It’s that gift-giving time of year, which can pose a problem for those trying to lower their carbon footprint by owning and buying less. It can take courage to be the one who breaks the mold, but it’s one more way to live your values.

Our Collective Resource Compost team members offered us their suggestions for greener gift giving.

Founder/Owner Erlene Howard likes to give experiences rather than things. Most recently she has been giving theater tickets. If the show is pricey, like Hamilton (Hurry! The show closes January 5), you can buy tickets for one performance. Alternatively, consider purchasing a season subscription from one of the many smaller neighborhood Chicago and Chicagoland theaters.

The League of Chicago Theatres has a great website for exploring theater companies. Go to the ChicagoPlays website and click on the THEATERS tab to see a listing of their member theatres.

The League also has an active Chicago Green Theatre Alliance that encourages, educates, and motivates theatres and theatre professionals to work together to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices in all aspects of their work. They host events that are open to the public like their super fun Pop Up Costume Swap. Sometimes this event includes an e-waste drive. Find them on Facebook.

Customer Service Manager Christine Allender is giving family history gifts this year, downloading documents like ship manifests from

Our newest Zero Waste Consultant Liz Kunkle told us about gifts that her mother-in-law gave all of her grandchildren last year. She chose a family heirloom for each of them that aligned with each of their interests.

Our new Zero Waste Event Coordinator RJ Coleman likes to give the gift of his time, energy and skills. In the past, he’s given the gift of closet or cabinet organization and other fix-it projects that you’d need to hire a handyman for. What skills do you have that you could share?

If none of these suggestions will work for your giftees, Green America has an article highlighting 11 options greener than shopping on Amazon.

If there’s someone on your list who already has everything they need, consider giving the gift of our composting service. Fill out the form on our website, link below. We’ll even send them an e-card on your behalf with everything they’ll need to get started. Our terrific customer service reps can help you decide what level of service makes the most sense for the intended recipient. Generally, a weekly pickup meets the needs of a household of 4 and biweekly is good for 1 or 2 people. Here’s a link to our Give Composting Form.

Need to wrap those gifts? Check out this blog post from last year where we highlighted some of our favorite greener gift wrapping ideas.

We encourage you to be brave and risk being the one who does not give everyone a Target gift card. You may be surprised at how well your greener gifts are received.

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Zero Waste Consultant | Collective Resource, Inc.

Mary Beth strongly believes that, “It’s always better to be doing something rather than nothing.” If you’re thinking of composting at home, she can help you work out what your particular “something” can be.

She’s confident a solution can be tailored to fit anyone’s needs and ambitions. “Anyone who eats can be a CRI customer, whether you are an individual or a large organization. I want you to understand the advantages of composting, and I can show you how CRI can make it easy.” Mary Beth has successfully designed waste diversion strategies for individuals, schools, houses of worship and other communities. She’s received the governor’s Environmental Hero award for her work at her daughter’s school. Whether you’re starting with a backyard bin, a kitchen bucket, a worm farm, or large-scale commercial collection, Mary Beth can be your good-natured guide.