Your Guide to Sustainable Gifting
When making sustainable purchasing decisions, it’s much easier to think about them when shopping for yourself than someone else. Because when you’re buying a gift for a friend, family member, or whoever, you’re thinking more about what they want than what’s most important to you. But there is a way to find a balance. How, exactly? Well, here are some tips on how to do your gift shopping a little more mindfully/sustainably.
1. DON’T SHOP HOLIDAY SALES
Ok, ok. I know I’m already going to lose a few people here. And I completely understand why. Because if you already have to buy gifts for people, it might as well be when they’re on sale. Totally understand. If you know you’re going shop holiday sales (a.k.a. around Memorial Day, Christmas, Black Friday, etc.) and nothing will sway you from doing that, go ahead and move to #2. If you aren’t that fond of shopping on various holidays (like I am), keep reading.
The whole purpose of sales is for a retailer or brand to get rid of whatever inventory they have currently and minimize how much extra they produced for that season. They don’t want last season’s items hanging over their head as they release new items for the new season. Plus, how much retailers make during the holidays is used to help judge the state of the industry. If sales are good, then it’s assumed that consumer spending is good. And if they’re better than anticipated, then retailers think that people are buying more than they expected. And that’s where the issue lies. Because if they think people are buying more, they’re going to make more. And more. And more. And more (you get the gist). But if we don’t shop holiday sales, then retailers will think that consumer spending is down, people are saving their money a little more. Which means they’ll produce less going into the next year.
2. BUY YOUR GIFTS FROM SUSTAINABLE/ETHICAL COMPANIES
This one is kinda of a no-brainer. If you want to make your own habits more sustainable/ethical/mindful, shopping at companies that align with those beliefs and practices is a good start. Not only will you be supporting companies that are trying to make changes in their (respective) industries, but many of these companies also have partnerships with charities and organizations, which you will be supporting through buying through them. Also, in giving a sustainable/ethical gift, you can expose the receiver of the gift to a new company that they can choose to shop from again, and in turn, affect their shopping as well!
Suggested places to shop:
- Suggested places to shop:
- For clothes: Pact, Kotn, Girlfriend Collective, United by Blue
- For jewelry: Wild Fawn, CLED, Catbird, Purpose Jewelry
- For home goods: 31 Bits, The Little Market, Parker Clay
- For beauty: NOTO Botanicals, Skylar, Herbivore, RMS Beauty
- For other little goods: Pela, Krochet Kids, Package Free
3. BUY YOUR GIFTS FROM LOCAL ARTISANS
So there is a big debate on whether shopping locally or shopping online is more eco-friendly. Technically the answer is online, but with everyone utilizing two- and one-day shipping, that blows any carbon savings out the window. If you live in a metropolitan area and/or have access to public transportation, this is something that will be super easy for you, and something I highly encourage. And even if you don’t, try and shop on your route home or to work. Here’s why I think you should still buy locally. You’re supporting your local community and fostering creative businesses and helping them grow. Studies also show that local businesses put more back into the local economy than large retail chains do. And that for me is a big plus.
5. GIVE THE GIFT OF AN EXPERIENCE
Secondhand shopping has boomed over the past few years. There are now more places than ever to find used items for you to buy. But when it comes to buying something for another person, buying that something secondhand is still kind of taboo. And it should be! First, shopping for gifts can get quite expensive, especially if you have a large family. Shopping secondhand can save you some of that cash dolla money. Second, remember that overproduction and consumption problem I mentioned earlier? Yea buying secondhand means that you won’t be contributing to that waste problem we have. Third, secondhand doesn’t mean old. You can get a lot of new secondhand items on places like Etsy, Depop, Offerup, Ebay, and at your local thrift stores. I highly recommend doing this if you’re looking for electronics or popular clothing/accessory items. They will usually be on any of these sites.
6. GIVE THE GIFT OF A GIFT
For quite some time now, some people have been asking their friends and family to give the gift of a donation to a charity/organization that they choose or that the person can choose themselves instead of buying a gift. This gift will very much depend on the person, but if you know that they have a cause/charity that is close to their heart, a donation will definitely be something that they can appreciate.
7. DON’T BUY BAGS OR WRAPPING PAPER
Underline. Exclamation point! Can’t say this enough. Use bags and wrapping paper that you already have. If you don’t have any, get creative with what you do have around the house. Save nice paper bags that you get when shopping—you can always paint over logos. Save boxes from things you get in the mail. I personally always wrap my gifts in newspaper.This way you’re reusing all those papers you’re just going to get rid of anyway, and it adds a fun touch to the wrapping of the present. No matter what you end up buying as a gift for someone, the most important thing to remember is that its monetary value doesn’t equal its actual value to a person. Some of my most favorite gifts are ones that someone made themselves or came from the thrift store. Gifts don’t need to be expensive, they don’t even have to be physical items, they just have to be chosen and given with intention.