The most eco-sensitive gifts follow the 4 R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle; we offer examples below. Ending the tradition of material gift-giving is likely the best option, perhaps with a conversation about minimalism or the need to reduce our footprints. If you do offer gifts, replace gift-wrap paper with comic pages or, better yet, with cloth "shopping" bags, or scarves.
Alternative Gift Ideas:
- Gift a donation to a local charity (or even the Green Party!)
- Give a tree or a grove of trees
- Give a "coupon" for experiences such as events, classes, services, or dinner out
- Buy gifts that help reduce single-use items: reusable coffee mugs, lunch bags, etc.
- Use hand-me-downs to create a dress-up kit or arts & crafts “idea box”
- Reuse items to make gifts: personalize a picture frame, sew a customized gift, etc.
- Buy someone an energy audit
- Gift an Energy Star appliance or the latest tech to lower energy usage, like a smart thermostat or light switch
- Shop at thrift stores
- Shop for gifts made from recycled or reused materials
If you choose to buy a new item, please consider the following:
- Eco-Friendly Construction - Is the item sustainably sourced? Can it be reused or recycled?
- Economic Impact - Is the item Fair-Trade or made in the United States?
- Enterprise Organization - Is the business Co-operative or have a Union? Are they based locally?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of household waste increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day (EPA). Wrapping paper, decorations, packaging, leftover food, and sometimes even the gifts we buy end up in the trash bin.