December 3, 2022
Decorating for the holidays is the first round of giving.
Whether you unpack and display your family’s legacy decorations or buy something new, the work you do is a gift to your family. Therefore, the way you decorate can also set the tone for the season’s gift-giving.
Buying and hanging on your front door a giant, disposable garland, laden with artificial plastic plants and battery-powered lights, sends a different message than assembling a garland from pinecones, acorns, rosemary and eucalyptus, as suggested by Raquel Kehler, design creator at RoomCrush.com.
Picking up a tasteful treasure at a thrift store and displaying it in a common area of your house also sends a conservation message. Do you think thrift stores are unlikely to have holiday treasures worthy of display in your home?
Think again. Vicky Violet Cohen, owner of Violet’s Pink Thrift in downtown Ojai, hits yard sales after Christmas each year and buys great items people do not want to store. One of the highlights currently in her shop is a pair of beautiful, thick, perfect-condition porcelain Noel angels, still in a box that looks like it is from the 1960s.
Violet’s Pink Thrift is also known for soaps made by soap craftsman Seth Lorin. Sold at local stores and at the Ojai Farmers Market, these soaps are “sold naked,” meaning without any packaging, making them a great gift with no waste.
Another company, Green Ablutions, sells shampoo and conditioner in bar form. Company founder Natalie Lennick claims a shampoo bar weighs just over 2 ounces and replaces three regular-size plastic bottles of liquid shampoo. More than compensating for the post-consumer, recycled packaging necessary for shipping this product following an online purchase, she says, “We can ship considerably more product in less space, requiring less gas to transport, and generating lower emissions compared to liquid products.”
Another green stocking stuffer is Gear Hugger multipurpose lubricant, which can remove scuff marks from car doors and rust from metal while also helping zippers glide smoothly again. Gear Hugger’s website claims this USDA-certified, 96% plant-based biodegradable product delivers three times the lubricating power of petroleum-based brands and will restore and protect products, such as bicycle chains.
Bicycles are a perennial holiday gift favorite, and an electric bike can enable low-carbon commuting or car-free weekend fun. Several local electric bicycle rental companies also sell their bikes. However, one company, Droyd, at go-droyd.com, specializes in electric bikes for children as young as 6. Although the company claims extra “safety features,” parents will have to decide how much independence to give
kids, depending on age, route, and riding experience. But if these bikes replace some parent-operated car shuttling, these green gifts can save both fuel and time.
A bike is an expensive gift, but as Matt Barber, owner of Tom Morgan Rodsmiths, says “Buy it nice or buy it twice.” Barber suggests a fly rod ordered online from his Bozeman, Montana workshop as a gift this season, and he informed me that people cast off our coast for surf perch.
Giving a non-physical item also cuts waste. For example, giving a gift of the Memrise “experiential language-learning application” can help someone learn a new language. The app uses text and video featuring native speakers, focusing on language scenarios in areas such as food, travel and music. It ranks 4.8 out of 5 stars on the app store, and CEO Steve Toy says a new artificial intelligence “conversation partner” in the app, called MemBot, will enhance the experience as users converse with real-time feedback on their fluency.
Similar gifts can be seen at Unwrapit.com, which calls itself “the biggest catalogue of non-physical gifting options.” The site features guidance to 1.8 million U.S. charities, options for Airbnb gift cards, online yoga memberships, customized portraits, UberEats gift cards, online music lessons and a self-help platform featuring “top emotional wellness experts.”
Buying carbon credits to offset the climate impact of a trip is another non-physical gift option. Unwrapit also has options for this gift, as do other sites, such as Terrapass.
Local museum memberships are also a great holiday gift. The biggest in Ventura County are Museum of Ventura County in Ventura and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley.
This holiday season, don’t be the Grinch who stole landfill space. Consider alternatives for waste reduction.
David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency, can be reached at 805-658-4312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.