Gift gifting is a major part of US culture. In fact, it’s such a prominent part of our lives; it’s a staple in many studies on human behavior. Psychologists say giving gifts is a complex and important part of human interaction. It helps define relationships and fortify bonds between people. What these studies don’t do, however, is define what a gift needs to be in order to have an impact.
Thoughtfulness really does make a difference. Hate to shop? Don’t like crowds? It’s OK; you can still reap the benefit of giving the perfect gift to a loved one. You just have to think outside the gift box.
According to Recycling Works and the EPA, from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons – it all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills.
But it doesn’t have to. The increased trash can stop without decreasing your gift-giving ways. Giving an experience or planning a fun activity is a great way to give someone you care about a present without producing piles of trash. Not only does it show them that you’ve truly thought about their interests, but you can reduce your environmental impact and the amount of trash that ends up in our landfills as well.
Here are some fun ideas to try:
- Concert or sports tickets
- Groupon/Living Social – get a deal and a memory with an activity like a cooking class – be sure to bring your own containers for those delicious leftovers you’ll be sure to have!
- Charitable Donation – have a passionate activist in your life? Make a donation to their favorite charity in their name.
- Yard work – give your parents a weekend of yard work
- House Cleaning – give a friend a virtual house cleaning pass to be redeemed prior to an in-laws visit
- Dog walking duties for a week
- For a new Mom and Dad: Babysitting for a night out on the town (be extra nice and include a gift card to their favorite restaurant)
- Cooking, language or music classes
- A weekend of camping or eco-tourism
- Plant a tree
- Make a slideshow of your favorite pictures together
These gifts don’t require a gift box or any wrapping, which means no stray ribbons will make their way to the ocean, where they could post an entanglement or choking risk to wildlife. Your loved ones will be thankful for the extra thought you’ve put into making the holiday special for them and for the planet.