New England Thrift:
Spend Your Money on Gifts, Not Gas
By Stefany Gregoire
Energy prices are projected to soar this winter. You may wonder how you’ll do your
holiday shopping and still afford to heat your home. Keeping your gas tank full this
winter will also be a challenge.
Waiting in traffic, looking for parking spaces, and driving long distances for a single
gift are all bad for your wallet and for our air quality.
Here are some simple tips for a more economical holiday season:
Make a shopping list
You do it when you buy groceries, so why not do it before you start your holiday
shopping? Sit down and think about who you’ll buy gifts for – family members and
friends, coworkers, and even your children’s teachers. This will save you the hassle
of rushing off to the store at the last minute. If there is someone on your list who’s
hard to buy for, don’t sweat it! While you’re shopping for other people on your list,
the perfect gift could jump right out at you!
If you enjoy carpentry, knitting, painting, cooking, or other types of crafts, perhaps
you should consider making gifts for people this holiday season. Encourage your
children to make their holiday gifts, too. If you need some inspiration, visit
familycrafts.about.com. Gifts that people can eat, wear, or decorate their homes with
are all the more special when made by a loved one.
Shop at craft fairs and stores that sell New England-made products (if you live here).
Not only will you support local businesses, but you’ll buy quality products that
haven’t been shipped across the country (or the world!). You’ll save fuel in your
own vehicle – and in the delivery trucks.
So you still haven’t found something for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list?
Instead of driving far and wide to get the perfect gift, do a little online shopping.
Most major retailers sell their merchandise on the internet, giving you the
convenience of a secure checkout and fast delivery. Online gift certificates are also
popular. You can print them from your computer and share the ease of online
shopping with your friends and family.
Make one big trip
Instead of spending time by yourself sitting in holiday traffic, invite someone to go
on a one-stop holiday shopping extravaganza. Not only will you both save
gasoline, but you’ll have a great time, too!
Eat at the food court
Stay inside for lunch if you’re shopping at the local mall. Avoid going to a fast-food
drive-up window, since the long lines may leave you waiting in your car with your
engine idling. Every little bit of gasoline you save this holiday season counts for
you and the environment.
This holiday season, spend your money on gifts instead of gas. You’ll have more
time to enjoy the festivities – and you’ll be doing a favor for the environment, too.
About the author:
Stefany Gregoire is the assistant director with the Maine Energy Education Program
with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.