I’m not a good gift-giver. I’ll admit it: I’m just a bad shopper. Blame it on a chronic phobia of malls, pop music, and the always-moving goalposts of style. And with the
holiday shopping season upon us, it’s frustrating. I want to give something great to the people I appreciate and love! But I don’t want to buy them something that’s a waste of space.
But it’s also about the planet. I know, deeply, that the American relationship with shopping is dysfunctional, and it’s hurting us and our environment. To a cynic like me, it usually looks like “buy lots and lots of cheap stuff; throw out; repeat.” And, as Annie Leonard so compellingly explains in the Story of Stuff, we’re not even having fun while doing it — the richest people are not the happiest, and Americans are less happy than people elsewhere.
Some people might swing to the radical opposite extreme – advocating “buy nothing Christmas,” or telling their friends and family not to expect gifts, nor to give them. But that won’t fly in my family, and I think it’s going too far.
My proposal this year: to give only two kinds of gifts, food and experiences. The food part makes sense – well, sometimes it’ll be beer – but ideally something we can enjoy together. But for experiences, here’s what I mean: some pleasant experience that won’t end up cluttering their house or hurting the planet. Maybe a gift certificate for a massage, or tickets to a game, or an outing that you plan for a special person
All this week and next, we’ll be posting our best ideas for easy, thoughtful gifts that don’t promote screwing over the planet. And maybe we’ll come up with some gifts that make us all happier, healthier, and promote the green life for others, too!