Steps To A More Sustainable Shopping Season

With the year 2020 (finally) coming to a close, you can take a deep breath in and let out a huge sigh of relief. 

Let’s face it, the year probably didn’t go the way you envisioned - who could have known a global pandemic would lock us indoors for months on end? But, that doesn’t mean you can’t end it in a positive light.

Whether you’ll be celebrating Christmas over Zoom or partaking in a small family gathering for Hanukkah, or simply getting into the groove with a virtual end-of-year party, there’s one simple act that ties the holiday season together: gift-giving. 

But, before that much anticipated moment of seeing your loved one’s face light up as they open your well-thought-out gift, and before you get to experience the thrill of ripping up festive-themed wrapping paper, there’s one crucial step: gift-buying.

Unfortunately, this joyous time of year is often the most wasteful, with an estimate of 227, 000 miles of wrapping paper, six million Christmas trees, and at least one billion Christmas cards ending up in the rubbish bin come the end of December. 

As we approach the overwhelming tsunami of Black Friday specials, Cyber Monday madness, and the rest of the shopping season, there are ways to reduce waste and be more conscious of your purchases. 

image by Nynne Schroder from Unsplash

Unfortunately, this joyous time of year is often the most wasteful, with an estimate of 227, 000 miles of wrapping paper, six million Christmas trees, and at least one billion Christmas cards ending up in the rubbish bin come the end of December. 

Here are some tips for more sustainable shopping this holiday season, so you can make your loved ones happy, as well as do your bit for the planet. 

Shop Online

image by Sincerely Media from Unsplash

While it is the obvious - and most safe - choice in the current times, there are benefits to online shopping that reach beyond the avoidance of crowds (and long queues). Shopping online reduces your environmental impact. This comes down to the fact that delivery vehicles are able to distribute many items while using minimal fuel. Simply put, one vehicle dropping orders off along a predetermined route has less of an impact than if 100 people buying something from the same store were to each drive to the store and back home again.

The other benefit of shopping online is that you have the opportunity to research a brand before purchasing their products. It may not occur to you in-store to check up on the brand’s CSR efforts or sustainability practices, but you’re likely to have more time and more resources at your disposal when browsing on your laptop. Do your homework about the brand and find out how they are making positive contributions towards the earth and the resources and people that play a part in producing your chosen gift. Be sure to watch out for greenwashing. If this seems daunting to you, a great resource to help you navigate the ins and outs of sustainability can be found here.

Online shopping makes it far easier to be a responsible consumer. A good place to start is to look into the company’s supply chain and working conditions. If the brand isn’t upfront about their impact and actions, or something doesn’t sit well with you, you probably shouldn’t buy from them. 

Shop Sustainable Fabrics 

(And Avoid Synthetic Ones)

Should clothing items feature on your shopping wishlist, it’s important to note the detrimental effects that synthetic fibers have on the planet. Plastic microfibers that come off clothing upon washing pose a huge threat to the health of humans and the world’s oceans. The process of producing synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, is extremely toxic and pollutive. 

image from Unsplash

Instead, look for natural fabrics such as wool and cashmere, or sustainable textile alternatives. Natural fibers are often preferable because they are a renewable resource, biodegradable, and carbon-neutral. They can also be used without depleting or damaging the environment, making them a better choice than synthetics. 

Make Use Of Sustainable Gift Wrap

Undoubtedly, one of the best parts of receiving a gift is getting to rip the brightly-colored wrapping paper off to reveal its concealed contents. Sadly, not only do most of these rolls of wrapping paper contain petroleum ink, which is toxic for the environment, they mostly end up in landfills soon after fulfilling their short-lived purpose.

images from Unsplash

Consider swapping over to eco-friendly options like recycled paper, bamboo, or hemp wrapping paper. 

There is even the option to buy wrapping paper that uses sustainable ink. Soy-based ink is a renewable resource with far fewer toxins released. Another idea for wrapping sustainably is to use deadstock fabric or fabric bags. 

Shop Mindfully

Consume less. Instead of shopping to pass time, or to gain momentary happiness, buy only what you really need. The best things in life are not things. The best moments in life are exactly that: moments. Treating your loved one to an indulgent experience, such as an evening of fine dining at a sustainable restaurant, or a luxurious trip to a sustainable spa could create some amazing memories that they will cherish forever (and love even more than a fashion item that will go out of season by next year). If you’re unable to head out, then indulging in a virtual winetasting cozied up by the fire on a winter’s night is also a great option. 

image by Adrien Olichon from Unsplash

But if you’d like to give something, remember to purchase high-quality items that you know will last a long time. If this means shopping less and rather saving up to buy yourself or that special someone that incredible cashmere coat you’ve had your eye on for ages, do it. If it means buying your family member a high-quality investment piece instead of large quantities of items just so they have more gifts to unwrap, then do it. 

A great gift option would be an exclusive item that exudes luxury and class, such as being among the first to unzip THE GUESTLIST cashmere sleeve of the upcoming limited edition bottle of Juniper Jack Gin. This is an experience to be savored in and of itself. Couple this with reading about the origins of this brand and your mindful purchase becomes all the more thoughtful as you learn about where it was made and the brand’s sustainability efforts.

At THE GUESTLIST, we recognize that while each of us is here for a limited amount of time, our impacts are not. Taking this approach into the festive season, we advocate quality over quantity, conscious purchases, and ethical shopping. Know where your products were made. Know the brand’s sustainability efforts. Shop thoughtfully. Shop mindfully.