• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

‘Tis the Season for Green Gifts

Air Date: Week of

December is the start of several gift-giving holidays, such as Hanukkah and Christmas. (Photo: PX Here, Public Domain)

The holidays look different this year and some of us may not be able to gather with friends and family. But we can still show our appreciation for our loved ones with the perfect gift. Whether it’s a book of essays on the climate crisis or a solar powered phone charger, the Living on Earth team has some eco-friendly gift suggestions for everyone.


BASCOMB: Hey Aynsley! So this year has gone by so fast. We're right in the middle of gift giving season already. Hanukkah just started this week and Christmas is just around the corner.

O'NEILL: I know! And what a weird year. A lot of people aren't going to be seeing many friends or family this season.

BASCOMB: Right. But you know, we can still celebrate just a little bit differently this year. So, to kick it off, we asked the crew here at the show to come up with some green gift ideas. But, no recycling that decades old fruitcake though.

O'NEILL: No, but one of our producers Paloma Beltran is thinking about food.

BELTRAN: Food has always brought my family together. For Christmas, we would all got together in my grandmother's kitchen to cook tamales. This year, we won't be able to gather in person. So, I'm giving my mom and my godmother a couples' virtual cooking class. That way, both of them can still pop a bottle of wine and celebrate the holidays. This is a bit selfish on my part because I'm hoping next year, they will cook for me.

CURWOOD: Hi, this is Steve Curwood, host and show producer, and I have to say one of my favorite gifts for people who like the outdoors from their backyards to the rich back of mountains is a nice pair of binoculars. You can get a decent pair for just $30. That includes a rubberized model good for kids. And you can get a really good pair for less than $100 from makers including Nikon, Bushnell, and Celestron. Just keep to seven or eight times magnification or 10 at the most. More magnification than that makes it harder to track birds and wildlife.

DOERING: Hi, I'm producer Jenni Doering. And a nice eco-friendly gift that's really inexpensive is wool dryer balls. You throw them in the dryer with their clothes, and they reduce the amount of time that your clothes and your laundry have to spend in the dryer. They also reduce static electricity, and you can put a bottle or two of a nice essential oil like lavender, lemongrass or tea tree in the gift. And just a dab of that on each ball will make the laundry smell just wonderful.

LENDER: I'm Mark Seth Lender, Living on Earth's Explorer-in-Residence. This year for every night of Hanukkah, I'm giving Smeagull the Seagull a can of sardines. Plentiful and low on the food chain, they are good for seagulls, good for humans, and using sardines and other small fish for food does not harm the oceans.

TROOST: Hi, I'm Casey and I'm an intern here. In the past few years, my family has started a tradition of putting nonprofits on the wish list. I personally like looking for small local organizations so I can give back to my community.

FEINSTEIN: My name is Jay Feinstein and I work on the production and business side of things. And I really recommend the new novel Migrations by Charlotte McConaughy. We actually just featured it on Living On Earth, which has been exciting. And it's this tale of this woman who wants nothing more than to follow the last migration of the Arctic turn set in the future. And it's just this really powerful tale that everyone will fall in love with. I love gifting books, and this is a good one.

The LOE staff wishes all our listeners a happy holiday season! (Credit: Ben White, Unsplash)

MOK: My name is Aaron Mok, and I'm an intern here. Now that the days are shorter, and we're stuck at home, an eco-friendly candle could be a great gift. Most conventional candles are made with petroleum wax and synthetic wicks, which are actually harmful to the environment when burned. But, you can find environmentally safe candles at a small business. Or if you're crafty, make your own. All you need is some beeswax, a cotton or wood wick, a container, and your favorite fragrances. And you're good to go!

ARENBERG: I'm Naomi Arenberg, and I choose the music every week for Living on Earth. My gift choice is the humble tea towel or kitchen towel. You can encourage the recipient to abandon paper towels, which we can't find in the grocery store anyway, and convert to cloth. And besides with so many of us spending more time in the kitchen than we ever thought possible, we should brighten up those kitchens with these beautiful miniature works of art in the form of the tea towel. Gift wrapping, not much necessary. Just take a cloth ribbon, cinch up that towel, and present it.

REGO: My name is Jake Rego, Technical Director at Living on Earth. This year, I will be gifting solar chargers to my friends and family. This will allow charging of cell phones and other electronic devices while off the grid. Happy Holidays!

JABLO: My name is Leah and I'm an intern at Living on Earth. One of the gifts I'm giving this year is the book Tales of Two Planets: Stories of Climate Change and Inequality In A Divided World. We had the editor John Freeman on the show recently, and it's a collection of essays, short stories, poems and reportage by writers all over the globe about the relationship between the climate emergency and inequality. It's a great read, I think really beautiful and thought provoking and I think it would make a wonderful holiday gift for people who like a wide variety of stories.

KAUSCH: Hi, I'm Mark Kausch, and I help out with Living on Earth's stations that air the program around the country. At our house, we're giving our family some outdoor winter warmth. We picked out a smokeless fire pit for loving the opportunity to get outside even when it's cold here in Minnesota, and our neighbors are dropping by to catch up around the fire, which has been really fun. Everyone seems to love leaving the fire without smelling like smoke. And we're loving that we're keeping warm outside and avoiding putting a bunch of soot into the air.

BASCOMB: Those are some great ideas! What about you, Aynsley?

O'NEILL: My plan is to try making bird seed ornaments. You mix together bird seed and some gelatin. You roll it out, you cut it into cute little shapes with cookie cutters. And then you hang them outside for the birds to eat! How about you?

BASCOMB: Well, I've been thinking more about what's on the outside of the gift. You know a lot of wrapping paper isn't recycled or recyclable. So, I use brown paper grocery bags instead. I use some garden twine to tie it together with a sprig of evergreen and some red berries on top. They're lovely. Or I have my kids paint them which the grandparents love.

O'NEILL: That's so cute. Well, whatever is going inside those brown paper packages tied up with string, I'm really trying to shop locally and support small businesses this year. They're really struggling during the pandemic.

BASCOMB: Oh yeah, so important, especially this year. Well, we went through these ideas pretty quickly. But there's more information about all these guests on the Living on Earth website.

O'NEILL: Yeah, check it out at LOE.org. And I hope you have a great holiday, Bobby.

BASCOMB: You too. And everyone.

BOTH: Happy Holidays!



Better Homes & Gardens | 5 Smokeless Fire Pits That Let You Enjoy Bonfires Without the Irritating Smoke:

Indie Bound | Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy:

Indie Bound | Tales of Two Planets: Stories of Climate Change and Inequality In A Divided World - Edited by John Freeman:

Good Housekeeping | 8 Best Solar-Powered Phone Charges of 2020:

Check Out Paloma's Choice of Cooking Classes | Palestine on a Plate

Cozy Meal | Online Cooking Classes for Couples:

Best Budget Binoculars from Business World:

Digital Camera World | The best binoculars in 2020: binoculars for wildlife, nature and astronomy:

DIY Natural | Learn to Make Homemade Felted Wool Dryer Balls:

The Spruce | How to Make Birdseed Ornaments:

EcoCult | 13 Places to Get Handmade and Eco-Friendly Candles and Incense:

Well and Good | 7 Easy Ways to Upcycle Your Brown Paper Grocery Bags Into Wrapping Paper:

The Grommet | Kitchen Linens & Tea Towels:


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth