Ideas for greening the holidays

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By The Staff

The holiday season is upon us and this year, more than ever, people are wondering how to deck the halls with GREEN ideas.

At PEEC we have brainstormed our favorite green gifts and come up with a list to share.

1. Handmade gifts are always treasured.

Make a book of an historic trip or recipes that your family loved when you were little. Aspen Copies can help you make a calendar with family photos for each month. UPEX can help you laminate favorite photos to attach to your purse or luggage.

Home-made food goodies are unbeatable – jam, holiday bread, cookies for the tree and then the tummy, anything to help the busy cook keep everyone well fed.

If you want to get funky with your hand-made gifts (your friends and family will love you for this!) there are literally thousands of great ideas available online.

To get started check out www.purlbee.com, www.instructables.com and sewmamasew.com/blog2. If you're not a crafter and don’t intend to become one this holiday season, you can still give lovely handmade gifts. Shop the Art Center at Fuller Lodge for a wonderful variety of locally crafted objects.

2. Give a membership in an organization you believe in. My daughter asked us to give money or gifts for the homeless youths she works with; she pointed out that we have a family at the holidays, but they have no one and it’s a very hard time for them.

My son-in-law wants to keep wild places wild, so he asks us to contribute to the Nature Conservancy or the National Parks Conservation Association. Of course it’s always fun to cut out a photo of the place he's helping to save, wrap it up, and give him a surprise to open.

3. Fair Trade items are nice because they help build equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and create opportunities to alleviate poverty by offering a living wage to low-income farmers and artisans around the world.

Fair trade items are often hand-made, unique gifts. The Global Exchange Store is one place to find these gifts store.gxonlinestore.org.

4. Give the gift of learning: pay for a class at PEEC, UNM-LA, the Art Center at Fuller Lodge, the ski hill, the ice-skating rink, or send a young person in your life to a summer camp.

5. Service gifts are a great, no-cost way to give the gift of time to a friend or family member who may not need or want material gifts. Does someone in your life need the garage cleaned out? A special gourmet meal cooked for an anniversary? A free baby sitter for the evening?

6. Adopt an animal at PEEC (we have a turtle, skink, bullfrog, Woodhouse's toads) – children get their names posted on the animal’s aquarium and they receive updates on their animal during the year.

The Wildlife Center in Española also offers animal adoptions at www.thewildlifecenter.org.

Groups like Heifer International help impoverished third-world families move toward self-reliance by donating farm animals like cows, chickens and sheep to the community with training on how to care for and breed them for future sustainability www.heifer.org.

7. Buy local! Money spent locally helps local merchants give back to the community, recirculates money into the local economy, and cuts your gas expense and carbon footprint. If you don’t know what to buy, give Chamber Checks, available at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center in any denomination.

These flexible gift certificates may be redeemed at any participating local business. For a list of participating businesses go to www.losalamoschamber.com and click the “shop the chamber” link.

8. Buy from a thrift store. Good items are easy to find and recycle, and the profits go to good causes like Casa Mesita (Los Alamos) and Jemez House (White Rock).

9. Kids like special trips. You could lead a hike to a secret place, a zoo, a nature center, an art museum, or a national park. At Bandelier it's fun to join the Junior Ranger program.

10. Plants are a treat in winter when the outdoors is barren--how about fresh herbs? Cuttings from your geranium plant? White narcissus? Or how about a succulent such as a potted aloe or cactus?

11. For holiday meals don’t forget that our New Mexico farmers are mostly organic (even if they haven’t signed up to be certified) and their food is fresher and uses less carbon to transport. (Have you tried Heidi’s Red Chili Raspberry Jam – no one will find that at Wal-Mart or Macy’s; and imagine eating grass-fed organic lamb raised by the Manzanares family in Tierra Amarilla or buffalo from Picuris Pueblo.)

The next Los Alamos Winter Farmers’ Market will be held Dec. 11 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Unitarian Church. The Santa Fe Farmers Market is open Saturday mornings throughout the winter at the new Railyard site, 1607 Paseo de Peralta at South Guadalupe St.

12. Of course, you’ll want to wrap your gift in a reusable shopping bag instead of tree-wasting, throwaway wrapping paper. PEEC sells sturdy canvas bags or you can purchase cloth bags from any number of local stores. You can also create fun packages by recycling old maps, comics, magazines, and paper grocery bags into festive gift wrap.

Check out the PEEC table at the Winterfest this Saturday at Fuller Lodge. We hope this green gift list helps you to find sustainable holiday inspiration. Happy Holidays from PEEC!