Guide to Sustainable Gift Giving

The Christmas season has begun, with ads for new gadgets, clothes, and toys displayed everywhere. As wonderful as giving and receiving gifts is, the holiday has become a pit of consumerism with copious amounts of waste. However, there are many ways to make gifts more sustainable without dampening the meaning.

  1. More isn’t Always Better 

Sometimes in life, less is more. Gag gifts and cheap plastic items may be fun at first but they inevitably end up in the trash. Oftentimes, people value quality over quantity, even if the mass of gifts they are giving does not serve long lives. However, buying many small gifts for the fun of it often does not compare to one more expansive, durable, and meaningful gift without extra waste.

2. Sustainable Wrapping

Around 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away every Christmas, and while it adds a bit of beauty and surprise to presents, many of the materials cannot be recycled. Luckily, wrapping paper isn’t the only option when it comes to covering gifts. Utilize the recyclables, finding spare boxes and containers (mason jars, cookie jars, shoe boxes, cloth bags), pre-owned wrappings (newspaper, cloth). Furoshiki, reusable Japanese wrapping cloths, are a great substitution for single-use paper, tissue paper, or other fillings. 

3. Experience the Gift

Gift giving does not necessarily involve a physical item wrapped up in ribbon. Tickets to concerts, plays, or conventions, as well as cooking, dance, or art classes could still hold up as memorable gifts. Gift certificates and memberships are also an often waste-free way to grant a special gift.

4. Repurpose Items

Gifts don’t need to be new to be meaningful. Especially now when thrifted and vintage clothes, toys, books, jewelry, and other items are climbing in popularity in order to combat overconsumption, there is no harm done in giving away preloved gifts. For many objects, such as instruments, pre-owned gifts may be even more valuable than those that are new, as prices and rarity climb with age.

5. Shop Local

Providing a treat to not just a loved one, but also small businesses owners, shopping locally decreases your carbon footprint while also supporting local establishments. Items that are sourced and produced in local areas reduce the impact of shipping on the environment, as well as ease their wait time. Many quickly made products are not sourced or produced ethically, which can be voided by questioning your local shops about their making and selling process. 

While the holidays are a time for giving and sharing -, the environment does not need to be set aside as quickly as last year’s cheaply made gifts. Any occasion can be an excuse to share with loved ones in an eco-friendly heart-felt way. Buying in-store, repurposing items, sharing experiences, and wrapping a truly special gift in innovative ways can speak to the heart in a far more detailed and personal way than before. 


Goddard, Sara. “An Eco-Friendly Gift Giving Guide to Green Your Holiday Season.” Green That Life, 18 Nov. 2021,

“A Guide to Sustainable Gift-Giving.” Life with Less, 24 June 2020,

“Tips for Sustainable Giving.” Eartheasy Guides & Articles,

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