As joyous as the holiday season is, it wreaks havoc on the environment. Some estimates predict Americans throw away 25 million more tons of garbage during the holidays than the rest of the year. These stats have pushed many into looking for more eco-friendly Christmas gifts to offset this trend. 

We’ll go over some ways to be more green during the holidays as well as give you 14 environmentally friendly gift ideas. 

What Causes Waste During the Holidays?

Let’s break down three sources that contribute to excess waste during the holidays.

Shipping Waste

eCommerce stores like Amazon and Etsy have forever made holiday shopping easier, letting you do your shopping on your couch in a matter of minutes. But the convenience you enjoy puts a dent in mother nature.

Mountains of plastic shipping envelopes, cardboard boxes, and other packaging materials cascade our landfills during the holidays.

Shopping Waste

Even if you opt for in-person shopping, there’s still quite a bit of unnecessary waste.

All the shopping bags you get from the stores either clutter your home or get thrown in the bin. Additionally, all the driving you and thousands of other people do to complete your shopping puts tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

Wrapping Waste

Finally, the wrapping paper you use to present your gifts can have unintended consequences. For starters, most wrapping paper can’t be properly recycled, meaning it either goes into your garbage or the fireplace. That’s a lot of trees getting chopped down for about five seconds of enjoyment.

How You Can Reduce Your Footprint This Year

Why are we telling you all of this? It’s not to make you feel guilty about the way you usually celebrate the holidays. Rather, we feel it’s important to simply be aware of trends so you can get a better idea of how seemingly insignificant actions can have a big impact on the environment.

But how can you be more green this year? Here are some ideas:

  • Reuse gift bags and boxes: While it’s hard to reuse wrapping paper after it’s torn to shreds, the boxes and bags your gifts come in can easily be reused. Just throw them in a bin until next holiday season. 
  • Bring totes during your shopping sprees: Have a few reusable shopping bags on hand when you’re out and about venturing through the holiday deals.
  • Get recycled gift wrap: Is wrapping paper a non-negotiable for your holiday traditions? Not a problem—recycled wrapping paper can still have some awesome designs and comes from post-consumer waste.
  • Decorate naturally: Dried leaves, pinecones, and sprigs of evergreen trees can bring your home into the holiday spirit just as easily as tinsel, plastic trees, and other non-sustainable decorations.
  • Skip the knick-knacks: We love a good stocking stuffer, but too many of those smaller knick-knacks are made of plastics and have a lot of unnecessary packaging.
  • Shop local: Many local businesses use much less packaging than their enterprise competitors. And while you’re contributing towards greener holidays, you’ll also support small businesses that have had a pretty rough last couple of years.
  • Use energy-efficient lights: When illuminating your yard or inside your home, invest in LED holiday lights. These require significantly less energy than traditional holiday lights and will last you much longer.

14 Environmentally Friendly Gift Ideas

Wouldn’t it be great if your passion for an eco-friendly holiday was reflected in the gifts you gave? Check out these 14 ideas for giving gifts to environmental activists in your life.

Handmade and Remade Gifts

A sure way to give an eco-friendly Christmas gift is to make it yourself. The following seven gifts are creative ways to do just that.

1. Knitted Gifts

Knitting blankets, scarves, and beanies alike are fantastic handmade gifts that can easily be personalized to the recipient.

2. Upcycled Items

Upcycling: taking things that could otherwise be thrown away and making something creative. For example, you may take some old two-liter soda bottles and turn them into herb planters.

3. Potted Plants

Have some plants in your garden you think could use a new home? Dig them up and transplant them into a simple pot.

4. Homemade Treats

Everyone loves eating during the holidays (whether they admit it or not). Sharing your own recipes will just spread that cheer even more (bonus points if you use locally-sourced ingredients).

5. Seed Bags

Make your own seed bags with some paper or fabric bags. You may gift them from your own personal seed collection, or find some from a local nursery.

6. Bird Feeders

You don’t have to be a master craftsman to create a bird feeder that anyone would love. You can build something as simple as a tray or even upcycle some old milk jugs.

7. Homemade Candles

Making beautifully fragrant homemade candles is easier than you might think. All you need is wax, wicks, containers, fragrance, and some skewers to fill your loved one’s house with a wonderful aroma.

New Gifts for the Eco-Obsessed

If you want to spend a little more money on a new gift while still promoting environmental stewardship, these environmental Christmas gifts are great places to start.

1. LARQ Water Bottle

The world’s first “self-cleaning” water bottle, LARQ bottles are a great option for friends looking to cut down on their plastic usage.

2. Rechargeable Batteries

While more of a stocking stuffer, rechargeable batteries help kids and friends who rely on battery-powered devices to cut down on their usage of disposables.

3. Sustainable Hiking Boots

These hiking boots by Merrel are made from sustainable materials and can also encourage the recipient to go out and enjoy the outdoors to their fullest.

4. Air Purifiers

For those who want their air to be as clean as their environmental habits, air purifiers remove harmful particulates from the surrounding air.

5. Tumbling Composter

Don’t let food scraps go to waste! Tumbling composters let you deposit all sorts of organic material and turn it into mulch for gardens and flower pots.

6. Portable Solar Chargers

Hang these portable solar panels in a window to harvest the sun’s energy for your phone, computer, or anything else you need to be charged.

7. Reusable Sandwich Bags

Never overuse plastic again—reusable sandwich bags are the perfect remedy for those who want to pack a lunch without wasting resources.

Go Completely Green—Get Renewable Energy

These sustainable gift ideas should give you a good idea of what to get your friends or even what to put on your own Christmas list. 

Another way to go green this season? Switching to renewable energy. Doing so with Kiwi Energy ensures a percentage of your energy bill goes directly towards renewable energy sources.

Contact us today to learn more about switching to renewable energy.