The Unlist: 9 Holiday Gifts Not to Buy


I’m  so over the annual mandatory retail blitz which prompts us to purchase scads of presents no one needs (and few can afford).

Enough is enough. Necessity is one thing; waste is another. Be an angel and give material items only to the needy. Give kisseshomemade jam and DIY potpourri to your family, teachers, bosses, employees and friends. Stick to eco for everything else.

Here is my festive round up of gifts both you and Santa can live without:

A new cell phone


The cynical perspective is that these communication devices are made not to last. From batteries that die prematurely to signals that crash to the uncool technology factor, we are inclined to trade in our models for new bells and whistles. Instead of tossing out (remember, there is no out), research ways to make your battery last through a few more seasons.



AOL Shopping wants you to buy Uggs for the holidays because “they are getting better and better, having evolved from a boho chic trend to an integral part of many people’s wardrobe.” The so-called sheepskin baked potatoes grew 57% in sales last year because of the desire to own newer pairs. Shouldn’t a pair of $200 boots (and I don’t mean the knock-offs) last several winters? I say keep the ones you have lovingly broken in and get them resoled and patched or whatever is needed to endure the city and slopes.



Dear Syd and Lolo: You have been more nice than naughty this year but that doesn’t mean I will buy you  toxic plastic entertainment to junk up your rooms, or virtual computer games or board games, DVD’s or learning gadgets. You hardly use the ones you have and your life won’t be improved by having more under the tree. Let’s take a hike, instead. Love, Santa.



How much paper is wasted on these obligatory annual date keepers that are becoming obsolete? I was at Borders the other day and couldn’t believe the variety, from New Moon to 365 Cats to Nuns Having Fun. The ones that don’t sell are virtually useless, having no shelf life in 2011. Sure, some of them are green, but there are greener ways to schedule your days.



They aren’t a girl’s best friend. Everyone knows chocolate is. Or her Pug dog. Or maybe her laptop. The U.S. is the largest consumer of the rocks, purchasing over $33.7 billion dollars’ worth in 2005. If you must become engaged and do it with diamonds on Dec. 25, buy the conflict-free variety. Otherwise, say it with a handwritten letter or poem.



There are enough existing tree ornaments out there to deck all the halls of the  North Pole and then some. If you’ve busted your balls, buy used or eco tree decor that will last, or trade with friends and loved ones. Make your own DIY felt ornaments with your kids, string some corn, nix the lights or go solar. The more the demand, the more the production, the more the waste. When the old objects get thrown out, remember, there is no “out”.

Personalized Coffee Mugs


They’re far better than throwaway paper cups, but still tacky, and usually are made in China from toxic materials. Sure, Nana might enjoy getting her morning jolt looking at renderings of her precious babies with reindeer ears, but an eco-friendly commuter cup made from corn, stainless steel or recycled post consumer materials is a better way to go, plus, you won’t need a refill of that Joe.

Holiday Gift Baskets


Stores like Costco are make shopping for that boss or neighbors a no-brainer with a pre-packaged $130 junk food basket disguised as a gourmet food orgie. If you must give a basket, why not go with quality, healthy goods, such as fair trade dark chocolate and coffees? I’m sorry, but Jalapeno-blend cheese spread is not organic and summer sausages have Food Inc. written all over them.

Dalmatian Puppies

Rascal, one of the stars of the new 101 Dalmatians Musical was one of dozens of rescue dogs discovered at animal shelters for the stage show. Rescue was found with a broken leg at the side of the road. Like many Dalmatians, he was abandoned when he grew from an adorable Christmas puppy into a energetic teen. Resist buying puppies for Christmas unless they are from a shelter and you plan to see them through adulthood, just as you would a child.


Main Image: NeilT

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.