Helen Geckle / Gavel Media

The Gavel's Ethical Holiday Gift Guide

Every year, between Thanksgiving and New Years, household waste increases in the U.S. by 25%. This waste comes from wrapping paper, food waste, or even unwanted gifts. Researchers have described the holidays as “the world’s greatest annual environmental disaster.” That being said, there are certainly ways to spread holiday cheer and give meaningful gifts while still being environmentally conscious. If you’re anything like me and have exhausted Boston College merch as a gift for your relatives and are tired of lecturing said relatives on sustainable practices, giving gifts that inspire sustainability is a great route to take.

1. Cool vintage clothes on depop!

Shopping from depop is a great way to shop second hand and give clothing/other items a second life! I personally find that shopping for friends and family on depop helps me come up with meaningful and thoughtful gifts. My tips would be to search for vintage items relating to something you know the person you are shopping for likes! Some of my most popular and successful searches are ‘vintage Boston College,’ ‘vintage Philadelphia Eagles,’ or ‘vintage Elton John,’ and you can change any of these search terms to cater to the interests of whoever you’re shopping for. I’ve found that sellers are super open to negotiating prices, and that vintage tees and sweatshirts are big hits.

2. Vegan skin care, soap, and other personal care products from Meow Meow Tweet!

I know Meow Meow Tweet’s products are on my Christmas list this year. All of their products are reasonably priced, vegan and cruelty-free, as well as packaged in compostable containers. Meow Meow Tweet does not disaggregate their products based on gender, and every month, they donate proceeds to an organization that aligns with social and environmental justice causes. Nice hand soap or skin care with clean ingredients is a gift that’s bound to be put to use, and Meow Meow Tweet’s mission is one that you’ll feel good supporting,

3. Jewelry from Gorjana or Astor & Orion — two brands committed to ethical production.

There is no such thing as too much jewelry. These two shops have extensive collections with options for just about anyone you may be shopping for. From simple staple pieces to flashy statement pieces, Astor & Orion and Gorjana are staying on my radar this holiday season. Astor & Orion embodies a zero-waste production model, and their pieces are designed from recycled materials. These pieces are also compostable and produced in ethical conditions. Gorjana is committed to sustainability and carbon efficiency, as well as social justice. This business partners with local and national organizations to support at-risk communities, as this is a company committed to giving back. Historically, Gorjana has collaborated with and supported The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Toys for Tots. These two stores both have websites you can shop from, and Gorjana also has a store in Newton Center if you can’t bear to wait for shipping. These conditions all feel too good to be true for high quality, trendy jewelry! 

4. Gift a tree!

This is admittedly the least subtly eco-friendly item on this list. One Tree Planted plants a tree for every dollar you spend and allows you to choose someone to honor with these trees. This is more of a symbolic gift, but is certainly a worthwhile one in terms of restoring lost biodiversity and combating deforestation. You can choose how many trees you’d like to plant, and you will get updates on the tree’s life and their impact on the environment. 

5. Eco-friendly wrapping paper!

While this isn’t exactly a gift idea, using eco-friendly wrapping paper is a small way to be more environmentally conscious during the holidays. Extra cloth, old newspapers, or gift bags you may have saved from gifts you’ve received are likely supplies you have lying around somewhere to reuse to embellish a gift. Alternatively, Wrappily takes a stand against the waste and use of wrapping paper by producing recyclable gift wrapping supplies made out of reused materials. Their patterns are fun and festive, and they offer a wide range of gift wrapping supplies from wrapping paper to ribbon to gift bags. You can also purchase bundles to not only save money, but also to reduce the impacts of shipping by having everything come in the same package. 

Beyond this brief list, there are so many other businesses and organizations with awesome eco-friendly initiatives. If none of these ideas quite fit the criteria of whoever you may be shopping for, I urge you to prioritize sustainability with other gifts that you may be giving. Shopping second hand and looking into ethical missions of brands you may be purchasing from are good starting points for the gift search. Any and every action can make a difference and inspire further change! 

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