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Climate Action Corner: Last-Minute Sustainable Gift Guide

With gift-giving and all of the holiday parties, Americans throw away an estimated 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than at other times of the year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It adds up to an additional one million tons per week! If crowded malls, tedious travel and impersonal gifts take the fun out of holiday shopping, give yourself—and the planet—a break by following the Four R principles of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and only then, Recycle.

Will you take the pledge to REFUSE to use mail order sources? They over-package, use tons of single-use plastic, incur a big carbon footprint from shipping and threaten local stores.  Instead..

- Give environmentally-friendly gifts that carry a message, such as reusable produce bags, stainless steel travel mugs or water bottles, or wax-wraps to use instead of plastic cling film. Many such items are available at the Ecology Center Store on San Pablo in Berkeley.

- Buy Local – Check your local crafts fairs, Farmer’s Markets and specialty food stores for gift ideas that are hand-made and consumable. Examples include herb-flavored hand-pressed olive oils, soaps, delicious edibles, monthly vegetable box subscriptions, handmade accessories, jewelry or photography. Support local farmers and craftspeople, while reducing vehicle trips to crowded malls and shopping centers, and your carbon footprint!

- Give fewer things, and focus on experiences! Offer an outing to a client, tickets for visits to a museum, sporting event, theater or movie. Offer your time to help with a project.

- Send digital cards rather than paper ones. It takes about 300,000 trees to make the approximately 2.65 Billion holiday cards that Americans buy each year. Send free e-cards instead, available from websites such as and, and party invitations from Paperless Post. Especially sending late in the season, you can be your e-card will arrive on time!

- REUSE: Wrap gifts in old maps, comic or magazine pages, or wallpaper scraps for a distinctive look! Use previously-enjoyed gift bags or baskets, and used ribbons and bows, or decorate with pinecones, holly or other natural materials. Make your own gift tags using last year’s holiday cards or other sturdy paper. Save bows and ribbons for future use, or donate them to the Depot for Creative Reuse.

The Climate Action Committee serves as a Bridge AOR resource, educating and facilitating activities in support of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction for a sustainable low-carbon future.


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