The holidays are just around the corner (we know, we’re just as shocked as you are about where the rest of the year went).
And with it comes the season for giving gifts.
For zero-waste practitioners and the environmentally conscious, gift-giving can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you’re trying to avoid giving gifts that are
- made of cheap plastic
- mass-produced in a factory under poor labour conditions
- generic and screams consumerist junk
- likely to end up as clutter in someone’s home
- all of the above
But fret not! Here are eight gift-giving ideas that are sure to be a hit with your favourite eco warrior!
1. The gift of experience
If you’re trying to avoid introducing more SNN (stuff nobody needs) into someone’s life, consider giving something intangible instead.
Research shows that experiences outweigh material gifts when it comes to the happiness they give.
Here are some gift ideas that don’t come in boxes but are sure to make your recipient smile from ear to ear:
- Taking them to a concert, a museum, or an art gallery
- Going on a walking or bike tour of your favourite part of town
- Inviting your favourite person to go on a themed food trip (or, alternatively, cooking them a six-course meal)
- Taking them camping under the stars
2. A care package
Here’s another great gift idea that’ll let your thoughtfulnes shine through: a personalised ‘care kit’ made up unique eco-friendly items you’ve handpicked for your recipient.
Below are just some ideas, for starters:
- For a soon-to-be or new mom: a ‘survival kit’ made up of a canister of their favourite tea or coffee, an insulated flask (for keeping drinks hot), homemade cookies, scrunchies, and a bathrobe
- For a newborn: rattles made of sustainably sourced wood, blankets or linen made of organic cotton, and reusable cloth diapers
- For your favourite homemaker: a ‘green kitchen starter kit’ made up of reusable cloth wraps, napkins, and bowl covers, compostable dish scrubbers and brushes, and a bamboo cutting board
- For the man in your life: a sustainable grooming kit composed of an all-metal safety razor, all-natural shave soap, and shaving brush (ideally made of wood and cruelty-free bristles)
- For your BFF: a self-care kit filled with eco-friendly personal essentials like shampoo and conditioner bars, all-natural makeup, scented vegan soy candles, and a book for winding down (preferably with a glass of bubbly).
3. Something handmade
You can never go wrong with gifting someone an item you lovingly made yourself. Going with a handmade gift is the perfect antidote to the toxic consumerism pervading the gift-giving season.
Here are some ideas you can cop:
- Food: The way to a man’s—err, anyone’s—heart, as they say. Baked goods, organic chocolates, a case of craft beer you brewed yourself, or homemade preserved jams and jellies all make wonderful gustatory gift ideas.
- DIY bathroom essentials: Bath bombs, artisanal soap, or body scrubs cost next to nothing and are surprisingly easy to make.
- Crafts: A crocheted or knitted cardigan, socks, or scarf, or a blanket quilt made of someone’s old shirts (perfect for preserving memories) are wonderful personalised keepsakes.
- Artwork: If you’re the artsy type, a framed portrait or a sculpture of your own making is a lovely token worth keeping.
Not too confident with your own skills? Support an independent artist and buy something off handmade marketplaces like Etsy or indieCart.
Read: 15 Online Marketplaces Where You Can Buy Sustainable and Eco-friendly Artworks
4. A living gift
Give the gift that keeps on giving—plants!
Not only do plants liven up any space they occupy, they also offer a host of wholesome benefits, some of which include improving mental health, boosting your immunity, and improving air quality.
Here are a couple of ideas on how you can give the gift of greens:
- Plant a tree in someone’s name
- Gift someone with a potted herb or indoor plant
- Give a ‘grow kit’ made up of gardening tools, seed packets, and natural fertilisers
5. A green subscription box
Give the gift that keeps on giving (in more ways than one) with a subscription box.
Giving an eco-friendly subscription box is a great way to introduce someone to living sustainably or zero-waste.
There are subscription services offering plastic-free, vegan, ethical, and all-natural products for every hobby or interest.
The best part is, these brands often partner with charities or other nonprofits, so when you buy or give a subscription box as a gift, you’re supporting their cause too.
11 Best Produce Subscription Boxes for Fresh Veggies Delivered to Your Doorstep
12 Best Organic Wine Delivery Subscriptions For Sustainable Happy Hours
12 Best Organic Meal Kit Delivery Services for Healthy At-Home Dining
6. Your preloved treasures
Normalise giving second-hand gifts!
Giving stuff you already own is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint as well as save on gift-giving expenses.
If you have stuff that’s just gathering dust at home but are still perfectly functional, consider giving them away. Who knows, that dinnerware set you got from grandma that’s been sitting idle in your cupboard just might spark joy in someone else’s home.
7. Old-fashioned gifts
Sometimes the simplest things bring the most joy.
Instead of giving gadgets or electronic gifts (which, aside from consuming energy, require plenty of the planet’s resources to produce), consider giving away something retro.
For toddlers and young kids, instead of battery-operated toys, look at analogue toys that encourage open-ended play. These include nontoxic crayons and modeling clay, as well as toys made from natural materials like wooden blocks.
Paying for someone’s membership is another wonderful and practical gift idea.
Depending on your giftee’s hobby or interest, you could choose to gift them with a one-year subscription to an online library, a gym membership, an art museum, a streaming service, or an online course.
Already making your gift-giving list? Whether it’s for men, women, or kids, there’s sure to be a perfect gift for each person on your list, if you’re really intentional about gift-giving. And the best part is, sometimes you don’t even have to buy anything from a department store to make someone happy.
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