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Hurricane Maria evacuees worry about jobs, housing, and if they’ll ever go home

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, 1,700 evacuees from Puerto Rico have received housing assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This past week, those Puerto Ricans faced being displaced again as a deadline approached that would have forced them to move out of hotel rooms, mostly in Florida, that were being paid for by the U.S. government.

Temporary Shelter Assistance (TSA) for those affected by Maria was scheduled to end on June 30. But advocates rallied for an extension, as well as a plan to provide more long-term housing to those who were forced to flee Puerto Rico.

After levying a lawsuit against FEMA, the effort was successful in achieving a brief reprieve. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that evacuees could retain occupancy of their hotel rooms until July 23. While it’s a momentary relief, these displaced Puerto Ricans still face several hurdles in setting up a new life post-Maria.

Grist spoke with three TSA recipients who moved to the Orlando area after the hurricane. All of them expressed uncertainty about the futures of them and their families. And the new deadline now looms large as they work to find jobs, more permanent housing, or a way back to their island home. (The sources’ accounts have been edited for clarity and concision.)

Ariana Colon, 20

Colon was a nursing student when Hurricane Maria hit. She and her boyfriend have a one-year-old son and another baby on the way. They’re staying at a Holiday Inn in Kissimmee, Florida.

I moved in December. My boyfriend came in October to make sure he was going to have a job first before we actually came here. It’s been really hard because I’ve never been to Florida before, so it’s kind of like trying to learn how everything goes here.

When we were in Puerto Rico, the governor of Florida was saying that there would be a lot of assistance. But once we came here it was the opposite. We did get the assistance from the TSA program, but other than that, there was nothing. We had to do everything ourselves, even though we came with just a suitcase with some clothes with it. We didn’t come with money. It was more like we came here by force after everything that happened.

We didn’t lose our home, it was more everything that happened after the hurricane: no electricity, no water, no food. I spent a lot of days trying to find one can of formula for my baby. He was actually getting sick because of the smell of the generators. He got a lung infection.

In Puerto Rico, there was tropical weather. It was so hot inside that he couldn’t sleep, so I would have to sleep outside or sleep on roof so he could. It was more for my son that we decided to come because he was suffering a lot. He was five months old at the time, so he was really small.

At first I couldn’t work because I didn’t have daycare. Daycare is really expensive. So my boyfriend was working by himself, and I wasn’t receiving any benefits from the government, like food stamps or WIC (a food program, specifically aimed at women, infants, and children). I started receiving those later on, after maybe three months. Everything was coming out of our pockets, so we couldn’t save a lot in that time.

Then I was trying to get assistance from the state that helps you pay for daycare. I got it in April, and that’s when I started working in a fast food restaurant and trying to save more. But even with that, I spend like maybe half of what I make on daycare — and that only covers five hours Monday through Friday, so I can’t really have a full-time job.

It’s been really stressful, not knowing if you’re going to have a roof over your head or not, and having a baby makes it 10 times worse. I was freaking out about this — like, “Oh my god, I have to move everything again.” Because we have actually moved; we’ve been in four different hotels.

People say, “You’re staying in a hotel. It must be nice.” But it’s really not, staying in a hotel room for such a long time and having [hotel staff] coming in and out. You never know when someone’s going to open the door. Having everything stuck together in a small room is really uncomfortable. We can’t cook, because there’s no kitchen. You’re not comfortable at all. It is a roof and a bed, but it’s not how people think.

Pregnancy is really hard, and it obviously wasn’t planned so it’s kind of hard having to think about all this stress with the FEMA situation and then dealing with my baby. I feel like I have a lot of pressure on me. But I’m managing to fight through it.

Right now, we do have a plan. My boyfriend has a car in Puerto Rico that he’s trying to get here. With that car, he can do Uber. And we’re going to hope that doing that we can probably make more and get an apartment sooner.

So this [TSA extension] gave us a little more time. Instead of wasting money on a room that we’re going to be forced to rent — because obviously we can’t just stay in the street with my son — we can use that money to bring the car and start making more and see if that works out. I don’t think we have any more options.

Victor Oliveras, 26

Oliveras ran a small construction business in Las Marias, Puerto Rico, before Hurricane Maria destroyed his home. On June 30, the day TSA was originally scheduled to end, he moved out of a Super 8 motel and in with a Florida resident who had offered a room in his house to Victor and his girlfriend. He’s now working as a canvasser for the local nonprofit Organize Florida, where he’s helping to register Puerto Ricans to vote. (He spoke to Grist via a translator.)

Last month and this month, I had anxiety and depression. I went to bed every night without knowing what I can do. When you don’t have your own place, it’s horrible. It’s a nightmare.

I don’t want to stay in the hotel anymore. FEMA extended the program, but at any time you can end up on the street and be homeless. So I didn’t apply for the extension. I would rather stay in the bedroom that I rent because I feel safe. Now I don’t live with anxiety anymore because I have my own bedroom, I feel comfortable.

Here I’m alone. I’m with my girlfriend, but I don’t have family here. In Puerto Rico, I had my own company and built houses. I’m saving money to begin my small business in Puerto Rico again — and so I can stay with my family.

I want to move to Puerto Rico in December, but I need to find a house or an apartment there. The rent in Puerto Rico is cheaper than here by far, but I need money so I am working here to save up.

María Báez Claudio, 53

Claudia is a grandmother living with her five-year-old grandson, who has a disability that affects his motor skills, as well as his ability to talk. They are staying together at a Super 8 motel in Kissimmee, Florida. She applied for more permanent housing assistance through the Methodist Church, but is still on a waiting list. (She spoke to Grist via a translator.)

After the hurricane, with my grandson’s condition and few medical resources, I decided that the best thing to do was to come to Florida. Being alone and staying in a hotel with my grandson with a disability can be complicated. It’s a bit tough to go through sometimes. I’m grateful with him being able to go to therapy and go to school. I feel that he has gotten better because of those things. I’m thankful for that.

I’ve been anxious, worried, desperate, not knowing what’s going to happen [with TSA]. Today, I have a little bit of piece of mind, but overall it has been a hard experience. I’m hoping they can give me at least another month [beyond the July 23 deadline], because I have to figure things out.

I hope I have an apartment to live in and a job to sustain us and to be able to give my grandson stability and a good life. What keeps me going is the love that I have for my grandson — every time I look at him I find the strength to keep going.

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Hurricane Maria evacuees worry about jobs, housing, and if they’ll ever go home

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8 Green Tips for 8 Days of Hanukkah


Happy Hanukkah! Running from today, Dec. 12, to Dec. 20 this year, Hanukkah is a holiday rooted in conservation — consider that a one-day supply of oil lasted a miraculous eight days. You can stretch your resources just as far by keeping these eight tips in mind for an eco-friendly celebration.

1. Burn clean candles.

Instead of candles made of petroleum-based paraffin wax, look for ones that use beeswax, soy or coconut.

2. Give gifts that are experiences.

The presents can really pile up when you have eight days of gift giving. Instead of adding more stuff to your life, give experience-based items like a cooking class or tickets to a sporting event. If your kids receive a lot of toys, have them choose one old toy to donate for each new one they get.

3. Reuse gift wrap.

Speaking of presents, the wrapping paper can really add up, too. Get creative by wrapping your gifts in reusable bags or other things you have around the house. Then save all the gift bags from this year to use for next year. If you do buy new gift wrap, choose a kind that’s recyclable.

4. Make just the right amount of food.

Leftovers can be great, but don’t cook so much that it ends up going to waste. You can figure out just what you need to make by using this waste-free dinner calculator.

5. Dispose of oil properly.

Ah, latkes. Those little potato pancakes go hand in hand with Hanukkah. When you’re done frying them in oil, don’t pour it down the drain! Here’s what to do instead.

6. Serve your meals on reusable dishes.

It might seem easier to buy some paper plates and plastic utensils if you’re hosting a big shindig, but using real plates and forks is the better choice.

7. Buy fair-trade chocolate.

Chocolate gelt — chocolate “coins” wrapped in gold and silver — is a fun tradition, but mass-produced chocolate does no favors for the environment. Look for fair-trade, ethically sourced options instead.

8. Avoid cheap plastic accessories.

Instead of buying little plastic dreidels and disposable menorahs, go for high-quality, handmade items. The up-front cost might be higher, but the environmental footprint, especially if the items are passed down through the generations, is much lower.

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By Eric Murrell If you’re interested in smart home gadgets …Earth911December 11, 2017


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Recycling Solar Glasses After the Eclipse


Plenty of people are rocking eyewear today with funky rectangular paper frames.

In peak demand for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse in North America, these specs are all about protecting the peepers. As you probably know, it’s not safe to look at the sun without appropriate eyewear. Regular dark sunglasses are not sufficient protection, according to vision safety information from NASA and the American Astronomical Society.


With the buzz about the exciting event darkening the daytime sky, eclipse glasses equipped with solar filters have sold out at retail stores and online vendors. Some variations are plastic. Others are bamboo. Lots feature relatively inexpensive paper frames.

About 2.1 million paper versions provided by Space Science Institute/National Center for Interactive Learning in partnership with other organizations were distributed by thousands of libraries in the United States. American Paper Optics in Tennessee sent out a press release stating that the firm would be working to produce 100,000,000 pairs of eclipse glasses. American Paper Optics is among various vendors with products meeting safety standards as listed on the American Astronomical Society website.

After enjoying the eclipse experience, lots of observers are likely deciding what to do with their solar glasses. Here’s what you should know:


Remove the protective solar-filter lenses before tossing paper frames into the recycling bin. While recycling rules vary in different regions, if the frames are paper or cardboard, they’re likely acceptable with other paper recyclables, according to Patrick Morgan, recycling specialist for Oregon Metro in Portland. The solar filter doesn’t belong in traditional household recycling, he says. Most paper products are recyclable, unless they feature a moisture-resistant coating, such as frozen food packages.
Toss out the solar-filter lenses. Or perhaps phone a camera store that processes film and ask if they recycle that type of film, suggests Brooks Mitchell, education coordinator for the nonprofit Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Trash unwanted plastic frames, which likely would not be acceptable with traditional plastic recycling, says Morgan and other recycling representatives.
For any questions, phone your local recycling authority.

Solar eclipse. Photo: NASA.gov

Reusing & Repurposing

Display the glasses as a souvenir. Mitchell says he’ll likely hang them on his bulletin board. The glasses, he says, will serve “to remind myself of the awesome celestial experience.”
Depending on the style and instructions, the eclipse glasses may be reusable, at least for a limited time, as long as the protective filter is not scratched, punctured, torn or damaged in another way. Read instructions printed on or packaged with the glasses. Because the glasses are so inexpensive, some solar observers say you should avoid the risk of saving an older version for the future, even if the packaging does not specify a time limit. (By the way, the next total eclipse in the United States rolls through the sky April 8, 2024.)

Astronmers Without Borders

 and partners are launching a project to distribute eclipse glasses to schools in South America and Asia for eclipses in 2019. Information about where to submit glasses is going to be featured on the organization’s



For an extra effort to repurpose the glasses, ask officials at schools, libraries and recreation programs if they want them for astronomy activities, says Irene Pease, board member of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York.
Be innovative. “I wouldn’t mind a pair of eclipse-filter earrings … as an astro-fashion statement,” Pease says.
Kristan Mitchell, executive director of trade association Oregon Refuse & Recycling Association, says the glasses are so dark, she may devise a way to repurpose them as a sleeping mask.

Image: Shutterstock

Read More:

Everything You Need to Know About Paper Recycling
The 5 Weirdest Things You Can Recycle Through Terracycle
Top 10 Companies Using the Sun for Power
Latest Posts

Patti Roth

Patti began her writing career as a staff writer for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Still based in Florida, Patti serves as editor for Fort Lauderdale on the Cheap. She regularly writes about environmental, home improvement, education, recycling, art, architecture, wildlife, travel and pet topics.

Latest posts by Patti Roth (see all)

Recycling Solar Glasses After the Eclipse – August 21, 2017
University Recycling 101: How College Students Go Green – August 16, 2017
Bike Baristas Create Coffee with Their Own Pedal Power – June 28, 2017


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Humans have been causing record-breaking heat since 1937

Humans have been causing record-breaking heat since 1937

By on 9 Mar 2016commentsShare

Ah, the 1930s. What a decade. There were fireside chats, dance marathons, Twinkies, and Superman comics. Billie Holiday recorded “Summertime,” Nancy Drew started to give Sherlock a run for his money, and — apparently — goldfish gulping became a thing. But it wasn’t all jazz and Wonder Bread. There was also devastating economic collapse, crippling drought, and, according to a new study, the earliest case of a human-induced heatwave.

Reporting in the latest issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a group of scientists found that starting in 1937, humans have been at least partly to blame for 16 record-breaking heat events. They used computer models to simulate the past with and without anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and found that these events were “very unlikely to have occurred” without our influence.

Of course, there’s been a lot of talk lately about our role in recent heatwaves and extreme weather events. We just experienced the warmest winter on record, and sea-level rise is already worsening dramatic flooding in the U.S. This, however, is the first time that researchers have tried to tease out when we could first start to place blame. And as one of the study’s authors put it in a press release, Australia proved to be “the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the world.”

That’s because much of the Northern Hemisphere — especially Central Europe and East Asia — experienced a delay in heating for much of the 20th century due to aerosol pollution reflecting sunlight. Australia, meanwhile, was isolated from the bulk of that pollution and thus got to experience the full brunt of greenhouse gas emissions right from the get-go.

The rest of the world has since caught up, so we northerners can no longer use one form of pollution to delay the effects of another. Bummer.

On the plus side, we can start planning for next year’s 80th anniversary of the earliest known anthropogenic-related heat event. Because if there’s one thing that humans are good at, it’s trivializing major world events with superficial holidays. Here are a few things to consider when planning your party: 1937 was the year that we got Kix cereal, Spam, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Rolos, and Smarties. It’s also when Amelia Earhart disappeared, the Hindenburg exploded, and the unemployment rate in the U.S. hit 14 percent.

Personally, I’m thinking a mid-summer processed food potluck with live jazz and a desert motif. I’ll also be serving these climate change cocktails.



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Donald Trump Celebrated Elton John’s Same-Sex Marriage in 2005

Mother Jones

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Donald Trump’s leap to the front of the Republican presidential pack has been fueled by consistent support among self-described evangelical voters, and as a candidate, he is on record as opposing same-sex marriage. As the Human Rights Campaign puts it:

Trump has been a consistent opponent of marriage equality. He said that he opposed it because he was a “traditional” guy, choosing to support domestic partnership benefits instead. Trump later reversed himself and said he also opposed civil unions. Despite a brief flirtation with “evolving” in 2013, Trump has consistently maintained his opposition to marriage equality, sometimes by citing polling and making an analogy to his dislike of long golf putters. After the Supreme Court ruling, Trump said the court had made its decision and, although he disagreed with the ruling, he did not support a constitutional amendment that would allow states to re-ban marriage equality. He later said he would appoint Supreme Court judges who would be committed to overturning the ruling.

But once upon a time, Trump was in favor of same-sex marriage—at least one such marriage. That was when Elton John wedded his longtime partner David Furnish.

In December 2005, Trump wrote a blog post on the website of his now-defunct Trump University, and it was one big wet kiss to Elton and his groom, declaring their marriage a holiday-season happening to celebrate. Here is the full post:

There’s a lot to celebrate this holiday season. Elton John married his long-time partner David Furnish on December 21. That’s the first day that civil partnerships between gay couples became legal in England under the new Civil Partnership Act.

Elton credits David with helping him kick drug and alcohol addictions that nearly killed him. The pair has been together for 12 years. I know both of them and they get along wonderfully. It’s a marriage that’s going to work.

Elton made the ceremony a small private affair involving only his and David’s parents as witnesses. The couple just didn’t want to make a big deal out of the wedding. They really wanted to keep things low key.

By all accounts, Elton and David had every tabloid and every entertainment magazine knocking at their door begging for exclusive rights to the affair. By some news reports, the couple turned down an offer of $11 million to record their wedding for British television. But Elton said, “Our relationship isn’t up for grabs. It doesn’t come with a price tag.”

In any event, I’m very happy for them. If two people dig each other, they dig each other. Good luck, Elton. Good luck, David. Have a great life.

(But because I wasn’t invited, do I still have to send them a toaster?)

Those are hardly the words of a man sincerely opposed to same-sex marriage. Has Trump evolved in the reverse direction? In January, Trump said that if elected president he would “strongly consider” appointing Supreme Court justices who would overturn the court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage.

Meanwhile, Elton John also appears to have to forgotten Trump’s well-wishes for his wedding. Last month, he told Trump to stop using his songs at campaign rallies.

A screenshot of the blog post


Donald Trump Celebrated Elton John’s Same-Sex Marriage in 2005

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Donald Trump’s Tax Plan Is Far More Sensational Than Jeb Bush’s

Mother Jones

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The folks at the Tax Policy Center have spurned my advice to spend more time with their families, instead spending their holiday weekends beavering away on an analysis of Donald Trump’s tax plan. And the important news is that it’s bigger, more energetic, and altogether more taxerrific than Jeb Bush’s weak-tea excuse for a tax plan. Bush would increase the national debt by 28 percentage points over the next decade. Trump kills it with a 39 point increase in red ink. Bush raises the federal deficit by $1 trillion in 2026. Trump goes big and increases it by $1.6 trillion. Bush’s plan costs $6.8 trillion over ten years. Trump’s plan clocks in at a budget-busting $9.5 trillion. And Bush reduces the tax rate of the super-rich by a meager 7.6 percent. Trump buries him by slashing tax rates for the Wall Street set by 12.5 percent.

Once again, Bush has brought a knife to a gun fight, and Trump has slapped him silly. This is why Trump is a winner. Merry Christmas, billionaires!

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5 Energy-Saving Gifts Any Home Can Use

Are you running out of gift ideas? Here are five possibilities that are popular because they save money, help reduce climate change and are just unusual enough that someone probably wouldn’t by them for him or herself.

1) Nest Thermostat – The Nest Thermostat takes programmable thermostats to a whole new level. Its auto-schedule feature enables it to learn what temperatures you like throughout the day, and then program itself to automatically operate at those temps. The device will automatically turn itself down when nobody’s home to help you save energy. You can connect to your WiFi and control the temperature in your home from your phone, tablet or laptop. And to give you an incentive to save energy, a cute little green leaf will show up on the front of the thermostat when you choose an energy-saving temperature. Though the Nest costs about $250, it could save you 10-12 percent a year on your heating bills and as much as 15 percent on your cooling bills, so it will pay for itself in just a couple of year. The device works with 95 percent of 24V heating and cooling systems, including gas, electric, forced air, heat pump, radiant, oil, hot water, solar and geothermal. You can buy it online at Nest.com or at Home Depot.

2) LED bulb – LED bulbs are starting to catch on, but because they’re somewhat more expensive and sometimes look a little unusual, some consumers have been dragging their heels about buying them. I always give LED bulbs to people as housewarming gifts, but they make good holiday gifts, as well. They are more durable than compact fluorescent bulbs, so can withstand significant temperature fluctuations (CFLs can be very slow to turn on and illuminate in cold weather). Unlike regular incandescents, they don’t generate mostly heat. An LED is all about light, and a lot of it. The key is to get an LED that meets ENERGY STAR’s certifications for light quality and performance. You can get more information about LED bulbs on the ENERGY STAR website. Once installed, you may not have to change an LED bulb for a good 10 years or so. That in itself is a gift worth giving!

3) The Wonderbag – Wonderbag is a non-electric, portable slow cooker. It almost looks like a medium sized pouffy pillow that your cat might sit on. But in fact, it’s made up nifty insulated blocks wrapped in colorful fabric that, by some genius means, can effectively cook food that’s placed inside the bag. All you have to do is bring food to a boil, then take it off your stove, and put a lid on it. Wonderbag will do all the rest. I’ve used mine to make yogurt in; instead of keeping my oven on warm while my yogurt firms up, I put that hot bowl of yogurt mix, covered, into the Wonderbag and tie it close. Six or so hours later, I’ve got delicious yogurt. BONUS: For every Wonderbag purchased in North America, one is donated to a family in Africa. This low-tech cooking technology is being hailed as an affordable solution to climate change because it can help families stop burning coal and wood when they cook. Can’t figure out how it works? These videos explain.

4) Heated shawl or heated lap blanket – Do you hate to shiver when you’re working, reading, knitting or watching TV? But hate more turning up the heat for the whole house just so you won’t freeze in your chair? An electric shawl or lap blanket could be the perfect gift either for yourself or for family or friends. You can adjust the temperature to be warm or hot, and if you go with a shawl design, you’ll be able to use your hands to read, sew, knit, work on your computer, or do other tasks. Search online for “heated shawl.” You’ll find several options to choose from if you search “heated shawl or lap blanket” online.

5) Solar chargers to recharge phones, tablets, possibly laptops – Who could use a solar charger? Someone who goes hiking and camping and needs to keep his devices powered up. Someone who lives in an area that is prone to power outages. Someone who is traveling and can’t rely on having an electrical outlet and the right amount of power available. Or just anyone who’d like to cut their carbon footprint a little bit by recharging via the sun rather than a coal-fired plug. You can find solar chargers online, but also at stores as diverse as REI, Land’s End, Home Depot and Best Buy. Before you buy, you might want to read this review in the Wirecutter. They researched 69 solar chargers and spent 22 hours testing eight of them in the desert. They recommend the RAVPower 15W Solar Charger, which costs $50, saying it can charge most phones at near full speed and an iPad Air2 in roughly five hours of clear sunlight.

Tips and Tricks to Avoid Overspending This Holiday
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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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The Truth About Styrofoam (Infographic)

You know that awful squeaking sound that styrofoam makes when it touches just about anything? That’s a warning sound for us all.

During the holiday season, several items you purchase may be packaged in styrofoam. While you certainly can’t control exactly what packaging a company decides to use, you can make your voice heard by creating a petition to ban usage of styrofoam or sign a current petition.

Why might you want styrofoam banned in your state or country? It can take up to 500 years to decompose. Less than one percent is recycled. There’s a human health impact because styrofoam contains a known carcinogen, benzene. Furthermore, there are so many alternatives to the plastic foam that we can do without it. Read more about the impacts of styrofoam in this infographic from Wheels for Wishes.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.


The Truth About Styrofoam (Infographic)

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7 Alternatives to Holiday Gift Exchanges

If the holiday season can feel a bit too materialistic for your liking, rest assured that youre not alone. Dont feel pressured to head to the nearest mall just because other people expect you to. There are many other meaningful ways you can share with others that dont involve directly exchanging material gifts.

1. Volunteer

This is great to do in groups. Spending quality time together can be a precious opportunity, especially in the busyness of the holiday season.

Try volunteering for a few hours with your family or friends at a favorite local charity. You can prepare meals at a soup kitchen, help out at an animal shelter or teach a fun class at a school or retirement home.

Another option is to create your own project. Check if anyone you know needs a shed built, some painting done or help organizing their basement. Set up a time and invite your loved ones over to take part.

And dont forget your workplace. Volunteering as a group can also make a great holiday office party. Try checking out VolunteerMatch.org for options available near you.

2. Donate

Many organizations that are working to improve our world need our support. Giving money to charities can make a much greater difference in the world compared to buying another short-lived stocking stuffer.

You can donate to an organization that you know a person on your list would support, then give them a card to let them know you were thinking of them.

Check if any charities where you live have adopt a family programs where you can sponsor a family in need for the holidays. A local Salvation Army will typically have programs like this.

3. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Suggest to family and friends that you all agree to give away items you no longer want rather than acquiring more this year.

It can also be helpful to organize a group swap in order to do something with all that extra stuff. Ask each person to bring a number of items they no longer want to the swap. Lay out all the items in the middle of a room and invite everyone to take something new home with them. If theres anything left at the end, simply box it up and take it to a local charity.

4. Travel

A group trip with family and/or friends can be a great way to enjoy each others company for the holidays without the material burden.

You can all decide to go on a long, international trip together if thats the consensus. But a small-scale trip, such as a day out to a neighboring town, can be just as fun.

And if youd prefer not to travel at all, you can always host a potluck at your place. Ask people not to bring any gifts, just their favorite dish and their wonderful company.

5. Host a Cookie Swap

Try hosting an old-fashioned cookie exchange, where each person brings a few dozen of their best cookies or other holiday baking.

It can be stepped up a notch by making it a packing party. Everyone can bring tins, plastic boxes or other containers, as well as packing materials. Once youve all swapped goodies, you can pack them up to send to out-of-town family and friends.

6. Book Exchange

Let friends and family know youd like to trade books this year. Ask them to share a book they really enjoyed with you and youll do the same.

You can also get together and start a Little Free Library project. This is an organization that helps people around the world to build their own little libraries, which are usually small wooden structures near peoples homes filled with books. Their slogan is take a book, leave a book, and everyone in the community is welcome to participate. Their website has lots of details on getting started.

7. Share Yourself

Instead of a material gift, you can share something personal. Sing your family a song at the dinner table, write a poem for a friend or offer to give a relaxing massage.

If you have a particular skill youd like to share, consider offering a lesson or a class for the people in your life.

Do you and your loved ones have any alternative traditions for holiday giving? Feel free to post any of your ideas in the comments!

5 Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Wrap Ideas
16 DIY Holiday Gifts for Everyone on Your List
7 Ways to Fend Off Holiday Stress (& Stay Grateful!)

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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7 Alternatives to Holiday Gift Exchanges

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Go Green (And Red) With These Holiday Gift Tips


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Go Green (And Red) With These Holiday Gift Tips

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