Sustainable gift-giving is what you give, what you don’t give, how you give and how long the gift you give will last. That’s a lot to think about during this busy time, so Harrowmsith has broken it all down so that your gestures this season will come from your heart without taking from the planet.
First, consider buying nothing.
Let’s face it, there’s a lot of “stuff” in our world already. According to Zero Waste Canada, “within 6 months of the holidays, only 1% of everything the average person buys is still in use, and the other 99% has been discarded.” This is alarming! (Especially since we’re spending an estimated $1,276 per person.) So, before you head to the mall, the market or online, begin your gift-searching quest with some creative thinking.
Give services instead of goods.
The gift of helping others with cleaning, organizing, yard work, car washing, running errands or cooking will likely be appreciated for a long time past the holidays. It’s the thought that counts, and the personal touch makes every gift more meaningful.
Share your favourite goodies.
A gift of home baking, fudge bars, custom-made spice blends, homemade salad dressing, old-fashioned kettle corn and made-ahead meals for the freezer are all wonderful ways to show you care.
Invest in experiences.
Here are some ideas that might work: Gift a meal together at a favourite restaurant, tickets to a concert or sports game, a membership to a museum or gallery, a spa or massage service, admission to an amusement park, classes for something they want to learn (like dance, pottery making or cooking), a getaway or camping trip.
Give a gift that makes an impact.
A charity donation in the recipient’s name is a thoughtful gesture. Select a cause close to the recipient’s heart and donate to a charity that makes a real impact locally or globally.
The Best Eco Gifts to Give and To Receive.
Impress with houseplants.
Tropical plants are having a moment right now and make a gift guaranteed to be treasured. Bonus, they help clean the air too. Furnishings, upholstery, synthetic building materials, and cleaning products in homes and offices can emit a variety of toxic compounds. Air quality indoors can be improved by purifying the air with houseplants that absorb carbon dioxide, such as Dracaena, Ficus, peace lily, bamboo palm and more.
How to get Started with Houseplants
How to Bring Plants Indoors for Winter
Gift an edible, zero-waste arrangement.
Whether it’s featured on your dining table or delivered to a friend, a fresh kale and herb bouquet provides a refreshing twist to the usual centrepieces. It will certainly be a topic of conversation at your spring table. Because it’s made from mostly edible greens, this stunning arrangement serves a second purpose as an assortment of ingredients in your future meals. This means zero waste! The herbs can be kept in water and displayed on your table or countertop for three or four days. If you pop it in the refrigerator at night, it will last longer. It’s a practical and unique idea that’s easy to make on your own, check out How to Make a Sustainable Centrepiece tutorial.
Give farm freshness to your favourite friends and family.
Gifting community-supported agriculture (CSA) food boxes has multiple benefits, not the least of which is that the recipient will receive the freshest produce, meat, or even flowers. Community Supported Agriculture also helps keep smaller farms in business, allowing them to give back to their community. This is the gift that keeps on giving!
Jennifer Reynolds, our Editor-in-Chief, is a long-time authority in gardening, do-it-yourself projects, urban sustainability, parenting, placemaking and community matters. Her features and columns have been published in Canadian Living, Canadian Family, Gardening Life, House & Home, Globe & Mail, National Post, Toronto Star & more. Plus, her designs and expertise have been featured on dozens of HGTV, W Network and CTV shows.