Giving eco-friendly comes in one of two ways: either you do it because you want to, or you do it out of guilt. Yes, household waste increases 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, yes climate change is a real, but doing things out of guilt never feels good and gift-giving should always feel good.
At Resource Revival, we’ve seen firsthand the impact gift-giving has on landfills. Prior to starting the business, owner Graham Bergh worked in recycling education. On his way to work one day, he got a flat tire on his bike, and wondered what would happen to his popped inner tube. And he did something about it. Resource Revival upcycles tons of used bike parts into unique, handmade gifts people love.
We all aim to please. We love to watch our friends and family light up when they’re handed a gift from under the tree. But, does it matter whether that gift is the latest gadget? How many people do you know who have actually started exercising more because they received an activity tracking watch?
When someone receives a gift, like a new iPhone or toy, where does the old one go? Electronics are often thrown away or taken to recycling facilities. Some electronics are refurbished or recycled locally. Some end up overseas, where unprotected workers strip them to sell the valuable metals, like the gold, silver, or platinum. A lot ends up in the landfill. In 2009, 2.37 million tons of ewaste ended up in the landfills. Only 25% of that was recovered and recycled.
Giving gifts that are easier on the planet feels better. Instead of worrying whether you bought something in the right color or the newest model, you can give something with a story, something that supported a local family, or something that someone put a lot of effort and love into building.
If you’re strapped for time, don’t stress yourself out trying to make a ton of homemade gifts because you want to give eco-friendly. There are several ways to give eco-friendly gifts this holiday season.
Local handmade items crafted from recycled or eco-friendly materials make thoughtful and environmentally conscious gifts. Check out local craft markets, gift shops, and food stores. Depending where you live, you can find everything from sustainably-sourced clothing to handmade soap to picture frames made from recycled bicycle chain.
Gifts don’t have to cost a lot to impress the receiver. Gifting movie tickets, cooking classes, or other local experiences gets your friend or family member out into their community. If your friend is a busy single parent, offer to babysit. Teach someone how to do their own taxes. There are many ways to give that don’t involve physical products.
Fair trade products ensure that items are sourced from somewhere where workers are paid and treated fairly. Buy cosmetic products that contain organic ingredients and aren’t tested on animals. Read a company’s social and environmental responsibility policy before buying their products online. Look for the fair trade symbol on coffee and chocolate.
There is such a competitive feeling during the holidays. Family members aim to out-give each other. Everyone wants to have the most-prized gift under the tree. It detracts from the real meaning of this season: spending quality time with family and friends, celebrating each other, and being thankful for what we already have.
Don’t feel the pressure this season. Instead of focusing on the amount you’ll spend or whether you’re getting the newest model of something (let’s be honest, it’ll be outdated next year anyway), gift something unique with a story. Gift something that you can feel good about, knowing that people who made it and the environment were treated fairly.
Check out our eco-friendly handmade gifts. Reduce, reuse, rebike!