Consider a sustainable approach to gifting this year

Photo courtesy of Silvia Sala, Flickr


The holiday season: gift-giving, gift-receiving — all in gift wrapping. Though many may not realize it, December is a time of boundless waste creation, all of which ends up in landfills to start off the new year.

According to Stanford, Americans create 25% more trash during the holiday season than any other time of the year. That’s 25 million tons of garbage in just a month. All this waste is easily avoidable, too, with just a few simple changes and perhaps a few larger ones if you’re up for the cause.

Less wrapping

Wrapping paper, bows and ribbon all look wonderful when they’re sitting next to the tree, but after it’s all been ripped open they go straight into the garbage. Lowering your waste doesn’t mean nothing can be wrapped, though.

One way to ditch the paper is to package gifts in reusable boxes, bags or tins. These can be used year after year, so they aren’t wasteful, but if you really love to wrap you still have options. Choosing to use recycled paper gift wrap, or pages from your local newspaper can make creative, pretty presents.

Purchasing local

Black Friday online deals may be hard to resist, but the environmental benefit is worth it. Companies like Amazon, Walmart and Target will use tons of fuel and energy to ship individual items all month. 

When you shop locally, you avoid all the packaging of online orders. You also may be able to find more unique items in your local shops than you can at big chains, with the extra holiday joy of knowing you’re supporting a small business!

Low waste gift items

If you’re looking to have a zero-waste (or lower than usual) gift exchange, the best thing you can do is purchase sustainable, low waste gift items. If your friends and family are looking to create less waste year round, this is the perfect time to spoil them with sustainable items!

No matter what the person your shopping for is into, the Zero Waste Store is a hub for plastic-free, environmentally friendly gifts. The Package Free Shop is another online store which promises zero waste shipping and has bundles for all sustainable needs.

Most of the time, the only thing between you and a low-waste gift is a bit of research. Sustainable, independent businesses are more popular than ever, so even the most niche interests likely have a sustainable, unique option available.

While giving back to family and friends for the love they show us all year is important, giving back to the earth in your choices this season makes the most wonderful time of the year just a bit more wonderful.