4 Tips for Earth Friendly Holiday Gift Giving

I always try to minimize my impact on Mother Earth, to use only what I need and not be wasteful. But Christmas can sometimes seem like the epitome of waste. It is so easy to forget what the holidays are really about and get caught up in buying useless gifts because we feel we’re supposed to or will be shunned if we don’t. At most stores, you’ll find aisles and aisles of throw-away items set up just for the holiday season. Instead of being a grinch and avoiding giving gifts altogether, make your gifts earth friendly and enjoy the holidays, knowing that you made a difference.

Useful Wrapping Paper Keeps Gifts Green

Useful wrapping keeps gifts green.

1. Wrap Gifts With Reusable Items

Though I love both wrapping and opening gifts, I just can’t bring myself to buy all kinds of paper that will immediately be burned on the Christmas morning fire or thrown in the trash. A great alternative is to package your items with something that can be used again. A couple of great ideas to use instead of paper are:

  • Tea towels
  • Sturdy, decorative boxes
  • A cute, reusable grocery bag
  • A mason jar

2. Buy From Local Artists

Not everyone is creative or has the time to make a gift. In that case, find a local artist and buy something unique. You’ll be supporting someone in your community and ensuring the gift wasn’t mass produced in a sweat shop. Some places to find local artists:

  • Farmer’s markets
  • Artist’s collective or co-op
  • University art departments (they often sell affordable student work)
  • Independent coffee shops and hair salons (the walls may be adorned with art that’s for sale)
  • Church bazaars
Make a Gift!

Make a Gift! Pictured: a knit bag & thumbprint-reindeer Christmas ornaments.

3. Give Handmade Presents

Some of my all time favorite items — ones I use daily — are things that were made with love by someone special. A gift from the heart created especially for someone is often more meaningful than something purchased at the store. If you make a gift, you also control what’s in it, including where the items were sourced and how green they are. Some gifts I’ve given and received are:

  • A knit hat or scarf, made with eco-friendly yarn
  • Ceramic café mug decorated by hand (mine was with the handprints of my young nieces!)
  • Homemade candles in a votive or repurposed glass jar
  • Live plants (herbs and succulents are great choices) potted in a beautiful way

4. Give the Gift of an Experience

An unforgettable experience stays with someone long after an item may have fallen apart or been thrown away. Often, more thought’s involved in creating an experience for someone, as in, “What would they like to do?” It creates something special. When we give an experience there’s not much to throw away or waste, making it the perfect eco-friendly gift. Try one of these:

  • Spend time with a friend, maybe go for a walk or have a tea (what most people want more of is you)
  • Take someone on a date (could be traditional, like dinner, or wild, like skydiving)
  • Teach someone to do something (I’ve been helping my dad learn to use wordpress so he can display his great photos!)
  • Cook a meal for someone
  • Volunteer your time at a shelter or soup kitchen