How to buy sustainable gifts: Life Kit: NPR

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Illustration photo by Becky Harlan / NPR

Photograph of three fabric-wrapped gifts photographed from above against a colored background.

Illustration photo by Becky Harlan / NPR

Our economy runs on consumption, especially during the holiday season – and we as consumers are continually tempted by a barrage of emails, ads and news feeds alerting us to the latest offers. vacation.

You may not feel the environmental impact of purchasing a brand new gift for a loved one. In fact, it might make you feel more generous. But multiplied by the hundreds of millions of people doing the same, the resources spent really start to add up.

Journalist Annalize Griffon wrote about the seasonal blues coming from this year’s continuing supply chain crisis and historic holiday shopping rush. As she writes in her essay in The New York Times, this year she even decided to go further and stop buying new for the holidays altogether.

Griffin spoke more about his commitment to second-hand gifts in a conversation with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly. Here are her tips for shopping differently this holiday season by reworking our perception of the gift and what makes a gift ultimately meaningful.

Take a more open-minded approach to giving gifts

In the annual rush of holiday shopping, it’s easy to forget why we choose to to give in the first place. A thoughtful gift doesn’t have to be expensive or bought on your loved one’s wishlist, Griffin says. Last year, her own Christmas gift box was filled with a range of homemade goodies like cookies, pancake mix and granola. This year, Griffin invites his whole family to strip down by asking his children to dye white clothes at a local thrift store.

This thoughtful approach to gift-giving has also changed the way Griffin shops. Rather than trying to cram all her purchases right before the holidays, she instead jots down items throughout the year that her family and friends would enjoy, whether it’s at the local thrift store or browsing an online market. .

“I’m always looking for something that speaks to me, like [saying] someone’s name. There are a few other things hidden in my closet that have spoken to me throughout the year that I think are really generous and adorable. “

Talk to your loved ones, your children about your commitment

Whether you’re making a real commitment to cutting frivolous spending or just starting to rethink your relationship with consumerism, this vacation can be a great place to start sharing your ideals with your partner or kids. You might even be able to convince them to hold each other accountable, like Griffin did with her husband.

“We’ve been married for 11 years, and the kind of feeling that you just browse places and pick something from a list that person gives you and then put it under the tree. [as] it’s going to be a surprise – it really didn’t sound great to us, ”she says.

For Griffin’s family, communicating these feelings led to their concrete decision to exchange second-hand gifts over the holidays. Likewise, your actions can have an impact on how your children perceive the use and donation of used items. It can be difficult to convince your 10 year old that they can’t have the latest iPhone for Christmas, so having those conversations early on can go a long way.

Explore savings online

Buying gifts is a lot of work, and many of us default to shopping online to avoid the crowds and save time.

If you don’t have a favorite local thrift store or just love to order items online, there are several wonderful websites to shop for used items, Griffin explains. Her must-haves for shopping for clothing and housing items include the more familiar eBay and Poshmark. For vintage items, she recommends shopgoodwill.com. “They often have really good vintage toys, so if you have a parent or friend who now has kids, and you’ve played some kind of classic toy in the 80s or 90s together, you can find it there- low, which to me is a very thoughtful gift. “

There are also online communities to donate or exchange items with people in your neighborhood. Through his local group Buy Nothing, which is dedicated to giving and receiving goods for free, Griffin shared almost new baby clothes that were “lying around” his house, while saving “$ 50 on unwanted plastic toys. “

“Having to deal with this mountain of stuff that comes with being a parent of young children in America really made me realize a few things,” Griffin says. But being able to recycle it in my community and then get things for free from my community has been very liberating. “

A version of this episode originally aired on All things considered from NPR, produced by Elena Burnett and edited by Courtney Dorning.

Janet W. Lee produced the episode and wrote the digital story for Life Kit.

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