The holidays are coming up, and while this can be a beautiful time of the year to celebrate winter, loved ones, and gathering together, it’s also stressful on our ecosystems. Every year people around the world generate more trash than ever before, buy more plastic than any other time, and put more strain on our precious resources. In the U.S.A., Americans create 25% more garbage than during the rest of the year (that’s an extra million tons every week from Thanksgiving until the New Year). This makes it an important time to rethink your relationship with waste, and the way you treat the planet. There are so many ways to make the holidays more sustainable and harmonious with the planet, but when it comes to making the gift-giving greener, there are a few options.
First of all, there are so many zero-waste shops online that sell amazing gifts to give to loved ones such as Earth Hero, Peace With the Wild, Eco Roots, Wild Minimalist, and Zero Waste Store. There are also lots of online mercantiles that sell local goods and generally don’t use plastic packaging such as Boston General Store and Uncommon Goods. You can always visit your local co-op, refill store, zero waste shop, and general stores to find goods that are local to you and are plastic-free. Thrift shops are also always an option, as well as antique stores (their jewelry sections are usually great places to find gifts).
If you’re wanting specific item ideas however, here are some low-waste and ethical options to consider:
This stunning robe was made by artisans living in a cooperative community in Rajasthan, India. They used colorful, discarded saris and made the robe by hand. Give it to a friend who works from home, a loved one who wants to learn how to relax more consciously, or a partner who just really loves colorful pieces.
In the winter time, it’s nice to have warm drinks—even when you’re too busy to stop and get one. This gift brings comfort in the cold, as well as a way to enjoy one’s favorite drinks sans plastic packaging. It’s perfect for those who are on-the-go a lot.
Gifting someone with a green thumb plants that they can grow themselves is a beautiful way to honor their gift as well as their connection to plant life. This kit offers a calming flower that they can grow inside—ideal for the cold winter months. It also comes with considerably less plastic than conventional commercial plants and growing kits.
This gift is perfect for the person in your life who loves music almost as much as they love the planet. It’s made from recycled materials, and is a great splurge thanks to its high quality.
These socks are made ethically, sustainably, and with the tropical rainforests of the world in mind. For each pair of socks sold, $1 is donated to Conservation International to support their work in the forests—in this case, $3 will be donated.
For the artists and people who like to try new things, this gift is perfect. It comes with dried flowers, twine, compostable materials, and plantable flower coasters. This is also great because the vases can be air-dried, making the process more accessible.
Sea Witch Botanicals is the best place to get incense sticks for a few reasons—the company is woman-owned, it honors the natural cycles of the year, and they use low-waste and natural processes that aren’t just good for the planet- they smell amazing.
This gift is perfect for writers who love the planet. Made in the Netherlands, these are made from the covers of old books in a socially responsible facility that hires those who are differently abled. It’s a socially conscious and environmentally conscious option.
Flying Bird Botanicals is a woman-owned company based out of Bellingham, WA in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.A.. They have ethical harvesting methods, and honor the land around them. They sell teas, matcha, and cacao, but this gift set is divine for those wanting to get into teas but don’t want all the plastic that comes with conventional bags.
This face mask is made by a small zero waste company that specializes in wholesome (yet very colorful) skincare. They have gained global recognition, with this bright face mask consistently being a best seller. Made with gemstones, sea crystals from the Atlantic, turmeric, this is a lovely gift for the skincare enthusiast, the mermaid-at-heart, or those wanting some ways to do self care in a more mindful way.
Whatever you end up deciding to gift people with, just remember to try and support ethical companies. If you can’t find something affordable, making gifts is a lot more doable and generally even more sustainable. The bottom line is to remember the planet in your gift-giving practices this year. Don’t fall into the trap of the shopping and consuming frenzy that is this season in the western world. It’s hurting the planet, and those gifts don’t last anyways.
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Photo: Respective brands