How to make your holiday shopping more sustainable
For those of us looking to consume less in general for the sake of the environment, the holidays can feel like a rather daunting exercise in self-control. This can feel especially tricky for those who enjoy being generous with the people they love the most. So many holiday traditions are tied to gifting and consumerism—not to mention those always-tempting Black Friday sales. According to last year’s data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans, on average, spend $997.73 during the holidays.
This isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with treating the people in your life to something special—but there are ways to do this that don’t result in copious amounts of waste. Below, we’re sharing five ways that you can gift your loved ones—and the Earth—this holiday season.
1. Support a cause that’s near and dear
The real gift that keeps on giving? Something charitable. Have a friend who’s obsessed with nature documentaries? Donate to the World Wildlife Foundation in their honor. What about your food-obsessed, big-hearted mother-in-law? She’d likely appreciate a donation to the World Central Kitchen. Giving someone a charitable gift will make you and your friend feel good—all while supporting a cause in need. Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to explore organizations that might nicely align with those on your shopping list.
2. Try shopping second-hand
The internet offers an abundance of amazing vintage boutiques. For the bookworm in your life, consider a gift certificate to Better World Books, a literacy-focused organization that has reused or recycled over 446 million books. Of course, there’s always Etsy—which is filled to the brim with antiques, vintage jewelry, and other fun items, perfect for the fashion lover in your life.
3. Plant a tree in their honor
The Trees Remember is an incredible organization that will plant a tree on public land in a U.S. National Forest to honor someone you love. They’ll even let your recipient know which state and forest is home to your specific tree. Best of all, it’s pretty affordable, with a single tree donation costing just $27.
4. Try an experience
What says “I care about you” more than time spent together? Take your loved one to a museum—or better yet, give them a membership to a museum you know they love and would like to visit more often. Is there a musical artist coming to town that you know they’re obsessed with? Gift them a set of tickets—and if you’re lucky they’ll take you as their date!
5. Give the gift of information
For the information-obsessed friend, the one who is quick to google just about everything, give the gift of knowledge. A health and ancestry kit from Ancestry.com and 23andme can be an enlightening experience. Another fun gift for a friend who's obsessed with their pet is an animal DNA kit—because every mutt and street cat has a story that hasn’t been told.
So this holiday season, before you tear down the aisles at 6 AM on Black Friday, take a moment and consider what might be a nice gift for Mother Earth, too. It’s sure to make everyone feel good.
Blair Smith is a lifestyle and beauty writer who currently resides (and will likely stay forever) in Brooklyn, New York.