CONTRIBUTOR: BONNY BUNSON
This time of year is always special. It’s a season for family and friends to gather, share in old or new traditions, and celebrate. Whether one is religious or not, we can all agree that the holiday season brings so much joy, and that joy is meant to be shared, with loved ones, friends, and even strangers.
A significant part of the holiday season is gift-giving. There are so many ways to give, whether through the gift of time by spending quality hours with family and friends, the gift of talent by using one’s skills to help others or to serve those in need, or the gift of treasure by spending money on presents or making a donation. Gift-giving is all about sharing the joy of this season. This holiday season, I’ve challenged myself to be eco-friendlier and more sustainable with my gift-giving, so that I’m also giving back to the environment. This blog post shares an affordable, accessible, and fun gift-guide for incorporating sustainability into the festive season and to help you to go green this holiday!
- Secondhand Treasures
Secondhand treasures make wonderful gifts! They are items that you already own but could benefit from a better home. We live in a commercial world of fast fashion and instant gratification where everything “new” implies better. I personally think the creative aspects of upcycling add an extra touch of thoughtfulness to gift-giving. We all know recycling (or upcycling) conserves natural resources and minimizes waste, and therefore, secondhand treasures are eco-friendlier.
A dear friend of mine once told me that books are meant to be read and not hoarded unless it’s a library. Have you read a book that you absolutely loved and enjoyed, but haven’t opened since reading it and now years have passed? Even resource books are opened from time to time. A book that has been personally enjoyed is a lovely gift to share with someone who hasn’t read it and could benefit and enjoy it. While the publishers or book sellers might not be very happy, a secondhand book is sustainable by not needlessly having to purchase a new one. Other secondhand treasures as gifts could include a stunning dress that no longer suits you or a handbag that doesn’t fit your style anymore.
- Sustainable Brands
Support and purchase gifts from sustainable brands! Concerns for the environment and for future communities have prompted many designers, manufacturers, and creators to provide products that are made consciously and eco-friendly. Take Alterre, a women’s designer footwear brand created by Harmony Pilobello and Shilpa Iyengar, offering interchangeable shoes that are sustainable. Not only does Alterre’s footwear use sustainable materials, such as recycled plastic and recycled denim, their designs are fashion forward, stylish, and comfortable for the modern professional woman. Trust me, I own not one, but three pairs of Alterre shoes! Thanks to its innovative shoe designs of interchangeable shoe straps, I was personally able to choose and incorporate two of Alterre’s shoe straps with one pair of Alterre mules to create three stunning pairs of shoes. It was like magic! And it was so much fun to “design” my own footwear from the numerous shoe straps Alterre offers. I’m heartened by Alterre’s responsible designs and materials while still feeling fashionable. Alterre footwear or an Alterre gift card is a fun, stylish, and sustainable gift that also brings the magic of the holidays!
- Natural Crafts
The environment has so many gifts to offer! I love taking long hikes or nature walks, especially during this time of year when fall becomes winter and there is so much natural foliage and so many tree branches that can be collected to create beautiful gifts, such as centerpieces, artwork, and crafts. I’m not particularly crafty, but I love creating a stunning floral bouquet or wild arrangement. For example, creating a birch wood wreath for someone is a wonderfully natural alternative to the traditional evergreen holiday wreath that’s still great for the indoors or outdoors. Plus, a birch wood wreath is utterly unique and can be kept forever. Other crafts could include pressed leaves or seasonal flowers. I love creating centerpiece arrangements using branches and other natural finds straight from the backyard. Crafts and other creations using available natural resources are an inexpensive, fun, and creative way for gift-giving sustainably.
Calling all cooks and bakers! Food gifts are a wonderfully easy gift idea that can be sustainable by using ingredients and types of foods that are provided or grown in such a way that minimize or limit their negative impact on the environment. These days, I can find a host of ethically grown or organically produced meat, poultry, and eggs. I’m vegan, so I focus on organic veggies, fruits, and grains that are produced by farming methods that avoid unnatural substances or synthetic chemicals, such as man-made pesticides, fertilizers, and GMO’s. Organic foods are more sustainable because they are more natural and protect the soil/environment from being harmed and overloaded with toxins. So, a perfect gift idea that’s delicious and eco-friendly, is cooking or baking your favorite recipes with only natural or organic ingredients. This year, I’m baking an organic and vegan Bûche De Noël to share with family and friends!
Cheers to going green this holiday!