I know it’s a cliché about time moving so fast, but we really did just wrap up Thanksgiving and now scrambling to wrap up gifts for Christmas! And speaking of gifts, I want to share my thoughts on sustainable holiday gifts to consider. Even if the sustainability of the gifts doesn’t ring your bell, you may find a little inspiration if you’re drawing blanks on what to give
Photo by Bob Dmyt, Pixabay
The joy of the holidays can be a double-edged sword, similar to what I noted in the Be thankful not wasteful article; it can be a time of stress with all the preparation, expense and shopping! It can also put stress on our environment with all the extra travel, manufacturing and waste. To help ease that stress on both you and the environment, I’ve put together some ideas for sustainable giving. These are not perfectly sustainable and will have their own impacts, but I like the way Dominique Drakeford states it, as also mentioned in the previous article, “progress, not perfection!” Sustainable Gift Ideas
Experiences: I know, experiences can be pretty wasteful too, but there are many experiences to give that can be less wasteful and more meaningful and fun. These includes tickets to movies, musical performances, the theater, museums and exhibitions. They can also be gift certificates for day trips, spa days, or a favorite restaurant.
Handmade: If you are a creator, you can make your own gifts for that unbeatable personal touch whether you make jewelry, woodcrafts, artworks, knit hats and scarves, or simply create personal coupon books for special moments given throughout the year. My mom used to make all kinds of candies, cakes and breads, as well as handmade ornaments for our relatives and friends; one year she spent every spare moment crocheting blankets and I still have mine to this day! These types of gifts will be treasured for a lifetime. See #8 below for zero-waste packaging options.
Consumables: Who doesn’t look forward to getting all kinds of tasty things during the holidays? There are so many possibilities to gift – favorite foods, beverages, homemade candy and desserts. You can also give homemade jellies and jams, canned fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, nuts and cheese gift baskets and so many more. And when we receive gifts like these, we know they come from the heart.
Durable: I know we’ve all had, or given, gifts that looked great in the package, but quickly fall apart with minimal use. Consider giving gifts that will have a long life. Choose quality-made products that will last such as heirloom gifts, art works, and toys that keep kids engaged for years like bikes and sports equipment – good for the environment and gets kids outside to enjoy it! Avoid cheap electronics or those that quickly become obsolete and end up as hazardous electronic waste.
Donations: Another way to give zero-waste gifts that keep on giving is to make a donation to your friends’ and loved ones’ favorite charities. ELM445™ donates 2% of your purchases to help environmental and conservation organizations. Often the charity will provide a certificate stating that a gift was given in your recipient’s name, if not, create one yourself.
Made sustainably: This is a very broad category and one that grows by the day, I’m happy to say! When buying apparel, plush toys or other textiles, choose organic or recycled cotton or bamboo. Unfortunately, recycled plastic textiles have been linked to microplastics getting into oceans through wastewater from washing machines, so although they help reduce plastic waste from landfills, its best to go with organic. You can also choose gifts like those we sell on ELM445™ (click the following links to see them) that are made from renewable materials like fast-growing bamboo, wheat straw, coconut shells, and other organic matter. Look for plastic-free gifts, unless they are made with recycled plastic which helps reduce waste. If you buy wood products, look for FSC-certified to make sure the wood has been harvested sustainably.
Local: Support your neighbors and others who are creating great gift items right in your community. It’s a great time to browse those little shops you pass by every day. You may find those heirloom pieces, one-of-a-kind objects, antiques and other unique gifts that will bring a smile to those who receive them AND those who sell them.
Zero-waste wrapping: For wrapping your gifts, use reusable gift bags or choose wrapping paper made from 100% recycled paper. When the gift opening frenzy has ended, recycle the cardboard boxes and wrapping paper/tissue or reuse them, especially gift bags. Do not recycle paper with metallic flakes, colored shapes, glitter and plastics, or if made of foil, metallic and heavily laminated paper.