Being more aware of what we purchase during the holiday season is especially important because Americans produce 25% more trash (and consume more natural resources) at this time of the year. Here are some suggestions for more meaningful gift giving for you and your loved ones this holiday season:
Share your skills
Rather than wrapping up a present, give a gift certificate for your talents like knitting, cooking, home organizing, etc. For the person who has everything but time, give a service like shoveling snow, babysitting, cleaning, helping with yard work, mending clothes, organizing photos, teaching a computer program, etc.
Make your gift extra personal by making it yourself and utilizing materials you already have, or by finding materials that spark your creativity at a thrift store or a specialty business, such as Art Parts Creative Reuse Center. Try asking family members for their favorite recipes and compile them to create a family recipe book. Or, put together photos and other memorabilia into scrapbooks and photo albums.
Giving secondhand gifts
Purchasing new items for your loved ones can carry a hefty price tag - both for your wallet, and for the planet! The average American spends almost $850 on holiday gifts alone, and these gifts tax the environment through the extraction of resources, production, distribution, packaging, and disposal. Instead of buying new things, try shopping at local thrift stores, vintage and consignment stores if you are safely able to do so. Due to the pandemic, many consignment stores are offering online shopping options, so you can shop secondhand from the comfort of your own home! You can also utilize some of the many online marketplaces with secondhand options, such as letgo, Mercari, Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, ThredUP, or even Craigslist!
Experiences, Memberships, and Supporting Local Businesses
Our most meaningful connections with others are often based on shared experiences, which makes giving the gift of experiences a perfect gift for the holidays! Hand-pick experiences for your loved ones, such as purchasing a National Parks pass, hot air balloon ride, or other outdoor adventures; a subscription to online newspapers or magazines; a CSA Farm Share from a local farm; or gift certificates to local restaurants and small businesses - which helps these businesses maintain revenue during challenging times!
Classes & Lessons
Do you know someone who is constantly looking to learn? Give them the opportunity to expand their horizons by gifting lessons, classes, or other learning experiences. Support local educators who are offering virtual music, art, cooking, and other classes. There are also tons of online learning platforms, such as Lynda.com, Great Courses Plus, Master Class and Udemy, offering thousands of courses about languages, film, acting, music, technology, business, science and more!
Gifts to live more sustainably
Items that help your loved ones lead a more sustainable life are gifts that keep on giving! For example, stainless steel reusable coffee mugs, water bottles, and food containers can help your loved ones avoid plastics and other toxic materials. Metal straws, travel utensil sets, and reusable shopping bags are great gifts for those who want to reduce their plastic use. Or, combine several of these items to create a Zero Waste on-the-go kit for a healthier, less wasteful new year! Check out Earth Hero''s Holiday Gift Guide, Zero Market, Refill Revolution, The Conscious Merchant, and Zero Waste gifts on Etsy for some great sustainable gift ideas!
Contribute in a loved-one's name
If you are able this year, consider making a contribution in a loved-one's name. Now more than ever, people and organizations need support to help meet their needs and to continue important work on pressing issues.