How much should I spend on gifts while being sustainable? A Guide On Sustainable Gifting

How much should I spend on gifts while being sustainable? A Guide On Sustainable Gifting

4 minutes to read

Lydia holding up box full of plantish products

For many, this 2022 holiday season is one of the first times for us to fully enjoy gatherings, exchange gifts, and all those other fun holiday moments before COVID. It may be as fun as it was before but let’s be real, gift giving costs us more than just money. It brings anxiety, consumes energy, and takes hours and days even to find or decide on the right gifts. Being sustainable on its own is a hustle, not only for the environment but also for ourselves. So for folks who care about being sustainable during the holidays, it’s double the hustle.

This may be overwhelming but there are many ways to tackle this within your own journeys. Here are 11 different ways to help you take on gift-giving this holiday.


Family Exchanging Gifts

Sustainable for Energy

  1. Recognize that there's both a mental and emotional energy to gift-giving:
    • pressure and competition unintentionally created
    • anxiety and disappointment for both receivers and givers.
    • fear of gift not being used and its environmental impact
    • distraction from the true purpose and pleasure of togetherness;
  2. Lower expectations for how much joy or satisfaction can be brought by gifts, either as a gift receiver or giver. When expectations are lowered, you will be happier from both ends.
  3. If you don’t have a habit of tracking energy, you can even go as far as tracking how much time you have spent. This could be done through a task-based timesheet, including as many steps as possible, from research to delivery or just allotting a certain amount of time for it.

Plant growing in lightbulb in the earth

Sustainable for Earth

  1. Instead of purchasing something new, re-gift something to someone who would enjoy it, donate to their passionate causes or gift experiences they would enjoy. Gifting doesn’t always mean something physical. Sometimes it's the experiences or your time that can mean so much more.
  2. If you decide to purchase, think about something that's consumable, compostable or recyclable. We need to limit our options of consumables to food or drinks, especially since dietary restrictions change more often nowadays. Anything containing two liquids for instance will be heavier and larger, resulting in a higher carbon print. But shampoo, dish soap, or just hand soap bars can cover the same and much more.
  3. If you have been advocating for swapping some daily essentials for something more green, invite your friends and family to do the same.
  4. Have a discussion with your loved ones and even come to an agreement with family and friends not to exchange gifts. This can help reduce those unwanted gifts and save you money.
Mini Shopping Cart with a Little Piggy Bank Riding IT


Sustainable for Budget

  1. Have a general idea of how much money you’d like to spend on gifts for 2022. Make a list with a budget and add them up. If you can, track your time as well and you’ll have an idea of how much time you have spent on both shopping and thinking about it.
    1. Make sure you include yourself on that gift list with a budget too! Not only because you may see something you like, but also because I always encourage you to give yourself gifts, whether they cost money or not. It is equally important to allocate a budget and time to gifts for yourself.
      1. Be honest and authentic with yourself about how much money you need to spend vs how much money you want to spend. Even gifts under $10 can be lovely and thoughtful.
        1. Make a wishlist for future years. Yes, certain gifts can wait for next year, to ensure it is sustainable for your finances and that they are something you truly want.
          Shopping for Christmas on Mobile

          In the US itself, as much as 5.8 billion pounds of inventory that returned ends up in our landfill and it emphasizes now more than ever that we need to be more intentional about our spending.

          While some of these may take some time to get used to, these practices can help reduce those returns. And ultimately, the impact that we have on our planet this holiday season.

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