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Gifting for the Environmentally Minded

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NOVEMBER 18, 2016

One of the criticisms often slung at the holiday season is its unabashed consumerism. Gift-giving is part of the holiday season, but it often gives us reason to pause and consider the amount of waste or environmental damage associated with holiday consumerism. In light of this, some of us may be tempted to try to find ways of fulfilling all our gift-giving obligations without aggravating the problems already being caused by global warming. Keeping in mind the environmental consciousness of the Berkeley population, we at The Daily Californian have some tips and tricks for getting you through the holiday season with minimal loss or damage.

Fair trade sources

One of the biggest guilt trips of gift-buying can be the knowledge that you are contributing to an economic model that is complicit in the oppression of workers in third-world countries and that utilizes non-environmentally friendly modes of production. Getting your family and friends fair trade gifts is one way of circumnavigating this dilemma. There are plenty of places in the Bay Area that offer fair trade merchandise, such as the Old Yak Bazaar in Elmwood, so stop by and do some browsing.


In a similar vein, buying presents at thrift or antique shops is another great way of reducing your carbon footprint while still finding some unique and interesting things for your loved ones. Even better, now that shopping at thrift stores for vintage wares is hipster-y and cool, your friends can even brag that your gift was way more unique than anything you could have gotten them at H&M. To make a good thing even better, keep in mind that thrift shopping can also help keep you from breaking the bank.

Handmaking gifts

This one is tricky. Obviously, to handmake presents you need to possess some sort of marketable or even mildly useful, creative skill (warning: this may require practice or learning). You can knit your friends matching beanie hats (or worst case scenario, matching scarves) or sketch portraits of your favorite places on campus. If that seems to punch a little above your skill level, there’s always the internet, where you can easily access sites that sell handmade wares.

Don’t wrap your gifts

It seems a little counter-intuitive — the way a gift is wrapped can really set up the perception of how much this person cares about the gift they are giving you. But the amount of paper used in wrapping presents is essentially a waste waiting to happen, as soon as it’s been carelessly ripped off and thrown in the trash. So skip the wrapping paper — it really doesn’t mean much if you think about it — and your friends will appreciate the favor you have done the environment we all hope to preserve.

Ivana Saric is the special issues editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ivanas26.

NOVEMBER 18, 2016