The holidays are upon us, and with it the desire and the pressure to provide gifts that are thoughtfully chosen. For those of us who are invested in how we’re impacting the environment, the holidays can provide a distinct chance to highlight the benefit of conservation to the people you care about.
For friends and family alike, if done tastefully, the gifts you give can both express who you are and what you care about, and impress those in your life as well. It’s a season when gifts give a unique platform; what are your gifts saying?
Make Your Gift a Donation
One way to showcase to those you love the value you see in conserving and protecting the environment is to utilize your funds in a manner that demonstrates where your heart lies.
Because this is an uncommon thing to do, it's important that you consider it thoughtfully. Donating to an organization in the name of someone whom you know has issues with the specific goals of or the internal structure of the organization is not going to influence anyone in a positive manner.
Similarly, when you are considering who to donate in the name of, a serious traditionalist may not be right either. If your grandmother is going to find anything but a typical gift wrapped under the tree tacky, then she’s not going to respond to this type of gift.
This is the gift for the person in your life who is not only open to the idea of conservatism, but is also open to philanthropy as well as unexpected gifts.
To further ensure that this goes over well, make sure you donate to a group where the money will be used wisely. You can pursue a list of top-rated environmental charities, and you can also give via sites like justgive.com and networkforgood.com, which are nonprofits that offer charity gift baskets that can make the gift all the more festive.
Of course, include the information that makes the gift meaningful. Why did you choose the organization you did? How do you see the donation making a meaningful impact? Why did you decide to donate in the specific loved one’s name? Let them know and increase the awareness garnered by your donation.
Take Your Loved Ones Outside
This point should go without saying, but if you’re hoping to encourage those around you to see the value of this earth and the problems it faces, there is nothing better you can do than to get them outside. Nature is its own best advocate.
Not only is it the most convincing thing you can do when you’re hoping to encourage the people you care about, but it's also good for people in your life. You don’t just feel better after being in nature, you are better — it’s a scientific fact.
So if you’re hoping to convey the value of preserving the health of the outdoors to your friends and family, and you’re hosting some of the holiday festivities, utilize the opportunity.
Whether you’re going to have a white Christmas or not, and whether your people are physically prepared for some serious thrills or not, you can make it work. The key to this is finding the right outdoor space.
If you are adventuring with others in snow, highlight the areas around them that will demonstrate the loveliness of the season. Make sure you’re equipped to drive in the snow, and that the glory of the outdoors isn’t overshadowed by the stress of the drive itself.
And even if you're in the warmer part of the country during the holidays, you can still invest in outdoor exploring. Some adventure ideas from expert outdoorsmen in the west, that are tailored for involving parents include:
- Fly fishing — What dad is not down for a day of fishing?
- Sailing — The perfect option if you are including those who will best enjoy the outdoors from a seated position.
- Exploring national parks — If you’ve got kids in tow, there’s nothing like spending the day in a national park.
- Rafting — For the serious adventurers in your life, the water and the landscape will work together to capture the affection of your guests.
Give the Gift of Education
It can’t be stressed enough that it’s crucial to approach this type of gift-giving humbly. Because of the nature of this gift, it is especially fitting for the next generation of individuals in your life who are likely still fleshing out what their opinions are on an eco-friendly worldview.
Buy them a membership. Consider purchasing a membership to a local, environmentally-oriented organization. Whether it’s a green non-profit or an entity like a zoo or aquarium that specializes in conservation, providing the means for individuals to participate can create just the opportunity for a newfound understanding.
Pay their way on a trip. It’s possible that your loved ones live in an area where they can participate in events and field trips put together by organizations that specialize in providing education; what’s better than hands-on learning that will have lasting impact?
In Concordia University’s assessment of critical thinking they point out that a main tenant is, “Analyzing and assessing the validity of facts and ideas.” One of the best ways to make that happen is to do more than take another’s word for it, but to become an active participant.
Subscribe in their name. There are some solid publications that you can purchase on behalf of others that will give consistent, thought-provoking reading. For both adults and kids alike, the options exist. For example, Ranger Rick — a children’s magazine produced by the National Wildlife Federation — and the Nature Conservancy Magazine are both full of thought-provoking content that will get people of all ages thinking about the environment.
The important thing to remember through all of this is that the opportunity to communicate about things that matter during the holidays will only remain an opportunity if it is approached tactfully and graciously.
Pushing viewpoints and material in a self-righteous, condescending way is sure to produce a response that isn’t actually beneficial. The best policy is to give the people in your life the grace that you’d hope would be extended to you in the areas where you may not be strong. If you’re hoping to make conservation the star of holidays, the supporting characters must be kindness and thoughtfulness.