I really love giving people gifts, but I really hate how commercialized the holidays can be. I tried pretty hard this year to make a lot of gifts or buy gifts that were handmade, recycled, re-used, or good for the earth and her inhabitants in some other way. So far it’s been a little tough, but rewarding! I thought I’d share some of my favorite meaningful Christmas gift sources.
So to begin with, I’m pretty much addicted to Etsy. Everything sold there is either handmade or vintage. I love supporting small business owners, especially those who put so much artistic work and feeling in to their products. If I’m being completely honest, this section is also partly a plug for my own Etsy shop, Armeria. Check out the handmade items that I have for sale!
Another personal favorite for gift giving, is making a donation to a charitable organization in someone’s name. Heifer International is a great organization that provides needy families with livestock and other resources (like honey bees!) that act as a reliable food source as well as a source of income. Making a donation in someone’s name is an effective, sustainable, and empowering gift.The nice thing about donating to Heifer International is that it can be done in affordable amounts. For instance, if donating the money to buy an entire sheep ($120) for a family is out of your price range, then you can choose to donate $10 towards the purchase of a sheep for a family. A flock of ducks or chicks only costs $20. Once you’ve donated, you can print a personalized Honor Card to give as a gift, saying that you’ve donated money in someone’s name to Heifer International. This is a fun gift idea for kids, and you can talk to them about how the gift is helping another child in a different country. It definitely gets at the spirit of Christmas!
Kiva is another one of my favorite gift giving sources. Kiva is a micro-financing organization that allows you to make small loans (starting at $25) to borrowers around the world to alleviate poverty. For example, I’m currently loaning $25 to this man, so that he can buy some pigs and start an animal husbandry business. He will gradually pay back the loan in full, at which point I can lend the money again to someone else. Kiva now offers Kiva Cards, which allow you to put money on a card and then give it as a gift. The recipient of the Kiva Card can browse the Kiva website and choose which borrower they’d like to lend the money to. The whole process is pretty fun!
My last recommendation for an earth friendly, slightly less consumery (< that should be a word) place to shop is the thrift store. I love thrift store shopping, but it is not for the faint of heart. At least 70% of the time you’ll come out empty handed. It’s certainly not the ideal place to shop if you have a specific item in mind, because there’s no guarantee that you’ll find what you’re looking for. But if you’re open minded, and don’t mind getting a little dusty, you can find some real treasures at low prices. Just a few weeks ago, I purchased something at a thrift store that was brand new, and still had the Urban Outfitters price sticker on it. The original retail price was $10.00, but I got it for $0.60. I like shopping at thrift stores and knowing that instead of creating more consumer demand for items that hurt the earth during production and shipment, I’m buying perfectly good re-used items that probably have some interesting history.
I’d love to hear your ideas for ways to make gift giving more special and/or earth friendly!