Giving gifts for the holidays sure feels good. Searching for that perfect present puts us in the seasonal spirit and allows us to be part of the hustle and bustle. It's even better when the receiver is as smitten about your hard-earned find as you are. But that's not always how it plays out. Returns are the reality of the holiday season.
The Impact of Gift Returns on the Environment
For e-commerce gifts alone, the return rate can be as high as 30%. This cycle costs retailers and product companies a bit, but the environment is the biggest loser. Some 5 billion pounds of gift returns end up in landfills after each holiday season. The impact doesn't stop there. Beyond the resources eaten up before those items even hit the shelf, 1.6 billion gallons of diesel fuel are burned to deliver them, which causes 15 million metric tons of CO2 pollution.
How to Shop Greener During the Holidays
Getting rid of the gift-giving ritual of the holiday season is not just absurd and kind of Grinchy; it's wholly unattainable too. Giving is simply too embedded as a reason for the season. But there are approaches to holiday gift giving that have the potential to at least reduce the impact of holiday waste. Re-gifting, for instance, is about as circular as it gets. Another idea is just to buy less. If the minimalist millennial movement taught us anything, it is--less if more--after all. Both strategies we champion, but we'd like to add one more to complete the trifecta: buying green. Products that are already sustainable, circular, or consumable reduce holiday waste that much more and support companies trying to "be the change." We like the idea so much that we created a sustainable gifts list for everyone on yours.
Sustainable Gift-Giving Guide by Speck Design
We love the products below are made with attention to sustainability in their materials, shipping, and/or packaging or are a service or consumable. Are they 100% impact-free? No, but these companies are putting in the work and changing the status quo.
The Bamboozle bowls come in a five-color set and are perfect for everything from meal prep to snacking. So whether you're looking for a gift for a cook or crafter, this durable, dishwasher-safe collection is sure to please. Undeniably beautiful and so much more, Bamboozle bowls are responsibly made of biodegradable bamboo fiber.
Tennis balls are one of those sneaky disposable items that nobody really thinks of as wasteful. But they are, and HearO is trying to reduce some of that with their blue tooth speaker made from repurposed tennis balls from championship matches (like Wimbledon). With high-end, modern looks and quality sound, this is an excellent gift for tennis players, audiophiles, or pretty much anyone else.
The merits of a cheese box don't really need explaining, especially when each of the seven selections is made with top-notch milk from a single herd of cows. Dilly bean, raspberry mostards, savory onion confit, sea salt flatbread crackers, salted almond farmhouse crisps, and jams! We love that this gift is consumable and delicious and know that because of this, it's very unlikely to get returned. Have it delivered before the holiday so recipients can bring it to parties or even gift out themselves: it's the gourmet cheese circle of life.
bFRIENDS Table Hook
Can a table hook for handbags, backpacks, and/or headphones be a work of art? Yes, And so is every other creation from The bFRIENDS collection of sustainable 3D printed accessories made from recycled bioplastic. Gorgeous and great for keeping your gear off the ground, this gift gives and gives and gives.
Nothing says I care like giving the gift of delectable "season's eatings! Made in Beverly hills with a mix of European tradition and California craftsmanship, this stunning collection of fine chocolates is hand painted, ethically sourced, and comes in gift-ready packaging. So getting a present like this is about as sweet as it gets!
ReRope eco-positive pet products use upcycled textile remnants to create eco-positive pet products. We are almost 100% sure there is a dog or cat lover on everyone's holiday shopping list. Since we are also pet lovers ourselves, we are also 100% sure they will love a cool, colorful, Rerope creation for their furry friends more than a pair of slipper socks for themselves.
Soft and flexible but still rigid enough for kids to build their wildest creations, these bright interlocking felt building blocks are made with upcycled felt made from recycled water bottles. They were designed by a Speech Language Pathologist to better provide play resources and minimal impact. Besides being a lovely and circular way for kids to let their imagination run wild--they hurt a lot less than legos when parents step on them--a great selling point!
An excellent gift for the chef in your life or the cook in your own house, these colorful BPA-free cutting boards will fit right into any kitchen they grace; not only are they gorgeous, but they are made entirely of kitchen plastic scraps and renewable sugarcane. Beyond the laudable sustainability of this product is the fact that they donate 50% of their profits Heart of Dinner, which delivers meals to elderly people in NYC.
The trucks from Luke's toys are simple, old-school, and modular--all the things kids love. They look pretty fun to play with and educational too. But, what parents and those looking for environmentally friendly kid's gifts will like best is they are made from 30% organic materials like sawdust and walnut shells. Also, they are BPA and Phthalate-free with color molded in, not painted on to chip and peel.
We couldn't make a sustainable gift list without putting a cheery spirit on it! A fine oak-aged 2020 blend of Syrah, Valdiguie, and Negrette, we are confident this bottle of wine will not be wasted. However, this brand goes beyond no-waste, with $2 per bottle sold going to relief efforts in Ukraine. So, the lucky person you gift it to will feel warm in more ways than one when they imbibe.
Combined with the aforementioned holiday-giving strategies, greener gifts are a great way to make the holiday healthy and bright. As a product design consultancy, Speck Design takes pride in our commitment to human-centered, sustainable products and hope this gift guide has helped you find something perfect for the people and planet you love.