It’s mid-December and if you’re a procrastinator like me, it’s time to finish up that last minute holiday shopping! As part of a series I’m doing this month on how to celebrate the holidays in an environmentally conscious way, I want to talk about being an eco-friendly giver.

Did you know that Americans produce 25% more trash during the holiday season? And as many as 45% of Americans never use some of their Christmas gifts.

Here are a few tips I’ve been following to reduce my environmental impact while I shop for gifts this season:


1) Be mindful.

mindful christmas list | eco-friendly holiday |
It’s so easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit and go gift-crazy, but don’t get carried away with buying. My mom LOVES Christmas and she LOVES shopping, so when I was growing up, we’d each get 10-15 presents plus stockings overflowing with stuff. Don’t get me wrong, it was so fun and exciting as a kid on Christmas morning, and I’m so appreciative of the experience she was trying to give us, but it was a very extravagant way to celebrate. And a lot of times, we would play with those toys once or twice before getting sick of them and dumping them in the back of the closet.I inherited my mom’s style of celebrating Christmas and for a while it was all about the more is better philosophy of gift giving. It felt skimpy to only give one gift, so I’d tack on a lot of filler gifts to make the piles look more abundant.These days, I am trying to be more mindful when I buy gifts for my family and friends. My new giving philosophy is one thoughtful gift is better than five filler gifts. At the beginning of December, I sat down and made a list of what I wanted to get each person in my life, and I’m sticking to it.

2) Give an edible gift.

chocolate chip cookies | granola | christmas tin | edible gifts |
These days, I would welcome an edible treat instead of another candle, bar of soap or ornament. If you enjoy baking, try your hand at some homemade cookies or granola. You can skip the plastic and put them in a decorated mason jar or reusable tin.If you’re not much of a baker, support a local bakery and get your treats there. You can bring your own reusable tin to use instead of the paper box they provide.

3) Give an upcycled gift.

upcycled glass paperweight | eco-friendly giftwrap |
You can help reduce waste that would end up in a landfill by gifting presents that are made from repurposed items. Try your hand at making your own or check out my list of upcycled presents that you can buy.

4) Give an experience.

babysitting coupon | eco-friendly wrapping |
Technically, your gift doesn’t have to be something physical. Sometimes the gift of an experience can be  more appreciated than anything else. The absolute best present I received last year was a coupon for a night of free babysitting. My husband and I almost never get a chance to go out without the kids so it was more valuable to me than all the clothes and electronics we were gifted.

Try giving out tickets to a movie, concert or play. A gift certificate for a massage or day at the salon would be great for a lady in your life. And if you have little ones to buy for, try tickets to a children’s museum, the zoo or an amusement park. Or better yet, tell their parents you’ll watch their kids while they have a date night.


5) Use eco-friendly wrapping.

Eco-friendly gift wrapping | newspaper and paper bag |
Once you’ve collected the gifts for everyone on your list, forego the wrapping paper and wrap your items with eco-friendly materials. Think old newspapers, books, maps, scarfs, dustbags, etc. Get creative!

Do you have anything to add to the list? I’d love to hear how you’re being environmentally conscious this holiday season!