From the handmade revolution to new legislation about waste and packaging, society is gradually catching on to a more sustainable lifestyle. You can help educate and inspire your clients by making sustainability a priority this holiday season. If you need some convincing, here are a few compelling reasons to think about the source and life-cycle of your potential gifts*:
- According to Statistics Canada, 900,000 tonnes of garbage is produced between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year.
- The transportation of gifts that are produced on the other side of the continent or planet emits greenhouse gases that pollute our air and contribute to climate change. Furthermore, legislation on pollution and working conditions tends to be poorer overseas, where cheap goods are produced.
- Logging of old-growth forests to produce "virgin" paper products releases CO2 into the atmosphere and threatens animal habitat.
- Conventional plastic is a petroleum-based product that carries a triple-threat carbon footprint and is often not recycled or difficult to recycle. When plastic is recycled, the quality usually gets degraded (called "downcycling"), producing less valuable by-products.
- Regiftable stuff is better off loved by someone else than being a guilt trip in your closet.
BC’s local business alliance, LOCO BC, offers these surprising facts: Canadian local businesses "recirculate 2.6 times more revenue back into the local economy than multi-national chains." In other words, for every $100 you spend at a local business, $46 goes back into the local economy. This creates more jobs, among other benefits you can read about at LOCO’s website. If you’re a rather busy person, find a sustainable gift company in your area. (Vancouver’s Saul Good Gift Co. is a wonderful example.) Or, get a gift basket of local food from a socially- and environmentally-responsible company. If you’re unable to deliver your gifts in person, look for delivery services that use electric vehicles or bicycles.
When buying or making (because you’re a creative person) gifts to impress your clients, look for locally-sourced and sustainable, natural materials. (Look for the FSC symbol on wood and paper products, for example.) Go the extra mile and wrap your gifts in cloth using the Japanese art of furoshiki. It’s sure to make an impression! Also remember that the Rs are in fact: refuse (plastic), reduce, reuse/repurpose, recycle.
Visit craft fairs in your area, which tend to start in November, for handmade and sustainable gifts that are usually made by local artisans. These items often come with a story and promise to be more unique (read: memorable) than department store finds. You may find vintage items at these markets, but thrift stores, vintage speciality stores and raiding your grandmother’s attic (kidding) can yield interesting and personal finds at any time of year.
Instead of giving stuff, you could choose to give an experience (say a cheese-making class, a local outdoor destination, or cultural event tickets), or donate to a charity/cause your client cares about. Make sure you let them know with a card that you’ve done so.
For some green gift-giving etiquette, check out our post from last season.
Happy giving!* Adapted from a blog post by Erika Rathje on green gift-giving