Sustainable Gift Giving this Holiday Season

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow that the holiday season is underway, it’s probably a little difficult to scale back the consumerism. However, it is possible to have a greener Christmas, as well as find gifts that are a little more eco-friendly.

As you create your gift list, really think about who’s on it, and what would be meaningful to them. Remember that a thoughtful gift doesn’t have to be expensive. Instead, focus on ways that you can give items that are inexpensive, personal, and eco-friendly to some degree. Here are some ways that you can improve the sustainability of your holiday gifts:

Shop Local

One of the first rules of sustainability is shopping local. Instead of purchasing gifts that have traveled long distance, consider gifts produced locally. You might be surprised at the number of handicrafts produced locally. At the very least, you can avoid gifts produced in other countries, and stick with gifts made here — and sold in small, local shops. Just avoiding the big box stores can help you support your local economy, and encourage some level of sustainability.

If you can’t find what you want in town, you can still limit how far the gifts you buy travel. You can use for its map that shows nearby artists and craftspeople. That way, you improve your chances of finding something that doesn’t have to travel so far.

Buy Vintage

You don’t have to buy new to give a classy, thoughtful gift. My son was delighted with the used sewing machine my mother bought for him. Other previously-owned gifts can include antique vases, tea sets, and other items that gain a little charm over time. These are gifts that don’t require additional resources, and they can be personal and fun in nature. A great way to give a unique gift, as well as help save the planet.

Give Something You’ve Made

If you really want to get personal with your gift giving, you can make something to give to your friends and family. My sister-in-law routinely gives items that she crochets. Some of the items are whimsical, and others are more practical. For years, my son happily used the scarf I knitted for him. From photography to woodworking to painting to sewing, you can use your talents to create personal and unique gifts.

You can also bake items. I enjoy making chocolate truffles as gifts. You can make dessert breads, cookies, candies, and a number of other items and give them as gifts. These make great gifts that can be environmentally friendly, as well as consumable so that they aren’t cluttering up the homes of your friends and relatives.

Know What You are Buying

If you decide that you want to buy something, rather than make your gifts, pay attention to what you are buying. Look for items made from sustainable materials. There are a number items now that are created from recycled materials, as well as other eco-friendly materials. We found a toy car made from recycled materials for my young nephew, and I once received a journal made with recycled paper. Choosing gifts made from renewable resources and recycled materials can go a long way toward shifting our values and habits as a society.

Don’t Forget the Wrapping

Pay attention to the wrapping materials that you use as well. It’s possible to find wrapping paper and gift cards produced from recycled materials. You can also use what you have around the house. Cut up and use old paper grocery bags, brown side out, as wrapping paper. Tie your bows with eco-friendly twine made from hemp, or with sustainably made raffia. Consider using old hair bows or ribbons in your wrapping efforts. There are a number of creative ways to use what you already have to wrap gifts and present them in a unique and attractive way.

Gift giving doesn’t have to be a foray into materialism and unsustainability. Use your creativity to find gifts that are a little more eco-friendly, and you can have a greener holiday season.

So, how are you giving gifts this year?


Sustainable Gift Giving this Holiday Season — 6 Comments

  1. Well said! I think most people head directly to the big box stores, but shopping locally is certainly a great alternative. Im also a big fan of giving energy efficiency for christmas. Im actually giving new led light bulb s, a dual flush valve, and pipe insulation. These gift ideas aren’t super sexy, but some of the people on your list might really enjoy them.

  2. Great ideas. My first stop for gift buying is always the local product shops. Used books are also good gifts. At times it’s difficult to find vintage gifts for friends, so when I end up buying new things, I make sure my wrapping is sustainable to make up for it. A little creativity and craftiness goes a long way. Here’s to a green holiday season!

    • I’ve been really getting into vintage lately. My dad likes old books, so it’s great to get him those. My mom collects salt & pepper shakers, so it’s been fun to look for older antique. Why buy new when you can buy vintage? 🙂

  3. I prefer giving and receiving homemade and personalized gifts. This year, my children made truffles and fudges for their teachers and our garbage collector. We also bought used books for the toddlers and preschoolers in the family. For our brothers and sisters, we created a family calendar. Each month features a photo of one family with special notes on it.

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