Instead of giving more stuff, think about the carbon footprint of your gifts. Here are suggestions for a low-carbon, low waste holiday from Susan Israel, AIA, LEED AP, President and Founder, Climate Creatives and  Energy Necklace Project (

  • Tickets to events (performances, movies, sports events, special exhibits),
  • Memberships (Appalachian Mountain Club for hikers, museums, paddling rentals) 
  • Spa days
  • Overnight stay at a local hotel or camping
  • Outings (bring someone to breakfast, a movie, a hike, an insider’s tour, to an art opening or open studios)
  • Art (buy art from a local artist at open studios)
  • Online subscriptions (online news sources, periodicals)
  • Household services (babysitting, design services, personal errands)
  • A day off, take on a household task, use homemade gift certificates
  • Create an electronic photo album or a music playlist
  • Gift certificate to garden store for native garden plants

Company Donations and Family Giving as an Event

Give each team or family member an amount that you will donate to a charity of their choice, or decide together as a team/family and on one donation. Donate to a charity in someone’s name.

Homemade food

Quick pickles or candied nuts, relishes, chocolate dipped dried fruit, granola and cookies! Consider a monthly meal for one year, dinner or brunch at your house, a picnic, home-infused brews, breakfast anywhere.

Talk about climate change and urge friends and family to join you

Who wants to think about the climate crisis over the holidays, if ever? But acting in community is empowering. Offer ideas for what you can do rather than focusing on doom and gloom. Start with holiday waste – it’s easiest to get people to give up what they don’t want! 

Adopt three new practices that will reduce carbon and waste at home or work!