The Green Mama Guide to Holiday Giving

‘Tis the season of giving, and not just to our friends and family members. It’s important to stop in the midst of the bustle for a little breather. What can we do for those who are not as fortunate? The people out there hustling just to keep their bellies full and their toes toasty warm.

Finding time, energy & cash flow

I know it may seem as if there isn’t a moment left or a dime to spare for those who are not already part of our lives. I am definitely one of those moms who has a heart for others, but I just feel so spent during my most depleted time of year. So I find myself shrugging off those altruistic desires once again.

Not this year! This blog has filled me with so much passion and energy that I am about to spread it around . .

Giving the “Green mama” Way

Typically holiday giving campaigns involve a lot of canned goods, plastic toys, new coats and plenty of packaging. But why can’t green mamas access their healthy and waste-free living knowledge when gifting to the needy as well?

Truth is, we totally CAN!!! We ALL deserve to live toxin-free, and the environment can be respected just as easily when being charitable. Let me show you how.

Where to Give

Your Local Food Pantry

This is the time of year when all the food pantries that serve undernourished families are pushing giving campaigns in an attempt to replenish dwindling supplies. Unless you’re in hiding, you will likely come upon them either in your local grocery or at a holiday event at some point over the coming weeks.

Here is a link you can use to locate yours. Following is a list of non-toxic non-perishables for #greencleangiving!

*Eden canned beans (the only canned goods company that doesn’t contain endocrine disruptors in the lining–linings are made from plant resin instead of chemicals)

*Organic nut butters –the high oil content in nuts helps them to absorb the pesticides that are often sprayed onto them after they are picked and cracked to stave off bugs.

*Organic rolled oats – conventional oats are high in pesticides

*Unsweetened organic applesauce – apples are on the dirty dozen list

*Low sodium canned veggies – if they are on the dirty dozen list, make sure they are organic

*Pacific soups in the tetrapaks – avoid those endocrine disrupting chemicals;this is especially important when the product contains tomatoes as the high acidity increases chemical leeching

*Canned salmon or mackerel – these fish are at the bottom of the food chain, so they contain very low levels of mercury and other toxins

*Canned herring – another fish at the bottom of the food chain

*Basmati rice – lower in arsenic than other rices

*Quinoa – lower levels of arsenic and a high protein content

*Polenta or grits – negligible levels of arsenic

*Unsalted nuts & seeds – buy organic if the nuts are already shelled

*Shelf-stable milk substitutes – purchase non-gmo verified (butterfly symbol)

*Whole grain boxed pastas – plastic free is always best!

*Low sodium organic pasta sauces – only if glass jars are allowed;tomatoes’ acidity encourages leaching of bpa linings in cans

*Organic popcorn kernels or bagged popcorn – avoid the pesticides in the conventional version

*Organic whole-grain, low sugar cold cereals – the grains in conventional cereals are often high in pesticides

*Organic olive, coconut or other oils – free from pesticides and processing chemical

*Tetrapak organic tomatoes – no bpa lining to worry about

*Organic dried fruits, no sugar added – conventional dried fruits contain sulfites as a preservative

*Raw honey – contains no artificial sweeteners or fillers AND does not filter out the health benefit

Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots

Every year the Marines initiate a huge campaign for toy donations for the underprivileged over the holiday season. Toys for Tots dropboxes are placed all over cities throughout the country for a few months, and then toys are personally delivered beginning mid-December.

Following are some ideas for green, clean Toys for Tots donations:

*Wooden toys – non-toxic, eco-friendly brands include Hape, Plan Toys & Haba

*Green Toys brand – made from recycled plastic milk jugs, they are bpa and pvc-free; fine for children over 3, but I wouldn’t trust them with the “mouthing age” due to other possible chemicals

*Organic cotton – stuffed animals & soft toys for babies

*Gently used Amazon.com toys – Select the “used” option when making your purchase, just make sure it is “used, like new”

Salvation Army’s Angel Tree
Salvation Army’s Angel Tree

Salvation Army’s Angel Tree is the program behind all of those trees with wish tags that you see in malls and elsewhere, out-and-about during the holidays. You simply take a tag, shop for the items the child has requested, and then return them unwrapped to the drop off box at the same location.

Follow the same guidelines when buying toys as with Toys for Tots. If the item the child is collecting is clothing related, Thredup.com is a great option due to their “like-new” quality. If the item is a personal care product, run products through EWG.com’s database to ensure that they are safe.

Operation Christmas Child
Operation Christmas Child

This is a fun project for a family to do together, and a great way to reuse shoeboxes!

Donations are collected by Samaritan’s Purse the week of November 18th to the 25th at various churches all over the country, and then shipped throughout the world to children in need. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to pack your boxes.

With this program, there is no requirement that the gifts be brand new; so I would suggest scouring thrift shops for toys, clothing and other items on the list. Just make sure that they show no wear. Or perhaps you have some of the items in your own personal purging stash.

By selecting used items that don’t actually appear used, you are able to share the holidays with needy children in the same non-toxic way that you buy your own children’s gifts. Used gifts have off gassed most of their chemicals already. On top of that, you remain respectful of your environmental values as a green mama by reducing packaging and waste.

OxFam Unwrapped
OxFam Unwrapped

This is an awesome option for giving a gift in honor of someone on your list who has everything; especially if that person is a very altruistic type of person themselves.

You can select from a variety of eco-friendly gifts, anything from an organic garden or composting toilets to a bicycle or even solar panels. After your purchase, you will receive a card to give to your giftee. Then you both will have the joy of knowing that you contributed to someone’s primal need in lieu of a more frivolous gift. So cool

Better World Books
Better World Books

Holiday giving that won’t cost a thing! Have any extra books that aren’t really serving a purpose in your household anymore? Donate them to Better World Books and they will sell them online to raise funds for non-profit literacy organizations. Any remaining books are then donated or recycled.

Locate your nearest dropbox or ship them to:

Attention: Donations
Better World Books
55740 Currant Road
Mishawaka, IN 46545

#GreenCleanGiving

I am going to be participating in some of these holiday giving campaigns over the coming weeks and sharing photos with the hashtag GreenCleanGiving on Go, Green Mama’s social media. I encourage readers to share photos of their donations under the same hashtag.

Would you like to read more from Go, Green Mamas? Sign up for my newsletter and receive access to my free resources for going green!


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8 comments

  1. Love this guide! it really reflects the true meaning of the season. I didn’t realize there was so many ways to help! This is a definitely a holiday tradition I want to start with my little guy

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