Green Gifts Make the Holidays Happier
You're making your list and checking it twice, finding thoughtful green gifts is, oh, so nice! This holiday season, as we ponder the best ways to demonstrate that we care for the people in our lives, we can extend this care to our community and the earth by making more ethical consumer decisions.
While advertisements may try to convince us that our loved ones need more stuff to feel appreciated, this is not the case. Green gifts are a great opportunity to show you care about your loved ones and the impact of products gifted. Product advertisements do not portray the reality of greenhouse gas emissions perpetuating climate change, pollution degrading our communities, poor working conditions, and underpayment of workers. You can spread holiday joy by keeping this in mind when making purchasing decisions.
If you have the privilege of time and financial means to practice ethical consumerism this holiday season, we have some green gift giving tips for you! Learn more about ideas for non-material gifts, material gifts, packaging, and how to properly dispose of items at the end of their useful life.
WHAT ARE GREEN GIFTS?
Green gifts require fewer resources and produce less waste when examining the impact of the entire lifecycle of products. This includes the impact of extracting resources, material processing, transportation, use, and end-of-life. While this is important to consider, many companies are not transparent enough for the public to track products as they move through the supply chain. This can make ethical consumerism overwhelming and inaccessible. We want to make green gift giving easier by providing non-material, material, and packaging suggestions.
NON-MATERIAL GIFT IDEAS
Experiences & time. Plan an experience that you know your loved one would appreciate, such as a camping trip, s'mores night, massage, movie night, picnic, etc. Gifting someone a coupon for time alone can also be just what they need, for example, a busy parent may appreciate the gift of babysitting, lawn care, or decluttering the garage.
Knowledge. Share your skills! If a loved one is interested, you can give them lessons in a subject you have expertise in, such as languages, sports, music, and photography. An added bonus is time spent together!
Donations. If your loved one cares deeply about a particular cause, you can donate to an organization in their name. Be sure to research the organization to determine if their efforts align with both the gift receiver's and your values.
Online subscriptions. The possibilities are endless, from workouts on demand, news subscriptions, book downloads, and various other accounts. Online subscriptions can improve our quality of life and reduce waste.
Carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are actions that compensate for greenhouse gas emissions by reducing emissions elsewhere. There are carbon offset organizations which allow you to donate to their projects. Some project examples include energy efficiency improvements, carbon sequestration in forests, and renewable energy projects. While we should prioritize reducing our carbon footprint, gifting carbon offsets can be a thoughtful way to address the greenhouse gas emissions in our lives that are unavoidable.
Pre-loved. Secondhand and consignment shops have so many unexpected treasures, like clothing, sports equipment, home decor, books, and kitchen equipment that are new to you, but reused!
Seek quality. Opt for the most durable item. This way it will last longer and save your loved one the trouble of repurchasing it anytime soon!
Reusable. Provide the practical resources for your loved one to be more eco-friendly. This may include reusable containers, a water bottle, a reusable to-go mug, cloth napkins/towels, cloth coffee filters, beeswax wrap for food, tote bags, etc.
Shop locally. By supporting local businesses, the carbon footprint of transporting your purchases is lower than getting something shipped from across the country or even across the world, which is very common in our globalized economy.
PACKAGING YOUR GIFTS
Minimalism. When selecting a material gift, buy items that have minimal packaging. If purchasing in-store, skip the bag at check-out. If ordering online, select bundled shipping for multiple products from the same site so that packaging and carbon emissions are not duplicated. When you wrap your gifts, try to use minimal materials.
Use what you have. When wrapping gifts, be creative and use items that you already have in your home, such as old newspapers, magazines, and brown paper grocery bags. You can keep it simple or add personalized doodles on the paper with craft supplies.
Make it part of the gift. Wrap up your gift within a reusable item, such as a tote bag, scarf, or a tea towel, and make it a part of the gift!
Using the Recycling A-Z app can aid in proper disposal of packaging and unneeded items! If you want to know where to take electronics, clothing, cardboard, ribbons, or packaging foam, check out this resource! Be sure to donate items that are still within their usable life, so that they can be loved by someone else, extending the joy of the holiday season.