Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Perfect Gift: A (re-)Useful One

This season, Clean Ocean Action is offering tips on how to green your holiday. Here is the fourth of twelve in COA's '12 Days of Green Giving' series.

By: Zach McCue, Citizen Action Coordinator

This holiday season when looking for gifts for friends and family, it can be tough to nail down that perfect sentimental gift.  Sometimes, a gift that is more useful will better suit your friend or loved one. 

As an environmental organization that works to prevent marine debris, Clean Ocean Action (COA) advocates for folks to cut down their use of plastic water bottles or Styrofoam.  Each summer, COA holds Corporate Beach Sweeps where companies from throughout the region come to Sandy Hook to spend a day of service cleaning the beach.  At the end of the program, COA provides lunch and a presentation on ocean protection, including a brief conversation about how everyday decisions may directly affect what is picked up off the beach. 

I often ask for folks to make the connection from their daily plastic water/soda bottles, plastic utensils and single-use packaging, to what was cleared from the beach.  I point out the dangers that single-use plastics pose to marine wildlife and ask them if they really need to get that “medium French Vanilla with cream and two sugars” in a Styrofoam cup.

Photo Credit: Google Images
It’s easy to advocate for environmental responsibility, but it’s a challenge for that message to translate into action.  For the coffee lovers in your life, consider giving them a reusable coffee mug for Christmas.  Using re-usable mugs reduces plastic, paper, and Styrofoam waste, but can also save you money! 

Every morning when your friend or loved one leaves the house with their coffee in hand, or heads to their local coffee shop to refill their cup, they will not only feel better about doing the right thing for the environment, but hopefully they will think of how you helped them understand that being green is easy and fun!

Coffee mugs aren’t the only reusable gifts you can give friends and family.  Reusable water bottles from your favorite sports team or organization, or re-usable bags from your favorite retailer are great ideas too!

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