Updated: Nov 29, 2021
Every year, Americans spend a large amount of money on holiday shopping. However, most fail to notice the extremely harmful effects that this time of year has on the environment. This sustainable gift guide will provide some tips and suggestions for staying as sustainable as possible this holiday season.
Consider these tips before buying brand new items this year:
Buy experiences and courses. Instead of buying material gifts, think about giving experiences, courses, skill-building, and community-building opportunities. These can include cooking courses, tickets to a sports game, concerts, or anything else. Not only are they a great way to be sustainable, but research shows that experiences make us happier than material things.
Support small businesses! Instead of buying (and supporting unsustainable shipping practices) from large companies and distributors like Amazon, try to buy from small businesses. Marketplaces like Etsy are great places to find creative, unique, and sustainably-produced gifts.
Shop locally. Packing, shipping, and transporting gifts require large amounts of materials and energy. By shopping locally, you can support small businesses in addition to eliminating the environmentally harmful aspects that come with shopping online.
Regift & repurpose. Instead of buying brand new items, think about how you can create unique gifts from things you might already own. Regifting items that you have previously received and never used gives them a new life and opportunity to be used.
Handmade > store-bought! Making your own gifts for friends and family is a sustainable and fun way to spend some time this year. Handmade items are unique and can often be more meaningful to receive. Some ideas are baked goods, trinket dishes, and jewelry.
Avoid excessive wrapping/packaging. Wrapping paper and gift bags can create a lot of unnecessary waste during the holidays. Instead, wrap gifts in old newspapers or use old gift bags and shoeboxes to package gifts.
Think before you buy. Before asking for items this holiday season, think about whether you will actually use them. Clothing in particular is something that many give and receive during the holidays, but fashion is the second largest environmentally harmful industry in the world every year.
*UPDATED* GIFT GUIDE 2021!!
EthiCAL Apparel is a student-run social enterprise from UC Berkeley that provides high-quality screen printing and free design services on clothing. Each month, they direct about 60% of our profits to a variety of local Bay Area social good initiatives. Their custom shirts are HAE NOW shirts which are fair trade certified and are made from 100% organic cotton and designed by a team of students. Shipping in US is also FREE! Shop now!
“The World’s Most Sustainable Gift”: CO2 REMOVAL
You can now give the gift of direct CO2 Sequestration? Climeworks is a European based company that allows you to give the gift of Carbon Removal through a variety of technologies! Choose your pick and how much to purchase on behalf of a family member or friend! Read more here!
Do you want to “invest your money” without having to deal with risks like the stock market! Kiva might be just for you! Kiva is a loan, not a donation, allowing you to cycle your money and create a personal impact across the world. Plus, you can withdraw your funds at any time. Simply choose a borrower that aligns with your values, make a loan, get repaid, and repeat!
This is a perfect compact gift for those interested in renewable energy, but may not have the money or space for fully roofed solar panels! This portable solar gadget is perfect for apartments and any room windows! However, is on the pricier side of gifts, but well worth the investment!
GIFT GUIDE 2020
Metal or glass straws are a simple and practical gift for anyone who doesn’t have them. Single-use plastic straw waste harms many wildlife species, especially ocean animals, but buying a set of reusable metal or glass straws avoids creating this harmful waste.
Jewelry is always a popular gift during the holidays, and there are some brands that use sustainable materials to create their designs. Giulia Letzi and Meta Jewelry uses recycled plastic and aluminum from local coffee shops as materials for their designs, and products like 4ocean’s bracelet donate money from your purchase to remove waste from the ocean.
Bamboo is a highly sustainable material, as it is highly renewable and adds more oxygen to the atmosphere than other tree types. Items like bamboo hairbrushes, bamboo mugs, and reusable portable utensils are super practical gifts for anyone you know.
“KEEP NATURE WILD” BEANIE
For anyone who needs a new beanie this year, consider this one from the brand Keep Nature Wild. Each product purchased from this company picks up one pound of trash.
World Wildlife Fund Gifts are perfect, especially for younger family members or friends. For example, symbolic adoptions donate your money to protecting endangered species and buying these socks donates to wildlife protection efforts across the globe.
GIFT A GOAT
Heifer International is an organization working to combat hunger and poverty around the world and promote environmental sustainability. One project of theirs is gifting a goat. Goats allow families to help provide for themselves and sell products from the goat (such as milk and cheese). Gifting a goat on someone’s behalf is a super meaningful gift to give this year.