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Sustainable Wenatchee is a 501(c)3 non-profit that promotes a culture of environmental stewardship and social sustainability in the Wenatchee Valley.

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Photo donated by Frank Cone

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Buy Less, but Give More, for a Simpler Holiday Season

By Tasha Kaye, Sustainable Wenatchee board member


In a world full of hustle, bustle, and rampant consumerism, how does a simple, slow, and peaceful holiday season sound to you? Just imagine: more time spent peacefully curled up on the couch in front of the twinkling tree lights or playing outdoors in the snow, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. And how does not giving--or receiving--a bunch of gifts that will probably end up as unwanted, unused clutter or at the thrift store within a few months sound?



A true gift is one given with the recipient in mind. A gift can’t always be bought. We can and should give the gift of conversation, of laughter, of listening, of singing and dancing, of eating together, of being healthy together, and of relaxing together. The gifts we give can be thoughtful, needed, and helpful--not plastic or impractical. The holidays don’t have to be an extended homage to consumerism. They can and should be celebrated sustainably and mindfully. Here are some ideas for doing so:


Decorate naturally: Use greenery, branches, pine cones, and berries–all found in nature–to decorate your home. If you don’t have a yard, ask a friend who does, or get a permit from the Forest Service and go for a harvest hike.


Decorate intentionally: Decorate your home to reflect your vision of what the holidays mean. Pull out board games and decks of cards, add cozy blankets and pillows to your living room, or burn holiday-scented soy candles. Create an inviting space and make some memories!


Just say no: You don’t have to go to every holiday party you’re invited to, and you don’t have to host a huge house party, even if you usually do. Choose instead to spend meaningful, one-on-one time with friends and family over dinner at McGlinns or coffee and dessert at Mela.


Give the gift of your time: Your time is more valuable than almost anything else you could give. Spend a day with a friend or relative helping around the house or baking together, cook a meal for a neighbor, or babysit so someone can finally go on a date night.


Buy local and handmade: If you do purchase gifts or decorations, opt for locally-made items that reduce shipping and support makers, artisans, and small merchants. Pybus Market is a wonderful place to shop if you are looking for local items.


Minimize waste: Most wrapping paper is non-recyclable, and burning it emits toxins into the environment. Using natural and recyclable wrapping options keeps more trash out of our landfills. Recycled paper bags, brown or white kraft paper, scraps of fabric, newsprint, old maps, or even a tea towel make creative, personal gift wraps.


Let’s reclaim the true spirit of the holidays by giving more of ourselves, our time, and our love. It will do our souls good, not to mention our wallets and Mother Earth.

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