If you’ve been making strides this year to reduce your waste output and make more mindful purchasing decisions, don't let the holiday season derail your good intentions! How do you participate in a consumption-heavy holiday while staying true to your convictions? Gift and receive responsibly without overhauling your traditions with these 10 tips!
- Gift experiences.
Yes, we’ve all heard this one before. You may already have the perfect ‘thing’ gift in mind. But if you’re racking your brain for a gift idea, think experiences first. The options are endless, and you might find that you can give a more memorable gift for less money! If you’re worried that the giftee might not take advantage of the experience, make it an experience with you and set a specific date. Hint: parents love this one.
- Look for secondhand options.
If you have a gift in mind that doesn’t need to be a specific model or brand, you may be able to find a great secondhand option. Not only can you feel good about not creating demand for new materials, but you can usually score a much nicer and higher quality good for the same price as a lower-quality new version. This can be a really great way to delight someone with something truly special -- a nostalgic vinyl album, vintage jewelry, an antique piece of furniture or decoration, or maybe even an early edition of a beloved book!
- Talk to friends and family as early as possible about gifting expectations.
While imposing rules on gift-giving may seem like the fast track to getting a lump of coal in your stocking, applying an area of focus might give loved ones some much-appreciated inspiration! Suggest that all your Secret Santa gifts be secondhand or that you’d love to exchange experiences you can do together as a group. Make a fun challenge for everyone to follow such as "no plastic," "ethically-sourced," or "locally-made,” and suggest some stores or websites where they can find the types of gifts you have in mind.
- Create a wishlist so you don't end up with things you don't want or need.
Make a wishlist at one or two of your favorite local, sustainable online shops (like Way of Being!) This helps ensure you get exactly what you wanted or at least pushes your gift-giver in the right direction.
- Stick to items you KNOW will be useful (like toothbrushes, dish soap, or sunscreen), but opt for novel, plastic-free versions!
Some ideas include:
- A Belly Balm or Baby Balm for the new mama or mama to be...
- The shaving trifecta, including a stainless steel safety razor + shave soap + shaving brush for the friend who appreciates a nice, clean shave in every sense of the word…
- Or a stainless steel straw or travel utensil set — the perfect stocking stuffers for the low waste curious!
- Try a gift certificate or include a gift receipt to a place you know they love.
Give your loved one the gift of only having to keep things that they will use and love for many years to come. Give them a gift certificate (with a thoughtful note, of course) or include the gift receipt with your gift so that if they don’t love it, they can return it. Even better - include the original receipt so they can return the gift for cash if that particular store doesn’t have an item they want or need.
- Buy from local and small businesses.
If you can buy the same item from both a small business and a large corporation, opt to shop small! This helps reduce carbon emissions from transportation and helps grow your local economy. You’ve heard the phrase “every time you shop small, a real person does a happy dance?” Even if the corporate chain can offer a slightly better price, just remember that when you shop small and local, your money is bettering your own community. It’s so often worth spending a few extra dollars to keep your purchases local and impactful.
And, circling back to the low waste theme, small and local businesses are more incentivized to accommodate your special low waste requests. For example, if you tell a small business owner that you're in the market for a package-free or plastic-free version of their product, they are more likely to implement your ideas than their larger corporate counterpart.
- Share your favorite DIY low waste swap!
If you’ve discovered a DIY swap you love, this is the perfect time to share it! Refill containers after you’ve used them or get some plastic-free fillable containers. If you feel like a swap has been a no-brainer for you, there’s a good chance your friends and family will love it too. Who knows, maybe it could be the springboard to getting them to join you in your low waste journey! If you’re looking for a new DIY to try, check out the Way of Being blog for simple and effective recipes for lip balm, body butter, deodorant, household cleaners, and more!9. Gift consumables!
Fact: Valentine's Day isn't the only holiday where people like getting chocolate. Special treats you can eat or drink make great gifts you know won't go to waste (and, if you're lucky, you may even get to taste). Share your favorite organic, fair trade coffee, tea, or matcha, and look for recyclable packaging. Support a local confectionnaire by gifting some chocolate for eating or drinking (we love Mudge Fudge). Treat a deserving friend to some special occasion champagne or your own batch of home brewed beer. The options are endless and delicious!
10. Use recyclable or reusable gift wrap.
Avoid glittery or metallic wrapping paper - it’s not recyclable! If you’re present for the unwrapping, make it your job to ensure that gift wrap ends up in the recycling bin. Reusing is a lower impact option than recycling, so try to use reusable gift wrap, including gift bags or even cloth napkins if you can. You can also use paper that would otherwise be thrown away (i.e., newspaper), or check a thrift or craft store like Scrap for an old atlas, picture book, or map. As an added bonus, the presents under your tree will look much more interesting!