In addition to the tips posted yesterday, consider the following suggestions to make your celebration of the holidays a Greener affair:
To encourage family members and friends to take public transit, buy them a BART pass or other transit pass for their area. It’s much Greener than a standard gift card!
Books can make valued presents, especially if purchased at a local, independent book store. Consider the special appropriateness of the works of local authors. Especially fitting titles would be those that encourage us to explore our local area, ideally on foot.
* For Berkeley, consider Richard Schwartz’s books: Berkeley 1900 or Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley.
* For Oakland, consider Analee Allen’s books, including Oakland, Postcard History.
* For Alameda, consider Alameda, by Greta Dutcher and Stephen Rowland. This is from the Images of America Series, and anything in that series is worth a look. Some are quite specific in topic such as Rockridge, Oakland Hills and Theatres of Oakland.
* Also consider The East Bay Then and Now, by Dennis Evanosky, or his latest work, San Francisco Then and Now.
To wrap your gifts? Besides reusing wrapping paper from years past, consider using remnants of wallpaper, the colored Sunday Comics pages, old maps, or my personal favorite, covers from the New Yorker magazine. You might also consider presenting your gifts in reusable stuff bags, the type that fold up into a small pouch. Many of those are constructed from recycled water bottles.
The ultimate Green gift: no thing. Lest you think we’re suggesting being a true Scrooge, we’re suggesting gifts that are not things, but fall into other categories, such as services or privileges. Older kids will appreciate certificates that excuse them from doing the dishes, or entitle them to breakfast in bed one weekend morning.
The gift of time is perhaps the most precious of all: offer to babysit or petsit for friends, or walk their dog; offer to pick up groceries for a month for someone who isn’t mobile; or give a gift certificate redeemable for transportation to and from the airport. Think of projects that are difficult or unpleasant for a friend, but easy for you. A few hours of gardening would be a super gift for someone with a black thumb, or offer to repot your friends’ orchids if that’s your fancy. Giving time to people you don’t know can be very rewarding. Volunteer to help deliver holiday meals through Meals on Wheels, or to serve at any local church or synagogue food kitchen. The possibilities are endless, and you’re likely to get more in return than you give!