It’s reading period. Congratulations on making it to the end of the semester! This also means that Christmas and New Year holidays are right around the corner. The tradition of gifting to show appreciation is commendable, but excessive gift shopping can have a negative impact on the environment. It is estimated $16 billion are spent by Americans on unwanted holiday gifts that end up in the trash (MarketWatch). To curb this exorbitant waste, we need to reconsider our purchase habits during the holiday season. Here are three tips to help you become a more mindful shopper this year.
Don’t be afraid to ask. An important part of gifting is the surprise factor. However, we often end up giving undesirable items that will end up in the trash. To avoid this situation, you can ask people for their wish, whether bluntly or sneakily. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but you will be surprised how thankful people are to receive exactly what they want.
Give experiences, not things. You’ve probably been advised to buy experiences and not stuff, and there is a good reason for that! A study published in the journal Psychological Science found out that experiential purchases “tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases.” Another study found that shared experiences make people happier than experiences alone. What does this mean for your holiday gifting? Rather than buying your cousin a (yet another) ugly sweater, purchase a ticket for a theatre performance or a movie.
Give ethically sourced items. If you plan on giving products, make sure to purchase items whose manufacturing process has minimal negative impact on society, human and the environment. A great example of ethically sourced products is Patagonia gear. The company has used organically grown cotton for all its products since 1994, provides safe work conditions, and offers a repair program. If you are uncertain about which brands are sustainable, start by looking up the directory of certified B Corporations—companies with high standards of social and environmental performance that balance profit and purpose.
Written by Kelly Jean, Class of 2022