Going zero waste doesn't just affect the things you buy for yourself, but becoming more eco-conscious also makes you think twice about the gifts you buy for your friends and family. That's why I created a gift guide based on the gifts I've sent to my family over the course of this year to help give you inspiration for the holidays!
Additionally, these tips are great if you're shopping for someone who is eco-conscious and you're struggling with what to get them!
Before I get into the actual gifts, I want to go over my thought process when it comes to buying gifts. First and foremost, I think of gift ideas with zero regard to their eco-friendliness. That's right! I just let myself come up with a gift that the person will actually want and get use out of. If it meets those two criteria then I know I have a good gift. The biggest reason for this is, buying someone an eco-friendly or zero-waste gift they won't like is just as bad as giving a wasteful gift! If the gift is something that they want and won't end up in a landfill that's what you want to give them. Once I have the gift in mind, I start to look for ways to make the gift as eco-friendly as possible. Here are my tips for making your gifts to others eco-friendly.
1. Shop Local: Shopping local not only helps small businesses in your area but it contributes fewer carbon emissions since the item doesn't need to travel far to get to you. For example, if you know someone who loves coffee, buy them coffee from local shops near you to try. Or shop at local farmer's markets for unique gift ideas that they won't be able to find anywhere else! I know at my local farmer's market there are woodworkers, beer makers, hand blown glass makers and jewelry makers. You don't even have to look hard to find something for everyone there!
2. If not local, Etsy: If your local farmer's market fails or there just isn't one near you, check out Etsy for buying gifts from a small business. Etsy is great because it features very small businesses and best of all: Etsy is carbon neutral! For example, I have one friend who loves wearing fun earrings so this year for her birthday I found some earrings she would like on Etsy and sent them her way!
3. Look for plastic free packaging: If you have a gift idea for someone, try to see if there is an eco-friendly version of it, or if you can buy from a brand that has plastic-free packaging. Try searching eco-friendly search engines like EarthHero for the item you have in mind. One of my mom's goals this year is to shop only Made in the USA items. So for Mother's Day this year I put together a gift of all different toiletries that are both Made in the USA and plastic free for her to try.
4. Experience Gifts: Experiences are a great gift to give someone because it's not something that could end up in the trash one day. Think about the person you're buying the gift for and what they might like. Maybe a membership to a local museum or zoo is something they would use often. Or if you live near each other buy an experience for you to do together like taking a cooking class, painting your own pottery, a wine and paint night, or a yoga class! This year for Kyle's birthday part of the gift I got for him was buying 2 tickets to walk through Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, we made a day out of it and got coffee and walked around beforehand so it was a really fun way to celebrate.
5. Consumables: This could be anything from a fine wine and cheese platter, craft brewed beer, local artisan coffee, or pastries from a bakery they love! Giving someone something they can consume is a great low-waste gift if you know they'll eat it. Plus it's less stuff for them to have sitting around their house. Last year for his birthday I got my dad a bag of coffee from a local shop near me and he loved it!
6. Gift Cards: Don't hate on gift cards! Especially if you know the person likes a specific store. By giving them a gift card they can go and pick out what they actually want and will use on their own.
7. DIY's: I know DIY's can be a bit dicey depending on your time commitment levels and personal abilities but they can be a really fun gift to give! Last year for Christmas I got an empty cigar box from a cigar store and made it into a cufflink holder case for my dad, and for my mom I made a scrapbook for her with our family photos from over the years.
Gifts to Avoid:
1. Clothing: Unless you know this person's style very well and their size preferences I would steer clear of giving clothing as a gift. Not to mention how bad fast fashion is for the planet. I think if you have to go with something wearable shoes and jewelry are much safer than buying clothing.
2. Home Decor: Again, unless you know this person's style to a T, I wouldn't buy them home decor because if they don't like it they now have to give it away, resell it, or are forced to throw it away.
Having trouble coming up with gift ideas for people? What I like to do is throughout the year as I get ideas either from things I see that I think the person would like, or as I hear them mention things they want I wrote them down on a notes page in my phone. That way when it's time to buy a gift I already have some good ideas to go off for that person.
What other eco-friendly gift giving tips do you have? Leave them in the comments below.
Join me as I document my journey to becoming zero-waste through this blog as a resource to others.