“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” – Anne Lappe
Here are a few ideas and suggestions for less materialistic, more beneficial and values-driven gift-giving—for the holidays or any other occasion:
- Think about some non-commercial or non-material things you would like, and think about or ask your family and friends what types of non-material things they would like. On the SoKind Registry, you and others can create your own wish lists, which can include anything (not just new stuff), such as experiences/activities, time/assistance or services, handmade/homemade or homegrown goods, donations to charities (see #2 below), etc.
- Donate to charitable organizations in honor of the people on your gift list. You could pick a cause that you know they support. Some of our previous posts list various environmentally and socially beneficial organizations, including: broad-based sustainability orgs, and other lesser-known environmental and non-environmental orgs. You can also go to our Links page, or scroll down this blog’s sidebar to see lists of additional non-profits. And here are some other types of organizations you might consider: a refugee rescue organization (such as the IRC or UNHCR), wildlife conservation/protection group, animal shelter or animal rescue group, food bank, homeless shelter, women’s shelter, foster child or other children’s organization, seniors support organization, Meals on Wheels, a tree-planting organization, or a public radio/TV station. You could also give the TisBest Charity Gift Card, which allows the recipient to spend the funds on a charity of their choice (among 300+ options).
- When buying products, buy from small, locally owned businesses, green businesses, and/or businesses that are certified B Corporations or benefit corporations. A few B Corps that sell consumer products include: Patagonia, The Honest Company, Indigenous Designs, W.S. Badger, Alter Eco, Atayne, Better World Books, Saul Good Gift Co., Seventh Generation, Method, and Ben and Jerry’s. A couple of other socially and environmentally conscious companies include: PACT (apparel) and Newman’s Own Organics.
- Give the gift of information and inspiration: books! There are so many great books (and e-books) on sustainability topics. Here are a few recently published books you should check out:
Voices of the Wild: Animal Songs, Human Din, and the Call to Save Natural Soundscapes, by Bernie Krause (who also recently wrote The Great Animal Orchestra)
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert
Whatever you give as gifts, do your best to avoid buying cheaply-made, sweatshop-manufactured (labor-exploiting), toxic, disposable, or wasteful products and packaging. Instead, consider alternatives to buying new Things, and when you do buy products, look for Fair Trade or locally made, well-made and durable (or consumable), efficient, non-toxic, and needed or at least useful goods made by ethical companies, using organic, recycled, or natural materials and minimal packaging, whenever possible.
To get off of mailing lists for unwanted catalogs and junk mail, check out CatalogChoice.
For some additional green-gift suggestions, see these posts: