A Vail Valley gift-giving challenge | VailDaily.com

A Vail Valley gift-giving challenge

Cassie Pence
Greener Pastures
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – Gifts – whether we like it or not – are embedded in our holiday tradition. So this year, hold on to your roots but change your perspective. I challenge you to give gifts with more meaning and less waste for a more sustainable holiday season. All it takes is a little creativity and an open heart.

Here are some of my favorite gift ideas.

Think about how you felt the first time you received a drawing from your daughter, grandson or niece. Hanging it on the fridge, every time you see it, the gift brings light and smiles into your life. Homemade gifts are a special way to tell friends and family just how much you love them. Here are some quick, cheap ideas for gifts made at home.

Granola: Everyone loves Christmas cookies and cakes, but a healthy food gift alternative is granola. Package it in a mason jar, tie a recycled ribbon around it and attach the recipe. Give it to: Your skiing buddy. It’s a perfect on-the-go breakfast before the slopes. More information: For recipes, visit http://www.wholeliving.com. It’s Martha Stewart’s healthier counterpart.

Cleaning products: Using organic cleaning products is the most effective way to reduce chemical exposure in your home and to improve indoor air quality. Give a make-your-own green cleaning gift. Package together simple household ingredients with green cleaner recipes. A perfect present for those new to the concept of cleaning without chemicals. Give it to: Pet owners. Since Fido licks the floor, it’s even more important his mommy and daddy use green cleaning products. More information: For recipes, visit http://www.2care.com, home of Annie Bond, the original green cleaning goddess.

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iTunes Playlists: Remember back in the day when you received mix tapes from a crush? You played it over and over again searching for the hidden love messages in the songs. Just because boom boxes are obsolete doesn’t mean we can’t share our feelings through music. The zero-waste way is to create a playlist via iTunes. You can have iTunes send your present in an e-mail or as a gift certificate. Give it to: You know who. More information: http://www.apple.com/itunes.

Giving gifts of charity in your friend or family member’s name is a great way to squash the commercialized holiday culture. There are several local charities and nonprofits that will make sure your money stays in valley. Part of living a more sustainable life is thinking and acting locally.

Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability: The good folks at EVAS help make our community greener by operating our county’s drop-off recycling spots and they cultivate sustainable awareness with community gatherings, workshops and educational programs. The nonprofit has a membership program, which makes a great gift. Give it to: Tree-hugger friend. It comes with a free T-shirt. Contact: Call 970-827-999 or visit http://www.eaglevalleyalliance.org.

Adopt-a-Family: The Vail Valley Salvation Army has a program that allows donors to provide toys and clothing for a family who otherwise couldn’t provide Christmas gifts for their children during the holidays. Give it to: A child. Adopt a family in a child’s name to teach them the real meaning of the holidays. Contact: Call 970-926-3704.

First Descents: For $166 dollars, you can fund a young adult with cancer for one day during a First Descents outdoor adventure program. Give it to: Donate it in your kayaking buddy’s name. Contact: Visit ww.firstdecents.org or call 926-2444.

Freelance writer Cassie Pence is married to the superhero of green cleaning Captain Vacuum, AKA Tim Szurgot. Together they own Organic Housekeepers, a cleaning company that uses strictly organic, natural and nontoxic cleaning products. Look for her upcoming columns on greening the holidays Mondays in the High Life section. Contact her at cassie@organichousekeepers.com.

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