Reimagining Christmas Consumption with Zero Waste Gift Ideas

Posted by Teghan Acres on

What does it mean to have a good and full life? A big family, amazing vacations… lots of money? 

So often in our western culture, a good life is defined by the possessions we accumulate - nice house, new car, trendy clothing. In reality, these items reflect a certain social status rather than the true quality of a person’s life. Of course we all need food and shelter, but the never ending pressure to always have something newer and nicer can quickly lead to a place of dissatisfaction and disappointment. 

Tradle is based on the idea of a circular economy which aims for materials to continually circulate between consumers and producers. But the circular economy is also about reimagining our relationship to consumption and possession. What is the most fulfilling way to meet our basic needs? What purchases make us feel good long-term, and not just in the moment? 

We have added ‘reimagine’ as one of our 7 Rs of zero waste. Climate change is calling us to reimagine many aspects of our lives. There are ways to transform our lifestyles to have a sustainable impact on the earth while improving our own wellbeing in the process. 

Tradle offers the opportunity to meet your baby’s clothing needs without having to ever go and “buy” clothing. The subscription model gives you access to everything that you need without owning the clothing yourself. 

This is becoming more common across our communities. We can now rent cars and bikes for the duration of our rides rather than owning. Libraries are expanding their selection to offer things like instruments and technology for borrowing. Oftentimes these options are cheaper than owning and create equitable access for various income levels. 

With these questions and ideas in mind, it’s a good time to talk about the largest consumption event in the western world - Christmas. How can we enjoy the holidays and a major gift giving event while avoiding the pull of unsatisfactory consumption? Not to mention the mass amounts of waste that come along with the season.

It’s important to keep in mind that 60% of people report receiving an unwanted or unusable gift during the holidays. In the United States, those unwanted presents added up to $15.2 billion. That is a massive amount of money spent on eventually wasted items. 

So do we just scrap the whole idea of gift giving all together? Definitely not! Giving makes us feel really good and has a tremendous benefit in our communities. Studies have shown that we are happier when we spend money on a loved one or give to a charity than spending on ourselves. And charitable donations by Canadians added up $10.3 million in 2019.

We think that along with our own consumption habits, our gift giving could use some reimagining. This is specific to each individual and their family, but we have some ideas to kick off your Christmas gift planning that aren’t things. 

1. Canada Helps Gift Card 

Canada Helps is a website for donating to and fundraising for Canadian charities. They offer the feature to buy a gift card and give it to someone else. They are then able to donate their gift card amount to whichever charity speaks to them the most. This gift makes both the giver and recipient feel great. In my most recent Secret Santa pool, I had no idea what to give the person I had been chosen to buy for. I ended up making a donation to the local food bank in their name and they said it was one of the most meaningful gifts they received all holiday season. 

2. Babysitting Services 

Almost all parents I know would never turn down a free night of babysitting. This allows the parents to take a night off for themselves and decompress after a busy holiday season. This falls into the category of self care gifts, but is much more likely to get used than a face mask or bath bomb! 

3. Subscription Services

It can be lovely to pay for something that you know your loved one already uses. It might seem silly but you can buy Netflix, Crave, and Disney Plus gift cards that are used towards the monthly subscription fee. Or you might know that they use subscription based apps like Headspace. Your loved one will be pleasantly surprised that they are saving money and touched that you paid attention to their interests. 

These examples are just a few ideas to show that you don’t need to buy a physical item to participate in the giving spirit this Christmas. As the last few years have shown us, time with loved ones is the most valuable gift of all. We encourage you to do your own reimagining this holiday season and focus on experiences that bring you and your family the most joy. 

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