Maximpact Blog

Maximpact’s Tips for a Sustainable Holiday Season

By Sarah-Jane George

With the Winter Holidays close at hand, thoughts of gift buying are at the forefront of most people’s minds. This month instead of focusing on the financial side of making an impact, we decided to look at how sustainability can be incorporated into your giving.

Here is our list of gifting ideas and green tips on how to make your holiday shopping experience a more sustainable one.

Quick Sustainable Tips.

Gift WrappingUse brown paper bags, old comics, newspaper, vintage maps, and old music sheets as wrapping paper and decorate with some ribbon or string. Don’t use gift tags, write directly on the wrapping paper using gold, silver or colored pen. Wrap your gift in another gift, such as jewelry wrapped in a scarf then tied with ribbon.

Save last year’s wrapping paper from gifts you’ve received and reuse when gifting. If you do have to buy wrapping paper, buy recycled paper.

If you use Christmas stockings, simply put smaller gifts into the stockings unwrapped. Stockings are wonderful as they can be reused yearly. Over sized gifts don’t need lots of wrapping paper, just tie a bow to the item and hide until gifted.

Holiday Cards: Send holiday e-cards instead of standard greeting cards by choosing providers such as Paperlesspost or Jibjab. Be creative and make your own cards out of old holiday cards you have received in previous years. There are many things you can do with old holiday cards. If you do purchase cards buy recycled content cards.

Gift Giving Ideas: Make gifts instead of purchasing them, such as baking goods or a DYI cooking gift. (Put your favorite easy cookie recipe in a 24oz mason jar, add a bow with the directions (wet ingredients, oven temp and cooking time) and you have a delicious creative gift.)

Look for gifts that are minimally packaged, or have no packaging at all. Consider the impact of your gift; giving gifts like a fruit tree or native tree to someone who can plant it in their garden is a creative and sustainable gift in one.

Give the gift of reusable items such as stainless steel water bottles, stylish ethically minded coffee travel cups,bamboo travel utensils, Eco-friendly lunch food containers or recycled tote bags that can also be used for grocery shopping. When you’re shopping consider purchasing more durable items, which will last longer.

When buying fashion items look for brands that promote using less water such as Levis waterless or use sustainable textiles like organic hemp, bamboo and Organic cotton. Brands that make their items from salvaged and recycled materials such as Yellow 108. When out gift shopping always remember to take reusable shopping bags with you.

Re-gifting is a wonderful way to recycle, while gift certificates are a great way to ensure that someone gets what they really like. Tickets to events such as art exhibitions, sporting events or concerts are also a great way to lower unwanted gift wastage.

Thrift stores are becoming more and more popular for finding great gifts or holiday decorations. Shopping at a local thrift store is always a unique experience and ads additional joy as you are making your reused product purchase.

Give an unwrapped gift such as Oxfam Unwrapped (America,UK, Canada, NZ). Nothing says happy holidays like the gift of Honey Bees, chicken manure or books for kids to those who really need it. There are many such organizations that do such unwrapped style of gift giving. You can also donate to a good cause on the behalf of someone. Sites like EarthShare have various charities that are working to benefit the world, why not choose them for one of this year’s gift giving ideas.

Give a membership gift that makes a difference. There are local conservation societies with memberships, whose benefits can include outdoor outings, becoming part of a local conservation team, magazines, discounts and more. For the animal lovers, give them a wild life conservation membership such as the Wildlife Conservation Society or symbolically adopt an endangered species in their name from the World Wild Life Fund.

Some wonderful gift options that also make a difference:

Try and give locally made gifts and support your local economy. If purchasing overseas, try buying consciously and take the time to think about who will benefit from the purchase of your gift. There are many fair trade stores and products such as Global Girlfriend and Jjangde, whose proceeds help to support economic development for women in need by creating sustainable markets for their products. One of Maximpact’s recent blogs, Sustainable Luxury Heroines highlights some wonderful high-end sustainable products that would be more than welcome on anyone’s holiday wishlist.

And finally, here are some Green Gift Guides for additional inspiration on making your holiday gifting more sustainable:

From us all at Maximpact, we hope your winter holidays are filled with joy and impact.

[Image credit: 123RF]