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A Sustainable Guide to Gift Giving

The holidays are a time for family, friends… and trash. The reality isn’t always merry and bright. Waste is up 25% during the holiday season; and despite wanting to “spread the love,” it can be easy to get so caught up in giving to those around us that we forget to look after our planet. So, here’s a guide to spread the love, but not the trash!

Be a Conscious Consumer

Perhaps the easiest way to have a sustainable Christmas is by taking steps to be a conscious consumer. Through shopping, you’re able to use your money to vote for companies you stand behind. It’s important to research and ensure that the companies you’re supporting are ethical and sustainable, and it doesn’t even require much work. You can follow sustainable influencers who have made videos and blogs about sustainable brands they use. Or you can even go straight to the brands themselves. For instance, brands like FairTrade America make it easier to find ethical companies. In order to be, Fairtrade certified that you must pay workers a Fairtrade minimum price and promote environmental and ethical stability. Their website highlights brands that specialize in a variety of fields, including fashion, health and, of course, binging on holiday chocolates. You can choose to gift sustainable items separately or make gift baskets! If you want to go the extra mile to enforce sustainability, you can even gift items that promote sustainability within the receiver. For instance, gifting reusable bags or water bottles is a fun way to keep our planet clean.

Courtesy: Bruce Mars


Making things helps cut back on ethical and sustainable uncertainties as well as provides a hand-made element that makes the gift even more special. Make sure to use sustainable products by going thrift shopping or using resources like FairTrade. For a cheap and easy DIY, you can make personalized candles. All you need is some old candle wax, some wicks, and a cute mug. Place the jar of wax and a boiling pot of water, and once the wax is melted down transfer it to your cute container. Add essential oils to make it smell fresh and cozy! Lastly, make a special label. You can make the label festive by naming it “Winter Wonderland” or “Santa’s Sleigh.” Or opt for the sentimental route by naming it after something special. For instance, for your significant other, you can name it “First Date.” This will look like an expensive gift that will also have sentimentality. If you want something to go along with your candles, there are plenty of DIY Gift Ideas on YouTube


Experiences have always been my favorite gift to give and receive. Not only does it require no plastic wrapping, but it also is a super personal gift. There’s a variety of experiences you can choose from, such as a nice dinner, a fun night in, or just a day full of surprising activities. For the most sustainable version of this gift, cut down on using your car and opt for public transport or bike riding around the neighborhood. Also, be mindful of the amount of waste your day will accumulate. A hike is always a sustainable option!

Courtesy: Freestocks

Wrap It Up

Don’t forget to use sustainable wrapping methods. Traditional wrapping paper can’t be recycled because of its plastic coating, so finding alternative options is essential. Place the gift in a package that they would reuse. Thrift stores typically have a large selection of baskets that would serve great as home decor after they received the gift. You can also continue to hone your DIY skills by making sustainable wrapping. My favorite method is to use recyclable craft paper and a snip of your Christmas tree for a classic Scandinavian vibe. 

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Taylor is currently a junior at Florida State University with a double major in English Creative Writing and Studio Art. When she's not writing for Her Campus, you can find her traveling, getting lost in a book, or working on her personal blog at a local coffee shop.
Her Campus at Florida State University.