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Conscious Consumer Revolution: Holiday Gift-Giving

Conscious Consumer Revolution: Holiday Gift-Giving

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Your spouse, your sister-in-law, your coworker, your child’s teachers… there’s no shortage of people to shop for this year. It’s hard enough to know exactly what to buy everyone on your list, but it’s even more challenging for the conscious consumer. How do you balance health, sustainability, and fun?

In our Conscious Consumer Revolution blog post series, Seventh Generation is committed to helping you find options that work for you and keep the health of the environment in mind.  We’ve gathered ideas for gifts that tick all the boxes, from presents we’ve actually gotten to things we’d love to unwrap this year. Here are our strategies for thoughtful gift-giving, even if you barely have time to shop:

  • Make a new Black Friday tradition. It can be hard to resist buying a gift on Black Friday even if it doesn’t align with your values (it’s on sale!). Instead, spend the day curled up in your pajamas watching old movies, visiting the apple orchard, or making gifts for the people on your list. Then do your shopping online later so you can seek out companies that work toward social and environmental standards (B Corps are a good place to start).
  • Create handmade and upcycled gifts. We’ve found that making gifts is often faster (and less stressful) than driving to the mall, fighting the crowds, and standing in line. Over the years, we’ve received and enjoyed handmade gifts like homemade bath salt, essential oil scented candles, and bay leaf wreath. Unique repurposed paper makes a handmade gift even more fun to open.
  • Treat your loved ones to a consumable gift. The last thing we want is for our gifts to weigh down the recipient with clutter. Consumable gifts — those that can be eaten, read, painted, or planted — get used up instead of stuffed in the back of a closet. Here are some of our favorite consumable gift ideas:
    • Digital books or magazine subscriptions
    • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription:  A weekly box of fresh produce from a local farm
    • BBQ set: Sauces, seasonings, marinades, salad dressing, craft beer
    • Gardening supplies: Gloves, seeds, tulip bulbs, potting soil, bird seed
    • Spa set: Fancy soaps, candles, and lotions made by local artisans
    • Homemade edibles: Freezer meals, cookies, jams, pickles, infused olive oils
    • Practical gifts: Grocery store gift cards, car wash tokens, cleaning supplies, tools, lawn care or home cleaning services (or a voucher for your time!)
  • Look for functional, beautiful presents. If you want to buy a gift they’ll actually use, think about the recipient’s daily activities, lifestyle, and interests. For example, we’re always looking for ways to stay healthy on the go, so we’d be thrilled to receive a sturdy chef’s knife, a reusable canvas shopping tote, or a personalized water bottle.
  • Regift the right way. Not only is regifting OK, it’s one of the most environmentally conscious things you can do around the holidays. Done right, regifting keeps unwanted gifts out of the landfill and gets them into the hands of someone who will love and appreciate them. Here are two ways to regift graciously:
    • Rewrap the beautiful casserole dish you got from your friend and give it to your cousin who just moved into her first house. She mentioned she needs one, and she’ll be thrilled to receive it.
    • Offer your friend the vanilla bean lotion that irritates your allergies (it’s her favorite scent). In this case, let her know it was given to you as a gift and leave it unwrapped. This is a guilt-free way to regift if the idea makes you uncomfortable.
  • Give experiences over presents. Yoga class passes (online or in person), museum memberships, baseball tickets, cooking lessons, and painting classes all make great gifts. If the recipient is already a member at a yoga studio or local gym, you can often call and prepay for a single class or a month’s worth of membership.
  • Keep last minute items on hand. No matter how many times we check our list, there’s always one gift that slips through the cracks. That’s usually when we reach for the not-quite-right scarf or plastic-wrapped gift set. This year, we’ve armed ourselves a few universally appreciated last-minute gifts. It saves a trip to the store — plus anything that doesn’t get gifted won’t go to waste:
    • Fair-trade coffee and tea
    • Local wines and gourmet chocolate
    • Movie and restaurant gift cards

What ideas would you offer for conscious and sustainable gift-giving? Join the discussion in the Generation Good forum.