Savvier Shopping

EcoMom’s Tips for Giving Greener

An organic cotton play fruit basket () is one of many eco-friendly gift ideas from EcoMom, if you do decide to shop.© EcoMom

EcoMom (, an online shopping site for family-friendly and environmentally savvy products, as well as a hub for discussions on "greenwashing," cutting home energy use and nontoxic products, has a few tips to help minimize the holiday consumerism. Of course, those looking to buy unusual and eco-friendly gift items, from recycled ornaments, to nontoxic nail polish to organic cotton play fruit, can find a lot of outside-the-norm shopping ideas on their site. But they’ve also sent E some ways to avoid buying elaborately packaged gifts altogether, or at least to spread a little holiday joy without leaving such an oversized environmental footprint.

  • Simple, Greener Gift Solutions

    EcoMom suggests the following alternatives to plastic-wrapped packages:

  • Give experiences rather than gifts that need wrapping and packaging, such asgift certificates, movies, dinners, spa treatments and offers to babysit.

  • Invest in sustainable giving – gifts that benefit the world (adopt areef or a dolphin; give a goat to a villager), things made with dignity andsafety in mind. Or try fair trade chocolates, coffees and teas.

  • Build children’s financial portfolios.

  • Buy rechargeable batteries – 40% of the yearly batteries sales happen now.

  • Make something handcrafted, with heart. Books, music, poems, games.

  • Give something gently used, in good condition, such as books, picture frames, collectibles, vintage jewelry or fun glassware.

  • Share gifts from the kitchen — made with healthy, organic ingredients – and include the recipe!

  • Look for items made of recycled content, from purses made from former tires to fleece hoodies made from recycled plastic bottles.

  • Consider utilitarian items, like solar-powered items flashlights andphone chargers, composting bins, organic cotton shopping bags, reusablewater bottles and other earth-friendly gifts.

  • If shipping gifts, reuse cardboard boxes you have at home and avoid using Styrofoam peanuts (if you use what you already have, bag them up so they are contained). Popcorn works as a great alternative filler!
  • BRITA BELLI is editor of E.