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2007-06-16 - 9:28 a.m.

...finally a great gift idea...

Some people have an innate sense for finding just the right present for their friends and family. I never know what to get people for their birthdays.

Okay, maybe not NEVER. Sometimes, I do see things that scream another person's name at me. But I just don't shop that much anymore. Ever since K and I instituted our 'no stuff' policy about a year and a half ago, our goal has been eliminate without replacement (with a few exceptions*).

Once you've curtailed your contribution to consumer culture, it's tough to find material gifts for other people, because you simply stop looking at things. Also, when the majority of friends and family are far, far away, it's much harder to find something that you know will suit them, and make them laugh.

Today is my mother's birthday, which is what got me started thinking about this whole thing. My mother and stepfather have instituted a similar 'no gift' policy with their children. This is kind of tough, because I want to send them SOMETHING that acknowledges that I'm thinking of them.

Last week, I visited a great website that will help me to offset the CO2 emissions from my upcoming flight to the UK. Airplanes and autos produce a LOT of CO2 that contribute to global climate change. Now when I have to travel, I try to minimize my airline flights, but I also contribute a few dollars to renewable energy programs to offset the ~3 tonnes of carbon that will be produced by my flights. It's not expensive, and something within the grasp of all people who feel trapped by their car travel. I've checked out the organization, and it is legit, and one of the most successful in actually accomplishing its renewable energy targets.

You may see where this is going. My parents are flying and driving fiends. And now at last I've got a present that that won't accumulate in a dusty closet. I purchased them a carbon credit for 4000 miles of driving.

I was a little nervous about what their response would be: there goes their weird green daughter again. But pleasantly, mom loved the idea. In fact they are buying credits for my their son-in-law's birthday next week. Phew! In retrospect, I should have guessed that she'd like it (they gave us a lovely contribution to the World Wildlife Fund for Christmas). I hope that my suburbanite brother and sister-in-law will feel the same way...


*Thus far we have planned no baby purchases - but are expecting a huge influx of used goods from my sister-in-law this summer.

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