More joy, less waste this holiday season

Gift-giving during the holidays doesn’t have to be full of wasteful plastic. Here are some low-cost, recycled, and low-waste gift ideas to help you buy less and give more.

Beyond plastic

This time of year, we’re bombarded with advertisements urging us to buy as much as we can. The messages tell us this is how to bring us and our loved ones joy.

But is that really true? Do we have to participate in an endless cycle of consumerism in order to enjoy the holidays or show our friends and family we care about them?

For some people, buying less and wasting less don’t have to mean giving less over the holidays. If you’re one of those people, here are some gift-giving ideas.

1. Pre-loved gifts

Gifting pre-loved items is a wonderful way to show how much you love the recipient … and the Earth. Online groups like Buy Nothing or Freecycle allow you to get items for free from your neighbors who no longer need them. Or, you can find local, low-cost, pre-owned items on local Nextdoor sites, Facebook, yard sales, thrift stores, or even on the sidewalk.

2. Repaired gifts

It’s likely there are plenty of things around your family’s and friends’ homes that they once loved but are now collecting dust because they broke or need maintenance. Getting an item repaired or serviced puts it back into use, rather than leaving it to eventually be discarded, and is also a great way to make sure the recipient will actually enjoy and use their gift.

3. Shared gifts

Some useful things are expensive and only occasionally used: cars, bikes, scooters, tools, etc. A gift membership or other access to a shared resource can meet the same needs for less cost to consumers and the planet. When you give someone access to one of these services, your recipient gets to choose how and when to use their gift while still making their life easier.

4. Upcycled gifts

Upcycling is a form of recycling where you take items that would otherwise be thrown away and use them to make something new. This is different from mending or fixing something because the goal is to make something entirely new. Using your creativity, you can make something out of materials that you already have around the house or that you can find easily and inexpensively or even for free.

Not only can you give a kind and exciting gift without spending a ton of money, but your recipients will appreciate your thoughtfulness about protecting the environment. You’ll feel better too, knowing you gave a gift that doesn’t add to the waste stream.

Explore even more ideas for meaningful and sustainable holiday gifts with our full Buy Less, Give More guide:

From making the holiday season healthy and sustainable, to campaigning for bans on the worst kinds of single-use plastic year-round, and beyond – all of our work to tackle the plastic waste crisis is powered by supporters like you. Will you donate today to keep these vital campaigns going strong?