UNMC News

LiveGreen: Greening up the holidays

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My first ice skates came from Goodwill. My daughters looked forward to visiting their grandmother and aunt on holidays, partly because they went to thrift stores to spend their gift money.

Thrifting serves two purposes. It provides good quality used products at reasonable prices (keep your eyes open), and it allows people who have outgrown sports equipment or upgraded appliances, phones and electronics to donate their gently-used items, keeping them out of landfills. Click here for a list of local places that accept donations and resell used items.

Do you dread shopping for relatives you only see once a year, as well as receiving gifts you'll never use from people who don't know you? At the risk of sounding like a Grinch, a greener option is to buy less.

The environment benefits when we buy fewer things, as pollution from manufacturing and shipping decrease while the "old" items the gifts would have replaced stay out of the landfill.

Worried your family won't know what to do together without a gift exchange? A family gathering with each person coming prepared to share an update on their lives or funny story can lead to an entertaining time while focusing on each other instead of stuff.

A white elephant exchange can replace the traditional gift exchange, while leading to some interesting holiday traditions (avoid custody of the ugly ceramic cherub, anyone?). It also provides a way to get rid of unused items taking up closet space while saving the space new gifts would require.

Some families take the money they would spend on gifts for each other and instead adopt a family for the holiday or help provide dinner at a shelter.

Have a family that still needs to do a gift exchange? Consider giving experiences instead of stuff.

A good present to new parents might be tickets to a play complete with an evening of free babysitting. Kids may want tickets to a concert while parents would appreciate "coupons" for things that are done year round. Does Grandma really need more bath powder? Not this grandma. I'd rather have a video chat and texted pictures of my grandchildren.

Check out the LiveGreen website for more ways to green your holiday season.

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Nicole
December 03, 2013 at 11:02 AM

I love these ideas, Anne! Our family will definitely be incorporating them :)

A second life for electronics

Check out these websites to give your used electronics a second life:

Cellphones for Soldiers takes donations of mobile phones to provide cost-free communication for active-duty military members and to assist veterans as they transition into post-combat life.

Secure the Call is a 501(c)(3) charity that provides free 911 emergency-only cell phones to senior citizen centers, domestic violence shelters and police and sheriff departments, which in turn give them to the community to use to contact the police in the case of an emergency.

Recycle or purchase used netbooks, cell phones, tablets, iPhones, and android phones here.