Post originally published in 2017 and contributed by Grace Harkin, Office of Sustainability Intern
With the holidays right around the corner everybody is beginning to shop for the perfect gifts. As thoughtful and pleasant as gifts are, holiday shopping can be extremely wasteful, which contradicts the sentiment of the season. In order to reconcile this, you can plan gifts that minimize waste and are in fact sustainable and resourceful, and make for amazing gifts that your loved ones will cherish. Here are some ideas:
Antiques/ second-hand items
With the rise of vintage/thrift store culture, people tend to really appreciate antique gifts and value the history behind it. Also, you’re reusing things and not contributing to excessive packaging waste.
Have you run out of things to buy, or feel like you are in a rut with the same routine? Give them the gift of an experience, such as a museum visit, tickets to a concert, or a ski trip. This is a great idea to have some quality time with significant others. Even if it is free, like a picnic or biking or baking together, quality time trumps a new gadget any day. Another experience you can give is paying for lessons for someone who would value a new skill, such as art or music lessons.
Sometimes all people want over the holidays is relaxation and freedom from tedious responsibilities.
You could pay for the maintenance on your friend’s bike, car, computer, for a cleaning service, or even for a Bluetooth system to be installed in their car. There are endless thoughtful things you can do to help your loved ones out. You could help clean, provide yard service, childcare, and more.
Many people have interests, such as fishing, wildlife viewing, and fitness. There are plenty of memberships out there you can purchase for a friend. For example, if you you have an avid fisherman in your life,you could get them a Coastal Conservation Organization Membership.
By buying local you can not only get something thoughtful, but you are also giving back to the community and supporting small businesses. You could pay for their next hair styling, buy from a local artist, or get them a gift card to their favorite restaurant in the area.
Photo albums/scrapbooks (using recycled paper) make lasting gifts. Digital photo albums are also a smart option. This homemade touch adds sentiment. You could make a photo album of a certain family vacation, or of you and your roommate’s first year in the apartment together. Other homemade things include paintings, drawings, house decorations, and even food.
There are plenty of organizations that donate to charity when their items are purchased. You can find anything from coffee to phone cases, purses, bracelets, clothing, shoes, water bottles, sunglasses, tea, and more. TheWorld Wildlife Fund donates to animal habitats when you symbolically adopt a stuffed animal. Some companies, like Charity: Water, focus on donating water.
Do you have a friend that is often on the go? You can get them something convenient and reusable to make their day easier. For example, you can get reusable straws or utensils that are easy to carry around in a backpack.These are cute and make perfect stocking stuffers. Other reusable things include, sandwich bags, shopping bags, lunch totes, and water bottles.
Fair Trade Products
Fairtrade is a movement to empower small-scale farmers and producers and end unfair trade. By buying products that are certified by Fairtrade, you are contributing to the support of these small-scale producers. These certified producers offer products such as fresh produce, flowers, wines, coffee, chocolate, cotton, and gold.
You have the opportunity to be more sustainable this holiday season with some of these ever-GREEN gifts. Happy holidays and happy gifting!