Dreaming of a Green Holiday
Check out these offbeat ideas for DIYers and home improvement buffs who want to give the gift of a green holiday this year.
Anyone who is passionate about a cause knows that it’s easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk. This is certainly true for folks who are approaching the gift-giving season with hopes of staying true to sustainable or “green” values. For DIYers and home-improvement buffs interested in green gifts, here are a few options that you won’t find in catalogs or on well-visited websites:
Embellish an artifact.
Who needs new furniture when there’s a treasure trove available at local second-hand shops? It can be fun (and green) to rescue an old picture frame, add your own embellishments (stain, paint, a special photo) and create a gift with a great back story. Decorative shelves, old books, and antique tools are other abandoned objects that make great gifts.
Chalk it up.
A chalkboard is a green alternative to paper note pads, and you can make one or many of these paper-saving devices from plywood, primer and chalkboard paint. An independent lumber yard (as opposed to a big box store) can supply you with some plywood scraps. Cut your boards to size, sand them smooth, then apply primer and two coats of chalkboard paint. This specially formulated finish actually contains slate dust to provide the look, feel and function of an old-fashioned chalkboard. You can add a wood frame, or simply paint on a frame using some contrasting enamel.
Give a gift that grows.
A green thumb definitely goes along with greener living. Get your friends thinking about spring with a gift of seeds for a backyard vegetable garden. To add some heft to your growing gift, you can tape your seed packets to a new trowel or include some potting soil with your seeds.
How about a true house-warming gift?
A permanent way to ward off winter’s chill is to seal air leaks in a home’s building envelope and upgrade insulation levels. But before undertaking these improvements, it’s smart to have an energy audit that provides more comprehensive recommendations for reducing home energy consumption. A gift certificate for a home energy audit provides a clear path to a house that’s greener and also less costly to heat and cool. The auditing company you select should have energy analysts certified by the Building Performance Institute. Here is more information on common home energy problems.
Try some news you can use.
If you haven’t done so already, check out an amazing website run by the U.S. Dept. of Energy. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency lists hundreds of incentives available to home and business owners who undertake a wide variety of energy-saving (green) improvements. Everything from ENERGY STAR® appliances to solar panels and ground-source heat pumps are covered; you’ll find grants, rebates and tax incentives from state, federal, utility and nonprofit sources. If you want to give your house (and thus, your family) an energy-efficient gift this season, begin your research here.