11 Ways To Make Gift Giving More Sustainable

According to several sources, if everyone lived the way we most of us do in the U.S. we’d need something like 5 earths to be sustainable. And according to Thomas Friedman in an op-ed piece for The New York Times the consumption world around would require about 1-1/2 earths. He’s using Global Footprint’s numbers and you can find out what your life style represents in terms of the number of earths required.

With the gift giving season fast approaching, what can you do to make your gift giving more sustainable? Here are some ideas. None of them, of course, will totally solve the environmental problems we face, but even considering them may help you realize how to reduce your own consumption.

Agree to not give gifts at all. You might call this the Grinch or Scrooge option, but it doesn’t have to be that way at all. If you’re all adults it may be as simple as asking if you really want to exchange gifts or if you’d rather donate to some worthy cause or go out to dinner as a group instead.

Set up a gift exchange by number so people only have to buy one gift – for the number they drew. Our family did this and I, as the grandmother, opted out because I wanted to give my kids and grand kids gifts. It meant the others only had to figure out one gift. My adult children did give me a gift each, but mostly a token – a bag of my favorite coffee, etc.

Give good deeds instead. Instead of buying a gift, give a coupon that can be redeemed for cleaning out the garage, or washing the car, or… some chore that doesn’t get done often.

Donate in the name of the giftee. Instead of buying something, donate in your loved one’s name. You can choose a charity you know they’d approve of or actually donate goats or chickens etc. through Heifer.org or goats through Goats for the Old Goats.

Re-gift from your store of rarely used stuff. Re-gifting things you have that you don’t use can be a great way to keep from buying more stuff. And sometimes you’ll be able to re-gift an item with a story that makes it even better.

Do your gift shopping at thrift stores. It’s absolutely amazing what you can find in thrift stores. Find those closest to the richest part of town and you’re likely to score some amazing things.

Check out Craigslist’s free section in your area. The things you can find in the free section are amazing. To do this well requires looking well in advance.

Buy gifts from green/sustainable places. Items marked Fair Trade are likely to be more sustainable than those not so labeled. When you can find union made goods you know that at least the workers are treated well. Google green shopping and green shopping (city name)

Wrap the gifts in newspapers or brown paper bags. If you subscribe to a newspaper, use several to wrap your gifts; the comics section makes for colorful wrapping, but the regular sections work well too. The paper bags you get from grocery stores can also be used

Reuse gift bags. We all some to love gift bags and our family reuses them a lot. Some have been around long enough to collect a story or two.

Use raffia or yarn or even string for ribbon. Instead of buying ribbon that won’t recycle, and most of it won’t, use raffia or an organic yarn or even string. Get creative and you’ll be amazed at how good your packages will look. World.eduEarthEasy.com and Gaiam all have suggestions for sustainable gift wrap.

How do you help make the holidays sustainable?

Love, blessings and abundance,

Anne Wayman: When Grandmother Speaks


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon Hurley Hall November 29, 2012 at 12:02 am

We recycle gift bags till they fall apart – it’s a bit of a family joke how familiar they are. We also send e-cards or video greetings to everyone except immediate family and close friends, cutting down on paper use. Great tips here, Anne.

annew November 29, 2012 at 1:23 am

Yeah, they do get a bit worn don’t they. We seem to get together and not need to send cards of any stripe, but I’ll keep ecards in mind… I do use them on other occasions.

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