Never is there a more important time to practice sustainability then around the holidays. Each year millions of dollars are wasted on cheap, impersonal gifts that wind up in landfills next to mountains of wrapping paper and packaging. This year, get motivated to go-green by reading these helpful tips for a happy and sustainable holiday.
Buying from small, local stores not only pumps money back into your local economy, but it minimizes the carbon footprint created by the transportation of cheap goods from half way around the world. Local craft fairs and artisan markets are also great places to find interesting, green gifts with a unique story behind them.
Avoid items with ludicrous amount of packaging or that use batteries. Look for minimalist, fair trade items that the person is sure to keep and use for years.
Give an Experience
As far as material possessions go, many people have more than enough and would welcome a gift that gets them out of the house and builds memories. Some suggestions are:
- Concert/movie tickets
- An art class
- A cooking class
- Wine tasting
- Museum membership
When done right, re-gifting is perfectly OK. There’s no sense in letting something you have no need for to go to waste—especially when you know someone it would be perfect for. As long as, of course, that someone isn’t the original gift-giver.
Not only are vintage items in style, they’re also sustainable. Vintage shops sell a variety of items that are still in great condition. For a truly personal gift, look for a nostalgic item that will bring back happy memories.
If you’re at all crafty then consider making your gifts. The possibilities are nearly endless. Some ideas to get you started:
- Knitted scarf in their favorite color
- Water color painting of their pet
- Baked goods (try out a recipe from our holiday recipe book!)
- Personalized photo album or home video
Give Your Time
Giving someone a service is a creative way to save the earth and cash. Let someone know that you are available for child care, dog walking, or even lawn service.
Donate to a Charitable Cause
You can double the sustainability of your gift by looking for charitable causes that work towards conservation. For example, adopt an acre of rainforest in someone’s name.
Give Healthy Stocking Stuffers
Stuff stockings with healthy snacks or supplements specially selected to match your loved ones tastes. Unlike most conventional stocking stuffers, these small items won’t spend hundreds of years in a landfill.
Wrapping paper, especially the foil kind which cannot be recycled, accounts for more holiday waste than anything. There are many items that you can reuse to wrap gifts once they’ve served their original purpose:
- Sheet music
- Calendar pages
- Sewing patterns
- Re-suable gift boxes/bags
Instead of sending holiday greetings though the mail, save paper by writing a holiday message on a free webhosting service or through an email. This method also lets you share move photos and reach more people. You can further your impact by donating the money you save on stamps to a charitable cause.
If you do send out cards in the mail, make sure you send ones that are made from recycled material and can be recycled again. Avoid glossy cards with foil coatings as these can generally not be recycled.
Encourage Others to be Green
Finally, to truly green-ify your holiday, inspire your friends and family to have a sustainable season as well. Start by sharing these tips and emphasizing that a green holiday can be less stressful and more meaningful!