Marking the Holidays, Gently

Thursday, November 29, 2007


"Gift giving is a good place to start thinking about being environmentally aware this holiday season," says Bonnie Trust Dahan, co-founder of catalogue and Web retailer VivaTerra ("living earth"), which sells handcrafted, organic and sustainable products. She suggests that one way consumers can think green, wherever they shop, is to take into account the lasting nature of the presents they are giving. "Don't make them disposable."

Consider giving someone a helpful service rather than more stuff. A gift certificate from an Earth-friendly housecleaning company might be much appreciated after the holidays. Green Clean (, based in Greenbelt, for example, charges about $120 to $150 per cleaning.

Or how about giving a clutter-challenged friend a consultation with a professional organizer? You can find one through the National Association of Professional Organizers, at Their consultations run from $50 to $125 an hour.

Through the National Association of Home Inspectors ( you can locate a professional to evaluate the energy efficiency of a home as part of a complete home inspection, which typically runs from $275 to $450.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's list of green gifts includes another helpful suggestion: a cloth diaper service. "Services are nicer than things people have to return or find a place for or feel guilty about not liking," says Barry Izsak, a past president of the organizers group.

Re-gifting is the oldest form of recycling. And buying vintage or secondhand treasures is becoming more popular.

The very least you can do: Take a reusable shopping bag with you to the stores.

Jura Koncius

© 2007 The Washington Post Company