I assure you, this will be the most unglamourous holiday gift guide that you’ll come across this season, and I couldn’t be happier about it! In recent years I’ve really discovered the value in meaningful purchases. I don’t necessarily need anything. I really don’t. I’m very selective with items that I bring into my life. I always run through these questions in my head before I spend a dime.
Do I need this? Will this add value to my life?
Did the creation of this product bring any harm to people, animals, or our planet?
Does the purchase of this item support my values?
Can I purchase this item second hand?
Is the party responsible for the creation of this product a socially responsible organization?
My obsession with socially responsible purchases for myself has spilled into my gift giving for loved ones. Why? Because as Anna Lappe said, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want to live in.” I think it’s especially imperative to make socially responsible purchases for gift giving as that is an excellent way to share your passion with others. When your gift recipient learns about the significance of their gift and how it is a part of a larger picture, it will be very likely that they will do the same and the beautiful cycle will continue on!
Sure, it’s great finding that perfect scarf for your sister made from organic cotton or that Fair Trade artisan quilt for your best friend. Products with a purpose are lovely and it’s wonderful when you are able to give a gift that is rooted in mindful consumerism. I wholeheartedly support organizations with a mission of doing right by our planet and all living beings on it.
There are products out there that many of us can’t live without and they may be actually considered more of a “necessity” than anything else. It’s definitely not glamorous, but when I was in my 20’s nothing made me happier than a Costco size pack of toilet paper as a gift. Why? Because it was practical and just like every other human out there, I needed it! That’s why these products are so great. They are needed, they are practical and they help the planet in the process.
When my first TerraCycle Box came in the mail it was actually delivered to my neighbor. He opened it by mistake then brought it over to my place with a very confused look on his face. “Um, I opened your empty box”, he said as he shrugged his shoulders. I laughed and told him all about this magical empty box.
TerraCycle is a wonderful company that helps people recycle things that might not be so easy or convenient to recycle. They work with businesses in the community to sponsor dedicated recycling programs from industrial waste to office supplies. You can also participate independently by purchasing your own Zero Waste Box for whatever it is you would like to recycle. They have so many categories to choose from including fabric and clothing, baby food pouches, light bulbs, party decorations, and so much more. You just order a box, fill it up, and mail it back to them. I actually purchased the fabric and clothing box after I realized that not all of our thrift store clothing donations get recycled. Let’s be honest, when our undergarments approach the end of their life span, how many of us have put them in the trash? I’m guilty of that. I didn’t know there was an alternative until now! No more landfill panties!
I banned paper towels from my home years ago. When my partner and I moved in together, he wanted paper towels. That wasn’t something I was willing to compromise on until we discovered, Bambooee, “The Unpaper Towel”. These washable organic bamboo towels are durable and can be tossed in your washing machine about 100 times. This means that one roll can last you over five years. This is not only cost effective but you are helping preserve our planet's resources. I’ve been hand washing ours since I try to keep machine washing to a minimum and it’s worked out just great.
As much as I try to be a Zero Waste Advocate, unfortunately, there is always a bit of trash that needs to be tossed out at the end of the month in my home. I try to stretch it out for as long as possible until that bag is really full before it goes into the dumpster but it weighs heavy on my heart every time. Evolution Bags makes taking out the trash so much better. These trash bags are made with 70% post consumer materials, they exceed EPA procurement requirements, and they are members of 1% for the Planet. Added bonus...the packaging is 100% recycled.
I encourage you to try something different this year. Instead of a holiday gift basket, scented candles, or a bottle of wine...never mind, wine is always a good idea...but do consider purchasing practical eco-friendly products for your loved ones. Your money will go a long way in supporting a larger social issue on top of being a fabulous gift. At the same time, you just might inspire others to not only continue to use these products, but they may very well turn into an ethical and socially conscious consumer themselves.