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The List

6 Eco-Friendly Ways to Gift

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When it comes to gift-giving, it’s the thought that counts, so think green!

Are you shopping green for your holiday gifts? As I’ve been rounding up gifts for my family and friends, I’ve been trying to be as responsible as possible: I’m shopping online or combining trips to the store so that I can cut down on the amount I drive, I’m making sustainable choices in what I buy, and I’m wrapping everything in sustainable gift wrap like newspaper, fabric scraps, and plain recycled craft paper.

As I’ve been brainstorming gift ideas, here are a few ways I’ve come up with to gift green.

  1. Give a handmade gift. I recently bought a glass cutter that’s going to help me turn empty wine bottles into new creations, such as planters, candle holders, and glasses. You can find similar projects online that upcycle used goods: consider sewing a quilt from old T-shirts or make a photo collage on a piece of scrap wood. Gifts from the kitchen can also be sustainable, especially if you buy the ingredients in bulk and get creative with packaging. How about cookie mixes in a Mason jar, or homemade hot cocoa mix in a mug purchased at a resale shop?
  2. Find a sustainable alternative. There’s just about always an earth-friendlier option when you’re shopping: perfume lovers are sure to enjoy an organic scent, while fashionistas will relish a pick from a clothing company like BeGood, which has a planet-friendly production cycle and a socially responsible mission. Check out some of the fantastic options at OneTwine, Recyclebank’s shop of carefully curated eco-friendly goods.
  3. Shop local. Hop on your bike, or walk, to your local retailers for unique, interesting gifts. You’ll be keeping small businesses vibrant, reducing the impact on the environment, and getting some fresh air and exercise to boot!
  4. Buy used. Check out auction websites, local buying and selling forums, consignment stores, and antique stores. Sometimes the most perfect gifts come from these sources, and by giving an item a second life, you’re cutting down on the environmental impact of having to manufacture and ship something brand new. I’ve found vintage purses for my girlfriends, a bartending set for my cocktail-loving sister-in-law, and fun dress-up clothes for my kids.
  5. Gift an experience. Some people really don’t need any more stuff. Gift a fantastic memory instead: tickets to a play or concert, membership to a local museum, or plan a family vacation instead of exchanging presents. You’ll reduce clutter in your house, and conserve the resources otherwise used to manufacture the items you would have purchased.
  6. Make a donation. For the person on your list who really does have everything, give them the gift of philanthropy by donating money to a cause near and dear to their heart. This time of year, many charities have clever donation programs that can make great gifts: Adopt a whale, dedicate a tree, or adopt an acre of land for conservation. JustGive has a guide to a wide range of donation ideas.

Help us with our gift list… what’s your favorite eco-friendly gift to give? Share your suggestions in the comments below.

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.