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Can a Gift Registry be Green?

August 4, 2011

Gift registries have been around for nearly a hundred years, although technology is what brought them to the masses. They are still beloved by some and detested by others. Whether you find them to be useful or tacky, it is highly likely that they will be with us for the long term.

Traditional Gift Giving

It is possible to create a registry for any occasion from birthdays, baby showers, or bar mitzvahs to weddings. Practically every store on the planet makes it simple to create a gift registry and get the details of where to locate it to all the friends and relatives invited to join you in celebration. You can essentially ask for anything that you want, but is that necessary? Luxurious registries have come under attack lately in the press for celebrities, like Kim Kardashian who reportedly opened one at Geary’s Beverly Hills, who are being too extravagant. Even if you aren’t a Kardashian, your guests may critique your choices as they peruse the list. This is partly why some find registries to be in poor taste.

I personally like the idea of a gift registry, especially when it is done with class and thought. I even feel that having a registry is a greener idea than not having one. Your guests know exactly what you need instead of giving you what they ‘think’ you need. (A road map so to speak.) It is possible to create far less waste from your celebration in this way. You won’t feel obligated to clutter your home with items that just aren’t ‘you’ and you won’t need to ask for a receipt to return the duplicate items that inevitably appear or are just unwanted. The key to making a registry work though is to truly think through what you do really need, and not simply fill it full of items that looked cute when you were in the store. It isn’t meant for simple wants or passing fancies.

Some tips for a cleaner, greener gift registry include:

  1. Choose classic pieces instead of trendy ones. These are less likely to go out of style and be discarded in later years.
  2. Choose well-constructed pieces that are designed to last instead of to be used and thrown away.
  3. Register for eco-friendly, sustainable, non-toxic items.
  4. When registering for items that replace what you already own, line up someone or somewhere that can reuse or recycle what you’ve chosen to replace. Don’t simply trash the old when the new arrives.
  5. There are green shops that offer gift registries like peekagreen.com or naturallygood.net.
  6. Ask a local retailer to create a registry for you at their shop; your favorite, or course. Thus also supporting your local economy.
  7. Create your registry through the I Do Foundation and retailers will donate up to 10% to the charity of your choice as guests make their purchases.

Of course, you can certainly be more creative than a traditional gift registry as well. There are plenty of alternatives to simply asking for gifts. These ideas are growing in popularity for families that live in small, urban locations, will little room for more possessions, as well as with couples marrying for a second time or who have lived on their own for a while. Registries like the below truly cut down on the waste created by special occasions since there is no packaging, and some of them even ‘pay it forward.’

  1. No gifts allowed, charities only registry for guests to donate to your favorite charitable organizations: http://www.changingthepresent.org or http://www.idofoundation.org
  2. Ask guests to help fulfill your wishes, whether large or small, through cash gifts toward your dreams: http://www.uponourstar.com
  3. Guests can help you relax and enjoy your honeymoon with gifts for romantic dinners or excursions: http://www.honeyfund.com
  4. Have you already given your child anything they could ever ask for? Gifts toward college are a great way to go: http://www.birthdayfund.com

There are many other options on the web, and even some banks are offering similar (although not as simple) alternatives like these. Choosing an alternative registry also spreads the word that they exist and gives your guests something to feel good about.

The gift giving in this fashion can go both ways. While you are on some of these sites you will also notice that it is possible to give back to your guests in the same way you are asking them to give to you. Favors are often given to guests and then quickly eaten, left behind, or trashed when the guest arrives home. Think about making donations to charity in each guests name or giving charity gift cards that allow the guest to choose their favorite charity to give to. This is a thoughtful gift that may make a lasting impression, not to mention supports non-profits that do so much.

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