The holiday season brings families and friends together to bond over beautiful dinners, gift giving, and other festivities. The holidays also bring about a tidal wave of overconsumption. Between the large family meals and presents for all, food and solid waste runs at an all-time high during this time of year. It’s estimated each person in America produces over an average of 43% more waste than usual within the last three months of the year. In order to protect our environment and be an ally to our Earth, it’s important to practice sustainable living all year round. Normalized overconsumption and premature seasonal marketing have largely contributed to the waste crisis we face today, but the holidays don’t have to be an antithesis to the environmental movement! There are some easy solutions to help you go green this holiday season.
One of the first steps to green gift-giving is to make the process sustainable from start to finish. Staying green during the holidays isn’t just about purchasing or making an eco-friendly gift. Instead, minimize your carbon footprint by considering the entire gift-giving experience: shopping, wrapping, and disposal. For instance, be conscious when shopping by using reusable bags, ordering/purchasing from sustainable companies, avoiding overly packaged items, and shopping locally, and from small businesses. How you wrap the gift can also play a huge role in holiday waste. A beautifully wrapped gift is thoughtful, but most gift wrap can’t be recycled. According to Earth911, approximately 4.6 million lbs. of wrapping paper are produced in the U.S. each year, and about 2.3 million pounds end up in landfills. Instead, try using gift bags, baskets, newspaper, and cardboard paper. You can also check out these wrapping paper alternatives. Other tips on proper solid/food disposal and holiday sustainability have been listed below.
- Compost acceptable foods
- Store, freeze, or repurpose leftovers for future meals.
- AVOID WRAPPING PAPER- check out these alternatives!
- Eco Friendly Shipping Supplies
- Green Gift Giving Guide
- Real trees are more eco-friendly than fake trees made with chemicals.
- Keep it local – shop & buy from farmer’s markets or local vendors/businesses
- Carbon Offsets & Sustainable Air Travel
- Donate or sell gifts that you don’t want but could be enjoyed by others.
- Reuse decorations and other items for future holidays!
- Recycle items that are recyclable (check out this Recycling Guide to see what’s recyclable)
- Less can be more- avoid buying small, useless gifts that will be wasted!
- Try to limit your consumption as much as possible!
Gifting eco-friendly products can seem expensive or challenging at first, but the list of ideas is endless! Buying reusable items that are made ethically and with superior quality than single-use items can help encourage your friends and family to live a green lifestyle. For those who like to get creative or are on a budget, try out some DIY gifts this year! You can upcycle materials or even think outside of the box for ideas where no purchase is necessary. If you have a specific gift in mind, purchase from sustainable brands that actively reduce their carbon emissions and ethically source their materials. See our list of ideas below for reusable, DIY, sustainable, and nature-based gifts that you can add to your shopping list this holiday season.
- Refillable Candle
- Cute Wool Dryer Balls
- Cleaning/Home Supplies (Catalog)
- Glass Coffee Cup
- Pour-Over Coffee Maker – no paper filters required!
- Tea Infusers – cute & reusable!
- Reusable Grocery Bag Sets
- Collapsible Keychain Straw
- Stainless Steel Lunch Kit
- Makeup Remover Pads
- ‘Growing’ Candle
- Reusable Kitchen Storage Kit
DIY/No Purchase Required-
- Homemade Vanilla Extract
- Plants (home grown or locally purchased)
- Seeds (harvested locally or purchased)
- Gardening Tote Bag
- Edible gifts (preferably using organic, locally-sourced ingredients!)
- Knitted items
- Homemade beeswax wrap or candles
- Homemade cleansers or soaps with essential oils and natural ingredients
- Upcycled or re-gifted gifts
- Make a ‘Toad Abode’
- Bird Feeders
- Body Scrubs
- Whipped Peppermint Hand Cream
- Bubble Bath Bars
- Cat Toys
- Made Trade – Ethical & Sustainable Home Items, Apparel, Jewelry, & More
- Zero-Waste Teeth Cleaning Kit
- Natural Beauty Items
- Shampoo/Conditioner Bars, like HiBAR or Ethique
- AllTrue Sustainable Gift Set
- Inside Compost Container
- Zero-Waste Home/Kitchen Kit
- ‘Socks that Plant Trees’
- ‘AllBirds’ Shoes
- Children’s Toys
- Non-Toxic Children’s Art Supplies
- Dinosaur Herb Grow Kit
- Upscaled Glass Cups
- ‘The Zero Waste Cookbook’
See more by visiting this Sustainable Brands Directory.
Gifts of Nature-
- Padre Island Beach Permit
- Buy a Texas State Parks Pass
- Gift nature- plants, seeds, flowers, etc
- Get your friends or family surfing lessons
- Visit your local botanical or historical/monumental gardens.
- Plan a hiking trip!
Read more about ‘True Blue Gifts’ in our past blog post here!
This year, challenge yourself to produce as little waste as possible, from buying gifts that are eco-friendly (and will actually be used by the recipient!) to eliminate family food waste by eating leftovers and composting acceptable foods. Green gift-giving and holiday living doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive; hopefully the resources we compiled can assist you in your zero-waste festivities. Have a happy Green holiday this year!