Environment at Home: Think green this year when you're shopping for gifts

Bus passes, other options can help reduce pollution, develop alternative energy

Special to Idaho StatesmanDecember 18, 2006 

I try to avoid most big box stores around Christmas — I don't like my chances against anyone if I have to wrestle them for a shopping cart. Besides, driving around looking for a parking spot doesn't put me in the spirit of the season.

It's easy to avoid the bustle, while still giving good presents and doing your part to reduce garbage and pollution.

Donations to nonprofit groups can do the world some good, and are tax-deductible. You can't say that about an Xbox.

Gift certificates guarantee that you will give the right thing. It's hard to go wrong with movie tickets, a free meal, music or books. Lots of things can be purchased online, which also cuts down on driving.

For those who appreciate environmentally friendly gifts, think about a bus pass or an offer to carpool. If that doesn't sound fun, there may be those on your wish list who would appreciate a bike or an electric scooter.

For the pollution you and others produce, carbon offsets might make a super enviro gift. The money you spend is used to develop some form of alternative energy or develop a carbon sequestration project. There are getting to be more of these places out there, so you might want to do a bit of homework to see just when the offset you are buying will go into effect.

The Web site for Native Energy (www.nativeenergy.com) advertises carbon Christmas gifts. For $12, they say you can keep a ton of carbon dioxide out of the air.

"Your cards will help build new Native American wind turbines or a renewable methane generator on a family dairy farm," the Web site says. "Your new project's renewable electricity will displace electricity from fossil fuel generators, reducing CO2 pollution on behalf of your card recipients."

No matter what route you take for presents, you can think environmentally about the holiday. Try to cut down on packaging. Buy things that will last beyond New Year's. If it needs batteries, get a charger and rechargeable batteries.

Do you have an idea or tip for our weekly Environment at Home column? Let us know. Send an e-mail to Local@IdahoStatesman.com with subject line "Enviro at Home."

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