Brad Ross: Think green when Christmas giving


When it comes to Christmas shopping, we have “Black Friday,” “Shop Local Saturday” and “Cyber Monday” — and now I’m proposing “Eco-Every Day!”

Why not focus your shopping on things that are sustainable, healthy and good for the environment? The list of items you may be interested in giving is endless, but the following are some suggestions that may stimulate your thinking.

Number 1 on my list would be a membership to a Community Support Agriculture, sometimes called Community-Shared Agriculture (CSA). Depending on how much you want to spend, you may purchase a week worth of local food or up to a year’s membership. The purpose of CSAs is to provide locally grown, fresh food that reduces the need for transport and distribution.

CSAs vary in the way they operate. Some provide a set variety each week and you go on an assigned day and pick up your “basket” of produce and/or perishables. Others have a shopping menu for you to select from. The idea is to find a CSA close to home so that you are able and willing to pick up your weekly fresh food. To find a CSA close to you, go to

If the person you are buying for is a gardener, consider a couple of items that are good for soil health. A composter is an excellent tool for disposing of lawn waste and table scraps and building good quality soil. Composters can be built from wood, such as old shipping pallets (good way to reuse/recycle) or other wood products, such as cedar or treated lumber. For ease of “turning” the compost, tumbling composters are also available.

Rain barrels also make a nice gift for an avid gardener or someone who wants to reduce stormwater runoff from their house and/or shed. These collectors are a great alternate source of water for areas that don’t currently have available water. Rain barrels and tumbling composters can be purchased online, from any big box store or even here at the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District. For more information on composters and composting, go to and search “composting.”

One more item to help the gardener on your list would be to purchase soil sampling lab tests. The recipient would be able to determine the health of their soil and treat accordingly. Professional lab results are the best, most accurate way to go; however, you can also purchase soil test kits at most home improvement stores and nurseries. In my research on this topic, I have found very mixed reviews as to the accuracy of home soil test kits. My recommendation would be to send samples to a professional lab.

If your gifting interests run more toward food stuffs, maple syrup from Ohio woodlots is an excellent gift. It is a sustainable purchase in so many ways: encourages woodlot management, reduces transportation from places far off (such as Canada or Vermont). supports local farmers and woodlot owners, and more. Umm … I can taste those flapjacks now!

Another festive favorite would have to be locally crafted beers and wines from local wineries. Again, supporting local producers and reducing transportation are definitely good for our economy and health.

Finally, a Christmas tradition when my kids were younger was to purchase a live Christmas tree, balled and burlapped, to plant in the yard after Christmas. This is a great way to add needed landscaping in your yard, but you need to plan accordingly. To ensure the success rate of the tree’s survival, the tree should only be indoors four to five days – one week max! And it would be wise to locate the planting site and dig the hole now while the ground is not frozen. Simply dig the hole twice the size of the tree ball, fill it with straw and cover it with a sheet of plywood or tarp until time to plant right after Christmas.

A simple step-by-step instruction can be found at

Why not start now making “Eco-Every Day” purchases a part or your daily living. We will all be better for it. Happy shopping!

Brad Ross

Contributing columnist

Brad Ross is communications specialist at the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be reached at [email protected].

No posts to display