You’ve got a dilemma: You want to give gifts that your friends and family will love during the holiday season, but you want to do so without creating undue environmental impact — not such an easy task in today’s global economy.
Mass-market merchandise requires raw materials — petroleum products, rare-earth minerals and so on — that are often toxic to extract. Manufacturing byproducts and product packaging go into landfills and oceans, where they can last thousands of years.
What’s more, even things that break down or recycle easily often travel long distances to get to your front door, using fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources. So even if you buy imported foods for the holiday feast, you add more carbon to the atmosphere.
But there are ways to at least minimize your impact during the #holidays:
1. Support small, local businesses. The closer you are to the product’s source, the less fuel it takes to get to you. Locally grown foodstuffs and handmade items — that one-of-a-kind scarf from the craft fair, for example — have minimal environmental impact and are usually better than anything you can find at a big-box store.
2. Shop sustainable businesses. Businesses that pledge to recycle, use #sustainable materials, plant trees and offset carbon emissions are easier on the environment; just be wary of claims that seem too good to be true. “Fast fashion” brands are some of the worst for creating trash.
3. Give an experience. Tickets to the movies, a local play or concert; a restaurant meal; or gift certificate to a yoga session, spa or salon make great gifts that don’t require a lot of sweatshop labor or create extra greenhouse gases.
4. Shop the thrift. Giving used goods a second chance is a great way to keep lots of clothing and household items out of landfills while saving money. Bonus? Buy from a #thrift shop supplied by #donations to ClothingDonations.org, and you’ll help fund veterans programs.
5. Donate. #Charitable organizations need help on Giving Tuesday and throughout the year. Choose a cause that aligns with your giftee’s goals and #give in their name. It won’t be the same as unwrapping the latest air fryer or smart speaker, but still makes a thoughtful #gift.
#Giving can be its own reward — especially if you shop #sustainably.