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The holidays and excess have always had a dirty love affair. The presents, the packaging, the more, more, more. The rush is madness. It’s hard to think about the millions of presents that get tossed aside after single use. What's even worse is the tons of wrapping that gets ripped apart and tossed in seconds.
Last year, the cardboard from beauty products contributed to the loss of over 18 million acres of forest.
If this type of consumption continues, we'll have a planetary crisis on our hands. So where does that leave us? Torn between our desire for wishlists and ribbons and our nagging conscious. To be whisked away by the season or to keep remembering that January looms around the corner with bills and more bad weather. Ugh no, stop. Extravagance doesn't have to be reckless. By shopping sustainably, you can have your fruitcake and eat it too.
Buying presents should be a gracious act that brings joy to the giver and receiver. We shouldn't have to feel guilty about any of it. Let's face it...amidst today's climate talks, it's hard not to feel funny about wrapping paper. Don't let wasteful habits steal Christmas. All it takes is a few tweaks to do your part towards helping the environment.
This is not your average gift guide filled with purchase suggestions. This guide is made to help you shop smarter. By making a few tweaks to your typical approach, you will effectively cut back on waste. You'll also probably end up saving money and time. That means less stress and more time to enjoy a hot toddy.
These few steps are a way to make sure we all do our part, so we don't have to feel guilty. If everyone tried a tad harder to watch their waste, we'd have a Christmas miracle on our hands. Until then, let's light the way and spread steps to sustainability with holiday cheer.
1. Think though your travel plans. If flying is inevitable, check out ClimateCare to make a contribution to offset carbon emissions.
3. Opt for experiences. A massage or facial, concert tickets, a wine tour, a cooking class, a surprise vacation or weekend getaway. Never underestimate the value of a gift card.
4. Shop local or from companies who care. Small business, indie brands, and local companies are the one's who are not contributing millions of tons of waste to the world. Not only does it feel good knowing you supported someone small or local, the quality is typically better and the emissions are close to zero. The indie business landscape has become so competitive, brands essentially have to pledge to take social and environmental responsibility to break into the market. Most of the time when you're shopping small, someone is carefully crafting your order, wrapping it with love, and sending it from their minimal waste facility.
5. Choose sustainable brands, especially when it comes to personal items. That's everything from textiles to cosmetics. Did you know Gen Z is projected to purchase more vintage and antique items for gifts? They see the value in reusing because they'll be around to see what happens to the planet.
As for beauty brands, the days of excess packaging are numbered. That grab and go gift is not as perfect as it seems. The cardboard and the plastic molds make a lot of waste. Go with a reusable makeup bag instead. A lot of brands offer kits with very nice travel items included with sets or as gifts with purchase. You'll be shopping sustainably and potentially considered the best gift giver ever. They'll enjoy that bag for months to years to come in their purse, gym bag, on their travels. Real makeup bags beat cardboard kits tenfold.
6. Avoid impulse buys. Resist the last minute add-ons. You just, don't, need it. Most impulse/last-minute gifts turn to waste before the ball drops.
7. Look for terms like zero-waste or biodegradable.
8. Think long-term. Look for lifetime guarantees, especially for kitchen or home goods. It'll feel better knowing the purchase is an investment in quality.
9. Go green, literally. Give the gift of life through plants. Succulents, cacti, a gift card to a nearby nursery. You could jumpstart their way to an at-home jungle or help grant them a little office oasis.
10. There's the person that gentlyyyy peels off the tape to save the wrapping paper for later. Then there's the person that rips the paper to shreds. Let's try to be the first person. Most wrapping paper is not recycled. The shiny coating and foil means it goes straight to landfills. Even worse, a lot of wrapping paper is made in Asian sweatshops. If you don't have leftover wrapping paper to use, try making your own wrapping. Use newspaper, magazines, tissue, a bandana, old sheet or pieces of fabric you find lying around. In 2010, over 333 million square feet or about 5,787 NFL football fields worth of wrapping was used in the U.S. Nearly 6,000 football fields of wrapping paper!
The biggest takeaway: don't go for the grab-and-go packaged gift set. Go for reusable bags! The cardboard box with the plastic inserts and mini plastic bottles inside seems like a no-brainer. In reality, it's the leather makeup bag or canvas tote with the goodies inside is the right choice. Choose the gift that goes farther so less that gets thrown away. Doing better for the planet makes you a better gift-giver. We get more to enjoy for years to come.