Going green, sustainability and reducing your carbon foot-print are huge trends these days. With an increased awareness about the state of the environment, more and more people are looking for alternatives to gifts that are harmful to the environment. With increased awareness comes an increased demand for eco-friendly gifts. Fortunately, many retailers recognize the demand for eco-friendly gifts and are increasing their supply.
What it means to be eco-friendly
There are many definitions about what it means to be eco-friendly. For some people it means buying products that are made from recycled materials and that are recyclable. For others it means buying local, independently made gifts bought at fair-market price from people who are paid a livable wage. Others still define them as handmade gifts that leave very little impact on the planet and do not buy into the economic system.
No matter what definition you choose to subscribe to, there are many options available for eco-friendly gifts:
1. Grocery tote. Plastic is wasteful and doesn’t biodegrade. Bringing your own canvas bag to the store when you do your grocery shopping is one way to cut down on the amount of waste dumped into landfills each year. Many grocery stores even give you a discount for bringing your own bags in.
Grocery totes make an excellent gift. They come in different sizes with different designs on them. If you want to make a more personalized gift, get a plain tote and decorate it yourself. Use fabric from old clothes and sew designs onto the tote. Permanent, felt-tipped markers can be used to draw designs and patters. Adding your own touches will give the gift more meaning to the recipient.
2. Recycled journals. These work best if you make them yourself. Unless you have access to a lot of scrap paper, it might take a while to gather the materials for this project, so give yourself plenty of time before you need to have the gift ready.
To make a recycled journal gather as many sheets of used computer paper as you can find. Since you want people to be able to use the journal, make sure only one side is printed on. Usually a stack about an inch thick works fine. Fold each page in half horizontally, crease and tear the page in half. Stack the pages together, making sure the blank side is up. Now, get some colored construction paper or something you can use as a cover, decorate it and bind the pages together. Personalize the journal however you want.
3. Gardening kit. Slow food and organic food are two eco-friendly movements that are growing in popularity. What better way to share the experience of eating than to give a gardening kit. These can either be bought premade or you can assemble them yourself. If you want to assemble one yourself, it’s important to think about the needs of the recipient. Herbs and spices are excellent to include if the person lives in an apartment with limited space. A window planter can serve as a both a basket for the gift and to plant the seeds in. Many Starbucks locations offer free used coffee grinds which can be included for compost. Other things to consider putting in your package are gloves, a small shovel, watering can and clippers.
4. Potpourri. Potpourri makes an excellent gift and can be handmade using seasonal plants and flowers. This is another one that takes some time to make, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead for this one. Rose pedals, cedar wood, pine needles, rosemary, lemon and lavender all make excellent scents. Experiment with different combinations of your favorite scents.
5. Hemp products. Hemp is often organic and isn’t bleached, making it a much healthier and eco-friendly alternative to cotton. Clothing made from hemp is just as comfortable as cotton, and much more sustainable. You can find everything from T-shirts and pants to bags and journals made from hemp. Giving hemp gifts shows your commitment to personal health as well as the health of the environment.
6. Jewelry. Women love jewelry. But with so much of our gold, silver and diamonds coming from non-sustainable sources, it can be hard to find jewelry that is eco-friendly and fair-trade. But fear not, with a little bit research on the internet, you’ll be able to find plenty of retailers selling fair-traded and eco-friendly products. Better still try making your own jewelry out of natural materials. Hemp makes excellent threading for necklaces, bracelets and anklets. If you enjoy nature, go for a hike and look for something you can make a necklace with. Stones are abundant and make an excellent piece. Also try feathers, arrowheads or bones. All of these make for unique pieces of jewelry that will turn heads without leaving a footprint on the Earth.
No matter what their tastes are, eco-friendly gifts are good for everyone. Not only will you help the planet by reducing your carbon footprint, but you’ll also be guaranteed to give a unique and interesting gift. The beauty of going green is that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, so you’ll be able to give sustainable gifts to everyone on your list.