As the annual gift-giving season approaches, we may be wondering how to balance our environmental values with our desire to show loved ones appreciation. While the trend of gifting typically promotes unneeded consumerism and waste, there are many ways to gift with more thought and less impact to the planet.

1. Think about its Lifecycle

The environmental impacts of fast fashion and planned obsolescence are well documented. Think about the resources it takes to produce the item you plan to gift and the impact its manufacturing has on people around the world. If you need guidance, look towards Fair Trade, B-Corp, and 1% for the Planet certifications that communicate a company’s values clearly. Give some thought to what happens if the item breaks or is no longer needed – can it be disposed of or recycled responsibly?

2. Give a Genuine Answer

We all have friends and relatives that ask for your annual wishlist. While it may feel awkward to give an answer other than a generic I don’t know, being truthful about what you’re desiring this year can be an efficient way to reduce what you don’t need. Whether you’re building a specific list or stating a general category of gifts you’d appreciate receiving, consider how your answer can steer others in a more sustainable direction for future gifts as well.

3. Establish Limits

In a challenging year where everyone’s budget may look slightly different than preceding holiday seasons, its important to find ways to consume less. Be honest about budgets and communicate your thought process if you’re encouraging less spending. In your gifting circle, consider establishing spending limits, agreeing on Secret Santa instead of individual gifts, or upcycled and DIY gifts. Adjusting your gifting practice can encourage more fun and creativity.

4. Look for Local Goods

Supporting your local small businesses is a good idea regardless of the season. In a time many are struggling to stay in operation, you don’t have to look far for a thoughtful gift. Treat them to a token of your appreciation with a locally-made or sourced gift. You can also consider supporting restaurants in their neighbourhood with a specially curated meal kit, basket, or bottle of wine. For an abundance of options, you can always view the small business’ website or social media.

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