Father's Day is coming up on Sunday, June 17th. While buying Dad a gift is something you can look forward to, take some time to think about the environmental impact of what you hand him. With so many green alternatives, giving him an Earth-friendly Father's Day can be both cheap and fun as well!
One great eco-friendly option is to pick an activity for you and Dad to do together, instead of giving him a tangible gift. Taking some time out of your busy schedule to go on a hike or learn a new craft (like homebrewing) can be even more meaningful than an actual present. Read on for ten gifts that are easy on the wallet... and easy on the environment too!
Make An Eco-Friendly Barbeque
Many Dads love a good barbeque, so here are a few ideas for grilling fun with a lower carbon footprint. <a href="http://www.greenbrideguide.com/" target="_hplink">Green Bride Guide</a> suggests using an all-natural charcoal for the grill, bring reusable utensils and <a href="http://www.bigdipperwaxworks.com/" target="_hplink">keep away the bugs</a> without the toxic chemicals. Throw some veggies on the grill and cut back on the meat to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/18/environment-eat-less-meat-cheese-dairy-health_n_901464.html" target="_hplink">further reduce</a> your carbon footprint. Dad isn't willing to forgo his burger? Then check out the organic and free range meat options at your local grocery store.
Buy Him A National Park Membership
If your father is over the age of 62, you can get him a Father's Day gift that will last the rest of his life: <a href="http://store.usgs.gov/pass/senior.html" target="_hplink">a National Parks senior pass</a>. The pass, which costs $20 in the mail but only $10 if you buy it at a national park site, will guarantee your dad access to more than 2,000 Federal sites across the U.S. He will also get discounts on some amenities such as camping and guided tours. And this pass is good for you too -- Dad is allowed to bring up to 3 adult guests! Note: Only U.S. residents or permanent citizens are eligible.
Take A Hike
Even in the most urban parts of America, natural beauty can be found just a few miles from home. Get in some father-child bonding on a nature walk, or a hike on a nearby trail. Keep an eye out for exotic birds and insects (just remember not to touch!) and make sure to point out exceptionally beautiful plants. Find the nearest nature reserve or trail near you by checking out <a href="http://www.traillink.com/" target="_hplink">Traillink.com</a>, <a href="http://www.localhikes.com/" target="_hplink">Localhikes.com</a>, or <a href="http://trails.sierraclub.org/" target="_hplink">the Sierra Club website</a>. If you're lucky, you might even live near one of <a href="http://dsc.discovery.com/adventure/the-10-best-hiking-spots-in-the-united-states.html" target="_hplink">Discovery.com's 10 Best Hiking Spots In The U.S.</a> Is there a special spot that means a lot to your father? Try making your own trail that ends up in this sentimental place. Wherever you choose to venture, don't forget sunscreen, a hat and reusable water bottles!
Brew Beer Together
Is your Dad's version of an ideal day knocking back a cold brewski and hanging out with his kid? Then working on a homebrew might be the ultimate Father's Day gift. According to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenna-woginrich/green-beer-homebrewing_b_776066.html" target="_hplink">HuffPost blogger Jenna Woginrich</a>, "there's an argument to be made that homebrewing is greenbrewing," since some argue the process is way more eco-friendly than going to a bar and throwing back a pint. <a href="http://www.mrbeer.com/" target="_hplink">Mr. Beer</a>, an easy, affordable online homebrew retailer, is a great place to start searching for supplies. Check out <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2012/03/14/how-to-homebrew/ " target="_hplink">Earth911's beer-brewing tips</a> to make the process as green and fun as possible!
Rent Some Bikes
Instead of hopping in the car for a Father's Day activity, why not make the transportation itself fun? Find a beautiful bike trail, or just ride down your favorite streets. If you live near one of the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/23/best-cities-biking-cycling-bicycle_n_1536262.html" target="_hplink">Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities In The U.S.</a>, take advantage of those bike lanes and share programs. What better way to spend Father's Day than partaking in America's favorite childhood pastime with him? Don't forget to stop for cool-down treats along the way!
Give His Car A Wash
Undoubtedly, washing a car can have serious Earth-damaging effects. But even a hybrid requires some aesthetic upkeep. Why not give Dad's car the most eco-friendly wash possible? Many sources, <a href="http://www.mnn.com/health/healthy-spaces/stories/eco-friendly-car-wash" target="_hplink">like the Mother Nature Network</a>, recommend going to a professional car wash for the most sustainable wash. However, to save on money, and if done right on water too, here are a few eco-friendly, at-home <a href="http://www.organicgardening.com/living/easy-cheap-and-eco-friendly-car-washing-tips" target="_hplink">car wash tips from <em>Organic Gardening</em></a>: <br> 1. Wash on a permeable surface, like dirt or grass, instead of the street or your driveway. The car suds on pavement can trickle down into the nearest storm drain, releasing toxins into nearby water. <br> 2. Nix the water. Use a green product like <a href="http://ecotouch.net" target="_hplink">EcoTouch</a>, or make your own all-natural cleaning concotion, with <a href="http://www.rodale.com/natural-cleaning-recipes?page=0%2C1" target="_hplink">recipes available at Rodale.com</a>. <br> 3. Find a self-service wash station, where the runoff is captured and reused.
Put Together A Homemade Food Basket
After years of growing up watching Dad at dinner, you probably know one or two of his favorite foods. Putting together a food basket of healthy takes on his favorite treats is a great way to save money and waste. Try some of <a href="http://www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/healthy-cookies-00412000073008/page103.html" target="_hplink"><em>Cooking Light</em>'s 101 Healthy Cookie Recipes</a> (did someone say brown sugar-pecan shortbread?) or come up with your own organic version of something Pop loves. Throw in some nut and fruit mixes, fair-trade coffee, and <a href="http://www.simplyrecipes.com/tag/jam" target="_hplink">a homemade jam in a mason jar</a>. Do you have a garden, or even a bed of herbs? Include your own produce, so he can taste how fresh and tasty home grown food is!
Play In The Dirt
Speaking of having your own garden, why not get Dad in on the fun? Whether he has <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/11/successful-gardening-tips_n_1509817.html" target="_hplink">a full back yard</a>, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/18/container-gardening-potted-plant-garden_n_1528046.html" target="_hplink">a kitchen window sill</a>, or just an extra set of hands to help in your own garden, gardening together on Father's Day is a special and eco-friendly way of bonding with your old man. Check out these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/edible-garden-tips-gardening_n_1553106.html" target="_hplink">tips for an edible garden</a>, so you can eat your home-grown snacks together by the end of the summer!
Make Him Something Special
So you may be a little old for macaroni necklaces and Crayola pictures of the two of you. But that doesn't mean you can't give Dad a DIY present! Check out <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/274269/fathers-day-gifts-and-crafts/@center/307033/spring-holidays#/228480" target="_hplink">Martha Stewart's instructions for a belt rack</a>, or <a href="http://www.bhg.com/holidays/fathers-day/gifts/fathers-day-gifts/#page=3" target="_hplink">this patterned pencil holder from <em>Better Homes and Gardens</em></a> for inspiration.
Donate In His Honor
Is your dad part of a club, or very active in your local church or other religious organization? Maybe he survived a disease that he continues to support. No matter what his interests are, donating in your father's name to a cause shows love and sentimentality without buying anything materialistic. Find out what is near and dear to your father, and donate whatever amount you are comfortable with in his honor.
Father's Day Gifts on a Budget
Join Better.TV's Lesley Nagy and expert Cindy Piccoli to look at great Father's Day gift ideas on a budget.