5 tips for sustainable gift giving

Whether it’s a birthday or graduation, housewarming or holiday, choosing the perfect gift can be a tricky business. Making sure that what we give is also kind to our earth is another thing to consider.


In Romans 12:1 it says, “Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.”  We are encouraged to worship God in all that we do - including our gift giving! 


Giving thoughtful presents is one way to show our appreciation for others, but it can also generate a stunning amount of waste: Americans throw away 25% more trash during the days between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, compared to the rest of the year. This extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week. 


God has blessed us with a beautiful world to care for and treasure. When we make small changes to live more sustainably, we’re valuing what God has given us and following Jesus in loving our neighbours as ourselves.


Here are a few tips that will help you choose gifts for friends and family that show how much you love them (and how much you care for God’s creation): 


1. Plants or seeds

If you’re looking for an environmentally-friendly gift, it doesn’t get any greener than a plant! Not only is a humble pot plant proven to improve air quality and give your mood a little boost, but it also serves as a beautiful piece of décor in any office or kitchen. For the more advanced gardener, you could give a food-producing plant, such as a tomato plant or herb like basil. And for your friends who very much missed the green-finger gene, there’s always a low-maintenance cactus or succulent. Bonus points if you give away a cutting or off-shoot from a plant you already own.


2. Reusable staples

Give your loved one a gift that helps them and the planet at the same time and purchase a fair-trade, eco-friendly, or recycled edition of something they use every day. Consider giving your coffee-crazy friend a reusable mug. Feeling crafty? Stitch up some handmade shopping totes or produce bags for your parents to take to the grocery store. Stuff a stocking with a compostable bamboo toothbrush, a metal safety razor, or sweet-smelling soap bar for a plastic free bathroom routine. 


3. An experience to remember

Nothing is more precious than the gift of time, so why not give away experiences to remember? Whether it’s admission to a live performance, entry to a cooking class, membership to a gym, or a voucher for a local restaurant, experiential gifts offer life-long memories without life-long waste! These kinds of gifts can also be totally free: consider gifting “coupons” to babysit a friend’s children, teach them how to play a sport or paint a picture, or even wash their car or cut their grass. 


4. Thrift your gifts

Second-hand clothing and furniture has come back into fashion in a big way. But buying thrifted isn’t just on-trend, it’s often a more ethical option! Hunting through your local thrift shop or resale app for pre-loved gems is a great way to give perfectly good objects a second life, and give your loved one a unique gift. While searching for a classic denim jacket in the right size, or a matching set of glasses can take a little more time, it will make the gift even more special. For more ethical shopping tips, check out this blog post.


5. A gift that changes the world

Want to give your loved one a gift that truly gives back to the world in a meaningful way? Make a contribution to an organization that is making a difference in an area they care about. 


Our Gifts That Do Good catalog is full of different ways you can contribute to long-term development projects which will help men and women gain the skills and resources they need to experience the fullness of life Jesus spoke about.


From a $15 gift of seeds that can provide food for a family, to a $200 gift to train pastors to fight poverty, there’s a gift for almost any budget.


You can shop our gift catalog online or call our team! When you make a purchase, you’ll receive digital cards to download, print, and give to your loved ones.

This post appeared in its original form at Tearfund Australia. Banner photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash