Being an environmentally conscious gift giver for the upcoming holiday season is a  relatively easy feat. In fact, many eco-friendly gift preparation practices are easily accessible and affordable. In some cases, you don’t even have to leave the house to find sustainable gift-giving solutions! From giving a certificate to a loved one to wrapping a present in recycled paper, there are several ways to integrate sustainable practices when giving gifts to your loved ones.  

Shop close to home with friends (at a safe social distance,  of course) 

The New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation encourages putting multiple heads together and recommends carpooling when going holiday shopping (only with those who are in your quarantine pod, of course!). Additionally, pinpoint a location that has several stores to shop at such as a mall or strip mall in order to prevent multiple shopping trips and to minimize your carbon footprint. Make sure to bring your own tote bags when you decide to hit the store aisles as well.  

women wearing surgical masks while christmas shoppping
Look for materials around the house to wrap and prepare gifts

According to the Peninsula Sanitary Service, Inc. (PSSI) and the Stanford Recycling  Center, trash disposal in the United States increases by 25% between Thanksgiving  Day and New Years, which means that an additional 25 million tons of garbage are disposed in landfills throughout the U.S. in this six week period. To reduce the potential waste that will end up in landfills this season, consider using recycled paper or the pages of old magazines, newspapers, or posters for wrapping gifts. Otherwise, try not to use paper when preparing gifts but opt for a basket, box, or tin container instead.  

If you’re looking to top your gift with that perfect bow, look to use cloth ribbons around the house or make your own bow out of fabric in lieu of using pre-made plastic ones.  

Get creative with homemade gifts 

Nothing is more heartfelt than giving or receiving a homemade gift. If you’re a cooking connoisseur, ponder the possibility of baking some desserts for that special someone.  Like being artsy? Paint a picture, design a scarf, or frame a photo in a nice frame that is meaningful to you and your loved one. Get creative!  

a plate of homemade christmas cookies
Give the gift of an experience 

It is always nice to give gifts that your loved ones can possibly use for months and years to come. On the other hand, giving the gift of an experience can eliminate using tissue paper, wrapping paper, and bows, several parts of a present that oftentimes are disposed of after a present is opened. In fact, the longevity of experiences can outlast the lifespan of an object, since experiences can give our loved one’s memories that can last a lifetime. Plan a hike, purchase a gym membership, buy concert tickets, give a  certificate for a day at the spa or nail salon, or create a coupon book with experiences that your loved one can redeem at any time.   

Go and give green  

Environmental solutions think tank, The Center for Eco Technology, says you can lend a  helping hand to your loved ones by giving them a gift that can help them help the environment. Try finding a gift that your loved one can use on a daily basis, such as a  water bottle, a canvas tote bag, a mug, or a cookbook that contains recipes using only leftovers. That way your loved ones’ positive impact on the planet can last for a long time. 

Look for fashion finds at thrift shops 

For the fashionista in your life, turn to your local thrift shop instead of buying new clothes from a retailer. The production of clothes uses approximately 93 billion cubic meters of water annually, so thrifting instead of buying new can help mitigate the fashion industry’s significant impact on the environment.  

clothes racks inside thrift shop
Explore e-gift cards and e-holiday cards 

What is sent by email, is sold by most retailers everywhere, doesn’t need to be wrapped up in wrapping paper, does not require a trip to the store, is not made of paper, and makes a great gift for any occasion? An e-gift card! However, here’s the challenge for the gift card to be entirely eco-friendly: find an e-gift card for something your loved one likes that will not produce waste. For example, tv and movie streaming service Netflix allows customers to purchase a membership as an e-gift at major retailers such as  Target, Best Buy, Walmart, and Amazon. Don’t forget to support your local businesses by checking out their e-gift card options as well. 

When making your rounds of sending holiday cards this year, send e-cards instead of paper cards. There are several websites that offer e-cards free of charge or for purchase

No matter what you decide to gift your friends and family this year, there’s always a way to making sure your gift has a minimal impact on the environment.