When you were a kid, you didn’t think much about wrapping paper, cardboard, or plastic. You probably didn’t consider what happens when your new toy wears out, either. But now, people are thinking harder about the effect gift-giving has on the planet. Learn some tips for environmentally responsible gifting.
Be Mindful of Processes and Packaging
Your gift begins its life long before it reaches store shelves. Try to select presents that companies have produced sustainably.
Be mindful of packaging. Avoid plastic, and look for recyclable and reusable packaging. When you shop, bring your own reusable shopping bags.
Finally, think about how you present your gift. Traditional wrapping paper is colorful and fun, but much of it isn’t recyclable. Present your gift wrapped in recyclable brown paper tied with natural twine and stamped with biodegradable soy ink. Or make the packaging part of the present. You can choose reusable “paper” towels or reusable food wrapping.
Regifting has been reborn. Once, people only thought of it as a cheap and inconsiderate means of ridding oneself of an unwanted gift and passing it off as a new present to a casual acquaintance. However, people now recognize regifting as a sustainable practice. No longer a source of amusement in a “white elephant” gift exchange, a “previously owned” or “pre-loved” gift can be a treasured and appreciated item to its recipient.
This is particularly true of family heirlooms, such as music boxes, watches, China, and silver. Passing iconic family possessions from one generation to the next is a time-honored tradition and keeps antique and vintage items out of landfills and in the family. Even if the recipient doesn’t want the gift, they can find someone who does or find a place for the item on the shelves of a resale shop.
Bring Homemade Happiness
Your friends and family will genuinely appreciate the effort and time you put into creating homemade gifts. Make hot cocoa kits in reusable mason jars. You can also upcycle unused fabrics from clothing that no longer fits into quilts and blankets.
If you’re a baker, prepare the sifted dry ingredients for your favorite recipe and share them along with the recipe as a gift to those who love your baked goods.
If you’re not much of a “maker” yourself, try gifting other types of consumables that have little to no negative footprint. Shampoos and conditioners in bar form that come in compostable packaging or laundry sheets that dissolve completely and don’t use large plastic bottles are some good choices.
Reduce your own carbon footprint by shopping locally. If possible, ride your bike or take public transportation to your shopping destination. Also, don’t forget to ring your own reusable shopping bags and patronize stores that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.
Know That Experiences Matter
Instead of adding to a friend or family member’s accumulated stuff, why not gift an experience instead? A massage at a local spa, e-tickets to a concert, or a membership in a local museum or botanical garden will create lasting memories and gratitude for your thoughtfulness.
Environmentally responsible gift-giving is rapidly becoming the norm and expectation for those who care about sustainability and the preservation of our planet. Give it a try, and you’ll find that it’s easy and enjoyable.