How About Giving an Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift?
(Lexington Minuteman – December 2006)
Stumped for holiday gift ideas? Lexington’s Global Warming Action Coalition (GWAC) has compiled a short list of environmentally friendly suggestions that are gifts that truly keep on giving.
Books: For the readers on your list, GWAC members recommend the following:
Boiling Point and The Heat is On – Russ Gelbspan’s sobering assessments of what is causing global warming.
Thin Ice – a chilling account of the increasing melting rate of glaciers world by local author Mark Bowen.
Climate Change Begins at Home – a short book for the non-scientist explaining the impact of global warming by Dave Reay.
Collapse - Jared Diamond’s recounting of the collapse of several historic civilizations due largely to environmental causes.
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs: Incandescent light bulbs are one of the major energy guzzlers in our homes. If every household in Lexington replaced just one incandescent bulb, our community would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by power plants that feed our electric grid by a half million pounds annually. Www.estarlights.com offers a wide selection.
A Share in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): Give a share in a local CSA program. Supermarket items travel an average of 1,500 miles. Supporting local farming operations significantly reduces the energy gobbled up in putting food on the table. Contact Busa Farms here in Lexington, our own local CSA, (www.busafarm.com, 781-862-2555), or visit the Massachusetts CSA Directory on the Web to find out about other CSA options.
A Reliable Tire-Pressure Gauge: Great stocking stuffer! Keeping tires at the manufacturer’s recommended pressure improves mileage, cuts emissions by 15%, and increases the life of your tires.
Mass Transit Tokens: Another great stocking stuffer! Buy a quantity of MBTA tokens to encourage your loved ones to use public transportation for that next trip into Cambridge or Boston.
Things to Do: Reduce the stuff and go for enrichment. How about a gift certificate to a yoga or tai chi class? musical instrument lessons? theater and museum tickets? Membership to a zoo or nature center? You can also give creative gift "coupons" for services such as babysitting, raking, weeding, and cooking. Wow!
Trees and Plants: Trees recycle CO2 into oxygen and other beneficial nutrients. Give a gift certificate for a tree purchased from one of our many local garden centers. Or consider making a donation to the Selectman’s Tree Fund, 1625 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA 02420.
Subscriptions: Purchase a year’s membership ($25) in the Union of Concerned Scientists (www.ucsusa.org, 1-800-666-8276). UCS is at the forefront of non-profit organizations on many issues, including climate change and global warming concerns.
Renewable Energy Credits: New England Wind offers the opportunity to purchase tax-deductible Renewable Energy Credits that directly fund wind power projects in Massachusetts. Purchase credits in blocks of $25 by visiting their website at www.massenergy.com/wind.intro.html, or by calling 1-800-287-3950.
And keep in mind that when you patronize our local merchants, as opposed to firing up the automobile for lengthier trips to more distant shopping malls or discount centers, you save $$ on gasoline and reduce CO2 emissions. Every gallon of gasoline consumed emits 20 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. Also, take a creative approach to wrapping those gifts and save a tree. For example, newspaper can make great wrapping paper—find pages with great messages or cartoons or colorful comic pages.