When we think about plastic free living, we can make quite a few personal choices to cut down on plastic. A lot of the choices we make don’t have to cost us money. In fact, I believe that, the 5 R’s of sustainability – refuse, reuse, reduce re purpose, recycle – are the most important steps in our fight for the environment. Make small changes and take one step at a time!
But there are times when investing in good, high quality and sustainable products is a very good thing, because it makes certain life style changes easier. And when something is easier, more people will do it. The last thing we need in our fast paced, complicated life is to add more difficulty.
Gift Giving Can Be Wasteful
Gift giving is a wonderful tradition and I, too, love to receive thoughtful, beautiful gifts. But birthdays and holidays can be very wasteful times in our society. Sometimes when I see the mountains of trash after a big family Christmas or birthday party, I can’t help, but feel a bit sad and irresponsible. Why is it so hard for us to make sensible choices, reduce waste and make some serious changes? Why do we keep buying all the things that are wrapped in plastic and add to the pollution of our world? The other day I picked up my younger son from school and while we were waiting for my older son to finish track practice, my younger son asked if we could go to Target and just look around. He loves it and he loves spending time with me. He also loves gifts and he loves all the things that are plastic and wrapped in plastic. It’s so fun watching him getting all excited. How could he not? He doesn’t know anything else and he doesn’t fully understand the seriousness of the condition of our world. I talk to both of my kids about climate change and specifically about plastic and how to reduce our plastic use, but they are kids. Of course, they walk around in stores and want to get lots of presents for Christmas and their birthday. It is part of being a kid. However, I think it is possible to redirect them and educate them on the importance of only purchasing things that are beneficial for us and our world. It is so important to teach our children. But it’s not just our children who need educating. We all need to think about useful, sustainable gifts that will bring joy that lasts, support a great business or company and have little impact on our environment.
Things to think about when purchasing a gift
There are three questions I encourage you to ask yourself before purchasing a gift:
- Will the gift I am thinking about purchasing truly bring joy to the other person?
- Is it a gift that will last and/or be very useful?
- Who am I buying this gift from? Who am I supporting?
The lasting joy of an experience gift
The gift of experience is in my opinion one of the best gifts you can give. Why? Because recent research shows that creating memories and fostering relationships with others increases the overall well-being and happiness of a person. The joy of receiving a material gift goes down over time but the joy of an experience increases and lasts.
Most people never regret having spend money on a trip with their families, am I right?
Here are a few other experience gift ideas besides the gift of travel:
- Tickets for a show or concert. I have done this several times for my husband and those were always our best date nights.
- Subscription for a favorite magazine. A friend of mine did it for me one time and I was able to enjoy her gift for a whole year.
- Weekend getaway.
- Membership to a favorite museum.
Think of anything that the person is hesitant to spend money on, but has wanted to do for a long time.
I can think of a long list for myself!
Beautiful gift ideas that encourage others to reduce their plastic use
Here is my curated list of gift ideas for adults that will bring joy and are good for our planet and might even encourage other people to start a plastic free lifestyle:
1. A plastic free zero waste gift box by Terra Natura Love is a great and beautiful set of zero waste alternatives including some of the best essentials to start a sustainable lifestyle. And did I say it’s beautiful?
2. A 15 “>piece set of beeswax wrap, silicone food storage bag & silicone stretch lids to encourage a plastic free kitchen.
3. A beautiful essential “>personal care kit for your plastic free bathroom includes a bamboo toothbrush, dental silk, bamboo cotton buds and shampoo and conditioner bar.
Don’t you think they would make beautiful gifts?
Here are a few other ideas, thoughts and considerations that will make gift purchasing more meaningful:
- research fair trade stores and products
- support local artists and/or consider supporting artists who sell their goods on Etsy
- purchase educational books on zero waste/plastic free living or climate change in general.
Let’s not shy away from talking and educating others. We owe it to our kids, we owe it to the animals and the beautiful places of our planet!
Plastic free gift ideas for kids
Speaking of kids, plastic free gift giving for adults might not be our biggest challenge, but plastic free gift giving for kids certainly seems more difficult.
For example, my son loves lego bricks and they are wonderful in many ways. My son keeps himself busy for hours and comes up with some great and creative ideas. But what can we do with all of them once he will stop playing with them?
I found a wonderful website that explains exactly what you can do with old legos while giving back to the community at the same time. Give Back Box is a wonderful organization that makes it simple to donate your old bricks! Their mission it to encourage creative play and giving used lego bricks and sets to children who can’t afford them. Check out this site for more information!
And here is my list of plastic free gift ideas for kids:
1. An annual subscription to National Geographic Kids. My son had it for a while and loved getting it on a regular basis. It’s a fun and educational magazine.
2. Encourage creative activities by purchasing an art and creativity set. Or better yet, go to your local art store and create your own plastic free art kit.
3. Experience gifts are the best for adults and kids alike. We purchased an intensive baseball camp for our older son for last Christmas. He not only learnt a lot of new skills that will benefit him this summer when he is playing on a team, but he will also remember it forever. He loved it! Sometimes I think we are afraid to give the gift of experiences to our kids, because we want them to experience the joy of unwrapping gifts (which is fun, I admit), but I think we can be very thoughtful about it.
Just remember, the joy of a material gift (the joy of unwrapping) goes down, often very quickly, but the joy of an experience, increases, lasts and fosters relationship.
Last but not least
Plastic free living doesn’t mean gift free living. Plastic free living requires us to rethink our purchases in every area of our life. One aspect of gift giving that causes a lot of waste is all the gift wrap we use, especially during the holidays. I am going to dedicate an entire future blog post to the topic of plastic free and waste free gift wrapping. Stay tuned for that!
As always, thank you for reading!
Do you have any questions or other ideas for plastic free gifts? Let me know in the comments below.
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