By Larraine Roulston:
The school year winds down in couple of weeks, and many students are anxious to give their teachers a
special year-end present. With environmental education and nutrition high on school agendas, it would be wise to help your child select a gift emphasizing what they have learned.
Best to avoid a house gift, as students do not know their teacher’s home decor, what she or he already has, or what space is available to place or store objects. Lotions and perfumes generally contain chemicals and may not be a personal preference. Also avoid overly packaged items as well as the ever-popular fancy paper napkins — both of which would be “off the table” for the zero waste minded teacher.
A more suitable gift would be a bouquet of hand picked flowers or a plant that can be placed on a balcony, deck or added to a flower bed. If, for example, the class studied the monarch butterfly, a package of milkweed seeds and other colorful flower seeds that will attract various pollinators would be welcomed.
For the child with culinary skills, why not bake cookies or make soup? In the spirit of edibles, a basket of local organic fruit, a jar of jam, or fair trade foods are viable options. Another delicious idea is taking a trip to a bulk food store to fill a large decorated mason jar of nuts, raisins, pumpkin seeds, dried fruits, chocolate chips or any other combination to make a creative trail mix. Vegetable seeds would be fun to give. For an herbal touch, an ideal gift is a freshly potted organic basil or rosemary plant.
According to one elementary teacher friend, “Two of the best gifts I received were hand picked strawberries in a reusable jar and a handwritten thank you letter. Another child took the time to put together a collage of words and names that represented ‘me’ all put into a frame which was very sweet. The thought, much more than the cost, is the best gift by a long shot!”
Other teacher friends contributed ideas of a coffee shop gift certificate, a reusable travel mug, beeswax candles, and a charitable donation. My own personal favorite, when I was a volunteer teacher for an environmental club, was a Christmas tree ornament made out of a newspaper picture of myself. When the holiday season rolls around, I always chuckle when it I find it and then fondly recall the big grin of the freckle faced boy who gave it to me.
Teachers, in particular, do not like to think of their students spending money and time shopping for something either expensive or frivolous. A simple thank you letter, poem, drawing, thoughtful homemade craft, or a hug are by far the most memorable.
Larraine authors children’s books on composting. Visit www.castlecompost.com.