Every year I try to be better when giving out gifts. This year, however, I had the added challenge of also trying to have a low impact with my gifts on top of getting people thoughtful gifts they would love.
It proved to be a hard challenge, and sometimes I failed miserably.
I decided this year that I was going to buy some presents on Etsy. If you don’t know, Etsy.com is a site where people can sell their stuff that is either homemade or from a small business. I love buying on Etsy because you can talk straight to the owner/maker, and it is not from a big business that already has built an empire of a corporation. I also liked that I could comment to the shop owner and ask for them to ship without plastic or styrofoam.
Both a Fail and Win: Packaging
While I did put on every comment on every order from Etsy about shipping, only a couple followed through with my request. Some of them made sense- the wine glass I got for my cousin’s girlfriend came wrapped in bubble wrap as to not break it (but the rest was paper and a cardboard box!), but some did not. I bought a facial mask brush for my boyfriend’s oldest sister, and it came in one of those plastic packaging bags (however it was just the brush inside, so no added plastic inside).
I had to buy a few things on Amazon, which I try not to do anymore, but they usually send us stuff in a cardboard box now, thanks to this article here that I gave our email address to. They will automatically send an email to Amazon to ask for eco-friendly shipping, and have even more advice about Amazon’s packaging and shipping.
Other things I got in stores as opposed to online; Barnes and Noble, Target, a local bookstore, my own workplace, the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory, etc. I tried doing this when possible, but when you live in a small town and have finals before Christmas it is hard to find the items and times to go out buy locally.
All in all, packaging was mostly a success, but I have more to improve upon in the future. I think before I buy anything on Etsy next time, I will ask the shop if they are able to send without plastic or styrofoam before placing my order. I think this will allow me to shop even more consciously.
What I Bought People
I was also trying to be conscious about what it was that I bought people this year. Only things that could be used over and over again. I tried avoiding things that people would only use once or twice. Getting my boyfriend’s oldest sister a spa set, I ordered from vegan/zero-waste companies on Etsy. I got my Aunt a lunchbox she can take to substitute teaching. I bought my Mother a Japanese teapot because she loves drinking tea, and likes to make a pot every now and then. I bought my friend his first reusable straws, and my boyfriend some glass straws.
I must admit: some of the stuff I bought had plastic in it. Even though it was not single use plastic, it was still plastic. Documentaries for my Uncle, a Funko Pop for my boyfriend’s sister, the lunch box lining, a gift card for my Grandfather: there was plastic involved. It is something I will need to work on for next year. This year was very little single use plastic (packaging), but hopefully next year will be no plastic.
What I Received
I was grateful to receive a lot of things that didn’t have plastic in them this year! I got a Ukulele, some teas that came in no plastic, a mug, scarf and gloves, and more.
One of my new favorite finds is what my sister got me. It is a body lotion in a metal container. It came with a lid, and a pump, but when I need more, I can send in the bottle because it is refillable, and they will not send me a pump again. It is vegan, sulfate/paraben/palm oil free, biodegradable, and more. They even have a subscription option, which I might take advantage of in the future. She got me the Rosemary Mint Vanilla Body Lotion from PlaineProducts.com.
I did get a few things that are single-use plastics. And you know what? I still love the gifts. They were given to me by people who love me, and I am glad people got me gifts. I think I only got a handful of plastic I will have to throw away eventually. But I also know that next year I will probably get less because I am sure that people will know more about my low-impact journey. No one is perfect, and no holiday can be perfect. It is up to us if the small imperfections ruin our days or our thoughtful gifts from other people.
Merry Christmas! I hope you were able to get things that you can use time and time again, and that your holiday was as good as mine. Did you get anything that will help you on your low-impact journey?