If there’s one time of the year that’s become synonymous with consumerism and waste, it’s the holiday season. Fortunately, you can spread cheer with thoughtful gifts for your loved ones that don’t harm our environment. This post features a holiday gift guide (sourced from Beyond Plastics) for zero-waste and plastic-free gifting for family and friends during this year’s festive season. Enjoy and think of the environment.
Go Plastic-Free and Zero-Waste
How to reduce your plastic footprint during the festive season is yet another way to bring joy and fun to this happy time of the year. Greenpeace is calling on you to “take time to get creative and avoid excess plastic ending up in our air, water, food and environment.” Beyond Plastics suggests the following 10 tips:
Choose Plastic-Free Gifts That Prevent Waste
Looking for the perfect practical gift? Reusable metal, glass, or ceramic water bottles and travel mugs are plastic-free gifts that will also help the recipient to reduce future waste! Other zero-waste gifts include bamboo utensil sets, stainless steel straws, loose tea and tea strainers, beeswax food wrap, Swedish reusable cloths, reusable bowl covers, reusable cotton tote bags, stainless steel or ceramic compost containers, and so much more.
Give a Gift Subscription or Certificate To A Zero-Waste Service
Purchasing a gift certificate or subscription to one of the many excellent zero-plastic and low or zero-waste products, stores, and services out there can be a great way to bring a family member or friend into the fold. A few to consider include Plaine Products, Blueland, HumanKind, Package-Free Shop, and Loop Store but there are more and more out there to choose from and you might enjoy the research.
Choose Plastic-Free Clothing
Everyone loves a comfy pair of PJs or some new socks for the holidays. Unfortunately, most of our clothing is made from synthetic materials like polyester and nylon which contain plastic fibers. But there are plenty of fun and affordable brands that use materials like recycled cotton, linen, and wool. Need somewhere to get started? The free app GoodOnYou can help you find the best brands to buy from this season. Or consider buying a gently used item of clothing from thredUp, Poshmark, or good old eBay.
4. Give an Experience
Gifting experiences is a great way to reduce waste and create lasting memories. Whether it’s a membership to an outdoor zoo that can be used now or the promise of a long-anticipated trip to Paris, this could be a hit.
Support a Local Farm & Feed a Loved One
Consider buying a friend or family member a share (or a half share) in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm near them. You can look for farms that offer winter CSA shares or purchase one that begins in the spring. This is a great way to support a local farm while also helping the lucky recipient feed themselves and their family with fresh, nutritious goodies. Consider providing some of your favorite recipes along with the CSA share to round out the package. If you don’t know where to start, you can do a search for CSAs through Local Harvest or the USDA’s database.
Give the Gift of Giving to Others in Need
For that person who already “has it all,” the gift of giving could be a great choice. Make a donation in their honor to a charity you think they’d appreciate (hint: Beyond Plastics is a great option!) and send them a card sharing the gift. Or, if you think they’d prefer to be more hands-on, consider setting them up with a pre-paid micro-lender account through an organization like Kiva to allow them to choose the recipients of their microloans. This could be a particularly good way to help a young person experience philanthropy directly. Other places with great meaningful virtual gifts that give back include Oxfam America and Heifer International and many environmental nonprofits offer symbolic wildlife adoption programs.
Make Your Own Gifts
Homemade items are the way to go for truly unique and special presents. DIY candles, baked goods, bath salts, tea mixes, brownie mix, vanilla extract, spices, and even games can be easy and customizable gifts! Click here for some DIY gift ideas.
Give An Old Item New Life
Re-gifting is great! If you own an item that you’re ready to part with and think someone else would enjoy, wrap it up (see tips below), and pass it along. Vintage and used items also make excellent holiday gifts. There are so many wonderful books, household items, pieces of clothing and jewelry, tools, and more that deserve a second (or third or fourth) chance to be useful and provide joy waiting to be discovered. You can browse eBay or Etsy to find special gifts. Or grab your mask and visit your local antiques shop, second-hand bookstore, thrift store, or auction to look for finds.
Entertain With an Online or Streaming Subscription
Winter is long and entertainment really helps. A subscription or gift certificate to a streaming platform, an audiobook platform, an online music service, or an online newspaper or magazine could help your loved ones stay entertained and informed without requiring any new plastic or disposable items.
Wrap It Up Right
Much wrapping paper is non-recyclable (anything glittery, sparkly, etc, won’t be accepted). The good thing is that wrapping paper is not a necessity. This year, look around your home for alternatives. Newspapers and paper grocery bags work really well. If you have kids, drawing, painting or stamping a pattern on a used grocery bag can be a fun activity, too. If you want to go the extra mile, old book pages, tote bags, and scrap fabric make for cute and unique wrapping. And when you’re unwrapping gifts, save the wrapping paper and ribbons to use them again. If your family enjoys a little friendly competition, you can even keep score to see who can reuse a given piece of paper the most times (warning, this could stretch on for years!)
This year’s holiday season is expected to yield over $850 billion in retail sales in the U.S. And this is getting worse each year with an annual growth of 4.4% during the last five years.
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