Sometimes I struggle with giving presents. How do you give someone something meaningful, within budget, and not harmful to the planet? The mission seems impossible. But after a little research, I discovered three steps to making a sustainable gift.
Step one: A sustainable Gift
There are a lot of things to consider when getting someone a gift. To avoid buying gifts people did not need, I’ve often opted to buy an ‘experience’ instead. I would take friends to museums, go to a musical or have a little day trip together. I’ve often found that these experiences were more memorable than material goods. Other experiences that can make more impact than you might think: baked goods, a picnic, or cooking for someone! You can make cooking as extravagant or as simple as you like: cooking comes from the heart. Our recipes page also contains several tasty, sustainable meals for inspiration!
When I talked to our project leader Sophie about the article, she informed me of this website called PresentPresent (Dutch only). This website promotes giving people an experience as a gift instead of a materialistic gift.
If you have no time for an experience gift, opt for a brand that’s conscious about its eco-footprint or a second-hand gift. Try to prevent buying gifts in a rush: you are less conscious of your decision and returning a gift doesn’t help the environment. The BBC estimated that 5 billion pounds of waste are generated through returns each year.
Things to remember when buying a gift are:
- What is my budget?
- Will the person use this?
- Is there a sustainable option?
- Can I buy something locally produced?
- Can I pick it up myself instead of shipping it?
Step two: Sustainable Gift-wrapping
A lot of wrapping paper cannot be recycled. So always check whether it can be recycled or not.
Our editor-in-chief Melisa was inspired by an Instagram reel to wrap your gift in old study notes. Did you pass a course and have summaries or notes laying around? You can use these as wrapping paper. If you have fabric, this can also be a fun way to use wrapping paper multiple times. Lush often wraps their gifts in scarves, which is also a fun way to give someone a scarf.
A good checklist to keep in mind is:
- Do I need wrapping paper?
- Can my wrapping paper be recycled?
- Do I have material at home that could be a substitute for wrapping paper?
- Would a cute bow suffice instead?
Step three: Sustainable Cards
Just like wrapping paper, not all greeting cards are recyclable. Musical greeting cards contain batteries that can cause fires if not recycled properly. How do we go about this?
If you are crafty, you can have a DIY session and create your birthday card with plantable seed paper. If you’re a little less crafty, you can look for pre-made seed paper or recycled paper. Overall, it is best to avoid glitter as you cannot always recycle it. Are you in a rush, do you have international friends, or want to save shipping costs? Try sending an eco-friendly e-card!
There is no perfect gift. However, I can try to limit my footprint from start to finish. Little adjustments can make a difference and can motivate others to do the same. Do you have a great sustainable gift? Let us know and share ideas!