Give With a Sustainable Heart

November 2023 - Natural Home

Let ethics be your guide this year with socially conscious, philanthropic or eco-friendly gifts. When you gift with a kind and sustainable heart, you choose to do no harm and, chances are, you’ll save money, too.

Stand on Higher Ground

Before you shop, consider your criteria for sustainable gift-giving that fits your values.
• Do you want to buy local? Give something you made? Regift, repurpose or give an experience?
• Will you choose products made with organic ingredients or renewable or recycled materials?
• Should you donate to a not-for-profit organization to help others? A nature conservancy to protect fragile ecosystems or species, or support for people displaced by climate change?
• How will you wrap or present your gift?

Creative Licence

There’s nothing like a special, handmade gift to show you care:
Kitchen crafts
• Bake cookies, bars or loaves. Make preserves, salad dressings, flavoured oils or your special granola combo.
• Bake freezable casseroles, soups and pies in a reusable container or assemble the ingredients and the recipe for a favourite dish.
Handmade crafts
• Make your own or support a local maker with a knitted scarf, soap or jewelry. Try making beeswax food wraps or a decorative, punched tin can with a soy candle for a unique, outdoor lantern.
Personalized gifts
• Create a beautiful card, photo album or a print booklet of your favourite recipes.
Homemade beauty
• Make your own natural beauty products: essential-oils bath salts (paired with a loofah), soap, lotion, or lip balm.

Buy Local

Support a local maker or independently-owned store to keep the close-to-home economy thriving and reduce the environmental impact of long-distance transportation.
• Craft markets for under-one-roof inspiration for everyone on your list
• Craft brewers and distillers offering seasonal flavours for thoughtful house gifts
• Customized gift baskets; stuffed with made-in-BC treats like jams and chutneys, wine and cheeses, tucked into a re-purposed or thrifted basket
• A wild garden: packets of native wildflower seeds in a pretty ceramic pot or a tree planted in someone’s name


Thrifting is a treasure hunt for kind-to-your budget gifts, and a way to support a local, non-profit community organization. Look for:
• Old music books, magazines, maps, scarves and tea towels for gift wrap
• Vintage glassware and dishes, jars, baskets for kitchen craft gifts
• Décor for home and garden
• Clothing and accessories
• Artwork and craft supplies
• Books, toys and games


Regifting is the practice of giving a gift that you have received to someone else. While some consider re-gifting to be impolite, it is a way to save money and reduce waste when done with thoughtful guidelines:
• Receive all gifts with gratitude and, if it’s not for you, consider who would love it.
• Put it away for at least six months. Write a tag identifying who gave it to you and when, so that you don’t give it back to the recipient or to someone in the same social circle.
• Only regift items that are in excellent condition.
• Remove tags or packaging that could reveal the gift’s original source.

Chalk it up to Experience. Give a meaningful memory:

• Theatre, concert, movie or sporting event tickets
• A well-being-themed class: cooking or crafts, singing, dancing or fitness, a second language or gardening skills
• An audio book membership
• An outdoor adventure: a hike, a cycling tour, a midnight stargazing picnic

Wrap it up

Present gifts in thoughtful ways:
• Practice furoshiki, a traditional Japanese method of using fabric to wrap and carry gifts. Try a scarf, t-shirt, tea towel or socks for a gift within a gift.
• Choose recycled gift wrap made of kraft paper, sustainable bamboo or hemp, or make your own paper from scraps.
• Fill reusable containers like canisters, jars, baskets or boxes.
• Trim with natural elements like pinecones and twigs. Choose reusable, recyclable paper, silk or cotton ribbon.
• Make your own tags from old Christmas cards.
• Invest in quality decorations like glass bulbs versus colour-trendy plastic baubles.

Toss it—or not!

• Most gift wraps, bags, bows, ribbons and cards are not recyclable because they are coated with glitter, foil and chemicals like polyethylene, polypropylene and shiny laminates.
• Tape, made of petroleum-based plastic, is not recyclable. Remove it before putting paper and boxes in the recycling bin.
• Choose colourful washi tape made of renewable plant-based fibres like hemp. It can even be peeled off and reused. 

Gift Thrift

Thrift stores are full of affordable pre-loved gift ideas. Shop smart for great gifts.
• Shop early before the season gets busy. Even better, try looking for special finds throughout the year.
• Carefully inspect all items for damage or stains before you buy an item.
• As soon as you get home, place clothing or linens in the freezer for two or three days to kill any bugs, viruses and bacteria.
• Wash any clothing. Add a little vinegar to the rinse water to dispel any lingering odours.

This article was published in The Good Life magazine.

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