Tag Archives: gift giving

What to do About All the Non Eco Friendly Gifts Your Kids Want

Most children have very long wish lists for Christmas. There are so many ads on television, so many toys discussed with friends, and they want most of them.

Unfortunately, very few toys are made in anything remotely resembling an environmentally friendly manner. How do you deal with the requests for toys that are not eco friendly when you’re trying to raise a green family?

Buy Used

Some classics I find hard to resist, as do many other parents. The good part about some classics is that they’re pretty easy to buy used rather than new.

Legos are a good example. Many of us had them growing up. We may even have some stuffed away in a closet or at a parent’s house.

I love Legos. They encourage creativity, especially the plain block sets. But eco friendly they are not. Too much plastic.

On the plus side, they’re durable. I’d expect a set to be handed down many times. That helps a lot on the environmental side of things.

Any toy that has been out for a few months you have the chance to buy used. No guarantees, of course, and you have to look at how much they’ve been damaged by previous owners. But in terms of finding popular toys in an eco friendly manner, that’s as close as you’re going to get.

Trade Around

This method takes a lot of trust. You can trade with family and friends who also have kids for the toys your kids want. You may even be able to arrange a toy rotation for those toys that they want returned. Agree that a toy will spend a month, a week, whatever length of time at each house.

If this works, it also teaches sharing. It’s harder to do with really possessive kids. Children who accept the trades can enjoy the wider selection of toys they can play with without costing you a lot of money.

Have a plan for when toys break. Will they be replaced? What if one child is more careful and the other damages a lot of toys? You do not want to ruin a friendship over a few toys.

Encourage Handmedowns

Anyone you know with kids older than yours you can encourage to give your children handmedown toys. Discuss the ones your kids want and see if they’re available. This makes gift giving within the family much cheaper if all the cousins are within a good age range.

Discover Eco Friendly Alternatives

This is hard to do, as many toys really do not have an eco friendly alternative, or at least not one most children will accept. Very few toys, relatively speaking, are made from plastic. There are more limits to what you can build with most wooden toys… just try to match something like K’Nex with a wooden or eco friendly equivalent!

When it’s possible, go for it.

Get the Toy Requested

We’re human, we parents. Sometimes just because it will delight our children, most of us will choose the toy requested, regardless of environmental considerations.

It’s best if you avoid this until you’ve gone through the other options. But when your child really wants a particular item, and you’ve been eco friendly in every way you can manage, it may not be completely unreasonable to give in. Just consider what you’ll do with the toys when they break or aren’t played with anymore. Hopefully you’ll be able to find them a good home to be played with again.

A Green Christmas Can be a Budget Friendly Christmas

There are many wonderful things about Christmas, but there are also many stressful things about it. Many people complain about the expense of buying so many gifts for family and friends. It adds up fast, not to mention how bad the whole mess can be for the environment. Isn’t there a better way?

There can be. You’ll have to change how you think of Christmas presents and be ready for people to be surprised at the kinds of gifts you give.

Give Time

For the people in your life who need just a little more company or someone to talk to, make their gift be your time. Promise to be there for them. Promise more visits where you’ll just sit and talk. Promise help running errands. Find things they need your help with, and offer your time.

This is great for grandparents and others who don’t need so many things in their homes, but often would like more company or help. It helps to create wonderful memories for all concerned and is a great example for the children in the family.

It’s also a good choice for your spouse. Give certificates promising a massage, a night out and so on.

Give Experiences

The gift of experiences is great for kids. Give fewer things for presents and give more promises of things done together. The kids may be skeptical at first, but if you choose right, they’ll enjoy the experiences tremendously.

Hiking is a good choice for those who like to do things outdoors. You may have to drive to a good place for hiking, but you can have a lot of fun together on the hike.

Taking kids to free activities is another good choice. Stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s often have free crafts for kids on Saturdays. Check the websites of your local stores and see what’s available.

Go to the Library

If your child loves books, more trips to the library is a great choice that won’t cost you anything. It’s great fun exploring all the library has to offer.

Many libraries have special activities you can attend. There may be story hour for preschoolers, for example. My local library also has a Toddler Boot Camp, which is a mom and toddler exercise time. Check your library’s website to discover the activities available to you.

The main thing to remember is that you can give more than just things for the holidays. Your time is far more valuable to those you care about than the things you can give them. They may not realize it right away, but most truly enjoy it when you give more of your time and focus less on things.

Greening Your Gift Wrap

One of the most difficult things about gift giving to green up can be the gift wrap. So much wrapping paper ends up in the trash every year. Wrapping paper is potentially recycleable, but many people don’t bother, and some of the papers can be challenging to recycle.

wrapping paper

So how do you make your gifts look beautiful without wasting so much?

  1. Buy recycled
    Gift wrap made from post consumer waste is out there.
  2. Reuse
    Any gift wrap that isn’t too badly torn can probably be saved for next year. With young children a lot will be pretty badly torn, but think as you unwrap your own gifts and save what you can.
  3. Make your own
    This is especially fun if you have kids. Get some butcher paper, brown bags, newspaper, etc., and get creative. Draw on it, stamp it, just have fun with it.
  4. Use a basket
    A good basket can be a lovely way to present a gift. Try to skip the plastic wrap like you see in the stores.
  5. Reuse gift bags
    Just like gift wrap, gift bags can be used over and over. In my family these can go back and forth for years.
  6. Make the wrap a part of the gift
    Get a cloth shopping bag and put the rest of the gift in it. Put gardening supplies in a garden bucket or watering can. Get creative.

Best of all, many of these ideas, including sometimes wrapping paper and gift bags, can be found at secondhand shops like Goodwill. People often don’t finish and sometimes don’t even start rolls. You don’t have to buy new if you shop early enough.