You’ve made major strides this year to reduce your waste output and make more mindful purchasing decisions. But, while your consumption philosophy has changed, your friends and family are maintaining the same gifting traditions and expectations as usual. How do you participate in a consumption-driven holiday while staying true to your convictions? We’ve put together the following guide, and hope that it demonstrates that there is a wide range of ways you can gift responsibly that don’t require you to overhaul your traditions.
Include the gift receipt
Give your loved one the gift of only having to keep things that they will use and love for many years to come. Include the gift receipt with your gift so that if they don’t love it, they can return it. Even better - include the original receipt so that they can return the gift for cash if that particular store doesn’t have an item they want or need.
Use recyclable or reusable gift wrap
Avoid glittery or metallic wrapping paper - it’s not recyclable! If you’re present for the unwrapping, make it your job to ensure that gift wrap ends up in the recycling bin. Reusing is a lower impact option than recycling, so try to use reusable gift wrap (including gift bags) if you can. You can also use paper that would otherwise be thrown away (i.e., newspaper), or check a thrift store for an old atlas, picture book, or map. As an added bonus, the presents under your tree will look much more interesting!
Yes, we’ve all heard this one before. You may already have the perfect ‘thing’ gift in mind. But if you’re racking your brain for a gift idea, think experiences first. The options are endless, and you might find that you can give a more memorable gift for less money! If you’re worried that the giftee might not take advantage of the experience, make it an experience with you and set a specific date. Hint: parents love this one.
Look for a secondhand option
If you have a gift in mind that doesn’t need to be a specific model or brand, you may be able to find a great secondhand option. Not only can you feel good about not creating demand for new materials, but you can usually score a much nicer and higher quality good for the same price as a lower-quality new version.
Buy from local and small businesses
Okay, we realize this may not always be a lower waste swap, but we think it's so important we had to include it! If you can buy the same item from a small or local business and a large corporation, opt to shop small! You’ve heard the phrase “every time you shop small, a real person does a happy dance?” Even if the corporate chain can offer a slightly better price, just remember that when you shop small and local, your money is bettering your own community. It’s so often worth spending a few extra dollars to keep your purchases local and impactful. And, circling back to the low waste theme, small and local businesses are more incentivized to accommodate your special low waste requests. For example, if you tell a small business owner that you're in the market for a package-free or plastic-free version of their product, they are more likely to listen than their large corporate counterpart.
Use the opportunity to share some of your low waste swaps
With all of the changes you’ve made to your lifestyle, you’ve probably discovered some great low waste and consciously produced products. Perhaps you’ve perfected your DIY lip balm recipe, or you’ve loved switching to reusable facial rounds. If you feel like a swap has been a no-brainer for you, there’s a good chance your friends and family will love it too. Who knows, maybe it could be the springboard to getting them to join you in your low waste journey!