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The holiday season kicks off tomorrow, and we here at Sungevity hope your solar-powered kitchen is filled with the delicious  aromas of the season and with the good cheer of family and friends. At the same time, we know the holidays can be challenging, especially during an economic downturn.  As you gear up for Black Friday (or sit it out in honor of Buy Nothing Day), consider a few frugal and planet-friendly alternatives to the traditional shopping frenzy:

Websites that allow people to swap and share household and personal items abound.  Some of them are set up to allow you to rent your stuff for a small fee, while others simply facilitate trading and “freecycling” of unwanted stuff. Check out:

freecycle.org

neighborgoods.net

rentalic.com

snapgoods.com

As for gifts, consider a $15 gift subscription to Green American, which helps connect consumers with low-impact products and financial services or, for a stocking stuffer, you can buy organic handkerchiefs (or make them yourself out of old sheets).

Beware of “greenwashed” products that simply slap an “eco-friendly” label on the package of a basically worthless piece of you-know-what.  My personal favorite is the digital “yoga/meditation timer”–in case you didn’t already have enough timepieces (on your cell phone, your wrist, your oven, your microwave, your DVD player and your bedside alarm clock), here’s another one that’s made in China of non-renewable metals and requires two AAA batteries–you’ll have to meditate for an eternity to figure out what’s green about this product.

Another gift option is to make a donation in someone’s name to an organization they like. Some of our local favorites are Solar Richmond, which trains and places youth in solar industry jobs and the Wild Equity Institute, which brings attention to the often-overlooked issue of environmental degradation of the urban edges of the Bay Area.

Final holiday tip: We’ve extended our offer of a $200 Whole Foods gift certificate through the end of the month.  If you or anyone you know is considering signing up for a solar lease, may as well do it now so you can stock up on groceries once the Thanksgiving leftovers are all gone.

Happy  Thanksgiving!

–Erica Etelson

Posted by Danny Kennedy

Danny Kennedy co-founded Sungevity and now serves as strategic advisor. He is an internationally recognized opinion leader on climate and energy issues. He is the author of Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy - and Planet - from Dirty Energy (2012), a book that has been described as the clean energy manifesto for the next greatest generation.