Christmas presents? Think them through!
The most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner: cozy interiors, festive atmosphere, meeting with your family and friends, but also tons of food waste, wrong gifts, and plastic scraps drifting merrily through our seas and oceans. How can we stop this consumerist frenzy without turning into the Grinch himself and ruining the holiday vibes while still trying to save the planet from a climate catastrophe?
The Christmas fever heating up our planet
The sheer volume of waste and pollution generated through Christmas shopping and the festive preparations is difficult to even imagine. Over 2 000 000 tons of returns alone end up in landfills. Unfortunately, an item returned to the store by someone who didn’t quite like our gift doesn’t get re-sold as retailers find it’s not cost-effective. The process would ideally involve checks on whether the product can be re-sold; detecting any defects, providing brand new packaging, disinfecting items like clothes, fixing minor flaws, or even sending the product back to its manufacturer – this all generates substantial costs that sometimes exceed potential profits. According to Business Insider, the entire return procedure costs the seller around 66% of the product’s original price. Hence, a lot of returned merchandise simply gets disposed of.
The landfills, ever expanding in size, pose an array of environmental issues, mainly due to the greenhouse gasses they emit (mostly methane), and the toxins that secrete from the heaps of trash and permeate into the earth and water. It goes without saying that this has a detrimental effect not only on our environment, but on our health and our lives.
Quality over quantity
In our efforts to even slightly offset the accelerating environmental catastrophe, we should look into our own shopping habits, especially this time of year when we wish to treat everyone to a stack of presents and a table filled with food. The best principle to follow is ‘quality over quantity’. Instead of a whole bag of gifts, we can give someone one, genuinely thought-through present that’s tailored to their needs and lasts for years due to its high quality.
If you don’t want to individually ask (or worse, guess!) what everyone wants for Christmas, you could make use of technology and create shareable documents you can manage alongside your family and friends. Something like a letter to Santa, where everyone shares what they would like to find under the Christmas tree. To avoid getting the same gift as someone else, simply tick or cross off the items as you go (and make the recipient promise not to peek!).
Experiences instead of gifts
Remember that a gift doesn’t have to be a physical item – it can be an experience, an adventure, or a pleasant evening. If your gift recipient seemingly already has ‘everything they need’, give them a voucher for a massage, spa experience, theater tickets, or fine dining (combine it with offering to babysit their children for that occasion and you’ve got a winning gift!). If you’re in a position to splurge, gift someone a weekend away in a cabin or a luxury hotel, that basket weaving course they always wanted to attend, or even a skydiving excursion for those seeking more of a thrill. The possibilities are endless, all you need is your imagination and some quick brainstorming.
Give them a choice
A gift card is a classic, foolproof alternative to the standard gift. It is the best option for when you have only a general idea of your recipient’s tastes, interests, and values – all you have to know is whether they prefer to browse bookstores, boutiques, or perfumers. Of course, our Oakywood Gift Card is a fantastic present for everyone who is environmentally conscious, loves good design, and likes to surround themselves with high quality accessories.
Regardless of what you get and how you go about it, don’t leave it until the last possible minute. Give yourself enough time to scrutinize your shopping cart and make a conscious purchase – it’s the best gift you can give the planet.