1. Figure out what they need/want and find it in an eco friendly way
Can you find what they want in more sustainable materials? Or from a small business/thrift it?
Thrifting is awesome for part or all of a gift. Right now there are a lot of holiday sweaters in my local thrift stores. I love finding things like nice wallets, purses, and other accessories at Platos Closet in great condition, great for gifting. I’ve also started asking my friends for all of their sizes even if I don’t plan on getting them something from a thrift store, just in case something catches my eye, or, to throw them off for future gifts so they don’t think whenever I ask it means I’m going to get them clothes.
Other than clothes, you can thrift a lot of great things. It takes time and patience, and requires that you look closely. For example, I recently found a gorgeous plant pot for my desk. My brother found some great holiday decorations as well!
3. Shop from Small Businesses
Supporting small businesses are a great way to keep money circulating in your local community, and are often more sustainable than shopping from bigger companies. I find personally a number of smaller companies have a greater focus on sustainability, but also, a lot of small businesses use small batch production meaning they are not making more than they need. And! Small businesses can help you find really unique, special and even customizable gifts that can make the recipient say WOW!
Etsy is such a great way to find items. I recently found the most adorable air plant holders to gift to my ‘botanically inclined’ family member. But they have everything from plant pots, to jewelry, ceramics, candles and a lot of other things that could surprise you!
Not only can you filter your searches on Etsy to limit the vendors to your country, but many areas are having “virtual markets” through Etsy to help you discover offerings and vendors you didn’t even know existed.
Finally, while we may be missing a number of in person holiday markets this year, many have gone online! I’ve found some great things from the One of a Kind Toronto virtual marketplace. Keep your eyes peeled for these through local media sources and small businesses’ social media as they often post markets they are attending. For example, EarthSuds will be part of the Virtual Sustainable Holiday Market this year (Check us out November 28 & 29, 2020 at https://sustainableholidaymarket.squarespace.com/ )
Please however, be sure to order from small businesses soon as possible. With the holiday rush coming up, they usually need more time to make and fulfill their orders. Many don’t keep a surplus of items or material on hand so help them plan ahead!
For the person who is impossible to shop for, and doesn’t really want or need anything, why not make a donation to a worthy cause in their name?
I know it's a super busy time, and I’m not the most artistically inclined, so this can seem intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be something fancy!
For example, why not put together a cookie or brownie mix that is only made of the dry, non perishable ingredients, and put them in an empty, cleaned out pasta jar? All you have to do is add a tag outlining what needs to be added and baking specifics like temperature, time, etc. If it’s possible for you, you could even try sourcing the ingredients from a bulk store that allows you to use your own containers! Then it is really low waste.
Think about that hobby of yours and see if you can make people gifts out of them. My friend got into woodworking for example, and is testing out a bunch of projects to ultimately give as gifts.
The best part is, when you DIY gifts, you can control where ingredients/components are sourced from, to help ensure that they are more sustainable options!
6. Gift Cards
This goes closely with helping small businesses, but if they like a particular store that is more eco friendly, or a local restaurant/business, etc. why not get them a gift card? This way you are supporting a small business in their time of need (as many are struggling to remain open during this pandemic) and giving a great gift that you know they will use.
And lastly, instead of a product, why not get them an experience? I know a lot of experience based places are not open during this time, but some that can be used immediately include subscriptions to:
- Streaming platforms
- E.g. Health and wellness apps like Headspace for meditation or paid workout apps
- Small businesses that have gone virtual. Examples:
- Local workshops that will send you the materials then hold a virtual event (e.g. wreath making, candle making, etc.)
- Yoga or fitness studios (many local fitness studios are being hit really hard during this pandemic and are trying to stay afloat by offering virtual yoga and HITT classes)
- Cooking classes
But don’t forget about the experience based businesses that don’t have the option to go virtual and can still use your support. Grabbing them a ticket to an experience based event to be held in the future could also be great. For example, the local theatre once it opens back up.