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Boston Sustainability Programs

Making Your Holiday Gift More Sustainable

By December 23, 2016No Comments


As you head out to do that last-minute shopping, you still want to ensure that every gift you purchase is sustainable. Hopefully, you were able to attend this year’s Gifts for Good Holiday Market, but if you weren’t, or still need those few presents, here are some shopping tips that will help you find gifts that make your loved ones happy while doing good:




Read Labels and Know What They Mean

As fellow Hubber Leora Mallach, founder of the Boston Jewish Food Conference, pointed out earlier this year, there is a lot of confusion over terms such as “organic,” “natural,” and “sustainable.” Natural, whether as a label on food or beauty products, doesn’t really mean much. Look for organic certifications if organic matters to you. Know the meanings of sustainability certifications such as “FSC Certified” for wood products.

Consider How Your Gift Got Here

Shipping packaging is an often-overlooked environmental impact of gift-giving. Think about the shipping practices of companies you order from; seek out those that minimize packing materials. Locally-sourced gifts can often have a lower impact on the environment, since they don’t need to be shipped at all.

Give Donations

Donating to a favorite cause often comes with a Thank You gift. You are both making a positive impact on the world and getting your recipient a meaningful gift. Hubbers Water for Good, for instance, offer mugs and gift cards to support clean water, while Shop for Komera brings together fashionable merchandise to support girls’ education in Rwanda. Those are just two examples around the Hub–many organizations offer something along with a donation, which can make a thoughtful, impactful gift.

Give Gifts That Are Not Things

Writer Laura McDonald notes that the experiences, rather than things, are the key to greater happiness. Why not give experiences instead of physical gifts? McDonald recommends movie tickets, lessons, or personal chef services. Experiences can change a life and keep more products out of landfills.


McDonald also suggests thrifting and making your own gifts as ways to reduce environmental impact. You can combine the two by scouring thrift stores for finds, then upcycling them into handmade gifts. Re-paint a bench with scenes from a family summer vacation, upcycle woolens into hats–whatever your skills, these sustainable gifts are more than things–they are a sharing of your talents.

Sustainable gift-giving is about more than labels. It’s about being purposeful, getting creative, and thinking beyond the standard stocking-stuffer. With some planning and a little know-how, your holiday season can be more sustainable, and you gifts have a positive impact in more ways than one.