I know it may be hard to believe, but the holidays are fast approaching and Christmas is right around the corner. As we work hard to finish our Christmas shopping, we need to be considering the environmental impact of our consumerism. Shopping is now an intrinsic part of the holidays as giving the perfect gift is a beautiful way of showing your friends and family how much you care. But let’s not forget that a Christmas gift is about much more than having a shiny new toy to distract us from the stresses of everyday life. Gifts should be meaningful, purposeful, and intentional. At the very least, gifts should be conscientious. Christmas gift shopping for other people is no reason for us to throw out our sustainability practices. In fact, it is a wonderful opportunity to share our green and eco-friendly habits with our loved ones in the hopes of inspiring others to change their own consumer habits. Let’s explore some eco-friendly gift ideas for Christmas!
Let’s jump right into my absolute favorite avenue of shopping: thrifting! Call it what you will, vintage, second-hand, thrifting… potato, potAHto, potato. Not only is it an incredibly cost-effective way to shop, but it is the MOST eco-friendly thing you could do. There are plenty of material goods that have so much life left in them. Antiques that are rare and stunningly unique compared to what’s new on the market today. Second-hand products may not be compostable or made of recycled materials, but their carbon footprint has already occurred and our best chance to minimize future carbon emissions is to make good use of existing products and keep them out of landfills. Plus, the product range at thrift stores is magnificent so you can find something for everyone, or you can find things that are fantastic starting points for custom pieces that you flip or repurpose.
Next up we’ve got the gift of a beautiful and heartfelt, handmade present. Anyone else pick up a new hobby or ten this year? Let me tell you, I have macrame pendants, paintings, embroidery projects, crocheted scarves and hats, and candles galore. I can assure you my friends and family will all be getting Jovanna Originals, hand crafted by yours truly throughout this challenging year. What better way to show someone you care than with a one-of-a-kind piece of art made with your own two hands? Whether it’s a decorative piece to be displayed or a functional gift such as a set of macrame coasters, a handmade present is next-level. Our modern consumerist practices have definitely pulled us away from the handmade gifts and pushed us towards convenient, mass produced items, but when those items are so often accompanied with gift receipts and/or are likely to end up regifted to the next individual, is it really worth it? Why get a present at all at that point? Plus, with handmade presents you can be sure that the carbon footprint is minimal. You don’t have to worry about accidentally gifting something that has been unethically manufactured and imported from far away. And yes, handmade gifts take time, but the time and energy you put in becomes part of the gift!
Moving on to the next great gift idea we have eco-friendly, reusable products for the home. There’s quite a range of products now, with many companies encouraging people to move away from single use and instead opting for reusable products that help reduce landfill contributions. Perhaps stainless-steel straws were not previously on your list of gift ideas but why not? How about reusable sandwich bags or reusable produce bags? All are incredibly functional things that everyone can use, and one aspect of a great present is usability! Not to mention you could be inspiring someone to start on a more sustainable-living journey. Maybe they’re been meaning to try those reusable products but somehow always manage to forget due to the convenience and availability of the disposable products they’re so used to using. Help them out. Give them a slight eco-friendly nudge. Throw in some makeup-removing, washable fabric cotton rounds into their stocking and a couple of compostable, bamboo toothbrushes too.
Finally, if you must buy new, do your research and buy from sustainable and/or Fairtrade companies. Make sure your hard-earned money is supporting companies that are putting in the work to help protect the environment and protect people from exploitation. This may take a bit of additional effort, but all gifts worth giving take effort. Find companies that you’d like to support and gift from within their eco-friendly catalogs. We realize a stunning, new platform bed might be a little difficult to wrap and place under a tree, but a new Buckwheat Pillow sure isn’t. Neither is a Zafu Meditation Cushion. Perhaps a luxurious Wool Mattress Pad? How about an Organic Sheet Set?
Correct me if I’m wrong, this might just be my opinion, but the many disastrous events of 2020 have really affected my perspective and forcibly reminded me of what matters and what is important. For too long we’ve taken family dinners for granted, we jokingly complain about having arguments about politics with our overly opinionated relatives. We often tried to get out of social obligations and tested our creativity trying to come up with excuses to cancel plans. I feel even the most introverted of us craves togetherness and support at this point. And it’s not so much the distance but the thought that something could happen before you get to hug your loved ones again. For that reason, the gifts we give have to be more than a lotion and bodywash set. They have to be more than a random candle that might never be lit. They have to be more than a sweater from some big department store with a gift receipt attached. This year consider giving the gift of sustainability, of conscientiousness, of thoughtfulness.