Burying the evidence will create a pretty little flower garden. I figured that this would be a good gift for friends living elsewhere—they don’t mind if gifts are late, and paper is easy to mail (just remember to leave the seeds out if they’re destined to cross borders).


The adults in my family have taken the “no gifts” or “donate to the Food Bank” route this Christmas. I think it’s a fantastic idea considering how badly Vancouver’s Food Banks are suffering this holiday season.

Donations to a charity are often at the top of “environmentally conscious gift giving” lists because you’re reducing consumerism, resource use and waste. One of the few people that I’m buying gifts for this year is my five-year-old brother. He is all about cars and Legos, but I’m tempted to donate to imagine1day instead. This is his first year of school, so I thought that donating to imagine1day would be cool because their vision is to provide primary education for all children in Ethiopia, and they do it by allowing donors to choose specifically what elements of the school they would like to contribute to. I could buy a desk in his honour—which is simple and easy for my little bro to relate to. Apparently, desks are a hot commodity and I’m not the only one with the idea because they were all sold out! Browsing through the site, I found tree planting and ecology training, sports equipment, a shelf of books, chairs, roofing material, floor sealant and lots more. I’m really tempted to get him the tree planting and ecology training—and a bag of cement. Now my only challenge will be convincing him that this is just as exciting as a new Hot Wheels car.

Cima Coppi



Buying locally made gifts supports our local economy and minimizes shipping distances. Vancouver is teeming with creative and eco-minded designers and artists. Some of my favourites include:

Cima Coppi creates cycling hats from recycled fabrics, and of course all product deliveries are done by bicycle.

Catalyst Reaction uses organic leather, eco-friendly enzyme-based “tanning” and has wicked designs.

dotted loop re-assembles pieces of vintage jewelry to fashion into stylish and beautiful bracelets, necklaces and earrings.

Ashley Watson

Ashley Watson‘s one-of-a-kind purses are made out of leather jackets found in second-hand shops.

Happy Holidays!