The clock is ticking and the days are dwindling till your big holiday celebration. You may have been too busy up until the last minute to get gifts for your loved ones, friends, family, or co-workers. But there’s no need to stress, there are numerous last minute gifts you can make, put together, or purchase that are all eco-friendly and environmentally conscious. So resist the temptation to hop online and order overnight delivery from some mega-billion dollar company and instead choose to go the more personal and meaningful route.
Why? Because the holiday season is an incredibly harmful time for the environment. In America alone we are estimated to produce 25% more waste between Christmas and New Year at 1 million tons of trash a week! In a rush for any last-minute purchases, unless you are shopping locally and supporting the businesses in your city, the less sustainable product materials of packaging and shipping are normally single-use plastic, and unrecyclable wrappings. Let’s become more conscious of the environmental costs of our purchasing habits. Here are the best last-minute eco-gifts that delight everyone on your list as well as keeping our beautiful planet healthy.
The environmentally conscious site, Earth Bits, has these recommendations.
1. GIFT CARD FROM A SUSTAINABLE ECO-STORE
If you’ve ever received presents that you either didn’t need or particularly like then you are familiar with this occurrence and may have been a giftee at one time. Why not let your loved ones decide what they’d like best, by offering them a gift card valid to purchase eco-friendly, useful products from a local business who cares for the planet.
2. PLANT A TREE
Global deforestation and climate change are a serious threat to the planet. Tackling this problem is not easy, but everyone can all play an important role in restoring forests around the world and greening the planet by extending forest acreage. Thus planting a tree in honour of your loved ones is a truly meaningful gift. A tree is not only a living entity but it will live for a very long time, making it a long-lasting, precious gift.
3. GIFT A SAFETY RAZOR, PERFECT FOR HIM AND HER
It is estimated that about 2 billion disposable razors are thrown out every year. And if you are getting a new razor once every 2-4 weeks, you could be contributing to adding over 100 razors and/or blades to that pile. This is why safety razors are such an easy yet incredibly powerful eco-friendly product. You buy them once and with some care and affection, they will last a very long time, and all you will need to change are the stainless steel blades, which can be widely recycled everywhere across the country. Plus, it’s the perfect gender neutral present that is perfect for both men and women. Check out this one with a bamboo handle.
4. REUSABLE MAKEUP PADS
We as a society have finally started talking about how damaging single-use plastic is, and how it doesn’t make any sense to use it once and bin it. However, cotton too is a crop that needs a lot of water to grow, so why throw it away after just one use? Say no to disposable cotton pads and switch to washable, reusable ones, they will last forever. There are different types available, the most popular ones and easier to wash are the ones made 100% with cotton, and those which come with a mix of bamboo fiber and cotton.
Some Other Eco-Friendly Last Minute Ideas
Gift Experiences Versus Things
One of the best gifts to share with people you love and care about is time spent together. Give the gift of your time and thoughtfulness in organizing experiences you can do together, whether it’s with an individual friend or your whole family. Some ideas include:
- A day trip for you and a best friend.
- Dinner and local theatre tickets.
- Classes: art, cooking, karate, skateboarding- get creative and individual for everyone on your list.
- A spa day together for you and your mom.
Remember, memories last forever, things don’t.
Reusable Everyday Items
- Water bottles– it takes over half a century for one water bottle to decompose. Which means all the plastic bottled drinks you consume have a lifespan of just a few hours. To encourage your friends to be more eco-friendly, a reusable water bottle is an ideal addition to their everyday arsenal.
- Reusable coffee pods– are not only budget friendly but also earth-friendly, helping to divert countless plastic, single-use pods from ending up in landfill.
- Coffee cups & lids plus coffee filters– all single use coffee related accouterments now come in reusable options. These are perfect eco-friendly gifts to give almost everyone on your list.
Audio Versus Paper Books
Unless you are giving lovely second-hand books (which is a fabulous idea, definitely suitable for every single person on your list, and not only affordable but also reduces the need for new product production and keeps a circular economy going) than an audio version might be another great choice for those bibliophiles on your list. From an eco-friendly point of view, printed books do need a lot of trees to be cut, audiobooks are a much greener alternative. No trees cut for this great gift idea.
Second-Hand & Pre-loved Leads the Way
The Washington Post shared this trending idea for last minute eco-friendly presents: the increasingly accessible and popular genre of secondhand gifts. Experts say, people are increasingly purchasing ‘pre-loved’ goods.“The secondhand space, across all segments and all categories, has been growing rapidly,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of retail at GlobalData, an analytics firm. According to the company, the resale market is expected to nearly double between 2015 and 2022, to an almost $179 billion industry. The apparel and electronics sectors are leading the way.
People are more concerned about environmental issues and sustainability, he said. A lot of the mainstream retailers have jumped onto the secondhand bandwagon. Levi’s and Patagonia, for instance, are among the companies that now have direct portals for selling used clothing.”
- From eBay and Craigslist to ThreadUp or and Poshmark, the Internet has opened the gates to a world of ways for buyers and sellers to engage in the secondhand market.
- If you live in the Bay Area, The Local Flea is a warehouse full of gently used high quality items, with categories covering all sectors: art, decor, furnishings, electronics, sports equipment, house appliances, toys, clothes, jewelry, and more.
One-Hour Eco GIfts
Earth Suds shares some gift ideas that you can throw together in less than an hour, hopefully sourcing ingredients from a bulk store/zero waste suppliers. Goals to focus on are ingredients with less waste and more eco-friendly packaging.
1. Stovetop Potpourri
This is the perfect home decor gift that even adds a light natural fragrance to any room. Throw the ingredients in an old food jar with the instructions (email the instructions to avoid paper use, or use scrap paper, etc.). Decorate the jar with fun natural elements found in your area – might include evergreen twigs, acorns, pinecones, etc. Here are recipes.
2. Homemade Baking/Cooking
Package any of your favorite baked goods, trail mixes, breads, jams, etc. in saved takeout containers or packages from previous gifts.
3. Homemade Body Scrub
Very easy to make and present in an upcycled container/jar. Here are some recipes.
Such as one to a streaming platform or an e-magazine like National Geographic. Or how about a subscription to an app based service (like their music app or health and wellness apps)? Even better, some local small businesses in your area may have moved to online subscription-based activities such as workouts, cooking classes, etc. Purchasing one of these as a gift will also support a local small business.
5. Plant Clippings
Specific plants could be clipped and grown into a new plant. Sharing these clippings allows you to reuse an old pot or container (get creative- there are wacky and funny things upcycled into plant pots) and create a new plant from the ones you were already growing. Here are some directions.
If you have been given a gift you don’t/won’t use in the past, but you know your friend will, why not re-gift it to them so it doesn’t go to waste. Or, if there is something you have that you rarely use, but again, know your friend will appreciate and use, why not package it up and give it another life.
7. Make a Donation
Great for the friend who has everything! Make a donation in their name to a cause they support.
After you have chosen the best gift, you might need to wrap and decorate it.To wrap a perfect eco-friendly gift, avoid buying commercial wrapping paper as it’s not recyclable. Instead, reuse something you already have in your house.
- Use old wrapping paper.
- Old calendars.
- Children’s artwork.
- Any other unused paper.
- Place gifts in a basket, box, jar, or any other suitable container.
- Decorate a tote bag, or make a special reusable gift bag.
- You can use any kind of nice fabric that can be used as a part of the gift.
- For especially artsy people, try an old Japanese technique called furoshiki (wrapping items in cloth).
And The Bows…
Now that you have the gift and the eco-friendly wrapping, you need to tie it up. To stay eco-friendly, find ways around using synthetic thread or scotch tape. To tie it, use a natural twine made of wool, cotton, sisal, jute, hemp, henequen, or coir. The rustic look can combine very well with the chosen wrapping technique. To decorate, you can always add a little handmade card, and instead of a bow, add a flower, dried herb, dried fruit such as orange, or a nice green branch.
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