Six Tips for Perfect Presents – And They’re Sustainable!

By Veronika M. Heinrich

Like every year, Christ­mas always sneaks up and sud­den­ly you’re con­front­ed with one of the most impor­tant tasks of the sea­son: gift shopping.

The shop­ping malls are crowd­ed, every­thing seems to be on sale, and above all, you feel that the gift should be sus­tain­able. Find­ing some­thing that ben­e­fits your wal­let and the envi­ron­ment is hard. But fear not! This year, I’ve cre­at­ed a check­list to make find­ing the right present eas­i­er for you.

1. Be thought­ful, and don’t buy a present to buy a present.

First of all, you might want to think of some­thing the one you’re giv­ing the gift to actu­al­ly wants or needs. Lis­ten to them care­ful­ly as they might leave a few hints for you here and there. Or they sub­con­scious­ly dream about an item they’d like to have – this is your moment to shine and sur­prise them with exact­ly what they wish for. There’s no use in gift­ing some­thing they might throw away. So instead of giv­ing some Christ­mas knick-knack that sup­ports the indus­try and is like­ly over­priced, you might sup­port your friend instead.

2. Sus­tain­able every­day products

Although some peo­ple might steer away from sus­tain­able gifts, think­ing that they may be pricey, here are some ideas that are afford­able and trendy at the same time: prod­ucts like beeswax food wraps, plant-based and biodegrad­able sham­poos, reusable bot­tles, lunch box­es, fair trade choco­late or cof­fee, and plants. So if I’m going to spend mon­ey on Christ­mas gifts, I might as well spend it on some­thing that helps the environment.

3. Dona­tions

If you want to help the envi­ron­ment or peo­ple with your gift, what could be more sus­tain­able than donat­ing? To an orga­ni­za­tion that replants the rain­for­est or one that helps devel­op­ing coun­tries. You can also get cre­ative and help an endan­gered species, like the kākāpō, a par­rot from New Zealand. You could sup­port projects that pro­vide med­ical care or help the birds repro­duce.

4. One person’s trash…

The most sus­tain­able present you could give would be some­thing you already own but don’t need any longer. This may sound cheap, but we’re not talk­ing about trash here. You may own won­der­ful things you’ve just grown tired of. Maybe it’s just a book that you’ve already read and won’t read again. Think about which friend would like to have it and just give it to them. Now, depend­ing on your friend or fam­i­ly, you might want to dis­cuss this idea with them first. Who knows? Maybe they can even return the favor. After all, you know what they say: “One man’s trash is anoth­er man’s treasure.”

5. Home­made and Hand­made Surprises

“Home­made hap­pens in the kitchen. Hand­made in the garage.” Or so the say­ing goes. For sure: Your friends and fam­i­ly will tremen­dous­ly enjoy home­made jams, jel­lies, or pre­serves. Or pic­tures and pho­to albums you’ve cre­at­ed. I’ve often drawn pic­tures or made pho­to albums for my loved ones – they were always thrilled with this unex­pect­ed, thought­ful gift. It’s not as hard as you think. Find your own cre­ative strength! A poem, an audio­book of your favorite mem­o­ries, or some­thing knit­ted or hand­craft­ed will be just as much enjoyed. The impor­tant part here is that it comes from the heart. Giv­ing presents you’ve made is a great way of show­ing oth­ers how much you care about them.

And last but not least, let’s talk about wrap­ping. You can get sus­tain­able when wrap­ping your presents, too. How? Well, I learned from my grand­par­ents that wrap­ping paper can be reused. When­ev­er you receive a gift, you can open it care­ful­ly, fold the wrap­ping paper and the rib­bon and keep it until you need it again. It doesn’t have to be a throw­away prod­uct if you reuse it. Anoth­er option would be wrap­ping your gifts in yesterday’s news­pa­per, adorn­ing the pack­age with green­ery, rose­mary, or ivy. Or why not paint a pic­ture and use that as wrap­ping paper. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are endless.

Enjoy the season!

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