Share this postShare on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Pin on Pinterest4Share on LinkedIn0Email this to someone
The holidays and year-end celebrations are filled with traditions. A big one is to spend time with loved ones, another is to exchange gifts. It’s also the time of year when most of us buy and consume more than usual. With the risk of… missing the point! Who hasn’t gotten one of those presents that made us think “Ugh… yeah…no… not for me…”?
Besides disappointment, unwanted gifts create clutter or plain waste (hello trash can), a reality worsened by the “Stocking Stuffer Syndrome”. You know, that lasting trend of buying more smaller gifts. As if more cheaper-items-no-one-really-has-a-use-for is better. Then how can we preserve the spirit of good traditions while limiting the unwanted gifts and reducing the induced waste?

Voucher plastic free waste free non material Christmas holiday celebrations gift

One may say just re-gift whatever you received and don’t like. But a green approach goes deeper and tries to prevent that waste from being created. One way is to put less emphasis on tangible material gifts, and more thoughts into the meaning of our gift(s). Some call it the art of giving something while giving no-thing, in complete opposition to the consumption-driven Stocking Stuffers concept, inviting us to fill up one’s stocking with cheap stuff for the sake of… filling it.

Here are some ideas, that can be combined for additional green points!
  • Fewer, better gifts: Whether you’re celebrating with family and friends or in a smaller way, what about organizing a Secret Santa so you get one decent gift instead of ten of lesser value? Same with children, buy them jointly one quality gift each, after vetting the idea with the parents.
  • Experiential gifts: offer vouchers for a DIY class, workshop, social instead of material presentsExperiential gifts: That’s the gift of happiness via experiences. Think vouchers for music, sports, artistic events, themed classes… anything bringing joyful quality me-time really.
  • One smart material gift: With material gifts, it’s all about not adding more dust collectors to our lives. Do not banish them all, but if going that way, offer something needed the recipient would buy anyway (from clothes to kitchen appliances, to accessories… you name it). And while at it, make that gift long-lasting and waste-free! Like a plant: if well chosen, this little piece of nature will beautify home decor and reduce indoor pollution. How about a stainless steel containers set? Having lunch out of home, which so many of us do, might be our most waste-creating time of the day. Investing in a reusable food container system for meal, dessert and drink is green, useful and not a bank breaker. You get the idea. Just asking people what they need. Who wants to offer dissatisfaction and clutter to their loved ones anyway?
  • Shop local Support your community and buy unique, quality gifts for Christmas and year end celebrations!Buy local: Experiential or material, buying a useful, needed, and now local gift is just adding another layer of goodness. Chances are the quality will be higher and packaging will be less wasteful than items from big box stores. The uniqueness factor will score you extra appreciation points, and who does not like to feel good about helping out our local community?
  • “In the name of ” donations: However big or small you celebrate, you can trade names for gifts, check with “your” person what they see as important causes, and make a donation to an association, non-profit or charity in their name. You may even learn a thing or two about your relatives and friends. One word of caution, do a little research online to confirm the usefulness of the program and make sure a high enough percentage of your donation goes towards it. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) could be a starting point in the vetting process. Check out NRDC‘s green gifts, you can even choose to send a (wasteless) e-card, saving paper and time vs traditional snail mail.
  • Make your own! DIY Christmas Holiday celebration gifts are more personal, unique and green... and avoid the clutter or waste possibly caused by unwanted material presents.Homemade DIY gifts: How about enjoying yourself while creating a gift rather than buying that one-in-a-million, factory-produced item? A unique handmade gift reflects your personal touch, and in a world pressed for time, offering some of yours truly says a lot to the person receiving it.
  • The gift of time… By everyone, for everyone. How many presents do we need to be happy? There’s a thrill at the sight of many packages with our name on them, but how many times have we been disappointed by what’s inside? So let’s just end any need to re-gift stuff and spare ourselves all these returns on Boxing Day. Let’s just do things together (cooking and eating, exchanging fun holiday childhood stories, playing games… etc YOU define your own joy) and make memories with lots of video and picture taking…

After all, if “Infinite growth of material consumption in a finite world is an impossibility.” (E.F. Schumacher), it’s probably time we switch our focus from things for loved ones, to quality time shared with loved ones.

Do you exchange gifts during the holidays, and if so, any green family tradition or ideas you would care to share? Please help us add on more green to this list!

Share this postShare on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Pin on Pinterest4Share on LinkedIn0Email this to someone