by Richard Adams
When it comes to special occasions like birthdays, weddings or Christmas those of us who are keen to be eco friendly find ourselves in something of a difficult situation.
On the one hand we appreciate that in many ways our consumer society is a major cause of environmental problems and the thought of contributing to all that pollution, rubbish and unsustainable manufacturing processes really doesn't appeal. On the other hand we don't want to be seen as anti-social or uncaring by not buying gifts for others. What to do?
Fortunately thanks to the "people power" of our ever-growing green community retailers are starting to sit up and take notice and it is becoming ever easier to not only buy someone a gift but to buy a gift that will help rather than harm the environment.
And whilst it would be impossible to cover every possibility what I thought would be useful here would be to provide just a few of the more popular eco friendly gift options to get your brain working. Hopefully you'll find something of interest in the list below and even if you don't then researching the following gifts will often show up new ideas and possibilities that you otherwise might not have stumbled across.
Plant A Tree
Trees act as the lungs of the earth, taking in carbon dioxide and giving out fresh oxygen. They also store large amounts of carbon thus helping to control climate change as well as providing habitats for wildlife and helping to stabilize the soil and our water table. In other words trees are pretty important to us and in light of this a range of charities now sell "vouchers" that you can give as gifts.
In exchange for purchasing a voucher the charity you deal with will use your "donation" to plant a brand new tree in the name of your choice. The recipient of your gift receives a beautiful certificate and the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping future generations which can be a lot more enjoyable than receiving just another pair of socks!
Buy Some Rainforest
If you want to spend a little bit more money you can actually upgrade your gift to the next level and actually buy a chunk of rainforest - and for far less than you might think. Arguably buying rainforest so it is protected for evermore is even more beneficial than simply planting a new tree because you're helping to preserve an existing, living, breathing habitat.
Planting new trees will have a long term benefit but it takes time for the habitat to become established while buying a chunk of rainforest (such as through the World Land Trust) helps to save one of our most diverse, endangered and important existing habitats of all and so has an immediate "payback".
Book A Course
Courses are available from specialist providers on everything from drystone walling to reducing the carbon footprint of your home. These courses therefore will not only help the recipient of your gift to better understand how to help the environment but will also give them a chance to meet plenty of like-minded individuals on the day.
The only real downside is that some of these courses can be reasonably expensive - which is why they make ideal gifts because they are the type of thing that many people would like to go on but wouldn't want to pay for themselves.
Adopt An Animal
Conservation charities will allow you to adopt a variety of endangered animals such as tigers, pandas and elephants. The money given to "adopt" them helps to pay for their support in terms of environmental protection, staff to protect them in their native habitat and so on.
Typically the recipient of your gift will receive a "welcome pack" telling them about the animal they have adopted, together with updates throughout the year on how their money is being spent and how their chosen animal is getting on so it's a nice present that gives and gives throughout the year as updates are sent.
Most people think of organic food as far more expensive than intensively-farmed food and in many cases they're right which is a shame because it prevents many would-be "eco warriors" from taking the leap into eating more naturally-produced food.
However a number of companies now exist that will put together a good old-fashioned food hamper - but filled with purely Fair Trade, organic and/or locally-produced food. This means that not does will the recipient of your hamper enjoy a wide and delicious variety of food but you can feel confident that all the parts that make up the hamper have come about as a result of sustainable production techniques.
From solar flashlights to energy-saving heating devices there is an ever-growing market for so-called green gadgets. The problems are that whilst they are gaining ground these handy little gadgets can still be difficult to track down on the high street or in your local mall.
Fortunately mail order and the internet have made it easy for people to find and purchase gadgets that function as well as the non-green alternative yet help you to reduce your carbon footprint. So why not take the time to do some research and consider a green gadget as an ideal eco friendly gift idea?
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