Thoughtful gift giving can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the holidays, especially when you get to share it with your family and friends. Unfortunately, the holiday gift-giving season is also a huge generator of unnecessary waste and consumerism, from non-recyclable wrapping paper to carbon-intensive products and shipping processes. Being conscious about your shopping habits and the way that you choose to give gifts this holiday season can make a big difference towards making the holidays more sustainable – and sometimes, will make your gift feel more special too. Keep reading for our list of ideas for sustainable gifts and gift-giving habits!
Give an experience
Gifting somebody an experience can be more meaningful than something material – especially if it’s something you get to do together. We don’t mean a coupon book like we used to make in elementary school: think dinner at their favorite place, a wine tasting, tickets to a show or concert, a pottery class, a National Parks pass, a celebrity Cameo, a wine and paint night, or another personal, low-waste moment to remember.
Appeal to their green thumb
Does your friend or family member have a green thumb? Do they love to garden? Or just need something to brighten up their dorm room? Try gifting them a plant for a thoughtful and eco-friendly addition to their home decor. Shop local and head to Norens Nursery on Bonita Ave in the village to get help finding the perfect gift for them.
Craft something in the Hive
With all of the crafting materials available at the Hive, from button making to watercolors to soldering irons, there’s plenty of opportunities to put your creativity to work and make a personal and low-waste gift! Sometimes, even a thoughtful hand-painted card can be enough.
Find a novel at the Book Room
Pomona’s Book Room has tons of lightly used, secondhand novels that can find a new home with your friend. This is an affordable and sustainable option, and you never know what you’ll find on those shelves! The Book Room is open from 5-8pm on Tuesdays and 6-9pm on Sundays every week.
Get hands-on in the Harvey Mudd Makerspace
If you haven’t heard of the Makerspace before, now’s the time to give it a try! Anyone can go, and you can get help creating personalized gifts like wooden laser cut ornaments, hand-sewn crafts using sewing and embroidery machines (like a tote bag or hat), LED signs, or a 3D-printed project. The world is your oyster!
Wrap the right way
Wrapping paper is one of the biggest unnecessary sources of waste during the holiday season. To wrap more sustainably, give a more eco-friendly option a shot: the classic trick of wrapping with used newspaper (we have plenty of TSL’s on campus!), reusable fabric wraps (which you can find online, or reuse fabric you have at home), twine or string instead of ribbon, or recyclable kraft paper. To top it all off, you can doodle on your sustainable wrapping paper to make a more personalized gift-giving experience!
One of the biggest differences you can make is by shopping locally. When you buy your gifts local, you avoid carbon-intensive shipping, trucking, and manufacturing processes that contribute to increased emissions during the holiday season. If none of the local options above appeal to you, hit your neighborhood shops (instead of shopping online) and support your community while practicing sustainability.
Stella is a senior at Pomona College majoring in Politics, Philosophy and Economics