It’s not rude to share your desire to do good for others, as long as you don’t impose your gift-giving standards on others. By this, I mean that you should continue to give gifts to family members as you have done in the past. It is perfectly fine to be forward with them during the holiday seson or as your birthday approaches and let them know that you would prefer that they give a donation in your name to a charity of your choice (or even leave the choice to them, which will make the gift feel all the more personalized). In the end, your family should feel proud to have done something good for humanity while at the same time giving you a gift that truly makes you happy. The word material won’t even need to come up in the conversation.
I really like this question (it goes in the same category as: “How do I avoid eating meat when so many people around me love to eat it so much?” or “How do I avoid seeming like an “eco-freak” if I want to turn down a meat product for a meal [knowing all to well that it was more than likely factory farmed] when everyone else around me is OK with eating it?”) It seems we have begin to realize the flaws of our culture — how we have been ingrained and conditioned to live a certain way — as consumers! wasters! Omnivores (not the healthiest option for ourselves or the Earth) — and Materialistic Money Grubbers! Since, “get a new culture” won’t really do as an answer here — we cannot change where we come from and those we love (even with our shared and obvious flaws) — we need to be honest and open with each other. Tell the person you would prefer to receive something that is non-material and offer them the reasons why. Or just simply take their product, sell it on ebay, and then return the proceeds to Mother Earth (good cause of your own righteous choice) — you decide!
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