Holiday season is in full swing and between Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday Sales, many of us have probably started thinking about gifts and ways to show family and friends our appreciation with a wrapped up token of some sort. Can we show we care without causing to much waste and to much impact on the planet? Of course we can!
Sustainable, eco-friendly gifts
Is someone in your life trying to ditch plastic or live more sustainably? How about finding out what steps they have already taken in their daily lives to move towards a less wasteful lifestyle in the new year. Have they already replaced every day single-use objects such as disposable cups or cutlery, plastic bags, personal hygiene products etc?
If they have great! If they haven’t you could help them achieve their sustainability goals by gifting them with fun reusable items such as coffee cups, plastic free kitchenware, multipurpose cotton muslin bags which can be used for grocery or for storage, or even as party favors, reusable and easily transportable cutlery sets for dining out, eco-friendly hygiene products (bamboo toothbrush for adults or for kids, reusable razors, package free soaps, package free toothpaste etc), package free candles, a book or a guide full of advice on how to achieve sustainability, and so much more. Practical, useful things that can be used every single day and be appreciated all year round. Of course all these things are perfect gifts even for all those people who aren’t really aware of the impact certain every day choices (such as, for example, plastic toothbrushes) are having on our planet, so through sustainable, eco-friendly gifts, we could actually make them aware of a global problem they were ignoring.
Another way to have a more eco-friendly Holiday season, could be gifting ‘things’ which are not really ‘things’. An example could be booking someone a class or a digital course that has something to do with their hobbies or that teaches a craft that person has been talking about learning for years. Book an experience in town, a local attraction or an activity that you can do together (pottery, yoga, dancing), or even a ticket to a show. It doesn’t really matter what it is, because what you are really giving is your time and you’re expressing the intention and the will to spend time with that person, which is always something great to receive. Along the lines of that you could also create a custom ‘voucher book’ with more day to day experiences and date ideas that could be done over the year. Simple things like dinner, or a movie, or a picnic, or DIY projects you know that person needs doing around the house, you could volunteer to do those. Meaningful things that your loved one will surely appreciate. An online subscription to a magazine or organizing a delivery of delicious, local, organic produce! You could even pass on a book that you’ve read over the last year and that has helped you see things in a different light. You could explain your gift in the cover page, or maybe underline or write notes in different key passages throughout the book.
There are a lot of things that can be gifted without creating waste!
If you do decide to go with something physical that can actually be wrapped, make sure your wrapping paper is recyclable and plastic free,. Not many people may know this, but in fact, most wrapping paper is not recyclable and should NOT be put in your recycling bin. This because wrapping paper is often dyed, laminated with non-paper additives such as gold and silver colored shapes, glitter, and other plastics which not all recycling plants are equipped to break down and recycle. Other wrapping paper on the market is just so thin it doesn’t contain good recycling qualities, and wrapping paper that could have originally been easily recycled because it contains no plastic, has been covered in sticky tape (which is plastic) and has therefore become unrecyclable too.
Don’t worry though, you can still turn up with a neatly and fun wrapped up gift without using any wrapping paper! You could for example use cloth from muslin bags, scarfs, napkins or just random cloth scraps. You could dress them up, draw funny sayings, and, once the gift has been unwrapped, you could always ask for them back to use again next year, or suggest that the person you have given them too, hold on to them and recycle them themselves for future gifts. Anything from cardboard boxes, cereal boxes, to potato chip containers can be transformed into adorable and useful gift wrappers, as long as you put in a bit of creativity to showcase them a little. They could be perfect to wrap up homemade cookies or treats!
You could also use burlap for a cool rustic look and color it up with twine or string. Instead of buying wrapping paper layered with plastic components, you could upcycle paper you already have in your home. Newspaper pages, old maps, old music sheets, pieces from brown paper bags, or shopping bags with festive designs. Anything you already have lying around is better than going out and purchasing something completely new that will get wrapped up and thrown away immediately. Why waste resources on something that has such a short life span as wrapping paper?
Just remember that whatever recyclable paper you decide to go for, don’t ruin it with sticky tape or glue, otherwise it would have all been for nothing. Use ribbons, strings and twine to close up your gift and keep it all nice and wrapped up. All three of those things can then be kept and used over and over again for future gifts and other projects.