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

Low-Impact Gifts

Air Date: Week of

Ideas for gifts which won't consume lots of resources or produce lots of waste.


CURWOOD: Last year at Christmas I got a wonderful gift, most of it recyclable. Part of it was my friend's smile and hug as he came by my home late Christmas morning to see my children and me. And part of it came in a glass jar, which he left behind filled with delicious homemade applesauce. My friend worries about the environment, and he likes to give gifts that are eco-friendly, though he's careful not to moralize. For years I helped make fruit cakes to give away until it got kinda boring and I got too busy, so I found myself wondering, what do other folks do?

DADD: I'm Debra Lynn Dadd, and I'm the author of The Non-Toxic Home and Office. I have given family members in the past things like tickets to events, like tickets to the opera, or a special dinner out, so that they can have a special experience instead of having just another thing. One gift that I like a lot was, a friend of mine's mother baked bread for a friend of hers once a week for a year, and she was baking the bread anyway for herself, and she baked an extra loaf to give.

AUSTIN: I'm Dick Austin, an environmental theologian with the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center. I've got a couple of granddaughters, and a couple of years ago for Christmas I made a tape of Charlotte's Web, and read the book on tape and sent it to my granddaughter, because I'm not with her enough to read it to her in person. I got a lot of fun out of doing that, and I think she got a lot of fun out of listening to it.

PEERMAINE: My name is Elisa Peermaine. I am a professional storyteller, and I'm a new mother. I do pressed flowers, I go out in the summer and collect things and then in the winter I make things out of them to give to people. I love going out into the wild and collecting, and then the pressing is fun, and seeing them when they come out of the press - it's a very peaceful, unstressful activity, which is a total opposite of most of my life.

EDWARD: My name is David Edward, and I am president of the Body Shop, Inc. To be honest with you, more recently I have been making donations in people's names to various charities: Gay Men's Health Crisis is the recipient this year of some contributions in other people's names.

DUMANOSKI: I'm Diane Dumanoski, and I write about environmental issues for the Boston Globe. In many cases, we're giving services instead of material presents. One year we decided we were going to get my father a load of goat manure for his garden. So we not only got the goat manure, but we actually delivered it and helped spread it.

MOODY: My name's Rick Moody, and I'm a writer, and I decided this year that for my nephew I would try to write him a children's book. Even though it's like a cheap gift and it only comes in black and white. It's called The Legendary Chompers, and it's about a gigantic whale that can't stop consuming things. It's about the desire to not eat everything you see on Christmas.

SMALL: This is Fred Small in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I'm a singer-songwriter and environmental activist. There's an urban legend, of course, that there are only a certain number of fruitcakes in circulation, and that these have been passed back and forth from family to family, because nobody actually eats the fruitcake. They just give it to somebody else the next year. So that, I think, is entirely in line with an environmentalist approach of reduce, reuse, and recycle.



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