It’s the season of giving. How can our gifts bring lots of joy, and give to the planet too?
An especially fun type of low-impact present is the gift of an experience. These are the kinds of creative activities many of us hesitate to get for ourselves, that make for meaningful enjoyment - and no waste!
Think tickets to see a live band, Cirque du Soleil, or a play.
Does a pal or a relative want to learn guitar? Is your best friend tempted to try painting? Consider buying music lessons or a gift certificate for a beginners painting workshop. Or if you have those special skills, really go for non-materialism and give gift sessions with yourself.
~Reusable, zero or low waste gifts~
It’s possible to reduce waste over the holidays with a “less is more” spirit.
The Package Free Shop is one of my favorite green businesses. Check out their smart new drink kit, or a nifty steel folding spork as a stocking stuffer.
Giving edible presents means minimal waste too. Organic gourmet treats like delectable chocolate and fine wine are sure to be hits under the Christmas tree. Organic versions of these treats means they are free of pesticides and herbicides, which is healthier for us and the planet. A couple of tasty brands to try are AlterEco for organic truffles, and Bonterra organic wine (made in USA).
~Cool clothes from organic & regenerative materials~
Clothing is always a popular gift item. This is a prime opportunity for making a conscious choice. Apparel is one of the most unsustainable industries—overproduction and overconsumption due to fast fashion, enormous waste going to landfills, environmental damage and human rights abuses from production.
Look for brands that use low-impact, durable materials and production methods, and who treat their workers right. Here are a few of my top picks:
Patagonia - pioneers in earth-friendly, innovative apparel, they led the way with cozy recycled plastic fleece jackets. They also sell the Guppyfriend washing bag which captures microfibers from synthetic clothes.
Indigenous - stylish women’s clothing made from organic cotton and other natural fibers. Women artisans are paid a fair wage, and you get beautiful long-lasting clothes.
United by Blue - durable, hip, eco-conscious outdoor clothes, backpacks, blankets. Check out their bison gloves and organic cotton tees. A pound of ocean trash is cleaned up for every purchase made.
For more, jump on Ecocult or mygreencloset - just a couple of the many fantastic blogs featuring curated eco and ethical fashion brands.
~Sharing is caring~
The original gift may be the act of sharing. From room shares to rides shares, the sharing economy is taking off these days. Even fashion is getting into sharing. What if we all acquired less and shared more?
The gift of mobility - give someone a break from driving with a Lyft gift card. Or better yet, a membership to a bike share program.
Make a winter getaway possible - Airbnb is in on it too, offering gift cards redeemable toward vacation rentals.
Share the glam - instead of buying new clothes for a fashionista in your life, give a gift membership to Rent the Runway. Fancy dresses and designer handbags become accessible while consumption is curbed. Plus, renting instead of owning means fewer things to care for and store.
~Healthy, green beauty and personal care gifts~
Au Naturale - on trend make-up that’s nontoxic and made with organic ingredients. I’m getting one of their lipsticks for my teen niece, a budding make up artist.
Akamai - healthy soap, moisturizer, and toothpaste are all concentrated, multifunctional and come in a slick boxed Essentials Kit. Their new shaving system is a win for minimizing waste too. Nice pick for the busy health-conscious guy in your life.
Alaffia - outstanding hair care line, committed to improving the lives of their developing world workers while using the finest, sustainable ingredients available. Their dry hair renewal kit is the bomb. I may give this one to my mom and to myself.
To wrap it up, pun intended, try furoshiki this year instead of disposable wrapping paper. The Japanese art of wrapping is done with reusable fabric. Grab vintage silk scarves from your local thrift shop or buy some of these lovely readymade cloth wrappers.
If I didn’t hit on a winning gift idea for you, shop on DoneGood. They’re an alternative marketplace to Amazon that screens all kinds of companies + products for environmental and social impact.
Happy holidays to all!
*Note: Any products or companies recommended on this website are selected because research I have shows evidence they are making a positive difference in the world. Some of them pay me a small amount when my readers make purchases through links in this site. Akamai is a company owned by my brother, Vincent Cobb, but I included it because I believe in the products (okay, also because I believe in my brother). All views expressed on this website are mine. When citing facts and statistics, I attempt to find the most reliable sources available.