During the holidays, it’s easy to let your convictions start to slide, whether it’s your exercise routine, dietary choices, or sustainable living practices. This year has been especially challenging and we’ve had to cut ourselves some slack for abnormal circumstances, but the environment can’t wait until 2020 is over.

Let’s talk about how to make an environmental difference for the rest of this year, starting with shopping during the holiday season. You can still practice sustainable living throughout the holidays, even if the deals make it difficult to stick to your commitment. We’ll make it easier by providing you with some tips to help you shop sustainably, including 7 ideas you can apply to your sustainable shopping list this holiday season!

How to Shop Sustainably

Every small decision makes a difference, whether it’s the gift you choose or the material you wrap it with. Here are a few tips for how to practice sustainable living when shopping for gifts this holiday season:

Avoid plastic, or things wrapped in plastic. This may mean you need to spend more time shopping around for the right item, but the sustainable choice is worth it.

Shop sustainably for items that are unpackaged, and opt to do the wrapping yourself using a sustainable method or material (more on this in a minute). Consider if the more expensive choice is a greener option (for example, if it’s made of wood instead of plastic) and make a purchase decision with sustainable living in mind. 

Avoid cheaply made or mass-produced gifts. They’re less unique, and more likely to be thrown away once the owner gets bored or tired of them. 

Instead, choose well-made products that will last a long time, ideally made of sustainable materials like wood, wool, or something that can be recycled. This may increase the price, but remember that the gift will hold its value much better than the cheaper alternative, and be that much more meaningful.

Avoid novelty items. They may seem fun, trendy, or topical, but they’re often likely to end up in a landfill once the joke is played out.

Instead of a short-lived cheap gift, buy something personal, important, or meaningful to the person you’re giving it to. Think about something they need and search for a sustainable solution. Giving something useful ensures it will be kept and utilized, keeping it out of the landfill, and they’ll think of you every time they use it! 

Avoid online shopping. Holiday deals are tough to beat, but what they don’t mention is the higher carbon footprint from packaging and shipping items across the country. 

Look for local shops to purchase gifts, or make your own. A gift purchased from a local maker, small business, or farmers market will have a larger positive impact — not only does it save the environment, but also benefits your local economy!

7 Ideas for Sustainable Gifts

Stumped on what to buy for your friend, coworker, significant other, or family member this year? Here’s some inspiration you can use to shop for sustainable gifts this year:

  1. Give Services: Skip giving “things” altogether, and give your friend or family member something like a certificate for a massage or manicure, a gift card to their favorite coffee shop, or a set of lessons to learn a skill.
  2. Share an Experience: Rather than purchasing an item, set aside time to share a meaningful experience with that person. Go on a hike together, pack a picnic of their favorite foods, take a day trip to a town you’ve always wanted to explore, or stay in a cabin for a weekend trip.
  3. Buy Plants: Plants liven up any home decor and make great gifts. Unlike flowers that only last a few days, plants can continue to thrive with the right care. Just make sure the plant fits the person you’re giving it to. If your friend is known for having a brown thumb, don’t choose an exotic orchid, stick to succulents.
  4. Make Food: Food is a great gift and easy to personalize. A favorite dish or dessert will always make someone happy. Or, instead of making something, you could bring the ingredients to their meal or cocktail and learn how to make it together.
  5. Shop for Reusable Items – Although it’s always better to shop sustainably than buy new, make sure any new items can be used many times and are well-made to last. These could include reusable gear, clothing, or other gifts.
  6. Gift “Used” Items: You can always gift gently used items from your own collection or purchased second-hand. This could include used clothing, jewelry, home goods, or even electronics. Keep in mind this works better if the person you’re gifting the item to hasn’t seen you wear or use it.
  7. Donate: Rather than a material gift, choose to donate in your friend or family member’s name to a cause they care about. This shows you understand what’s important to them and makes the ultimate green gift.

Green Guide to Gift Wrapping

When it comes to wrapping your sustainable gifts, follow the three environmental principles for sustainable living: reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Reduce: Give the gift with no packaging at all, or use part of the gift itself for packaging, such as a basket, reusable tote bag, bandana, scarf, or flower pot.

Reuse: Save gift wrapping from holidays, birthdays, and reuse for gift wrapping later on. 

Recycle: Use newspaper, magazines, paper grocery bags, or other household items to make a gift bag, box or wrapping material for your sustainable gifts.

When you take the time to shop for sustainable gifts and package them using reusable or recycled materials, you end up with presents for your friends and loved ones that are more creative and meaningful. As an added bonus, you’re helping the environment by not creating extra trash for landfills during a peak waste season, and giving long-lasting items that will prevent waste in the future.

If you value sustainability, you’ll love living at Couch Mountain. Here, we value sustainable living and environmentally-conscious building practices. Reach out to us to learn more about our community.

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