It may start with the way I shop or the way I use plastic, but bit by bit, my path towards sustainability has begun to lead the way I do just about anything in my life. I can not say that I live a sustainable lifestyle, but I try, to the best of my abilities, to work towards lowering my carbon footprint as much as I can.
Once we understand our lifestyle’s impact on the environment, we see how we can solve the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. I’m not saying that you will save the planet if you do everything environmentally conscious. I’m saying that the growing trends in environmental awareness can result in a healthier lifestyle for everyone involved. If we all, collectively, aim to limit our carbon footprint, we might just have the necessary impact. This impact, however, won’t only be felt by the environment but by the industries that are guiding the capitalist society we live in.
Fighting climate change would be easy if governments or industries pushed it, but that’s not happening. Not really. We see innovations happening all over the world, but they’re not being implemented globally on a large scale. As long as there’s profit to be made, we’ll have to deal with the repercussions of their profit. However, if we stop making them profits, they’ll stop making profits.
The bad thing about focusing on sustainability comes from becoming aware of how small your positive impact is and how difficult it can actually be to live a sustainable life. We’ve been surrounded by comfort our entire lives, and letting go of that comfort isn’t easy even if you look at your own home. What I mean to say is that a sustainable lifestyle may seem like it’s taking away from your life, when in fact, it does the opposite.
What is a Sustainable Lifestyle?
Some examples of sustainable living can be the Hjertefølger family or Greta Thunberg, but sustainability isn’t only about waste, pollution, and plastic. Sustainability covers a wide array of aspects of human life. Anything from your home to your work hours or working conditions of the manufacturers that supply your daily needs and where those products are made is important from a sustainability standpoint.
Sustainability isn’t only about eco-friendly light bulbs but about your source of energy. It isn’t only about being vegan but also about eating locally. It’s almost impossible to live a 100% sustainable lifestyle because the toothpaste you’re using comes from a factory in China, the t-shirt you’re wearing was made in Taiwan, and your mobile phone comes from Bangladesh. Those are just examples of sustainability factors we often overlook.
What you need to understand, however, is that feeling guilty is normal when it comes to understanding sustainability. We are all trying to do our best, however our best might not always be enough. But doing your best does have an impact. It can show the alternative to those around you, and, like that, your choices might make sense to them. Changing the world doesn’t happen overnight, and if you want to have an impact, you should always start with yourself. If Rome wasn’t built in a day, we can’t expect to change society in one either.
Gift a Sustainable Lifestyle
While not everyone is actively pursuing a lifestyle change, most of us are trying to limit the impact we’re having to a certain extent. For some, it might be purchasing healthy and locally sourced groceries, while for others, it’s staying away from single-use plastics, but we are all doing something. So giving green gifts that might limit their impact further while also showing them how practical it can be can go a long way. I’m not saying that you’ll completely change their lifestyle, but it will work to make them understand that a lifestyle change isn’t that difficult once we change the way we see things.
The following products carry a heavy punch because aside from the fact that they are practical, they can replace everyday products that contain polluting materials. These are products we need on a daily basis, which we use and replace frequently. However, if we replace them with eco-friendly alternatives, we may no longer need to replace them as often.
Reusable Water Bottle
There are many green alternatives to replace the plastic water bottles we get with every water purchase. Firstly, having a reusable water bottle won’t only decrease your plastic pollution but also save you money. Why purchase a plastic water bottle from the corner store or park boutique when you’re thirsty when you have a reusable water bottle filled from home in your bag? The options vary, but the safest variants seem to be glass bottles (albeit a bit easy to break), stainless-steel, or copper bottles. Some of these options also work to maintain the temperature of the liquid they hold, so the water won’t get warm if you don’t keep the bottle in the cold. These are great green gifts for people who like to enjoy the outdoors or have a lifestyle that requires them to be on the move for long periods of time.
I try to avoid gifting clothes as I don’t know if someone needs anything, and I try to promote an eco-friendly wardrobe. Besides that, everyone has their own individual clothing style, and I don’t like messing with that. However, if someone tells you they want some article of clothing as a gift, look into sustainable options with a lowered carbon footprint. Already used items can work as gifts as long as the item is in perfect shape, but organic cotton and a neutral pallet are a safe option to green-gift someone. Cornstarch or bamboo interchangeable toothbrushes are also options for green gifts, but it might depend on the type of relationship you have with the person. Your significant other, spouse, parent, or child might appreciate it, but it might be better to look at other options for friends. On the other hand, your significant other might like the gift, but something more interesting could be a better idea.
If you have a friend or someone you work with that bought their first home, any home-related gifts are welcomed. From the green gifts alternatives, we can look at eco-friendly bedding brands like Buffy or other local options you can find. A suggestion would be to avoid bamboo fibers as their production is highly polluting even if bamboo is a sustainable building material. Head towards organic cotton or hemp as both are highly sustainable and easy to manufacture into fibers. Reusable straws are great green gifts for someone who likes to entertain guests and host parties. Instead of plastic straws, those guests that need a straw in their drink can use bamboo, steel, or glass straws that come with their own brushes. There are even collapsible, reusable straws on the market that will take less space in the utensil drawer.
Any natural cosmetics are great choices for green gifts as every day we find out about another dangerous chemical that can be found in our makeup products. Since learning about PFAS chemicals, I stopped using anything that is water-resistant. It’s challenging to determine which brands use them and which don’t, so I stay away from that characteristic. However, we don’t have to swear off all make-up. Many natural alternatives are excellent as green gifts. Take a soap bar with a scent that person just adores. Go all in and get a lotion as well, shampoo, deodorant, and anything else they might need. The best thing about these products is that they come in biodegradable packaging, aside from only containing natural ingredients. Some of these products are so natural and safe that you can even eat them.
Energy consumption may not be as easy to reduce, but renewable energy sources are becoming increasingly more accessible. If replacing a roof may not be an easy gift to wrap, other things are. Your significant other will surely appreciate an eco-friendly solar watch. These refurbished options on the market work perfectly but cost less. However, if you want to go that extra mile, purchase a Soleus watch. These are powered by solar energy, meaning they recharge when sunlight lands on them or from artificial lighting as well. They only need two hours to charge, and the power reserve will last for six months. Made out of 100% recycled stainless steel, making it durable and hypoallergenic, these watches are taking the sustainability movement by storm.
Other solar-powered options are battery banks that charge in the sun, giving every busy individual or hiker the option to charge their phone or other gadgets on the go without needing an electrical outlet.
100% Recycled Notebook
As a writer, I often find myself needing to write something down. However, living in the era of technology, I can just take my phone and make a note of it. Still, some prefer writing things down with pen and paper. It might be a journal or just plans and organizers, but instead of the regular notebook, they could use a 100% recycled notebook. These can also be made from various eco-friendly materials. There is, naturally, recycled paper, but you can also find hemp, bamboo, and rock (yes, rock) as green gift options for your writer friend.
Thermal Coffee Cup
In this day and age, coffee is the fuel most of us need to function in society. It’s the elixir that can awaken someone from the grumpy morning state of mind to the happy-go-lucky soul that you wound up befriending over triple mocha lattes at the corner coffee shop. Seeing as we consume so much of our caffeine intake on the go, many of us purchase coffee in to-go cups. Around 16 billion disposable coffee cups are used in the US every single year. These are the cups that we buy every morning when we go to the office and throw them away once we drink the coffee. So for the use of less than 5 hours, we use these eco-friendly traps that will remain in our environment for centuries. Most of these cups are lined with toxic chemicals that prevent the cup from absorbing the liquid and stop the liquid from seeping through the material. Some of those chemicals don’t ever break apart in the environment.
Gifting someone a thermal reusable coffee cup will benefit them as those toxic chemicals will not enter their bloodstream but will also decrease the insurmountable pollution they cause. So, a reusable thermal coffee cup can make a big difference for every coffee drinking friend you have. They only need to remember to carry it with them when they go coffee shopping. These stainless steel travel mugs cut down on paper cup consumption, maintain the beverage warm for longer, and even have built-in sleeves to prevent coffee burns.
The Perfect Pot
Many people like to cook, and for some, the pots they use aren’t things they worry about. However, the materials some of these pots are made of or lined with aren’t exceptionally safe. After the truth got out about the PFOAs and PTFES (Teflon) chemicals that give pots and pans their non-stick properties and how they impact our health and the environment, manufacturers have been trying to figure out a way to make non-stick pans without those components.
The perfect pot is a non-stick Dutch oven pot that replaces up to eight cookware pieces without using those toxic forever chemicals. The user of this pot can cut down on the cookware crowding their kitchen cabinets as this pot works as a stockpot, strainer, steamer, braiser, and others.
Gift giving has to do with the feelings we have for someone and how we can add to their lives. If you want to be a sustainable, green gift giver, you must understand what that person needs and how sustainability can fit into their lives. For instance, I have a friend who has this water filter and a plastic water bottle she takes to her bedroom. While her water filter is too good to be replaced, the plastic bottle she uses needs a replacement. A reusable bottle that also works to keep bacteria and germs out of the water is perfect for her.
Sustainability is about the way in which we purchase and the reasoning behind the purchase. Having a sustainable lifestyle will become easy once you understand the difference between what you want and what you need. Learning to value the things that you own is easier than you might think. It’ll be a breeze once you understand that the two don’t need to mean different things.
Let us know in the comments below if anything sparked your interest from the gifts mentioned above. We know we all want to find that perfect gift for every person in our lives but, sometimes, the best gift can be as simple as some warm socks and their favorite cup of tea. Like & Share this article with friends and family and choose wisely. The winter holiday shouldn’t be about consumption but about spreading joy and love. Let’s all try to do that, at least with the people we hold dear.