Giving the gift of oneself is the most sustainable and green gift of all. This can be as simple as a note (on recycled paper) promising to do a chore or help out, a donation to a recipient’s favored charity or just a charity that helps the less fortunate enjoy the holidays and more. There are other more tangible gifts that fall into the sustainable category, such as theater tickets – which help support the arts – and paying for yogi, Pilates or other classes at health centers. Here are just five suggestions for sustainable holiday gifts in Connecticut.

Yoga, Pilates and Meditation Classes
Sustainable Health & Wellness Center
2 Tunxis Road, Suite 209
Tariffville, CT 06081
(860) 217-1171
A gift that truly keeps on giving is a gift of education – and giving a friend or loved one the gift of classes in Kripalu Yoga, Classic Mat Pilates and Sufi Mediation at the Sustainable Health and Wellness Center is a gentle and peaceful one, and one perhaps made even better if the giver comes along to take the same class. Sustainable Health & Wellness in Tariffville (also known as “historic Simsbury) is a “center for vital living” and is devoted to “sustainable, holistic living practices that enhance vitality and optimize health.” The 13 members on staff are trained and certified in many forms of naturopathic medicine, therapeutic exercise, weight loss and other disciplines (including acupuncture), and in addition to offering consultations and classes, the center also carries a line of skincare products, all of which are made from sustainable ingredients and all of which are also available as gifts.
Support the Arts With Theater Tickets
Hartford Stage
50 Church St.
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 527-5151
Theater tickets make great stocking stuffers at Christmas or as gifts to mark Hanukkah and other holidays. They do not need to be wrapped, and can be placed inside the envelope with that holiday card (the one made from recycled materials, of course). They are a triple gift, for not only do they offer an afternoon or evening of entertainment, but they also help support the arts and the artists who make that entertainment possible. Many theaters have closed in these hard times and keeping places like the Hartford Stage open is important to keep the arts alive in Connecticut. The Hartford Stage has many fine productions on its current schedule. Check out the website for more information.
Farm Shares from Farm-to-Door Community Supported Agriculture
Stone Gardens Farm
83 Saw Mill City Road
Shelton, CT 06484
(203) 929-2003
Like many local farmers in Connecticut, Fred and Stacia Monahan of Stone Gardens Farm in Shelton offer farm shares, where for a fixed up-front subscription, members can come regularly or even weekly to pick up a “share” of the farm’s harvest. This can be eggs, dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables, newly slaughtered beef, lamb or pork or dressed chickens or turkeys, herbs or other farm products.  Giving someone a farm share not only assures them a regular supply of healthy, fresh and organic food, it also supports the local farm. Community Supported Agriculture or CSA programs are a big part of keeping local farming and farmers alive and, no pun intended, growing. Many such programs also have gift certificates for use at their local farmers’ markets, and these usually come at a discount.
Donate in a Friend’s Name So Others May Eat
Connecticut Food Bank
PO Box 8686
New Haven, CT 06531
(203) 469-5000
Families usually feast at the holidays, but there are many families, especially this year with Food Stamp programs being cut in states including Connecticut, reducing contributions to organizations that help feed the poor. Connecticut Food Bank is in desperate need of funds, and not just to put turkey dinners on holiday tables for the less fortunate. Tens of thousands of people in Connecticut depend on local food banks for their daily bread – literally. Making a contribution in someone’s name to such a charity, perhaps one in their community or one sponsored by the school, house of worship or organization to which they belong or support, is in the best traditions of the true spirit of the season – the spirit of giving.

Give the Gift of Yourself
The Chocolate Lab
1114 E. Putnam Ave.
Greenwich, CT 06878
(203) 698-6980
Nothing says “I love you” or “you are my friend” more than an offer to give of oneself. A simple note (on recycled paper) in a gift card (also from recycled materials) offering to do a chore (weed the garden, clean the gutters, take the pets to the groomers), make a meal, babysit, watch the dog or do anything that would make the recipient’s life a little easier for just one day, afternoon or evening is a gift from the heart – and one that can help sustain a relationship among family or friends. As an added bonus, why not attach the card to a pie, cake, batch of cookies or something else baked at home just for them or, if the giver is not a baker, some candy from The Chocolate Lab, which “goes beyond fair trade” practices in using cocoa and other products made by green, sustainable and “transformational” companies (those that make the chocolate in the country of the cocoa bean’s origin). After all, the holidays do go better with chocolate.

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Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at


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