Christmas is the Season of Giving. While it’s time to be merry and spread joy to the ones you love, it also means buying, wrapping, receiving and throwing away much more than necessary. Household waste typically increases more than 25% in the holiday season!
We’re all for spreading the love. But we believe you can do so in a more conscious way, without having to sacrifice that special holiday feeling. To help you out, we made a list of tips and realistic gift suggestions that are both meaningful and sustainable.
HOME-MADE OVER STORE-BOUGHT GIFTS
The best way of knowing what exactly goes into your gifts (and making sure they are eco-friendly and sustainable) is by making them yourself. Whether you’re a craft master or not, there are lots of fun things you could try to make (or collect!).
For those with less craft skills, you could collect some natural treasures in the forest or at the beach. They could make for decorative mantle pieces, or form the basis for an art project you complete. If you’re a writer, let your inner romantic shine by writing a series of mini notes. Fold the notes, and put them in a jar labelled “Because I love you” or “Reminders for a rough day”. You could also write theoretical vouchers for personal favours or things to do together.
For the craft masters among us, you could crochet or knit a scarf, hat or gloves - you really can’t go wrong with this one. If you are handy with tools, you could build basic furniture from wood, or make unique decorations and art pieces. If you’re a pro with details, you could also make jewelry out of renewable or spare materials lying around your home. If you love cooking, home-made jams and chutneys are a great way of showing your friends and family that you truly care. Or you if you want to get really crafty, you could make personal care products, such as bath bombs or lotions using dried flowers and essential oils.
There are so many DIY gift ideas. Surely you can make something unique for all of your loved ones. You can customize the gift for each person, so you know they will love it. And by making the gifts yourself, you will also avoid unnecessary packaging.
A different eco-friendly gift idea is to give meaningful experiences instead of material presents. We all know a friend or family member who always wanted to do something, but never found the time. This could be your chance to shine.
Know someone who wants to learn a new language? An instrument perhaps? A closeted dancer? Maybe they need extra motivation to take up spinning? Give them a gift certificate for that class at the back of their mind. Are there any cool activities they always wanted to try? Rock-climbing, canyoning, paint-balling? Book an event!
If there’s a place they always wanted to visit, make plans to take them, and give them the itinerary. This doesn’t need to be a far-away travel destination by any means - think Niagara Falls, Banff National Park, or Vancouver Island!
Check if their favorite musicians are coming to town soon. Concert tickets are amazing gifts, especially if you both like the artist and attend the event together. The same goes for movies. If they’ve been talking about a certain premiere, they’d surely appreciate tickets.
Or they might be looking for relaxation instead of action: How about an extravagant spa day or massage? Or give them the gift of time to spend with the family by giving them a gift certificate for a home cleaning service! Gift certificates are a great way of giving your loved ones exactly what they’ve been looking for. If you join in on their experience, they can enjoy your time, conversation and presence as well - the most meaningful gift of all.
GIFTS FOR AN ECO-FRIENDLY LIFESTYLE
Chances are, you are already well on the way to leading a more sustainable lifestyle. Maybe some of your friends have been thinking about switching as well, but never come around to it? You can help out by starting them off with the right tools!
There’s a lot that helps us shop eco-friendly: glass containers for storing bulk food, mesh nets for fresh produce and reusable shopping bags. For everyday use, beeswax food wraps, glass or metal food containers and reusable cutlery are lunch break essentials. Plus, aluminium water bottles and insulated travel coffee mugs to use on-the-go.
By giving them the tools, they’ll have no excuse not to start living the eco-friendly life they intend. If they’re already a pro, you could also give them specialty ingredients for DIY soaps, shampoos and lotions, as well as new containers to store them in.
Get them introduced to eco friendly laundry detergent and zero plastic laundry pods to use for their family. Going green is a journey. By enabling your loved ones to get started, you’re doing them and the planet a big favour. This is a gift that has the potential to give back in a whole new way.
BUY LOCAL, SHOP SMALL
You might already have the perfect gift in mind, and you’re prepared to buy it. Even then, you can still be conscious and take an eco-friendly approach. Try to buy as local as you can - jewellery, art, cards, toys - there are countless local companies and artists who would love your business, and make wonderful pieces. Etsy is a good place to start. It’s an online hub for crafts-people and artists, making it easy to find the right item and purchase quickly online.
You could also check out local markets. Granville Island and the Christmas Market in Vancouver; Kensington Market, St. Lawrence Market and the Distillery District Christmas Market in Toronto; and the Farmers Market and Crossroads Market in Calgary, and many markets near you. Besides those, you could visit specialty gift stores or craft general stores that carry artisan items.
AVOID PLASTIC GIFTS AND PLASTIC PACKAGING
Gifts play an especially big role for the youngsters of the family. Unwrapping presents on Christmas day is a special childhood moment, and we promise this won’t be compromised if you give them eco-friendly toys.
Most importantly for children’s toys, try to avoid plastic. It’s rampant in the children's toy market, but you have the power to find alternatives. Cars and trains, pots and bowls for their play kitchen, doll houses with furniture - all of these are available in wood, metal and other sustainable materials.
If you can only find what you’re looking for in plastic, make sure it’s high-quality and durable, and will be used for many years. Ideally, it should be durable enough so that it can be passed onto the next children in the family, donated to second-hand stores or sold in yard sales.
Before you buy new toys and other children’s gifts , you should visit second-hand stores, garage sales and flea markets to see if they have what you’re looking for. Most toys outlast the kids and are still in great condition when they’re sold there. That way, the items are reused instead of ending up in the landfill. In addition to that, second-hand toys are not wrapped in plastic, so that you avoid the plastic packaging!
With all these gift ideas, you’re set to find gifts that both your loved ones and the planet will appreciate. When wrapping them for Christmas morning, stay in the eco-friendly spirit by choosing sustainable wrapping material!
Cardboard boxes from your online purchases or shoe cartons make great boxes for your gifts. If you are giving wine or other bottles, you might want to look for wooden boxes with shredded paper as cushioning. Newspaper can be reused wonderfully for wrapping gifts. If you want to be more festive, craft paper made of recycled materials is also a beautiful option. You can colour and paint it with seasonal colours and motifs, and it often has a rustic, old-world charm to it.
Eco-friendly gift giving can be easy! Show your friends and family you love them, while staying conscious of the environment. At the end of the day, the most important present you can give is time with loved ones. By giving them an AspenClean gift certificate, they will gain precious time and a clean, eco-friendly home too. The ultimate gift.