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The 12 Green Days of Christmas

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The 12 Green Days of Christmas

Not only do I find the song – The Twelve Days of Christmas — incredibly annoying, it’s also highly impractical. Woe to the gift-giver who offers me a partridge in a pear tree or anyone drumming, piping, leaping or dancing. I’d prefer a pair of warm gloves, please.

To deter those who take their cue from the excess of the season, I offer up my annual guide to the 12 Green Days of Christmas – gifts that are a pleasure to give…and to receive. And gifts that won’t make Mother Nature blanche.

1st day: A programmable thermostat. You can save 2 % on your heating bill for every 1°C (2°F) you lower the thermostat. Look for a thermostat with the Energy Star logo.

2nd day: A low-flow showerhead for you that will restrict water output to no more than 2.5 gallons per minute. You’ll use 25 to 60 percent less water and 50 percent less energy than with a conventional unit. And at only $10 to $20 per showerhead, it’s the perfect gift for someone you’d like to shower with.

3rd day: LEGO – Kids aged three and up love these tried-and-truly non-toxic (no PVC, no lead!). The past year has seen more recalls in kids’ toys than ever before. LEGO remains a toy box staple.

4th day: Give the gift of no junk mail by registering the person on your Christmas list with 41 Pounds.  It’s estimated that the average adult receives 41 pounds (19 kg) of junk mail every year. 41 Pounds will rid you of 80 – 95 percent of this, saving millions of trees in the process.

5th day: A membership in Community Supported Agriculture. Your membership fee – which will provide you farm-fresh produce for about five months – allows local family farmers to stay in business, while offering up their generally organic goodies. Find one by asking at your local farmer’s market or visiting

6th day: Buy your six-year-old some sweatshop-free play clothes from American Apparel. All clothes are made in LA in a factory that pays workers a fair wage. You can even buy organic cotton t-shirts, leggings and more. Prices are reasonable and the clothes are well-made to last. Visit

7th day: A week’s worth of earth-saving undies! Green Knickers is a UK-based company that offers panties in organic and fair-trade cotton, hemp, silk and bamboo. They’re beautiful and ethical and come in a gorgeous, hand-made gift box made of recycled materials from a worker’s cooperative in Nepal. Visit

8th day: Buy your eight-year-old a "green" book. There are plenty of kids’ picks this year, including the latest Harry Potter tome, printed on recycled paper, This is My Planet: The Kids’ Guide to Global Warming by Jan Thornhill or The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon, among others.

9th day: Offer up gifts for everyone on your Christmas list in a great-looking reusable bag. While there are plenty available right in your own neighborhood, you can also find them online:

10th day: Buy your 10-year-old some beauty products that ensure her health – inside and out. As the body’s largest organ, our skin is at least as susceptible to toxins as any other. tweenBEAUTY was created to offer tweens products that are free of parabens, phthalates and other chemicals we don’t want in our tweens. Find out more at

11th day: A case (minus one for taste-testing by the gift-buyer) of organic or locally brewed beer. There are more micro-breweries popping up every day – offering up local and frequently organic beer. Ask at your local Beer Store.

12th day: A year’s worth of green power. While an extravagant gift, offering up the gift of green power is one with incredible dividends to the planet. Green power essentially means purchasing the equivalent amount of power a household uses from "green" sources, such as wind, solar or low-impact hydroelectric. In Ontario, the only "green" power source is through Bullfrog Power at

Leslie Garrett is the author of The Virtuous Consumer: Your Essential Shopping Guide for a Better, Kinder, Healthier World (New World Library). Go to