Responsible Living

14 Eco-Friendly Tips for Meaningful Gift-Giving

If you want to be environmentally responsible, then don’t give gifts. Consumerism is destroying our environment. This statement might sound strange coming from a small business, but at Lionheads we believe that gifts should always be loved by the recipient, useful for the recipient, and is eco-friendly and compassionate to all. In our household, we stopped giving gifts about five years ago due to the high levels of waste. We’ve found that spending quality time with loved ones is the most meaningful gift. Having said that…

If you must give gifts, why not try to be more responsible in our celebrations by being mindful of our ecological footprint?

Here are some things that I constantly keep in mind:

  1. Avoid plastic gift cards. Plastic takes forever to breakdown. Reload old gift cards as gifts. Better yet, give cash.
  2. Avoid using wrapping paper. If it’s a must, choose paper that is made from 100% recycled material. Most wrapping paper contain plastic material and cannot be recycled. Better yet, use flyers, cartoon sections of newspapers, or reusable gift bags. Avoid the shiny, metallic wrapping paper because they can’t be recycled. Avoid any type of wrapping paper with glitter (or any product that contains glitter). Glitter = microplastics = bad for the environment.
  3. Choose toys that aren’t made of plastic. Choose products that have no or minimal packaging (especially plastic). Also, think about whether this person needs more toys. So many people have basements full of unused toys, and they end up at the landfill or donated.
  4. Avoid dollar stores. They promote a plastic culture. Also, cheap plastics aren’t safe. Buy decorations that are reusable.
  5. Shop local. Buy from small businesses that make their own products in the city in which they are located. Be wary of popular craft shows that claim products are made locally when they are actually made in China .
  6. Avoid single-use anything. Use reusable cloth napkins instead of paper ones. Use real plates, glasses, and cutlery.
  7. Opt for (more) vegetarian or vegan food options for your holiday dinner. “Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.”*
  8. Support businesses that adhere to sustainable practices and/or donate to sustainable causes. Buy organic. Choosing organic means a healthier you and a healthier planet.
  9. Why not reduce our consumption and waste by supporting a charity? They usually allow for donations in honour of someone and they send e-cards to the recipient. Remember to say no to the freebies. Who needs a life supply of Christmas notepads, address stickers, and pens?
  10. Don’t give paper cards. Opt for e-cards instead.
  11. Avoid ordering online. Think about the amount of packaging there is.
  12. Buy vintage or secondhand gifts, or give a gift certificate that enables a loved one to pay for repairs instead of buying something new. There is a huge ecological footprint (water, energy, waste, pollution, land destruction, deforestation, etc.) that goes into producing every new product.
  13. Be practical. Food is always a great gift. Buy them their favourite shaving cream or hand cream – something that you know they will use and not go to waste. Notice holes in your sister’s socks? Buy her new socks. Too many gifts become waste because the recipient doesn’t like the gifts, so do your research (I stumbled upon this app, which might be helpful) to ensure that your gift will be well-loved.
  14. At family gatherings, if it’s a potluck, make smaller portions. Most people forget that there are dozens of other dishes that will be shared. Second Harvest tells us that there is a 25% of food waste over the holidays. A lot of resources are used to produce food, and food waste creates methane emissions. Also, adhere to a “leave no trace” policy to be more conscious of your ecological footprint by having everyone bring home what they brought (including garbage, compostables, and recyclyables).