It’s that time of year! Buzzfeed and eco-journalists are writing articles sharing their Top 30 Eco-Friendly Christmas Gifts or Best Sustainable Fashion Brands 2023. While we love that sustainability is on-trend, we do have a friendly warning:
The #1 mistake eco-conscious buyers make is only focusing on sustainability labels!
Unfortunately, eco-friendly product labels do not make a gift sustainable! Oftentimes, these labels only refer to the way a product is produced. It does not consider how the product is used—or if it’s used at all!
A sustainable gift is one that the recipient actually wants and will use!
A truly sustainable gift is not:
… another travel mug
…. A reusable tote bag
……. A straw set
………. A pair of “eco” socks
…………. Or even something from us at Conscious Clothing!
Consider this: sustainable fashion at Conscious Clothing is certainly eco-friendly. But, gifting Conscious Clothing is not eco-friendly when you buy a dress for someone who never wears dresses! Instead of creating waste for the landfill, your well-intended gift has merely created waste in your friend’s closet.
So, how do you avoid this mistake? How can you give truly sustainable holiday gifts?
This blog post will teach you 3 rules for sustainable gift giving: make it thoughtful, useful, and impactful.
Rule #1: Thoughtful and Personal Gifting
First, think about who you are gifting this to.
What does this person compliment you on? Start there! People will notice what they find interesting.
- Does your friend compliment your casual, I-woke-up-this-way outfits? Or do they notice your dressed-up fits more?
- The same rule of thumb applies to non-clothing gifts: does your friend compliment the throw pillows in your home, or the scented candle burning in your kitchen?
Next, think about what your friend does to relax and have fun.
How can you help them do this more often, in their daily life?
- Pick the setting. Extroverts are re-energized by social interactions, while introverts require alone-time to refuel. Consider that your bubbly, talkative friend could actually be an introvert and vice-versus. It’s all about where you get your energy!
- In that setting, what do they like to do? Extroverts may appreciate a gift that enables and empowers them to socialize more (including simple dinner plans with you!). Introverts may appreciate a more relaxed gift, such as a Book of the Month subscription and a cozy cardigan to snuggle up in.
It's Simple: JUST ASK!
Don’t be afraid to “ruin the surprise.” People who appreciate sustainability truly appreciate intentionality! Share your heart. Tell them you’d like to honor their values this gift season, and you’d love some recommendations. While this can feel transactional, it’s really all about how you approach it.
Remember the purpose of gifting. Gift-giving does not need to be about consumerism or holiday expectations. It has the potential to show someone that you see them, you value them, and you notice what they care about. Use this opportunity to begin a conversation about sustainability, and I promise that your ecological friend or family member will be excited to share more about themselves with you!
Feeling awkward? Here’s a template to start with: “I’m thinking of you and how much you care about sustainability. It’s super cool and interesting! I’d love to surprise you with something you’ll love this holiday. Can you tell me more about some of the sustainable gifts on your wish list [or things you definitely don’t want]? I can’t wait to learn about this topic from you <3”
Our staff also loves Thrifting vintage finds! Pictured above is Audra, wearing a Conscious Clothing beanie with her latest vintage jacket treasure. For her, accessories like this would be the perfect gift.
Rule #2: Make It Useful!
First, consider what your friend complains about!
- Thinking about what ails your friend can guide you toward gifts that make their life easier.
- One of the biggest complaints is We never have enough! A few gifts related to time-saving are
What tools can support their daily routines and hobbies?
- Are you buying a gift for a parent who runs errands frequently? Consider an Audible subscription, or a Patreon membership to their favorite podcast.
- Are you buying for a frequent traveler? One of my good friends travels alone frequently, so I got her a subscription to the safety app Noonlight.
- What about gifts for people who work from home? Consider a cardigan that feels like a robe but looks professional for Zoom calls! Our Timberline Cardigan and Aspen Duster are perfect for this!
Do they already have it? Avoid Returns.
- Don’t risk them returning it. Everything from clothing returns to Amazon returns are oftentimes landfilled or burned which makes gift receipts one of the least sustainable holiday practices!
- When in doubt, find a brand that resells their returns! At Conscious Clothing, we carefully inspect our returns and resell them! If returns are damaged, we include them in our annual sale of flawed product.
Sometimes the best gift you can give is quality time with your friend or family.
Rule #3: Make Your Gift Eco-Friendly!
First, consider how it's made:
- Is the product made under poor working conditions? Does it rely on exploitation? Sometimes, it’s really hard to tell. But one easy method is to ask yourself “does this price make sense?”
- While a high price doesn’t always mean it’s ethically produced, a LOW price is a red flag. Consider that over 100 hands touch every garment before it reaches you! Does a price of $20 still allow enough profit for everyone involved? Probably not.
Next, investigate what it’s made of:
- Consider the product's fabric. Is it filled with chemicals, or are most of its components from plants?
- Major tip: avoid Recycled Polyester. While the “Recycled” word makes it sound eco-friendly, it’s still not the best choice: it’s still made of crude oil and requires intense chemical processing to turn the water bottles into synthetic fibers (more on that here!). Instead, shop fabrics with +90% plant-derived fibers.
Will it last long? Can it be resold?
- Gift items that can be resold: it’s the gift that keeps on giving! Shameless plug: Conscious Clothing sells for $150-200 on Poshmark!
Purchase quality items that can last for years and years! For clothing, this means buying well-made items with durable fibers.
Items like mugs, totes, inexpensive jewelry, and other stocking stuffers are not re-sellable. Think: if you brought this item to a consignment store, would they accept it? If not, it likely has low resale value.
A sustainable gift is not just earth-friendly. Sure, that’s a great place to start, but it’s not what truly makes something “sustainable.” A sustainable gift is THOUGHTFUL, USEABLE, and EARTH-FRIENDLY!
Need a hand? Below are some of our top picks from Conscious Clothing with 5-star reviews.
You can also shop by using real customer reviews and photos! Check out all Conscious Clothing reviews here.