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Go Green: Give Nothing

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Why is it that every holiday shopping season, I somehow believe the most useless mechanized piece of plastic will make the perfect Christmas gift?

Exhibit A: Christmas 1996. I gave my father the Sharper Image Dual-Turbo Nose Hair Clipper. Two rotary cutting heads trimming in perfect harmony, blades whirling at an impressive 6,000 RPM, every last unsuspecting nose hair, hacked into oblivion . . . what was I thinking?


Exhibit B: Christmas 2003: I gave my mother a Jesse "The Body" Ventura political action figure. Does my mother play with action figures? Does yours? And why would either care for a wrestler turned governor of Minnesota? Funny how Jesse, "The Body" Ventura rests--original plastic wrap and all--in the depths of my closet.


Exhibit C: Christmas 2005. The Archie Mcphee Electronic Yodeling Pickle for unspecified recipient. It comes with detachable plastic lederhosen. Enough said.


Perhaps I was confused. The flashing Christmas lights, the caroling, the handsome sales assistant laughing at my jokes . . . but there is simply no excuse for buying and giving these terrible gifts. Even eggnog spiked with hallucinogens would not permit such lapse in taste and judgment.

With only 12 days of holiday shopping left, I'm taking a vow to give "green gifts" this year. And by "green", I don't mean solar powered gadgets or biodegradable hemp socks. I'm just giving gifts that people actually want, that won't end up stashed in the back of a closet--or worse, the landfill.

It will take a little extra research, some creativity, perhaps even a bit more time, but there are plenty of "green gifts" out there. Just think of useful things that don't require batteries, excessive packaging and hefty carbon emissions.

Take for example, a "service gift." My father hates junk mail--hates it--so he's getting a subscription to Green Dimes, a program that stops unwanted mail. My Grandmother is a glutton for massages. No doubt she will get one this Christmas.

Another gift that's super green and doesn't require any thing at all, is the donation. A financial contribution cuts back on consumption and helps those who really need. My favorite organizations include:

Aside from the Biomimicry Institute and David Suzuki's Foundation, I'm a huge fan of Heifer International. This program cracks me up! For just $20-$150 dollars I can bequest a sheep, cow, goat, or llama to a family in need. The family will use the animal to generate milk, food and clothing. My mother, a true giver, the one who holds my family together, would love this gift. I'll write her a silly card that says, "a llama for my mama."

Given my new efforts to be a bit more conscious, I'm trying to think of gifts as a reflection of the recipient. Although I don't think my mother is like a llama, I do think she is generous and self-sacrificing. A llama in her name signifies her authentic, non-toxic and "green" munificence.

For more holiday season tips, click here for more from Huffington Post's Living!