Keep this Xmas green

JOIN THE GREEN BRIGADE Make earth-friendly gifts

JOIN THE GREEN BRIGADE Make earth-friendly gifts  

Make gifting fun by going green this season and say a complete no to plastic

Going green this gift-giving season is a profitable plan. Make gifts innovative and one-of-a-kind. Make them earth-friendly. While you’re at it, drop hints that you would like to receive in kind. Stuff that’s kind to the planet — non-toxic, non-polluting and non-depleting of the earth. Tell people you are looking for a present for the future.

Where do you begin? At the shopping mall. By not visiting. What’s so great about giving something that somebody made somewhere? Why should a gift come from a swipe of plastic? Why can’t it be a personal, made-myself one? A little imagination, some work and you should have a memorable gift all wrapped up. One that tells the giftee he/she is worthy of your time and energy. It could just be a well-chosen service. Better than what you can put in a box.

Gift movie/concert tickets with an offer to baby sit on the show day. Pay for a massage – we can all do with a strong shoulder rub. Bake a cake or cook a special meal. Reimburse music lessons or tuitions. Spruce up a garden.

“Should gifts involve money?” asked a Class XII student, writing about “My Summer Job”. “I ran the house this summer. Mom had a break from work; I learned the value of what she does.”

Accompany the elderly or the disabled to an exhibition, sport event or the museum. Isn’t lasting memory a gift too? What do the elderly want anyway?

Look around the house and the loft. Do you have antiques, end tables, large vessels, clocks or pieces of jewellery that no longer fit in? Scores of people would love to have some of those.

The ancient swing in Sankari Amritkumar’s living room is a gift from her sister. “Everyone takes a few swings,” she smiles, “plus it came with a bag of memories.” Have you had the fortune to be handed down household tools? They are matchless gifts. Reuse!

Bestow gifts that grow on the receiver. Which IT employee wouldn’t like to gaze off the computer at a lush green potted plant? No iPod can match the music of nature. A young girl who had lost her mother was truly consoled by the plant she got from a visitor. If you’re sending flowers, buy locally grown ones. Long-distance ones consume fossil fuels in transportation. Do Dutch tulips have better flower power?

Think inside the box. A mom asked her kids to make a bus out of the large cardboard that the fridge came packed in. The kids cut holes, made seats with packing material, fixed a steering wheel. They painted ads on the outside with markers.

Pause before paying up for gold baubles. Cyanide is used in gold extraction, its waste leaches into ponds, contaminating ground water. Mining gold means mining for water poisoning.

Recycle and re-use

Why not shop for/pass on/re-make old gold? Will anyone refuse this gift? If you feel reusing is a cheapie act, attach a card explaining your motive. “My friend wasn’t offended in the least to get my pair of ear-rings,” said a receptionist. “Better than buying a useless trinket.”

Whatever you buy, make it battery-free. Castaway cells create toxic waste, causing damage that far outweighs their energy help. Shop for solar gizmos. “My solar watch is a prized gift from the wife,” grins Mahesh Murthy. Get natural toys for kids. Most toys come loaded with lead, so watch out.

Buying souvenirs to take back home? Check: is it from an endangered animal species?

Animal skins, tortoise shell, ivory and coral products could be illegal. Instead, make a donation to outfits like the Seva Foundation. They perform a social service of your choice. Gift animals to rural families. It could mean a livelihood for them. Animals help the environment, right?

And don’t wrap anything in plastic. Season’s Greetings!

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