Mindful gift-giving eliminates any feeling of dread that might be attached to concern that one’s own behavior is environmentally damaging. Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year than any other time of year? It may be easy to avoid images of landfills loaded down with wrapping paper and forgotten gifts, but people still tend toward wastefulness.
Want to decrease your mark on the planet just a little bit? Give your holiday gifts mindfully and sustainably. Here’s how to do it:
1. Give Green-Oriented Gifts: Products that encourage interaction with the environment can send a message. Consider the Water Garden, a sustainable, self-cleaning fish tank that grows organic sprouts and herbs. Without any outdoor space required, it makes it a snap for people to literally grow some of their own food at home. Similarly, there’s the Mushroom Farm, a little box that grows delicious organic oyster mushrooms in just 10 days. Gifts like these remind people that it’s easy to take an active role in nurturing plant life and engaging with our natural environment. And you get to eat when you’re done!
2. Buy Non-Packaged Gifts: Holiday waste results in an extra 25 million tons of garbage. Try giving something that can’t be thrown away, like classes or admission to an event? Cooking classes, a trip to an eco-farm, concert tickets, and even e-books are all great gifts that require absolutely no wrapping.
3. Use Sustainable Wrapping Paper: Of course, it’s pretty fun to pick out colorful holiday wrapping paper, but what if your wrapping paper was more sustainable than something purchased from a major retailer? Instead of run-of-the-mill gift-wrap from Walmart this year, re-appropriate other paper as you see fit. The comics pages of a major newspaper are a classic standby, but you might also use old wallpaper or cut-up paper bags.
4. Buy From Local/Small Businesses: Buying locally is an important component not only to the development of a local economy, but to reducing environmental harms. Products made in your community require less transportation to be sold to your community. By investing in local businesses, you also help to create more local jobs and a more economically robust neighborhood.
5. Make Your Own Gifts: If you really don’t want to waste anything this year, why not make a gift yourself? Make one-of-a-kind holiday cards out of old magazines, newsletters, and envelopes. Bake lots and lots of cookies, or better yet, make meals for your loved ones using herbs and mushrooms you grew in your Water Garden and Mushroom Farm.