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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bluegrass PRIDE: Earth-friendly gifts for
the holidays? It’s easier than you may think

By Blair Hecker
KyForward contributor
 

There are two things you should know about me. First, I LOVE Christmas. I start counting down in July, listen to Christmas music in November and spend an entire weekend decorating my house.
 

I love everything about the holidays, right down to the dreaded task of Christmas shopping. Every year I spend large amounts of time planning, making and purchasing unique gifts for my friends and family.
 

Second, I love themes. I celebrate, and decorate, for every single holiday no matter how small. I even decorated my entire house for the Summer Olympics this year. I regularly throw themed parties based on holidays and events that include a specific menu, décor and, of course, costumes for guests.
 

All that being said, the past few years for Christmas I have tried to give myself a theme for Christmas presents for my family and friends. With each of these themes, I always try to figure out how I can give environmentally responsible or waste-free gifts.
 

Two years ago, my first year at Bluegrass PRIDE, I gave myself the challenge of making all my gifts out of recycled materials. I created recycled jewelry, gifts from toilet paper tubes and did some knitting. Last year, in honor of Small Business Saturday, I purchased all my gifts from local businesses throughout the entire season. This year (spoiler alert!), my husband and I will be giving gifts of experiences and quality time. Things like visits to local attractions, concerts and cooking classes are all on our Christmas shopping list.
 

So, why give experiences? There are many reasons this year’s theme is a winner. First, I’ve enjoyed researching and putting together lists of attractions, classes, museums and concerts that my family and friends will enjoy attending. It’s helped me learn more about my state and city.
 

Second, my husband and I are trying to create experiences that we can participate in with our families. Without giving too much away, instead of just gifting a gift card for a restaurant, we are planning to cook meals for family members or take them out to eat. This means we will be spending more quality time with our loved ones in 2013.
 

The third reason is that experiences are the ultimate waste-free gift. This year our gifts will not be producing landfill-bound plastic packaging, wrapping paper or tape. We are also doing most of our shopping and purchasing online, saving fuel. Sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial and Pete’s Deals are extremely helpful in finding our gifts of experience, as well as Kentucky Tourism’s website. These are all things that make us feel even better about our purchases.
 

In your holiday preparations this year, I encourage you to think of ways you can be waste-free, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Reducing the waste of your gift can mean anything from using recyclable wrapping paper or products (or experiences!). And most importantly, don’t ever overlook the gift of quality time. Have a happy, waste-free, holiday season!
 

Blair Hecker is an environmental educator with Bluegrass PRIDE. She spent the past two years with PRIDE as the AmeriCorps member, and recently joined the staff as a full time educator. Blair works with elementary schools in Fayette and surrounding counties. She received a bachelor of arts in religion from Georgetown College and resides in Frankfort.

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