Alternative Gift Registry Eases Eco-Friendly Giving

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Different Kind of Wish List

To ease the transition to more environmentally and socially conscious gift-giving, the Center for a New American Dream created the free Alternative Gift Registry (, which allows people to request homemade, secondhand or other gifts, including charitable donations and gifts of time.

Like many online registries, this one is used predominantly by engaged couples, but its reach is expanding. Since last year, more than 2,000 people have signed up, including families looking to change their holiday habits.

"We know of several families who have used the registry instead of traditional Christmas lists," says Hanaa Rifaey, a senior field manager for the Takoma Park-based nonprofit organization.

Along with requests for donations, users have registered for camping trips, concert tickets and other experiences. Teens and young adults have asked for such practical gifts as textbooks and other school supplies.

Rifaey says the material gifts requested tend to be eco-conscious: organic clothing, reusable bottles and tote bags, or plants. "We also see requests for creativity, like 'anything handmade' and favorite recipes," she says.

-- H.S.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company