Alternative Gift-Giving Ideas

Buying and receiving gifts is an important thing to many people. Gifts can be used as a way to express thanks, gratitude, love, and celebration. For most of us, it’s a way to show others that we care. Unfortunately, gift-giving also has the potential to be an incredibly wasteful practice.

Did you know that 34% of Americans will return gifts they receive during the holidays? 15 million metric tonnes of carbon is emitted as a result of returned items every year—yikes! Many of those returned items will never be resold and often end up in the landfill, 5 billion tonnes annually.

Perhaps it’s time to think outside the box (literally) and get creative with your gift-giving. Gifts can come in many shapes and forms, and it may not have a shape at all! Here are some fun ideas on how you can reduce gift-giving waste.

Make Something

Is there anything more meaningful than a handmade gift made with love? It’s a fun way to be creative too. Some ideas may include: cooked meals, baked goods, preserves, a scrapbook/memory book, upcycled picture frame, knitting/crocheting, sketch/painting, short story, poem, etc.

Give a second-hand gift

It doesn’t always have to be brand new! Some ideas may include: heirlooms, vintage items, collectibles, favourite band shirts, memorabilia, etc.

Enjoy an Experience Together

Spend time together doing something special; enjoy a meal together, plan an outing, take a class or workshop together, visit a local garden or conservation area, go to the movies, get tickets to a concert/play, etc.

Give the Gift of an Experience

Give the gift of a fun or relaxing experience the recipient can enjoy on their own. Ideas may include passes to a yoga or fitness class, massage or spa services, art lessons, cooking classes, babysitting services for a night out, and more!

Food & Drink

People love to eat and drink, and it can be a great option for reducing waste. Buy locally brewed beer, wine, or mead. Buy bird-friendly coffee, share produce from your garden or make baked goods (in plastic-free packaging), etc.

Native Plants or Seeds

They make a lovely gift and are wonderful for supporting local biodiversity too. Gift cards to local nurseries are a great alternative if you aren’t sure what to look for. Wildflower seed packets make great wedding favours and party giveaways too.

Gift Cards

These don’t eliminate waste that is produced as a result of mass consumerism, but they do prevent unnecessary returns and allow the recipient to make the best choice for themselves. (Bonus if they offer waste-free e-gift cards!).

There are lots of great local businesses that you can support too! The Downtown Burlington gift card (the new program funded by Shop Local) is a great way to support small local businesses right at home.

Zero 0r Low waste gift wrapping

Check out our short 1 minute video with our top eco-gift wrapping tips, to help you avoid waste through the holidays and all year long. 

We hope these alternative gift giving ideas inspire you to think outside the box and take gift-giving to a whole new environmentally-friendly level!