The (Com)Post: A guide to zero and low-waste gift-giving
How to choose sustainable gifts instead of Amazon this holiday season
With the stress of online classes and going home for the holidays in the midst of a global pandemic, the allure of buying last-minute holiday gifts on Amazon is growing . This method replaces the coronavirus risk of in-store shopping, as well as reducing the hassle of buying from multiple online stores.
Yet, that convenience is often countered by a feeling of guilt. Amazon is criticized for being a highly unethical company. The mass production and distribution of goods and lightning-speed shipping comes with an environmental cost, such as incredibly large volumes of carbon dioxide emissions and waste.
Taking a moment to be purposeful about the items we’re buying and the brands we are choosing can make us more aligned with our values. So, if you’re looking for more sustainable gifts to give to your loved ones, but do not know where to start, we have you covered with a zero-waste gift guide.
- Homemade gifts
DIY gifts and home-baked goods are thoughtful, unique, relatively cheap and can be waste-free! If you are someone who likes to make DIY gifts, check out these eco-friendly, homemade holiday gifts and holiday cookie recipes. Or, if you’d rather buy handmade gifts, head to online marketplaces, like Etsy, which has various homemade or upcycled jewelry, soap, candles and more. Depop also has many sellers offering handmade and upcycled products. Not only are these options often affordable and sustainable, but they also give you the opportunity to support small businesses.
- Buy second hand
While it may take some digging, you never know what gems you can find at your local thrift store, second hand bookstore or antique shop. If you're lucky, you may find some unique and cheap goods. For a slightly easier approach to shopping second hand, online thrift stores are the way to go. Depop, Etsy, Poshmark, thredUp and Mercari are all popular sites for purchasing used clothes and accessories. For reused books, try checking out this list of 15 online bookstores. Secondhand homeware or kitchenware can be found on eBay, Etsy or Facebook Marketplace.
- Environmentally friendly gifts
If the recipient is interested in sustainable living, there are dozens of gifts that will help them achieve a greener lifestyle. A few favorite online shops that sell a variety of low-waste products are Well Earth Goods, Etee, EarthHero, Life Without Plastic, Tiny Yellow Bungalow, CHNGE and Zerovana.
A few sites with more specific selections include For Days, a zero-waste clothing line, LIT SOUL CANDLES, which sells candles in upcycled soup cans, Bôhten, a glasses brand that makes its products out of upcycled wood (bonus: they sell blue light glasses, the perfect gift for online students or those working from home), or Acala, a plastic-free makeup brand.
These shops certainly contain many different items to choose from, so one suggestion for gifts is to look for some convenient, reusable products such as straws, face masks, grocery totes, cosmetic rounds, sandwich bags or water bottles. But don’t worry, if none of these websites catch your eye, there are plenty of other sustainable, waste-free brands out there!
- Other miscellaneous zero-waste gift ideas
There are many other zero-waste gift options to choose from. Be creative! Plants can make great gifts, and if you prefer not to go out, try The Sill or Bloomscape for online plant delivery. During the pandemic, it’s hard to buy someone an “experience” such as a concert or movie ticket, but you can gift subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu or Audible. Online yoga and workout classes are very popular right now, as well as online music, cooking or art lessons. A gift certificate to their favorite restaurant is always a go-to gift choice to consider, too.
- Zero-waste wrapping
To fully commit to zero-waste gift-giving, the final touch is gift wrapping. All of the wrapping paper, boxes, ribbons and bags typically used in the process can accumulate waste. Yet, many recyclable, compostable or reused items are readily available in your home to be creatively used for gift wrapping. This zero-waste gift wrapping guide provides several beautiful and resourceful ways to wrap presents with materials such as newspapers, old men’s shirts, clothes pins, twine, plants and more.
It’s important to remember that sustainable practices like this do not have to be all or nothing. If you only have the time and resources to give one or two zero-waste gifts, that is okay. The important part is that we do what we can. Hopefully sustainable gift-giving can take away some of the stress that the holiday season normally brings and allows for some creativity and fun throughout the process.