Author – Emma Metson
It’s that time of the year again. Yes, I’m talking about Christmas and New Year’s Day. We can all agree that this celebration will never be complete without gifts. Nothing beats the feeling of unwrapping a gift, especially if it’s from your loved ones. But, admit it, we don’t always get to use most of the presents we receive. In fact, most of them end up in our closets to gather dust and later be dumped in landfills.
Think about it… a lot of energy and resources go into producing common gifts like jewelry and electronics. This energy-intensive process creates pollution, which is something that all of us have been battling with. In some cases, giving a new phone or a laptop to someone results in the old one being discarded, adding to more waste.
Instead of giving electronics as gifts, why don’t we all try something ‘greener’ like indoor plants? And what about eco-friendly scents that are made from 100% essential oils and natural perfumes instead of aerosol chemicals and synthetic fragrances? This infographic can give not just green gifts ideas, but also eye-opening statistics.
Due to this e-waste pile-up, we are unknowingly harming the environment. While these year-end festivities are meant to be joyful, unfortunately though, the reality is that they also create waste — lots of it. So how do we go about addressing this issue? Since we’re talking about gifts, why not try ‘Green Gifting’?
What is Green Gifting?
Green gifting is an emerging trend that can lower the environmental impact gift-giving creates. In earlier days, the idea was to reuse the packaging used in gifts. After some time, it expanded into using ‘eco-friendly products’ as presents themselves. To put it simply, a green gift can be any gift-worthy item as long as it is made using fewer resources and produces less waste than usual.
The most important thing to consider in green gifting is knowing what the recipient needs and wants. While one of the reasons for green gifting is to eliminate waste, it doesn’t help if the person ends up throwing away your gift because he or she doesn’t need it.
Why green gifts?
Many people are not fully aware of the benefits eco-friendly gifts offer. To give you a quick refresher, here are three reasons why you need to start green gifting.
1. These products have very low impact on the environment. Most of them are also made using existing materials which means there’s less waste produced.
2. While these green gifts are more expensive, the savings that they bring in the long run outweighs the price tag. For instance, eco-friendly appliances use less energy, so they’ll save on utilities.
3. Plastic substances and other harmful chemicals are present in most non-eco-friendly items. Switching to green products eliminates the risk of getting sick from these unwanted chemicals.
Although it is frowned upon by many, regifting is the simplest form of green gifting. It’s done by using things you already have in your possession but have never used them or used them sparingly. The idea is to repackage such unused goods and give it to someone else as a new gift. There are different types of gifts that can be considered as green gifts, these are classified as follows:
A variety of toxic chemicals such as lead, chromium, and phthalates have been found in plastic toys, baby equipment and household items. For instance, Bisphenol-A is a widely used chemical in plastics that has been linked with numerous ailments. Green gifts must be manufactured with non-toxic materials like untreated wood, lead-free paint, and safer plastics. There are green cleaning products that do a great job in keeping houses clean without the harmful effects.
If you already started the path to going green, why not pass it onto others? A green gift is an item that helps someone live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. An excellent example of this would be rechargeable batteries, set of seeds and tools to be used for gardening, or even a travel mug that minimizes the need for disposable cups.
These are gifts made from resources that were made without harming Mother Nature. It can be organic foods and wood products. This is a nice alternative if you don’t have anything reused that can be given as a gift.
A green gift should be something that lasts a long time. After all, we’re trying to lessen the waste that ends up in landfills. It doesn’t make sense to give something that will not be useful anymore after a short time. Good examples of durable green products that you can give as gifts are as follows:
● A solar-powered keyboard or calculator
● A tumbling composter to reduce food waste and plastic garbage bag usage
● Reusable beeswax food storage wrap instead of plastic wrappers
● Wool dryer balls as an alternative to replace fabric softener chemicals
As such, you should choose gifts in smaller boxes with less packing materials. It’s very common for people to rip through gift wraps and these wrappers just end up in the trash. The internet is your best friend. You can start with eco-friendly wrapping material that are easily available.
It sure is nice to receive a gift with fancy gift wraps, but it would be wiser and more eco-friendly to use old newspapers or magazines to wrap your gift. You can even put your gifts inside old shoe boxes. After all, the gift wrap is not the gift, it’s what’s inside that matters. The key is being creative.
Among all the types of green gifts, the non-physical one is probably the one that defines the purpose of this practice the most. I’m talking about giving experience as a gift and since it is not tangible, zero waste is produced. Trips to the zoo, going to the beach, a candlelit dinner at a fancy restaurant, online movie subscription — these are just some of the intangible gifts.
Where to find green gifts
There’s a lot of places where you can find eco-friendly gifts, but the first place you should check are local stores. Not only will you help save the environment, but you’ll also help your local community. To ensure that the product you’re buying is indeed eco-friendly, take note of these indicators:
• Energy Star – for appliances and electronics that are energy saving
• USDA Organic Seal – for cosmetics and foods that genuinely are organic
• Green Seal – for cleaning products that are safe for the environment
• Forest Stewardship Council Logo – for paper and wood products
Different online shops that sell green products are also good sources. For starters, you can check the following:
- EcoTokri is India’s largest online platform for everything green, eco-friendly and organic
- Upciclo is India’s first exclusive portal for all kinds of eco-friendly products & services
- GiftCompany is a supplier of corporate gifts & business promotional products based in Mumbai, India
- Gifts.com is a leading gifting destination in the US that caters to a variety of occasions
- Everything Environmental is the UK’s leading trade exclusive supplier of purely eco-friendly and ethically sourced promotional gifts
- Craftsvilla is the largest online ethnic gifts store in India
- Nurturing Green is a retail chain of stores promoting gift plants, green decor, etc.
Green gifts are not just limited to things you can buy. You can produce them yourself, especially if you’re a fan of do-it-yourself (DIY). Creating your presents gives a great sense of accomplishment, and it’s not hard with all of the video tutorials you can find online.
You can start with some homemade gift ideas such as handmade toys, wearable items, pampering gifts, furniture, and food. These gifts are for Christmas but nevertheless, they apply to New Year’s day as well. Simple and easy-to-make toys can be made from scraps of wood, sock puppets, and even a ‘dress-up’ box using old garments for girls. Old magazines, when cut into strips, can be used to make necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. And who doesn’t love food? Baked cookies and breads, salsas, jams, and anything else that’s edible is incredible!