Opinion | Gearing up for the holiday season: Sustainability

Published by Jessica Crandell, Date: November 30, 2022
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Almost everybody loves this time of the year.

People are cheerful, snow is falling, and communities come together. But the hardest part is deciding what to give people as a present.

A gift should not be too much or too little, it has to be just right. And as college students, we know the struggle of weighing prices to find the right gift.

Thinking sustainably when purchasing holiday presents can help the environment and your wallet.

Finding the right gift can be a chore, so below are a list of sustainable ideas:

  • Experiences – The best gift you can give is a memory. Buy your loved one’s tickets to a concert or to see their favorite sports team. You can also choose a cheaper ticket option for a nearby museum, comedy show or a Christmas light show (like Phipps Conservatory). Experiences also include overnight stays at a bed and breakfast place or day trips to a close-by town that they have always wanted to visit. For the gift-givers over 21, take them on a brewery, distillery, or winery tour. Pair this with a small picnic, and you have the perfect day. The options are endless.
  • Stay local – Supporting the businesses in your area can help with the local economy and bring your community together. Take a trip to your local thrift stores to find quality clothing, technology, or home-good items that you can repair or personalize. Sometimes, the most unique presents can be found within miles of your own home.
  • Baked goods – Want to share the love with all your friends without breaking the bank? Bake them cookies, muffins, or loaves of sweet bread. Just be sure to check for allergies. To wrap them up, you can reuse paper bags or reuse plastic Tupperware to-go containers.
  • Regift – There is nothing wrong with gifting an item in your home that does not bring you joy; it may make someone else’s day. You can re-wrap an item that was given to you from holidays past. Save money and avoid overconsuming.

Once the gift is picked out, then it is time to decide the best option for wrapping it. Below is a list of ways that an item can be wrapped with sustainability in mind:

  • Cloth – Take cotton fabric or sew together old fabric to wrap a gift. The two most common methods are to tie up the cloth over the gift or to sew a bag. Simply wrapping it would require a square piece of fabric, that you place your item in the center of. Then knot opposite corners together over the item. You can then take a reusable ribbon to secure everything together. For a closable cloth bag, you can find different sewing patterns with a google search to make it yourself.
  • Gift bags – Almost everyone has these sitting around in their closet or storage space. You can put these bags to use every holiday season and on other gift-giving occasions. You can even reuse the tissue paper by neatly folding it up after each use.
  • Newspaper wrapping – If you have old rocket newspapers lying around, might as well put them to use again as wrapping paper. Not only does the green and gray theme pair nicely with a red ribbon, but it doubles as reading entertainment as people patiently wait by the tree to open their gifts. It’s just as easy to fold as the normal wrapping paper from the stores. Use biodegradable tape and wrap as normal.
  • Reusable gift boxes – You may remember seeing these in older movies, where all you do is lift the top off to open. These boxes can be bought or made yourself with cardboard and recycled wrapping paper. Use them time and time again for holidays.
  • Recycled wrapping paper – Similar to newspaper, buying recycled paper to wrap your presents can give you a similar look to what normally lies under the tree. This material is either recyclable or made from compostable materials. You can again use biodegradable tape to seal the wrapping.
  • No wrapping – The cheapest and easiest option is to just add a bow. No need for fancy paper; tie up your ribbon for a nice finishing touch to the top of the bare gift.

I hope these tips help with your holiday shopping and ease your mind and wallet. Always remember, less is more, and the best gifts are those that come from the heart.

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