Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Gifts that Go Green for Your Holidays

Janis Petzel, M.D.

Looking for gift ideas this year that will not only please the recipient but will ease the path to a greener world, and which won’t create (much) pollution or trash? Here’s a list to inspire your creativity. The idea is to reduce consumerism as much as possible while keeping the environment in mind when we do buy things. We focus here on gifts to individuals but encourage everyone to also think about gifts to the community in the form of volunteering, public service and general kindness to one another.

The Gift of Warmth:

Donate money or time to make energy-saving insulated window inserts with Window Dressers ( to benefit members of your community. Mainers can amplify their gifts via PowerMarket*

For the Do-It-Yourselfer:

  • Old fashioned rotary eggbeater
  • Clothes pins or drying rack
  • Window films to protect birds from collisions (Audubon Society has great information)
  • Food dehydrator
  • Glass food storage containers with non-plastic lids
  • Kitchen compost container and outdoor receptacle
  • Worm culture composter kit
  • Rechargeable electric tools (drills, weed whackers, lawnmowers, chain saws. etc)
  • Seeds or seedlings

To Save Money on Electricity or to Turn Down the Thermostat:

  • Community Solar membership (see Mainers can amplify this gift*
  • Programmable thermostat
  • Wool socks or sweaters (bonus points if you make them yourself)
  • Comforters
  • Insulated window shades
  • LED lightbulbs
  • Kill a Watt meter to measure energy use by gadgets and appliances

Delicious Food or Support a Local Farmer:

We are blessed to have beautiful local produce, beer, breads, cider, cheeses, jams and jellies, maple syrup, pickles, sustainably raised meats, seafood, shellfish, sea veggies, and wine all from the loving hard work of local people. All great gifts. If you don’t grow your own or make items yourself, support a local producer.

For a child:

  • Books and time to read together
  • A special outing to the library to get the child’s own library card, or for story hour
  • Art and craft supplies and journals (non-electronic)
  • A bicycle and helmet
  • Outdoor experiences
  • Start a child-sized garden outdoors or on your windowsill
  • Plant a tree. As the tree and the child grow, add a swing
  • Look at the stars together
  • Teach the child to swim or kayak or camp or hike or hunt

Gifts of Time or Experience:

  • Help someone put in a garden or a place to compost
  • Share a meal
  • Help put up a clothesline
  • Park or botanical garden passes

Gifts of Knowledge and Inspiration:

  • Memberships: My favorites are MOFGA, Wild Seed Project and The American Chestnut Foundation, but whatever group is important to you and your loved ones
  • Books: My favorites include Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening by Will Bonsall; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and family; Blowout by Rachel Maddow; Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard; Bringing Nature Home and Nature’s Best Hope both by Doug Tallamy

Extravagant or Legacy gifts:

  • Electric bicycle
  • Solar panels
  • Batteries to go with solar panels
  • Upgrades to a house—insulation, heat pump, new windows, etc.
  • An all-electric vehicle or truck

*Bonus combo for Mainers:

  • PowerMarket ( will donate $100 to Window Dressers for each new community solar membership in Maine if you include the promo code INSERTS on page 1 of your application.

Janis Petzel, MD is a physician, grandmother and climate activist whose writing focusses on resilience, climate, and health. She lives in Islesboro, Maine where she advocates and acts for a fossil-fuel free future. She serves on the Islesboro Energy Committee and is a Climate Ambassador for Physicians for Social Responsibility.

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