How giving a gift can embody the spirit of Earth Day all year around

PIRG’s guide to giving more by buying less offers environmentally friendly options

Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to think hard about the gifts we give to family and friends. With Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and graduation season around the corner – not to mention countless long-delayed weddings and birthdays always popping, now is a great time to reimagine gift-giving in ways that are friendly to the environment and our wallets.

To help in that process, PIRG has developed its Buy Less, Give More gift guide, which contains 10 ideas for gifts that people will not only use and appreciate but should also avoid ending up in landfills.

Among the ideas:

Help someone learn something new – Instead of buying the new couple another set of towels or a warm-and-fuzzy photo frame that will end up in a closet, give a gift certificate for a class the newlyweds can enjoy. Maybe cooking or glass-blowing or beer-making.

Do chores or tasks – Rather than purchasing mom or dad another necklace or tie, give something that costs less but takes more effort. ​​Offer to do a spring clean up on their yard and lay mulch; agree to paint an interior room; or organize their garage. Completing tasks like these is the equivalent of giving two gifts in one: You get the job done and save the recipient time to do something else.

Repair as a gift – Maybe a friend has a beloved piece of jewelry that needs repair or a bike that requires a tune up. Perhaps, a loved one has a favorite jacket that has to get a new zipper or a laptop that should have its  battery replaced. Taking care of these types of tasks can be a great gift.


For all of our non-traditional gift ideas that can help the environment not just one Earth Day but also throughout the year, see our Buy Less, Give More guide.


Teresa Murray

Consumer Watchdog, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Teresa directs the Consumer Watchdog office, which looks out for consumers’ health, safety and financial security. Previously, she worked as a journalist covering consumer issues and personal finance for two decades for Ohio’s largest daily newspaper. She received dozens of state and national journalism awards, including Best Columnist in Ohio, a National Headliner Award for coverage of the 2008-09 financial crisis, and a journalism public service award for exposing improper billing practices by Verizon that affected 15 million customers nationwide. Teresa and her husband live in Greater Cleveland and have two sons. She enjoys biking, house projects and music, and serves on her church missions team and stewardship board.