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Climate Action, It Takes  a Community

A Personal Carbon Tracker

Philipstown Fights Dirty



Climate Action

It Takes A Community

Climate Action
It takes a Community

Nov  9, 2021 

By Krystal Ford - Climate Smart Coordinator

Make Your Holiday Shopping Sustainable & Fun

Let’s use this year’s “shortages” as an opportunity to try something new this holiday season. Let’s buy and give more sustainably.

I agonize every holiday and birthday about buying more toys for my kids. I am not a Grinch. I love seeing the joy on their faces as they tear the wrapping to discover what’s beneath.  But too often, and too quickly, that toy gets tossed aside and gathers dust.


Now, I keep seeing headlines that “Christmas is at risk, as supply chain ‘disaster’ only gets worse.”  And for some reason, I feel a sense of relief.  Maybe, just maybe, the potential shortages will inspire a new way of gift giving. And that is exactly what people and our planet need right now.


The biggest and best gift we can give this year is to move away from a linear economy to a circular economy, defined as “a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible."  In other words, an economy that reduces pollution and unnecessary waste while providing what’s necessary.


Our current linear economy (take-make-waste) is not sustainable. Our landfills are packed, our oceans full of plastic, and the planet is overwhelmed by carbon emissions. And all this stuff is not even making us happy.


I’ve written in the past about the carbon emissions baked into the everyday goods we buy - clothes, furniture, household goods, in a previous article for the PCNR, Buy Local, Buy Used, or Buy Nothing At All. Most of these products are made overseas, shipped in containers, trucked to warehouses, sold in giant big box stores, and, more often than not, delivered right to our doorstep, all steeped in carbon emissions.


Let’s use this year’s “shortages” as an opportunity to try something new this holiday season. Let’s buy and give more sustainably.


I know this isn’t always easy. Over the years, I have tried different approaches to consuming less.  For my son’s third birthday, I had his friends bring plants for a pollinator garden I built for him instead of toys.  But I couldn’t get away with that the next year because he caught on pretty quickly that birthday = toys. I’ve also offered my kids experiences instead of gifts. But they’re young, and well – toys are toys.


This year,I will try a new approach – one that enables me to both give them toys while sharing with others and not adding to the waste cycle. I’m going to participate in a Holiday Toy Swap hosted by Climate Smart Philipstown and the Butterfield Library. They are asking people to bring gently used toys, craft kits, stuffed animals, games, puzzles, and books (limit of one bag of books per person) and swap them for “new” to your kids holiday gift.  Participants can drop off the donations at the Butterfield Library on Friday and Saturday from 10am to 5pm before the event, and “shop” 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 14th. We will also collect new toys for children in need.


For the “big” kids in your life, you can shop sustainably by supporting local businesses and considering numerous greener alternatives including:


  1. Used items make great gifts, and Cold Spring (and Beacon) have lots of antique and vintage clothing stores where you can find almost anything.

  2. An experience can be enjoyed, even after the holidays. And there’s something for everyone. Facial or massage. Pedicure and manicure. A month of yoga. Music lessons. Art classes.  Membership to one of the local museums, art centers, or other local organizations. Dance lessons or a kayak adventure on the Hudson.

  3. Plants or flowers are always lovely.

  4. Books, books, books. I recently gave a box of children’s books that my kids don’t read anymore as a baby shower gift.

  5. Food, whether prepared by you or made by a local restaurant is always appreciated.

  6. Your time.  Are you handy? Do you knit? or bake? What parent wouldn’t appreciate an evening of childcare?

  7. Of course, there is always wine if you can’t think of anything else, and the bottle is recyclable.


Giving gifts is fun and is one way we show love. It builds and reinforces relationships. It feels good to give, and it feels good to receive. By re-thinking what we define as an “acceptable” gift, we can enjoy the holiday season with an unburdened conscious and more manageable amount of stuff. Wishing you a happy and sustainable holiday!

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