Code Red (and Green)- Ten more days ‘til Christmas! As the 25th grows closer and closer, we know that gift anxiety is setting in. You probably have a girlfriend/neighbor/father trying to convince you to skip presents this year, and every year. Maybe you're thinking of resorting to some sort of gag gift, a single-use trinket. Perhaps you have already considered a leopard print Snuggie, an avocado slicer, or a toilet golf set, that will elicit a giggle and then become obsolete, eventually finding its way to the landfill. We are oftentimes left to guess what our friends and family might like, because most people we know already have everything they need.
What seems like a nice gesture is really just producing unnecessary fossil fuels and supporting dangerous labor conditions. It you are insistent upon giving a store bought gift, try to check eBay or shopping apps like Mercari and Poshmark for the specific item you are looking for. You’ll save some money and contribute to a circular, versus linear economy. As Americans, and integral players in the materials economy, we are encouraged to purchase things for every holiday, for every occasion, and to keep up with trends. A linear economy that has resorted to exploiting other countries’ natural resources to support our consumption, we are designed to perpetually follow planned obsolescence and to continue buying the better, newer version. With only 5% of the world’s population, Americans consume 30% of our planet’s resources, and produce 30% of our planet’s waste. If this compels you to modify your gift giving plan for this Christmas, keep reading.
Promoting Sustainability Through Gifts
1. If you insist on gifting an object, give a reusable item like a grocery bag, travel mug, reusable cutlery set, metal/bamboo straws, or stainless steel water bottle– gifts the recipient will ditch single use items to utilize instead. Reusable items intrinsically reinforce sustainability through modeling good behaviors, potentially inspiring other people to adopt the habit.
Did you know that there are over 100 billion coffee cups that end up in a landfill every year? We love the Ecoffee cup - Not only are they made from all-natural fibers, but they're BPA- and phthalate free as well. They come in a variety of pretty designs, patterns, and colors, ranging from about $11-$15.
S’well bottles are revolutionizing the water bottle game and making sustainability a fashion statement. S’well's mission focuses on the future and therefore focuses on schools. S’well has provided more than 320,000 reusable bottles to NYC public high school students, hoping to displace more than 54 million single-use plastic bottles in New York City. How S'well ;) The bottles come at a higher price point, around $25 to $50. Some other fan favorites are Klean Kanteen ($31) and Hydro Flask. ($30 to $35)
2. Plants and seeds. Plants make a great gift. They not only help us breathe better, *RIP to all of the trees killed for the holidays*, but they also spice up interior decor. Succulents are inexpensive, and very low maintenance (the key is one tablespoon of water a week - max). Great for your friends and family that you would never trust to babysit your dog.
3. FOOD and DRINKS. Who doesn’t love a nice snacc? Bake a batch of cookies and pack them in a metal tin to be reused. Local, organic wine and beer are a great thoughtful gift. Otherwise, for your tea or coffee aficionado, consider boujee organic, fair-trade coffee or fancy organic loose leaf tea (and maybe a cool reusable diffuser as well!)
4. Make something! If it's a scrapbook, or a craft you found on Pinterest. In this day and age, handmade items show that you care more. Use material from around the house and cobble together something that shows you put in time and effort. Create a photo book for your partner filled with memories of your relationship. A video compilation is always appreciated, with photos and videos of time spent together, accompanied by a sentimental song.
5. Thrifted gifts are a unique way to show someone some love. Secondhand clothing is a great gift idea for any funky fashionista. If you haven’t checked them out already, head over to Porch Finds for some fresh ideas. Porch Finds has a passion for unique fashion finds, great for any trend-setter.
Gift an Experience to Remember
1. Go with a Groupon. You can gift massages/spa treatments, museum tickets, art classes, cooking classes, winery/brewery tours, and more.
2. Classes. You are never too old to keep learning. Check out the classes offered at a community college or municipal complex. They often offer art, photography, web design... Computer lessons are a great gift for an older adult or grandparent, so they can learn to use the devices they own (and stop calling you for help with their email, I’m looking at you, Oma).
3. Tickets. Concerts, sports (Go Eagles!), and comedy shows, oh my! Tickets are a thoughtful gift for someone you're looking to spend a little more money on. Check out Ticketmaster and filter for their zip code and interests.
Check something off of both of your bucket lists - together!
4. Subscriptions! Does you beau love music and movies? Why not gift them with a year of Spotify Premium, Netflix, or Hulu. Spotify is doing a deal right now 3 months for 99 cents. Basic Netflix plans begin at only $7.99 a month. Get someone their yearly subscription as a really nice gift, while still spending under $100.
5. Plan a trip together – check bus tickets for a weekend, make sure your “person” is free, and execute on an Airbnb. Check out Megabus for bus tickets starting at only $1. Megabus has free WiFi, reserved seating, and electrical outlets. It depends when you choose to go, but round trip tickets from NYC to Philadelphia are usually around $20. What a steal for a weekend trip!
6. The gift of knowledge: go to a local bookstore, or library, and get them a book they would like. Many libraries sell old books that have gone out of circulation. Check out The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***, this has been my go-to train read lately. Or go to https://www.thriftbooks.com/ for more pre-loved books. C
7. Gift coupons for something you know your loved ones wants (a handmade coupon to go to their favorite restaurant, a hiking adventure, a home-cooked meal, or a complimentary room cleaning.)
8. MONEY! So many of us have student loans and soaring rent prices, that many people will appreciate cold hard cash far more than whatever random item you picked out for them in a panic filled moment of holiday shopping.
Keep sustainability in mind this holiday “shopping season,” and try and imagine what item someone would still be enjoying years from now. We would love to hear about your sustainable gift ideas, so please comment any that we did not include! Happy Holidays from the Sustainable Millennial family.
Contributing Writer: Margaret Cyr
Editor: Erika Lewy