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Rethinking the digital wishlist



A new online gift registry offers a more creative and sustainable alternative for publicizing your gift-getting wishes.

SoKind allows users to ask for used items, “experiential gifts” such as certificates for restaurants or entertainment, services including photo sessions, or lessons in cooking, sports and other activities. 

Seattle’s Freddie Helmiere and her husband John used the site for their baby registry. Their list included a used gliding rocking chair (they suggested trying Craigslist), gift certificates for housecleaning and tuition for a parenting class. They loved the opportunity to ask for low-waste and nonmaterial items. 

“We didn’t want to use this as an opportunity to lecture, but to say this was important to us,” Helmiere said.

The SoKind website is a project of the Center for a New American Dream, a nonprofit group founded in 1997 that emphasizes more sustainable consumption. The group had alternative gift registries for a few years, then launched the official SoKind site last year.

There are about 3,100 registered users of SoKind, and about 2,000 have an active gift registry. The site is free, and in January the group is launching an additional, more deluxe, fee-based option.

Many folks are seeking alternatives to endless consumption, and “people find it reassuring and refreshing to know there are other people out there,” said Wendy Philleo, executive director for the Center for a New American Dream.

“It really allows you to express your values in a way that’s not annoying or putting down other people,” Philleo said.

And it helps Grandma and Grandpa find gifts for their grandkids without creating closets full of junk and unnecessary packaging.

“Some people are relieved that they don’t have to buy new things, others are excited by the opportunity to be creative, and some probably kind of raised their eyebrows,” said Helmiere, whose daughter Charis turns 1 this month.

“There’s a range of responses,” she said, “but for the most part, people enjoyed the alternative.”

Create your own registry at sokindregistry.org. The organization also has a “Simply the Holidays” campaign with tips for reducing waste at simplifyholidays.org.

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