Are you already passionate about the planet, or just now leaning into this “shop green” conversation?
Are you committed to reducing your carbon footprint, or have you just begun to notice all the plastic water bottles littering our world and say, WTH?
Either way, if you care about the environment, the year-end holidays can pose a massive challenge. With its leaning towards overconsumption, over-packaging, and lots and lots of waste when the party’s over, some of our traditional habits can make us feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction.
For some of us, we’re looking for a different way to do it.
And, this holiday season, we have lots of opportunities to shop in new and different ways — ways that favor the planet more than threaten it. Even better: it’s possible to shop green and still completely wow loved ones and friends!
The rise in social enterprise companies has combined with the greening of the American consciousness. Today, a wide range of new products can satisfy every consumer’s needs while being gentle on the environment.
There are a few reasons why many of us are thinking about this more intensely today:
1. Eco-friendly products are better for the environment
By shopping for eco-friendly and sustainable products, you reduce your carbon footprint. Their production often uses less energy, which helps conserve our natural resources. Eco-friendly products are often made using recycled materials, which extends the life cycles of these materials and keeps them out of landfills.
2. Eco-friendly and sustainable products are better for your health
Eco-friendly and sustainable products, by definition, are not made of harmful chemicals and toxins that can harm human health. To be certified eco-friendly, they have to pass this bar. Plus, the value of brands that strive for sustainability is to be all-natural and kind to humans, animals, and plant life. While more can be done to have full transparency for the public, you can pretty much count on U.S.-produced products to fulfill their sustainability promises.
3. Sustainably-sourced products often last longer than conventional products, saving you money in the long run
Besides using fewer natural resources in its manufacture and shipping, another goal for an eco-friendly product is extended life and utility. So expect these items to be around longer. “Fast fashion” is trying to train us to swap out clothes every year. But high-quality, eco-friendly products — from natural or recycled materials — are being built with longevity in mind. That is partly the point!
4. When disposed of properly, eco-friendly products help reduce pollution and output to landfills
When it comes to the mountains of trash we all create, there are a few things we can do to contribute less of it to landfills. Consider the following questions:
- Can the product be recycled? Many eco-friendly products can be, so when purchasing (or before you dispose of them), check to see if this is an option.
- Can the product be repurposed? If the product can’t be recycled, see if it can be reused in some way. For example, use old T-shirts and linens as cleaning cloths or turn an empty glass jar into a vase.
- Can the product be composted? Composting is a great way to dispose of organic waste, and many eco-friendly products are made from organic materials.
- Can the product be used by someone else? We are famous for throwing out things that still have a useful life! But think: maybe someone else could make use of it! There are plenty of community websites and groups where you can donate unwanted items — and where your gift is tax-deductible and benefits others. Some people make a real game of this: Swap parties are a blast, and neighbors get the novelty of shopping in each other’s closets.
- Would someone else be willing to pay for the product? Sell it. Online marketplaces abound where you can sell unwanted items, including ones for social enterprises, like GoodCarts or Faire. Then there are flea markets, farmer’s markets, and swap meets are still a thing — if you like to connect in person, this is your jam.
5. Buying eco-friendly and sustainable products supports environmentally-responsible businesses
Shopping your values helps demonstrate market demand for these types of products. It also helps these typically small businesses increase their economies of scale — since the more customers they sell to, the smaller their per-item costs of production.
6. Packaging used for eco-friendly products is usually either recyclable or compostable, which helps reduce waste
Packaging is a significant component of the waste generated by holiday shopping. From the product package to the shopping bags, to the wrapping paper to the mailing carton, to the plastic bag where you toss the trash when the unwrapping is over… it can be a lot!
Well, most products designed with sustainability in mind will come in packaging you can feel good about — recycled, recyclable, compostable or reusable.
7. Eco-friendly products tend to be more practical than ornamental
Some year-end holidays have come to be orgies of overconsumption, especially in the United States. We buy a lot of silly things just to be able to give people a present. But, honestly, do most people you know need more stuff?
If you have a practical streak, you can choose green gifts with long- or short-term utility. Examples are 100% wool socks, which can look new for years, or disposable but elegant serving ware made from biodegradable materials like bamboo, cork, or wood.
PLUS: 18 Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for the Nature Lover on Your Holiday Shopping List
Because more and more of us are becoming environmentally conscious, the market is responding with more products we can feel good about.
- Reusable grocery bags
- Recycled paper notebooks
- Plant-based laundry detergent
- Glass water bottles
- Bamboo toothbrushes
- Beeswax food wraps
- Compostable coffee filters
- Reusable metal straws
- Stainless steel water bottles
- Wooden cutting boards
- Cotton dishcloths
- Linen tea towels
- Recycled glass vases
- Wooden toys
- Hemp blankets
- Fair trade chocolate
- Organic cotton
- Recycled plastic umbrellas
Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose: Other Places to Shop
From clothing to housewares to building materials, when you need something, think “gently used” instead of new, and try one of these sources — or the many others like them.
- Goodwill (thrift store)
- Value Village (thrift store)
- ThredUp (designer fashion)
- Patagonia (outdoor clothing for nature lovers)
- Habitat for Humanity (building materials)
- Second Chance (building materials)
- Vehicles for Change (used cars and trucks)
When you choose eco-friendly gifts for the people on your shopping list this holiday season, you are doing something great for the environment, your community, and the world at large.
And by choosing products that have a light carbon footprint, you’re voting with your wallet for companies that prioritize sustainability and ethical business practices.
So why wait? Start shopping green today!
If you are looking for high-quality, eco-friendly clothing and accessories for nature-lovers on your shopping list, a.c.e, Nature is here to help!