With just under a week until Christmas and Kwanza, and with Hanukah wrapping up, the season is very busy. Moreover, this time of year is a very wasteful one. Between Thanksgiving and New Years, American trash production increases 25%. At a time of increased consumption with increased focus on material goods, there is plenty of room to increase sustainability. Follow these tips when gifting for holidays and birthdays to help decrease waste and increase sustainability.
Purchasing handmade items from local vendors at craft fairs and local shops has many benefits. These goods do not have to travel as far to get to you and often have much less packaging, which can greatly reduce waste. You are able to purchase much more personal and unique gifts. Moreover, you are supporting your neighbors and your local economy by buying from local vendors and craftspeople.
A great way to avoid waste is to go for an alternative gift. Rather than focusing on a material item, look to gift an experience. A gift card or other material item is not difficult to come by. To make a gift even more special or unique, gift an experience, instead. Potential experiential gifts could include:
Gifts with Impact
Give a gift that will make a difference, larger than for just the recipient. Shop fair trade companies to ensure gifts were sourced responsibly. Or, take the money that you would have spent on a physical gift and make a donation in their name. Sponsor a child in a developing nation, adopt an endangered animal, or donate animals to a village. All of these gifts do much more than simply give someone a material item. They allow you to feel good about what your gifting and allow your recipient to feel the same.
Give Handmade and Homemade Gifts
Anybody can go to the store and buy a scarf with minimal effort. This year, make that scarf mean something more and make it yourself. If you're a creative person, paint a picture or some pottery, or write a poem. If you love to spend time in the kitchen, make someone a special meal or bake them their favorite dessert. All of these homemade and handmade items can mean so much more than a store-bought item and really show the person you gift it to that they mean a lot to you. (Bonus: homemade gifts are great for your budget!)
Now that you've got your lineup of sustainable gifts, how should you go about wrapping them? Try using alternative wrapping papers. Recycle newspaper or even magazines for the job. Save bags, boxes, ribbon, and tissue paper to reuse in future years. Try to find gift wrap that is made from reused materials. Try using cloth to wrap presents, or get cloth gift bags.
Photo used under Creative Commons from Noel Feans