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Sustainable Gift Giving during this Holiday Season

This article appeared in the on-line magazine for actors The Networker, in December 2010.

The Holiday Season is officially here and the Black Friday frenzy has passed but the pressure to shop is just beginning. A minor flurry of virtual greetings have gone out, soon to be followed by ambitious good intentions of hand-made cards, ornaments and gifts.

In the next few weeks, spare time will be consumed by online shopping trips and visits to the mall, all in pursuit of the perfect gift or the best deal or the unique inspiration that will result in the squeals of joy from family members, friends, agents, managers and Casting Directors (not necessarily in that order!).
There is no shortage of stuff and there is no shortage of suggestions, but I’d like to add a few sustainable ideas to the mix, to make shopping even more effortless and guilt-free.

One way to guarantee that your gift won’t end up at Goodwill or hidden in a garage or a closet after the Holidays, is if you give gift cards. With Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites, it’s now easier then ever to find out what your friends wish for or what their interests are. Starbucks also lets you create a card with a custom message like the one I created here.

If you have an Amazon account, you can create a wishlist and you can find your friends wishlist through their email address as well. (Be careful that you don’t have your address publicly listed unless you have a PO Box!) Other stores like Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond have gift registry as well.

When you are looking for gifts, I’d like to encourage you to buy gifts made in the US. Sure they are a bit more expensive but they support our families, reduce carbon footprints and buying American products will help our economy.

When you send a gift to your Agent, Manager or a Casting Director, make sure to personalize it, so that they will always remember you.

SUSTAINABLE GIFTING IDEAS:

Custom Coffee mugs: made in America, ceramic, $11.95 + $6.95 S&H.

Vermont Organic soaps: made in America, organic and packaged in cardboard, $3.99.

Spa and guest soaps in Jar: made in America, soaps in glass jar: starts at $24.90.

Beautiful candles: made in America, stored in glass jare, packaged in beautiful keepsake box, $32.

Large Chopstick Folding Basket: made in America with recycled chopstick: $32 (price varies by size of basket).

Ready Made Magazine Subscription: Wonderful magazine that will inspire you to make new things with old products. This magazine is clever and a lot of fun: $6.99/year.

The Urban Homestead: A couple of Urban Homesteaders from Los Angeles show you how to live the sustainable life in an urban environment. $12.21 at Amazon.

Journals: printed and assembled in America, $12.

Treasure Box: handmade in America, aluminum, $26 (personalize it inside and/or outside the box).

Recycled glass jewelry: made in the US, metal and glass, starts at $15.95.

Fruit tree or shade tree: Grown in America (smile) and 100% sustainable for sure. Get many trees for anybody and everybody because this gift will keep on giving for many years to come.

Handmade Choker: made in America and part of sales donated to thyroid cancer research: $20.

Pre-paid phone card to support our troops: supported by SAG. Donate any amount of your choice.

Hemp Wallet: made in America from organic hemp, $24.95.

There are hundreds of American made sustainable items that you can look for on the web if you Google made in the US sustainable gifts. Take your time finding what is right and buy what is good for the long term, that will last for generations and that will benefit everybody in the long term!

GIFTS FOR ACTORS AND ACTRESSES:

1. Acting class – buy a month or two or six months of acting classes for your daughter, son, mom or dad.

2. Professional headshots – get your loved one a professional headshot session. This is the fist thing an actor will need to represent their business.

3. Website – after the headshot, the website is the second most important business tool for an actor. The website is the actor’s business tool and it’s a must in this day and age!

4. Union Dues – Gift your loved one his or her union dues fee for 6 months. AFTRA, SAG, or EQUITY, this would be a great gift for any actor!

5. Rent – help out your family member with rent cost if you can. It’s expensive to live in Hollywood, New York, Chicago, where the entertainment industry is centered.

OTHER WAYS TO GIVE SUSTAINABLE GIFTS:

– Give services instead of goods.
– Give vintage items or collectibles.
– Give non-electronic items (no plug-in, no batteries).
– Give virtual gifts like Apps, software, e-books, online music, Netflix subscription, etc.
– Give the gift of donation to a great cause:

A lot of these gifts and many other sustainable ones you can get from local stores in your neighborhood. Walk around, support small businesses, and take your canvas bags with you at all times, not only to be sustainable but also to protect yourself from theft.

I wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season filled with Love, Health, Peace and Prosperity and a wonderful and very Happy New Year!