With its tradition of over-the-top packages, boxes and bags, Christmas and all of its gift-related trappings can strike fear into the hearts of those looking to reduce their level of waste. There are plenty of ways to cut down on giftwrap with solutions like using newsprint to wrap presents or reusing old gift bags (I know there are some I’ve seen under my family tree for more than 20 years in a row), but when it comes to unnecessary waste, it’s just as important to consider what you’re gifting, and not just how.
The holidays bring pressure to shop till you drop in the hopes of finding that perfect gift. And yes, that’s a lovely thing when it happens, but it’s time to reconsider giving random stuff just for the sake of it. In her 2007 short film The Story of Stuff, writer Annie Leonard reveals some shocking figures, like the fact that of all the material goods flowing through the consumer economy, only 1% remain in use six months after sale. Think about that before you pick up that cute tchotchke for your aunt. Leonard also found that the average American consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago—so you can assume those figures have risen in the 11 years since her film came out.
Before making your list and checking it twice, think about the different ways that you can show your loved ones that you care this year. Yes, buying material gifts is fun, but what are some other ways that you can pass along those warm and fuzzy feelings without adding more to overflowing landfills? We’ve rounded up 13 pressies that take the zero-waste approach to gift-giving this year. Because, to quote the Grinch, “Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
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CAMH Gifts of Light, giftsoflight.ca
The holiday tradition of giving to those in need is alive and well. Find a charitable organization that aligns with your loved one’s beliefs and interests and make a donation. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, for example, has created Gifts of Light—items like pyjamas, emergency kits or a music, pet or art therapy session—that can help their more than 35,000 patients, many of whom arrive with no belongings or support system.