How To Achieve Sustainable Gift Giving?

Environmentally Responsible Gifting

As we move towards a greener future, there are plenty of things we can do to lessen our impact on the environment, especially when it comes to gift-giving.

It’s safe to say that one of the biggest environmental challenges we face is how we deal with waste, especially plastic. This can become a bit of a challenge when it comes to gift-buying, whether it’s for a birthday, anniversary or any other special occasion.

In response to the climate emergency, many companies both small and large have made strides in providing sustainable gifts over using single-use materials. With all that being said, we’ve put together a guide on buying eco friendly presents for the ones you care about.

What is the Demand for Eco Friendly Presents?

In recent years, the consumer demand for sustainable products has shifted from a niche market to the mainstream. Arguably, this change in demand has been heavily influenced by Gen Z. Earlier this year, Forbes produced an article detailing the changes in consumer behaviour, quoting a report from First Insight at the University of Pennsylvania that “Today, nearly 90% of Gen X consumers said that they would be willing to spend an extra 10% or more for sustainable products, compared to just over 34% two years ago”.

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What Impact does Gift-Giving have on the Environment?

When considering the environmental impact that gift-giving has, it’s not just unsustainable products that cause issues. Most of the time, the majority of gift-giving waste comes from single-use wrapping paper and plastic packaging such as bubble wrap and polystyrene. These materials are classified as non-biodegradable, with an estimated time of decomposition for polystyrene being close to 500 years. The level of consumption when it comes to single-use products is also a massive issue; according to WragWrap in refence to the Christmas holidays: “Defra estimates that enough paper is used each year to gift-wrap the island of Guernsey”.

Popular Eco Friendly Stores

While there’s an almost-endless amount of sustainable gifts available on the market, there are a number of big-name websites that host some of the best eco-friendly brands from all over the world.

Etsy – Sustainable Gifts

One of the biggest platforms for independent product sellers, Etsy has a specific area on their website that allows visitors to explore and shop specifically for eco-friendly and sustainable gifts. Just like Amazon, you can browse products from sellers based all over the world from thousands of sole traders and small businesses. On top of all that, Etsy’s data centres that host the website are powered entirely by 100% renewable energy! So whether you’re looking for furniture, socks or stationary, you’ll find plenty on here at great prices too.

Ethical Superstore

Based in the UK, Ethical Superstore is a mail-order website that showcases all the best eco-friendly gifts on the market from health and beauty to fashion and homeware. Not only does their small team work hard to source some amazing products, but this company also allows customers to add on a custom donation to their basket total at checkout, with 100% of donation money going towards a charity of their choice. In 2021, they managed to raise over £165,000 for various charities from the RSPCA to Amnesty International.

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Tips for Sustainable Gift Giving

You might have found the perfect eco-friendly presents for someone special in your life, but there’s still a lot of different things you can do to keep things green:

1. Sustainable Wrapping Paper

Like we mentioned previously, the standard wrapping paper you pick up at the card shop or supermarket is made up of single-use plastics that either end up in landfill or incinerated, releasing harmful chemical gasses into the atmosphere. You can avoid all of this completely by simply swapping out your wrapping paper with brown paper. For outer packaging, look for cardboard boxes, bio paper, PLA bioplastics and other ecological alternatives like corn starch packaging (yes, that is a real thing!)

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2. Reduce the Amount of Packaging

Even if you opt for sustainable packaging, the idea that “less is more” is definitely a good approach to take. If you plan on shipping your gift, reducing the amount of packaging you use means less emissions used to transport it. It also means less spending on stuff that will end up being thrown away – everyone’s a winner!

3. Look for a Sustainable Delivery Provider

With many businesses joining the Climate Pledge in the wake of COP26, many of the UK’s biggest couriers from DHL to DPD have invested massively in 100% electric vehicles when it comes to their delivery fleets. Whilst the complete replacement of diesel/petrol vans with electric vehicles will take a number of years and hasn’t been fully achieved yet, some businesses like Amazon have already committed to providing electric-only delivery vans, making them ideal couriers for sustainable gifts.

4. Look Out for Eco-Friendly Certificates

This is a great rule of thumb and applies for both products and companies. A highly reputable scheme that websites have chosen to embrace is becoming a “B-Corp”. This scheme, operated by B Lab, allows companies to request certification providing they meet a specific set of criteria, such as demonstrating a “high social and environmental performance” and providing fully transparent information when it comes to supply chains. In short, you can count on a B-Corp to be reputably sustainable.

5. Consider Shopping for Pre-Loved Items

Whilst some people might not be overly pleased with a pre-owned gift, some people appreciate an item with a bit of history behind it. Buying second hand has become somewhat of a popular trend, especially when it comes to vintage clothing, homeware and similar items. Not only does it give old items a new lease of life, but it’s also great for the environment as it avoids the need for new items to be manufactured.

We have a guide on how to re-purpose hampers in a sustainable way!

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