3 Practices for Sustainable Gift Giving

When the holidays and birthdays roll around, there is a way to avoid materialism and the stacking up of more plastic toys. A whole new style of gift giving is emerging that focuses less on what’s in the box and more on the people in the room. By embracing waste-free gift giving, we can avoid creating more piles in our landfills and instead build more memories with the people we love!

And let’s be clear – there’s no shame in having toys, in fact they can play a vital role in a child’s development. But if you’re feeling those Marie Kondo vibes, we’re here to help make that happen.

1. Give Time

It is 100% easier for me to ship a random toy to my nieces at Christmas. Convenience is so hard to overcome. However, what if I took them to get ice cream when I visited instead? We spent time talking about what they want to be when they grow up, how school is, and other things to get to know each other. Give of your time rather than straight from your wallet. It takes more intentionality, but in the long run that trip could mean much more than the doll that ends up tossed in the corner. Here are some waste-free experiences that you can give:

  • Trips to a favorite ice cream shop or restaurant
  • Pack a picnic and go to the park
  • Host a special meal for friends or family
  • Go to the zoo, a museum, concert, festival or other fun activity
  • Buy lessons to learn something new – surfing, sailing, pottery or painting
  • Deep clean a part of or a whole section of someone’s house or apartment (major #adulting gift there, but don’t we all want it?!)
  • Turn it into a surprise! Whatever experience you have planned, turning it into a surprise for the other person can make it even more fun.
woman writing thank you notes

2. Infuse Meaning

Words stick. Is there a kind word someone told you that you still think about? Expressing your love in your gift-giving can be more valuable that how much it cost or how big it is. Here are some examples of waste-free gifts that are meaningful:

  • Write a letter! Who receives heartfelt letters anymore? Writing down a favorite memory or something you appreciate about that person.
  • Make a list of things you love about them according to their age. Is your spouse turning 35? Write down 35 things!
  • Visit a place that recalls a special memory. It could be where you got engaged, a favorite date, or a yummy restaurant.
  • Bring a list of fun questions. If you go somewhere, use a list of questions like this to show interest in the other person.
baby sitting on a shelf

3. Make it Practical

Whether material or experiential, give a gift you know will be used and not go to waste. Ask questions or have them make a list of things they really need or would enjoy rather than guessing. Some examples could be:

  • Gift card to the grocery store, or a bulk store membership so they can shop cheaper for the next year.
  • Add money to something their saving up for, like a vacation.
  • Even Diaper Service! Instead of giving disposables at a baby shower or during a grocery run, you can give the Gift of Cloth for any amount at anytime to contribute to their diaper needs.

We hope this helps you think through what kind of gifts you’ll give and ask for when the holidays or birthdays roll around. If each family can adapt small low waste habit like this it’ll make a for a more connected community and cleaner planet.

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